(The Wild Swans Soar Again)
Last issue, we welcomed the return to form of Modern English, an important pioneer and flagbearer of New Wave / Postpunk music, the band that wrote “I Melt with You.” Now, let’s drop the confetti for the comeback of yet another influential pioneer of the genre—The Wild Swans.
As what one fellow New Wave–music enthusiast said, “The music collection of a true New Wave fan would be incomplete without The Wild Swans.
Formed in Liverpool, England, in 1980, The Wild Swans were initially Paul Simpson (vocals), Jeremy Kelly (guitars), Ged Quinn (keyboards), James Weston (bass), and Justin Stavely (drums); and then, soon after, Joseph Fearon and Alan Wills filled in the positions of Weston and Stavely, respectively.
Regarded by New Wave enthusiasts as a classic gem, “Revolutionary Spirit,” the first single of The Wild Swans, was released in 1982. A couple more singles and then the band split. In the meantime, Kelly and Quinn formed The Lotus Eaters with vocalist Peter Coyle; while Simpson teamed up with guitarist Ian Broudie to form Care. Shortly thereafter, The Wild Swans reformed and finally released its debut album, Bringing Home the Ashes (1988). On the second album, Spaceflower (1990), however, with Simpson and Fearon were new members—Broudie (guitars, keyboards) and Ian McNabb (guitars, vocals) and Chris Sharrock (drums) of The Icicle Works. After releasing this album, The Wild Swans split up again and Simpson moved on to record and release in the mid-’90s semi-instrumental materials under the name Skyray.
Around 2007, Simpson announced on his Myspace site that he was reactivating The Wild Swans. Soon after, the band released a couple of singles, “English Electric Lightning” and “Liquid Mercury”; and finally in 2011, The Wild Swans released its third album, The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years. The songs, the music, the style, and the lyricism remain practically the same. According to Simpson, the music of the new Wild Swans is just a continuation of what the band has left unfinished some 20 years ago. With Simpson in the new reincarnation of The Wild Swans are Les Pattinson (former bass player of Echo & the Bunnymen), Ged Quinn, Ricky Maymi, Mike Mooney, Steve Beswick, and Richard Turvey. Also guesting on the new album were Will Sergeant (guitar player of Echo & the Bunnymen), Henry Priestman, and Candie Payne.
Paul Simpson is a significant personality in the English New Wave scene. Prior to forming The Wild Swans, he was the keyboardist of The Teardrop Explodes! In between the activities of The Wild Swans, in 1983, Simpson formed the duo Care with Ian Broudie and recorded materials for an album, which included the singles “Flaming Sword,” “My Boyish Days,” and “Whatever Possessed You.” However, the album was shelved, until 1997 when it was finally released as Diamonds and Emeralds. In 1989, Broudie eventually formed his own group named The Lightning Seeds, releasing a string of albums and enjoying commercial success in the late ’90s.