Cranes (band)

Cranes (band)

Cranes singer Alison Shaw
Background information
Origin Portsmouth
Genres dream pop
Years active 1986–1997, 2000–present
Labels Bite Back
Alison Shaw
Jim Shaw
Paul Smith
Ben Baxter
Jon Callender
Past members
Mark Francombe
Matt Cope
Manu Ross

Cranes are a British music group formed in 1986, whose style has been described as "gothic minimalism".



Formed in 1986 in Portsmouth, England by siblings Alison and Jim Shaw,[1] and named after the many mechanical cranes around the city's docks, Cranes are best known for the childlike, high-pitched vocals of lead singer Alison.

The band's first release was the self-financed Fuse cassette.[1] They recorded the Self Non Self mini-LP in 1989, which led to them recording their first of two sessions for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show.[2][3] They then to the BMG offshoot Dedicated Records in 1990.[1] With the addition of Mark Francombe and Matt Cope (both guitar), they released a series of EPs in 1990 and 1991 that preceded their debut full-length album, Wings of Joy, which reached number 52 on the UK Albums Chart.[1] Following a general softening of their sound, the introduction of pop elements to their music, and a world tour with The Cure in 1992, the band's popularity increased, and peaked with the release of the album Forever (UK #40), which contained their biggest hit single, "Jewel" (UK #29).[1]

The band fell silent for a period of approximately four years after the release of Population 4 in 1997, and the subsequent closure of Dedicated, with the original line-up breaking up.[4] In 2000, the Shaws formed a new line-up and began writing music again, and released Future Songs and Particles and Waves on their own label, Dadaphonic.[4] These albums signified a change in the overall style of their music, emphasising its ambient, ethereal qualities. Despite heading in a more electronic direction, however, the band's music continued to revolve around Alison Shaw's distinctive singing. In 2002 the band again supported The Cure, at Hyde Park and several European festivals.[4]

Musical style

The band's music has been described as "gothic minimalism", although the band themselves disputed the 'gothic' tag.[1][5] They have also been described as dream pop.[5] In the early 1990s they were briefly lumped in with the "shoegazing" bands of the era.[1]

Much has been made of Alison Shaw's vocals, with descriptions ranging from "the helium tones of a small child",[6] "baby-doll-voiced",[7] and "a mewling, childish wisp of a voice".[8] One reviewer described the band: "Imagine a small child singing lullabies at the bottom of the well with a background of grinding guitars".[9]

Band members

  • Alison Shaw - vocals, guitar
  • Jim Shaw - guitar
  • Mark Francombe - guitar, bass guitar, keyboards (1989–1997)
  • Matt Cope - guitar (1989–1997)
  • Paul Smith - guitar and keyboards (1995–present)
  • Jon Callender - drums (2000–present)
  • Ben Baxter - bass guitar (200?–present)



  • Fuse (MC, 1986)
  • Self-Non-Self (1989), Bite Back
  • Wings of Joy (1991), Dedicated/RCA - UK #52[10]
  • Forever (1993), Dedicated/RCA - UK #40[10]
  • Loved (1994), Dedicated/Arista
  • La tragédie d'Oreste et Électre (1996), Dedicated/Arista (Limited Edition)
  • Population 4 (1997), Dedicated/Arista
  • EP Collection, Vol. 1 & 2 (1997), Dedicated
  • Future Songs (2001), Dadaphonic
  • Live in Italy (2003), Dadaphonic
  • Particles and Waves (2004), Dadaphonic
  • Live at Paradiso 1991 (2007) (for download only)
  • Cranes (2008), Dadaphonic

Singles & EPs

  • Inescapable (1990), Dedicated - 4 non-album tracks
  • Espero (1990), Dedicated - 3 non-album tracks
  • Adoration (1991), Dedicated - 2 tracks including a non-album B-side
  • Tomorrow's Tears (1991), Dedicated - 4 tracks including 2 non-album tracks
  • Adrift (1993), Dedicated - 3 tracks including 1 non-album track
  • Jewel (1993), Dedicated/RCA - UK #29,[10] 3 different releases with remixes. One of them includes a non-album track
  • Forever Remixes (1993) - 6 remixes of a few tracks from the Forever album
  • Shining Road (1994), Dedicated - UK #57,[10] 2 different releases each of them with 4 tracks including 2 (different) non-album tracks
  • Can't Get Free (1997), Dedicated - 5 tracks including 4 non-album tracks
  • Submarine (2002) - 8 remixes of a few tracks from the Future Songs album
  • The Moon City/It's a Beautiful World (7", 2002), Elefant - 2 non-album tracks


The track Astronauts from the 2004 album Particles and Waves has been used as music for the American Express commercial with actress Kate Winslet.

Alison Shaw recorded a new song "Endormie" with the group Twine on their last album, Violets.

The track "Shining Road" was played in the film Eye for an Eye.

The television series Californication uses the track "Don't Wake Me Up" during the outro sequence and credits of Season 4, Episode 5.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 690-1
  2. ^ Bottomly, Mo (1991) "Cranes", Lime Lizard, March 1991, p. 4-6
  3. ^ "Cranes", Keeping it Peel, BBC, retrieved 2011-01-01
  4. ^ a b c Strutt, Anthony (2004) "Cranes : Interview with Alison Shaw",, 24 September 2004, retrieved 2010-12-28
  5. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0231-3, p. 105
  6. ^ Price, Simon (2010) "Paolo Nutini, Royal Albert Hall, London; Cranes, Jazz Café, London", The Independent, 11 April 2010, retrieved 2010-12-28
  7. ^ Hochman, Steve (1993) "England's Cranes Soar at the Whisky", Los Angeles Times, 18 September 1993, p. 10
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon (1992) "Cranes and Belly, Limelight", New York Times, 23 April 1992, retrieved 2010-12-28
  9. ^ VanNoy, Emily (1994) "Cranes Trade Gothic Pianos for Guitars", Cavalier Daily, 10 November 1994, p. 7, retrieved 2010-12-28
  10. ^ a b c d "Cranes", Chart Stats, retrieved 2010-12-28

External links

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