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Friday 1 June 2007

Molly Half Head

Hands up who remembers Molly Half Head? No, me either really; beyond a vague recollection of seeing them supporting somebody when I was at university; possibly somebody like Babes in Toyland but possibly not. It might have been at the Boardwalk in Manchester, of course it might not have been.

Still, they're a band that lie there on the outskirts of memory and so deserve to be "remembered" here.

This is lifted from TrouserPress.com which has turned out to be an invaluable resource in my indie wanderings:

"This Manchester quartet, whose complex arrangements and skewed pseudo-poetry have roots in the members' avant-noise origins, produce an intricate and original post-punk roar. But despite superior instrumental chops, it's singer Paul Bardsley who remains front and center. Second only to Mark E. Smith in the Potentially Annoying Vocal Affectation Pantheon, Bardsley is fond of pronouncing almost all of his consonants as z's. That idiosyncrasy aside, Sulk is a revelation. Moody yet muscular, it manages to blend the tuneful dynamics of grunge with Bardsley's Smith-like inscrutable dada-esque scribblings ("Green hits a hole that just about buries me/Peeling spuds was taking five/Sad therapy? No."). The domestic blisters of "Barny" and the scarily obsessive "Taste of You" highlight a stunningly assured debut filled with songs that try to say something in a way only some listeners are likely to understand.

The more challenging sophomore effort, co-produced by Craig Leon, rocks harder as Bardsley waxes even less intelligibly (imagine a drunken Zima pitchman singing the lines "In grimstitch snortel form you can't be nursed/It's time to learn to take your soup with fork"). Here's one band for which lyric sheets are mandatory — if all but useless.

After the end of Molly Half Head, Bardsley and his songwriter partner, Phil Murphy, formed a band called Wireless."

So, this is "Barny" and as you can see from the photo it's on limited edition one-sided vinyl; my early 90s obsession with future rarities catching up with me again - paid £3 in 1993, still worth £3 today.

Looking back it occurs to me that lots of bands were paint-by-numbers indie pop like this. Of course that's the whole point of what I'm doing here and I still love it to this day.

The attached (for your enjoyment) mp3 is exactly that; a genuine example of what the indie bands were doing just after acid started to rot in the corner and before grunge really took hold.

If anyone is reading this and has a really good story about the band (or any other band for that matter) let me know.

Molly Half Head - Barny (it cuts off a little early, I think there's a scratch right at the end of the groove - still, shows it's vinyl I guess).

Further to the comment below from "anonymous", have the video for Barny. I guess as he/she says it is a bit Oasis, but it's also one of those "walking up the road" videos and features a fantastic jacket and haircut combination. It also look slike it's been recorded off the tv with a handheld video camera which means that watching it makes you a criminal and those people that show their advert before films at the pictures are coming to get you.


  1. Anonymous13 June, 2007

    Hi, thanks for the post of ( the very rare ) mp3 of Barny. Check out the video I post on youtube. It's crazy how Oasis stole their style.

  2. Anonymous04 July, 2007

    I saw Molly Half Head twice in the space of a few weeks supporting the Drop Nineteens and a pre "The" Verve at Manchester University. Apparently Johnny Marr was at the latter gig, but all I remember was the big girls blouse that Richard Ashcroft was wearing.

    Anyway, Molly Half Head. I bought their debut album 'Sulk', the vocals were...interesting.

  3. Funny how other people jog your memory - I think I was at that Verve gig too, back in the day...MHH's singer used to drive around south Manchester in a pink VW beetle. Not conspicuous in the slightest, then...

  4. I've opened a MHH myspace page with some of the demos that were never released. And for the record Oasis supported MHH at the boardwalk when no one wanted to know them!

  5. I knew Paul Bardsley in the early 90s when I worked at Christie Hospital in Manchester. He was a Porter there. One time he organised a gig in a small hall near the hospital. He had some mates to play the instruments (I'm sure they weren't a band but just together for the night). I had no idea what to expect from this scrawny bloke who pushed wheelchairs around all day. The set was a series of covers and I do remember the astonishing version of James Brown's Sex Machine he finished off with. He had a nasal, whiny singing voice but it just worked.

    He went off to Jersey to work for a year and it was when he returned that he joined Molly Half Head. I think the band had this conflict between the arty side from Chorlton and Paul, who was an instinctive singer. When he formed Wireless that tension was gone and the music just wasn't as special.

    I'm currently digitising my vinyl collection and blogging about it in-between my normal reviews. Although my vinyl period is more seventies, I may have to rip the first Wireless single and talk about it

  6. I've just burned 'Breaking The Ice' to my ipod - and decided to do a serach. Good site, and keep up the good work.
    You And I Never See Things Eye To Eye by Kingmaker for forgotten song of the 90s!

  7. I've got a single they gave away free at one of their gigs. The Glitter Tour ep. 3 tracks, The bandit Queen, Mantaray and bone idle

  8. The late 80s early 90s was a special time to be around manchester and for me Molly Half Head's sulk was second only to Stone Roses, something real came thru in the voice and the lyrics, something gritty and warped that was more true to the manchester spirit than any plastic
    Oasis imitation could be in a million years. What an album, i used to play it over and over...then lost it. Tpyed the name in here by chance and found this site. If anyone knows where i can download a copy of Sulk Id be very grateful. ALso looking for anything by a Welsh group same period called Datblyugu. Both MHH and them were aired quite a bit by Peel. If not for him, I'd never have heard of them.

  9. Jem Squires01 April, 2009

    Molly Half Head, saw em supporting Iggy Pop and I was hooked. Saw them everytime they played Leeds and used to abuse my position at HMV by badgering the instore DJ to play their stuff on Saturday lunchtimes !
    Still love em,played Sulk on the way into work this very morning.

  10. i've got dunce, it's still a good album 14 years on! my god, time flys. also got the wireless album cuz i liked the way he sang. mark and lards graveyard slot was excellent for music of this ilk. babybird, angel corpus christi..... clint boom experience?

  11. Dom the Bomb13 October, 2010

    I saw them on (I think) MTV's 120 minutes doing Aisle 8 (from the album Dunce) live. Loved it. Fabulously clever musically, yet still 'more-ish' - watched it over & over. Bardsley's unique vocal style worked perfectly with the song. As did his haywire head and chest hair! Made me buy all Molly Half Head and Wireless stuff - still playing it today. NME reviewed Dunce lp subsequently and absolutely hammered Paul's vocal zzz's-ness. But they did the same to Mark E. Smith until their readership told them to like him.

  12. Anonymous06 July, 2011

    We used to share rehearsal space with them in Chorlton between 90-92, our band, Moses also shared a few gigs - I remember the Irish Centre in Moss Side, Band on the Wall, JJs, etc. Great bunch of lads - talented too - we used listen outside their rehearsal with envy.

  13. I have Sulk on CD....somewhere. I need to unearth and slap on the iPod. Great Paul Klee like album cover image. I'm charmed.

  14. I saw them about 15 times. I still miss them. I've seen Aky(bass)and Paul knocking around Manchester a few times. They should reform...

  15. Brilliant band..saw them at Warrington legends....blew me away completely....followed the for the next 3 years...yeah they should reform!!!

  16. I saw them supporting lightening seeds when I was 11 or 12 at Sheffield town hall. Our kid had won tickets from a label off a bottle of holsten pils of all places. No idea why the name Molly half head stuck in my brain? Just having a little reminisce to myself and googled it, glad I'm not the only one who remembers them haha

  17. Molly Halfhead should never have signed to Sony because their second album was less commercial than their first. It was a move that inevitably lead to the band's demise, but I'm sure the suitcase full of cash was just too tempting.

  18. They got together last night for Andy the drummers 50th doing a selection of cool covers....Paul has A new project on the go Deadleg now too