I’m still not quite getting to grips with things just now, so with your blessing and permission, I’m going to go back into the archives for the rest of the week, pulling out some postings that have a decent enough backstory to bear repeating all these years later. This is from 27 January 2014.

The first time I heard Kathleen it was on a tape given to me by a friend. I assumed it was an original composition, as it had all the hallmarks of a classic Tindersticks recording. I got round to talking about it with said friend and was very surprised to learn it was a cover version.

mp3 : Tindersticks – Kathleen

The Tindersticks of this era (mid-late 90s) are impossible to characterise. They can’t be defined as rock, jazz or soul and yet they have a little bit of all of those in many of their songs. They employed all sorts of instruments on their records, including brass, strings and percussion – and in Stuart Staples, they had, and still have, a singer with a distinctive and unmistakable baritone voice. Some say they are just another doom-laden miserablist lot. Far from it.

They were a band best consumed in the live setting. Until the time I was away for my 50th birthday and, by sheer chance, managed to see Frightened Rabbit in a packed compact venue in the middle of a Berlin heatwave, the Tindersticks gig at the Jaffa Cake in Edinburgh in 1997 is the hottest I’ve ever been at a gig…so hot that the band had to remove their jackets! And in 2002 I was lucky enough, in the company of Mrs Villain, to see them perform in the stunning surroundings of Somerset House in London, complete with 20-piece orchestra on a warm summer evening in which I was sure I had seen THE perfect concert in my lifetime. I even spotted Concorde flying overhead in the sky above at one point….

For a long long time I only had a copy of Kathleen courtesy of it being on said cassette tape. One day I dropped an e-mail to the band looking for a bit of heads-up on plans to re-release the early LPs to find out if any bonus material in the offing would include making Kathleen available as I had been looking out for a copy for a number of years. I was told yes, but was also asked that, if I wanted, I could have a copy of the 7″ single as there was a spare one lying around in the office. You can guess my answer….

It now sits in the cupboard proudly beside all my other vinyl, #2184 of what had been a limited run of 5000. Here’s the other three tracks on the 7″:-

mp3 : Tindersticks – Summat Moon
mp3 : Tindersticks – A Sweet Sweet Man
mp3 : Tindersticks – E-Type Joe

As I said at the outset, I was surprised to find out this was a cover. It made me determined to track down the original and was amazed to learn just how close in style and tone the Tindersticks version was, and yet they had still made it sound as if it was one of their own. I thought only The Wedding Present were capable of such genius….

mp3 : Townes Van Zandt – Kathleen

Until that point in time I knew nothing about Townes Van Zandt. His life is surely a Hollywood movie in waiting….



  1. Kathleen , like the band itself, will always be special to me. Friends played me Milky Teeth upon its release and I was hooked.

    Given the styles the band ‘fuses?’,on paper, I shouldn’t enjoy them … but I do. Oh, I do.

    It’s a lovely bright, sunny day here today but this posting just made it brighter.

  2. I settled for a live version of Kathleen that was released on one of the Bathtime CD singles. If only I’d asked the band direct if they had any copies of the single going spare. Somerset House would have been amazing, I saw B&S there a couple of years later but did have the pleasure of watching Tindersticks at the Royal Albert Hall in 2001.

  3. I’ll admit I was largely ignorant of Tindersticks’ brilliance, even though I’d heard a few songs here & there and liked them, until I bought a clutch of the 2CD reissues for a fiver each (!) from Fopp in Bristol around 2005. This included the Working For The Man compilation which featured the Kathleen EP in its entirety. I’ve kind of lost touch with them again in recent years, but this repost will prompt me to catch up on their last few albums. I’ve not (yet) seen them live in concert, but can imagine that it’s one heck of an experience.

  4. The only thing I’d say is that since 2007, when half of the original line-up decided to move off, the albums haven’t been as essential as the earlier recordings, albeit all of them have something to offer.

  5. So much brilliance is how I describe Tindersticks. I get that there is a divide between the output of the line ups, but I have not been disappointed one bit from anything released over the past 14 years. There are so few artistic minds like Stuart Staples and that he surrounds himself with others that are inspired and feed off of his unique talent.
    As for Kathleen, it’s as if Staples was meant to sing Kathleen. Once you hear him you know what I mean. The song’s arrangement is equal to Staples reading of the song.
    Whenever I hear Kathleen, for some reason I am reminded of Master Song by Leonard Cohen. How I wish Staples would cover that song as well.

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