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PaulRodneyStreet1980 RodneyStreet

Photo, left, Paul Simpson, Rodney Street, 1980

Sitting here in my study at Bleak House, illuminated by candlelight and my sixth glass of vintage port I am pleased to announce the arrival of the new Wild Swans single Liquid Mercury b/w The Wickedest Man In The World.

Both A and B side of the new single are paeans to my Liverpool home on the banks of the River Mersey and the horrific/beatific years living in a first-floor Liverpool bed-sit during the great recession of 1981/2. 14 Rodney Street is now a sophisticated bistro café bar but 28 years ago, Flat 3 was my Bateau-Levoir; £8 pounds a week for a single bed, cracked Belfast sink, broken Baby Belling cooker and a 2-bar electric fire hazard. It was here that both The Teardrop Explodes and The Wild Swans were born and named. The ‘J’ mentioned in the choruses of Liquid Mercury refers to original Wild Swans guitarist Jeremy Kelly, the ‘flaming hair’ being the ginger crimp he sported in the MK 1 phase of the band but ‘J’ also encompasses original rhythm section (the now sadly deceased) Jim Weston and dandy drummer Justin Stavely, not forgetting my old friend and fellow astronaut Julian H. Cope.

The Wild Swans were and are my life and the betrayal I felt when the band imploded around me back in 1982 has haunted me ever since. Over the years many close friends advised me to ‘Let it go’ but I found that try as I might I simply could not. B-side of the release, The Wickedest Man In The World, had its genesis in a song I wrote shortly after my father’s death in 2002 and takes the form of a dark, reflective midnight walk along the banks of the Mersey. The ‘70 miles of chocolate coloured sludge, dead cats and condoms’ intro is taken from the unrealised film script ‘Northern Sky’ that Will Sergeant and I were working on at the time. The track morphed almost beyond recognition in the studio a few months back, from a small screen all-acoustic folk lament into a cinematic widescreen downer narrative. The first 200 singles ordered from Occultation include a hand-signed photograph of yours truly taken by drummer Justin unawares as I wrote out the lyrics to The Revolutionary Spirit back in Rodney Street on a sunny day in the autumn of 1981.

Paul Simpson, October 2009

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