MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETY-SATELLITE.
MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETY-SATELLITE.
You shouldn’t judge a book by its covers. These are wise words. Especially when it comes to Mull Historical Society. The name doesn’t sound particularly rock ’n’ roll. Far from it. Instead, it conjures up dusty relics in a far flung museum on the remote, but beautiful Isle Of Mull. However, that’s not the case.
Instead, Mull Historical Society is the musical vehicle of Scottish singer, song-writer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Colin MacIntyre. He’s been making music as Mull Historical Society since 2000, who recently, released their sixth album Satellite on Xtramile Recordings. Satellite is the first album Mull Historical Society have released since City Awakenings in 2012. Four years later, and Satellite is the latest chapter in the story of Mull Historical Society.
The Mull Historical Society story began on 8th April 1971. That’s when Colin MacIntyre was born in Oban. However, soon, the Macintyre family moved to Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, in the Scottish Hebrides. It’s a beautiful and spartan landscape; and was where Colin’s love of music was born.
This came when Colin started to go along to watch his uncle’s cover band play. It was a eureka moment. Suddenly, Colin realised that he wanted to make a living as a musician. Determined to make this dream a reality, Colin formed his first covers band Trax, whilst still at Tobermory Primary School. Later, Trax became Love Sick Zombies. By then, Colin was determined to follow his dream.
The dream continued when Colin moved to the mainland, to attend Oban High School. It was there that Colin considered going to art school. However, ultimately, Colin chose music over art school, and in the late eighties, he and his brother headed to Glasgow.
It was while living in Glasgow, that Colin attended a trial with Queens Park. Although he never played for the first team, Colin continued to train while working in a stockbroker and then for BT. Still, though, Colin’s dream was to make a living as a musician.
Over the next ten years, Colin continued to write and play live. He was a familiar face in Glasgow’s live scene. However, Colin was still no nearer fulfilling his dream of making a living out of music. Then came the call ever son or daughter dreads.
In 1999, Colin’s life changed forevermore. His father Kenny MacIntyre, a well respected political journalist died suddenly. By then, Colin was twenty-eight, and was still no nearer making a breakthrough as a musician. The death of his father seemed to act as a wakeup call to Colin.
The next year, 2000, Colin founded Mull Historical Society, after seeing an advert bearing the name. This Colin decided was the perfect name for his new musical vehicle. Mull Historical Society would soon make its presence felt.
Just over a year after forming Mull Historical Society had signed to Blanco Y Negro label. Mull Historical Society were preparing to record their debut album Loss. Its title was inspired by the sudden death of Colin’s father in 1999. Recording of Loss took place in Colin’s adopted home, Glasgow.,
The recording of Mull Historical Society’s debut album took place between February and April 2001, at Gravity Studios, in Glasgow. Colin produced Loss, which was released later in 2001.
When Loss was released in October 2001 it was to critical acclaim. The album became a favourite amongst discerning music lovers and critics alike. This resulted in Loss reaching number forty-three in the UK Charts. Mull Historical Society’s star was in the ascendancy.
Following the commercial success and critical acclaim of Loss, Mull Historical Society established a reputation as one of Britain’s up and coming artists. Indeed, Loss was hailed as one of the greatest British albums of 2001. In many ways, it was a sign of what was to come from Mull Historical Society. Two years later, things got even better for Mull Historical Society.
After the success of Loss, Mull Historical Society wasted no time in beginning work on their sophomore album, Us. Mull Historical Society returned to the familiar surroundings of Glasgow’s Gravity Studios. That’s where they recorded and fourteen new tracks between January and October 2002. These tracks became Us.
When critics heard Us, most of the reviews were positive, and the same critical acclaim preceded the release of Mull Historical Society’s sophomore album. Colin received praise for his songwriting and production skills. His songs were variously described cerebral, eloquent and filled with social comment. Other critics remarked upon the “joyous orchestral” sound of Us’ production. Us was an album that would build on the success of Loss.
When Mull Historical Society released Us in March 2003, it would surpass the critical acclaim and commercial success of Loss. Us reached number nineteen in the UK, which most people would’ve thought was progress.
That’s except for the executives at Warner Bros. Colin was already being hailed one of the great up-and-coming Scottish songwriters of his generation. This didn’t matter to Warner Bros. With the music industry in a state of constant flux, and profits shrinking, Warner Bros. had to cut their budgets. There was no thought to the longterm, and artists were being dropped left, right and centre. One of the casualties was Mull Historical Society, who Warner Bros. dropper from their roster. This seemed ironic, given the success of Mull Historical Society’s first two albums. However, Mull Historical Society returned a year later with a new album.
This Is Hope.
After being dropped from Warner Bros, Colin spent two months in America. His road trip endued in New Orleans. Now suitably refreshed, Colin flew home, and began work on his third album, This Is Hope.
Unlike his two previous albums, This Is Hope was recorded in London. A total of twelve tracks were recorded That was where the twelve new tracks were recorded. This included a hit single.
Before the release of This Is Hope, How ‘Bout I Love You More was released as a single in 2004. It reached number thirty-seven in the UK chart. This was the fourth single of Mull Historical Society’s career. For Mull Historical Society, this augured well for the release of their third album This Is Hope.
Prior to the release of This Is Hope, the majority of the reviews were positive. Colin’s songwriting skills were praised, as he combines hope, humour and social comment. Especially on Death of a Scientist (A Vision of Man Over Machine 2004), which dealt with the mysterious death of government scientist David Kelly. With mostly positive reviews, it looked like This Is Hope would continue the Mull Historical Society success story.
This Is Hope was released in July 2004, on B-Unique Records. It was a small, independent label which had been founded in 2001 by Mark Lewis and Martin Toher. Mull Historical Society was their latest signing. Alas, This Is Hope stalled at just fifty-eight in the UK charts. However, whether it made his mind up to retire the Mull Historical Society moniker is unknown. For his next album, Colin dispensed with his musical mask that was Mull Historical Society.
Following the release of This Is Hope, Colin began to rethink things. He had lost faith in both his management, and B-Unique Records. So he set about extricating himself from these two business relationships. For Colin, it wasn’t an easy time, and he even had to cancel some concerts. However, despite not being signed to a record label, Colin began work on a new album.
For what became his fourth album The Water, Colin had written eleven new songs. Rather than produce The Water himself, Colin decided to bring onboard a producer. His choice was an unusual one, Lemon Jelly’s Nick Frangle. The electronic music producer was drafted in to produce The Water.
The two men began work on the eleven new songs. Once they had recorded these songs, they were joined by a familiar face. This was none other than veteran Labour politician Tony Benn. He wrote and performed the poem Pay Attention To The Human. It’s a poignant way to close The Water.
With The Water recorded, all Colin needed was a record company willing to release the album. It would be released on Colin’s label Future Gods Recordings. Before that, critics had their chance to hear what was the first album bearing Colin MacIntyre’s name.
Critics were impressed, with The Water. It was described as “pop perfection.” Most of the reviews praised Colin’s first albums since dropping the Mull Historical Society moniker. It had been a gamble, but one that paid off. Especially when The Water was released in February 2008, and soared into the top twenty in the UK. Following the critical acclaimed and commercially success of The Water, Colin decided to change things again for 2009s The Island.
Fittingly, when Colin began work on his fifth album The Island. he headed home to the Isle Of Mull. The familiar surroundings of Mull was the perfect place to record an album. Especially one entitled The Island.
Recording of eleven new songs took place in the classroom of the school where Colin was a former pupil. Now his old school was an arts centre. It was where Colin recorded his most stripped down album to date. This was a far cry from the orchestral sound of parts of Us. However, it was album that introduced Colin’s music to a new audience.
Just like previous albums, The Island was well received by most critics. They welcomed Colin’s new stripped down sound. Sadly, when The Island was released in 2009, it didn’t match the commercial success of The Water. However, the critically acclaimed album The Island attracted the attention of some of music’s biggest names. Indeed, for Colin, the greatest compliment he received, was hearing that Brian Wilson played The Water in his tour bus. The Island also lead to Colin touring with The Strokes, Elbow and REM. Now Colin’s was reaching a much wider audience. It was what he had always dreamt of. Now the dream was coming true, Colin decided to revive his Mull Historical Society moniker for his sixth album City Awakenings.
Four years passed between the release of The Island in 2009, and the release of City Awakenings in January 2013. However, Colin had been busy. He had toured with The Strokes, Elbow and REM. He was rubbing shoulders with the great and good of music. At last, Colin was living the dream. The wee boy from Mull had come a long way.
Now it was time for Mull Historical Society to record a new album. Colin had written ten new songs which became City Awakenings. The ten songs find Colin paying homage to Glasgow, London and New York. These three cities have influenced Colin MacIntyre, Scotland’s latest troubadour
To produce City Awakenings, Colin brought onboard Grammy Award-winning producer Dom Morley. Recording took place at Glasgow’s Cava Studios, London’s The Shed and the legendary Metropolis Studios. Accompanying Coin, a true multi-instrumentalist are a multitalented band. They provided the backdrop for Colin’s three city musical journey from Glasgow, to London and onto New York. Once City Awakenings was recorded, the album was mixed at where Colin’s musical journey began, Gravity Studios, Glasgow. This seemed fitting, as City Awakenings was a game-changer of an album.
While City Awakenings may not have been Mull Historical Society’s most successful album, it was critically acclaimed and reinforced Colin MacIntyre’s reputation as one of the most talented and gifted songwriters and troubadours of his generation. He’s capable of writing and delivering incisive, eloquent songs, crammed with social comment, emotion and heartbreak. That was the case on City Awakenings, and is the case on the long-awaited followup Satellite.
Just over three years passed before Mull Historical Society returned with what was the seventh album of Colin’s fifteen year career. For Satellite, Colin had written ten new songs. These ten songs were recorded at two studios with Grammy Award-winning producer Dom Morley.
Recording of Satellite took place at Sugar Cane Studios and Flint Barn Studio. Joining Colin and producer Dom Morley were drummer Andy Samson. Colin played the majority of the instruments. That’s apart from synth parts, which Dom Morley played. He recorded and mixed Satellite, while Colin took charge of the arrangements. Once the album was recorded, Satellite was mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Miles Showell. Finally, Satellite was ready for release.
When Satellite was released recently, it welcomed the return of Mull Historical Society. They had been away for over three years. It was a welcome return from the boy from Mull who dared to dream. The result is the latest chapter in Mull Historical Society’s career, Satellite.
Harmonies accompany the rhythm section and guitar on Sleepy Hollow. They play with confidence on what’s an anthem-in-waiting. Hooks haven’t been rationed, as memories come flooding back to Colin. Soon he’s singing and pleading: ”take my hand, feel the sorrow…but I remember you, in your Sleepy Hollow, I was on the rebound, you were playing love songs.” That was the past. Now he’s moved on, and he’s lost and lonely. “But I’m only me when you’re around.” By then, a carefully crafted slice of anthemic power pop has unfolded. It’s truly irresistible and is sure to be a festival favourite this summer.
As a crystalline guitar chimes, the rhythm section usher in Colin’s vocal on This Little Sister. As it’s delivered with emotion, the bubbling bass cuts through the arrangement. Reverb is added to the vocal, while the guitar plays a leading role. Later, Colin is accompanied by backing vocals, and pounding, thunderous drums. They signal it’s all change, as the arrangement is stripped bare, before building. By then, the arrangement is slick and full of hooks. He sings: “she’s so cool, she’s nobody’s fool, she sparks up a revolution,” as Colin pays homage to This Little Sister.
Why Do They Go So Soon sees the tempo drop, as backing vocals combine with drums. They set the scene for Colin’s thoughtful and almost melancholy vocal. Soon, a deliberate bass adds an element of drama, before a wistful piano makes a brief appearance. Later, Colin asks: “Why Do They Go So Soon, why do we not care the way we used to, why do we not love the way we used to?” As he delivers these lyrics, his vocal is a mixture of power, emotion and frustration. Harmonies combine with a firmly strummed guitar and add an element of drama. They’re joined by synths and piano. Everything is added at just the right time, resulted in a carefully crafted, and heartfelt, poignant song.
Stylistically and sonically Bones is quite different to previous tracks. That’s the case from the opening bars, when Colin’s vocal combines with the rhythm section and synths. Soon, he adds a guitar as his vocal grows in power. By then, there’s an almost mesmeric sound to the arrangement. Later backing vocals and a buzzing synth accompany Colin as his ad-libbed vocal soars high above the arrangement. That’s the signal to strip the arrangement, and just the guitar remains, before quickly rebuilding. Harmonies accompany Colin, as the song heads towards its crescendo. That’s when Colin asks: “any other day, I’d be ruled by fate, do you love or hate, any other day.” Although quite different from previous tracks, it has three things in common; a slick arrangement; hooks and quality.
The Ballad Of Ivor Punch finds Colin changing style. It’s another anthem that’s cinematic and rich in imagery. Thunderous drums and searing guitars join the a piano in driving the arrangement along. Colin delivers the lyrics quickly and with passion. They’re about his people, island people. He sings: “there’s a peat-stained hand, showing on her clothes, but did she jump or fall,’cause nobody knows.” What follows is a rousing rocky anthem that owes a debt of grated to Runrig. Later, the lyrics are full of social comment. By then, Colin has set the scene and it’s possible to imagine the island dweller opening their paper and seeing tragedy and atrocities. They may be far from where it took place, but they’re angry at what has happened. Still, this rousing anthem sweeps all in its wake. While it’s a song with message, and a story to tell, and does so with a swagger and style.
All The Love Remains is a cinematic tale of heartbreak and love lost. Sadness fills Colin’s vocal as he plays the piano. Meanwhile, a piano flits in and out. It adds to the melancholy sounding track. That’s still the case when rhythm section enter, and the guitar jangles. Meanwhile, Colin’s vocal is akin to a confessional as she admits: “it gets me every way, she gets me every day”.…and later: in the most of life, we are in death.” Later, a melancholy piano plays, as cascading harmonies accompany Colin’s soul-baring vocal. There’s a twist in the tale, as the arrangement becomes understated and Colin sings: “the outside lights the page, but there she stands, as if to say how much today?” Just like previous tracks, All The Love Remains showcases Colin’s talents as a singer, songwriter and musician.
A firmly strummed guitar opens Each Other, and is joined by Colin’s guitar, which briefly feedbacks. Meanwhile the rhythm section and piano join with Colin as he sings of someone who died too young. “At least we had each other babe, at least we had another day, at least we had a chance of love, at least we had another day.” The lyrics seem to pour out of Colin as he gives thanks for the love he had, and the time they spent together. It’s a moving, poignant, beautiful and uplifting song.
Try To Be You is another guitar lead song. As Colin strums his guitar, the rhythm section and synths accompany him. Colin delivers a heartfelt and hopeful vocal. “I’m reaching out, reaching out for love.” It’s not to be though. Still he sings: “I cannot be loved, any other way, it has to be you.” By then, his hopeful vocal has become needy, as another hook-laden anthem unfolds. Colin’s lyrics are cinematic as this emotional roller coaster reaches its crescendo. Sadly, there’s no happy ending. A hopeful Colin sings: “you try to be free, so I Try To Be You, I’m reaching out.”
Farewell To Finisterre closes Satellite. The sound of an old crackling vinyl record is joined by a piano. It’s played slowly, before Colin delivers a powerful and emotive vocal. Again, there’s a cinematic quality to a song that’s rich in imagery. So much so, that it’s passible to imagine the scenes unfolding before your eyes. Meanwhile, the rhythm section, piano and guitar combine with harmonies. They provide the perfect backdrop for Colin’s vocal as the arrangement builds and builds. It’s a truly irresistible track, and one that bookends Satellite perfectly.
Satellite is without doubt, the best album of Mull Historical Society’s career. It’s an almost flawless album that shows just how talented a singer, songwriter, arranger and musician Colin MacIntyre is. His partnership with Grammy Award-winning producer Dom Morley has proved to be a successful one. Their first album was City Awakenings back in 2013. However, three years later, and Satellite is a career defining album from Mull Historical Society. It’s the album many commentators knew Mull Historical Society were capable of making.
By that, I mean an album of slick, polished perfect pop, with diversions into folk and rock. Hooks certainly haven’t been rationed on Satellite. It’s an album long on clever poppy hooks and anthems. Many of these songs are sure to become festival favourites in the summer months. However, other songs are cinematic, and rich in imagery. So much so, that’s it’s possible to imagine the scenes unfolding before your eyes. Other songs on Satellite are variously moving, poignant, beautiful and uplifting; while others are irresistible and joyous. Quite simply, Satellite is a musical roller coaster from Mull Historical Society.
It’s been the musical vehicle of Colin MacIntyre since 2001. Since then, his star has been in the ascendancy. However, Satellite has cemented his reputation as one of the most talented singers and songwriters of his generation. He’s capable of writing incisive, eloquent songs, crammed with social comment, emotion and heartbreak. That’s what we’ve come to expect from Colin MacIntyre. He’s established a reputation as erudite, intelligent songwriter. Satellite is further proof of this.
Indeed, Satellite is a career-defining album from Mull Historical Society. It’s an album full clever poppy hooks and anthems. They sit side-by-side with paeans and tales of love lost.That’s why Satellite is without doubt the best album of Mull Historical Society’s career. It seems Mull Historical Society went in search of perfection on Satellite, and very nearly discovered it.
MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETY-SATELLITE.