It was July '98 (I think) that I ventured to The Flapper and Firkin in downtown Birmingham to see my current faves The Mutton Birds plug the 'Envy of Angels' album. I purchased my customary Diet Cola beverage (60% water, 35% nobrand cola drink, 5% sweat) and settled in to watch the support band. As we all know, this can be a bit of a lottery and often we can be treated to:
A terrible local band showing off in front of masses of their mates who vanish the moment they have finished
Some terrible labelmates of the main band who should have 'Tax Loss' stencilled over all their gear
A terrible solo acoustic guitar toting Nick Drake wannabe who really should have stayed in the back bedroom
A well meaning but mis-matched and terrible band booked by the promoter who are completely inappropriate for the main band, venue, audience or indeed, each other
A terrible band who are mates with the terrible sound man who should have all their equipment seized by the government
But tonight was different. Shambling onstage were a band from Wolverhampton, just a few miles down the road. Not the most auspicious of introductions as Wolverhampton hasn't got the greatest history of producing Kick-ass Rock and Roll. Slade are from the outskirts of Wolvo and Scott Matthews (awesome contemporary singer songwriter) was born just downwind, but it's not a rich heritage. So, these four plain looking blokes picked up their guitars and were quietly incredible. None of the songs got past mid tempo. There were no howls of anguish from a dark place. No face melting uber-shreding solos were performed. Just fantastic music. A sort of delicious hybrid of Neil Young and The Blue Nile. In fact they did a beautiful version of Uncle Neil's 'Helpless' that night. And then they shuffled off again. Don McGlashan was moved to say during the MBs set 'I don't know about you, but I thought Mudskipper were bloody beautiful'. And he was right. They were.
But like so many Midlands bands, their low key approach was to be their downfall. They issued a stunning, self released CD and then got a deal with Pomona who released another CD featuring tracks they'd already issued on their 'first' CD. They were that kind of band. They were massive in Willenhall, but sadly, nowhere else. After a fairly intensive trawl of the Interweb, I came up with nothing, apart from one lovely quote where they were described by a local paper as 'Wolverhampton's quietest band'. What an accolade!
So low key were the band, that I didn’t even know they made an album until about three months ago when an offhand comment by a member of my band resulted in a halted rehearsal and a frantic scramble for the CD. No viral marketing for these boys, then.
Posted here for your delectation is the 'self produced' CD with a couple of tracks from the rerecorded ‘second’ album which didn’t appear on the first. The Pomona (8 track) version is still easily available second hand on Fleabay or Amazon. Expect to pay no more than three quid. Both are called ‘Eggshells’, rather confusingly.
I know you've never heard of these guys, but check out the sample above. It's a stunning album and well worth a download. If you like it, let me know. I've found out that the Guitarist is still active as a promoter on the local music scene, so I'm sure he'd love to hear any comments, however belated.
01 Another World - Eggshells
02 Close My Eyes
03 Walking Away
04 Feeling Fine
05 Growing Pains
07 Come Alive
08 Window Seat
10 Only Love
11 The Tunnel