The Men They Couldn't Hang

The Magnificent 40: 40 Years In 40 Songs

Image of The Men They Couldn't Hang - The Magnificent 40: 40 Years In 40 Songs
Record Label
Vinyl Star Records

About this item

TMTCH stumbled into existence onstage at the Alternative Country Festival, Electric Ballroom, Camden on Easter Sunday in 1984; after a long afternoon busking and drinking in a Hammersmith subway. They knew three chords and a hundred songs all of which sounded a bit the same, a frenzied skiffle that was exciting to jump around and drink snakebite to. If they thought about longevity at all, a lifespan of 40 days seemed most likely. It’s forty years later and they are still running. Since those early days, and without much of a game plan other than always stepping onward, TMTCH have released around 20 albums plus many side projects, bootlegs, curios and an unknown number of T shirts. They’ve toured constantly, whether in dingy pub backrooms or Grand Ballrooms and Festival Stages. From Cairo to Reykjavik and all points in between, the TMTCH roadshow has shambled and thrilled through the decades, always passionate, always literate, occasionally dishevelled.

Forty years of recording has spawned a vast back catalogue, well represented here by songs from each album, style and era; a tapestry of human stories and vibrant characters. So there are the fast sprints like early folk hoedown ‘Ironmasters’, the frantic shanty ‘Raising Hell’ and the amphetamine punk blues of ‘Going Back to Coventry’. Then there are the waltzing folk ballads, from their impassioned version of the anti war standard ‘Green Fields Of France’ to the bitter regret of ‘The Bells’ and the righteous testimony of ‘Our Day’. Elsewhere there are anthems galore; ‘The Crest’ a swirling gaelic chant, ‘Rosettes’, a fast marching assault of drums, fiddles and mandolins; historical epics such as ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’, ‘Shirt of Blue’ and ‘The Colours’; romantic ballads like the wistful ‘Parted From You’ and ‘Island in The Rain’.

All the eras are here; from the wiry lo fi of the first album, through the eighties into full blown MTV ready multi trackers with vast charging drums; the initial simplicity of their recipe deepening and darkening. And then on through the nineties, noughties and tens; always the double pronged vocals drifting between harmony and unison, always the celtic, folk and country tones vying for attention, the emotive fiddle, the top end mandolin above the thundering rhythm section. On through bouffant hair, spiky hair, dyed hair, thin hair and hats; on through Grunge, Baggy, Madchester, Rave, Britpop. On through the Miner’s Strike, Poll Tax, New Labour, Iraq and Brexit. On through marriage, children, loss and revival. Forty years at the working end of rock and roll is a feat achieved by very few bands. It requires tremendous chemistry, a deep catalogue; both panoramic and miniature, a vital and irrepressible energy, all of which is on resplendent display in this sprawling 3 disc compilation. But most of all it requires an intense resilience, something that TMTCH possess in spades. Forty years on the run; was ever a band so aptly named? 


Ghosts Of Cable Street
The Eye
Wishing Well
Raising Hell
Bounty Hunter
Going Back To Coventry
Shirt Of Blue
A Place In The Sun
Island In The Rain
Singing Elvis
The Lion And The Unicorn
Gold Rush
Night Ferry
The Crest
Rain, Steam And Speed
Our Day
King Street Serenade
Beast Of Brechfa
Kingdom Of The Blind
Great Expectations
Company Town
Devil On The Wind
Red Rocks Of Spain
The Bells
Billy Morgan
A Map Of Morocco
The Colours
Parted From You
Green Fields Of France
Walkin’ Talkin’
A Night To Remember
Red Kite Rising

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