45 45s AT 45 : NUMBER 31
(Originally posted on Friday 11 April 2008)
Now look, its my chart and I’ll have obscure 45s in it if I want to.
The Wild Swans were one of the key bands in the Liverpool Scene that also produced Echo & The Bunnymen,The Teardrop Explodes and Pete Wylie/Wah! As a band, they were in and out of existence from 1980 to 1986, during which time they recorded a number of BBC sessions but released just one single (released in 1982) and no LP. Then, in 1988, they reformed and finally recorded an LP which was disowned almost immediately by all concerned and thus received a limited release...talk about perverse. Somehow a further album was recorded in 1989 (despite the departure of half of the band), but again to little aclaim. The Wild Swans called it a day shortly afterwards and retreated into cult obscurity.
Revolutionary Spirit was the last single to be released on the legendary label Zoo Records which was run by the legendary Bill Drummond. As I mentioned above, it came out in 1982. It was produced by the late Pete De Freitas of Echo & The Bunnymen who also drums on the record. (Incidentally, the death of Pete De Freitas in a motorcycling accident in June 1989 was the first time I shed tears for the death of a rock star).
I remember hearing both sides of the single on Radio 1 - it was most likely on the John Peel show but I can’t be certain – and then trying to track it down in shops the following day. It proved an impossible task. One of my mates from did however know someone who had a copy (I think it was a cousin in Liverpool) and he sent us up cassettes of the record.
In those days, maybe it was the sheer obscurity of the song that made it so special. However, in 1990 I finally got hold of my own copy of the record with the purchase of a Zoo compilation that brought together just about every single the label had released between 1978 and 1982. All those years later and I get a 'clean' copy to listen to, and so rediscovered its joys and recognising that that it truly was a timeless classic.
Lead singer Paul Simpson enjoyed more cult success with his next band, Care, alongside Ian Broudie who would then find fame and fortune with The Lightning Seeds. Much of the distinctive sound of The Wild Swans was down to guitarist Jeremy Kelly and he became part of Lotus Eaters who were one-hit wonders with The First Picture Of You in 1983.
The Wild Swans did reform in 1988 to release a debut album, and while they still had a hardcore following of fans, their time had come and gone. The music they made belonged to a different era, and certainly to the ears of this listener, was a disappointment, being nowhere near the class of the debut single, nor have the consistency of the releases by Care.
Oh and despite the wonders of e-bay and my rekindled interest in vinyl, I have still not yet been able to pick up a reasonably-priced vinyl copy of the single, originally released in February 1982:-
mp3 : The Wild Swans - Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Wild Swans - God Forbid
PS : If you're wondering about the photo that now accompanies this post, its of the fantastically entertaining Dirk from Germany who is behind the superb blog called Sexy Loser.
By sheer coincidence, he also posted Revolutionary Spirit on the very same day as the original posting and then couldn't resist showing off that he has a vinyl copy of the single......it still makes me laugh.
He even then posted a comment at the original post:-
"well, J.C., actually it's just the 12" ... and the one with the withdrawn 'Lament for Icarus' - sleeve ... but I don't want to make you jealous, my friend! And by the way: you can be pretty sure that I'll be right on your doorstep should I ever be in the Glasgow area, mate! (Dirk, sexywinner!)"
I've done a fair bit of browsing in dusty old shops this past few weeks. I've a few things I want to share with you in September as we approach the 5th Birthday of TVV. Among the treasure was this single...with the sleeve Dirk is holding in his hand. It cost me £2. I admit the sleeve is very badly battered and torn, but the
vinyl is in good nick as you can hear from the mp3 rips which are taken from it.