A few weeks or so ago, EMI Records (who have obviously bought up all independent companies) released Lindisfarne: The Charisma Years 1970-1973. I really couldn't care less what anyone feels about the band because, as far as I'm concerned, they featured one of the all time great unsung heroes - or at least, great British Songwriters. Jimmy Alan Hull. The sudden loss of Hull in 1995 was a huge loss. He was possibly just about to become a Labour MP when he died - his ghost is there in the best ever British fin de siecle drama in the 90s, Our Friends In The North. Anyway, the re-release of the 4 cd set containing their first five albums and bonus tracks features my all-time favourite Hull song. It was a little-known b-side (remember singles?) and backed Lady Eleanore. This meant that it wasn't ever released on an album until the advent of cds - when record companies realised they could sell us old fogies our record collections again.
The song was Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful and I have only just connected with where the title came from after all these years. "Trying to get silly but it's not working out too well" indeed. I have been reading David Pirie's A New Heritage Of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema and there in the acknowledgements is the quote:
". . . let us settle the matter for once and for all; the marvellous is always beautiful. In fact only the marvellous is beautiful." (Andre Breton: The Surrealist Manifesto)
Right, got it. That explains the nature of many of Hull's slightly more "out there" lyrics and, of course, the cover of his first solo album Pipedream:
Rene Magritte. When did you first discover Surrealism? For me it was, unbelievably, in the pages of a 1960's weekly newspaper - a precursor of Okay-type magazines, I guess, Reveille. There must have been an exhibition in London which they were reporting on. I loved the stuff immediately.
There is a huge relationship between British horror and Surrealism which needs exploring but not at this particular moment. I would love to have read interviews, or even interview him myself, with Hull but, alas, this wasn't to be - he was taken too early. I know that he was taken with Surrealism and the absurd, but I perhaps didn't quite realise how much.
Anyway, after all these years I have managed to begin to understand a song I've always loved - it's worth going back to songs you've always liked to work out what it is about them you liked - sometimes songs stay with us. I've certainly connected with that again.
Again, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it as it may appear to be a trivial song, but it's the fact that after all these years it can still speak to me.
I hear that Gary Moore died today. Although not a fan of the man particularly, 58 seems to be awfully young for an apparently healthy man to die. And given I'm 55 this week, it seems a bit near, if you know what I mean. He was an incredibly ugly man who owned Peter Green's Les Paul - the one used on Man of The World, Albatross etc. I saw ye man live quite a few times - including at The Marquee in the late 1970s - I went to see Stackridge (believe it or not) but they had to cancel. Moore stood in for them. Also, his first band Skid Row played Stevenage College the night we pushed a bath on wheels to Biggleswade and back for charity in 1973. But that's another story. And quite possibly, a surreal one, for sure.
I've still got the press cuttings to prove it happened.