Listen -David McWilliams – The Days of Pearly Spencer – MP3
I hope everyone has had an excellent week.
I should begin by noting that in a typical bit of obliviousness I only just noticed that Iron Leg has been up and running for two years (last month). I was looking for something from an old post and noticed by chance that the first post here dated to June of 2007.
Much like Funky16Corners, things got off to a somewhat different start hereabouts before settling into a certain groove, as pertains to 60s rock and pop. I don’t think I thought I’d still be doing it two years on, but then I felt the same way about Funky16Corners, which will turn five later this year.
So, I’ll be putting up a celebratory edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip this coming Monday, packed to the brim with all manner of garage fuzz, folk and psyche. I hope you dig it.
The tune I bring you today comes to us courtesy of a singer who I first heard back in the 80s mod/garage days. He wasn’t recording back then, but was in fact included on some reissue comp or other, and passed on to me – like so many others – on a tape by my man Mr. Luther.
I had largely forgotten the song – if not the title and the artists’ name, David McWilliams – when I happened upon a copy of his first album at an Asbury Lanes record show some months ago. I had always assumed, via his connection to the Rubble/Twinkly Fairydust Crocheted Donut Twirl scene that McWilliams was an obscure artist who’s work might only be procured via expensive 45s. I never imagined that he had an LP (maybe more than one?) released in the US.
When I got that album home I was shocked – though not disappointed – to discover that McWilliams was not in fact a purveyor of psychedelia, but could more accurately be described as yet another folkie singer songwriter sucked up in the paisley shirted vortex of 1967, ultimately having more in common with Bob Dylan than Syd Barrett.
McWilliams hailed from Belfast in Ireland, recorded his first album in 1966 (produced by Mike Leander). ‘The Days of Pearly Spencer’ – which admittedly has a slightly baroque feel due to the string section – the tale of a homeless man wasn’t a hit in the UK, but managed to make the charts on the European mainland, where McWilliams would find most of his popularity.
The rest of the album is actually pretty good, with bits of protest folk and the occasional Glenn Campbell-ish country twinge (‘Who Killed Ezra Brymay’).
McWilliams went on to record more than ten albums, eventually passing away in 2002 at the age of 56.
Interestingly enough, ‘The Days of Pearly Spencer’ was covered a number of times, in the 60s and much later, as in 1992 when Marc Almond’s recording of the song was a UK Top 10 hit.
As always, I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back on Monday with that mix.