Kirsty MacColl: Desperate Character (1981) 2012

Desperate Character

Track list:

01. Clock Goes Round
02. See That Girl
03. There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis
04. Teenager in Love
05. Mexican Sofa
06. Until the Night
07. Falling for Faces
08. Just One Look
09. The Real Ripper
10. Hard to Believe
11. He Thinks I Still Care
12. There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (Country Version)


Kirsty MacColl – vocals;
Lu Edmonds, Billy Bremner, Malcolm Morley, Phil Rambow, Bazza – guitar;
Glyn Havard, Paul Riley – bass;
Lee Partiss – drums;
Gavin Povey – piano;
Ben Mandelson – fiddle;
“Irish” John Earle – tenor & baritone sax;
Ray Beavis – tenor sax;
Chris Gower – trombone;
Dick Hansen – trumpet;
Lew Lewis – “vamping”;
Blanche McAdorey, Billy – background vocals;

Recorded: Regent Park Studios, London, U.K.
Released: June, 1981
Label: Polydor
POLS 1035

SALVOCD058 [CD re-issue: October, 2012]

Producer: Bazza (B.Farmer)

Design and Art direction: Rob O’Connor
Photography: Alan Ballard

Hand tinting: John Anderson


Desperate Character is the first solo album of British singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, released in 1981.

The album was re-released in March 1985 as Kirsty MacColl, with three tracks replaced with other songs.

The album has been re-mastered and received a CD release for the first time on 8th October 2012 on the Union Square Music label and features the original twelve track listing.

Kirsty MacColl (1985)

Kirsty MacColl is essentially a reworked version of Desperate Character, with the following changes:
“Mexican Sofa”, “Just One Look”, and the country version of “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis” were dropped.
The previously unissued tracks “Annie”, “Roman Gardens”, and “Berlin” were substituted in their places.
For a “Special Edition” release of the album, two additional previously unissued tracks were added: “Man With No Name”, and “Sleepless Nights”.

01. Clock Goes Round – 2:33
02. See That Girl – 2:59
03. There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis – 3:04
04. Teenager in Love – 2:33
05. Annie – 4:33
06. Until The Night – 3:07
07. Falling For Faces – 2:28
08. Roman Gardens – 3:57
09. The Real Ripper – 3:20
10. Hard To Believe – 2:17
11. He Thinks I Still Care – 2:54
12. Berlin – 3:34
13. Man With No Name *
14. Sleepless Nights *
(* Special Edition only)


Kirsty MacColl‘s 1981 debut album finally takes its CD bow.

Full of charm, humour and her quirky ear for what makes a great pop song, there s a diversity and eclecticism at work here that brings together the cheeky pop of the Top 20 hit … Chip Shop…, the swing jazz of The Real Ripper, the kinky reggae of the Hollies Just One Look, the feisty new wave energy of Clock Goes Round and the faux-country cover of George Jones’ He Thinks I Still Care.

Perhaps what makes Desperate Character still sound so vibrant though are the sweeping, sumptuous 60s recreations of See That Girl, Until The Night and Hard To Believe. Kirsty takes the songs beyond parody, particularly See That Girl, one of the best songs she ever wrote.

She also tackles, tongue in cheek, a Shangri-La’s style Teenager In Love, but this a long way removed from Frankie Lymon’s paean; here Kirsty is nursing a tequila and mourning a lost love as she sings in character of a ‘lonely, alcoholic teenager in love!’

Ahead lay more hit singles and acclaimed albums such as Kite, Electric Landlady and Titanic Days; a permanent voice on Christmas airwaves thanks to that enduring Fairytale of New York; parenthood and a glittering second career as as a session singer for the likes of U2, the Smiths and Talking Heads.

But for many, the first appreciation of this special singer/songwriter came courtesy of Desperate Character and this release provides an opportunity to refresh memories and make fresh introductions to the one and only Kirsty MacColl.

Desperate Character (originally released as Polydor POLS 1035 (U.K.), 1981 – reissued Salvo SALVOCD058 (U.K.), 2012)