Iain Matthews

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Dr. Baron
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Iain Matthews

Postby Dr. Baron » 15 Sep 2020, 14:30

Have we had an Iain Mathews thread before? I don't remember. Anyway, I'm looking for guidance. I suspect I would like a fair few of his records, but (typically for him) I don't see the best known ones on the streaming services. Like Ronnie Lane, his catalog appears to be a bit of a mess for modern consumers, or maybe a little patchy. Any recommendations or thoughts about this peripatetic singer? He lived outside of Austin for a few years in the 90s and popped into the record store I worked in, he was alternately charming and prickly.
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Dr. Baron » 15 Sep 2020, 14:32

I'm streaming "Valley Hi" at the moment and it sounds like my kinda country rock thing. Not earth shattering, but as good as a lot of other things I listen to (Pure Prairie League etc.)
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Sam Stone » 15 Sep 2020, 14:47

IIRC he did pretty good post-Matthews Southern Comfort album called Somedays You Eat the Bear, Somedays the Bear Eats You sometime in the 70s

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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby toomanyhatz » 15 Sep 2020, 17:32

FWIW, of all the "guys that have been around since the 60s" that I've met, he's far and away the most together/sane/ahold of all his faculties. He's singing great, playing great, looks great, and it's never been a challenge to have a normal conversation with the guy.

I don't know his music well, though, I must confess. He's great with Fairport, and I know the rudimentary Southern Comfort stuff (Baron may enjoy Gordon Huntley's slide work, he's one of very few good British pedal steel players.)

The only one I know well is In Search of Amelia Earhart by Plainsong, which I recommend highly, as much for guitarist/singer/all-around talent Andy Roberts as Matthews (they're still friends and still working together). And not just because they cover Henske/Yester. I think it's been re-released on CD, but original vinyl copies are still about and you can luck into a cheap one.

His new records - he did a couple of all Richard Farina songs - are pretty good too.

Other than that, I don't know his stuff well. I may investigate too, while keeping an eye on this thread.
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Neil Jung » 15 Sep 2020, 18:11

He made an album (Demonstration Record) with David Surkamp the singer of Pavlov’s Dog under the band name of Hi Fi. IIRC they share vocal duties. I’m a big PD fan but haven’t played it for a few years.
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Mike Boom » 16 Sep 2020, 03:30

If You Saw Thro My Eyes, Tigers Will Survive both really good as is Journeys From Gospel Oak. Love Matthews Southern Comforts version of Woodstock too of course

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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby LMG » 16 Sep 2020, 09:35

Mike Boom wrote:If You Saw Thro My Eyes, Tigers Will Survive both really good as is Journeys From Gospel Oak. Love Matthews Southern Comforts version of Woodstock too of course


This a great selection of the early material. Iain Matthews is one of my favourite singers, and as a songwriter/interpreter he is highly underrated. I personally find his career resonates because he has lived in both Britain and the US as I have, and he has reflected on those separate/related lives in some poignant songs.

A brief career overview from memory (coz I was actually supposed to log into work five minutes ago): Early sixties recordings with band The Pyramid, joined Fairport but left as they pursued the folk direction - he was more interested in the West Coast American side. Early albums on Vertigo swirl label had Fairport alumni Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny (see Mike Boom's post above). Formed Matthews' Southern Comfort and Plainsong to explore CSNY-type vocal harmonies and great song writing, succeeded at times and had 'The Hit', Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock'. Which wrecked the band and he left.

Lapsed into A & R hell in the mid-70's with albums that combined rather tepid covers with unspectacular originals. although there are some gems in there if you dig. He was much loved by ZigZag magazine, if that means anything (classic UK rock mag that worshipped Byrds, Burritos, CSNY, Band, Dylan, etc) as a home-grown product. Went to a major label and re-invented himself as a kind of Robert Palmer-lite (lighter even than Robert Palmer) with minor R & B hits like 'Shake It' and 'Give Me An Inch'. Fascinating part of his career if you are forgiving - he covered John Martyn in a neo-disco style! 'Man In The Station' and 'One Day Without You' - John Martyn covers.

Had the kind of 80s everybody did, with 'worthy' albums on Windham Hill label and unplugged 'projects', plus the perennial 'where are they now?' articles in Q, etc. Re-Reinvented himself in the 90s with some really great albums again - Pure and Crooked and Skeleton Keys, the real heart of his catalogue, in my view. Cover of Peter Gabriel's 'Mercy Streeet'. Deeply personal, winning material like 'Rains of '62' and 'Busby's Babes', about the tragedy of the young Man United air crash. 'Jumping Off The Roof' - his best song? 'God's Empty Chair' reflecting on Miles Davis's death.

Since those it has been minor labels, minor gems, acoustic solo shows with subsequent albums released, revisiting of old bands - Fairport Convention at Cropredy (oft recorded officially), Plainsong with albums, a newly invented Matthews' Southern Comfort that even toured!

There is a wealth of good and sometimes stunningly great material in his catalogue, and I envy you.

Have a look here, too:

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... 18.684924/
https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... ead.58210/
https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... ews.29574/

That will keep you busy!

I'll be back...
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby C » 16 Sep 2020, 12:12

toomanyhatz wrote:In Search of Amelia Earhart by Plainsong

I would endorse that!

And the solo album: If You Saw Thro' My Eyes

It contains some real heavyweights and is a corker: including Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway on tubs and the late great Keith Tippett playing a bit of piano






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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Neil Jung » 16 Sep 2020, 16:55

Just played Pure And Crooked. As LMG says, it’s pretty darned good.
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 16 Sep 2020, 19:22

When he toured the Pure & Crooked album, I promoted the Manchester gig, which was at the Band On The Wall, with Mark Hallman playing alongside Iain. Somewhere I have a soundboard recording of the show that I need to digitize.

I'd lost touch with his albums after Go For Broke but (obviously) bought Pure & Crooked. A nice guy, he talked football and was happy to answer my questions about Valley Hi and the Countryside band.

AS Neil says, Pure & Crooked is a fine album and C is right about Amelia Earhart; if you don't know Andy Roberts, he is well worth checking out. I've not picked up all of Iain's albums but if I had to pick out one other than those already mentioned, it would be A Tiniest Wham. I love it! Acoustic and tuneful.


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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Neil Jung » 19 Sep 2020, 10:22

Carlisle Wheeling wrote:When he toured the Pure & Crooked album, I promoted the Manchester gig, which was at the Band On The Wall, with Mark Hallman playing alongside Iain. Somewhere I have a soundboard recording of the show that I need to digitize.

I'd lost touch with his albums after Go For Broke but (obviously) bought Pure & Crooked. A nice guy, he talked football and was happy to answer my questions about Valley Hi and the Countryside band.

AS Neil says, Pure & Crooked is a fine album and C is right about Amelia Earhart; if you don't know Andy Roberts, he is well worth checking out. I've not picked up all of Iain's albums but if I had to pick out one other than those already mentioned, it would be A Tiniest Wham. I love it! Acoustic and tuneful.



Was it you I chatted to once who promoted Townes Van Zandt gigs?
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Neige » 19 Sep 2020, 10:33

I'm a big fan and can only echo what LMG and Carlisle Wheeling wrote.

I like the Windham Hill album a lot, it's all songs written by another great songwriter, Jules Shear.

He loves collaborating with other people, not always succeeding. There's an album with Elliott Murphy

He revived Plainsong in the 90's, still with Andy Roberts and sharing songwriting duties with either Julian Dawson or Clive Gregson (two more unsung heroes). About half a dozen albums, which are all worth your time.
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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 19 Sep 2020, 12:49

Neil Jung wrote:
Carlisle Wheeling wrote:When he toured the Pure & Crooked album, I promoted the Manchester gig, which was at the Band On The Wall, with Mark Hallman playing alongside Iain. Somewhere I have a soundboard recording of the show that I need to digitize.

I'd lost touch with his albums after Go For Broke but (obviously) bought Pure & Crooked. A nice guy, he talked football and was happy to answer my questions about Valley Hi and the Countryside band.

AS Neil says, Pure & Crooked is a fine album and C is right about Amelia Earhart; if you don't know Andy Roberts, he is well worth checking out. I've not picked up all of Iain's albums but if I had to pick out one other than those already mentioned, it would be A Tiniest Wham. I love it! Acoustic and tuneful.



Was it you I chatted to once who promoted Townes Van Zandt gigs?


It was.

And I finally got into Foxtrot. :)

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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby robertff » 19 Sep 2020, 17:53

Mike Boom wrote:Love Matthews Southern Comforts version of Woodstock too of course



Always thought that this was the best version. Certainly captured the mood of the time.





.

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Re: Iain Matthews

Postby Mike Boom » 20 Sep 2020, 01:47

robertff wrote:
Mike Boom wrote:Love Matthews Southern Comforts version of Woodstock too of course



Always thought that this was the best version. Certainly captured the mood of the time.





.


Yeah agree it’s the best version.