Sunday, 10 February 2013

Desert island Discs 53 Life's Hard and Then You Die by Its Immaterial

53 Life's Hard and Then You Die by Its Immaterial 1986

Along with Furniture it is a crime that this band will forever go down as a one hit wonder, and worse than that it is sometimes refered to as a novelty song

The follow up single was a big pop song and if anything even better with its soaring harmonies by the Christians ..... it flopped

The video summed up a lot about why I liked It's Immaterial and also probably why they couldnt find mainstream success. Ideas overflow , an everything but the kitchen sink approach , and too dam clever by half (I'll ignore the essential 80s white doves) . The same could be said of the debut lp Life's Hard and Then you Die.

On one hand you have great pop songs , on the other you have strange folk tunes , chants , lullabys all feeling like they've emerged from one great big melting pot.

The record company with true lack of insight thought well lets go back to a track that has spoken bits in and a sung chorus , that will do the trick as it did with Driving .... it flopped

Having released the worst track on the lp as a single by the time the catchiest of pop songs was released it was too late and the one hit wonder label was fixed

The backing sees a host of traditional instruments , banjo , trumpet , fiddle , acoustic guitar all fed through a sampler. This makes the sound distinctly off kilter even if a tad dated in places. What I love about it is that there is so much going on that I always seem to be discovering something new each time I play it

They went on the make 2 more lps (one the holy grail of an unreleased lp House for Sale which having heard it , if it had been released would have been on the chart) which were much more reflective minimalist affairs , closer to the Blue Nile (they even used their producer) but it is the debut for its pure ambition that I keep going back to

Lullaby - Its Immaterial

Ahead of their time ( the short clip below reminds me a bit of The Arcade Fire approach of get everyone on stage ) and you felt they would rather be living in the time of the dada movement , but so much more than a one hit wonder

you can buy Lifes Hard here


  1. I bought, & loved their earlier single White Man's Hut but never dug any deeper. I still play it every now and then. Rather brilliant it is too.
    You've got me started listening.

  2. Life's Hard And Then You Die is an essential album. The mixing bowl approach of genres and styles was pulled of with aplumb. I always thought that LHATYE had a bit of a feeling of Anglo Talking Heads. Driving Away From Home was the first song played in the first car I ever owned.

  3. Yep, I'm one of those guilty of buying the 12" extended versions of 'Driving', Furniture's 'Brilliant Mind' & Christian's 'Hooverville' but not exploring much further. Actually, I think I did buy Christian's debut LP which was pretty good as I recall.
    I've just been listening to several audio clips from second Its Immaterial LP "Song"... Very different from the debut; seems they became a shameless Blue Nile clone, and I quite like it!!! Apparently, Its Immaterial kept Blue Nile out of Callum Malcolm's Castlesound studios, delaying Blue Nile from recording Hats for nearly a year. Paul Buchanan reportedly said "I don't remember much about their record other than the fact their song titles sounded like anagrams of ours" (see Allan Brown's biog of BN (Nileism). "Song" not the album you've picked, but thanks for guiding me to it. I like all of the tracks I've heard so much that I'm ordering it!

    #53 - MEMPHIS - Here Comes A City (2011)

    - I did a piece on this album over on Hissyfit @ a few months ago so won't belabor. Yes, I do prefer this Torquil Campbell side project to his full-time band STARS. Torn between this and "A Little Place in The Wilderness" which has grown on me a lot...

  4. I get the Arcade Fire Fire thing on the last clip.
    I like it now; would've loved it then...
    The main Christian (Terry?) called me way back to tell me that he thought that Miracle Mile's 'Sunburst Finish' was his "pop song of the year.." which was nice.
    I like The Memphis stuff TT; need to hear more.

    1. Trev... "main" Christian appears to be either Garry or Jesus. He certainly has excellent taste in music...

    2. We've always moved in lofty circles TT.
      I think it was Gazza not Jazza (who I always thought a little over rated...)

  5. I haven't heard this for years. Thanks for the reminder.You're right,they were much more than 'one hit wonders'.
    TIM - Bought Memphis last year after reading your report. Very good album ( but prefer Stars).
    # 53 an album that you've already mentioned. Japan - Tin Drum. An album that's aged probably better than anything else from the new romatic era.

  6. I was more looking forward to professional manc terry Christian getting his tonsils around hooverville

  7. Hi Seamus - I've got white man's hut and another early release - something about a giant raft??.
    Echo - good call re the talking heads on some of their stuff although as Tim points out they drifted into Blue Nile waters for the 2nd lp


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