Buy This Record Please!

Let's not beat about the bush. This is no time for oblique hints or well-meaning grandiloquence.

If you only ever buy one more CD, make sure it is the Wild Swans' Incandescent collection on Renascent. If you care about the possibilities of pop music, the magical power of words and music and imagination combined, then you must have this set.

Quite simply it contains the best single ever in 'Revolutionary Spirit', and the most moving song ever in 'No Bleeding'. It is impossible to overstate the beauty of these songs. And many people will be hearing these recordings for the first time ever. I envy them.

So, some context! At the end of the 70s, some Liverpool characters, including the great Bill Drummond, started a very cool pop label called Zoo, and released fantastic records by the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen. Some of the records these groups made still sound fantastic. Lurking somewhere in the background at that time were Paul Simpson and Ged Quinn. At some point in the early 80s they stepped out of the shadows with the Wild Swans, and out-trumped everyone else in their Culture Bunker with one magnificent single, a giant-sized 45. Everyone at Zoo agreed it would be impossible to follow this, and ceremoniously called it a day. The Wild Swans themselves decreed it would be unbecoming to do anything quite so vulgar as actually make a career out of art, and drifted apart to search out strange and elusive pleasures. And that's it!

Except that along the way, that incarnation of the Wild Swans also recorded an assortment of BBC radio sessions, demos, and deigned to perform the occasional live show. So, hallelujah, two CDs worth of lost treasure is collected here, and the Wild Swans can reclaim their crown from pretenders like the Smiths, Orange Juice, and Associates, and laud it over us as the most glamorous, literary, exotic, and romantic of pop groups EVER! More addictive than laudanum and absinthe!

And credit has to be given to everyone involved in putting this whole package together. It creates the context for the Wild Swans' spectacular return, which is half the battle if you ask me. Labels like Cherry Red and LTM have too released some glorious salvage projects from the early 80s, and I would cheerfully get on my knees and say a prayer of thanks for them (Blue Orchids, Stockholm Monsters, Nightingales, and so on). Yet, the packaging has occasionally left something to be desired. This is something the Kent, Blood And Fire, Soul Jazz people are so good at, and thank god the Wild Swans have got the lavish, opulent packaging they so deserve.

If you need any final prompt, then here's what Bill Drummond has to say on the sleeve:

    'Not only was the Revolutionary Spirit by far the best single that we put out at Zoo but, in their short life, The Wild Swans captured that young man's idealistic vision thing, that yearning for a better world thing, better than any bunch of English young men since the Brotherhood first put paint to canvas back in the 1850s. Over-romanticised, of course, but we always need some of that.'

Amen to that! Now please contact the label and get yourself a copy of this wonderful record. Trust me!

© 2003 John Carney