It's Immaterial

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

It's Immaterial were an English 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 EP reached number 30 in the UK Indie Chart.[4]

Less than a year later the band had a hit single with "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]) This song was their biggest hit and has since featured widely on television advertisements and on 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.[6]

In 1990 they released their second album Song. As before, the music was of a subdued, understated nature, with wry wit in the manner of an indie Pet Shop Boys.[7] 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.

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

According to John Campbell their third album, House For Sale', was finished but remains unreleased.

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")

On 5 February 2013 an It's Immaterial Facebook page arrived with the debut message reading: "It’s been a while. A few years have passed, but we have never really been away. We just retreated from the limelight and kept on doing what we do. We’ve had adventures, scrapes, laughter and tears in the interim but we have kept on going and never split up. When the music business ceased to be fun we just walked away. We never stopped making music, we simply carried on. So this is not a come back, it’s just another chapter in the It’s Immaterial story".

A deluxe edition of their album "Life's Hard and Then You Die" was released on 1 July 2016. The double CD issue contains the original album remastered plus bonus tracks of single versions, B sides, remixes and one of the group's John Peel sessions.[8]

On 23 September 2016 the group launched the campaign to produce and release their their "lost and found" album House For Sale via Pledge Music. A release date has been set for Spring 2017.[9]

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.[10]

  • '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.[11]

  • 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.[12]



Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
1986 Life's Hard And Then You Die
  • Label: Siren
1990 Song
  • Label: Siren
1992 'House for Sale'
  • Label: Unreleased
2017 'House for Sale'
  • Label: Pledge Music

Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
1980 "Young Man (Seeks Interesting Job)"

"Doosha [A Success Story]"

  • Label: Hit Machine
1981 "A Gigantic Raft (in the Philippines)"

"No Place For A Prompter"

  • Label: Inevitable
"Imitate The Worm"

"The Worm Turns"

  • Label: L.H.M
1982 "A Gigantic Rift (in the Philippines)"
  • Label: Wonderful World
1983 "White Man's Hut"

"The Worm Turns"

"Solid Piles Of Food"

  • Label: Eternal
1984 "A Gigantic Rift (in the Philippines)"

"The Mermaid"

  • Label: Eternal
1985 Fish Waltz (EP)

"The Better Idea [Push The Boat Out]"

"Several Brothers"


"Fish Waltz"

  • Label: Ark
"Ed’s Funky Diner"
  • Label: Siren
1986 "Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)"
  • Label: Siren
"Ed's Funky Diner (Friday Night, Saturday Morning)"
  • Label: Siren
  • Label: Siren
1987 "Rope"
  • Label: Siren
1988 Driving Away From Home (CD EP) -
1990 "Heaven Knows"
  • Label: Siren


  1. ^ "Retrochart for Late April 1986 -". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C.:The Great Alternative & Indie Discography, 1999, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  3. ^ "Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - Sessions". BBC. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Indie Hits". Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  5. ^ Du Noyer, C. (2002) Liverpool - Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture, Virgin Books, London, p. 264; ISBN 978-0753508404
  6. ^ It's Immaterial - Ed's Funky Diner on YouTube
  7. ^ Larkin, C. (2003) The Virgin Encyclodepia of 80's Music, Muze, London, p. 264, ISBN 978-1852279691
  8. ^ "It's Immaterial / Life's Hard and Then You Die reissue track listing revealed". Retrieved 2016-07-01. 
  9. ^ "It's Immaterial". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  10. ^ Michael Sutton. "Life's Hard and Then You Die - It's Immaterial | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  11. ^ Immaterial Review in ‘C60 Low Noise’
  12. ^ Review by Dave Schulps of