8 July 2018

The Impossibles - The Drum/ Our Love Is God

Fantastic baggy(ish) cover of the 1974 Slapp Happy tune (clumsy typo on the label though, Fontana).

Label: Fontana 
Year of Release: 1991

There were numerous cultural parallels between the late sixties and the 1989-91 period, which barely need emphasising - the "Second Summer Of Love" tag felt slightly like a lazy media invention to enable Mums and Dads to get a better grip on what was going on (and Danny Wilson to release snarky records on the topic) but nonetheless was more accurate than usual. Besides that, plenty of acts during the period were not ashamed to cover some of the hairier moments of rock's past. 

It didn't always pay off, though, as evidenced here. This cover of Slapp Happy's "The Drum" fell into complete obscurity at the time. I used to see copies of it in the reduced box at my local record store, and was intrigued by the fact that the long-haired woman pictured on the sleeve looked uncannily like someone who used to attend my local indie nightclub week in, week out. Was it her band?

Apparently not. It transpired that The Impossibles were actually from Edinburgh, and revolved around the nucleus of the duo Lucy Dallas and Mags Grundy. In one of their very few press interviews, they self-deprecatingly suggested that the only reason they managed to get signed to Fontana was because they were fanzine editors who had built up an enormous array of music industry contacts as a result. It seems as though they were being needlessly modest - their debut single was a likeable piece of jangly indie-pop produced by Kevin Shields, but the second release "Delphis" went one better, being a scintillating piece of ambient yet funky electro-psychdelia which glided gracefully through the clouds of the cold, dark winter of 1991, noticed only by the most eagle-eyed of spotters. 

"The Drum" was their final 45, and sounded like the one most likely to break them. Turning the scrappy avant-pop of the original (which was also covered by Bongwater around the same time) into an actual indie-dance anthem, it continually builds its arrangement and finds new paths and avenues for a very basic piece of hookiness, exploding joyously at the tail end. It sounds like an enormous crossover hit, but the record just didn't sell, and the band were dropped by Fontana with no LP ever being released.

This was another parallel the early nineties had with the late sixties - lots of bands just left two or three singles in shops before politely waving goodbye, never to bother the world again. If anyone knows what the duo are up to these days, please do drop me a comment. 


Alex G said...

Given that they keep the "Bongwater" reference in the lyric (which wasn't in the Slapp Happy original - they just had "water"), and the sleeve has a thank you to Bongwater but no reference to Slapp Happy... I suspect The Imposssssibles didn't actually realise Bongwater's version wasn't the original.

23 Daves said...

That's possssible - nobody had Wikipedia in those days and assumptions may have been made.

Anonymous said...

Delphis is incredible. Just perfection of that era.

Arnaud Din said...

Was there 12" of The Drum ? I have their first 2 singles but this is the first time I'm hearing The Drum and it's brilliant ! :) Thanks.

23 Daves said...

There was, yes - it even had an Andrew Weatherall mix on it (here: https://youtu.be/qvZksuaO6ao)

RHing said...

Cool band, thanks for posting, and will have to explore the archives on your site.

Thinking about all the bands from this era who had just a few single releases makes me wonder where are all the Baggy/Madchester Rubble/Pebbles-style compilations for them?