Grant me some poetic licence here, the boss says anything loosely based around Middle is kosher, and what can be more Middle than Middleton, which sounds as if it should be a small town in the, um, middle of, well, the middle, maybe. (Is there a Middleton? Well of course there is. In fact there are oodles of 'em.....) But this isn't about places, this is about people. Or rather, about a person, one Malcolm Middleton. Not Max Middleton, I should add, celebrated Jeff Beck and Chris Rea sidesman, but, being a good egg, let's give him a quick shout too.
So who is Malcolm Middleton? Afficionados of the late 90's post-rock scene in Glasgow, Scotland, will be familiar with the name, he being half of Arab Strap, along with Aidan Moffat. Blending coruscatingly blunt subject matter: squalor, drugs, drunkenness and despair, sung in broad scots, over somewhat rudimentary instrumentation of acoustic guitars and primitive electronica, they were arguably an acquired taste, I loved them.
(Subtitles did I hear you ask?) Between 1995 and 2006 the duo produced 6 studio albums ahead of calling it a day, although there have been a couple of re-unions, in 2011 and just recently. Here's what the Guardian newspaper had to say about one such show last October. Sounds aa absolute delight.
Middleton had actually launched his solo career ahead of the end of Arab Strap, with 2002's '5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine.' Uncertain of the rationale of Seagull or John, I think the other words give away no small indication of his demographic. In fact he managed a 2nd record ahead of the break-up, in 2006, with another following fast in 2007, shortly after. This 3rd was remarkable in that it produced an initially strong contender for the U.K. christmas number one single for that year. This was the typically upbeat "We're All Going to Die":
Sadly it only made it to 31, not bad for an initial 1000 - 1 outsider, the exposure doing Middleton no harm.
Further records followed in 2008 and 2009 before he suggested he had had enough of the whole process. Thankfully there was some later reconsideration, with the last year or four showing a re-energisation, both under a new identity, the largely instrumental, 'Human Don't Be Angry', as well as, last year, under his given name. Here is a track from each, firstly '1985' by 'Human Don't Be Angry':
and 'Summer of '13'/Malcolm Middleton:
Picqued? Make a start