Terry's new venture was to be as The Colourfield with Toby Lyons
and bassist, Karl Shale. The Colourfield's eponymous debut single was
released in January 1984 but failed to hit the Top 40, becoming
Terry's first non-chart single in five years. The single was backed
by the delightful 'Sorry' which would later be slightly reworked for
inclusion on the first album. A number of reviewers have stated that
the original version was better however whilst each version has its
strong points I don't think one stands out over the other. A 12"
version of 'The Colourfield' was also released which although
different was not much longer than the 7" version.
The second Colourfield single was the sublime 'Take' with its
mixture of pain and barbed, defensive, criticisms of a departed
lover. There are too many great lines to highlight but my favourite
is "I bet you're in a bed of roses, lying in a heap, surrounded by
your new possessions, so tasteless and cheap" and I can't imagine who
else could sing the word 'agony' quite like Terry. 'Take' features
one of Terry's many references to a cat as a point of certainty and
coziness in an uncertain world. The B side to 'Take' was the
brilliant 'Pushing up the daisies' which incisively explores the
world of the rock stars. The 12" of 'Take' also features Terry's
cover of the classic Legrand/Bergman song 'Windmills of your Mind'
previously performed by artists such as Dusty Springfield and Noel
Harrison for the film 'The Thomas Crown Affair'.
The third Colourfield single saw Terry back in the charts however
it would be the last time for nearly a decade. 'Thinking of You' is a
great song featuring Katrina Phillips on vocals (sounding rather like
Kirsty MacColl). 'Thinking of You' contains some great lines and
phrases such as "grave-side manner" and "stumble over four leaf
clovers" and is quite joyous (in a Terry kind of way). The single was
backed by the Colourfield's best B side - 'My Wild Flame' which
borrows musical elements from 'The Colourfield' and contains the
lovely line : "Will you be my only truth, my tower of strength, my
moment of joy, a bundle of fun, my only one, my wild flame ?"
The first Colourfield album was released in April 1985. 'Virgins
and Philistines' contains 10 excellent tracks including three singles
and a cover version. Strangely the eponymous first single was not
included on the album. The album's cover features Terry, Toby and
Karl in front of a stained glass window. The album was recorded in
Stockport (near Manchester) and was produced by Hugh Jones and
featured the late Pete De Freitas (of Echo and the Bunnymen) on drums
for two tracks. 'Virgins and Philistines' unfortunately remains a bit
of a lost classic - indeed Chrysalis have not even re-issued a CD
version (Pull your finger out!).
A favourite of mine, the track 'Yours Sincerely' sees Terry saying
"I've turned into Mr Misery"- a name the music press had given to him
and contains a plethora of great lines including "I wanted to be sure
that I could trust your smile, I should have realised it wasn't worth
my while." The cover version, Hammond song, sees Terry singing in a
style he really doesn't use again until 1997's 'Laugh'. The title
track actually took a few years before it really enraptured me and
now its one of my favourites with the cutting lines "the glamour has
faded, you're looking quite jaded, when I look at you I'm faced with
obscurity". The track 'Armchair Theatre' features Terry's trick of
cleverly mixing and matching every day phrases such as "I'm sitting
on the fence again, drawing straws and pulling strings,
demonstrations pass me by, this must be the age of something" and the
sublime "you can take me for a ride, but only if I get the window
seat." The album did not really fit in with the prevailing music
trends at the time but remains one of Terry's best pieces of work.
The final single to be taken from 'Virgins and Philistines'
(although released prior to it) was the beautiful 'Castles in the
Air' with its poetic failed romanticism and surprising "I don't even
know your name" final verse. Some reviewers couldn't see the
metaphoric beauty of the song and criticised it for lines like "let
me look into the windows of your soul". The song was more reminiscent
of Scott Walker style orchestral ballads rather than the chart music
of 1985, making it all the more special. The single featured another
great B side 'Your Love was Smashing' ("I want sympathy and
everything misery brings") and a cover of 'I can't get enough of you,
In January 1986 the four piece Colourfield (Terry, Toby, Karl and
now Gary Dwyer on drums) released 'Things could be Beautiful' - an
upbeat pop tune produced by Ian Broudie in his pre-Lightning Seeds
guise. The single was backed by another new composition 'Frosty
Mornings'. A 12" single also featured two live recordings of 'Pushing
up the daises' and 'Yours Sincerely' where Terry gets the giggles. In
America 'Things could be Beautiful' was released as a six track EP
also featuring 'Armchair Theater' and 'Faint Hearts'. Strangely the
US version of 'Virgins and Philistines' excluded these tracks in
favour of B sides resulting in a less coherent, albeit longer, album.
Unfortunately 'Things could be beautiful' failed to chart and it
would be nearly a year before the next release.
The Colourfield (or at least just Terry and Toby) returned in 1987
however really it was as if Terry had formed another new band since
the 1987 Colourfield output was starkly different from the 'Virgin
and Philistines' recordings. Terry has since criticised the lack of
control he had over the 1987 recordings with session musicians and
producers removing much of the Colourfield's character. The album
'Deception' was smoothly produced by former Blondie producer Richard
Gottehrer in America where it was also recorded. Terry has stated
that he often found himself walking around parks whilst the album was
being produced. Despite these criticisms of the album, it still
contains some great songs and lyrics. The album was preceded by one
of the very few songs by Terry that I don't like. 'Running Away' was
a cover of a Sly Stone song and I'm afraid it's appeal by-passes me.
Someone made a wise decision in not including it on 'The Collection'
instead including album track 'From Dawn to Distraction'. 'Running
Away' was backed by 'Digging it deep' a much catchier song written by
Terry and containing the lines "Oh how I wish I loved the human race,
Oh how I wish I had a pretty face'.
Despite a number of great songs on the album written by Terry, the
second single was another cover. 'She' was originally recorded by the
Monkees and although it is markedly better than 'Running Away' I
think other album tracks would have been better singles. The 12"
single of 'She' was backed with the great album track 'Monkey in
Winter' and another version of this song with lead vocals by Sinead
O'Connor and backing vocals by Terry.
The outstanding track on 'Deception' was 'Miss Texas 1967' - one
of Terry's best ever vocals and best ever songs. Other album
highlights for me include 'Badlands' and 'Goodbye Sun Valley' which
seems quite Aznavour influenced. Unfortunately neither the album or
the singles sold particularly well and Terry clearly stated his
apathy towards it and his desire to do as little promotion as
possible. Unsurprisingly it was to be the end of the Colourfield.
Like the Fun Boy
Three, the Colourfield released two albums and seven singles and
ended rather acrimoniously. However rather than looking set for a new
direction it looked as if it might be the end of Terry Hall's
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Biography by: David Harley
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