Remembering Kirsty

It was twenty years ago today, as the song almost goes, that we were robbed of one of the most wonderful musical talents the UK has ever produced: Kirsty MacColl.

Every year (provided I remember in time) I try to post something by Kirsty to remember her by. Here’s what I wrote the first time I wrote one of these posts:

In case you don’t know the story of her untimely demise, on 18 December 2000 she and her sons were on holiday in Mexico, and went diving in a designated diving area at the Chankanaab reef, that watercraft were restricted from entering. As the group were surfacing from a dive, a high-speed powerboat entered the area. Kirsty saw the boat coming before her sons did; Jamie (then 15) was in its path but Kirsty was able to push him out of the way. Tragically, in doing so she was struck by the boat and died instantly.

The powerboat involved in the accident was owned by Guillermo González Nova, multimillionaire president of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain, who was on board with members of his family. One of his employees, boat-hand José Cen Yam, stated that he was in control of the boat at the time of the incident. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced to 2 years 10 months in prison. However, under Mexican law he was allowed to pay a punitive fine of 1,034 pesos (about £61) in lieu of the prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay approximately £1,425.22 in restitution to Kirsty’s family, an amount based on his wages.

To add insult to quite literal injury, eyewitnesses contradict Cen Yam’s claim that he was in control of the speedboat, and people who have spoken to him since say that he has admitted to receiving money – presumably from Nova – for taking the blame.

In May 2006, Emilio Cortez Ramírez, a federal prosecutor in Cozumel, was found liable for breach of authority in his handling of the MacColl case.

But Kirsty and her family have never found justice for her death.

*****

Here’s the first record I ever bought by Kirsty, the song which catapulted her to the pop-stardom she’d been flirting with the idea of for a few years prior to its release in 1984:

It’s ironic that someone who became so well-known for the brilliance of her own compositions should gain fame via a cover versions. But the writer of A New England has never forgotten that boost the song gave to both of their careers; to this day, whenever he plays it live, Billy Bragg still dedicates the extra verse that he penned for her version to Kirsty:

R.I.P. Kirsty.

More soon.

It’s Chriiiiistmas!!!

Okay, I know you’re probably all sick of hearing this song by now, but hear me out.

Since I started writing this blog, every year on the 18th December I’ve posted something in memory of the late great Kirsty MacColl, that being the anniversary of her sad, horrific, death.

But this year time got the better of me, and I didn’t get round to writing anything.

And so here we are, posting a song which I had largely tried to avoid posting, so obvious a choice is it, so synonymous with her name.

But ask me what my favourite Christmas pop single is, and this will be the first title to spill from my gob, probably showering you in mince pie detritus.

Plus, today is Shane MacGowan’s birthday, so there’s double the reason to mention it.

About twenty years or so ago, my parents, having retired, bought a plot of land in Ireland and built a home for themselves. I would visit every Christmas, and they would pick me up from the nearest airport or ferry terminal.

On the drive home, we’d have the radio on, and this song would be played more than any other song I have ever heard; it was like it was the National Anthem and every radio station was obliged to play it at least once an hour.

It got to the point where when the opening bars started, we would groan and skip to a different channel, waiting until it was inevitably played again, at which point we would restart the process.

A few weeks ago, during my enforced stay at a Travelodge, I popped to see my parents for the weekend (they have moved back to the UK). On the car journey back from the train station, it came on the radio and my Dad, instead of changing channels, turned it up.

He spotted my knowing look and simply said: “You can’t deny that it’s a good record, can you?”

So, with absolutely no apologies for posting something so obvious, here you go. Happy Christmas.

The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

And that’s me done for another year. There might be another post around New Year’s Eve, we’ll see if inspiration strikes.

But in the meantime, whether you’ve stumbled upon this place for the first time today, or regularly revisit, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

The 18th day of December, and the 18th anniversary of the day we were robbed of one of Britain’s greatest musical talents.

I mark her passing every year, and never do I struggle to choose a song to play in her honour.

This year: the lead single from her brilliant Kite album, a single I bought on 12″ on the day of it’s release simply because I knew that it was Kirsty and therefore it was bound to brilliant. Almost twenty years later, my opinion hasn’t changed.

She never let me down – and the lyrics (sadly) are just as prescient and relevant today as they were back in 1989  when she dropped this absolute pearler:

R-406717-1488469074-2539_jpeg

Kirsty MacColl – Free World

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

As is traditional round here at Dubious Taste Towers, December 18th is the day that I raise a glass in memory of the wonderful, much missed Kirsty MacColl. For today is the 17th anniversary of her tragic death.

You can read the story of her death and the subsequent miscarriage of justice here.

Remembering her at this time of year is made much easier by her featuring – no, starring – on “Fairytale of New York”; there’s a general agreement that it’s probably the greatest Christmas record ever that I’m certainly not going to disagree with.

But you all know that record, so each year on this day I try to play something else from her gloriously varied canon of work.

So here’s his year’s choice:

kirsty maccoll - terry

Kirsty MacColl – Terry

Like I said, glorious.

Cheers, Kirsty. Much missed, never forgotten.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

Every year, on December 18th, I post something in memory of Kirsty MacColl.

I imagine most of you know the story of how we lost this glorious, talented, much-missed musician sixteen years ago today; in case you don’t I wrote about it back here.

Here’s this year’s selection, which seems apt:

angelcov

Kirsty MacColl – Angel

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

I’m sure I won’t be the only person here in the blogosphere that will be writing a post in memory of Kirsty MacColl today, for today it is 15 years since this astoundingly talented woman was so cruelly taken from us.

In case you don’t know the story of her untimely demise, on 18 December 2000 she and her sons were on holiday in Mexico, and went diving in a designated diving area at the Chankanaab reef, that watercraft were restricted from entering . As the group were surfacing from a dive, a high-speed powerboat entered the area. Kirsty saw the boat coming before her sons did; Jamie (then 15) was in its path but Kirsty was able to push him out of the way. Tragically, in doing so she was struck by the boat and died instantly.

The powerboat involved in the accident was owned by Guillermo González Nova, multimillionaire president of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain, who was on board with members of his family. One of his employees, boat-hand José Cen Yam, stated that he was in control of the boat at the time of the incident. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced to 2 years 10 months in prison. However, under Mexican law he was allowed to pay a punitive fine of 1,034 pesos (about £61) in lieu of the prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay approximately £1,425.22 in restitution to Kirsty’s family, an amount based on his wages.

To add insult to quite literal injury, eyewitnesses contradict Cen Yam’s claim that he was in control of the speedboat, and people who have spoken to him since say that he has admitted to receiving money – presumably from Nova – for taking the blame.

If you’d like to read more about Kirsty and the campaign to get justice, you can do so here.

All of which just makes me…well, sad. And not just because of the injustice, nor for the frankly gruesome nature of her death. That too, of course….but what makes me sad is the fact that whenever I hear any song by her or featuring her, I am immediately reminded of all that I have written so far here today.

Which means whilst I love all I am about to post, I do it with a very heavy heart.

So, let’s start this tribute off with one of her very earliest single, from 1981, the catchily-titled:

kirsty-maccoll-theres-a-guy-works-down-the-chip-shop-swears-hes-elvis-polydor-3

Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis

Here’s Kirsty doing the very same song on Top of The Pops:

And, from her debut album “Desperate Character”, a slower, more country, version:

KirstyMacCollDesperateCharacter

Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy…(Country Version)

Personally, I always thought that version was very much a template for the next song, a single from 1989’s utterly wonderful “Kite” album:

kirsty-maccoll-dont-come-the-cowboy-with-me-sonny-jim-virgin

Kirsty MacColl – Don’t Come the Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim!

In between these two albums, due to some wranglings of a contractual nature, Kirsty earned her corn doing session work as a backing singer, and became very much in demand, particularly after she appeared on “Fairytale of New York” with The Pogues. Either side of that she appeared on (to name but a few):

The Smiths – “Ask” (not to mention the B-side too, a cover of Twinkle’s “Golden Lights”)

Billy Bragg – “Sexuality” (She looks fantastic in this, happy, the sort of woman you would have a right laugh down the pub with; the bit when she mocks the size of Billy’s….er….lil Bill behind his back always raises a smile round these parts)

Happy Mondays – “Hallelujah” (This is from that legendary edition of Top of The Pops when the Mondays appeared along with The Stone Roses, one of those era defining moments when us indie heads finally felt like we might be winning…and there’s Kirsty, right in the middle of it, wisely electing not to try to out-Bez dance Bez)

Morrissey – “Interesting Drug”(His fourth solo single following the messy end The Smiths met, and there’s Kirsty again, popping up on backing vocal duties, if not in the video. Not one of his better efforts this, mostly only notable for The Moz sneezing as the track edges towards fade-out.)

The Wonder Stuff – “Welcome to the Cheap Seats” (I can’t say I’m overly fond of this one, big fan of The Stuffies that I am. Suffice it to say, in my opinion, Kirsty is by far the best thing about it.)

Without fail, every interview you read given by anyone who worked on any of those records, they will say one, if not all three, of the following things:

  1. What a delight she was to work with
  2. That she never needed a second take, nailing her part first time..
  3. …a skill which inevitably draws comparison with either Karen Carpenter or Dusty Springfield.

That’s the sort of illustrious company in which Kirsty’s name should rightly be mentioned.

But all of this belittles what a wonderful artist she was in her own right. And to prove it, here’s two live performances of songs from what turned out to be her last album, “Tropical Brainstorm”, where she was experimenting with Latin American rhythms, instruments and sounds, not the sort of thing I normally go for, I’ll admit, but since I could happily listen to Kirsty singing my shopping list, I love.

Kirsty MacColl – “In These Shoes?” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

Kirsty MacColl – “England 2, Columbia 0” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

And thankfully, Jools is kept well away from the piano, thus preventing it turning into more of his tiresome boogie woogie.

I’ll be raising a drink to Kirsty tonight. Thanks for the memories. I just wish there were more of them.

More soon.