Artist: The Silencers
Title: A Letter From St. Paul
Label: RCA Victor
Musicians: Jimmie O’Neill = Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Martin Hanlin = Drums, Cha Burns = Guitar, Vocals, Joseph Donnelly = Bass
Producer: Dave Bascombe & The Silencers
Recording Engineer: Callum Malcome
Mix / Mastering Engineer: Mark Wallace
I have very few vinyl records with bar codes on them, but the ones I do have are all very good and this one is no different.
I bought this record back in 1987 on a chance and liked it a lot when I put it on to play it and still do.
The Silencers are a Scottish rock band formed in London in 1986 by Jimme O’Neill and Cha Burns, two ex-members of the post-punk outfit Fingerprintz. Their music is characterised by a melodic blend of pop, folk and traditional Celtic influences. Often compared to Scottish bands with a similar sound like Big Country, Del Amitri and The Proclaimers. Their first single, “Painted Moon,” was a minor international hit and invited critical comparisons to Simple Minds and U2. In 1987 they released their first album A Letter From St. Paul, which included “Painted Moon”.
In 1979, they met and formed a post-punk/new wave project called Fingerprintz and released three albums under that name. The group split in 1985.
Soon O’Neill and Burns were playing music together again, this time joined by drummer Martin Hanlin and bass player Joseph Donnelly, a cousin of Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr. After considering band names like ‘My Granny’s Green Chair’ and ‘The Hot Dog From Hell’, they settled on ‘The Silencers’. In September 1986, they began to tour Europe and the United Kingdom. They demoed three new songs at Scarf Studios in London: “Painted Moon”, “I See Red” and “I Can’t Cry”. The demos earned them a recording contract with RCA Records, and their song “Painted Moon”, about O’Neill’s personal reaction to the Falklands War, was included on the soundtrack to the film The Home Front, and then released as their first single in April 1987. Their first album A Letter from St. Paul included re-recorded versions of all three demos. The Pretenders invited the band to support them on their European tour, and then the success of Painted Moon across the pond induced a tour of the United States on their own, and later with Squeeze.
More can be read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silencers_(band)
The mix on this LP is very good, every detail is heard, vocals are clear and intelligible and unlike many bands during this time, real drums are used.
Side one starts off with their hit:
Painted Moon: As mentioned, this song is about the Faulklands war. They use an interesting panning effect on the hi-hat, Bass is solid and the song ends strongly with Bass and vocal effects.
I Can’t Cry: To me, this is a sad sounding song and I think it’s meant to be as I think the song is about an unwanted pregnancy and a decision to be made. The vocal effects on this song make the singer sound nasally though. Not my favorite song on the album, but well written structurally.
Bullets And Blue Eyes: It seems this song is about the devices of war and desire for more. It opens with keyboards for the first two verses and then the vocals come in, then it opens up with the full band. The vocals seem to be mixed a little soft, but still good.
God’s Gift: I’m not sure exactly what this song is about, but it may be about war or nuclear weapons again and the distaste it leaves. This song fades in with the bass line, guitars seem somewhat hot in the mix and the vocals sound somewhat nasally again. The overall structure is good though.
I See Red: This is one of my favorites on the album. It has good energy and a typical 80s flavor, in fact, you can sense the Simple Minds flavor. Not only was the bass player Jim Kerr’s cousin, but The Silencers were also managed by the same manager as The Simple Minds. This song is a good listen. I’m not sure what this song is about,but it seems to be about a controlling or extreme co-dependent relationship or sorts.
I Ought To Know: This is the weakest song on the record in my opinion. It’s well mixed, but just sounds like standard fare. Seems to be about someone who mis-leads or uses people.
A Letter From St.Paul: This is the title track. There is a long instrumental intro and then instead of singing, it sounds like a letter is being read. For the curious, it is read by a female, the girl who does the reading is Lou-Anne Colombo.
Blue Desire: This is kind of a blues flavored song. Drums seem to be a bit hot on the chorus. Not sure what it is about.
Possessed: This song also has a Simple Minds flavor to it.
Here’s Painted Moon live from 2007: (The original version is better. There is a live video from 1989, but the sound quality is very poor).