- Audio CD (24 Nov. 2014)
- Number of Discs: 4
- Format: Box set
- Label: Cherry Red
- ASIN: B00NVB0G5E
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,532 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Complete Albums, Singles And BBC Collection
Audio CD | Box Set
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80s indie stalwarts trading in politically energised guitar pop a true treasure chest of hooks, riffs and leftist messages. Excellent value and a must have for anybody with an interest in the 1980s British independent and alternative scenes or politically minded guitar pop. McCarthy disbanded in 1990 and two of its members went on to form the wonderful Stereolab. Other members have gone on to work in popular music and the media, and the band often receive exposure from Manic Street Preachers, who regularly cite their work as both beloved and influential.
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McCarthy were one of the vital indie groups of the eighties. I missed out on hearing their first singles when they came out, but remember first listening to tracks off I Am A Wallet on the John Peel Show and I was hooked.
Jangly, edgy, political, dark, bright, essential. McCarthy had a point to make and they made it. "Charles Windsor, who's at the door? At such an hour, who's at the door? In the back of an old green cortina, you're on your way to the guillotine" No doubts about their political leanings then. In the age of the Yuppie, Thatcher and stock market boom and bust, McCarthy were on the ball. "I could see them, I saw how rich they all were. At the head of the gang were top civil servants and captains of industry with well-manicured hands and greasy smiles enticing the populace - Come buy our shares! Who will buy our shares!", they sing on The Procession of Popular Capitalism. And with titles like Monetaries, And Tomorrow the Stock Exchange Will be The World, you get a pretty clear picture of where they were coming from. If you want a snapshot of the political mood in Britain in the eighties and the anger that was stirred up, this really hits the nail on the head. A world where "They promised me paradise if I fell under their spell, glazed-eyed passive citizens suit them very well...oh, this is the well of loneliness, and oh, of broken promises, where you have decided nothing changes," they opined on The Well of Loneliness.
And of course, if you still don't get it there's Red Sleeping Beauty, with it's shimmering guitars and pounding drums, driving the wondrous anthem on relentlessly. "While there's still a world to win, my red dream is everything!" They chose to wear their opinions proudly on their sleeve.
The first disc covers the earlier mentioned "I Am A Wallet", largely short, jangly songs. Easy on the ear musically, sucks you in to get you by the throat with the lyrics. They progressed through the wonderfully tuneful This Nelson Rockerfeller and Should The Bible Be Banned singles. The latter a darkly humorous tale of a modern day Cain and Abel. "My father hated me, he always took my brother's side, for Christmas he would get a car and I'd be given 50p," the singer reflects as he wonders in jail whether his copycat killing of the Genesis story should mean the bible should be banned.
The music got darker and longer on "The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth". While not my favourite of their three albums, there's still some great tunes here and a fantastic single in Keep an Open Mind or Else. The songs tend to be a little slower, but the political comment and social commentary is as present as ever in all the songs. Asking you to think, for example who's side are you on, in I'm Not A Patriot, But, with its lovely bouncy hook moving the song on.
The gentle shift to what would become Stereolab is apparent in the groove of their final album "Banking, Violence and the Inner Life Today" It opens with Margaret Thatcher proclaiming "long live free enterprise" before the wailing organ and slow beat take you on through the mesmerising song. "Oh human life, we would like to value it, but if there's no profit in it, what's the point?". Who would have known that you would want to dance to a song called And Tomorrow the Stock Exchange Will Be the Human Race or Write To Your MP Today, but you will want to. The narrative again is the same, observing the arrogance of the bankers on The Drinking Song Of The Merchant Bankers. "Let us have a little drink, people like us cannot sink", they sing, as the bankers deny the chance of their wealth disappearing. Stock market crash anyone? And their final single, possibly their most dance oriented song, imploring, "when you want to get something done you must get a knife between your teeth."
So as I say an essential listen and songs that force you to think. Their relevance is as important now as it was when they were written and it is fantastic that this collection is available. And with most of their output present and their Peel and other BBC sessions, this is heartily recommended. A joy to listen to, whether you agree with everything they say or not, at least they had something to say and weren't afraid to say it.
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