Treasure Hunting
The Wild Swans: Incandescent (Renascent)

I was sixteen in 1982, and spent all my time riding my bicycle and drawing. Occasionally I listened to the radio, and even more occasionally I bought a record. I bought the Teardrop Explodes and the Bunnymen and listened to U2's Boy a lot. I didn't really know anything.

I certainly never knew about the Wild Swans when I was sixteen. Maybe that was as well, because over time the Wild Swans became a mythical name whispered in hushed reverent tones. Among those whose opinions I respected, whose versions of histories seemed most seductive, their sole single, the Pete De Freitas produced ´The Revolutionary Spirit' was said to be the greatest single ever.

It was the end of the 1980's before I got to hear ´The Revolutionary Spirit' for the first time. It was a muddy cassette dub that sounded like it had been recorded on a 50p microphone through a torn curtain. But nevertheless it was clear my heroes had been right; it still sounded like the greatest single ever.

I like the idea that ´The Revolutionary Spirit' has never had a ´proper' CD release. No master tapes have never been found, so even on this, the first and definitive Wild Swans retrospective, it's been mastered direct from a virgin slab of vinyl. Somehow it's as it should be, and guess what? It still sounds like the greatest single ever.

That the rest of Incandescent is similarly magnificent explains just why The Wild Swans have been so proudly treasured by Those Who Know for the past twenty years. Painstakingly pieced together over a period of more than three years by key keeper of the flame Nick Halliwell, Incandescent collects that sole Zoo single alongside mythic radio sessions and previously unreleased live and demo material from the vaults onto two CDs that swell, soar, ache and amaze. Songs like the sparkling ´The Iron Bed', the flickering all-but instrumental ´Thirst' (surely no coincidence that they should share a song title with the Blue Orchids) and just-the-right side-of-anthemic spiritual strength of ´Flowers of England' are proof of the maverick genius of Paul Simpson and the Wild Swans. And if ´No Bleeding' doesn't move you to tears then really you should just get the fuck out of here; you don't deserve music this ambitious, this grandly magnificent.

For everyone else, Incandescent is one of the rarest and finest jewels to emerge from the hinterland that was the 1980s. Invest in the treasure.

© 2003 Alistair Fitchett

Buy your copy of Incadescent direct from Renascent NOW! Go here to spend your money wisely.