Meursault, the Edinburgh-based band, were invited to take part in the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in 2014. This was on the back of three critically acclaimed albums on the Song, By Toad label, which had been the brainchild of Matthew Young, a long-time friend of this blog and whose own former blog, also called Song, By Toad, brought great delight to readers the world over.
The band and label came up with an ingenious way to crowdfund the trip, onto which was attached a short tour of east coast cities in the USA, all of which would mark the American live debut of Meursault.
A Kickstarter campaign was devised, but with the twist that anyone making a pledge could suggest up to five songs that they would like to hear on a specially produced CD album, which would be made available to subscribers with a few additional copies going on general sale. In the end, more than 300 backers raised over £5,000, in just sixteen days, to make the project a reality, with the recording sessions taking place in the studio located in Matthew’s home where bands had recorded sessions for his blog.
The Organ Grinder’s Monkey was released in February 2014. The info on the back of the cardboard sleeve indicated there were 14 songs to listen to, consisting of ten covers along with four new versions of Meursault songs.
But this was a wee bit of a fib, as the CD also contained two hidden tracks neither of which were listed. It might well have been that they didn’t get clearance, and/or they were tagged on as something of an in-joke. The second certainly seems that way. It’s worth recalling what had been said in the Kickstarter campaign:-
Pledge £150 or more – Your choice of cover song definitely on the album, and a live video made of the recording process.
Sadly, to avoid pranks, this will be finalised on the basis of dialogue – you don’t get to just demand a performance of something by Newton fucking Faulkner – but we will do our very best to accommodate you, and sometimes the silliest ideas are the best, so go for it.
Only one space was allowed for this particular pledge, and I’m guessing it resulted in the second and final hidden track:-
Neil Pennycook of Meursault does not provide the vocal on this one. It’s all down to Matthew Young, making his debut in the recording studio – and to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t been allowed near a microphone since, and that’s why I’m attributing it to Song, By Toad and not Meursault.
It’s a rollicking and fun version – some of the lyrics have been changed to be more appropriate to Matthew’s tastes and outlook on life. And yes, he does have quite a magnificently posh way of swearing!
Matthew has more or less given up the music industry, but he and his family are currently involved in a hugely ambitious project to restore an old mansion and botanical garden in a rural location on the west coast of Scotland. I was lucky enough to pay him a visit last year, and it is going to be truly something to behold, with the aim, within the next couple of years to have the gardens open again to the public. The best way to keep up with progress, and to enjoy Matthew’s idiosyncratic way of describing the joys of such a unique restoration project, is to follow Linn Botanical Gardens on Instagram. There’s nearly 1100 of us currently doing so…..