Shuffleathon 2007. Part 8

Shack – Finn, Sophie, Bobby and Lance

“What we see and what we seem, are but a dream, a dream within a dream”

I bought the “I Know You Well” twelve inch single for fifty pence from Our Price in Manchester’s Arndale Centre sometime as the eighties turned into the nineties and the Mondays and the Roses ruled the world. It was sublime, although it could have easily been mistaken as a Johnny Come Lately Stone Roses copy. But Shack had been raiding the nineteen sixties for years before then, ever since their Pale Fountains days with their hints of Love and Burt Bacharach. I liked the Pale Fountains and even bought their second single “Thank You” and in particular loved its wonderful soft focus b-side “Meadow Of Love”. But in retrospect I feel the Paleys were a mere rehearsal for what Shack were going to be. The first album Zilch was a sort of halfway house between the Pale Fountains sound and Shack proper but from then on they were motoring. Or not as the case may be what with lost albums, drug addictions and a baffling lack of commercial success. Their time nearly came in the mid nineties when their record company tried to tag them on to the Britpop phenomenon and while “HMS Fable” did reasonably well, it didn’t gain them the size of audience which was being enjoyed by the likes of The Verve or Oasis, which should have been their due. Maybe they were just too real and grounded for the 1990s. Of their six albums released since 1990, three are perfect. These are Waterpistol, The Magical World Of The Strands and On the Corner of Miles and Gil. My favourite is the The Magical World.. which was released under the name Michael and The Strands and is just a beautiful idyllic hazy dreamy summers day folk record.

Now I am the first person to admit that I know nothing about Home and Away. Apparently this song refers to characters from the long running Aussie soap. This shuffling, murmured song is so beautiful. It could easily be off The Magical World … but is from their last full studio release “On the corner of Miles and Gil” which was a return to form after the patchy “Here’s Tom With The Weather”. It sorts of sounds like some strung out beatnik poet landing in the world of daytime television and trying to make head or tail of it. It also namechecks “Dick and Judy”. ‘Tis good.


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