You Had A Kind Face:Butcher Boy Blog and Competition – Glasgow Music Walking Tours Blog
“I’ve probably seen Butcher Boy more times than any other band in the past two decades. They have been and remain a splendid band – tuneful, poetic and defiantly out-of-date.” Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian
“Pebbledash poetry and timeless tunes to warm the windblown soul.” Ian Rankin
“I am happy beyond words that this record exists” John Blain Hunt, Butcher Boy
To celebrate the release today of ‘You Had A Kind Face’ by Butcher Boy we have a top-notch competition over on our Facebook page. The prize for one lucky winner is one copy of the Deluxe Vinyl Double Album and a copy of Wester Hailes, 1979 by photographer, John Walmsley, whose wonderful images feature in this anthology.
Butcher Boy’s ‘You Had A Kind Face’ is the tenth release from the acclaimed Needle Mythology label and is an anthology of songs by the revered Glasgow band. Butcher Boy released three albums of literate, melodic pop songs between 2007 and 2011, none of which were released on vinyl, before returning in 2017 for a stand-alone EP ‘Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet’. Gathering together songs from all of these releases, vinyl copies of ‘You Had A Kind Face’ also come with a seven-inch made up of three new songs: Dear John, So Far So What? and Love Is A Fact.
The album has been mastered for vinyl by Miles Showell at Abbey Road and pressed on 180g vinyl at The Vinyl Factory. Long-time fan of Butcher Boy, the author John Niven has written a devastatingly beautiful complement to the songs on ‘You Had A Kind Face’ drawn from his own early memories of pacing the same Irvine streets where the band’s songwriter John Blain Hunt spent his formative years.
The images used for this anthology are all taken from a series of 1979 photographs by John Walmsley, a freelance, documentary photographer who recorded everyday life in Wester Hailes in 1979. With a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, he worked with the kids at the Wester Hailes Education Centre and photographed life in the school and on the estate.
You can buy a copy of this wonderful book here
Walmsley’s work is a memorial to the early optimism of these gleaming conurbations, the magic hour monochrome glow of winter sunlight on the walkways of Wester Hailes somehow mirroring the spirit of Hunt’s songs. Amid these anonymous settings, silent children bear witness to the workaday dramas of grown-up life and wonder what will ultimately await them when they join that world. So much of Butcher Boy’s music – and the cast of characters that frequent it – seems to have fomented somewhere between the romantic idealism of youth and the same idealism once the heavy weather of adulthood has done its worst. Now in his 70s, Walmsley was so taken with Butcher Boy’s music that he assented to the use of previously unseen photographs for ‘You Had A Kind Face’. You can read more about John’s work on his website
In keeping with the ethos of all Needle Mythology releases, ‘You Had A Kind Face’ has been a painstaking labour of love, executed with a meticulous attention to detail. And, as with all Needle Mythology releases, it was a process that started with the songs. Founder of Glasgow’s much-loved National Pop League club before the formation of the group in 2005, John Blain Hunt’s world is one of post-punk suburban romance refracted through the formative epiphanies of mid-80s indie pop. It’s a bloodline that takes in momentous debut albums by Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Trashcan Sinatras and Belle & Sebastian.
For Needle Mythology founder Pete Paphides, the release of ‘You Had A Kind Face’ is the culmination of a love affair that began back in April 2009, when Butcher Boy’s second album ‘React Or Die’ was about to come out. “It was as close to an out-of-body experience as I’ve had listening to music in my adult life,” he recalls. “I was working for The Times back then, and it was just one of several promo CDs I took with me as I was embarking on a long car journey. By the end of the third song You’re Only Crying For Yourself, I recognised a feeling that hadn’t grabbed me with this intensity since the first time I first heard High Land Hard Rain, aged 14, in 1983. It was something akin to panic – panic that the world beyond this car didn’t know about these songs and that somehow made my reality almost irreconcilably different to everyone else’s. I called my editor on Monday morning and told her that we had to make this our album of the week. And the other thing I remember was that I was so nervous writing my review, the way you would be nervous writing a letter declaring your feelings for someone with whom you had fallen in love. Because I had.”
And, of course, closely involved with this release at every step was John Blain Hunt: “I’ve never spoken to anyone at length about Butcher Boy’s songs before but, in essence, they come from the tiled corridors of municipal buildings, from dust, lead paint, high windows, from being little. In the context of ‘You Had A Kind Face’, with John Niven’s sleeve notes, with John Walmsley’s photography, with Needle Mythology’s curation, they become something else – something outside of the band, something of another place and time, and something that is hopeful and beautiful.”
“The three new songs on the EP are in memory of our friend Keith Martin, who died in 2018. Keith was one of the first people I played music with and he was the single greatest influence on me in my adult life. Keith was in love with people and their stories – he understood what you needed in a friend, and he was that friend to you. In 2003, Keith brought So Far So What? to a practice, complete, a tribute to his friend Larry Rhodes who had died in December the previous year. Keith and I didn’t record it at the time; in the weeks before he died, I asked Keith if the band could record the song for him, he said we could, and this is what we did.
“For a long time these songs – about the bandstand in Kings Park and the black woods on the edges of the new town – were all I had. I played them with my friends and that meant the world to me. It moves me to revisit them; I am happy beyond words that this record exists.”
Butcher Boy: ‘You Had A Kind Face’ is available here and from all good record stores.
John Walmsley’s books are available to buy here