Review: The Colourfield – Virgins And Philistines

The Colourfield were, on paper at least, a one-hit wonder. It was a wonderful hit too; ‘Thinking of You’ being a perfect summer anthem; sunny and innocent in its outlook but brought right back down to earth by Terry Hall’s sad-eyed vocal. In these days of continual reissues it’s surprising it’s taken twenty five years for the attendant first album to be exhumed so one wonders whether the album can match up to the single. It’s pleasing to report, there’s no worries on that score.

Terry Hall proved in the 1980’s that he wasn’t one for hanging around. By 1983 he had already served time in The Specials and Fun Boy Three; the former a legendary act considered to be at the top of the British Ska tree whilst the latter, less well remembered act gave us some cracking singles. The Colourfield were a much gentler proposition which reflected Hall’s influences at the time – Bobby Goldsboro, Andy Williams, Simon And Garfunkel, to name but a few.

The superbly arranged ‘Castles In The Air’ is a relentlessly aching slice of melancholia that sits nicely next to ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’ (included as a bonus track here). ‘Take’ has a bitter edge (as evinced by the opening lyric “I took the passion from compassion I needed the rest from telling you ‘you look attractive’ each time you undressed”) and is quite rightly considered one of Terry Hall’s best songs. It seems almost criminal that its highest position was no. 70 in the UK Singles chart.

Other highlights are many including the delightfully jazzy title track whereas ‘Yours Sincerely’, ‘Armchair Theatre’ and ‘Sorry’ ensure the balance of jangly melody and intelligence is maintained right to the end of the record. Amongst the other bonus tracks are their eponymous first single (as melodramatic as Echo And The Bunnymen) and 1960’s throwback ‘Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby’.

The Colourfield’s music has stood up well to the ravages of times. Much of this has to be put down to the imaginative arrangements but moreover there’s the always tuneful songwriting from Hall who seemed to have been at his peak at this time. The mid-1980s were a good period for wordy, literate pop music and Hall can certainly rank himself alongside the likes of Morrissey and McAloon on this evidence.

Web Sites:

Further Listening:
The Lightning Seeds, The Style Council


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