Skeletal Family ‘Futile Combat’ (Cherry Red)
Skeletal Family divided audiences; in certain quarters they remain lauded as one of the most adventurous bands linked to the UK 80’s goth scene, to others they are remembered as being light weight, certainly in comparison to the bass heavy Sisters Of Mercy who arguably continue to reign supreme over the genre; It is a shame Skeletal Family never gained the recognition, and the accompanying rewards they deserved ”â this long overdue re-release perfectly demonstrates how their tribal drumming and frantic guitars, not to mention Anne Marie’s distinct vocals offered something different from the musically then shrinking goth scene.
For those of you unaware; Skeletal Family hailed from the heartland of UK goth; Yorkshire – Keighley to be precise first getting together in late 1982 taking their name from the title of the song “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family” from the 1974 Bowie album ”ËDiamond Dogs’ ”â having self released the ”ËTrees’ EP in 1983 which earned them numerous plays on John Peel’s radio show they were instantly signed to York’s Red Rhino Records who were responsible for releasing the follow up single and the band’s debut album ”ËBurning Oil’ and this follow up initially released in May 1985.
As I have stated Skeletal Family were one of the few bands looking forward; they crafted strident bass driven melodies coupled with shards of icy guitar, they even incorporated brass (saxophone) into their sound as demonstrated with ”ËMove’ which featured Waterboys brass player Anthony Thistlewaite.
Skeletal Family offered a freshness that the genre was seriously lacking, this is particularly characterised by Anne-Marie’s powerful vocals as she weaves, beautifully melodic phrases, which for this recording were all under-pinned by some subtle keyboards courtesy of Graham Pleeth of Fisher Z.
”ËFutile Combat’ captured Skeletal Family in their prime, the resulting attention saw them record BBC sessions for Janice Long ”â however as is so often the case the major label vultures began to circle; Chrysalis signed the band and Anne-Marie departed to join Gary Marx (ex Sisters Of Mercy) in Ghost Dance (vastly under-rated), and Martin Henderson joined The Batfish Boys with Simon D (ex March Violets). Skeletal Family continued apace, and enjoyed decent chart success though clearly not at a level to satisfy Chrysalis who rather suddenly dropped them.
As such this album is vitally important; it demonstrates quite why all the UK’s major labels were in a frenzy to sign them, it serves as a timely reminder that goth wasn’t all about dry ice and deep throbbing bass, though Skeletal Family did conform to the goth ‘big hair’ rule…some plus years later ‘Futile Combat’ retains its engagement, and has enough experimentation going one to easily satisfy any anyone since weary of the goth scene…if you had forgotten Skeletal Family or perhaps never heard of them then ‘Futile Combat’ is the ideal starting point for a journey to the hair spray counter.
As well as the original studio tracks, the package includes liner notes written in collaboration with the band, plus an array of never before seen photographs. The CD also includes the independent single chart hits ”ËPromised Land’ (#2) and ”ËShe Cries Alone’ (#8) and four bonus tracks.
1. Hands On The Clock
3. This Time
4. Don’tBe Denied
5. Far & Near
6. No Chance
8. She Cries Alone
9. What Happened?
10. Promised Land
11. Stand By Me
12. Just A Friend
13. Promised Land (12-inch version)
14. Deception (live)