13 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The daughter of traditional British folk musician Ewan MacColl, Kirsty MacColl got her start during the punk era, when she played—much to her family’s horror—in a band called The Drug Addix. That group went nowhere, but 21-year-old Kirsty caught the attention of the London-based label Stiff, which backed her on a glorious string of singles between 1979 and 1986. An accomplished singer and songwriter at a young age, MacColl was exceptionally talented and also uniquely British. Clever and whimsical, her tales of disappointing romance spoke to beautiful but homely girls who dreamt of lives beyond dreary English windows. The appearance of metal figurehead Lemmy (on the standout “Terry”) and a cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” point to the diversity of MacColl’s creative associates. Likewise, her style of songcraft connects to several divergent strands of pop music in the early '80s: the literate punk of Elvis Costello, the youthful exuberance of The Specials and The Selecter, and even The Go-Go’s, who did in a America a more sugary version of what MacColl accomplished in England with these songs.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The daughter of traditional British folk musician Ewan MacColl, Kirsty MacColl got her start during the punk era, when she played—much to her family’s horror—in a band called The Drug Addix. That group went nowhere, but 21-year-old Kirsty caught the attention of the London-based label Stiff, which backed her on a glorious string of singles between 1979 and 1986. An accomplished singer and songwriter at a young age, MacColl was exceptionally talented and also uniquely British. Clever and whimsical, her tales of disappointing romance spoke to beautiful but homely girls who dreamt of lives beyond dreary English windows. The appearance of metal figurehead Lemmy (on the standout “Terry”) and a cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” point to the diversity of MacColl’s creative associates. Likewise, her style of songcraft connects to several divergent strands of pop music in the early '80s: the literate punk of Elvis Costello, the youthful exuberance of The Specials and The Selecter, and even The Go-Go’s, who did in a America a more sugary version of what MacColl accomplished in England with these songs.

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About Kirsty MacColl

Kirsty MacColl, daughter of folk singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl, began her own musical career while still in her teens, singing in a band called the Addix, and eventually signed to the legendary Stiff Records. Her first single, the modern girl group gem, "They Don't Know," was released in 1979. Though it failed in the charts, it was later a major hit for Tracey Ullman. Kirsty MacColl switched to Polydor in the '80s and landed a U.K. Top 40 hit with the novelty song "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop (Swears He's Elvis)." She followed the single with her first LP, Desperate Character, in 1981. In 1984, she married producer Steve Lillywhite and put her solo career on hold, raising their two children and working as a backup singer. MacColl returned in 1989 with a more mature effort, Kite, which reached the U.K. Top 40. Two more albums, Electric Landlady (1991) and Titanic Days (1993), displayed great talent and diversity and, above all, good pop sensibilities. On December 18, 2000, MacColl was killed by a speedboat while swimming off of the coast of Mexico. Less than six months later, her final album, Tropical Brainstorm, was released on Instinct. ~ Chris Woodstra

HOMETOWN
Croydon, London, England
GENRE
Pop
BORN
October 10, 1959

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