THE LARGELY FORGOTTEN FOLLOW-UP TO THE BIG HIT

It’s a last-minute change of plan as Khayem‘s suggestion of having each of The Crucial Three feature on consecutive days is a sound one.

Pete Wylie has had fitful success in terms of his music selling to the masses with just fours singles cracking the Top 40.  Most folk, of an age, will recall Story Of The Blues (#3 in January 1983), Come Back (#20 in July 1984) and Sinful (#13 in June 1986.)   Only the die-hard followers would be aware of this:-

mp3: Wah! – Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me)

It was the follow-up to Story of The Blues and reached #37 in April 1983.  It’s anthemic, albeit at a much slower pace than the big hit, not really ideal for radio play and this lack of exposure probably goes a long way to explaining why it has become so easily forgotten;  Pete would, however, later incorporate the ‘I Wish You’d Believe Me’ refrain into the lyric of Come Back.

Here’s the b-side of the 7″.  It’s another more than decent offering:-

mp3: Wah! – Sleep

I thought it would be worth concluding today’s offering with a couple of unusual tracks that our main man has been involved in:-

mp3: Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List (original uncensored version)

This had been written as a piece of spoken word/music as part of a 1989 show by the modern ballet dancer Michael Clark, later released as a single on One Little Indian Records in 1990. It sees Josie Jones, who had been part of Wah! in the 80s, divulge a list of 64 of things which anger, offend or just annoy her – the list was put together in collaboration with Pete Wylie and the track was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. It was later remixed by Andrew Weatherall but arguably its biggest exposure came in 2004 when the Manchester racist used it as the opening gambit to his live shows, nicely working up his audience into a fit of frenzy before he and his band took to the stage.

As for the other track, it also dates from 1990. The KLF (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) were intending to pull together two pieces of work called The Black Room and The White Room – in the end, only the latter would be fully realised. The first part of the Black Room did, however, see light of day via a very limited release with a track credited to The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu:-

mp3: The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Club Mix)

It’s a very strange, but typical, offering from the JAMs. The lyric is simply a list of cities and towns located in the north of England read out over over a hard, pounding and noisy techno tune. The narrator is Pete Wylie.

After the KLF had enjoyed huge commercial success with The White Room, It’s Grim….would be re-recorded and re-released with a Bill Drummond vocal, reaching the Top 10 in November 1991.

Watch out for a posting on the KLF on these pages over the next few weeks.

JC

16 thoughts on “THE LARGELY FORGOTTEN FOLLOW-UP TO THE BIG HIT

  1. Hmm, not sure that Morrisey did give Imperfect List it’s largest exposure as anybody with any interest in the work of Andrew Weatherall, Guthrie/Cocteau Twins or Wylie knew about it over a decade previously

  2. JC – Not only did you complete the musical tryptic, you did it by choosing a song that is so very important to me. I’ve mentioned many times that Pete is my musical hero. He’s a diehard, never give up, musician’s musician. He speaks his mind and records a lot of those views. He’s personally responsible for two of the best weeks I have ever had (yes that story will come someday down the line).
    I purchased Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me) the day it arrived at my favorite import record shop and rushed home to take it in. I was stopped dead in my tracks by its emotional, anthemic beauty. Pete’s defiant in his dispair, strong through his sorrow and just a bit angry at the nature of what I have always felt was an unrequited love. The song is grandiose without being pretentious. It evolves into a sort of madness on a scale that is off the charts, but ropes you in until it seems to fall apart at the end.

    The B-sides include an alternative version of Sleep from the debut Wah! album, which is harder edged, slowed down – and terrific. Also there’s an instrumental version of Hope, which if you know your French, is a play on words, L’Espwah. The Year Of Decision uses a bit of Philly Soul and Pop to make a simple plea for people to think as they vote for and follow their leaders.

    But the genius of this release is Pete’s reverential reading of Johnny Thunder’s You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory. No frills, just Pete and an acoustic guitar. It’s 1:15 of brilliance that actually opens Side A of the 12″ single as the lead in to the grandeur of Hope.

  3. Cheers Drew….I did say ‘arguably’ – the fact it featured in a show that was later put out as a best-selling DVD, likely watched over time by more folk across the world than had followed the careers of those you mention, is why I made the statement!

  4. Given it’s very brief stay in the Charts, I ended up rescuing a copy of this from a bargain box a few weeks after its release. Glad I did.

    Some great tunes this week – made a pressured few days work-wise more bearable as they’ve dictated my choice of music to have playing while I juggle with various deadlines.

  5. ‘Hope’ is great, how did I miss it first time round, . It going to be the Liverpool triptych all day for me, although I’m not sure my voice will last until I have another of those bloody zoom meetings at 3.
    Being able to sing/scream along to great songs is the biggest benefit of working from home.

  6. Funnily enough the early Wah! LPs finally surfaced on streaming services a few weeks ago and I listened to Nah=Poo for the first time in aeons. I’d always dismissed it as the runt of the Crucial 3 debut LPs litter but got to say it impressed me. No idea what Pete was thinking about with the Maverick Years ‘bootleg’ though.

    Still think that Wylie peaked with the Wah! Heat singles. The best illustration of this is the frankly horrific version of Don’t Step On The Cracks which is a bonus track on AWTTWG (beware – the extra songs are mislabelled on all the streaming services if you feel the need to check it out)

  7. Just was extolling the virtues of the “Sinful” album a little while back, and that’s probably Pete’s worst album I’m guessing, since it dated from the dreaded mid-80s. I want more Wylie but it’s hard to find in America. “Sinful” was effectively his debut here!

  8. I’ve been very late in appreciating Pete Wylie, and really only got my wake up call with The Handy Wah! Whole compilation and working my way back from there. I agree with all of the comments about ‘Hope’ and all of the songs on the 12″ single. Thanks for the last minute addition, JC, another excellent post and comments!

  9. All this talk of ‘list’ songs and 2009’s “True Stories” by Datarock popped up on my shuffle playlist yesterday. The lyrics are completely made up of Talking Heads’ song titles, with a musical nod to their style. Worth checking out the video on YT if you haven’t heard/seen it.

  10. I knew of but had never heard the Wylie version of It’s Grim Up North.
    Thank you.

    I too think Wylie has constructed some of the finest pure pop moments of the last 40 years and Hope is undoubtably one of them.I have the 12″ still and every track on it still sounds as fresh as the day i bought it.

    As a thirteen year old I listened to Peel wanting to love what i heard but ultimately yearning for a good pop tune. Wylie/Wah scratched that itch by ticking both boxes.

    Come Back made me think about politics and learn that lyrics are often more important than the music…
    Down by the docks the talking turned:
    “As some are striving to survive,
    the others thrive”
    (Reaching the realm of no return)
    “I don’t want charity, just half a chance
    and it’s all up to you, yes it’s all up to you”

    Hell even Heart as big as Liverpool almost made we wish is was a Scouser!

    I think we all agree that not all his songs are of the same standard but at his best he packs a punch that few can match.

  11. JC, just curious – when you wrote, “…but arguably its biggest exposure came in 2004 when the Manchester racist used it as the opening gambit to his live shows,” are you referring to Pete Wylie, Michael Clark or Josie Jones? I hope it is not Pete Wylie since I have always respected his artistry. I would be grateful if you can clarify. Thank you!

  12. Hi again, JC. I just reread the post and figured out you were referring to the former lead singer of the Smiths as the “Manchester racist,” which has obviously been well documented. If that is the case, no need to respond.

  13. Indeed. Someone whose work, both with The Smiths and as a solo artist, was a mainstay of this blog for such a long time. I can no longer listen to him nad anytime I have to refer to him, I do so as ‘The Manchester Racist’.

    Sorry for any initial confusion….Pete Wylie has long been one of the very good guys!!

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