Tuesday, June 21, 2011
SIMON FINN - PASS THE DISTANCE
Amongst the chatterings related to this I have heard that the master tapes, missing for decades are haunted and somehow made the woman who found them in her flat jump out of the window in a 'Damien the Omen' style.
I have heard that the the reason for the albums swift removal from the shelves only weeks after it's release was down to similarities between the shit cover and a Clark's (or similar) shoe ad that was running in the press at the time.
I have heard that Simon Finn was in fact part shark and breathed through gills hidden in his neck, beneath his wing tipped collar.
Who really know's what to believe? I do know that pretty much everything else on the 'Mushroom' label is not worth investigating, I also know that Simon can get his 'wail on' with the best of them.
I am also in no doubt that 'Pass The Distance' has earned it's place at the top of most people's 'Great Lost Album' list. It really is exceptional singer songwriter fodder despite the sleeve.
So did I 'get my stupid on' and bid upwards of 250quid for an original copy? I did not. Some guy in Germany put out a very good press on Mayfair records. It has a couple of very nice inserts, the sleeve is good card stock and the printing is really crisp. Each one is hand numbered (unless I dreamt that) and as far as I know it is official.
Quite why Tibbles, wait, do we still call him Tibbles or has that changed? Quite why David Tibet of love 'em or hate 'em neo-folk doomsters Current 93 didn't put out a vinyl version when he re-issued the CD I don't know. It seems nothing short of perverse. Either way, here it is.
It was my mate Simon (not Finn) why turned me on to this. He mentioned it a couple of times in passing and before excitedly buying a 90's bootleg of it from On the Floor Records in Camden. (What's the deal with bootlegs now? Is it suddenly okay to sell them?) Anyway. He said something along the lines of:
'This will be my most significant purchase of the year'.
And I remember thinking, wow, that's a pretty grandiose statement for a record by somebody called Simon Finn with such a ridiculously shit sleeve. But it stuck with me and I did some digging. Listened to some clips on the internet and tracked down a copy.
'Pass The Distance' is a fantastic excursion into hopeless urban bed-sit doom-folk. It's as huge as it is whiney. It's very powerful stuff in a massively negative way.
As most people will tell you the show stopper is 'Jerusalem', the subject matter of the song is obvious and on reading the lyrics you would be forgiven for thinking that Simon (Finn) is one of the Xian brigade, he is not. He is an acid casualty from the Syd Barrett school of fucked. By the end of the song our protagonist is wailing so hard that it sounds like he is about to cry. Couple that sob with some genuinely interesting instrumentation (and the help of David Toop) and you have something well worth devoting time to. Not too much time though because like I say, it's fucking miserable.