A Song That Calms Me Down: Shack – ‘Walter’s Song’
It’s highly likely that Shack will feature on a grand scale as this challenge goes on.
Trawling through Google’s archives for articles entitled something similar to ‘best underrated britpop songs’ at the start of 2017, I came across a track called ‘Mr. Appointment’ from Shack’s second album, Waterpistol. It wasn’t the best song I’d ever heard, but the article proclaimed it as one of the better songs that fell beneath the vast majority’s radar. Curious, due to the fact that Mick Head’s style reminded me ever so slightly of The La’s, I tracked down the rest of the tracks from that album and I wasn’t disappointed. My new favourite band had been discovered.
Two tunes stood out when I started listening to Waterpistol from start to finish – album opener ‘Sgt Major’ and track 6, ‘Walter’s Song’. The latter being my selection here. Melodically, it’s quite repetitive, but that’s fine. It’s part of its charm. It’s extremely catchy and the vocals and lyrics are calming straight from the outset: ‘Hush little one, hush. Hush my little one, hush.’
One of the major selling points for me when I bought the album was how great the vocals sound on every track. They’re enhanced with reverb, which lends them a haunting echo throughout. They fit with the jangly Love/Byrds-like guitars beautifully.
Shack were voracious advocates of the use of acoustic guitars in almost all of their songs, and on Waterpistol there is plenty of evidence for this. However, on this song, we also find a cello sweeping behind the guitars and exchanging the lead with them at various points. It really helps the tune flow wonderfully.
All in all, it’s just an extremely relaxing and catchy song. It’s also a bit of a mood lifter in my opinion. I don’t know how anyone could not find a song relaxing when it sounds like this does, and it contains lyrics such as ‘Morning soon will, light your pillow. Birds will sing beyond the willow’.
I implore anyone with an interest in British alternative rock and britpop to seek this album out. You deserve to hear it and considering Mick Head is one of the best songwriters we’ve had, he deserves to have his music heard too. It was only a number of disasters that occurred in 1991 following the recording of this album that prevented him, his brother [John, later of Cast], and the rest of the band from being household names.
‘Walter’s Song’ can be listened to at 21:24 in the video below.