It's Immaterial

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It's Immaterial
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Post-punk, indie pop
Years active 1980–1990
Labels Hit Machine, Inevitable, L.H.M., Eternal, Ark, Siren
Past members Paul Barlow
J.J. Campbell
Martin Dempsey
Henry Priestman

It's Immaterial were a British indie pop band from Liverpool, England, formed in 1980. They were best known for their 1986 single "Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)", which reached number 18 in the UK Singles Chart.[1]


It's Immaterial were formed by three former members of Yachts - Mancunian John Campbell vocals, Martin Dempsey guitar, and Henry Priestman keyboards - in addition to Paul Barlow, drums. By 1984, the band had been reduced to a duo - Campbell and Jarvis Whitehead, guitar and keyboards, who joined in 1982.[2]

On 11 November 1981, around the time of the release of the band’s third single, It's Immaterial recorded the first of four sessions for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. The track listing was "A Gigantic Raft (in the Philippines)", "Imitate The Worm", "White Man's Hut", and "Rake".[3] "A Gigantic Raft" has since been featured on the soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

In April 1985, the band recorded their fourth and final John Peel session (track listing: "Rope", "Hang On Sleepy Town", "Space", and "Festival Time"). In the same month, the band's Fish Waltz E.P. reached number 30 in the UK Indie Chart.[4] Within a year of Fish Waltz, It's Immaterial had a hit single, "Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)". John Campbell puts his foot down on the pedal – ever so gently – to cruise out along the M62. A Mini-Midwestern road movie transported to Liverpool.[5] "Driving Away From Home" has since been featured widely on television advertisements and 1980s based compilation albums.

Another minor hit followed, "Ed's Funky Diner (Friday Night, Saturday Morning)", with accompanying video, before the release of the band's debut album, Life's Hard Then You Die, in September 1986. In 1990 they released Song. As before, the music was of a subdued, understated nature, with wry wit in the manner of an indie Pet Shop Boys.[6] The album was a commercial flop, despite receiving positive reviews in the music press. The album was produced by Calum Malcolm, best known for his work with The Blue Nile, and had similar production values to The Blue Nile's first two albums.

In the same year as Song, former It's Immaterial keyboard player, Henry Priestman, had a UK number one album with The Christians.

Reviews for the debut album[edit]

  • Michael Sutton at Allmusic wrote:

Musically, the LP is all over the place — new wave, country, blues, folk, and synth pop. Somehow the smorgasbord of styles works, because the band members aren't being eclectic just for the sake of it; they simply have a wide canvas, keeping the album fresh from beginning to end.[7]

  • 'C60 Low Noise’ wrote:

This is an intelligent and extremely well-realised album that belies its simplistic origins. For those of you who are genuinely moved by soaring harmonised vocals (courtesy of The Christians), ironic folk rendition, rolling Spanish guitars and tongue-in-cheek meanderings, I would seriously recommend this to you.[8]

  • Dave Schulps at wrote:

A fascinating musical hybrid that touches variously on synth-pop, atmospheric art-rock, recitation and a unique brand of English country music. It may remind you of early OMD.[9]



  • Life's Hard and Then You Die (Siren, September 1986) No. 62 UK
(Tracks: "Driving Away From Home", "Happy Talk", "Rope", "The Better Idea", "Space", "The Sweet Life", "Festival Time", "Ed's Funky Diner", "Hang on Sleepy Town", and "Lullaby")
  • Song (Siren, June 1990)
(Tracks: "New Brighton", "Endless Holiday", "An Ordinary Life", "Heaven Knows", "In the Neighbourhood", "Missing", "Homecoming", "Summer Winds", "Life on the Hill", and "Your Voice")

The group also recorded a third full album with the working title of House for Sale. The complete track listing for the unreleased third album is as follows:

  1. Bored Usherette
  2. Kind Words
  3. Heaven Help Us All
  4. Out Of The Blue
  5. How Can I Tell You
  6. Just Drive
  7. Wyoming
  8. Is It Alright
  9. Just North Of Here
  10. Circus Boy
  11. House For Sale
  12. Betchaby

According to John Campbell it is finished and still in the vault. They shopped it around but could not find a label to release it. He said they were told it was too "dark". Since 2010 some unreleased songs from the album have appeared on different internet music channels. (Track listing (in order of their appearing): "Just North of Here", "New Moon", "Is it Alright (Between us)", "House for Sale" and "How Can I Tell You")

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Young Man (Seeks Interesting Job)" / "Doosha (A Success Story)" (Hit Machine, HIT 001, July 1980)
  • "A Gigantic Raft (in the Philippines)" / "No Place for a Prompter" (Inevitable, INEV 9, July 1981)
  • "Imitate the Worm" / "The Worm Turns" (L.H.M., IHM 002, November 1981)
  • "A Gigantic Raft (in the Philippines)" / "No Place for a Prompter" (Wonderful World Of..., WW4, 1982)
  • "White Man's Hut" / "The Worm Turns" (Eternal, JF 2, October 1983)
  • "A Gigantic Raft (in the Philippines)" / "The Mermaid" (Eternal, JF 4, February 1984)
  • Fish Waltz E.P.: "Fish Waltz" / "Several Brothers" / "The Better Idea" / "Lullaby" (Ark, DOVE 3, March 1985)
  • "Ed's Funky Diner" / "Washing the Air" (Siren, SIREN 8, October 1985)
  • "Driving Away from Home (Jim's Tune)" / "Trains, Boats, Planes" (Siren, SIREN 15, March 1986) No. 18, UK
  • "Ed's Funky Diner (Friday Night, Saturday Morning)" / "Only the Lonely" (Siren, SIREN 24, July 1986) No. 65, UK
  • "Space" / "Washing the Air" (rub a dub mix) (Siren, SIREN 34, October 1986)
  • "Rope" / "Festival Time" (Siren, SIREN 38, February 1987)
  • "Driving Away from Home (Jim's Tune)" / "Ed's Funky Diner" / "Driving Away From Home (I Mean After All It's Only 'Dead Man's Curve')" (Virgin, CDT 26, November 1988) 3" CD-EP
  • "Heaven Knows" / "River" (Siren, SIREN 129, August 1990)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Retrochart for late April 1986
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C.:"The Great Alternative & Indie Discography", 1999, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  3. ^ John Peel Sessions on BBC Radio 1;
  4. ^ Info on UK Independent Hits;
  5. ^ Du Noyer, C. (2002) "Liverpool: Wonderous Place", Virgin Books, London, p. 264;
  6. ^ Larkin, C. (2003) “The Virgin Encyclodepia of 80s Music”, Muze, London, p. 264;
  7. ^ Album Review by Michael Sutton, Allmusic;
  8. ^ Immaterial Review in ‘C60 Low Noise’;
  9. ^ Review by Dave Schulps of;

External links[edit]