Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Arthur Magee

There are people written into the history of civilisation Livingstone , Brunel, Armstrong, The Google blokes, etc. Arthur is one. who is written indelibly on the Ugly Man storybook like those afore mentioned pioneers. Arthur lives in Belfast currently but lived for a while in Manchester. I can only ever remember once going out for a drink with him but he is one of my best friends and somebody who I like to think keeps me going in difficult times and someone to share the joys and triumphs with.

Arthur also enjoys the honour of having two releases in the Ugly Man catalogue. And with separate acts. In the late 80's Arthur was the driving force behind Fallover 24 - a peel-loved band and vital component of the pre baggy scene and then in the late 90's when the Ugly Man was awakened from his slumbers Arthur released a solo tune called Perfect Day. It was the first Ugly Man release in the nineties and heralded the return of the label in time for the imminent arrival of I am Kloot and Elbow

Arthur was the Roy Keane of pop in the eighties, his absolute commitment to what he was doing was ever apparent and it was this commitment that applied to the solo release Perfect Day. Such was his commitment it got nominated in 1998 as one of the Northern Ireland singles of year alongside the likes of Ash and Divine Comedy.

I wouldn't rule out the possibility of further releases in the future as he writes a mean tune and isn't afraid of putting them up for public scrutiny.

I first met Arthur in 1988 when he called around at my Longsight home armed with a threatening pitch about what he wanted to do and how I was going to pay for it. At the time I was in plaster and enjoying a couple of weeks of work after knee surgery. I say enjoying, but that would be lie because I was constantly having to go the phone to answer "silent calls" - nobody at the other end of the phone and then dialing tone. I later worked out that it was my then employer checking up on me to ensure I was at home and not out on my crutches hustling for somebody else.

Arthur came in and pinned me to wall with a list of superlatives about his band Fallover 24. They were the future of music and that Ugly Man with the million pounds we made on Black we should be investing it squarely in Fallover 24 and there was not going to be any argument about that.

Reaching for breath I had to explain to Mr Magee that far from rich from the Black experience we were on the verge of stopping due to the loss making nature of our plans and unsustainable nature of independent record label life.

That said, we released the Pessimistic Man E.P. in 1989 and as stated above, Peel loved and played it. It also picked up the usual support of the local press and we no longer have any copies under the bed so we must sold a far few maybe 500 or so. Pessimistic Man was straight forward non pretentious music. It didn't have all the mystic and spin that can often propel indie musicians into the mainstream. The band invested their time in setting up a community based studio in Moss Side and to some extent lost the focus so epitomised by Arthur's first meeting with me.

They went on to record with the rehabilitating Legend that was Martin Hannet and eventually split. I have asked Arthur to do me a "where are they now" piece on the post Ugly Man period and I await his missive with much anticipation.

The Perfect Day single came out in the summer 1998 and I will deal with that in a later post because there is so much around that release that to do it now, would not do it the justice it merits. Needless to say it plays a significant role in the second phase of Ugly Man the phase where we did some very significant things and ultimately paid a heavy price. So at this stage let's just say God Bless Arthur and take it as read he is a lovely man.

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