Swans way – History and Image
“For a long time I used to go to bed early.” Until I was put in Swans way.
There are two ways to read the title of Marcel Proust‘s magnus opus “À la recherche du temps perdu” in the English language. Either as ‘In Search of Lost Time’ or ‘Remembrance of Things Past’. When referring to Swans way – the magnificient trio of daring dandy darlings individually called Rick P Jones, Robert Shaw and Maggie K de Monde and altogether named after Proust’s first volume of seven – the first translation seems at all more appropriate. 1984 should have been their year. Looking back, their star might as well have been crosspassing earth already in 1924 and 1954 – judging by their fascinating artistic coordinates. So let us not miss our next 30 year window in 2014, or even better still: appreciate them now! For they are a rare breed and need to be held among the greatest ever to camp on the pop mount olympus.
They had so much going for them that other parents’ offspring lacked: a taste for cinéma’s nouvelle vague, a knack for all things Jean Genet (imagine Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Querelle” as a 90minute video for Swans way’s single “The Anchor”), an enchantment for french orchestral pop and the songs of Jacques Brel – as channeled by Rod McKuen and Scott Walker, hardcore (“cry tough!”) crooning likely absorbed from its chainsmokin’ grandmaester Bobby Scott, an altogether earnest way of street-fightingly, irony-free, funky cabaret, and the greatest of hands at writing evergreen pop material.
Their ‘on the waterfront’ to film noir attire might have drawn comparisms to Martin Fry’s ABC had he opted more for Marlon Brando or Robert Mitchum and less for Bing Crosby or Mary Poppins. The Swans way was a delicious melo-drama, elsewhere only conjured up by fellow English duo White & Torch, who eventually shared their fate of being overlooked, and most criminally at that. Devoted to the grand gesture, sworn to the lovelorn liaisons dangereuses, taking the bitter with the sweet, served in oversized Ovomaltine cans, they cat-scratched the UK top 20 with their single “Soul Train”, but almost went unnoticed in the main-stream when the self fulfillingly named debut album “The Fugitive Kind” was released. It has now finally been made available on digital disk. Even harder to find – until now – was their mighty fine TV concert hour called “History & Image” which shows them in superbly stylish action.
Now, without further palaver: sink yourself into this fountain of unknown pleasures and acknowledge Maggie K de Monde, Rick P Jones and Robert Shaw as the great artists they are and always have been.
Let me put you in Swans way …