I was talking to Mark ‘Frosty’ McNeilly the other day and I mentioned that GSR was going to be reissuing the first Preachers tape. Mark has played in the Melbourne Celtic scene for the best part of 30 years, knows pretty much everyone and is one of the best blokes you could ever meet. He’s also got great taste in music.
‘The first Preachers album?’ he says. ‘That only came out on tape didn’t it? I’ve got that at home somewhere. That’s a pisser of an album.’ He paused for a second to zoom in on the memory. ‘Has that got Dance of the Wee Folk on it?’ ‘Yep,’ I replied. ‘Great song that. Great version. Bloody good band actually.’
Frosty, once again, was right on the money. The tape was called Book Another Band and Dance of the Wee Folk was but one of 11 tracks The Preachers recorded for their debut outing in December 1993.
And we’ve got a rare treat for you this week with the first time digital release of this little gem. Book Another Band was only ever available on cassette until now and those little units of slowly degrading audio quality were becoming rare as hen’s teeth. The boys got a bunch of them made and they sold like hotcakes at the gigs.
The album was recorded on a four track at Zoran’s bungalow and Bo Remy from Hellfire Sound Studio has done a gentle little touch up on the album during the conversion process. We decided to keep the sound as close to the original vibe as possible, including a couple of little spots where the tape has degraded slightly. Book Another Band was originally mastered and manufactured at Dex Audio.
Preachers drummer Paul Fiddes remembers how the album came about: 'Peter (O’Shea) and Steve (Boyd) were working as a duo at the front bar at the Dan O'Connell Hotel for quite some time and at some point they wanted a rhythm section. And that's where Zoran (Kovic) and myself came on board. I think we were in the front bar for a year before it got to packed and then we had to move into the back bar. The band was playing together for about six months before we recorded Book Another Band.'
The track listing on the album was made up of the songs that went over best at the Dan gigs; a combination of traditional Celtic songs with a couple written by Steve and a couple by Peter. The album title came from the legendary Dan O’Connell Manager Kevin Webb. 'Zoran and I asked him for a payrise,' Paul said. 'After that he constantly told us that he was going to book another band. Zoran and I were on $25 each per night at that stage. The album title was our way of getting him back.'
So what’s it sound like? For me, what this record might lack in production polish is more than compensated by the swaggering performances and infectious grooves. They always had a brooding, smouldering vibe about them, The Preachers. Steve’s brogue weaving through the floor toms and guitars. Group choruses, chanting, droning bass, there’s a restrained anger in the vocals. He’s always sung like he meant it.
The album has a soothing quality to it for me, the familiar sound of the Irish pubs in their prime on any given night. Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Leaving of Liverpool, Marie’s Wedding.
I may be wrong here, but I get the feeling the boys were keen to move away from that stuff as soon as was practical. Gigs are gigs and certain shows call for certain songs but the songs and the gigs were changing for The Preachers. Already there was nearly half the record of original material; a balance that shifted totally with ensuing releases.
So here it is, Book Another Band - get on it and get back!