David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer has had a long and varied career. He is most famous for his role as bass player for Space during their Tin Planet phase, but has also played for some of Liverpool’s greatest lost bands, such as The Balcony and Egypt for Now, with Michael Head. He has also sat in the producer’s chair for Space and Shack, producing the latter’s wonderful On the Corner of Miles and Gil album.
His work with Moongoose has provided some of the musical highlights of the last few years and those who have not already done so are urged to check out their albums, Tokyo Glow, Missives from the Memory Machine and Organic Technology as soon as they possibly can.
As if all this wasn’t enough, he has also quietly released a few solo recordings, most of which have been all but impossible to find these days. Some of these were strictly limited releases, with one only being made available via eBay and another being sold sealed between two ceramic tiles.
Owners of this release had the dilemma of whether they would open this package to play the single it contained tr whether they should keep it as is, as an objet d’art for the artistic merit of the whole.
But, thankfully, all of Yorkie’s 4 solo releases have been repackaged and re-released, meaning they are all available to the wider public, some for the first time.
Pitch A Ladder To The Moon consists of 14 songs, mostly recorded during the sessions for the Space album Love You More Than Football and was a limited edition release. Spin The World Around Again collects various EPs and singles and also contains 14 songs, with some featuring in different versions across the two albums.
Jettison the Past came about when Yorkie decided to sell the vast majority of his record collection, keeping only a few essential albums, and the track is a distillation of some of Yorkie’s favourite artists. Don’t Play is the track referred to earlier, packaged between two tiles, meaning that those who decided not to break open the two sealed tiles can now hear the song for the first time.
To listen to them in one package is to take a trip through as eclectic and imaginative a musical mind as Liverpool has ever produced, taking in songs that take their influence from John Barry, mariachi music and the Liverpool indie sound. This is not a scatter gun listen though, the collection hangs together beautifully with the common thread of Yorkie’s creative impulses running through each and every song here.
Supersonic Jetplane sounds exactly as you would imagine, a lush ’60s inspired song that conjures up images of early television commercials advertising what was then referred to as a jetset lifestyle. Yorkie proves himself to be adept at utilising his influences without ever falling into being slavishly retro or turning to parody. As a result, his songs tend to be great fun to listen to.
In and Out of Love combines Yorkie’s roots in the Liverpool music scene with further 60s melodies while Spin the World Around Again brings us into the present and should, in a world where things work out the way they should, be the next big Bond theme.
Oh Man About Town is a cool-as-you-like slice of pop that again contains John Barry flourishes. A very clever song that has been put together well, this is one of the highlights of this collection.
Anyway is more modern again, containing squeaks and bleeps and a pure pop chorus that showcases Yorkie’s easy knack with a good hook. Promise has much of the same attributes and rumbles along on a fuzz bass and a baggy drumbeat, if you are old enough to remember such things. Dust is more modern again, with a slightly menacing noir-ish vocal. I think it is fair to say that Yorkie’s main strength lies in his ability to write songs that conjure images to go along with them. His love of soundtracks has stood him in good stead in this regard and his songs are rich in atmosphere and imagery.
The splendidly named Bakelite Twilight is another exercise in minimal music with maximum imagery. Is Disneyland Our Homeland has a Morricone vibe to it and Lipstick Blues takes things down a level with a spot of beat free balladry.
Don’t Play is a slow burn of a sing that, over the course of 11 minutes, sums up Liverpool’s own take on psychedelia . The fact that it can take its own time to do this means that the song broods and grows around you. This is not the work of somebody who is looking for a quick route to a chart hit, but rather shows Yorkie up as being the kind of person who is more interested in the art they create than the commercial result it generates.
Jettison the Past takes this one step further and slowly evolves over 16 minutes to incorporate ambient sounds and dreamlike vocals, lulling us into a false sense of security before drums and distorted guitars kick in at around the 9 minute mark and the song takes off.
The influences that made it to this song would seem to include a good dose of Krautrock, some Pink Floyd, Bunnymen and some post 90s dance music flourishes. It is difficult to think of anybody else who would be capable of this act of distillation.
There are of course many other songs in this collection and what we end up with is a complete picture of Yorkie’s work away from the constraints of the agreement-by-committee life of being in a band, a picture of an artist standing on his own. He has created a body of work that is as varied as it is wonderful, one that is a sheer joy to sit here on a rainy Sunday afternoon and listen to in its entirety.
During the course of lockdown, I have taken to binge watching some TV series that I have either missed or just fancied watching again. The Sopranos, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and The Walking Dead have been devoured in this way, and listening to this retrospective summation of Yorkie’s solo career have a similar feel – a feel of spectacle and imagery. At the end I feel that I have grown to care about the characters involved in these songs, the plots they contain and the places we have been together.
Maybe now is the perfect time to get involved in Yorkie’s world. We strongly suggest you do so.