A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (31)
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FRIDAY 11 APRIL 2008
Now look, its my chart and I’ll have obscure 45s in it if I want to.
The Wild Swans were one of the key bands in the Liverpool Scene that also produced Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Pete Wylie/Wah! As a band, they were in and out of existence from 1980 to 1986, during which time they recorded a number of BBC sessions but released just one single (released in 1982) and no LP. Then, in 1988, they reformed and finally recorded an album which was disowned almost immediately by all concerned and thus received a limited release…
Talk about perverse…..
Somehow a further album was recorded in 1989 (despite the departure of half of the band), but again to little acclaim. The Wild Swans called it a day shortly afterwards and retreated into cult obscurity.
Revolutionary Spirit/God Forbid was the last single to be released on the legendary label Zoo Records which was run by the equally legendary Bill Drummond. As I mentioned above, it came out in 1982. It was produced by the late Pete De Freitas who also drums on the record.
I remember hearing both sides of the single on Radio 1 – it was most likely on the John Peel show but I can’t be certain – and then trying to track it down in shops in the coming days. It proved an impossible task. One of my mates did however know someone who had a copy (I think it was a cousin in Liverpool) and he sent us up cassettes of the record.
In those days, maybe it was the sheer obscurity of the songs that helped make it all so special but in all truth they both perfectly capture so much of what was great about the sound of new young Liverpool. It took me until 1990 to finally got a hold of my own copy of the songs thanks to the purchase of a Zoo compilation which brought together every single the label had released between 1978 and 1982. It was so good to finally get ‘clean’ copies to listen to.
Lead singer Paul Simpson enjoyed more cult success with his next band, Care, alongside Ian Broudie who would then find fame and fortune with The Lightning Seeds. Much of the distinctive sound of The Wild Swans was down to guitarist Jeremy Kelly and he became part of Lotus Eaters who were one-hit wonders with The First Picture Of You in 1983.
As mentioned above, The Wild Swans did reform in 1988 to release a debut album, and while they still had a hardcore following of fans, their time had come and gone. The music they were now making was part of a different era, and certainly to the ears of this listener, was a disappointment, being nowhere near the class of the debut single, nor have the consistency of the releases by Care. I have however, since re-assessed things somewhat over the past few decades and have a fair bit of time for much of the later material. But they never quite matched the majesty of the Zoo single.
Oh and despite the wonders of e-bay and my rekindled interest in vinyl, I have still not yet been able to pick up a reasonably-priced vinyl copy of the single, originally released in February 1982**:-
mp3 : The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Wid Swans – God Forbid
** that was back in 2008. I now have a copy in the collection, albeit it’s not in all great condition.
PS : If you’re wondering about the photo that now accompanies this post, its of the fantastically entertaining Dirk from Germany who runs a superb blog called Sexy Loser.
By ‘sheer coincidence’, he also posted Revolutionary Spirit on the day of this original posting and and he couldn’t resist showing off that he has long had a mint vinyl copy of the single……
I’m determined to meet the handsome devil in the flesh one day…..***
PPS : ***regular readers will know the dream became reality in May 2017. Click here for a reminder of part 1 and here for part 2.
I’ve got to get myself to Germany in 2019……..