While seeking inspiration for stuff to bore you with, I’ve been musing about what must be hundreds of songs that initially I’ve come across on blogs etc., which have subsequently been downloaded without paying any attention to any backstory and me, years later, then frantically trying to trace where it came from.

I’ve a song on the hard drive on which Lloyd Cole provides vocals.  It’s by The 6ths, whom I looked up a long while back and learned were a side project of Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

In the 6ths, Merritt writes and plays songs which are then sung by other artists. There have been two albums to date – Wasps’ Nests (1995), and Hyacinths and Thistles (1999). I’m assuming, given the time that has elapsed since that second album, no more 6ths releases are in the pipeline.

The thing is, Lloyd Cole isn’t featured on either album. Nor has the song, to the best of my knowledge, ever been issued on a Lloyd Cole record, either as a b-side or bonus track. It was all a bit of a mystery that I was determined to solve.

It turns out that in 2000, a tribute album to The Human League was issued by the American label, March Records.   It was called Reproductions, and it has sixteen tracks on it, opening with Stephen Merritt’s solo take on Get Carter, and closing with this:-

mp3: The 6ths with Lloyd Cole – Human

The original was the first single taken from the album Crash, and it reached #8 in the UK in August 1986.   I’m assuming, given the 6ths two studio albums consisted of songs written by Stephen Merritt, that this being a cover was a reason it never appeared on either of them…it must have been recorded around the same times the sessions for Hyacinths and Thistles.

Looking things up, I discovered that a vocalist who was recently the subject of an ICA, had guested on Wasps’ Nests.  I just had to trace this one:-

mp3: The 6ths with Amelia Fletcher – Looking For Love (In The Hall Of Mirrors)

Oh, and while I’m here, this is from Hyacinths and Thistles:-

mp3: The 6ths with Clare Grogan – Night Falls Like A Grand Piano


3 thoughts on “OFFSHOOTS

  1. Thanks for this. I, ahem, downloaded offshoots The 6ths. I own no physicalcopies. I did become a wee bit overwhelmed by Merritt’s offshoots The Gothic Arches and Future Bible Heroes – maybe not by output but Stephin could be prolific at times.

    I hadn’t heard of the tribute LP at all including Amelia’s involvement. I hang my head in indie-shame. This will take care of my listening for the afternoon.

    The Amelia track is a real find – couldn’t wait till this afternoon.

    Thanks, JC.

  2. I remember a review of Crash when it was released concluding “Probably Jam and Lewis played all the instruments themselves, and likely it would have turned out better if they had done the singing too”…
    This version beats the original with a mile.

  3. Wasps’ Nests is a brilliant album that I still listen to from time to time. Lots of great guest singers like Barbara Manning, Mary Timony, Stuart Moxom and Dean Wareham. Merritt might be the best lyricist of our generation.

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