Fantasy Deluxe #18: Titanic Days


Nothing epitomises the clueless, prejudiced attitudes of the music industry towards female artists in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s more than the career of the late, great Kirsty MacColl.

Throughout her 20 years of recording, she was constantly up against a series of record companies and labels who either didn’t understand her, lacked the vision to promote her properly or simply failed to release the music she’d accumulated in any coherent fashion.

Titanic Days finds her in 1993, without a recording deal after two decent-selling albums with Virgin – Kite (1989) and Electric Landlady (1991). Undeterred, she and a team of crack musicians and trusted collaborators began work on new material, and the result was eventually picked up by ZTT, of all people, for a February 1994 UK release.

Kirsty Says….at bloody last!


In a sign of how long the finished album took to reach the outside world, its lead single Angel had been performed live on Later With Jools Holland a whole year before, in November 1992. Christmas 1993 was the chart battle between Mr. Blobby and Take That, and for all the celestial imagery and dreamy soundscapes the track conjured up, Angel never stood a hope in hell of getting anywhere. So it proved.

When the LP itself limped in at #47, ZTT in their infinite wisdom declined to issue any further singular offerings, despite the outstanding Can’t Stop Killing You and the Sgt Pepper-isms of the title track (they were, at least, given a chance in other territories). Kirsty would, in this particular case, have the last laugh as several of Titanic Days‘ songs were featured on the following year’s Top 6 retrospective Galore (released by Virgin). It spent the best part of 7 months on the UK chart, showing a more accurate level of interest in, and affection for, her back catalogue.

ZTT didn’t push the boat out (sorry) for the album campaign, leaving these two singles as non-UK releases….

Nevertheless, Titanic Days was deemed worthy of a 2CD Special Edition in 2005; a remastered (ie. louder) version of the main album joined by a disc of mixes, B-sides and demos. And then again in 2012, as part of Salvo’s detailed exhumation and repackaging of the ZTT catalogue, we had another two-disc crack at Titanic Days. It used the same (re)mastering as the 2005 edition, but the extra material focused on a live performance from the summer of 1995 and dropped the B-sides and demos. There are half a dozen versions of Angel on the 2012, and five on the 2005. Yet neither has the “Jay’s Edit” from the CD single. Who comes up with these things, I ask you.

So already you can see how there was the scope for something to be done…

Can’t get no satisfaction….the official deluxes from 2005 and 2012.

We have the two distinct masterings to begin with, which takes care of CD1 and CD2 in typical afdpj Fantasy Deluxe fashion. Well, almost. That “Jay’s Edit” from the Angel CD single – left off both reissues – had to go somewhere and, as will be revealed, my disc with all the non-album, non-live material couldn’t find room for it (coming in at 78 minutes). I decided to add it to Disc One, as the mastering levels will best match those of the original CD release.

(Dynamic Range for the win!).

CD 01 Original Album
released 28th february 1994

01 You Know It’s You
02 Soho Square
03 Angel
04 Last Day Of Summer
05 Bad
06 Can’t Stop Killing You
07 Titanic Days
08 Don’t Go Home
09 Big Boy On A Saturday Night
10 Just Woke Up
11 Tomorrow Never Comes

Bonus Track
12 Angel (jay’s edit)

Disc 2 comprises the 2005/2012 remaster, as is, which allows us to tackle the heart of the project. Time to collect all those B-sides, demos, remixes and whatnot together…

CD 03 Bonus Material
B-Sides, Remixes & Demos

01 Angel single mix
02 Titanic Days single mix
03 Fabulous Garden b-side
04 Touch Me b-side
05 Angel stuart crichton mix
06 As Long As You Hold Me
07 Dear John demo
08 Count On Me demo
09 King Kong demo
10 Angel piano mix
11 I Am Afraid
12 Caroline
13 Irish Cousin demo / b-side
14 The Butcher Boy b-side
15 Perfect Day with evan dando
16 Angel into the light mix
17 Angel apollo 440 mix
18 Angel mysterious mix

This is how I chose to break it down; we start with the two available edits for Titanic Days‘ singles, the pair of B-sides for Can’t Stop Killing You‘s US CD release, Kirsty’s contribution to the soundtrack of the 1995 film Mad Love starring Drew Barrymore, and three demos from the album sessions (later issued digitally as an EP).

Then it’s an opportunity to bring the Galore! period into the equation, with the two “new” songs Caroline and Perfect Day (the latter a duet with Lemonheads’ Evan Dando) and the two Caroline B-sides. Both singles were very minor UK entries in 1995, along with a re-issued Days which was used in a TV advertising campaign at the time.

Slotting in all the Angel mixes without too much repetition was a fruitless endeavour, so the more dance-oriented versions are left to the end of the disc.

Finally, it’s off to the Fleadh Festival in the summer of 1995 for a 40-minute set as part of the 4th, Live, disc in the set.

CD 04 Live Recordings
fleadh festival, 10th july 1995

01 Tread Lightly
02 Caroline
03 They Don’t Know
04 Innocence
05 Free World
06 Miss Otis Regrets
07 My Affair
08 Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim!
09 Walking Down Madison
10 A New England
11 I Wanna Be Sedated

Bonus Tracks
12 Free World [b-side]
13 Miss Otis Regrets [b-side]

The extra live versions of Free World and Miss Otis Regrets were B-sides on a US CD-maxi single of Titanic Days and not the same performances as from the Fleadh festival. We have the space, so they have their place here.

All that remained was to create some appropriate artwork, and this was where I had my “you learn something new every day” moment. The striking cover for Titanic Days was the creation of Vaughan Oliver, best known for his sleeves that adorned 4AD releases (and a few non-4AD ones, such as Secrets Of The Beehive by David Sylvian). I shouldn’t have really been so surprised, as it is quite reminiscent of some that adorned the singles and albums by Lush (4AD act of the early 1990s).

I could have used the “sinking ship” collage from the title track’s single sleeve, but found it more suitable for the rear as I could overlay all the text and relevant information without it looking too cluttered. So, a cropped version of Vaughan Oliver’s handiwork it was, removing the top banner where the artist and title text was positioned on the official release. I also kept the green and gold colour palette for the faux hype-sticker.


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