Yesterday’s monthly nostalgia-fest mentioned that there were 23 new entries into the Top 75 singles chart in the first week of May 1990….a quite remarkable stat and I think you would be hard pushed to find any other week where almost one-third of the hits were new.
I deliberately left off the 23rd and last of them – the one that appeared at #75 and dropped out the following week.
Ian McCulloch had great hopes for his solo career when he flounced out of Echo & The Bunnymen in something of a hissy fit. His debut album, Candleland, released in September 1989 caught a few folk out as it was, in many places, far removed from the sound of the band with which he had made his name. There was even a song that was the biggest New Order rip-off since Robert Smith and his buddies had written and recorded Inbetween Days:-
mp3: Ian McCulloch – Faith and Healing
Have a particularly close listen at the 2:40 mark….
The album was reasonably well received by the critics and sold enough copies to reach the Top 20 here in the UK, but it was one of those that came and went quickly, largely as a result of not really having any obvious singles. Most folk seemed to think that the title track, featuring a guest backing vocal from one-third of the Cocteau Twins, together with a guitar contribution which found Mac trying (unsuccessfully) to channel his inner Johnny Marr, was the best song on the album; but it wasn’t an obvious 45:-
mp3: Ian McCulloch (featuring Elizabeth Fraser) – Candleland
Someone came up with the genius idea of inviting Gil Norton to sprinkle some fairy dust on the song. Strings were added and Liz’s vocal becomes more prominent, making it almost like a duet in many places. The result was quite splendid:-
mp3: Ian McCulloch (featuring Elizabeth Fraser) – Candleland (The Second Coming)
The mistake was to release it in an already very crowded market and no matter how hard the pluggers would have worked and pushed it, it was going to struggle to get airplay. It really deserved a much better fate.
The interesting thing, from a fan’s perspective, is that three new songs were included on the 12″ single, all of them produced by Gil Norton. The results are mixed but there’s occasionally a hint of the Bunnymen sound and tempo. The first of them has a feel that would be reproduced on the Evergreen comeback album, while the opening notes of the second song reminds me of Noctural Me from the Ocean Rain album.
mp3: Ian McCulloch – Big Days
mp3: Ian McCulloch – The World Is Flat
The final track is, IMHO, a bit of a letdown but here it is for completeness sake:-
mp3: Ian McCulloch – Wassailing In The Night
Mac was, and still is, a huge football fan and he must have looked on with a bit of envy to see New Order hitting the heights with the England World Cup squad. Eight years later, he got his chance when he was asked to write and record the official song for the team in advance of France 1998. He roped in Johnny Marr to help with the tune and members of Ocean Colour Scene, Space and the Spice Girls to join in the vocal.
It’s simply appalling and everything you fear with a release of this type. Especially the promo:-
It reached #9 in the charts