Monday, 3 October 2011

Clandestine Classic XVIII - Davy Chase

This Is Not A Song cover artThe eighteenth post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

I'm starting to notice something of a pattern emerging in these Clandestine Classics - I seem to feature a lot of nearly men. You know, bands that almost make it big but stumble just when they're on the cusp. Once they stumble, quite a lot of these nearly men implode, but I'm pleased to say that wasn't the case with today's featured artists, The Frank And Walters. It's easy to forget (I had, until I started researching this post) that in their early days The Frank And Walters were supported by the likes of Radiohead and Suede - what ever became of them? (Oh, how I would "lol" if I could, but a love of the English language prevents me). Not only that but one Noel Gallagher had a brief spell on their road crew as a guitar tech. So how come The Franks were eclipsed? Why were they not bigger?

Part of the problem, I think, is that in those very early years quite a lot of their songs sounded the same. They certainly all had variations on the same post-Roses, pre-Britpop shuffly drum beat that you'll hear on today's Classic. And the thing is, there isn't necessarily a problem with all your songs sounding the same as long as enough people like how they sound... but that was where The Franks came unstuck. A core, loyal, diehard following loved how they sounded, but that core never really grew.

Let's look at this in more detail. The band were formed in Cork in 1990 by Paul Linehan (vocals/bass), his brother Niall (guitar) and Ashley Keating (drums). Wikipedia tells us that they took the band's name in honour of two eccentric Cork characters. Their debut single, Happy Busman, peaked at UK #49. Their next effort, This Is Not A Song, similarly stalled at UK #46. Their commercial peak came with the third single, the slightly more romantic After All, which climbed to the dizzy heights of UK #11 around Christmas of the same year. But after that they were back to the more conventional Franks' sound with Fashion Crisis Hits New York (UK #42) and that, I believe, was the last time they troubled the singles chart.

As the group progressesd and grew, band members changed and their sound evolved far beyond the rapid jingle-jangle of their early releases. Over time, this perhaps yielded a slightly wider (though probably less passionate) fan-base. As for me, well, I still prefer those early releases - I'm just a sucker for rapid jingle-jangle! Indeed, perhaps my most treasured Franks' recording is one I made myself, taping a live performance off the radio (back in the days before illegal downloading it was home-taping that was killing music, kids). Part of Sound City 93 in Sheffield, the Linehan brothers did a short acoustic set that, for me, was better than anything studio-based of theirs that I owned. But I haven't got around to digitising that old tape yet, so instead you'll have to make do with the excellent Davy Chase for today's Clandestine Classic, a B-side from the CD single release of This Is Not A Song. The Frank And Walters continued to ply their trade, happily, and have a couple of "best of" compilations on Amazon (this and this), neither of which feature today's Classic. I couldn't find a download for you either, so you'll just have to make do with YouTube. Here 'tis.

3 comments:

  1. The Man Of Cheese19 March 2013 at 16:54

    Pulled another cracker out of the bag here sir...in fact I think it could be the best of the lot. I'd totally forgotten this little beauty. My copy of this still resides at my previous address and there's little hope of getting any of my music back as you know - do you have this that I could copy? Keep 'em coming...

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    1. Cheers ears. Sadly I do not have the original of this song - at the time I taped it off you! I do have the album the A-side came from, plus two other singles from that time, all of which I can do the necessary with for you. As for Davy Chase, that's on a tape somewhere, probably in a box at the parentals. When I get the chance I'll dig it out and see if it's still playable.

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  2. That 1993 acoustic set I mentioned... is here, for now.

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