An ever-shifting Scottish group led by singer/songwriter David Scott, the only constant member, the Pearlfishers are a glorious soft pop band mixing acoustic-based music with subtle orchestral flourishes, rather like a Glasgow-based Prefab Sprout with a major Brian Wilson fixation. Since forming in 1989 the Pearlfishers have refined and broadened their sound while maintaining a steadily growing cult following.
Scott began writing songs while a teenager in Glasgow in the early '80s. In the summer of 1984, Scott played his earliest bedroom efforts to local musician Bobby Henry, who offered to put a pair of them on The Shift Compilation, an anthology of Glasgow bands released on Henry's own Shift Records. Released under the band name Chewy Raccoon, a joke name that stuck, the songs attracted enough attention that Scott and the band were signed to Shift's distributor, Phonogram, which released the group's sole single, "Don't Touch Me," in August 1985. The single flopped, Scott was dropped by Phonogram, and the Chewy Raccoon name was, thankfully, retired.
The following year, Scott hooked up with Australian-born drummer Jim Gash, keyboardist Robert McGinlay, bassist Chris Keenan, and backing vocalist Jeanette Burns to form the immediate precursors to the Pearlfishers, Hearts and Minds. Signed to CBS Records, the group released one single, the folksy "Turning Turtle," produced by Eric Stewart of 10cc, in September 1987. After that single followed the Chewy Raccoon disc to oblivion, internal dissension split the group, who left CBS in early 1988, permanently souring Scott on the major-label experience.
Recorded in nearly a year's worth of off-and-on sessions, the Pearlfishers' debut album, Za Za's Garden (named after one of Scott's earliest pre-Chewy Raccoon songs), was released in August 1993. Produced by Scott and McAlpine, the album largely abandoned the rustic and folky elements of the Pearlfishers' early releases in favor of a newfound emphasis on crystalline arrangements and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies, anchored by McAlpine's delicate keyboards.
The first of several lineup changes took place after the release of Za Za's Garden. In fact, for the next several records, the Pearlfishers were simply Scott and McAlpine with a revolving door of rhythm sections, plus guests on various string and reed instruments. During an extended break between the first and second albums, Scott partnered with Duglas T. Stewart of the BMX Bandits to create and tour with two revues based on the music of Scott's two primary influences, Brian Wilson and French jazz-rock idol Serge Gainsbourg.
I don't know how the line up is now but the 2014 album 'Open Up Your Colouring Book' is one of their best.
This album is an absolutely favourite by me. The Pearlfishers are pop geniuses. If you don't know the band give it a try.
SB1 Flac p1 & Flac p2 & Flac p3 - mp3@320