“SONG FOR EWE”
with DAVE CALLAHAN of
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today’s guest is an unwavering indie legend from Havering, a place that in the 80s wasn’t exactly full of Essex, drugs and rock & roll. He and his band railed against the cabriolet-dwelling, brick-phoned Level 42 fans, and made a scene all of their own at Hammersmith’s “Garage” club. Shooting off a song with nary a thought for the infamous NME cassette C86 meant their cult status was sealed forever. They may have the self-styled “Anti Midas Touch” but for me, the writing and singing of DAVE CALLAHAN of THE WOLFHOUNDS will always be solid gold.
Even though it wasn’t their favourite, and was given to the NME as a way of keeping an old tune for posterity, “Feeling So Strange Again” was one of my favourites of the recently re-released C86 comps.
I became more fascinated with The Wolfhounds upon reading John Robb’s seminal “Death To Trad Rock” tome and although much of the “scene” of Thatcherite post punk seemed to emanate like spit from the bowels of Britain, The Wolfhounds were simultaneously closer to the epicentre of politics and music press and yet out there on their own in an Essex outpost that punk had forgot. Being from provincial Kent and in sight of the twinkling lights of Canvey and the industrial fug of Tilbury I could relate to their Estuarine bile.
Although they had disappeared like a shopping trolley in the Thames circa 1990, St. Etienne’s Bob Stanley persuaded them out of self-imposed exile to play a 20th anniversary gig for C86 at the ICA in 2005, and they’ve been playing live since with Callahan still at the helm.
Last year they re-released an expanded version of their 1987 debut album “Unseen Ripples From A Pebble” and I’m still listening to it, the metaphorical ripples from that seismic beginning still felt now, nearly 30 years later.
Comedians’ comedian Stewart Lee wrote a foreword to “Death To Trad Rock” entitled “The Anti Midas Touch” and claimed that The Wolfhounds first 12″ contains at least “two of the greatest lost British recordings of the 80s”. I’m hoping that he helps rectify this by signing up The Wolfhounds for the edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties that he is due to curate next year.
Earlier this year the midlife miscreants released a new album collecting together all their new output since reforming and it’s appealingly titled “Middle Aged Freaks”. Sign me up!
I was chuffed that Dave not only accepted my social media overtures but agreed to share a song he’s enjoyed lately. This is his “song for ewe”.
Over to Dave:
“The song which I have been listening to again, and return to every month or so since I found a 7” of it in the mid-90s, is Bobby Darin’s version of Nature Boy.
Not only is it the best version of the best song ever written, but it has the virtue of having been discovered wihtout prior knowledge for 50p in a Dalston Oxfam shop, before I knew anything about either the artist (I was only aware of Dream Lover) or the song’s history as a formative piece in the ‘exotica’ scene (it was written by Eden Ahbez).
From the cheesy ‘shalalalaloo’ backing vocals to Darin’s anxious croon, pitched midway between Elvis and Sinatra, to the swinging back beat and sleazy horn stabs, this version makes a surprisingly up tempo meal of a song most people associate with the more soporific take on it by Nat ‘King’ Cole. I find the contradictions and tensions in this version more interesting, as well as making it good to sing along to while in the kitchen or the rare occasions I do some ironing.”
THANKS TO DAVE.
Thanks too to Cathy Tollet for the pic of a thoughtful Dave at the station. More of Cathy’s great work can be found right here!