In the mid-nineties I joined Jake Shillingford's My Life Story, playing alto sax. We were one of Melody Maker's favourite bands (and NME’s most hated) and touted, by some, for great things. We did get signed to Parlophone and released The Golden Mile, but somehow we never made the big time and were eventually dropped. It was a glorious adventure in almost-making-it.
I remember, in the early days, all 14 of us plus instruments crammed into a Ford transit on the motorway to god-knows-where listening to the Top 40 (that's what you did back then) and cheering raucously when 12 Reasons Why came in at No.32. We followed that with a number of other Top 40 hits, including Strumpet at No.27.
With a magnificently kick-ass string section - all flailing hair and tempestuous bowing - punchy horn lines and Jake's lavish showmanship, we were a great live act.
Forget the massive stadium concerts others were doing at this time. We didn’t need a stadium. Jake’s high kicks and stage dives and his epic, wrenching vocals borne aloft by our frenzied storm of noise were enough to propel the listener (and viewer) into a sparkling world of heartbreak and defiance.
Alas, this sparkling world lost its lustre towards the end of the 90s and the band faded away. Our die-hard following didn’t, however. We re-formed in 2005 for a one-off gig. It was so fun we had to do it again. Every 18 months until 2014. Serial re-formers. The worst sort.