AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #66 : PAUL QUINN

paul-quinn

This is another one of those compilations that, on the face of it, should be easy to pull together. After all, Paul Quinn never achieved anything more than cult status and his career was cruelly cut short by a degenerative illness. But, as is always the case when it involves a real favourite, the very notion of limiting it to ten songs turns into a tortuous exercise.

It was also very tempting to go for things in a chronological order as that would have supported an effort at plotting Paul’s career in some detail, but I just love this man’s voice so much that I stuck to the principle of trying to create the perfect album.

Here’s a link to what was eligible for consideration, compiled with great care by the Proprietor of The Punk Rock Hotel. I decided immediately that unless Paul was on lead or at least co-lead vocal then I wouldn’t look to include it. I’m lucky enough to have just about everything which is on that list, including some of the unreleased material, but some of the quality is a bit on the ropey side and not having the professional tools to clean things up or improve them then these too had to be ruled out. But having said all of that, it would have been difficult in the end for any of the ten songs included today to have been displaced….

Oh and in case anyone is wondering why there’s a slew of records from 84/85 and then nothing till ’92…..the contract which Paul signed in the 80s precluded him being able to appear on any other label for a certain number of years.  Criminal.

SIDE A

1. Will I Ever Be Inside Of You? (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1994)

Even if this had been the only song that the great man had ever been part of then his legendary status would have been sealed.

The opening track of the band’s second and final LP may extend to over nine minutes in length but there isn’t a single second of waste or excess. The Independent Group were ridiculously talented but then again what else would you expect when it was made up of some of the greatest musicians to ever have come out of Scotland at any time in our history, never mind that short period in the aftermath of punk and when a certain type of indie music gained a foothold. Add in lush orchestration and a contribution from one our then leading opera singers and you have a recipe for something unique and unforgettable.

2. Pale Blue Eyes (12” single by Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins, 1984)

Paul and Edwyn were great friends and Alan Horne was determined that somehow he could get them working together. In 1984, Orange Juice had finally imploded and Edwyn was in the throes of establishing himself as a solo artist and Paul had just quit Bourgie Bourgie before the debut album was finished. The conditions for the perfect storm were completed by London Records deciding to give Alan a wad of money to operate a new label which he christened Swamplands. This stunning cover of a Velvet Underground number was the first release on the new label. It’s ridiculous that it failed to garner much radio support and subsequently flopped, especially when you think just how much dross was dominating the charts that year.

3. The Damage Is Done (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1992)

Legend has it that Alan Horne resurrected Postcard in 1992 for the sole reason of putting out records featuring Paul Quinn. It’s certainly the case that The Phantom & The Archetypes was the first release on the label in more than eleven years and the excitement among those of us of a certain age in Glasgow was palpable when news emerged that the band would include James Kirk, Campbell Owens, Bobby Bluebell and Blair Cowan with Edwyn Collins also involved via the production desk. The end result however, turned out to be a lot different from what was imagined as it was not in the least bit indie nor was it any point jangly.

Indeed, a lot of the album sounds on initial listens as if it has been delivered by a Las Vegas lounge band – the sort of music that you hear in the background of a suitably noir or cult crime thriller – not all that attention grabbing except for the velvet-like vocal delivery.  Perhaps the point wasn’t to allow the music to dominate at any point but after repeated listens, things start to dawn and there’s a gradual appreciation of the nuances of the instrumentation, with Cowan’s keyboards in particular proving to be at the heart of the material, albeit beautifully buried deep in a masterful production. This is one of the best examples of what I’m rabbiting on about.

4. Breaking Point (12” single by Bourgie Bourgie, 1984)

The opening burst of cello will grab you and look to get you hooked immediately. If that doesn’t work, then surely you won’t be able to resist the voice.

This was my personal introduction to Paul Quinn as a lead vocalist in his own right (I’d first heard him on Barbecue which was a b-side to the 12” of I Can’t Help Myself by Orange Juice). In all truth I was as excited by the fact that Bourgie Bourgie was going to have a number of ex-Jazzateers in its line-up as I felt they were one the great ‘lost’ Scottish bands of the era. (If you don’t have a copy of their 1983 self-titled debut album on Rough Trade then I can only recommend you track down a copy – there’s a few out there at not too stupid a price.) But once I heard that voice I was smitten.

Worth also noting the classy and crisp production courtesy of the then little known Kingbird, aka Ian Broudie, whose work with so many bands in Liverpool and then later in his guise as Lightning Seeds has lit up many an indie disco over the past 30 plus years

5. Change Of Attitude (12” b-side by Bourgie Bourgie, 1984)

The follow-up single was Careless which is a decent enough stab at making a lush pop single in a style that was all the rage for a short while in the 80s – again it enjoyed a fine production courtesy of Mike Hedges who was usually found working alongside the Banshees, Cure or Associates for the most part. But to my ears, it’s the eight minutes plus on the b-side of the 12” which gives an indication of just how different and influential a band Bourgie Bourgie could have been if they hadn’t messily imploded after just two singles.  Having said that, I’ve no doubt MCA Records would have baulked if the rest of their output turned out this way. Production duties courtesy of Stephen Lironi who had done so much to shift the sound of latter day Altered Images.

SIDE B

1. Stupid Thing (single by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1993)

Even if this had been the only song that the great man had ever been part of then his legendary status would have been sealed.

The lead track on the single that came between the two albums.

I’d even make a case that it is the greatest ever single in the history of Postcard Records (but I’d likely withdraw it when provided with the counter argument of Blueboy….but it’s a close run thing).

I’d even make the case that the two other tracks on the single – Passing Thought and a cover of Superstar – make this the greatest 3-track single in all of history (and then immediately withdraw it when provided with the counter argument of William/How Soon Is Now/Please Please Please….not quite such a close run thing).

I can’t think of anything else to add. It’s an impossible task with mere words to do this song justice.

2. Punk Rock Hotel (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1992)

The strength of this ICA is the voice, but here’s a track in which the other members of the Independent Group are allowed to shine and there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the guitar solo which comes courtesy of James Kirk. Or it might well be the work of Robert Hodgens. I can’t say for sure as the sleeve notes have the two of them down as guitarists but don’t indicate who played what part on each track.

Punk Rock Hotel is of course the name taken for the tremendous fan site dedicated to Paul Quinn. It’s inclusion here on the ICA is as much of a tip of the hat to the Proprietor as anything else. But it does fit in well at this juncture.

3. Passing Thought (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1994)

Each of Stupid Thing and Passing Thought were re-recorded for inclusion on the subsequent album a year later. It was a worthwhile exercise as some of the band personnel had changed and in particular the addition of the very talented Mick Slaven added a new dimension, certainly on the very few occasions that they were ever able to play live. This newer version is lusher and at times more menacing sounding than the original and demonstrates that there was lot more to Blair Cowan’s keyboard skills than he’s generally been given credit for going back to his time as a Commotion.

4. Louise Louise (radio session, 1984)

As mentioned earlier, Paul worked with Orange Juice providing a lead vocal on a b-side and backing vocal on other tracks such as Mud In Your Eye and Rip It Up (it’s his very distinctive wail that you hear as the hit single goes into its outro phase). It was no real surprise during the time that he and Edwyn worked as a duo that their material would include OJ songs but the only recording that has survived in any decent shape or form is from a session recorded for BBC Radio 1 back in 1984 and broadcast by Richard Skinner.

Louise Louise is one of the oldest OJ songs, dating back to the Postcard era but not given an official release until the second Polydor LP. It features some fantastic guitar work but suffers a bit from a rather fragile almost twee vocal partly as it was on the edge of Edwyn’s vocal range. No such issues with Paul who somehow pulls off the trick of maintaining the beautiful sentiments of the song despite a delivery that is the polar opposite of Edwyn’s.

Obscure fact – guitar on this track is played by Craig Gannon, ex-Aztec Camera and ex-Smith.

5. Tiger Tiger (single by Paul Quinn & the Nectarine No.9, 1995)

Following Fire Engines and Win, 90s Postcard signing Nectarine No.9 became the third of the great groups to be fronted by Davey Henderson.

I’m guessing it would have been Alan Horne’s idea to have Paul Quinn link up with them. The first result of the fruits of their collective labours was Tiger Tiger, a cover of a song by Head, a band who had briefly shone in the 80s without ever getting beyond cult status.

Worth noting that one of the members of Head was Garth Sager who had first come to notice with post-punk outfit The Pop Group in the late 70s; by 1995, Sager was a member of……The Nectarine No.9!!!

It was the lead track on a 4-song CD entitled Pregnant With Possibilities Vol.1 which was really a Postcard sampler. Whether it was always going to be a one-off collaboration or there were further irons in the fire, nobody other than Paul and Alan can truly say as this turned out to be the last time the great man performed a lead vocal of any sort as the sad news came not long after that he had been struck down by a debilitating illness that would subsequently be revealed as MS.

It’s a song that has always filled me with sadness. I don’t think anyone realised that it would be Paul’s final release and even when word came out that he was ill there was always hope that somehow he’d be well enough to sing again. No such luck.

Still, we’ll always have these and the others that didn’t make the cut….

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Will I Ever Be Inside Of You?
mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Pale Blue Eyes (12″)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – The Damage Is Done
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (12″)
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Change Of Attitude (12″)

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Stupid Thing (single version)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Punk Rock Hotel
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Passing Thought (album version)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Louise Louise
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Nectarine No.9 – Tiger Tiger

Sigh.

12 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #66 : PAUL QUINN

  1. This is something else. I’m sitting around bored in a hotel tonight, this popped up in my feed, and… wow.

    Thankfully he’s no Kanye West!

  2. Wow. The best post ever on this blog imho. Ha ha actually just about the best post ever on any blog. Paul was a better singer than the recently lamented Bowie and I speak as a major Bowie fan with absolutely no disrespect intended.

  3. Just stumbled across this site..rather wonderful!
    Is there any chance of re-upping these tracks please? It would be a great Christmas gift!
    Thanks
    DJM

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