Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Saints - "Call It Mine"

As much as I loved the original Saints (with both Ed Kuepper and Chris Bailey), I have always had a soft spot for the Saints Mark II, a version that Chris Bailey started to much consternation in 1979/1980 (after Ed and everybody else had left).

The consternation revolved around Bailey's entitlement to call his band the Saints, something that will never be resolved.

For fans of both Ed and Chris, it was like being asked to take sides in an ugly divorce. Nobody wins. Sometimes, you're just better off keeping your head down and ignoring the fuss.

I had loved "Prehistoric Sounds" and still regard it as the best Australian album ever.

Ed Kuepper took that sound and explored it in the Laughing Clowns. One day, Ed will be appreciated as rock music's equivalent of Miles Davis, except coming from the other side of the fence.

Chris Bailey headed in the opposite direction.

Despite all of the New Wave experimentation in the wake of punk (Gang of Four, Wire, Magazine), Bailey ventured into some modest studio in south London and came up with an E.P. full of immodest but "mid tempo rockers" called "Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow".

This wasn't cool enough for NME or many other Saints fans, but I'm sorry, I was just totally knocked out by it. Three songs in particular - Simple Love, Don't Send Me Roses and Call It Mine.

Simple Love grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go.

However, I recently decided that I had to elevate Call It Mine to top billing, when I was making a ringtone for my phone.

The cascading guitars that introduce the song were just what I needed to hear every time someone rang me.

So, how to describe the sound?

It's not a slashing punk buzzsaw kind of sound. It's dirty, it's mid tempo and it's jangly.

Looking for something similar in my collection, I keep returning to the Byrds doing "Mr Tambourine Man", especially live.

So a few years before R.E.M., the Saints were playing with a dirty jangly sound.

The chorus introduces a more chugging sound, some would say more pub rock, but there's also an eastern feel.

It's also multi-tracked, so I love trying to work out the interaction of the guitars, so that one day if I ever get around to learning, maybe I'll be able to mimic the sound.

Over the top of this, imagine Chris Bailey's vocals.

They're monosyllabic, somehow stumbling or jumping or leap-frogging from one syllable to another without tripping or losing momentum.

Somehow it all pieces togther into some deceptively passionate singing. It's almost soul music, it's stripped back, it's personal, it's revealing. And those guitars just keep jangling and chugging and driving it along.

Unfortunately, it's still pretty hard to find any versions of the song.

I had to pay a lot of money to get my favourite version on the 16 track New Rose release of the subsequent album "The Monkey Puzzle".

It's also on the New Rose version of the album "Out in the Jungle" (also released as "Casablanca") in an inferior faster guise.

I live in hope that they'll remaster the whole of "The Monkey Puzzle" and add "Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow" one today.

I've never been happy with any of the versions of the album, and they seem to choose versions of some of my favourite songs that aren't the best available.

Unfortunately, it's possible that the E.P. was done so much on the cheap that no amount of remastering will help. However, I still think that they could put together a pretty good CD of this transitional material recorded in 1980 and 1981.

It's timeless, but that doesn't mean it should be lost in time.

Hey, there goes my phone...

1 comment:

sweeney said...

I saw the post-Kuepper Saints in Camden in 83 or thereabouts, and have a well worn vinyl copy of Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow someplace in my parents house. And I think you're spot on; Call It Mine is the standout track on that EP.