• The story of Das Boomerang

  • And how they appeared on an obscure compilation album in the 1980s

 
     
     
     
 

 funboy five

behind the legend

 
     
     
     
  When Mick Sinclair left the Funboy Five it was to pursue other studio-based projects, one of which became Das Boomerang. 'Studio-based' was usually a euphemism for a Teac 3340 reel-to-reel tape machine, a six channel mixing desk and a Revox A77 tape recorder set up in Mick's bedroom in north London.

During 1982, he created the backing tracks to what became a version of Leonard Cohen's song Suzanne, albeit one that would be, other than for the words, unrecognisable from the original. The search for a singer to provide vocals concluded with Dinah Mulholland, who Mick had met as part of Worldbackwards, who had released an album called Flesh. One major problem for Dinah was that her vocal had to go onto the parts of the backing track that had no more than percussion, leaving nothing to pitch her voice to. Nonetheless, the recording was completed and mixed in various forms, complete with double-speed trumpet solo.

das boomerang

Knowing this was just the sort of thing to liven up the charts, Mick played 'Suzanne' to Phonogram's then A&R man, Ashley Goodall and was offered free time in Phonogram's 24-track studio to 'record it properly'. Asked how long such a thing might take, Mick replied 'three days' but was offered two by the intrigued but doubtful Goodhall.

The two days eventually became one and Mick, aware of time restraints and planning to be creative with Phonogram's mixing desk, took the homemade backing track to the studio to allow more time for Dinah's vocals and additional percussion, in the form of a Phonogram fire extinguisher being hit with a screwdriver,to be added.

The trumpet part was also re-recorded, again at double speed, which obviously meant the tape being played at half speed, much to the shock of the engineer ('we had Soft Cell in last week, they didn't do that').

das boomerang

As far as Mick was concerned, the creative part of recording was the mixing. In this instance, the mix featured Mick further antagonising the engineer ('Kool and the Gang were nothing like this') by plugging his little Dr Rhythm drum machine into the 48-channel mixing desk and playing it live as the mix was being done, adding the heavily-reverbed fast snare crashes (for want of a better term) to the track.

Even though the engineer eventually admitted the drum machine sounded good, the track could have done with an entire day just to develop ideas at the mixing stage. As it was, it was the start of an idea, not the completion of one and, unsurprisingly, Ashley Goodall decided enough was enough and handed the tape back to Mick.

A few months later, Dave Barker of Glass Records decided to include 'Suzanne' on Shadow and Substance: The Wonderful World of Glass Volume 2, released in 1984. There it appeared alongside such luminaries as Bruce Pavitt, Ronaldo and the Loaf, the Jazz Butcher and Half Japanese.

 
 

front cover of SHadow and Substance

back cover of Shadow and Substance
 
 
 

And there it effectively rested in peace. Not only were there no more Das Boomerang releases but nothing further was even recorded... which is not to say that one day the properly mixed version of Suzanne may appear (Leonard Cohen permitting, of course).

das boomerang

Photos by Steve Rapport, taken on a very cold day on Chelsea Bridge which crosses the Thames, a river that Mick Sinclair would later write a book about.

 
     
     
   

Funboy Five links

 
 

Formation

 
 

The John Peel Session

 
 

Early Recordings

 
 

The Life After Death Single (1980)

 
 

Save The World and Radio Free Asia singles (2014 and 2015)

 
 

The Label

 
 

Last Days and the 21st Century Revival

 
 

Before and After

 
 

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Funboy Five at Last FM

 
 

Funboy Five digital downloads at bandcamp

 
 

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