I won’t insult anyone by recounting the life and times and ultimately the tragic and untimely death of Kirsty MacColl.
Like most of you who are aged 40 and upwards, I’m guessing the first time she would have appeared on your radar was when she took this into the charts back in the spring of 1981:-
mp3 : Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis
Released in an era when many refused to believe the ‘King of Rock’nRoll’ had really died four years earlier, this is a humourous pop song that just stays on the right side of novelty from the pen of someone who Johnny Marr has described as one of England’s greatest-ever lyricists….and from a man who has worked so closely with Morrissey and Matt Johnson, then that has to be seen as praise of the highest order.
It’s a single I picked up cheap quite recently and outside of maybe a couple of plays on radio I haven’t heard it much over the past 33 years. Sad to say, I found myself a bit underwhelmed by it – it was a lot duller and far more mainstream that I had ever remembered and I found it all a bit disappointing.
For a long time after ‘Chip Shop’ it looked as if Kirsty was going to go down as a one-hit wonder, but thanks to her cracking cover of a Billy Bragg song she was able to kick-start her career in 1984, and while she rarely made an impact on the higher echelons of the chart, all of her records were afforded critical acclaim and respectable sales.
There were two b-sides to ‘Chip Shop’, one of which is features an alternative take on the single:-
mp3 : Kirsty MacColl – Hard To Believe
mp3 : Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (country version)
Again, I was left a little disappointed by these. They are certainly not as good as the later material she would release.