Introducing themselves in 1986. Dundee‘s finest. Danny Wilson. bade farewell in 1990. With a compilation release of their most exquisite moments imminent. a besotted Paul W. I-Iullah talks to ex-frontman Gary Clark.
In 1%“). Just .S'erettteen magazine asked the members of Danny Wilson. ‘Who do you fancy‘.” 'l'heir reply -- ‘(iracc Kelly. Shirley Maclaine. Katherine l Iepburn' — reveals a lot about the tneasu red evocation of nostalgia that always pervaded the itnage and art of the now defunct Dundonian trio. The group were formerly called Spencer 'I‘racy (until the dead actor's estate. managed by I lepburn. threatened legal action). 'l'beir replacement handle was nicked from an obscure IUSI filtn. Meet Danny Wilson. starring Frank Sinatra. the crooner often cited as the band‘s ultimate idol. Frontman (iary (‘lark‘s vocals have been compared to those of ()le Blue liyes. and all three band members display a disturbing penchant for 40s gangster-suits and ill-fitting fedoras.
Danny Wilson‘s immaculately crafted. often Bacharachian musical scores also seetned lovingly nostalgic for the past. respectful attempts at resurrecting an almost forgotten golden age of song. In the late 80s. as chattering acid-house bleepery and repetitive electro-twaddle swept the nation. Datmy Wilson gently reminded the world of the meaning of the term ‘songwriting'. Always less potentially pompous than the Scot-pop movement they were myopically associated with (Deacon Blue. Ilue and Cry. Love and Money). the Dannies stood for nonchalance and style at once. 'l'heir live shows were outstanding and two fine Virgin albums — 1986‘s precocious .lleet Danny ll't'lson and 1989's mature opus. Bebop .Iloptop - established the band as a critically and commercially acclaimed venture.
Brothers (iary and Kit (‘lark and lifelong pal (led Grimes began their musical career together as altar-boys in Dundee. Some arias later. in the early Sfls. they briefly sojourned in London — ironically at a time when every A&R man worth his salt was scouring Scotland for unsigned talent. The boys returned to Dundee in 198-12Clark‘s (‘ommandos (ouch . . .) became (wait for it . . .) Scots Porridge Notes. Spencer Tracy and. finally. Danny Wilson. Virgin signed them on the strength of three songs. one ofwhich. the tremendous ‘Mary‘s Prayer’. was to become their biggest hit
(’I‘op'l'hree L'K). But. in March 19‘)“. after the two aforementioned long players. at a time when things looked rosy. the band abruptly called it a day. (iary (‘lark. currently building a studio in his London flat. explains why.
“It wasn't so much musical differences.’ he laughs in a distinctly Dundonian brogue. ‘more that everybody needed to get out more than they could within the band set-up. The first album was all my songs; the second had all three members contributing and it reached the point where nobody could agree whose songs should take priority. liverybody thought their own songs were the best. Kit asked Virgin if he could do a solo album. and they said no. so that really started the problem. There just wasn‘t enough room to breathe.~
'l‘he threesome were prolific in their short time together. Isolation (‘Davy'). religion and profanity ( ’Mary's Prayer'). lost love ('I Was Wrong‘) and social observation (‘Second Summer ()f Love’) were all addressed in the Dannies catalogue. over a variety of musical landscapes. ()pining that the Wilson material ‘stands up quite well today" (the understatement ofthe season). (iary is in more difficulty in trying to define just what made the band's sound so unique.
‘Mtnn. To me. our stuff was always diverse of style. rather than one particular sound dominating. It was all about songs. whichever direction they eventually took musically. At worst. we were messed-up; at best. I suppose ‘consciously diverse‘ would be the description. I think personality holds all the separate songs together. ()r honesty maybe. There isn‘t a single
lie in anything we ever recorded — even the fantasies are honest fantasies. all about us as people.
‘But. you know.‘ he continues. ‘when we went through all the old tapes in the cutting room. Irving to decide what to put on this record. having had the freedom ofeighteen months' objectivity. I listened back to the stuff and I really enjoyed it. They sounded like great records. . .'
Because that‘s what they are. Though Dannv Wilson is ‘finished forever". all three ex-memhers are still musically active: Gary's signed to Circa. (ied‘s rehearsing with a female vocalist. and Kit hasjust released an independent single. the delightfully titled ‘I.ovedung El". A veritable abundance of talent. but they‘ll be hard pushed to match the understated majesty of the Wilson canon in a hurry. When you're faced with a band possessing the sheer quality of Datmy Wilson. you forget yourself: you stop being a journalist and become simply a fan with a typewriter. Songs like ‘IfYou Really Love Me. (Let Me Go)’. ‘A (iirl I Used To Know” and ‘Mary‘s Prayer' are that special. In the grand. judgement-day inventory of
classic Scottish pop. and on the juke-box. we will l remember them.
'Meet Danny ll't'lson '. a selllpicked collection of Danny Il'ilson ﬁst/tines! moments is" released by Virgin Records on 27.4 ttgttst. Limited initial ( '1) formats include afree album 3‘ worth ()flat'gely unreleasedmaterial. "I'hree in A Bed Romp'. The retrospective package is preceeded by an lil’. I You Really Love .We. (Let Me (in) '. out on Jttly2‘).
0N FOLLOWING PAGES: ABC 0 DANIELLE DAX O DEBORAH HARRY LIVE .
The List 2b July — 8 August lWI 37