When I think of Kirsty McColl I think of 4 things. The abiding memory is her feisty performance on the best Christmas song of them all ‘Fairytale of New York’ with the Pogues. And to think she wasn’t even the first choice to vocal spar with Shane McGowan. Secondly, and I have to thank Weetabix for their cassette giveaways of the mid eighties for this, there is the irritation that was her tune ‘There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’. Rubbish title, rubbish song. Thirdly her horrifying and untimely death in Mexico still unsettles and the fact that she left behind 2 young children makes it all the more tragic. Finally, and on a happy note, there was her exuberant reworking of Billy Bragg’s ‘A New England’. Everything about this cover is magical, as soon as the song races from the traps it evokes feelings of spontaneity and a unique joie-de-vivre. Bragg’s version was laden with acoustic’s and his own brand of Northern angst but it is dwarfed by this ecstatic reworking. KD
Kirsty MacColl – A New England
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