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…