The relatively recent mention of Malcolm Ross within the long-running Saturday series made reference to the fact that, post-Josef K, he continued to work with David Weddell and Ronnie Torrance, the rhythm section of his old band, as well as contributing to the short-lived The Happy Family whose vocalist was Nick Currie.
Legend has it that Nick Currie, who had been a huge fan of Josef K, handed over a home-recorded demo cassette to Malcolm Ross at what, although nobody realised it at the time, was the band’s final gig in their home city in August 1981. There was enough there to entice Ross work with Currie and he persuaded Weddell to join them, along with drummer Ian Stoddart (later to be part of Win) and guitarist Paul Mason.
The Happy Family signed to 4AD Records but before anything was recorded and issued, Ross had already moved west to join Orange Juice. He had however, been involved in writing some of the songs that had been used to get that initial deal, and although he didn’t actually play on the track, it was one of his, co-written with David Weddell that was chosen to be the lead track on the debut EP in March 1982:-
mp3 : The Happy Family – Puritans
It was about as close as the band got to being a Josef K tribute with a new vocalist. Nick Currie’s control of proceedings was increasing with the departure of Ross, and two of his solo compositions formed the b-side of the debut.
mp3 : The Happy Family – Innermost Thoughts
mp3 : The Happy Family – The Mistake
Fast forward eight months and 4AD released the debut, and subsequently the only, album by The Happy Family. Ian Stoddart had moved on (to be replaced by Ronnie Torrance) while the guitar sound was supplemented by the addition of Neil Martin. Eight of the nine tracks were written solely by Nick Currie (or Nicholas Currie as he was referred to throughout his time in the band), with Weddell and Mason writing the other, which just happened to be its title track:-
mp3 : The Happy Family – The Man On The Street
It was an album quite different from anything else coming out on 4AD, with a heavy and rather pretentious literary bent, and it didn’t sell well.
Nick Currie, in later years, offered his take on the album:-
“It’s 1982. Postcard Records and The Sound Of Young Scotland. An Edinburgh literature student called Nick Currie forms a pop group with three ex-members of local group Josef K. They sign to 4AD, home of The Birthday Party, and proceed to record a CD with the following cast list: an evangelical detergent salesman; a Fascist dictator who comes to power thanks to a lottery win; Samuel, the son of the salesman and Maria, the dictator’s beautiful daughter, who join the Red Brigade and plots to assassinate the Fascist. Confused? Just wait ’til you read the lyrics!”
Maybe Luke Haines was looking on………..
The band split not long after the album was released and in due course Nick Currie would call himself Momus and embark on a solo career that is still going strong more than 30 years on and is the very definition of a cult idol.