Thursday, 27 September 2012

Desert Island Discs 121 - Coldest Winter for a Thousand Years by the Wild Swans

121 - The Coldest Winter for a Thousand Years by The Wild Swans 2011

Paul Simpson has been making music in various guises since the late 70s. From the Teardrop Explodes through to Care and various line ups of the Wild Swans he has made some fantastic records although the lps have flattered a bit to deceive. However out of the blue last year came his masterpiece.

It starts with a rallying cry in Falling to Bits

"from the checkout girl to the 14th earl are you with me
from the lifeboat crew to the theatre queue are you with me"

and ends with a despairing cry against town planners and the relentless supermarket march in Bluebell Wood

In between we have a state of the nation address that covers the where we are as a country in the William Blake like English Electric Lightning  as well as the personal in the reflections on mortality and family.

All to the backing of top pop tunes , sweeping keyboards , jangling guitars and Simpson's rich vocals together which add up to a record that touches the emotions much more than I'd ever expect and gets better each time I hear it

Lost at Sea - The Wild Swans

Just to confuse matters the band also have recorded a spoken word track the Coldest Winter that doesn't appear on the lp. I've posted it as it captures a time in Liverpool where so many of the bands I liked were about to be born (a kind of tribute to the bunnymen's fantastic drummer Pete De Freitus who died so tragically before his time)

You can buy Coldest Winter here

On a completely separate note just bought the new Deacon Blue lp - the Hipsters early signs are that it is a classic - you can get it here


  1. I love entering the world of Paul Simpson's Wild Swans. It's still rooted in the early 80's post punk Northwest.
    As for The Hipsters....I agree, I will be listening to this record for the rest of the year! Already a classic!

  2. Excellent post! I bought this from Occulation about a week after it came out, and it is a perfect standard for a 'Desert Island' pick. I also picked up the short EP entitled 'Tracks In Snow'. The spoken word video you attached is awesome and, though I never lived in England, teary-eyed emotional! I had to record the video as I don't have the track itself. Thanks again!

  3. Creepy... I was just listening to this album last night. Truth!
    Nice choice. Great album/band. Discovered them in the Philippines (where my wife's from originally) back in the late 80's; along with China Crisis and Fra Lippo Lippi. Massive there!!! Bizarre example:
    While I love this album, for me the more sunny Bringing Home The Ashes edges it out, solid front to back. Coming up later on my list...
    Pop Quiz: I've got another band on my list that sound much like Wild Swans. Hint: from Pennsylvania, a colour in the band's name...

  4. This album appearing last year really was a pleasant surprise ,and unlike a lot of comeback albums sounds great. I love the track 'chloroform'.
    Number 121 for me is The Candle Thieves debut from 2009, 'Sunshine and other misfortunes'. Wonderful catchy songs that were the sountrack to my summer. Can't wait to hear their new one 'Balloons'
    Tim - That would be Ocean Blue. Haven't heard them for ages! I have a compilation on mini disc somewhere I'll have to dig out
    Tel Aviv
    ps Thanks for the Deacon Blue tip....yet more money to spend! It's been an almost too good year for new music,I'm skint.

  5. OK, I'm going to play but, as I am famously half arsed I'll cite cds that I'm currently rediscovering.
    'All American Alien Boy' by Ian Hunter goes in at 121 because... I've been reminded of his master's voice by the recent release of Jim Fay's 'Life is People'.
    AAAB and the eponymous 'Ian Hunter' are both superb; have not dated, still make me weep and skip like a six year old...

  6. Good shout Trev, Ian Hunter along with Bowie ,Bolan and Ferry were the sound of the seventies for me and will show up later in my desert island discs.
    Never heard AAAB but will do so.

  7. The Wild Swans is a brilliant choice and what a comeback with this release. Paul Simpson is a genius - he had me hooked with their first single (which I bought several copies of and gave them to my friends) and I never stopped collecting his musical adventures. I loved Space Flower and Bringing Home The Ashes along with all the Care EP's. I put a few comments up on Amazon about it -

  8. Bingo Phil! I would've bet the farm that Ocean Blue would be off everyone's radar. You've won, um... my unconditional admiration for your vast music trivia knowledge! Can't think of a Yank band more Brit sounding than Ocean Blue's dreamy jangle-pop...

  9. Hi Echo - the DB lp is great isnt it - everything just right from the cover down to the last note
    Hi Robert - I missed out on tracks in the snow so will head over to the website to try and get it - dopr me a line with your email address and I'll send you a link for the audio file of the spoken word track
    Hi Tim - both CC's Falunt the imperfection and FLL's Songs made an earlier version of the top 125 and on another day would both probabaly pop back in - I've always thought I should like Ocean Blue simply beacuse of their name but never heard any of their stuff - where would be a good place to start?

    Hi Phil - love the Candle Theives lp but didnt know another was on its way so thanks for the tip off

    Hi Wally - Space Flower is the one I never got - what is it like - his website is full of stuff he has been playing about with that i need to work through buying

    Hi Trev - scarily yesterday my boss was raving about the Bill Fay lp and telling me i should get it so with 2 recommends I've got to give it a go now

  10. 'Life is People' is a lovely thing; you have to go with the religious ramblings but it is a worthy (and wordy) journey worth taking. The sound of a man genuinely at peace with himself...

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  12. Oops...
    Where to start with The Ocean Blue? I think "Beneath The Rhythm & Sound" fits your 'soft spot' criteria... I've got an extra CD. Give me an address I can pop in the mail. Email:

    Itching for DB"s "Hipsters" to arrive. Amazing title track video.

  13. Making a difference, sir. This one has been on my list a long while. Your post got me out of the house and into the record store today. Thanks for the nudge.

  14. Hi Brian

    let me know what you think - it did take a bit of time for me to really get its hooks in

  15. Deacon Blue album so far 3 out of 5 stars.
    Great album is a grower.
    You all must download the extra two tracks, one from signing up to the deacon blue website newsletter and the other from iTunes.
    Both extra tracks are potentially better than some tracks on the album.

  16. Hi David

    thanks for the tip off re the extra tracks

    Have you seen the video for the title track (its on you tube)

    It has already grown to a 4/5 for me!

  17. Currently 3 stars from me...


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