NME, 13 JULY 1991

The Pale Fountains go down in history as one of Virgin’s grandest failures. Approximately £150,000 of Phil Collins’ hard earned profits was spent in marketing them as the group of the 80’s, an investment which realised not one chart hit. Their commercial zenith had been reached by November l982 when the delightfully grandiose Thank You clambered to Number 48. To add insult to injury, Radio One’s Peter Powell adopted them as his fave rave, rendering them terminally unhip to the entire English speaking world.
Nevertheless, they still rnanaged to present themselves as the epitome of cool. Singer Michael Head (who went on form Shack) wore his heart on his sleeve and a monochrome Rickenbacker around his neck and was aided by the vibrant artistic imagery of Chris McCaffrey (who sadly died in 1989), Andy Diagram’s plaintive bass work (now part of the James set) and Head’s 15-year-old-brother John – who played truant in addition to a mean semi-acoustic.
They were stubbornly different from the rest – a bunch of poofs in shorts according to the overcoated Scouse mafia that ruled the roost at the time, flirting with pop, rock, jazz and Latin styles. Three minutes of top pop encapsulates their appeal. Jean’s Not Happening – taken from their more coherent second LP …from across the kitchen table is an earth-shattering guitar anthem which came complete with a beat movie video featuring the divine Marina Van Rooy.
Sadly they weren’t able to build upon this artistic excellence after the tax loss jokes became too much for Virgin to bear and their third album was binned before completion.


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Zilch (1988)
1. Emergency (listen)
2. Someone’s Knocking (listen)
3. John Kline (listen)
4. I Need You (listen)
5. Realization (listen)
6. High Rise Low Life (listen)
7. Who Killed Clayton Square? (listen)
8. Who’d Believe It? (listen)
9. What’s It Like… (listen)
10. The Believers (listen)