Bring on the Silver Lining

So 2012 has so far been the year of disappointing comebacks from my 80s heroes: the much-vaunted return of Dexys was great fun as a live experience but the album is, for the most part, too ‘musical theatre’ even for me; Sinead’s “How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?” album has its moments but fails to coalesce as a cohesive whole, IMHO – plus, it includes an utterly redundant John Grant cover.

But the worst of the lot is Pro Patria Mori, the new album from Ian McCulloch. It’s been released via PledgeMusic, and I was sufficiently intrigued by the concept of donating to get an album recorded and released – and by the pre-release hype Mac the Mouth was spouting (I should have known, shouldn’t I?) – to pledge my 15 squid for a download and a signed CD.

A month or so back, I received an email saying that the download was ready but that the physical album wasn’t quite. I downloaded it… and it’s rubbish. Really, really disappointing. (And this from a man who loved Mac’s first solo album, “Candleland”, and enjoyed a fair chunk of the follow-up, “Mysterio”.) You know an album’s not gonna be great when it starts with the line: “Babies come and babies go…” (Or at least I do.) And from there on in, it just gets worse: pedestrian, plodding, prosaic. The title track opens with an Aled Jones-style choirboy descant, FFS.

Anyway, I wasn’t too fussed about receiving the hard copy after that. But even so, after a month of waiting, I was starting to feel a little peeved that it hadn’t been sent to me. After all, it’s always nice to get some post. And then last week, I got another email – this time an apology for the delay. And, by way of compensation, a link to another mp3. This time, a live version of the Bunnymen classic, “Bring on the Dancing Horses”. And whaddaya know? It’s really rather lovely.

The original was derided by hardcore Bunnyfans for its glossy, shimmering Laurie Latham production. Of course, being a true child of the 80s, I loved it despite (or perhaps because of) that. Unlike Mac’s new material, it was exotic in its allusiveness and poeticism (ie, who knows what the words meant but they sounded good). And now, 27 years later, I’ve been gifted a version that sounds like a lost outtake from the “Ocean Rain” sessions: a big, string-laden ballady take on the song. It doesn’t entirely work, but I think it has sufficient merit to share it with you Spillers. Hopefully some of you may enjoy…

21 thoughts on “Bring on the Silver Lining

  1. Now you’ve reminded me that my red button didn’t work, so I couldn’t watch the dressage – and I was so looking forward to it…

    …Don’t think I’ve ever listened knowingly to the Bunnymen but yes, it is rather lovely, isn’t it?

    • I missed it too – and was really rather gutted. I love the sports with a bit of artistry involved as well as skill/talent (even if they can occasionally seem a bit daft). See also the dancey gymnastics routines.

  2. Also a child of the 80s (mostly) so I love the original too, but this is even better. Not sure if it’s worth £15, but definitely a silver lining, thanks for posting it.

  3. Seems this listener funded stuff has a long way to go – 15 quid for a shitty solo bunny seems very pricey.

    The Tack>Head Sharehead took 6 years & ended up being a bunch of covers (still want it though).

    & dare I mention ‘Spillharmonic?

    • It was considerably cheaper just for the download. But I am still clinging to the need to cling to something physical. And I then paid an extra couple of quid for it to be signed. Bit silly really.

    • I’ve still got a massive cob-on with Pledge – they took £30 of my money for a Bellrays blowout package, and i never saw any of it. They’ve never answered an email either. Never again.

  4. Well. I absolutely love that song, so despite trepidation i tried to listen without prejudice. And it was really rather lovely, wasn’t it? Despite voice being a bit worse for the wear, but there’s no helping that i suppose.

    Shoey’s reaction was about what i’d expected, and no doubt Wyngate willl be cringing too.

    • I love dancing horses, haven’t had a chance to listen to this version yet. Bish raised this solo album a while back & had to concur that it’s a bit stinky, & I’m fonder than most of the mark II Bunnymen, although you can’t really compare them to the original, iconic 4-piece.

  5. That’s pretty good bish – very nice arrangement. My experience of stumping up for an album before it’s been recorded has been thumbs up – a number of Irish artists have been doing it for some years. Nick Kelly of The Fat Lady Sings went one step further and demo’d loads of stuff with differing arrangements and then invited listener’s feedback on his Gestation website.

      • Yep that’s a good one. Nick Kelly was longlisted for an Oscar nom in the short film category – talented chap!

  6. My kinda acid test for a wistful/melancholy ballad is to listen to the song as if it is being played on stage on piano stark naked. It’s a way of stripping (he he) a song of its excesses and decorations and really listening to it.

    [I sometimes call it my Randy Newman test. If it can survive him singing it, it’s a great song :)]

    This doesn’t really pass that test, sorry. I think when you introduce characters (Jimmy Brown, Charlie Clown) and a big concept (headless dancing horses) you need to do more with it than First I’m gonna make it Then I’m gonna break it. It’s one of those nonsensical latter day Take That songs that sounds good but means nothing.

    Oh poop, that reminds me, I’m late for my placebo today. *rushes to medicine cabinet*

      • I know what tinny means – it is a bit ‘spare’ a lyric, considering all the allusions. But (perhaps because I love the song) I like being challenged to fill in the blanks.

        What did you think of this version in the end, Shoey?

      • Not as good as the single, but not bad for a live solo version so many years later. Also noticed that the rest of the show is available on a cd too.

  7. enjoyed candleland – years since i’ve heard it though
    saw the CD on me brother’s shelf a month or so ago, and couldn’t decide if I’d lent it and never got it back, like many a book, or had bought it for him as a pressie and taped it for meself. Didn’t dare ask for it back, so it will remain unheard.

    I was lucky enough to see the Bunnies first ever gig along with the Teardrops first ever one night at Erics ( now re-opened on Matthew Street )
    However they didn’t have a big neon sign saying ‘pay attention – they will be famous one day soon’ so i can’t remember what either band played
    I do recall we were impressed by ECHO the drum machine, not sure what we thought of the very young looking bands
    Saw them a good few times after that, even at the Albert Hall where they were on top form.

    Their Crystal Day special show was featured on the TUBE, and often pops into me head as Jools Holland introduced the clips while sat on a motorbike outside a public loo in Hull. That loo had then and still has now a clear cistern above a urinal with goldfish in it. And a big gold statue of a man on a ‘orse sat on the roof.
    Go passed it quite a lot as Hull’s home. No idea why Jools was in Hull while the Bunnies were in Liverpool and the Tube was filmed in Newcastle. Has he ever been back ?
    Did anyone do the Crystal Day trail ? ( alfie)

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