Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Mutton Birds - 1997-04-25, Preston & 1998-04-17, Birmingham, UK

The Mutton Birds
25th April 1997, Guild Hall, Preston, UK,
17th April 1998, Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham, UK

Audience recordings, good to very good quality
Mp3 @ 128-320 kbps

Here's a great '90's band from New Zealand, who was a big success in their native New Zealand, a moderate success in the U.K., but virtually unknown just about everywhere else. Lead by Don McGlashan (primary songwriter, guitar, euphonium, vocals), and with David Long (guitar) and Ross Burge (Drums), the band was formed in 1991. With Alan Gregg (bass, vocals) added in 1992, they recorded their first album, The Mutton Birds (1992), which garnered multiple hit singles and much acclaim within New Zealand, and remained on the charts there for over a year. Their 2nd album, Salty (1994), again received much success and acclaim around New Zealand and Australia, but little attention elsewhere. In 1995 they moved their base of operation to the UK, got a record deal with Virgin Atlantic, recorded their third album, Envy of Angels (1996) (with, for the first time, a worldwide release), and began performing extensively in the UK throughout 1997 and 1998. However, although the album again received raves, breakthrough success was still just out of reach, and they were dropped by Virgin. Guitarist David Long left in 1997, replaced by Chris Sheehan, as the band pursued another record deal, with 2 self-released albums (live and rarities) being sold at shows. Later, in 1999, Alan Gregg also left, replaced by Tony Fisher, and the band regrouped to record and release their fourth (and last) official studio album, Rain, Steam, and Speed (1999). An independently released Live album followed in 2000 amid continued touring, but that was about it for the band, with only a greatest hits collection coming out in 2002 to mark the end. Although they never quite made it outside of New Zealand, it is a curiosity as to why, because the music is very accomplished and appealing. McGlashan's poetic lyrics and poignant vocals (with a voice very reminiscent of Michael Stipe) of his achingly melodic story-songs are at the heart of the band, but the music drives the sound, ranging from jangly guitar-pop to moody alt-rock (and with the sometime addition of euphonium). They have been described as something along the lines of R.E.M. meets Crowded House, with stylistic influences from The Byrds and The Beatles mixed in, but still with a quite unique sound and style of their own. After The Mutton Birds, Don McGlashan went on to release multiple solo albums (primarily in New Zealand). In 2012, The Mutton Birds (original lineup) reunited for a series of shows around New Zealand. So, here's another quality band that deserved to be heard and appreciated by a much wider audience than they got. Check em out. Most of the available unofficial recordings are audience recordings of varying quality. What I have offered here is a couple of the better audience recordings. The Preston Guild Hall show (1997) is a nice audience recording, but is short and unfortunately only available in low fidelity (low bit rate mp3). So, I have paired this with additional songs from another show (Birmingham, 1998) to round out the set, and lastly included just a couple more songs from a 1996 show that was not a great recording (lots of audience noise), but was available at higher fidelity. Not the best quality, but more than adequate to evaluate (and appreciate) the band and their music. (For the record, I had never heard of this band either, until about a month ago, and thanks to Rob-in Brevard for posting some shows by them. But now I am a fan and will seek out more of their music.    

01 Envy Of Angels
02 Straight To Your Head
03 April
04 She's Been Talking
05 A Thing Well Made
06 Trouble With You
07 Come Around
08 Anchor Me
09 The Heater
10 Dominion Road
11 Like This Train
12 Esther
13 Along The Boundary
14 Small Mercies
15 Nature
16 Wellington
17 While You Sleep
Bonus Tracks:
1996-07-12, Mean Fiddler, London (Audience)
18 Ten Feet Tall
19 In My Room

Tracks 1-9, 1997-04-25, Guild Hall, Preston, UK
Tracks 10-17, 1998-04-17, Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham, UK
Tracks 18-19, 1996-07-12, Mean Fiddler, London

The Mutton Birds_1997-1998_UK.rar

If you like these, you can find more live Mutton Birds shows and info at dbs-repercussion blog and a religion of a kind fan website


La Piazza Gancio said...

Amazing post!

Rob-in-Brevard said...

Thanks again for the shout-out, BBK.

Here's hoping you or your followers unearth some more Mutton Birds shows...