This week we are revisiting the newsletter first published last year, on the occasion of the anniversary of Kirsty MacColls birthday, 10th October. This time we are making a special trip to Soho Square to visit the memorial bench that not only commemorates her, but every year on the Sunday nearest to MacColl's birthday, fans from all over the world also hold a gathering at the bench to pay tribute to her and sing her songs.
This time last year we re-released the record that forever connects Kirsty to the Squire legacy.
Perhaps considered Squire’s ‘jewel in the crown’ of singles, My Mind Goes Round In Circles b/w Does Stephanie Know? is exceptional for many reasons.
It marked the first single as an independent production, and was the precursor to setting up Hi-Lo Records ensuring Squire’s longevity and creative independence. It was also the first record to feature the 12 string Rickenbacker that was to become Squire’s trade mark sound, and it was also the first with a guest vocalist - Kirsty MacColl is singing from the first word on the A side to the last note on the flip side.
But how did they meet and what was the story?
An overheard conversation in the office of the live promoter created the opportunity! Discussing the tour to promote the potential next single, the subject turned to how publisher Bryan Morrison had commented that the Squire melodies would suit a female voice. I was reminded of hearing ‘They Don’t Know’ by Kirsty MacColl back in June 1979 while we were supporting The Records at the Portsmouth Mecca Locarno, it had been played loud while testing the PA system during soundcheck, and sounded magnificent! I'd love to hear my songs sung with that kind of voice I said. “I know her!!” exclaimed the secretary sitting nearby! And said she would pass on a message and see if Kirsty would be interested and let me have her number. Within a matter of days I had Kirsty’s number and telephoned to explain who we were and my ideas for the next record, and sent her cassettes of all the demos of new songs, the tracks that would later be released as Hits From 3000 Years Ago LP. We met, together with the label manager at Stage One, at her flat in Croydon, and played though all the songs on her portable cassette player, while sitting on the floor, discussing favourite records, which centered on the Beach Boys and harmonies in general. She spoke of her plan to release a cover of ‘Do You Still Believe in Me’ as a Christmas single one day, and it was clear we had a lot of musical influences in common. She liked the songs, and suggested ‘Circles’ and ‘Stephanie’ as the ones that stood out as potential singles. I was happy to go with whatever choice she made as I was sure the recordings would be fantastic with her on it!
Because we had made a successful recording of I Know A Girl at The Nova Suite studios, we chose it again, and asked Simon Humphrey to return as engineer, and invited Ian Page to oversee the session, as we had worked together as a good production team on all the previous records. We recorded the basic backing tracks on Monday 24th March 1980, Kirsty arrived in the afternoon, and it was immediately obvious that our voices blended well together so rather than prescribe a part for her, we let her sing whatever and wherever she was inspired. She had a particular way of layering voices, and came up with ideas such as the discordant harmony on ‘Stephanie’ and basically the afternoon was spent recording her while we watched in awe! The following day I added acoustic guitar and the 12 string guitar, Simon added the opening piano part to ‘Circles’ and as there wasn’t enough time to complete the mix, a third day was booked at Marcus Studios the following week to mix the two songs that had now become a double A side. As Kirsty was between record deals, she appeared on the record ‘courtesy of herself!’
We met Kirsty one more time when she came to watch us play at The Venue, Victoria, London in May 1980 for the single launch. That concert also provided the live tracks Noonday Underground, Modern Love and Make Love To You, found on the original Hits From 3000 Years Ago LP.
We previously made a special video of our regular walk though Soho Square where we visited the special bench and reflected on the passing moment, and you can see part of it here!
We also made a special Spotify playlist for the occasion, and hope you enjoy.
All the best from Squire