Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Clean - Left by Soft tape (1981). In remembrance of Hamish Kilgour (1957-2022)

When the news went our earlier this week that The Clean's Hamish Kilgour was found deceased a few days after being reported missing, the ripples generated were nothing short of staggering.  As the drummer/vocalist alongside brother David Kilgour for the beloved Dunedin, NZ outfit, not to mention one of the flagship bands for Flying Nun Records, Hamish was remembered not merely for his role in The Clean, but just as consequentially his involvement in making a name for Kiwi-pop writ large, and perhaps more specifically the "Dunedin sound."

In indie circles, everyone has beloved city and even nation scenes. Though Kiwi-pop never broke mainstream in the States, thousands of punk and post-punk adherents clung to the music emanating from the isles due southeast of Australia. particularly that which was created in the last quarter of the twentieth century. While I wasn't a chronic follower of what was happening in the nation that was that much more down under I had my own contingent of favorites to vouch for - The Bats, Straitjacket Fits, Toy Love, and Bailter Space, the latter of which Hamish was part of an early lineup. So far as the Clean were concerned I never featured them on Wilfully Obscure, nor held an abundance of curiosity for, save for a times I caught a random song on college radio, or listened to the nicely packed, forty-some-odd song Anthology compendium.  In a nutshell, I never took the full scale plunge into The Clean, yet virtually every note I'd heard from the band was above satisfactory, if not well above.

A few years ago I must have been curious enough to do some excavating on the Clean, and in my pursuit I found files for a 1981 cassette album, Left By Soft, that even preceded another more renown tape, Oddities.  In studying track lists and such, a good number of tracks on Left By Soft carried over to Oddities, though I can't verify if the versions are one and the same. A few cuts, namely "Thumbs Off" and "Platypus" would soon land on subsequent singles. From what little I've been able to glean, this exceedingly scarce cassette is a comilation of early demos and live tracks, and while it doesn't quite illustrate the definitive Clean formula, the building blocks were present and would be taking shape in the not-too distant future. Btw,  I'm picking up on no shortage of Joy Division homage here, particularly the Peter Hook-ish bass lines, adding an intriguing layer of texture. Perhaps not the most crucial component in the overarching Clean cannon, the truly devoted will find Left By Soft to be a fascinating portal into the band's nascent meanderings. 

01. Thumbs Off
02. Getting Older
03. Oddity
04. Point That Thing
05. At the Bottom
06. Platypus
07. Point That Thing part 2
08. Count to Ten
09. Quickstep
10. Yesterday Was
11. I Don't Get You
12. Quickstep
13. Left by Jam 



heartsofstone said...

Thanks so much for posting. Hamish Kilgour was very underrated and should be remembered.

Josef Kloiber said...

Sad to hear that H. Kilgour passed away so young. I have the wonderful 2 cd anthology by the band Clean.

Josef Kloiber said...

This is the first time i've heard of Spailter Space. Spavid you know which are recommended ? They have done so much. Thanks

spavid said...

Thanks for commenting folks. Well, my intro to Bailter Space was their third album, Robot World, but pretty much anything they did in the '80s to mid '90s is worth seeking out, even the releases that didn't involve Hamish.

Josef Kloiber said...

Thank you very much Spavid !