Last Night We Had Fun in Sweden with Would-be-Goods

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I’ve just spent a rather memorable weekend in the fair city of Stockholm in the marvellous company of would-be-goods. I shall refrain from objective comment as my lovely girlfriend plays drums for this splendid quartet. I shall merely report on a very pleasurable weekend and you can check out the sounds for yourself.

Would-be-Goods began life way back in 1988 when Jessica Griffin and her sister Miranda went into a recording studio with The Monochrome Set as backing musicians. The harvest was The Camera Loves Me, an early él album. At least four songs remain from this debut in the current live set as does bassist Andy Warren, who was also an original Ant on Dirk Wears White Sox. Incidentally, the album was produced by Keith ‘Excerpt From a Teenage Opera’ West and I keep forgetting to ask Jessica of her reminiscences of this recording.

It was five years before the follow-up Mondo (without Miranda) was made. I need hardly add that would-be-goods have never been the most active of musical projects. However, towards the end of the century Jessica began writing again, learnt guitar and was joined by Peter Momtchiloff, late of Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Speed of Sound. They formed a band and put out the poptastic single Emmanuelle Beart and 2002 album Brief Lives on matinée/Fortuna Pop!

Peter has long been one of my favourite guitarists, playing in an understated manner, who occasionally wigs out, but only briefly. A fine exponent of the ‘less is more’ maxim. I also discovered on this trip that he is an alumnus of Marcus Berkmann’s Captain Scott Invitation XI (the ‘Rainmen’ cricket team, if that helps). Truly we are not worthy!

After a couple of line-up changes, would-be goods are now Jessica, Peter, Andy and Debbie (who has played in a thousand bands – you may have heard of The X-Men, Thee Headcoatees, Speed of Sound, Dutronc, The Family Way and The Nuns).

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The Morning After (2004) and Eventyr (2008) complete the wbg canon. I can only claim familiarity with the debut, The Morning After and Eventyr but have no hesitation in recommending them to Pop Junkie readers.

As for the jaunt to Sweden, my first trip to Scandinavia was a delight. The city is easy to navigate and it is home to Skansen; a wonderful open-air museum of traditional architecture and indigenous animals (otters, bears, elk, bison, boars and elusive lynx and wolves).

The reason for the venture was a mini-festival at a charming open-air restaurant called Lasse i Parken, a few miles south-west of the city centre. Following an enjoyable line-up of general tweeness including America’s The Smittens and Finland’s Burning Hearts the wbg stepped onto a stage that seemed better equipped to host an amateur Ibsen production. Our heroes played a great set to an enlightened, appreciative and well-dressed young audience. Certainly, the Scandinavians seemed to know the words to Jessica’s sweetly-sung songs better than any London audience I’ve witnessed. I’ve recorded six songs, fairly representative of their set of gentle ballads and jaunty pop, which you can view below.

The following evening, only Peter made the longer journey to part two of the festival to see, among others, Cats on Fire. As I recall, he quite enjoyed them, but felt the rest of the line up was a bit rum. I think we made the correct decision to remain in the Pelikan restaurant (highly recommended if ever you’re in Stockholm).

I’ve always wanted to go to Oslo, city of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Raoul Amundsen’s Antarctic vessel Fram. Can we visit there next please Jessica?

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