Thursday, 14 March 2013

Desert Island Discs 37 Songs From the Deep Forest by Duke Special

37 Songs From the Deep Forest by Duke Special 2007

I had thought the days of polished smart pop that I used to love in the late 80s had gone for good . The televised karaoke had kicked it into touch.

Then this came out by Pete Wilson recording under the name Duke Special, the kind of record that could have sat beside Danny Wilson . Prefab Sprout etc. 20 years earlier.

I'd actually got one lp by Pete Wilson in an earlier guise (Booley) although I only realised it when researching an earlier post about the singer.

It has everything I love about music, smart lyrics , warm melodies that are as comfortable as old slippers , the kind of classic song writing with echoes to an earlier time and a bit of quirkiness in the arrangements

There are the seeds of some of Duke Special's more ambitious work here with a sense of theatre and at times vaudeville in the song writing and the arrangements. However strip away the strings and the brass and you have a set of tunes that become familiar so quickly you feel sure they must be cover versions

The songs seem more personal on this debut with later works more character studies/short stories, and each song has at least one killer line

"Save me from the movies and someone else's dreams" could have come from Paddy Mac's pen

The backings range from the wall of sound that is Freewheel (I don't want to stand still I just want to Freewheel has become his manifesto)

To songs of fragile beauty

To big pop songs

I'll leave with the lp highlight, stick with it as the mindless gig chatter slowly dies away due to the power of the performance. If you've ever lost a friend too soon then I defy you to listen to this and keep a dry eye

If by a chance this is new to you and you miss the days when pop music could be smart then give this a go. You can buy Songs From here


  1. I really like Duke when he tones down the ragtime/vaudeville shtick, but there's just too much of it on his albums to make my list... He certainly has talent, and I can see him making a great, great record some day.

    I've decided to scrap my original #37 -Smiths 'Hatful Of Hollow'... I tried my best to rationalize it's validity as an entry, but after all of the comments I've read over the past couple of days, the guilt has made me cave and withdraw it. Unfortunately, none of the band's proper releases satisfies me enough to make my list. On the other hand Hatful is brilliant, and worthy of high placement. Alas, there will be no Smiths on my list...

    OK, I need a sub...

    #37 - CHALK CIRCLE - The Great Lake (1986)

    - Toronto band that had a big hit with 'April Fool' here in Canada. It's one of my favorite singles from the 80's; one that always gets me playing air guitar... The rest of the album is solid too. There's certainly an air of Echo & the Bunnymen on other tracks, and they actually had their biggest hit tackling a T. Rex cover...

    April Fool:
    20th Century Boy:
    Me, Myself & I:
    Big White Clouds:

  2. Glad to see TT putting on my hair shirt.
    Rules is rules...
    I agree with him on the Duke's vaudeville thing; he gets my attention and then starts juggling and tap dancing... he does have a way with melody though; please ask him to move away from underneath the arches...

  3. I bought this after you introduced him to me some time ago .Like Tim says, I think he has a great album in him, but this isn't it. It's a very good album but didn't make my list. Certainly one for the subs bench.
    #37 James Kirk - You can make it if you boogie. The ex-Orange Juicer made this one and only solo album and it's a corker.Great melodies and jangling guitars.Just my cup of tea.

  4. a tad harsh all as there is a gap in the market for a new Arthur Askey

    His last lp is worth a listen - a much more straight forward pop lp

  5. meant to say phil I've got the James kirk lp another great marina release (are they still going ??)

  6. Marina are still going and should be releasing a new Pearlfishers album later in the year

  7. Miracle Mile nearly signed to Marina about 50 years ago.
    I remember lots of long winded messages; everyone was called 'Klaus' or maybe 'Herman'...
    Seemed like a good fit at the time. They changed their mind at the last minute; can't remember why... maybe because the singer was too old...


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