Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Since the gig at Oran Mor just under a fortnight ago I have been immersing myself in all things Michael Head. From the very early days of the Pale Fountains, through Shack and the Strands stuff up to the ep and single with The Red Elastic Band and all the time waiting not very patiently for this week's long time coming Adios Senor Pussycat to be delivered by Ted the Postie. In fact since Monday I have been listening to Shack exclusively while painting. I'm on holiday, of course I'm painting what else would I be doing.
All of this got me thinking as to why I haven't posted more stuff by Mr Head. Of course the blog is named after my favourite Pale Fountains track which has featured on here in all mixes more than once, another Pale Fountains song, Shack only once! and the Elastic Band stuff a few times. I'm not sure if it is the music snob unconsciously coming out in me in the fact that he is mine and a small band of obsessives little secret and I want to keep it that way, smug in the knowledge that Head is a special talent . But I don't think so as I would like as many people to know about how absolutely bloody brilliant a song writer and recording artist he is and then maybe this would help towards Michael Head getting the appreciation and perhaps renumeration he most certainly deserves, although I'm not sure he craves. A few times I have had Shack tunes in my head and thought,"I will post that" and then got distracted by something else and it wasn't the time.
So I think over the next few weeks I will rectify this situation by posting a good few of my favourite things. I may even have a pop at a couple of ICAs for JC, one on the Pale Fountains and the other on Shack, the later I know will be a very difficult proposition.
The only way to start is with possibly the unluckiest album of the 90s, the second Shack album, Waterpistol. This is often referred to as a "great lost album" which it probably is but I really don't like that category, as I have seen lots of albums which were neither really lost nor that great being hailed in this manner. I have also seen it being referred to as "the greatest album that you don't own", hyperbole? Probably but it is fucking tremendous, however I think I will stick with my categorisation.
The story of the album is one which if you wrote a screenplay around would probably seem a bit far fetched. Waterpistol was recorded in Star Street Studios in 1991 and produced by Chris Allison. Shortly after eventually getting Head to finish the tracks the studio went up in flames along with the master tapes of the album. But the bad luck didn't stop there, no Shack's record label then went bust. Fortunately all was not lost as Allison remembered that he had a DAT of the master tapes, but again, more lucky white heather, they had been left in a hire car when the producer had been on vacation in the United States. When he realised that he had lost the only surviving copy of the recordings, months later, Alison contacted the hire company and eventually tracked down the missing DAT. Although by this time the band had broken up, Head had fallen victim to depression, who wouldn't have, and also heroin addiction. And therefore it looked like that was it for the second Shack album.
Fast forward to 1995 when the tapes find their way to Marina Records, a German independent record label that specialised in releasing UK indie artists. they had already released albums by Paul Quinn and The Independent Pop Group and The Bathers (which JC and Brian probably own) amongst others and brought out the album initially on cd and then on vinyl in 1999.
On release the album was highly praised by critics but was missed by the record buying public who were all in thrall to the latest big thing "Brit Pop". The album was re-released in 2007 and again failed to catch the attention of a wider audience.
If you like jangly guitar music, I guarantee that you will love this album. It has been said that there is quite a bit of Stone Roses influence on the album and Michael Head himself prior to the recording sessions that he was influenced by the likes of The Charlatans and especially the Stone Roses album at the time and was heading in that type of direction.
Shack - Mr Appointment