Paul Simpson - Wild Swan, Doomed Romantic
Doomed RomanticAn English pop singer with a plangent vocal style who wears ties, boating blazers and tweeds was eventually going to be featured on the pages of The Tweed Pig.
Paul Simpson formed The Wild Swans in Liverpool in 1980. At that time, as always, Liverpool was thriving musically. Eric's nightclub was the focus for a post-punk scene that gave us Teardrop Explodes — of which Paul was an original member — and Echo and the Bunnymen.
Tweed-Clad FrontmanHere's a picture of Paul, with a reticent Julian Cope in Liverpool in 1981, wearing an interestingly baggy tweed suit. Wonder if he's still got it?
The Wild Swans have split and reformed on a couple of occasions, with a subsequent turnover of personnel. Band members have also been involved in splinter projects. The Lotus Eaters was one such project by band members Jeremy Kelly and Ged Quinn, from which we got the timeless The First Picture of You.
Paul dabbled in side projects too. With Ian Broudie of the Lightening Seeds he formed the woefully ignored Care when the The Wild Swans was in hiatus. Here's the video for the wistful My Boyish Days loaded with deliciously windswept and rain-sodden English melancholy. Too good to stay hidden (but ignore the swipe effects).
As well as the Shakespeare reference in the song, I hear Hardy, Wordsworth, Britten and the war poets in those plaintive tones — but then I'm like that.
A huge fan base in the Philippines got The Wild Swans touring up until 2011. In all that time Paul never surrendered to sportswear.
The Heart in the Heart of England Will Never DieWhere to start with your collection? It's going to be tricky. Most of The Wild Swans' back catalogue appears to be deleted and currently changing hands for a fortune. The post-punk/new-wave/jangle-pop sound has come hugely into vogue once again.
Imagine Flowers of England (below) used in the soundtrack to a Noah Baumbach film set in Williamsburg starring Greta Gerwig and you'll see my point. The song is on Incandescent, a 2003 release of unreleased material.
You could start your search here.