Sunday, January 01, 2006

Number 40 - David McAlmont

Look At Yourself (Hut Recordings HUTCD87)
Chart debut 9 Aug 1997.

Writers: David McAlmont/Guy Clark/Boo Hewerdine

A talent who's never quite found his place, David McAlmont (born 2nd May 1967) is probably best known for his collaborations with Bernard Butler in the imaginatively-named duo McAlmont & Butler. Despite the quality of the records, though, this pair were famously fractious and their initial partnership failed even to produce a studio album; prior to that, he had been in Thieves, who managed to record an LP but split without releasing it (those tracks were issued as McAlmont's 1994 debut).

This, then was his first intentional solo single, and it's lyrically connected to the most famous McAlmont/Butler song 'Yes', a triumphant stomper which it's tempting (but almost certainly wrong) to relate to Butler: "Don't look at me as if you wish me dead/ Why have a problem with my self-respect?" Perhaps surprisingly, though, the style is different, a frenetic pounding track that's closer to gospel (apart from the words!) than the softer soul with which his former duos were associated. Special mention is due to the wailing harmonica, although no player is credited.
At the time of release, I remember puzzling over which format to buy and wondering why the Radio Edit (3:21) was longer than the Album Version (3:12). As I discovered upon obtaining the latter version in the Rough Trade shop a couple of years later, "edit" was something of a misnomer with Dave Bascombe having retooled the song extensively, with an extended drum intro and a much more energetic effect, so that's the version to track down. Sadly, "album version" proved to be even more of a misnomer, as this track has never appeared on one - the rather good A Little Communication finally appeared in 1998, but omits this track in favour of a moodier and slightly more organic sound. Before that, his collaboration with David Arnold on a version of 'Diamonds Are Forever' did even better than this. It got to 39.

Official website:
Where to get it: as above, it's not on an album, it's on no compilation I'm aware and the single is long deleted, so all I can say is Good Luck! You can still browse
the available McAlmont catalogue at Amazon.

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