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The least inspiring chapter in the genius life of Mick Head
on 1 May 2000
I'm relatively new to the genius of Michael Head. Through NME hype I bought the Comedy single and loved it, as much for the joyous rush of stunning B-side 24 Hours. Yet HMS fable was a big disappointment for me; where Comedy rang out clear and true like a foghorn cutting through mist with the weight of pure pop, HMS Fable largely seemed to be a collection of boorish "anthems", reaching a nadir with arguably Head's worst ever song, Lend Some Dough. A big, overblown Hugh Jones/Youth production flattened the songs, much as Ian Broudie had done on Head's early 80's pop-folk heroes, Pale Fountains', second LP, From Across the Kitchen Table. If you want to hear just a smidgen of what HMS fable *might* have sounded like pick up a copy of recent single Oscar and wonder at how marvellous Streets of Kenny sounds in its acoustic glory.
Yet there was enough in songs like HMS Fable, Comedy and Daniella to make me seek out more Head sounds. And this is where you should really go instead of this.
Waterpistol, the lost album, only released four years after it's immaculate conception is, without doubt, one of *the* pop albums of all time. Right from the opening drum rush and stop-start rhythm of Sgt. Major this is an awesome, inspirational experience. A melancholy pop overload, that almost overloaded my circuitry Next track Neighbours, with it's addictive chorus and beautiful harmonies, is even better. Tracks like Hazy and Mr Appointment are rushes of pure songwriting energy; simple chords overlaid with elaborate melodies and Mick's fallen choirboy voice.
So buy Waterpistol, with HMS Fable if you must; it has it's good points.
Then go back and check out The Strands (another Mick Head moniker) dreamlike, heroin-inspired, Magical World of the Strands album and the magic of the Pale Fountains, particularly Marina's Longshot for your Love collection of the odds and sods that far outweighs the quality of the Paley's major label albums, Pacific Street and From Across the Kitchen Table. Beautiful, Love-inspired folk acoustic melodies, complemented perfectly by Andy Diagram's angelic trumpet.
Go buy and put Mick in that special place next to your heart. He may never have a Top 40 hit (the wonderful new single Oscar, a Hugh Jones/Youth free-zone reached an ignominous No.67 and the heavily Radio1 backed Comedy stiffed at No.44) But sod chart placings because Mick Head rules and always will. That is P!O!P!