McCarthy (band)

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Origin Barking, Essex, England
Genres Indie pop
Years active 1985–1990
Labels Wall of Salmon, Pink Label, Midnight Music, September, Cherry Red
Associated acts Stereolab, Herzfeld
Past members Tim Gane
Malcolm Eden
John Williamson
Gary Baker
Lætitia Sadier

McCarthy were a British indie pop band, formed in Barking, Essex, England in 1984 by schoolmates Malcolm Eden (voice and guitar) and Tim Gane (lead guitar) with John Williamson (bass guitar) and Gary Baker (drums).[1] Lætitia Sadier later joined the band on vocals for their final studio album.[2]

They mixed a sweetly melodic style, dominated by Gane's 12-string guitar playing, with Eden's overtly political lyrics, often satirical in tone, which reflected the band's far-Left leanings.[3]


Eden, Gane and Williamson met at Barking Abbey Comprehensive School. Gane was originally a drummer, but was initially taught to play guitar by Eden, who also taught Williamson the basics of bass.[2] Eden and Gane were fans of punk groups such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Buzzcocks, and they covered their songs in small gigs as teenagers.[2] Baker joined in 1984, and with the new line-up deciding on the name McCarthy (a tongue-in-cheek reference to American politician Joe McCarthy), they released a self-financed first single, "In Purgatory" in 1985.[4] The band were signed by the Pink Label, releasing two further singles "Red Sleeping Beauty" and "Frans Hals".[3] The band had a track included on the NME C86 album ("Celestial City").

Their debut album I Am a Wallet was released in 1987.[1] The album was virtually ignored by UK radio programmers, except for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Because of Eden's Marxist political views, the band were, to their dismay, often lumped in with other left-wing acts like Billy Bragg and The Redskins.[2] I Am a Wallet has since been described by Nicky Wire as "the most perfect record, a Communist manifesto with tunes",[5] and was rated by James Dean Bradfield as his top British album of all time.[6]

Two further singles appeared in early 1988 and were followed by a second album, The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth, which was considerably less well received.

A year later, they released a third album Banking, Violence and the Inner Life Today, with Lætitia Sadier (Gane's partner at the time) on vocals. The album suggested a new willingness to experiment musically, and was seen by critics as something of a return to form, but it in fact proved to be their swansong and they split soon afterwards. Eden felt there was no need to continue with the band, believing that their creativity peaked with that LP.[2] The band's final gig was at the London School of Economics in 1990.[3]

The band twice had songs in John Peel's Festive Fifty: "Frans Hals" in 1987 (#35), and "Should the Bible Be Banned" in 1988 (#38).[7]

Gane and Sadier went on to form Stereolab, while Eden formed the short-lived Herzfeld.[1] Baker went on to a career in radiography, before going on to work for The Guardian.[3] Williamson went on to work for music publisher BMG and Domino Records.[4]


McCarthy were a major early influence on Manic Street Preachers who covered three of their songs: "We Are All Bourgeois Now" appeared as a hidden track on their Know Your Enemy album; "Charles Windsor" appeared as a b-side on their Life Becoming a Landslide EP; and "Red Sleeping Beauty" appeared on their single "Autumnsong".

Nicky Wire has said of the band and specifically, of the album I Am a Wallet: "McCarthy - the great lost band of the '80s they redesigned my idea of politics and pop, it could be intelligent, it could be beautiful. They were frail, tragic, romantic idealists. The songs soothed your body but exercised your brain. They were my education, my information and they are partly to blame for the realisation of the Manic Street Preachers. I still fall in love with this album every six months, it makes me feel guilty because it's so good".[8]


Chart placings shown are from the UK Indie Chart.[9]

Studio albums




  • "In Purgatory" (Wall of Salmon; 1985)
  • "Red Sleeping Beauty" (Pink Label; October 1986)
  • "Frans Hals" (Pink Label; March 1987) (#4)
  • "The Well of Loneliness" (September Records; September 1987) (#10)
  • "This Nelson Rockefeller" (September Records; February 1988) (#9)
  • "Should the Bible Be Banned" (September Records; April 1988) (#9)
  • "Keep an Open Mind or Else" (Midnight Music; February 1989) (#10)
  • "Get a Knife Between Your Teeth" (Midnight Music; March 1990)

Radio Sessions

  1. "A Child Soon In Chains"
  2. "Frans Hals"
  3. "An MP Speaks"
  4. "Antinature"
  1. "The Wicked Palace Revolution"
  2. "The Vision Of Peregrine Worsthorne"
  3. "The Well of Loneliness"
  4. "Monetaries"
  1. "Charles Windsor"
  2. "The Funeral"
  3. "Should The Bible Be Banned"
  4. "This Nelson Rockefeller"
  1. "The Myth Of The North-South Divide"
  2. "I'm Not A Patriot But..."
  3. "Keep An Open Mind Or Else"
  4. "The Lion Will Lie Down With The Lamb"


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sutton, Michael, "McCarthy Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 27 March 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Larkin, Colin (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music. Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-579-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Interview with Malcolm Eden of McCarthy | Lacewings". Retrieved 16 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. [1] Archived 9 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Top 10s | OMM | The Observer". 12 February 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - McCarthy". BBC. Retrieved 16 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [2] Archived 7 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links