McCarthy (band)

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McCarthy Indie Band.jpg
Background information
OriginBarking, Greater London, England
GenresIndie pop
Years active1985–1990
LabelsWall of Salmon, Pink Label, Midnight Music, September, Cherry Red
Associated actsStereolab, Herzfeld
Past membersTim Gane
Malcolm Eden
John Williamson
Gary Baker
Lætitia Sadier

McCarthy were a British indie pop band, formed in Barking, Greater London, England in 1984 by schoolmates Malcolm Eden (voice and guitar) and Tim Gane (lead guitar) with John Williamson (bass guitar) and Gary Baker (drums).[1] Lætitia Sadier later joined the band on vocals for their final studio album.[2]

They mixed a melodic style, dominated by Gane's 12-string guitar playing, with Eden's overtly political lyrics, often satirical in tone, which reflected the band's far-left leanings.[3]


Malcolm Eden, Tim Gane and John Williamson met at Barking Abbey Comprehensive School. Gane was originally a drummer, but was initially taught to play guitar by Eden, who also taught Williamson to play bass.[2] Eden and Gane were fans of punk groups such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Buzzcocks, and they covered their songs in small gigs as teenagers.[2] Baker joined in 1984, and with the new line-up deciding on the name McCarthy (a reference to American politician Joe McCarthy), they released a self-financed first single, "In Purgatory" in 1985.[4] The band were signed by the Pink Label, releasing two further singles "Red Sleeping Beauty" and "Frans Hals".[3] The band had a track included on the NME C86 album ("Celestial City").

Their debut album I Am a Wallet was released in 1987.[1] DJ John Peel featured the album in a BBC Radio 1 session. Because of Eden's Marxist political views, the band were frequently brought up with other left-wing acts like Billy Bragg and The Redskins.[2] I Am a Wallet has since been described by Nicky Wire as "the most perfect record, a Communist manifesto with tunes",[5] and was rated by James Dean Bradfield as his top British album of all time.[6]

Two further singles were issued in early 1988, followed by the album, The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth.

A year later, they released a third album Banking, Violence and the Inner Life Today, with Lætitia Sadier (Gane's partner at the time) on vocals. Eden stated that there was no need to continue with the band, believing that their creativity peaked with the album.[2] The band's final show was at the London School of Economics in 1990.[3]

The band had two songs in John Peel's Festive Fifty: "Frans Hals" in 1987 (#35), and "Should the Bible Be Banned" in 1988 (#38).[7]

After their disbandment, Gane and Sadier immediately formed Stereolab, while Eden formed the short-lived Herzfeld.[1] Baker went on to a career in radiography, before going on to work for The Guardian.[3] Williamson went on to work for music publisher BMG and Domino Records.[4]


McCarthy were a major early influence on Manic Street Preachers who covered three of their songs: "We Are All Bourgeois Now" appeared as a hidden track on their Know Your Enemy album; "Charles Windsor" appeared as a b-side on their Life Becoming a Landslide EP; and "Red Sleeping Beauty" appeared on their single "Autumnsong".

Nicky Wire has commented on the band and specifically the album I Am a Wallet: "McCarthy - the great lost band of the '80s they redesigned my idea of politics and pop, it could be intelligent, it could be beautiful. They were frail, tragic, romantic idealists. The songs soothed your body but exercised your brain. They were my education, my information and they are partly to blame for the realisation of the Manic Street Preachers. I still fall in love with this album every six months, it makes me feel guilty because it's so good".[8]


Chart placings shown are from the UK Indie Chart.[9]

Studio albums[edit]


  • "In Purgatory" [b/w "The Comrade Era","Something Wrong Somewhere"] (Wall of Salmon; 1985)
  • "Red Sleeping Beauty" [b/w "From the Damned","God the Father","For the Fat Lady"] (Pink Label; October 1986)
  • "Frans Hals" [b/w "The Fall","Kill Kill Kill Kill","The Fall (remix)","Frans Hals (version)"] (Pink Label; March 1987) (#4)
  • "The Well of Loneliness" [b/w "Unfortunately","Bad Dreams","Someone Worse Off","Antiamericancretin"] (September Records; September 1987) (#10)
  • "This Nelson Rockefeller" [b/w "The Fall" (new version),"The Funeral" (new version),"The Enemy Is At Home" [new version of "For the Fat Lady"],"The Way of the World" (new version)] (September Records; February 1988) (#9)
  • "Should the Bible Be Banned" [b/w "St. Francis Amongst The Mortals","We Are All Bourgeois Now"] (September Records; April 1988) (#9)
  • "Keep an Open Mind or Else" [b/w "The New Left Review #1","Two Criminal Points of View"] (Midnight Music; February 1989) (#10)
  • McCarthy at War EP ["Boy Meets Girl So What" (version),"All Your Questions Answered","New Left Review #2","The Lion Will Lie Down with the Lamb"] (Midnight Music; May 1989) (#16)
  • "Get a Knife Between Your Teeth" [b/w "Nobody Could Care Less About Your Private Lives","With One Eye on Getting Their Pay","Can the Haves Use Their Brains"] (Midnight Music; March 1990)


Radio sessions[edit]

  1. "A Child Soon In Chains"
  2. "Frans Hals"
  3. "An MP Speaks"
  4. "Antinature"
  1. "The Wicked Palace Revolution"
  2. "The Vision Of Peregrine Worsthorne"
  3. "The Well of Loneliness"
  4. "Monetaries"
  1. "Charles Windsor"
  2. "The Funeral"
  3. "Should The Bible Be Banned"
  4. "This Nelson Rockefeller"
  1. "The Myth Of The North-South Divide"
  2. "I'm Not A Patriot But..."
  3. "Keep An Open Mind Or Else"
  4. "The Lion Will Lie Down With The Lamb"


  1. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sutton, Michael, "McCarthy Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 27 March 2008
  3. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music. Guinness Publishing. pp. 170/1. ISBN 0-85112-579-4.
  4. ^ a b "Interview with Malcolm Eden of McCarthy | Lacewings". Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  5. ^ [1] Archived 9 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Top 10s | OMM | The Observer". 12 February 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - McCarthy". BBC. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  8. ^ [2] Archived 7 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980–1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.

External links[edit]