I See Red

DC 913EP DC 913EP

"Should the name Jim Rafferty sound a tad familiar, he is in fact the older brother of Gerry Rafferty, of 'Baker Street' and 'Stuck In The Middle with You' fame. As a songwriter, Jim had signed a solo deal with Decca in the late '70s. Times were changing across the music business, and Jim, always seeking new challenges, continued to write interesting, idiosyncratic material. He signed a self-penned, nervy and minimalist new work 'I See Red,' to Hit & Run publishing, which was picked up by Phil Collins for Abba star Frida's solo album. The song's outsider narrative and implied reggae rhythm, made somewhat cartoonishly explicit in Frida's version, also found favor with a number of other artists, notably Clannad, whose album Magical Ring included their near identical version of 'I See Red,' and gained chart placing in the UK. The flip-side of Jim's 'I See Red' has its own cover history -- 'Fear Strikes Out' first appeared on Ian Matthews' 1984 LP, Shook. Matthews, a journeyman who'd once sung in Fairport Convention alongside Judy Dyble and Sandy Denny and later hit the charts several times as a solo act, roots his version firmly in Jim's ineffable arrangement, which makes sense -- but Jim's version notches up the excitement brightly, showcasing sharp guitar and keyboard textures in the mix. And sounding more like a hit. Shortly after this, Jim teamed up with producer Hugh Murphy and his then-wife, American born singer songwriter Betsy Cook, to form The Urbane Planners, working out of Hugh's Buckinghamshire studio on smart pop singles, such as 'Spirit of the Thing,' for release on Mays Records. These gained radio exposure in the UK, but failed to get the kind of promotion they deserved, possibly a little too smart for the charts at that point. Jim continued to write, and returned to his earlier career as a graphic designer, then moved to Canterbury, where he found to his surprise that multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson of prog-rock outfit Caravan lived right across the street. The two struck up an immediate musical friendship and began working on material together at Geoffrey's studio nearby. And to the present, where Jim's relatively unheard 1982 recordings finally make their splendidly remastered debut on Drag City. It's a surprise and delight, not just for Jim, but for collectors of sublime pop songs all around the world."