The Saints

by Jeremy Gluck...

With their unceremonious ejection from the EMI gravy train at the end of the '70`s',it seemed that The Saints were finished.Anyone who had witnessed them on Top of the Pops lifelessly miming one of their minor hits"This Perfect Day"could not have misread the writing on the wall as anything other than a garbled cry for help.

Chris Bailey grim as he handled a cheap microphone not bothering to do more than just play with it.His face set in that expression of disdain and disgust that he weilded at that time with such authority.Relieved to be ditching such troublesome clients,EMI overlooked what The Saints had left them."Prehistoric Sounds",a criminally neglected R'n'B masterpiece-maybe the most gorgeous suicide note a band ever left."Prehistoric Sounds"as uncompromised and therefore doomed as most other great cult albums.It however contained the seeds of songwriting that strongly contradicted the premature demise of The Saints.

This was not the sound of a band dying,but of one aching to be reborn....

What happened in the lost year between the ignominius commercial failure of "Prehistoric Sounds"and the swagger that was"Paralytic"who knows ?.The end was near,but as we have found to our eternal salvation,although perfection is usually rewarded with crucifiction,there is also sometimes such a thing as ressurection.

And so,in ending,The Saints truly began.....

Returning in the early '80's with the tellingly entitled "Paralytic tonight Dublin tomorrow".Suffice to say that upon it`s release,the first on the all new french label "New Rose",it put to sleep any doubts that Bailey-whose exclusive domain the band had become-He and whoever he wanted to call The Saints were back with a vengeance,swagger and mastery of the kind usually reserved for the builders of empires.

This time Bailey did not look back.He turned The Saints back on,and the outpour commenced.
It was 1984 before -after already ascending his own private Mt Everest as a songwriter-Bailey reached a new peak.It was called "Ghost Ships",and I remember hearing it for the first timeout signified what a band-a man-could do if he took his time,took on the pussy world of the mainstream and "won".It existed as an achievement in itself-but also somehow in one stroke absolved the sins of a thousand bands lacking the ingenuity, integrity,guts and smarts to wait,watch and work.Because "Ghost Ships" was-and still is-one mean mofo of a song.It is a haunted,haunting affirmation of everything that Bailey has done.

By now Bailey and The Saints were cult heroes.But whereas whatever success they now enjoyed might have been a defining moment in time,for Bailey it meant a lift off to yet greater heights.Never complacent,he pushed his own limits and those of his band,reaching a new peak in the 90`s with "Prodigal Son",an album redolent of his beloved Irish roots,rich in references to literature and legend and containing some of his most beautiful songs to date.On it,you could hear a new even more confident Bailey,with his demons off his back and held firmly on a leash.Things already evident on earlier albums,"Prodigal Son"saw perfected.

Having made The Saints a minor household name. Bailey chose to journey on alone.
A series of superb solo albums followed at frequent intervals including 1994`s "54 Days at Sea",recorded in Scandinavia with,of all things a Bolivian folk group he`d first met playing at a street festival.It could have been a cold fusion,another clumsy conciliation of musical cultures better off separated-if only for the sake of their own dignity-but the risk paid off handsomely as Bailey expanded into new musical landscapes filled with modest yet dazzling tapestries of sound.Abounding in all the usual illusions,and delivered in a voice that he now exercised like a whipped mongrel."54 Days at Sea"felt like another watershed,another self contained detour in a career of musical swings.

Not content Bailey returned to The Saints in 1995 the result was "Howling"On it we see Bailey back on another pilgrimage.Recorded fast ,loose and with no shortage of great songs "Howling "is quite simply no surprise.YEAH it`s that good.You don`t want or need a band with the pedigree of The Saints to surprise you,after all,you just want them to"be".And they "be"all the way back home on this record,seemingly without effort,running back and forth across all of the things they "do"with the freedom and grace that is the dividend of years of kicking as opposed to kissing arse.

Blowing in on a title track that might have been recorded in a heating duct under the influence of mind expanding drugs.The track creates the impression of a band easing into a post grunge slot,then de-constructs it with the onset of "Something Somewhere Sometime",after which the ride becomes sonically smoother but equally as challenging."Good Friday"was co-written with Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde something of a marriage made in heaven.

With respect to long time devotees of the band I have a funny feeling that the audience the band will attract with "Howling"will think of them as an exciting "new band"And history notwithstanding perhaps that has always been The Saints greatest strength.


Link to The Saints Site