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Here's Five: Jay Clarkson - Breathing Cage

Here's Five: Jay Clarkson - Breathing Cage

Tuesday 17th January, 2017 3:00PM

This Friday, singer-songwriter and Flying Nun alumni Jay Clarkson will make a rare live appearance in Christchurch with her band Breathing Cage to perform material from their debut album Misericord.

Breathing Cage was Clarkson's fourth project and brought together acclaimed drummer Gary Sullivan (Jean Paul Sartre Experience, Stereo Bus, Solid Gold Hell, Dimmer), guitarist Greg Malcolm and Michael Kime from her previous band The Expendables. In 1989, the group famously won the much coveted Rheineck Rock Award, a significant financial prize first won by Headless Chickens in 1987. With the proceeds of the award, the band recorded Misericord which was released in 1991 by Tall Poppy Records.

In anticipation of the show on Friday, we jumped at the chance to showcase some material from the album as well as get some insight from Clarkson on the songs. Listen/read up on those below, and for more on Clarkson and her various projects check out her profile over on AudioCulture... 

1. 'Fly On The Wall'
The Misericord album was recorded 89/90, most the songs having been written two or three years prior. The lyrics for 'Fly On The Wall' were actually a modified version of a poem I had written round '85. When writing a song if the words come first for me they virtually provide the structure - and of course the mood. Greg Malcolm's various guitar tracks - from the saw-like sound of the slide to the fingernails on the blackboard scraping are brilliant - the guy's a genius!

2. 'Memory Lane'

At gigs people inevitably would come up afterwards to say how much they loved this. It 's quite a sentimental song, I guess, but I reckon it avoids being cheesy. There's a simplicity about it that continues to ring true.

3. 'Man With No Desire'
This song has been on many Flying Nun compilations including the more recent box-set. On the Misericord album Breathing Cage does a different take to the They Were Expendable 1984 recording. I love both versions. It's a tale about a man who's basically dysfunctional and it's broody as hell. It was recently performed by the Dunedin Symphonia with Anna Leese singing it operastyle! It was fantastic.

4. 'Lucille'
I often perform this solo but have to miss out the middle instrumental section so it's going to be great to play it again with the band. On this Misericord track Graeme Humphries (Abel Tasmans) provides superb piano, giving it one of my favourite recorded endings. The lyrics speak for themselves.

5. 'You and Me and the Old Hill'
This is not on the Misericord album but was a Flying Nun single recorded by the same line-up of Breathing Cage, this time at the Incubator studio not Airforce. Michael Kime's bass and Gary Sullivan's drumming work so beautifully together. I love this song. Greg's guitar adds the finishing wind-swept touch. It's a windswept song!

Jay Clarkson with Breathing Cage
Friday 20th January, Blue Smoke, Christchurch

Tickets available from HERE at UTR

along with Jay Clarkon's other releases are all available from her site:


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