Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Muscle Shoal "Accept Yourself" (Mush Recordings 10", 1991)

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Here's another of those records, rather like The Bicycle Thieves single I posted, that I know nothing about. Well, not quite nothing, but hardly anything... When I worked in Rough Trade, in the late 80's, one of the people who was in and out of the shop every now and again was someone who managed this band, The Muscle Shoal. He lived near the shop, somewhere in W11, and that's all I can remember: even his name escapes me. I presumed at the time that the band were based in West London as well, though I never found out for sure. At that time, in 1988, they'd released one single, a 12" called "Summer's Here" and that was it. It was an insanely catchy slice of jangly pop and it's never been far from my record player, but I was convinced that was all they ever recorded. However, a few years ago, on one of my regular trawls through the bargain basement of The Record And Tape Exchange, I found this. It's dated 1991, which is rather odd- what were they doing for three years? I certainly don't recall reading about them, or hearing of any releases in that three year period... My best guess is that here was a band, full of hope and confidence, who released a strong debut single, got some record company interest, got a publishing deal, and promptly got lost inside the record business machine. Hey, it happens. This 10" single seems to have been self-financed, and looks like it was the band tidying up the loose ends on a career that never really got started.

Due to the myriad of references to the Muscle Shoals, they're a band who are also completely un-googleable. Like I say, all I have are two singles. The debut ("Summer's Here") will have to wait until I can locate it, but this single is almost as good : it's a piece of jangling pop wonder, with great harmonies, great lyrics (clever use of except/accept) and that all-important sense of self-belief. And i know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: if anyone out there can shed any more light on this one, do let me know.

The Muscle Shoal "Accept Yourself" (mp3)

The Muscle Shoal

14 comments:

So It Goes said...

Another diamond in the rough. Very positive stuff. I've heard stuff like this before, but still find it immensely enjoyable. Nice one mate.

Anonymous said...

Well well well... after numerous vanity-induced excursions into Google myself over the years I'm delighted you've finally produced a result - and a timely posting too, of which more later.

'Lost in the Machine' is a pretty accurate description of our musical journey between Summer's Here and Accept Yourself. After the release of our 'insanely catchy' first single we garnered some interest - signed a publishing deal with Chrysalis and had a few major labels on the table. We liked the look of Go Discs, held a signing party and all that jazz, then all at Go suddenly stopped. They pulled out of the deal - we still don't know why. Found ourselves backpedalling for a second chance with CBS and Hedd (Virgin offshoot). Ended up signing to Hedd. Went into the studio at Rockfield with Ed Stasium but was a pretty cold affair. Revisited Monmouth with Hugh Jones and with more success but by time we had an album together Virgin pulled the financial plug. Suspicions were aroused when the light bulbs were being removed and the receptionist was reintroduced as our new A&R. 'Have you heard of Muddy Waters?' was their opening gambit - somehow we didn't think we were in the right place. Spent the next few years trying to regain momentum but it didn't quite come off. Hey ho. 'Some of your friends are already this fucked' comes to mind.

Anyway a bit of brain detail. Most of us are from up North. A four piece line up. Myself - Mike Dodd (gtr/vcls) and my brother Simon (lead vcls/gtr) are from Lancaster. Mark Frith (bass/vcls) from the sunny shores of lake Windermere and Mr Andrew Flude (drms) from that famous cutlery centre of Sheffield. Dear friend Will Parnell - whose from somewhere down South - took over the drum seat for Accept Yourself after Mr Flude got cheesed off with all the business crap and went to live in Spain.

Anyhow, we are all alive and well, good mates and just about to go out and play the best of our back catalogue in Barbados. It could be worse. If you want to come and see our warm up gig this Sat 10th near at a studio near Old Street you're very welcome - just email me at mike.dodd@mac.com and you're on the list.

Finally, thanks for the kind words on our almost forgotten second single - I've still got a box full if that one wears out.

Mike :)

iain said...

Mike, that's AMAZING. This blog has been quite a revelation for me: i've posted up all these records I've loved, and so many of the people responsible have popped up to say hello....
And of all the bands and musicians who've done just that, I suppose it's you who've put the biggest grin on my face. I'd never seen hide nor hair Of The Muscle Shoal from the time I bought the records until now, despite some years of looking online, so it's great to put a little meat on the bones :)
Anyway, i'll mail you re: Saturday...

Anonymous said...

I'm not anonymous well not the aforementioned one anyone though he is my brother.

Mike's biography / catalogue of errors is pretty accurate though I would take a little bit more personal responsibility for the bands lack of success.

At the signing party that we chose to play at (bad move ), we got drunk,played crap and we started harrasing our friends down the mic to loosen up and have a good time ( we expected more from them) well we did provide a free bar.

The album was very, very difficult to make in hindsight we should have used the Summers Here Producers Winterbottom/ Cole. A tried and tested sucessful recipe for catchy contemporary pop.Instead we went with the glamorous option of working with a 'name' producer. We rejected many including John Leckie and also a very keen Barry Beckett of Muscle Shoal studios fame and producer of Slow Train A Coming by Bob Dylan.These days the thought of this rejection leaves me lunging for the sick bag, but at the time we were so blase.

Too many chiefs and a lack of direction found us with a selection of good songs, some funky some country, some bluesy we even did some bad ska. We sort of wanted the variety of The White Album/ The looseness of Exile on Main Street the vibe of London Calling but we lacked the glue to hold it all together. To cut along story short the album ended with one of the most miserable weekends of my life in a caravan park outside a drizzling cold Minehead half pissed with a headache from the scrumpy with Mike and Andrew insisting on mixing the album without Mark or myself present . Mark was and still is a good recording engineer and I was the principle singer/songwriter so you can imagine the distress. Why we let them do it I don't know but it was not the answer.

WE sacked our manager and never found anyone nearly as good all though he too had his fair share of foibles.It really is a wonder that we're all in some way still attracted to this business.

Go Discs backing out for spurious unkown reasons and the untimely disolution of Hedd records have been the two out of the three pivotal downturns in the bands musical career, tha last being having all our gear stolen in the van. This heralded the enforced acoustic phase of the band.Accept Yourself was written and recorded inthis period in 80 Linell Rd Camberwell It was recorded at Chrysalis Studios in Hammersmith with very cheap instruments.

As for these days I'm still writng tunes mostly catchy with a country tinge sort of like the travelling wilburys still sound a little bit like Mick jagger or Tom Petty. Now living in a pretty country coastal town just out of Melbourne Australia. I have a lovely wife, two handsome teenage bass playing sons and a six year old who wears a t-shirt that says " My dad Rocks'

Check out myspace.com/presidentroots to hear more.

Pleased to meet you and thanks for flying the shoal flag. When all is said and done we were a bloody good band sometimes.

Cheers

Sonny Dodd

Dan said...

Iain,

I have been looking for "summer's here" (admittedly not very hard) on and off since 1989 after not getting round to buying it in '88.

This is only the second time I've managed to find anything whatever via google - would be v. grateful if you could post the mp3 somtime

Regards,
Dan

Richard Hare said...

Good heavens! I worked at IRP when we were promoting this; IRP were pluggers based at 112 Talbot Road (just down the road from the Rough Trade shop) - the label was being run from the same address.

slim said...

what a fookin great band
when are they playing again?

slim

vincentvangogo said...

I have this record. Some time around 1985 I caught a band called the Cool Rays supporting Nick Lowe at Chelsea Art College. They totally and utterly blew me away, a set full of singles, full-on charisma, brilliant show, everything. I was convinced they must have been some hotly-tipped emerging band, but no one seemed to have heard of them. I caught them about six or seven times over the next few months, and got to know them a bit, before reading a notice announcing a gig had been cancelled as they'd split up. I felt ill. I'm still convinced they could have been as big as the Smiths had they stayed together. 3/4 of the band formed the Muscle Shoal, while Ian, the original singer went off to form a duo called Balloon, who I ended up roadying for in between doing my own stuff. I think both Balloon and The Muscle Shoal had their great moments, but as with Lennon and McCartney's solo output, I couldn't help feeling they each slightly lacked what the other provided. Cool Rays to reform!

Richard Hare said...

I remember seeing Balloon support Bill Hicks at The Queen's Theatre.

vincentvangogo said...

That is weird, I roadied/tuned for Balloon at that Bill Hicks gig, and I also knew Tim at IRP where and popped in a few times.

Keith said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I was sorting through some old vinyl and came across my 10" of "Accept Yourself". I decided to Google The Muscle Shoal and what do you know?! The wonders of the interweb. I loved this band! I was at art college in Reading back then. The Shoal played the town a few times (The After Dark club I seem to remember...) and a few of us kind of became their Reading fan club. I can trace the genesis of 'Accept Yourself' (always a big crowd-pleaser) through a couple of demo tapes I got at those gigs. These also include some other great tracks such as "Get Your Tomorrow Today" and "For This England". Mike, great to know you're all alive and well. Wish I'd known about the '07 warm up gig. My old tapes are sounding a bit wobbly - how about an internet re-release of the back catalogue?! Anyway, thanks for some great times and great music.

Keith

Claire said...

Andrew and Mike are currently playing with Peter Green.
I still have my 7' "Summer's Here" but never owned anything else. Which is quite appalling as Andrew is my brother!!

Ian B said...

Cool Rays to reform? Now there's an idea. Mike, Nipper, Dipper...what about it? The geographical logistics alone would put Spinal Tap to shame (Melbourne, Amsterdam, Barbados...)

Ian

Jonathan said...

Here's a link to my fb page with a poster of the Cool Rays which I've just dug out of one of my boxes in a tidy up. That's Mike looking great.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/photo.php?fbid=474938556338&set=a.474938546338.257386.721821338