One Thousand Violins: Halcyon Days-Complete Recordings 1985-1987 (Cherry Red)

halcyon

One Thousand Violins were a short-lived but spirited indie-pop group hailing from Sheffield. Formed by friends Colin Gregory and Dave Walmsley, the duo performed under a variety of names, most notably The Page Boys. Upon meeting John Wood, it was determined that he would be brought in as lead singer. In the liner notes to Halcyon Days, Gregory states that they hired Wood because he sounded like Scott Walker, but in honesty, Wood sounds much more like Scott Walker disciple Marc Almond.

 

There’s a a very good explanation as to why their records are so sought after and go for hundreds of dollars: they’re simply that good, a band doomed to obscurity, yet a band who had what it takes to take their place in the pantheon of the era’s leaders. Halcyon Days, which compiles all recordings made by the band with Wood as the lead singer, captures a young, earnest group with a warm, enjoyable sound. Their sound is similar to Aztec Camera, The Mighty Lemon Drops, and even The Smiths. On songs such as the title track, “Locked Out of the Love-In,” and “If I Were a Bullet,” one hears a band with a definite potential to joining those bands on the charts and in the hearts and minds of bookish, sensitive indie-pop kids across the British Isles. Of course, how could one not be charmed by the smart lyrics, inviting melodies, and, most of all, the keen sense of humor as displayed in their hilarious, long, and seemingly incongruous song titles.

Sadly, things fell apart. “Creative differences,” as they say, in regards to the songwriting arrangements, and Wood left. The band would continue on, though this material would lack the spark of the Wood era, and it’s no surprise they called it a day.Gregory would go on to form The Dylans, while Walmsley sadly would pass away in 1992 as a result of cancer.  Still, the two years documented here show that they were a band that could have been, and three decades on, the music still sounds fresh and vital.

If only…

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