Mark Mulcahy: Return of the great unknown
Mark Mulcahy’s fanbase may be stellar but it is painfully small. Undaunted, the cult hero is back for another shot at fame. Plus, a who’s who of ‘who?’ – our top five cult acts
5. The Shags: Art brut or a horrible, voyeuristic joke? The jury’s still out on the four sisters from New Hampshire. Their deluded parents - thinking they were the Next Big Thing - put the musically naïve and clueless young girls into a studio and the resultant 1969 album - “Philosophy Of The World” - was horrifically awful. But over the years artists such as Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain - attracted by the album’s notoriety - re-evaluated it as being a work of art such was the beauty of its tuneless innocence. It’s utterly compelling - but for what reason?
Total cults: A who’s who of ‘who?’
1 VASHTI BUNYAN
In the late 1960s this British folkie travelled around the Scottish highlands on a horse and cart and later recorded the songs she wrote on the one-year journey. The album, Just Another Diamond Day, sank without trace on its release in 1969. But word of mouth kept her beautiful, pastoral songs alive and there was a re-release in 2000 that sold relatively well. One of the better cult name-drops – even if a mobile ’phone operator has used one her songs in an ad.
2 THE REPLACEMENTS
“They often performed under the influence of alcohol” is the phrase one reads most about this brilliant Minneapolis post-punk band. A perfect, exhilarating mix of The Ramones and The Beatles, they released a series of still classic albums before throwing/drinking it all away. Their best song, Alex Chilton, was written as a tribute to another cult musician – the Big Star frontman.
3 ALEXANDER ‘SKIP’ SPENCE
Spence played with both Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape but was overly fond of LSD. After a delusional breakdown, he travelled to Nashville to record the solo Oar album – routinely described as “one of the most harrowing documents of pain and confusion ever made”. Tom Waits thinks it’s one of the best albums ever released.
4 VIC GODARD
Godard formed Subway Sect in the mid-1970s but refused to compromise the band’s literate approach in favour of generic punk posturing. Disillusioned, he went off to work as a postman for a number of years before returning with a series of fine solo albums.
5 THE SHAGGS
Art brut or a horrible, voyeuristic joke? The jury’s still out on the four sisters from New Hampshire. Their deluded parents, thinking they were the next big thing, put the musically naive and clueless young girls into a studio, and the resultant 1969 album, Philosophy Of The World, was horrifically awful.
However, over the years artists such as Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain – attracted by the album’s notoriety – re-evaluated it as being a work of art, such was the beauty of its tuneless innocence.
It’s utterly compelling – but for what reason?