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Autumn 1904 - Tales of Innocence

  by John Clarkson

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Autumn 1904 - Tales of Innocence
Label: Last Night from Glasgow
Format: LP


Excellent vinyl-only album from lost Edinburgh post-punk seven-piece Autumn 1904`, who have returned after an absence of forty years with this offering, which contains a John Peel Session, demos and old songs recorded for the first time.

It is something of a miracle that ‘Tales of Innocence’ has come out at all. Very much a lost band, Edinburgh-based septet Autumn 1904 recorded a well-received John Peel Session in early 1984 and attracted record label interest. They, however, fell apart due to personal issues before they were able to release anything, other than one solitary song ‘I Heard Catherine Sing’, which appeared on a compilation tape given away with the first issue of ‘Deadbeat’, a local fanzine. The discovery of some old Autumn 1904 tapes by group leader and keyboardist Allan Dumbreck while he was clearing out a cupboard during lockdown led to him reuniting the band and a proposed single. When the Last Night from Glasgow label, which has been snapping up Scottish bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s for its Past Night From Glasgow imprint, became involved, the project mutated into a vinyl album. ‘Tales From Innocence’ features the Peel Session, some demos from the time, and four songs which were written in the 1980s but have been recorded for the first time now. The Peel Session dominates the first side. Both the recent singles ‘The City’ and ‘I Heard Catherine Sing’ are very solid, throwing into their feisty mix, cascading keyboards and guitars and strident vocals from Billy Leslie and backing singers Lisa Cameron and the late Indira Sharma. ‘The City’ paranoically captures a night out in a potentially violent city (“People are going to get you”), while ‘I Heard Catherine Sing’ was inspired by the death of a school friend of Leslie’s whose ghost he imagined he saw (“Visions of you in my mind/Are they really true?”). Equally fine is the breezy ‘Innocence’ in which Leslie chides himself to take a better grip on things (“Now is the time to sort out your life”). As strong as these tracks are, the second side, which features the newly recorded material, has the slight edge. Bassist Billy Bowie takes over much of the vocals. The stand-out track ‘Motherland’ was originally called back in the day ‘Cossack’, but has had its name and slight lyric changes so that it is seen to be reflective of all wars, rather than just the present one in the Ukraine. It hurls Dumbreck’s gigantic, spiralling keyboards up against Keith Falconer’s rattling, razor tight drums and is about over-zealous nationalism (“Marching along/We’re marching in time together”). ‘The Blessing’ is a klaxoning duet between Bowie and Tippi from the Glaswegian rock group The Hedrons, who have also recently made their return after a long absence, and ‘Kyrie’ is a slow-burning, gradually escalating instrumental. Billy Leslie returns with Sharma and Cameron for the theatrical and raucous final track ‘What’s in Your Eyes’ in which he hams up for all it’s worth and with great humour as well as pathos the agony of finding himself betrayed (It was you/It was you/There’s no mistaking this/The lies, the deception/How could you do this to me?”). ‘Tales of Innocence’ is simply splendid, an excellent career overview from a band who fell by the wayside but forty years on have both made the most remarkable of comebacks and brought their songs firmly into the present day.

Track Listing:-
1 I Heard Catherine Sing (Radio Edit)
2 The City
3 Innocence
4 Give It Time
5 I Heard Catherine Sing
6 Motherland
7 The Blessing
8 Sister
9 Kyrie
10 What's in Your Eyes

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