Shack H.M.S. Fable
Everyone knows that Mick Head’s Pale Fountains were cruelly ignored. Although there was nothing original about their brand of indie pop, the three albums they released in the early 80s were more than a match to more established acts like China Crisis, or The Colourfield. “Thank you” and “Jean’s Not Happening” were classic unsung singles of the era, critically approved, commercially forgotten. NME would suggest that Mick Head was “a lost genius and among the most gifted British songwriters of his generation”. The formation of Shack in 1986 promised a fresh slate, and a chance for the brothers to achieve the success they richly deserved. “HMS Fable”, their third long player, brings a subtle brand of pastoral English pop with a gentle hint of folk, and Arthur Lee’s breezy influence all resulting in some sparkling creations. “Comedy” and “Natalie’s Party” are beautifully crafted singles, but it’s when one ventures deeper that the real rewards begin to surface. References to the years wasted by de-habilitating drug use on “The Streets Of Kenny” show the desperate search for a hit. “I’m searching through the streets again, can’t get shit, get any. Can’t find Joe or Benny, I don’t want a bag, I want a big one”, as the music drifts from gently drifting fragility into a guitar led instrumental break that’s rousing, angry and tinged with an urgency that reflects the victim’s fruitless search. The jovial “Lend’s Some Dough” cheekily pulls on the heartstrings, as the bright musical landscape shrouds lyrics that capture the shadowy world of addiction. The classic sea shanty of “The Captain’s Table” is tender, imaginative and includes breathy harmony vocals that roll with the waves. “Since I Met You” delivers the most memorable descending chorus to a story of a store hold up where the plastic gun wielding perpetrator is shot in the knee caps One day, Mick and John Head will be rewarded for their creative ardour. Songs like these can’t possibly be overlooked. It would be one of the biggest musical travesties.