To celebrate the recent release of our 33 1/3 on Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth, we’re pleased to bring you the 4th installment of Young Marble Giants Week by authors Michael Blair and Joe Bucciero!
After Young Marble Giants
What the band’s three members did after Colossal Youth
After YMG broke up in early 1981, Alison Statton, Stuart Moxham, and Philip Moxham all went off to pursue their own separate musical projects. Still, they often ended up collaborating together again in various configurations: Philip played bass on songs for Stuart’s solo project, The Gist, as well as for Alison’s new band Weekend; Stuart wrote an early song for Weekend; and Alison sang on The Gist’s track “Clean Bridges.” But the three never released any new music as Young Marble Giants, and their work after the band’s breakup often found them pursuing their own particular musical interests. Retrospectively, these projects help us understand what each uniquely brought to YMG’s distinctive sound.
Immediately YMG’s breakup, Alison teamed up with her old Cardiff pal Spike Williams (of Reptile Ranch and Z Block Records) and the London-based multi-instrumentalist Simon Dennison to form Weekend, a band that took YMG’s interest in sounds sourced from outside mainstream (and masculinist) rock ’n’ roll even further, to include influences pulled from Senegalese soukous music, French pop, and FM lite jazz. The back cover of the group’s 1982 LP La Varieté (released on Rough Trade) can be read as the band’s mission statement: “La Varieté—the French term for popular radio, everything that’s not heavy rock; music drawing on diversity and depth.”
Weekend stopped recording after the release of La Varieté, but Alison continued to perform with Spike in various configurations throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and also began a longstanding collaboration with Ian Devine in the group Devine & Statton.
Experimenting more with drum machines and multi-track home recording, Stuart formed his own solo project called The Gist, in which he played the majority of the instruments and finally realized his dream of becoming the primary singer of his songs. The Gist released the disco-inflected Embrace The Herd on Rough Trade Records in 1982, which also featured the contributions of friends like the artist Wendy Smith (whose romance with Stuart inspired the writing of much of Colossal Youth and who painted the cover of Weekend’s La Varieté), Vivien Goldman, Essential Logic’s Phil Legg, This Heat’s Charles Bullen, Swell Maps’ Epic Soundtracks, and Alison and Philip.
Stuart expressed a certain kind of discomfort in leaving the “secure formula” of YMG and views The Gist as a process of testing out new and unfamiliar musical ideas. Embrace The Herd is therefore full of stylistically diverse songs and displays deep understanding of different pop music form and conventions, which many critics have picked up on when commenting on the songwriting of Colossal Youth as well.
During this time, Stuart also started producing other artists’ albums, working at first with Marine Girls on their 1983 record Lazy Ways. Then, following a tour of the Northwestern United States in the early 1990s, Stuart produced the K Records band Lois’s album Butterfly Kiss as well as several songs on Beat Happening’s You Turn Me On (both in 1992). He also produced and wrote several songs (alongside Jon Langford of The Mekons) for Barbara Manning’s 1995 album Barbara Manning Sings with the Original Artists.
Philip added his signature dub-inflected bass lines to David Thomas of Pere Ubu’s 1981 solo album The Sound of The Sand and Other Songs Of The Pedestrian, receiving partial writing credits on “The Birds Are Good Ideas” and “Sound of the Sand.”
In 1984, Philip joined Everything but the Girl, who were fronted by Tracey Thorn after she had left Marine Girls, and with that group he toured across the world and played on several albums throughout the ’80s.
Stuart and Philip also explored their longtime love of dub and reggae by working with reggae singer Jah Scouse on the 1984 7” Merge, which featured a “vegan mix” on side B by This Heat’s Charles Bullen.
After Domino Records reissued Colossal Youth in 2007, YMG reunited for several shows throughout Europe but said in 2015 that they no longer planned to play anymore as YMG. However, Alison, Stuart, and Spike performed together this April in Barcelona as part of the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona’s Primera Persona festival.
Stuart, meanwhile, continues to record and play with his band Moxham & Halliday and recently announced plans to release The Gist’s unreleased second album Holding Pattern. The album comes out June 13, and can be pre-ordered through The Gist’s Bandcamp page.