A Raincoat

Feb 1, 2011

In 1975 an LP with the uncool title of “Digalongamacs” by a band with the uninspiring name of A Raincoat was released by a bunch of session musicians led by Andy Arthurs. Why they needed to risk ruining the record’s chances with a title that was a pun on those MOR Singalonga LPs of the time and why the LP cover featured such a gloomy photo of the band in a graveyard (By…graves….oh I get it now….) is lost in the mists of time. One of the tracks on the LP entitled “I love you for your mind (not your body)” was released as a single and received enough radio airplay for me to notice the band and consequently buy the LP. In the mid 1970s for some inexplicable reason I quite liked Sparks, 10cc, the Kursall Flyers etc and probably thought that A Raincoat fitted into that category. I love you for your etc etc sounded like the band had been listening to far too many Sparks records.

Andrew Arthurs released a few more records under his own name during the rest of the 1970s (often sounding like Thomas Dolby). There were also a few singles attributed to A Raincoat such as the catchy 1976 single “It came in the night”. The claim to fame of this song is that it was used in the Kenneth Anger “art”/cult film “Rabbit’s Moon” without the singer’s knowledge !! “Rabbit’s Moon” was a very odd film which mostly consisted of a spooky clown looking up at the moon. I’m not sure where the rabbit fitted in….. Odder still is the fact that although this peculiar “underground” film was shot in 1950 it wasn’t released until 1972. Then it was given a soundtrack consisting of half a dozen doowop songs such as “There’s a Moon out tonight”. Neither the Doowop songs or “It came in the night” seem the slightest bit appropriate to the otherwise silent and dated antics of two clowns, a couple of kids and a dancer. Of course all this deep and meaningful/bonkers nonsense (delete as appropriate) audio and video is sitting there waiting for viewers on Yootoob. It reminds me of nothing more than those old silent movie clips they used to show on The Old Grey Whistle Test whilst they played some rubbish track from the likes of Little Feat. Its the sort of thing you only want to see once, but it’s also the sort of thing that could crop up as a question on “Mastermind” or “University Challenge” so you may as well be prepared……

When this film was re-released in 1979 the earlier Doowop soundtrack was replaced with the A Raincoat single (played twice !!). This time the film only ran for 7 minutes instead of quarter of an hour because it was speeded up !! Despite the obscurity of Kenneth Anger films no doubt there will be more people aware of A Raincoat due to that short film than will ever have ever noticed any other A Raincoat material. Another bit of no-longer-lost Britpop history from the 70s thanks to the good old Interweb.

Although Mr Arthurs may not have had any hits he did continue recording for a while before going on to engineer and produce records by the likes of Bryan Ferry and Joe Jackson after which he emigrated to Australia where he became a lecturer.

PS: A Raincoat has no connection at all with the later group known as THE Raincoats.

5 Responses to “A Raincoat”

  1. Dave Roberts Says:

    I used to be heavily into Kenneth Anger’s obscure but magical movies. Cant say that I understood them very much BUT I did enjoy the musical stuff. Each time I watched his films there always seemed to be a different soundtrack! Odd! The different soundtracks made it all seem fresh every time I indulged myself. I loved immersing myself in this arty farty type of film at the “Scala” in Kings Cross and Notting Hill’s “Electric” cinemas in the 80s.I don’t think I could stomach watching his films now.Thanks for the info on this track though.

  2. dirigbledave@gmail.com Says:

    Can’t believe I’m doing this, but the ‘SingalongaMax’ albums by our own dear great Max Bygraves were about three years earlier, so it wasn’t even a current joke when released.
    Thankfully both artists gave up quickly on the idea (although I can’t help thinking that Max could have done us all a favour, done A Raincoat’s deal and just made the one album).

    There’s probably a book hidden on EMIs very strange and unsuccesful signings, mainly for singles during the early to mid-70s period with the red and yellow label. Leaving alone the acres of singles that never sold, there’s the ad material, like Ying and Yang’s very odd dealer only ep called ‘the dealers friend’ which had them talking to the customers. And the rare ‘every Cliff Richard single in 4 minutes’ single.

  3. dirigbledave@gmail.com Says:

    Apropos of nothing at all, but a glimpse into the world of people nobody realises are as great as they are …
    last night’s impromptu meal out turned into a delightful accidental evening discussing the world of rock and roll with Dave Berry over a beer. Now there’s a man full of anecdotes – this time Dave Edmunds legendary lack of conversation, how great Nick Lowe is, the sadness of Phil Lynott and Lemmy when he was in the Rockin’ Vickers!!!

    It would be nice if one day Dave actually got the recognition he deserved – he still plays a bloody blinder of a blues and Rock and roll set if you choose the right gigs. And his drummer John Ferminger is quite simply a legend. There should be one in the corner of every living room ready for when you’ve lost the will to live.

    Glass raised.

  4. “This strange effect” (which wasn’t the best thing he ever recorded)was part of my audio collection circa 1965 when said collection consisted of a dozen singles housed in a wire toastrack contraption. I’m not sure if it made the charts here but it was massive in Europe,thanks no doubt to much airplay on the pirate stations.

    There’s probably a book, or at least an article, required by someone on all the different pop charts of the 1960s.Lots of songs were “hits” according to Caroline etc, but not according to the BBC.

  5. James Pagan Says:

    Anger skip-printed every other frame of “Rabbit’s Moon” for its 1979 resurrection as a birthday present for his fellow filmmaker Stan Brakhage’s son Roark. This condensation radically revamps the picture, omitting its original ending. It also provides a wider exposure for A Raincoat’s delightful song, which is one of my favorites.

    Your blog is a treasure trove!


    James Pagan

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