Friday, May 23, 2008

Just Who Is This Danny Wilson Guy?

When first I bought the vinyl 45 for the single ‘Mary’s Prayer’ by Danny Wilson early in 1988, I wondered that very thing, well briefly anyway. Danny Wilson was not one single person, but rather the collective name for a pop trio hailing from the city of Dundee in Scotland. When they formed in the 1984 (originally as ’Spencer Tracy’) they soon took a new name from the title to a 1952 film starring Frank Sinatra called ‘Meet Danny Wilson’. The three that called themselves after one were brothers Gary Clark (vocals/guitar) and Kit Clark (keyboards/percussion) and Ged Grimes (bass).

‘Mary’s Prayer’ reached as high as #23 in the U.S. in mid ‘87 (#64 in Australia early ‘88), but initially the song only ascended to #42 in the group’s native U.K. Eight months later it had been remixed and was re-released to a much better reception from the British record buying public. Danny Wilson’s prayers were answered as ‘Mary’s Prayer’ rocketed to #3 in the U.K. at the second attempt. ‘Meet Danny Wilson’ the album was released but wasn’t as well received stalling at #65, though in years to come it became a cult favourite of sorts. Danny Wilson’s sound/style shared much with contemporaries such as Deacon Blue, Hothouse Flowers, Wet Wet Wet, Prefab Sprout and Johnny Hates Jazz, and owed much to the likes of Steely Dan - strong melodic hooks coated in lush acoustic harmonies with ‘Mary’s Prayer’ their best example of this.

The Scottish trio returned a year later with a new album ‘Beebop Moptop’ and single ‘The Second Summer Of Love’. Both tapped into the British summer vibe and reached the top 30, but missed the U.S. charts completely. Regrettably Danny Wilson’s stocks plummeted and save for a minor chart register (UK#54) for their third album ‘Sweet Danny Wilson’ in 1991 fans stopped asking what might be and started lamenting what might have been. Singer and songwriter Gary Clark went on to record a solo album in 1993 (‘Ten Short Songs About Love’), then played in the bands King L and Transister during the 90s. In 2001 in worked with Natalie Imbruglia on her album ‘White Lilies Island’. According to Wikipedia Kit Clark now has a band called ‘The Swiss Family Orbison’, whilst Ged Grimes composes music for computer games.

The song ‘Mary’s Prayer’ enjoyed a mini-revival through its inclusion on the soundtrack to the motion picture ‘There’s Something About Mary’ in 1998. But I was thankful I got to know the song a decade earlier.

Check out the Danny Wilson MySpace page (official) here:

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