Ode to St Christopher.
The essence of your music flooded the silent desert plains of pop in the eighties, your gentle hand created a shelter for life, your strong imagination made from out the bare adorned the crown of post C86 pop. Your songs could have evoked the dusty cellar of a castle, the ancient library of Dionysian revival, but you preferred to write about girls, fate and fortune, dreams and secrets, summer, the ethereal wings of heartache and love above all. Such exaltations your fine songwriting brought, oh! Glenn Melia, have guided many souls. Even today I can’t resist dragging out my old vinyl playmates. The winds and waves do sound, St Christopher, your music was like the call of the sea.
As all the good provocateurs you raised some beasts, as a sensitive troubadour you had erratic moments and evolved into a flea market of contradictions. One gets the impression that you were a curious child, the type who questioned everything, with a real inability to sit still. It is quite apparent that these traits have carried over into your adulthood. But no shadow darkens your bright career. Your healthy imagination coupled with your voracious reading and listening habits produced fantastical ideas and dreams. British in character, you even had a Dudley Moore period, those bohemian excesses as an indie pop star in the USA, France and Japan, the unforgettable radio sessions, all those pleasant rendezvous with the diehard fans.
Best ever flexi-disc band, St Christopher was too enigmatic for anorak pop, too heavyweight for tweepop, too sophisticated for C86, too pure and genuine for the charts. Glenn Melia is a reincarnation of Scott Walker for minorities and connoisseurs or a dandyish David Gedge for bedroom intellects. There is something charismatic and intriguing about this Yorkshire’s indie pop pinup, one of the best lyricists and mysterious voices in the pop scene.
Well, St Christopher released two gorgeous self-financed flexi discs which sold respectably in 1987, and this along with their burgeoning reputation in the fanzine and compilation tape barricades was enough to convince Bob Stanley to include them in one of the legendary Caff records discs. But the great moment came when Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes decided to shelter them in their Bristol sanctuary. Sarah records shaped the British landscape in a way not seen since punk. It was built upon a clear level of generational disaffection, some root level of political awareness, a clear opposition to the manipulation of the record industry and of course activism against the stereotypical machismo and rock attitude.
Time to unearth the Sarah records seven and ten inch records, sought-after by collectors worldwide. "You Deserve More Than A Maybe", This 45 exemplifies most notably the singer's supreme and intuitive vocal style clear of distraction, and captures his trademark ability to blend jangly pop and melancholy. I will never forget the impression that this mesmerizing record made on me when I first listened to it. It was 1989. “You deserve more than a maybe” and “The kind of girl” remain as two Sarah records’ hymns whereas “The summer you love” has the spirit of Orange Juice and the postcards from Scotland.
The second single on Sarah came out during the summer of 89. “All Of A Tremble" is probably the most recognised song from Mr Melia as it laced his soulful and direct interpretation with the intensity of catchy guitars. This piece still makes the indie kids swoon in jangle-pop ecstasy. “My fortune” has the bittersweet lyrics that cause me to shed a tear or two in my more emotional moments “The hummingbird” had spacier elements with a free-form and ethereal spirituality.
The third single on Sarah records came out in July 1990 and it proved better recording standards. All the Bristol label fans empathised with the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness in both “Antoinette” and “Salvation”. Both are underrated songs in the repertoire of the band but still true treasures. Their last single on the Sarah retreat included "Say Yes To Everything" an infuriatingly catchy single and my favourite St Christopher’s song. “It’s snowing on the moon” is another gem delightfully reminiscent of the serene mood of The Walker brothers.
“Bacharach” was released before these two latter seven inches. This 10” record is fantastic from the very start. It is richly textured and strikingly beautiful. “Bacharach” is a composite of contrasting elements that continues to astound today, an irresistible and inexplicably shelved mini album. It's a fascinating sound-world where elegant compositions collide with playful pieces. The record yielded deeply personal and poetic songs but of course Glenn also gave free rein to his more epic impulses. What a creative mind!
Please keep this record in the sancta sanctorum of your collection. No lifeless words or text could dare disguise the radiant invention of St Christopher. Listen to your heart. You are probably next on Cupid’s hit list.
Mateo Guiscafré- Siesta Records(Autumn 2007)