British singer-songwriter Ian Matthews has led a remarkably chameleonic music career thus far, occupying significant space during his nearly four active decades within the realms of folk rock, country rock, power pop and roots rock. As an early member of one of England's most beloved folk rock ensembles, Fairport Convention, Matthews set the stage for himself as a varied performer during the '70s as both band member and solo artist. By the advent of the '80s, Matthews had become weary of most facets of the music industry, retreating quietly to Seattle before it became a legendary American city for rock music. There he formed a distinctive power pop band with David Surkamp, veteran leader of underrated St. Louis progressive rock band Pavlov's Dog. The results exuded quality and authenticity but ended up buried under the unforgiving radar of '80s pop styles.
This exciting band relied heavily on Matthews' songwriting, but the energy generated by the music was singular. One of the group's strongest tracks, "I Can't Fade Away," operates nimbly within the gaps left between new wave and post-punk. Vocally, Matthews possesses tone and timbre of tremendous range, and this tune from 1983's Mood for Mallards feels like the casually conceived sonic child of Wire, Gang of Four and The Jam. If it's not already clear from all the topics I've covered on this site, that (for me at least) is a highly favorable combination. The continuing career of Matthews has covered a whole lot of ground even as it sometimes has remained shamefully disregarded. Here's a chance for us to change that.
- Watch/listen to a live version of "I Can't Fade Away" by the Ian Matthews Band.
- Compare prices on Ian Matthews CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Shanghai