CULT CLASSICS – BIG TEARS by CONCRETE BULLETPROOF INVISIBLE

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(Submitted by Phil, from the non-musical blog ‘The Corn Poppy’)

Is there an implication that a bunch of people actually liked a bona fide cult classic? I’m not sure anyone else ever heard this. But here’s a disc that in that parallel universe would have been a smash – Big Tears by Concrete Bulletproof Invisible. CBI were actually Doll by Doll with Glen Matlock on bass. Wikipedia says:

Doll by Doll were a London based rock band formed by Jackie Leven in 1975. They came to prominence during the New Wave period but were largely ignored by the music press of the time – their emotional, psychedelic-tinged music was judged out of step with other bands of the time.

The original line up was Jackie Leven – vocals and guitar, Jo Shaw – vocals and guitar, Robin Spreafico – vocals and bass, and David Macintosh – vocals and percussion.  This line up only recorded one studio album Remember before Spreafico was replaced by Tony Waite (1958–2003). In this configuration they released the albums Gypsy Blood (produced by John Sinclair) and the eponymous third album, Doll By Doll, before the band split up.

At the time of final LP Grand Passion, only Leven was left of the original line-up, joined by Helen Turner (vocals and keyboards) and Tom Norden (vocals, guitar and bass) with a number of guest musicians, including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Mark Fletcher (bass) and Chris Clarke (drums) played with the group live. Doll By Doll finally fell apart in 1983, though Leven, Shaw and Macintosh plus ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, released a single Big Tears under the name “Concrete Bulletproof Invisible” in 1988. Leven became a prolific solo artist, releasing a series of albums featuring more folk orientated material.

In 1983 Jackie (from the Kingdom of Fife) had been mugged and half strangled leading to him losing his voice for a time and giving up singing all together. There were no more Doll by Doll albums and nothing else from Jackie until the mid 1990s when he started to release a string of albums which gave him a genuine cult following. But this one single did sneak out.

Big Tears was a Matlock song, on the b-side was Braid on my Shoulder, written by Leven. These are a cracking pair of songs with all the punch of Matlock’s best powerpunk swagger and Jackie’s still powerful voice. There was a UK 12″ version which added Good Thing and a US 12″ with Love Kills. this was Concrete Bulletproof Invisible’s only record but the name was used as the title of a John Foxx instrumental (the song is credited to Foxx/Leven).

Jackie Leven had a chequered career often on the verge of greater success, never quite grasping it. Sometimes it seemed like deliberate sabotage on his part. In 2000 or thereabouts he settled in the Hampshire village of Botley, just opposite the pub, often popping out for a pint (usually with a vodka in it) or to tour Germany or Norway. A friendship with crime author Ian Rankin led to Rankin naming his last two novels after Leven lyrics. He died in November 2011 six weeks after releasing one of his best albums (Wayside Shrines). One day a song of his will be used in a car advert and suddenly everyone will love him.

mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Big Tears
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Braid On My Soulder
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Good Thing
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Love Kills

Note from JC

Jackie Leven was very much a cult artist with many fans from around these parts. I can’t confess to knowing all that much about him, but many other bloggers whose work I have admired have written about him in glowing terms, and I thought it might be worth drawing your attention to the piece from April 2010, on the now defunct Helpless Dancer blog:-

http://thehelplessdancer.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/new-music-jackie-leven/

Enjoy.

4 thoughts on “CULT CLASSICS – BIG TEARS by CONCRETE BULLETPROOF INVISIBLE

  1. Where are the MP3’s please? I bought this single on release and it was the b-side that made a lasting impression on me – the tale of a soldier serving in Belfast during “The Troubles” who finally escapes when he journeys to Galway Bay. I’ve no idea what happened to my copy, and cannot locate it online. I would dearly love to get hold of the MP3 of “Braid on My Shoulder”. Could you please repost it here or email it to me? I’ll email you at the address on this page. Thanks! Johnny

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