/ Flowers in the sky, Creation, 1984
I never asked you if you did
Sometimes feelings go beyond words
And now I cling to tender moments
And I don’t feel real at all
In the afternoon
In the afternoon
In the afternoon
We made love
I don’t want to say too much about this song (1). Even though that’s why I’m here, writing this, I should resist the temptation, let you listen yourself, allow the song to settle in your own imaginations how it will, without too much corrupting knowledge of how it came to be and who was involved.
But of course I must say something. And the knowledge has never quite corrupted me, or my affection for the song.
Her voice (2) and the words she sings capture such afternoons perfectly. There are hints as to the psychological or psychosexual state of play, but ultimately the mystery remains intact, trapped in a swirl of keyboards, cornered by the echoing bass drum (3). Like making love, the song is a vortex or void of time into which the listener falls, transported, to be returned at its end with the uneasy sense that no time at all has passed.
In memory the song is as slow as it is cyclical – conjuring repeated afternoons of repeatedly making love – but in fact the rhythm gives the song some sense of urgency, mounting a half-hearted struggle against its air of languid pleasure, or languid apathy.
I remember seeing her at the Falcon in Camden (4). Hair bleach blonde. She seemed apart from all the other people there, even those she was performing with. ‘A man who never sees a pretty girl that he doesn’t love her a little’ (5) – so much the more so if she sings with a voice which has in it equal shades of heaven and the underworld. In that voice, the look of the beautiful but seemingly disenchanted woman who appeared on the cover of Songs for the sad eyed girl (6) was converted into sound.
The song lasts for a little less than three and a half minutes, but it continues to prowl the corridors of your mind long after it ends, and long after you first heard it.
1. This is an enigma played upon by the Revolving Paint Dream themselves in the sleeve notes to Rev-ola’s 2006’s Flowers in the sky compilation; I’m about to bust it with these factual notes, so look away now if you’d prefer the song to remain shrouded in mystery. ‘In the afternoon’ was the AA side of the second single on Creation, CRE002. Like Brogues over at Alex’s place, my path to it was via the sampler Wild summer, wow! (or Wow! Wild summer – you could read the title either way) where it featured alongside other early wonders of Creation like ‘Winter’, ‘There must be a better life’, and ‘Think!’ But the song I played most was ‘In the afternoon’, beguiled by its mystery, seduced by its promise. Had the same singer sung the roughly contemporaneous ‘Stretch out and wait’ in place of Morrissey, the effect might have been the same. (Think of Sandie Shaw and ‘Hand in glove’.) As it was, the considerations Stephen raised always seemed to lean towards the intellectual and away from the physical.
2. Christine Wanless’. Though she sang on many Revolving Paint Dream and Biff Bang Pow! songs subsequently, and many of those are great, I’m not sure she ever bettered this performance. It’s something to do with how her voice merges with the mood of the instrumentation, giving birth to sonic qualities that some of the cleaner recordings of her voice do not have.
3. The Creation mafia are all over ‘In the afternoon’. Joe Foster – Rev-ola’s director – produced it and so many of the early Creation records. Ken Popple drummed for Biff Bang Pow! Dave Musker also tooted his keyboards on the Jasmine Minks’ 1234567 All good preachers go to heaven. It becomes easier to say who wasn’t connected with the Revolving Paint Dream. But essentially they were former Laughing Apple Andrew Innes, and Christine Wanless, who also sang on Biff Bang Pow!’s The girl who runs the Beat hotel LP and the ‘She haunts’ twelve inch. Biff Bang Pow!’s and Revolving Paint Dream’s members and songs were interchangeable, as occasionally their writing credits also seem to be. The Andrew Innes footnote is that he became a member of Primal Scream while the Paint Dream was still Revolving.
4. A notebook tells me that on the 21st February 1988 I went to see an ensemble called the Revolving Brides – surely a conjunction of Wanless & Innes and the June Brides? – supported by the Sea Urchins; the following week Biff Bang Pow! played at the same venue, so it might have been either night; I don’t remember which.
5. The Sea And Cake must have nabbed this un-Prekopian title for an instrumental of theirs from someone, but I can’t establish who.
6. The LP released by Biff Bang Pow! in 1990. And here’s the thing that turns ‘In the afternoon’ on its head: it was written by Alan McGee. This might come as a shock to anyone who knows the song but has never seen a credit for it, so entirely does Christine Wanless inhabit it. Much as I love Biff Bang Pow!, the version sung by Alan and included on their own Rev-ola compilation Waterbomb! doesn’t come close.
- Revolving Paint Dream – In the afternoon
- ‘Flowers in the sky’ and ‘Green sea blue’ courtesy of The beautiful music
- The Revolving Paint Dream at Last.fm