Night of a Thousand Candles

31 May

MTCH

Released in 1985, this was the debut release of The Men They Couldn’t Hang (TMTCH). I bought it on the basis of hearing just one track (‘Ironmasters’) which was the single and which was played immediately after I’d done my first (and so far only) interview on BBC Radio 1. I’d written a book and my publisher got me a slot on the Janice Long Show – which was the early evening show with a policy of playing new music.  ‘Ironmasters’ is one of those songs which ought to have been a hit but unaccountably wasn’t – a rousing, anthemic, up-tempo song with a singalong chorus. It did well in the indie chart but didn’t cross over.

The rest of the album is similar – high-energy punk-folk. THTCH were one of the prime practitioners of the genre – but, almost from the start of their career, were rather overshadowed by The Pogues who came from the same London pub scene but had added Irishness and the compelling, shambolic songwriting genius of Shane MacGowan. The two bands had other connections too too: both were to record songs by Australian folkie Eric Bogle (‘The Green Fields of France’ on this album and ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ on the Pogues’ second outing); both started out with a female bass player (Shanne Bradley in the case of TMTCH) and the producer of five of the tracks on ‘Night of a Thousand Candles’ was Phil Chevron (later to be a Pogue).

It’s a real shame TMTCH never quite broke through – especially since Paul Simmonds, the band’s prime songwriter is rather good and got even better as their career developed

The CD version (on Demon FIEND CD 50) has five bonus tracks over the vinyl (I have both!) including crowdpleasers from their live set (Hoyt Axton’s ‘Greenback Dollar’,’Rawhide’ and even Donald Where’s Your Troosers?’

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