Year of Release: 1983
When you encounter records which are clearly DIY or vanity pressings of some kind, it doesn't tend to make your heart soar high with expectations. If they're any good, there's a very strong chance they've been unearthed already by other keen collectors on the block (the soaring prices on ebay for "I Am... I Think" by Grobbert and Duff are a strong example of this phenomenon). No, what you're most likely to get is a cabaret singer warbling away, or a trite pub band who couldn't even get their little local label interested in their work. Most of the DIY pressings I've bought have ended up straight back where they came from - the charity shop.
"Living in a Lighthouse", then, is a rare and pleasant surprise. A piece of slick, considerately arranged, reggae-tinged eighties pop, it's very much "of its time" but no less atmospheric for that. Synthesiser washes lap up against pounding rhythms and fretless bass noises, and its one of those records which trusts the listener to relax into its environment rather than hammering him or her across the head with a powerful chorus. A brave choice for a band clearly trying to create a first impression with the public and the music press, then, but not at all bad. Comparisons with Level 42 and The Police and even (vocally) XTC are likely to be made, and this does seem to be the work of an act who perhaps hadn't quite forged a strong enough identity for themselves yet, but I've enjoyed this a lot more than most of the scratchy old sixties and seventies obscurities I've picked up in the last month.
Tracing the history of this act is obviously not going to be particularly straightforward, but at least one of their members is still active. John Cavanagh has a CD out at the moment entitled "Branch Road", the proceeds for which will go to the Make A Wish Foundation and Teach First. From the very brief description offered on his website, we can see that both he and Terry Munday (credited on the above label) were also involved with The Mugshots, a band who had one single out on United Artists entitled "Shy". I've never heard it, but it seems to regularly go for large sums on ebay as a "punk/ powerpop" single, and I'll certainly keep my eyes peeled for a copy.
Anyone who has anything to add to this particular story should definitely step forward to fill in the blanks.