Nightingales – Crafty Fag // How To Age (Ink Records) 1983. The Nightingales re-formed in 2004 and recently toured the states in honour of their new releases which are as shambling and brilliant as the handful of material they released in the early 1980s. According to a very reliable source, singer Robert Lloyd, who had previously been the singer for the band The Prefects and can consume beer as only someone who spends time at The Old Moseley Arms can, was on stage at some stop in the US. He was a bit inebriated and was holding of all things, a Bud Light. I can’t imagine that he was intoxicated from the Bud Light. It had to be a beer chaser. Regardless, the band was tuning up their instruments whilst Robert lingered on stage. Suddenly from the crowd, a camera clicked and the room momentarily illuminated from the flash. Robert then turned towards the audience, drunken and malevolent, and teetering on the edge of the stage he shouted at the crowd.
“Who took that fucking photo?”
The crowd said nothing. The pure, unbridled fear palpable in the air. But it was obvious by the way they were behaving who the perpetrator was. As the crowd backed away from this poor soul, Robert locked eyes with him and pointedly stated, “Don’t you EVER take a photo of me…”
…and then he added, “whilst holding a Bud Light.”
Nightingales are frequently compared to The Fall, and the comparisons are apt. Both bands are rag-tag ensembles from England, with charismatic, enigmatic and frequently inebriated lead vocalists. However, Robert’s poetic ambitions aren’t as in your face as Mark E Smith’s, his singing is much more tuneful and the band is not quite as abrasive. Maybe the weather in the West Midlands city of Birmingham lends itself to a warmer sound than the cold Manchester climate. Suffice to say, a warmer more approachable Fall is a good although simplified, place to start with Nightingales
That’s not to say that this is pop music. Imagine how this platter must have sounded in 1983 when Duran Duran, Culture Club and Flock of Seagulls were all the rage. Whenever I hear this 7inch and all of the other early Nightingales releases, I have to remind myself that they came out in the early 1980s because it sounds to my ears like it should have come out in 1979. I dunno if this made them sound behind the times or whatever to folks who would give a shit about that sort of thing, but hopefully in the great blur of history, the early Nightingales releases can be judged for what they are; amazing British post-punk. This is the first single off their great second album Hysterics which, along with everything else is fully available on zee interwebz…