- The Wild Swans (band)
Infobox musical artist
Name = The Wild Swans
Background = group_or_band
Years_active = 1980-1989
Zoo Records Strange Fruit Records
Associated_acts = Care
The Lotus Eaters
Icicle Works The Teardrop Explodes
Current_members = Paul Simpson
Past_members = Justin Stavely
Pete de Freitas
Ian McNabb Ian Broudie Rolo McGinty
The Wild Swans were a
Post-punkband from Liverpool, England, which formed in 1980 shortly after Paul Simpson (ex-keyboards) left The Teardrop Explodesand teamed up (on vocals) with Jeremy Kelly (guitar), Ged Quinn(keyboards), and Justin Stavely (drums). Stavely was later replaced by Alan Wills and although bass players came and went, Joseph Fearon played on both of the studio albums, recorded by a reincarnated Mark II version of the band.
Enjoying a degree of success and/or cult status in the USA,
Germany, UK, Japan, and especially the Philippines, The Wild Swans also spawned two interesting splinter projects; Care and The Lotus Eaters. As the parent outfit, The Wild Swans remained the cornerstone and historically, will probably be remembered as the most revered and influential of the three projects.
Opportunity first presented itself when
Pete de Freitasof Echo & the Bunnymen(an old friend and flatmate of Simpson's) received his first big royalty cheque and agreed to fund their first single "The Revolutionary Spirit" (1982, Zoo Records). De Freitas, who ended up financier, drummer and producer for the single, was credited under his middle names, Louis Vincent. Despite turning out to be Zoo's last ever, the single received a measure of critical acclaim and in time, even developed cult status, capturing the youthful optimism that existed on the Liverpool indie scene in those early days of post-punk. However, with the collapse of their label, circumstances somehow conspired to prevent further progress and the band failed to capitalize on this short-lived momentum.
They were only intermittently active through the 1980s; the first split occurred very soon after this auspicious debut and resulted in Kelly starting up The Lotus Eaters with co-founder Peter Coyle. Simpson followed suit with the Care project, teaming up with
Ian Broudie. Strangely, Arista Records, who had refused to sign The Wild Swans, then snapped up both of the offshoots. Simpson later described this as "paying twice the price for half of the magic."
In 1986, the session recorded for a Radio 1
John PeelShow, was finally released on Strange Fruit Records, containing the tracks "No Bleeding," "Enchanted," and "Thirst." For fans, the EP represented the closest thing to "the album that never was" and hope of a re-union was rekindled.
1988, a second incarnation of the band came together and the long-awaited, debut albumfinally emerged. Titled "Bringing Home The Ashes" (1988, Sire/Reprise Records), it was produced by Paul Hardiman and yielded two singles, "Young Manhood" and "Bible Dreams". Simpson is nowadays disparaging of the sound developed on the album and feels that some of the aura and magic surrounding the (Mark I) Wild Swans had been lost. "Major label thinking is like a virus, you forget why you started the band and fall into the 'hit' record mind-set". He went on to offer even more stark words of wisdom for those thinking of setting up a band: "Major labels suck the poetry from your bones and fill the gaps with a cement made from cocaine and crushed teenagers". The album was issued on CD in the States initially, followed by UK and German releases. In 1996, the album was re-released in the Philippines, and in 1999 in Japan, although at the moment it remains frustratingly deleted in the UK. In 1991 a rare bootleg yellow vinyl 12" disc was issued in the Philippines, featuring an uncredited dance remix of "Bringing Home the Ashes". The Philippines also played host to the 2006 compilation, "The Wild Swans - The Platinum Collection", which collected all ten tracks from "Bringing Home the Ashes" as well as eight of the ten tracks from its follow up.
A second album on Sire was released in 1989. "Space Flower" was produced by Ian Broudie and both Chris Sharrock (drums) and
Ian McNabb(additional guitars, vocals) of the Liverpool three piece, the Icicle Worksappeared as guest musicians. Broudie pitched in too, on guitars and organ, filling the vacuum created by departed members Quinn and Kelly. Simpson refers to this latter version of the band as simply, 'himself and a few friends'. The material written for the album had a hint of things to come from Simpson's next project, but most curiously, a food-flavouring theme, depicted by the tracks "Melting Blue Delicious", "Tangerine Temple", "Chocolate Bubble-Gum" and "Vanilla Melange". The album was released in the US, Germany and Japan, but not in the UK. A planned single release of "Melting Blue Delicious" failed to materialise, although two remixes of the track were done; the radical "St. Petersburg Mix" (remixed by Paul Simpson's old Zoo Records bosses Dave Balfeand Bill Drummond) and a slightly remixed single version, apparently done by Drummond on his own. The "St. Petersburg Mix" appeared on a 1990 Sire Records promo CD called "Just Say Da (Just Say Yes Volume 4)" and the single mix is the first track on 2000's "Unearthed - Liverpool Cult Classics Volume 1", released on Viper Records. Drummond subsequently provided vocals for the eponymous track on the Skyray album "Mind Lagoons" in 1999 (where he is credited under the pseudonym "Tensing Browne").
The Wild Swans split up again shortly after "Space Flower" and Simpson went on to form his own project 'Skyray', recording several (mostly ambient, instrumental) singles, EPs and albums. Inexplicably, he stopped singing altogether for ten years or so and has only recently been experimenting again with vocals for a possible forthcoming untitled solo album. Simpson's new work is being assisted by Quinn, who appears to be taking time out from a fruitful foray into the art world. Meanwhile, Kelly has re-engaged with The Lotus Eaters, prompting the re-release of their original 1984 album "No Sense of Sin" and also a new album, "Silentspace".
In 2003, a retrospective collection of rare Wild Swans recordings was compiled and released by Renascent Records. "Incandescent", is a double CD containing material from 1981-1987, but mostly from the band's earliest period. It includes the Peel, Jensen and Long Sessions, as well as a number of live songs, demos and alternative versions. An accompanying booklet features biographical information on the band and a detailed track by track commentary from Simpson. The familiar 'Icarus Swan' artwork, which first appeared on the cover of "The Revolutionary Spirit", also returns for a second outing.
In a 2004 interview, Simpson was asked for his verdict on The Wild Swans and replied:
In 2007, after many years of deletion, Sire Records finally elected to re-release both "Bringing Home the Ashes" and "Space Flower", this time giving them a full UK release. Both albums were re-packaged as a 2-CD set called "Magnitude", whose cover and artwork this time mirrored 1988's "Wild Swans - Music and Talk From Liverpool" album, complete with familiar Swan design. The album itself was released as part of Sire's April 2007 relaunch of the Korova label, alongside other re-releases from acts like Ian McCulloch and
Electrafixion, all 2-CD sets with extra tracks. "Magnitude" CD 1 features the whole of "Bringing Home the Ashes" and the four b-sides from the singles "Young Manhood" and "Bible Dreams", all mastered from the original tapes.
CD 2 features the first UK appearance of the "Space Flower" album, with the addition of an extra track, recorded back in 1989 but left off the album at the time, called "Tastes Like Tuesday". Another studio recording is the
Bill Drummondunreleased single remix of "Melting Blue Delicious", a very Madchester-style reworking, incorporating some of Drummond's dancefloor-friendly abilities as one half of The KLF.
The second disc concludes with five demo recordings, made by Simpson back in late 1988, including early versions of "Melting Blue Delicious" (called "Telescope") and another mix of "Tastes Like Tuesday".
The demos had initially piqued Sire's interest, but by the time the album was actually recorded, their ardour had distinctly cooled. None have been released before, but their inclusion on "Magnitude" provides a crisp melodic immediacy that bridges the gap between both albums.
"Magnitude" enjoyed a relatively short physical shelf life as a 2-CD set, however, as in June 2007
Warner Brothers(UK) was disbanded by the parent company, and the recent 2-CD reissues of Liverpool and related acts was ceased. After this date, no more physical CDs of "Magnitude" were pressed, although it is still available as download. In early 2008, a US reissue company called "Wounded Bird" re-released both discs of the "Magnitude Set", this time as the two original albums with extra tracks. These CDs are still available to buy as of July 2008.
The Wild Swans'
myspacealso started to feature new tracks from a proposed third Wild Swans album (according to Simpson's blog entries, a concept album called "The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years") in late 2007. Three songs have appeared so far, all similar in style to their debut of 1987, and all recorded in demo form. Simpson has stated he will not release this new album until "everything note is perfect". The original released date of summer 2008 has now been breached.
*The Lotus Eaters
* [http://www.skyray.co.uk/archive/ws1.htm Discography Wild Swans Mark I]
* [http://www.skyray.co.uk/archive/ws2.htm Discography Wild Swans Mark II]
* [http://www.renascent.co.uk Renascent, Band History, Q&A, Images]
* [http://www.noripcord.com/?q=node/306 Interview 1]
* [http://www.whisperinandhollerin.co.uk/chat/chat.asp?id=1392 Interview 2]
* [http://www.thewildswans.co.uk The Wild Swans homepage]
* [http://members.tripod.com/~lotuseaters/ The Lotus Eaters homepage]
* [http://www.lightning-seeds.co.uk Ian Broudie, Lightning Seeds homepage]
* [http://www.skyray.co.uk Skyray homepage]
* [http://www.renascent.co.uk Renascent label website]
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