I wanted to name my blog ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ after the film with Alan Bates and Hayley Mills, so this song was always going to get in here somewhere.
I’ve been sorting out a lot of old records over the last few weeks on and off. Vinyl is a lovely thing, as are proper record sleeves. It’s the only format where you can really appreciate the effort that has gone into the design, with picture labels and the ritual of really sitting down to listen. Some records come out of the box and have gone sour, vinegar of the era in sound and design, and they fizz and burn out like a match of memory. But some keep shining, like these from 1983/1984.
The photography is windswept and melancholy, and the typography as spare and crisp as you’d want. Probably this was partly to move Nick Heyward away from the bright and, um, breezy (sorry) pop star mania of Haircut One Hundred. It’s fascinating to read him saying 30 years later*, “I was the happiest man in the world, and also the saddest. That’s what the single Fantastic Day was all about. You’re really up, then really down again. Happy one day, crying the next… I was really melancholy. I couldn’t see anything else, which is why I was writing songs like The Day It Rained Forever.”
Looking at all his records, there’s a particular brand of indie-ish whimsical Englishness, blown in from the 1960s in a bright and Beatle-ish balloon. And if the rest of his 80s albums were swamped and lost in glossy 80s pop production, there are still excellent songs here and there like Traffic in Fleet Street from albums with evocative titles like Postcards from Home or I Love You Avenue.
Ten years after Whistle Down the Wind he was finally able to make an album of proper jangling guitar pop in From Monday to Sunday. The song Kite brought some fresh recognition in America, and French/US band Ivy late covered it on their album Guestroom.
Here’s the video for Whistle Down the Wind (with some great scenery for landscape fetishists)…
….and following it Kite, which is a perfect sunny day in Ambrosia.
*Quote from 2011, The Beaver: LSE paper