#40 ‘Down in Splendour’ by Straightjacket Fits (10 May)

Album: Melt, 1990

Justification: If you’re a band’s main songwriter, here’s what you don’t want: one of the other guys to write the hit.

Oh, it sounds petty (and it is) and oh, it sounds childish (again, yep) but the fact of the matter is that if you’re the one who has slaved over a hot fretboard to define a band’s sound, bulked out your records with material and defined yourself as the central creative force in a band, the last thing you want is for, say, the other guitarist to go “oh, I knocked this thing up” and then have it define the band. Martin Gore has had the wisdom to only let the Dave Gahan/Alan Wilder songs on Depeche Mode albums be distinctly substandard in comparison with his own, but Black Francis was never comfortable with the fact that Kim Deal’s ‘Gigantic’ was one of the Pixies‘ most loved songs.

Similarly, I can’t imagine Shayne Carter looking on with equanimity as Andrew Brough’s ‘Down In Splendour’ because his band’s breakthrough song. It just reeks of “yeah, you can write most the songs because I can’t be arsed, but, you know, when I make the slightest effort I could completely eclipse you – just keep that in mind, big guy.” Carter formed the legendary Dunedin band and always wrote the lion’s share of their material but Brough wrote a disproportionately large amount of the great ones (‘Sparkle that Shines’ is another one of his). Unsurprisingly, “creative differences” reared their head and Brough was gone before work started on the third album.

Straightjacket Fits had other hits – ‘Bad Note for a Heart’ and ‘Cat Inna Can’ are magnificent, and they will forever have a place in my heart for writing a (superb) song called ‘APS’ – but Brough’s gentle, moving, ethereal single is still the song I think of when I think of Straitjacket Fits. Sorry, Shayne.

2 thoughts on “#40 ‘Down in Splendour’ by Straightjacket Fits (10 May)

  1. Pingback: #259 ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ by the Hives (10 May)

  2. I agree completely. Shayne wrote some great songs, but Andrew’s were better, in my opinion. And Bike’s one and only album was full of some splendid tunes, too.

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