GUSWORLD


Why Kirsty is the greatest

Gus meets Kirsty, London, May 2000 Call me a late starter. I first became familiar with Kirsty MacColl's work via her appearances on French & Saunders in the late 1980s. Not long after, I located a copy of the Kite album, and I've been hooked ever since, watching her evolve from a damn brilliant songwriter and performer to an absolutely stunning songwriter and performer who ranged freely over a wide range of styles and made them uniquely hers. Phew.

Even in those early appearances, the key elements of Kirsty's appeal were evident: her sense of humour, her ability to communicate emotion realisatically without excess sentiment, and the huge range and variety of her work. Who else can put Cuban sounds, hip-hop rhythms and straight-ahead guitar pop in a single album and maintain a sense of unity? Plus, of course, that voice . . . gloriously solo or multi-tracked to infinity, it's one of the outstanding pop sounds of the 20th century.

I frequently get the annoying impression that MacColl is in danger of becoming a footnote in musical history, notwithstanding the belated outpouring of tributes at the time of her tragic death. In the Guinness Book Of Rock Stars, for instance, she's mentioned many times in other artist's biographies but doesn't warrant one herself. On the Net, she pops up on Smiths pages and Pogues pages and Billy Bragg pages and Lemonheads pages but not (much) in her own right. She deserved better than that.

As a result of this site, I enjoyed an intermittent email correspondence with Kirsty throughout the latter part of the 1990s. Owing to a faulty email connection, I missed the chance to get a preview of what was to become Tropical Brainstorm in 1999, but finally got to meet her in London in May 2000. Sadly (for me, anyway), a plan to meet up in a North London pub somewhere for drinks that same month fell through when she had to rush off to Italy for promotional work. But at least I got to meet her, and see her in concert.


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