Tuesday, 20 July 2010

McAlmont & Butler 'Yes'

Chart Peak: 8

Singer David McAlmont (born Croydon, grew up in Guyana) teamed up with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler to storm the charts with 'Yes'... It reached No 8 in May 1995.
Odd that they're so specific about the chart date there, as it might have lead purchasers to wonder why it wasn't on Now 31: not that I'm complaining, as I'm pleased to see it on here. The insistent repetition of the year 1995 is a common feature to these sleeve notes.

I recall seeing this single in the shops and I remember hearing it a lot on the radio and being very fond of it, but somehow I didn't make the connection during the original chart run. Maybe I couldn't believe it was a male singer (not that the cover of the single indicated his gender anyway) or more likely I couldn't associate it with Suede, a band I'd never really listened to back then, but was utterly convinced I didn't like. I think by the time I did realise the point had become somewhat moot, as the duo had effectively split, announcing that they'd bow out with an album compiling both their singles, all the associated B-sides and the one unreleased track that was left over, plus a cover photo of the twosome looking in opposite directions. I bought that instead and it became one of my favourite underrated albums of the Britpop era, even if its connection to that subgenre is more familial than musical. What we get instead is a storming (and at the time non-obvious) retro-soul stomp with McAlmont delivering a brilliant riposte to an returning ex who once clearly jilted him. "So tell me, am I looking better or have you forgot whatever it was that you couldn't stand about me?" It's one of the best vocal performances on this or any Now album, and Butler wisely recognises him as the star and avoids any showmanship of his own. Yet in truth the whole ensemble are on brilliant form, right the way to the fade; or even beyond on the unfaded album version (from which I learnt what a fade sounds like in the studio). Either way, it's good that this didn't get passed on to Brett Anderson, who apparently rejected the follow-up single 'You Do'. In some ways, this one track is so outstanding it's perfect for a compilation. But I do like the rest of the output enough to have been pleased that they patched up their differences and returned for a second album a few years later.

One minor technical point: although the name is always spelt as "McAlmont & Butler" on artwork, this album refers to them as "McAlmont/Butler", which is very convenient as it's the only way I can tag it.

Available on: The Sound of Mcalmont and Butler

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