Classic Clips: The Vulgar Boatmen “Heartbeat” Jools Holland’s Later, June 1995

One of my most vivid musical memories from the nineties was coming across a new CD by the wonderfully named The Vulgar Boatmen called ‘Opposite Sex‘. It was 1995 and this album was on the Warner Brothers imprint Blanco Y Negro – home to the likes of Everything But The Girl and The Jesus and Mary Chain. The music that jumped out of my speakers was instantly engaging – a blend of country and indie rock. But it was so tuneful and memorable.

The band had been going from the early 80’s, based in Florida – and early albums were made by band members sending each other cassettes with demo material on them. Their three main albums were all fantastic – mixing stark lyrics with and really infectious melodies and were enhanced by the fantastic viola playing of principle songwriter Robert Ray’s wife Helen Kirklin.

This appearance on Later was glorious – the magic of their playing coming alive with the viola solo at the end. Sadly success eluded them – this final album didn’t even get them a US release. There was a wonderful compilation of the bands material released in 2003 called ‘Wide Awake‘ which is well worth tracking down. Sadly, you’ll need quite deep pockets for this. Quite why this is in black and white, is a mystery.

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Alan Peatfield

This band passed me by completely. A real shame as, on the evidence of this track, they sound fantastic. Will do my best to uncover more of what they have to offer. Many thanks for the “heads up.”

Dr. Adrian Dzialdowski

I first hear of this band via the connection with Walter Salas -Humara who was I believe the original leader. Walter went on to form the equally excellent Silos whose many albums are a little more easily obtained. Better still they are still making them and touring. Check out Walter’s website for his paintings too.