Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Night Song #6

Tonights SNS is Always the Last to Know by Del Amitri.

* Note: I can't find the original video on youtube but it's here on

Who: Del Amitri were a Scottish pop-rock band formed in 1983. Teenager Justin Currie had been in a band at school (with Donald Bentley and James Scobbie) and wanted to continue it, so he placed an advertisement in the window of a record store asking for people who could play instruments to contact him. The band was formed with Justin on bass and vocals, Iain Harvie on lead guitar, Bryan Tolland on guitar and Paul Tyagi on drums. Justin and Iain are the only members of the band to remain throughout its history. Despite the fact that the band had several top 10 albums in the UK, they never had a Top 10 single, but one song did chart in the Top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

What: The band became popular on the local music scene in Glasgow, and after getting their demo played on John Peel's radio show on BBC Radio 1, they were signed to Chrysalis Records in 1984. Their debut album was released in 1985, and despite appearing on the front cover of Melody Maker magazine and supporting The Smiths on tour, the album and singles flopped. They were dropped by Chrysalis, and later signed by A&M Records in 1987. After two years and a few line-up changes, they finally had success in the UK in 1989 with the album "Waking Hours", which reached No.6 in the UK album charts. Their biggest success came in 1992 with the release of the album Change Everything, which reached No.2 in the UK and gave them a hit with this single (No.13 in the UK, Top 40 in the US). Off the back of this album, they were invited to play Woodstock '94 in the US. They released another handful of albums, none reaching the success of the earlier efforts, and after a somewhat lukewarm comeback with their final album in 2002 Can You Do Me Good?, they were dropped by Mercury Records (who had taken over from the now-defunct A&M). The band have never officially split up.

When: Always the Last to Know was released in 1992, from the Change Everything album. It charted at No.13 in the UK, No.30 in the US, No.12 in the US Pop Chart, and No.42 in Canada.

Why: This song was another of my Atlantic 252 memories. It was the entire inspiration for my "Music Memory" series on my old nostalgia blog. I still remember listening to it in the early 90s on the old battery radio. I always thought Del Amitri were one of the most underrated bands in the history of pop-rock music - their songs are catchy, their lyrics are clever, and they had serious talent. It's a shame to look at some of the stuff in the charts now and see what passes as successful in 2011 - I'd still rather listen to music like Del Amitri. They had the talent, they just didn't have the longevity unfortunately. This is one of those songs that makes me sit back and remember the early 90s, and if you're not going out tonight, take a half an hour and cast your mind back to 1992 - Michael Carruth winning an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona; Linda Martin winning the Eurovision; the Bishop Casey revelations - what were you doing in '92?

S xxx

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