Flesh For Lulu’s Nick Marsh’s final album unveiled

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Nick Marsh – Photo: Paul Needham

Waltzing Bones, the final album recorded by former Flesh For Lulu frontman Nick Marsh, is due to be unveiled on the 21 June, Getintothis’ Alex Holmes chats to partner and producer Katharine Blake.

The final album from Flesh For Lulu frontman Nick Marsh, Waltzing Bones, will be released next month.

Preceding the album a new single, Crazy Eyes, and accompanying video were released last week.

The video features a collection of Marsh’s friends and band mates including his ten year-old daughter Rosa, Paul-Ronney Angel (The Urban Voodoo Machine), Ray Hanson and Jim Jones (Thee Hypnotics), David Ryder Prangley (Rachel Stamp), Tomi Rae Brown (the widow of James Brown), and burlesque performer Suri Sumatra.

A skeleton stands in for Marsh, complete with his trademark blue 1962 Fender Jazzmaster.

Marsh was a founder member of seminal post-punk band Flesh For Lulu, alongside drummer James Mitchell, Wasted Youth guitarist Rocco Barker, and bassist Glen Bishop.

Signed to Polydor Records in 1983, Flesh For Lulu melded the gloomy aesthetics of punk and goth with influences as wide as old-school rock ‘n’ roll and Americana, the glam-rock of David Bowie and T-Rex, and the swagger of The Rolling Stones and The Stooges. 

Their 1984 eponymous debut album was reissued in 2017 as part of The Polydor Years double CD set.

Flesh For Lulu

Dropped by the label the following year, the band released a brace of indie-label records before achieving US college radio and tour success with their third full length studio album Long Live The New Flesh for Beggars Banquet, and the single I Go Crazy, which featured in the soundtrack to the 1987 John Hughes movie Some Kind Of Wonderful.

Following the band’s breakup in 1992, Marsh went on to form the short-lived Gigantic with guitarist Barker, before releasing his first solo album, the acclaimed A Universe Between Us, in 2010. Flesh For Lulu’s 1987 single ‘Postcards From Paradise’ was subsequently recorded by both Paul Westerberg and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Marsh was also a member of From The Deep with his partner Katharine Blake (Mediaeval Baebes  and Miranda Sex Garden) and an integral part of ‘Bourbon-soaked Gypsy Bop ‘n’ Strollers’  The Urban Voodoo Machine, adding his trademark surfy, Ennio Morricone-inspired guitar lines alongside frontman Paul-Ronney Angel.

As well as reforming a new line-up of Flesh For Lulu in 2013, Marsh was in the process of recording the follow-up to A Universe Between Us  at the time of his death, aged 53, from cancer.

June marks the fifth anniversary of Marsh‘s death, and the unfinished recordings have been brought to completion by Katharine along with, she says, a huge collection of “musicians I knew he’d have wanted on the record”.

The Urban Voodoo Machine (Marsh Far left)

Katharine had produced A Universe Between Us – the first album she’d produced – and knew Marsh‘s tastes and style;

Nick had done quite a bit of work on the album by himself. Luckily a lot of the vocals were really good and usable, and the guitar parts. The last thing he recorded on it was the vocal for the first track, Masquerade, just before he went in for his last operation. It was just stunning, he was in such a lot of pain and on such a lot of medication, and you can kind of hear that in his voice.

After Nick’s death it took me a while; I stepped away from it for a bit, partly because I was doing ‘Pocketful of Posies’ [Mediaeval Baebes psychedelic nursery rhyme’ album] which I’d started working on before he died, and then last year I thought ‘I’m ready now’ and having given it that bit of space I really started working on it in earnest and getting lots of guest musicians in to finish it.”

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“A lot of people were musicians he’d previously collaborated with on the first album; the piano, for instance, was played by [Bowie piano player and Mike Garson biographer] Clifford SlapperNick was really into big arrangements, he was what he called ‘a kitchen sink merchant’, throwing as much stuff onto things as possible, so there’s a smorgasbord of weird and wonderful instruments and musicians to make the kind of album Nick would like.

“Obviously, making the video was a lot of fun, it was really good that we got to make it before the lock-down; Rosa stars in it, which was great, but the whole thing – the whole album – is just steeped in this sort of self-deprecating, poetic humour that’s really Nick’s personality coming across. Nick was an absolutely amazing singer, songwriter, guitar player, you know, a fucking genius. It’s been an absolute privilege to work with him one last time.”

The resulting album is laid-back in that best Tom Waits or Nick Cave tradition; a hard-to-categorise blend of Parisienne easy-listening, loungy Americana, blues, and New Orleans jazz, Marsh’s guitar and nonchalant vocals – and, yes, that humour – mixing with tinkling piano and airy strings. Imagine you’re four whiskeys down in a smoky bar and you’ve taken a wander outside for air, lying on the car bonnet as the stars revolve above you for a while. It’s that kind of vibe. It’s a beautiful epitaph to Nick Marsh.

Waltzing Bones is available to pre-order here.

Track listing:

  1. Masquerade
  2. Gotta Run
  3. Last Train To Wherever
  4. Somma Ma Friends
  5. Temptation
  6. The Day It Rained Forever
  7. Crazy Eyes
  8. Lady Garden Of Earthly Delights
  9. Spider Woman
  10. The Shiny Void
  11. Waltzing Bones.

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