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Lost Soul Band - The Land Of Do As You Please

  by John Clarkson

published: 28 / 10 / 2008

Lost Soul Band - The Land Of Do As You Please
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In our 'Re : View' series, in which our writers look back on albums from the past, John Clarkson examines Scottish cult group the Lost Soul Band's under appreciated 1993 album 'The Land Of Do As You Please'.

For about a year from the last part of 1992 through until towards the end of 1993 the Lost Soul Band were one of the great hopes of Scottish rock music. They attracted a fervent following in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Although they played several well-received shows at the Borderline and Mean Fiddler in London and toured across the UK with Irish other indie hopefuls the Four of Us in November of 1992, they, however, never caught on nationally. By 1994 they had slipped into oblivion, but left behind a brace of under-rated singles, and a minor classic in their first recorded, but second released 1993 album,’The Land Of Do As You Please’. “It’s just impossible for us to sound like other people”, Gordon Grahame, the Lost Soul Band’s vocalist, guitarist and lyricist, boasted in a 1993 short promo documentary about the band made by their record company, Silvertone. Indeed that was his group’s greatest virtue, but also much of the problem. While the rest of the world got into grunge and mourned the death of Kurt Cobain, the Lost Soul Band harked back at one level to the R&B/soul of Van Morrison and at another to the funk of Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament. They were a band out of step with the fashions of the music press and out of time. The Lost Soul Band had formed in Penicuik, a small town eight miles outside Edinburgh, in 1989 and, as well as Grahame, also consisted initially of Mike Hall (keyboards), his brother Brian Hall (drums) and Richard Buchanan (bass). They were soon joined by Gavin Smith on percussion. The group’s debut LP, ‘Friday the 13th and Everything’s Rosie’, was a part tongue-in-cheek “country” record. Hastily recorded in three days, it was released somewhat confusingly by Silvertone in the summer of 1993 as a means of raising publicity for the band before ‘The Land Of Do As You Please’, their debut album proper, came out in the autumn. The subtitle of ‘Friday the 13th and Everything’s Rosie’ was "Excerpts from the life of a spiritual cowboy” and could have equally applied to ‘The Land Of Do As You Please’. Similarly-themed, it was written from the subconscious perspective of a young man who had moved into the big city, as the now Edinburgh-based Grahame had done, and who was finding his way in the world and with women, God and his music. With Mike Hall acting as Georgie Fame to Grahame’s Van, ‘The Land of Do As You Please’ opens with early single, ‘Looking through the Butcher’s Window’. “There is something missing from my life/ and I can’t find the answer in amongst all these coffee cups and ashtrays/ cheese burgers and salt shakers”, sings Grahame, always an outstanding lyricist, as Hall’s chiming piano swells upwards and the other instruments surge in. “I can’t fill it with guitar/I can’t fill it with soul/I can’t fill it with a nightclub/I can’t fill it with rock ‘n’ roll” he mourns later on, before howling in the chorus at the end of this jangling Celtic soul number and this most heartfelt of bruised love songs, “You’re not here though. You’re not here though.” The other instruments, Mike Hall’s now jaunty piano, a thrusting guitar and bass, Brian Hall and Smith’s clattering drums and bongos, meanwhile all pound and race against each other, bringing it to a breathless close. It is a fantastic start, but many of the other thirteen tracks on ‘The Land of Do As You Please’ are equally impressive. ‘Heather’ is a hazy, melodic folk ditty and acoustic love ballad, written about Grahame’s then girlfriend after an apparently serious quarrel. “Made me feel so sad/I was just a lad”, muses Graham in a seeming throwaway line, which nevertheless as do many of the other vocals on this record branches a gap between youthful naivety and a more melancholic undercurrent. Also on the first side of the vinyl version of the album is the elegiac, epic ‘You Can’t Win Them All’, the Lost Soul Band’s fifth and final single, which, with Hall’s mounting piano at the fore, is about someone who has broken away from their roots but enigmatically lost themselves along the way (“You have never liked drink but there is Scotch in your glass/and you have taken up fags and you’re crying in class”). ‘Everything’s Going To Be Fine’, the opening track of the second side, is an up-rock tempo rock number with a dark underbelly (“I hate myself for hitting you, babe/I hate myself for breaking your face/But that was the wrong time, wrong place/Everything’s going to be fine.”). Another highlight is ‘God’, an existential rumination on life’s big questions (“Am I wasting my time with my music ?/I thought you gave it to me/I believe in you, man,/but do you believe in me ?”). ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ starts out as a twee and fairly forgettable folk ballad but in a minute has soared upwards, with Gavin Smith’s bongo beats taking central stage, into the glorious, raucous Sly Stone funk of ‘I Used to Think (But I’m Alright Now)’. Best of all perhaps is the torch ballad and aching lament, ‘You Must Have Been With Him’, which captures with a real sense of poignancy and hurt the realisation that your love is being unfaithful to you (You have changed your brand of cigarettes/You have even started drinking gin/It don’t take a fool to realise that you must have been/you must have been with him.”). Mike Hall and Brian Hall both left in early 1994. Gordon Grahame, Richard Buchanan and Gavin recorded a final Lost Soul Band album, the much rawer in sound, and the somewhat puerile-titled ‘Hung Like Jesus’. Poorly distributed, it sunk without trace with even ardent fans finding it hard to get a hold of. By the end of that year, playing to increasingly diminishing audiences, even in Scotland, they had split up. Grahame spent some time living and busking in Amsterdam, Paris and New York, before, after a spell living in Brighton, he relocated to London where he now records and releases occasional albums under the moniker of Lucky Jim. One of his Lucky Jim songs, the Lee Hazlewood-influenced ‘You’re Lovely to Me’ was used in an advert for Kingsmill bread. Mike Hall plays in Edinburgh-based act the Leisure Assistants, who appeared on the soundtrack to Scottish cult film ‘Red Road’, while his brother now lives in Germany where he plays in an indie rock trio, Sophie So. Buchanan and Smith have both left music. ‘The Land Of Do As You Please’ has been long deleted, but is fondly remembered in Scotland and still can occasionally be found, usually at extortionate prices, in second hand record shops and on the web. The Lost Soul Band will reunite in its five-piece line-up for the first time in fourteen years this Christmas to play what they say will be two final gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow. One can only hope that these shows will provide the Lost Soul Band with the worthy epitaph its members deserve.

Track Listing:-

Picture Gallery:-
Lost Soul Band - The Land Of Do As You Please

Lost Soul Band - The Land Of Do As You Please

Visitor Comments:-
663 Posted By: McSpiel, Edinburgh on 18 Nov 2013
Gig was great!! it was 2008! They played like it was all fresh yesterday, with real panache plus engagement of the crowd as usual. Underlined their general skill and zest for a live show.. but check the build-up.. they could have bombed.. http://coffeetablenotes.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/lost-soul-band-gordon-grahame-finds.html .. but thankfully walked it.
154 Posted By: Pam, Dublin on 17 Dec 2008
Just me and me and me and Pam. The Lost Soul Band Come and Join Our Band Do you think God has changed with the times\/

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Interview Part 1 (2008)
Lost Soul Band - Interview Part 1
About to reunite for the first time in fifteen years Scottish 90's indie hopefuls the Lost Soul Band looked might make the leap from being cult indie rockers into the mainstream. In a two part interview, both of which we are running consecutively, singer Gordon Grahame talks about his band
Interview Part 2 (2008)

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