Francis Macdonald photo by Niall Webster

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is the drummer and a founder member of Scottish and World indie legends Teenage Fanclub who are about to release their much anticipated tenth album “Endless Arcade” at the end of April.

Formerly Francis was in The Boy Hairdressers, a band featuring Raymond McGinley and Norman Blake and was as a member of the BMX Bandits before starting the Fannies. He also manages bands Camera Obscura (and formerly Attic Lights & cult heroes The Vaselines), is a producer of albums including the aforementioned Attic Lights and Aaron Wright and a label boss of Shoeshine Records (who released records by the John Peel endorsed Laura Cantrell). He’s also recorded solo albums, instrumental albums and a successful classical record “Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste” including a quartet from the Scottish Ensemble and recorded at Mogwai’s Castle of Doom studios in Glasgow. And closer to the world of my day job he’s recorded multiple TV themes and scores for which he’s been BAFTA nominated (note to self: I need to work with him on something soon!)

In short he’s a skin-thumping polymath, even without being a kingpin in one of my fav bands, and when I noticed on social media that Francis had recently enjoyed the “Lee, Myself & I” book about Lee Hazlewood written by my old mate (former Real Time PR guy) Wyndham Wallace, I realised I just had to get him on these pages to pick a tune. And for such a musically literate fella with a lot of stories to tell, he has more than lived up to my expectations. A huge warm-hearted bear hug (if that were allowed still) of a welcome to Francis Macdonald!

First up check out single “I’m More Inclined” from the forthcoming Teenage Fanclub album “Endless Arcade”…

The blissed out West Coast harmonies and beautifully composed and often soaring Teenage Fanclub sound is just what the soul needs right now in these most turbulent of times and I for one can’t wait…

here’s the artwork for the new album “Endless Arcade”. It’s the follow up to 2016’s “Here” an album I played a helluva lot of, and is the first since the departure of Gerard Love (who’s also chosen a “song for ewe” on these pages) and the joining of Euros Child of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci infamy.

It was recorded at the Clouds Hills studio in Hamburg and it’s out on 30th April.

Here’s another track – album opener “Home”…

Enough blathering from me though, here’s the main event, without further ado, this is Francis MacDonald’s “song for ewe”…

“A track I keep forgetting about, and then going back to, is “Alligator Man” by The Greenbriar Boys. Everyone should hear it.

Years ago the late great Alex Chilton made me a compilation tape with tracks by The Scruffs, The Gories, The Country Rockers, Dudley Moore – all sorts of stuff. This one song really jumped out and grabbed me. Alex himself had a crack at it on his “Like Flies On Sherbert” album, of course, and I’ve heard versions by Jimmy C Newman (who wrote it), Dave Dudley, Bob Dylan, etc. But The Greenbriar Boys beats them all. I love it’s acoustic energy and the mad, committed vocal by singer John Herald (another great who is no longer of this world).

Alex subsequently gave me John’s contact details and I ended up working with him; recording and releasing “Roll On John”, his first album in 16 years, and pulling together some UK shows.

John said people used to ask if this recording had drums/percussion – apparently that’s because he threaded some paper through the strummed acoustic guitar strings which sounds a bit like maracas. That Cajun fiddle intro; the way John vocalises ”Mo-squi-toes” at the top of the song, the guitar playing which seems kind of rudimentary but perfect : I’m not sure why it all makes such an impression on me. But it does. Anyway, enough of my yakkin’…”

THANKS VERY MUCH FRANCIS – NICE ONE!

“Endless Arcade” is available for pre-order here now.