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The Shirehorses

This page is no longer updated and kept here for archive purposes only. Please visit the new Fancy A Brew page for up to date news and information.

If you believe the popular press, the BBC and even Marc Riley and Mark Radcliffe themselves, The Shirehorses have been around in one form of other since the sixties, and have been very unlucky, having had all their top quality tunes ripped off and redone by other bands (robbin' gets....)

Marc Riley and Mark 
Radcliffe sitting in a doorway

Fancy A Brew would like to declare that this is complete rubbish. Fancy A Brew declares this owing to it being the truth. Fancy A Brew only tells the truth - it's biographies of Marc Riley and Mark Radcliffe prove this sites unfaltering commitment to truth and honesty to our readers. To this end we have put here, the true story of The Shirehorses.

How It Began

The Shirehorses formed in 1994 with the original line-up of Marc and Scrawn. The band was started because the pair were a) bored and b) they had nothing better to put on the Graveyard Shift.

In the end, in order to provide a link, they decided to resurrect a feature from Hit The North and record a cover version of a popular song. The difference for the Radio One version being that it was on Radio One and not Radio Five, so people actually heard them do it this time.

In a flash of what some people may call inspiration, but what we'll call stupidity, Marc and Scrawn decided to change the lyrics a bit and call the band a 'silly name' for the sake of 'humour' and to make up for the lack of any real talent. The forerunner to the Shirehorses was born. Unfortunately.

Even worse was the fact that Marc and Scrawn continued to be unable to think up anything witty to do on the Graveyard Shift and so continued to do create stupid songs, despite the fact that the pair has no musical talent whatsoever.

The move to the Breakfast Show didn't stem the flow of songs either. Such Graveyard delights as the Horse Brothers and Dick Cave And The Bad Cheese were joined by Gazeebo, Pantson and The Chemical Toilet Brothers. However, it was while the pair were gratuitously copying The Seahorses though, that the full line-up was finalised...

From the start the line-up had been Scrawn on drums and Marc on guitar. At random moments they had been joined by others, including Barnsley poet Ian McMillan (who appeared on the Edwin Bobbins track A Girl Like Your (Oh Yeah). But in 1997 things changed. The Shirehorses line-up included 'Chunky' Rhys Hughes (then producer of the Breakfast Show) and 'Chester's Dark Prince Of the Mandolin' (aka Christopher Lee, Radio One sound engineer) on bass, mandolins, pewter tankards and anything else the aspiring musicians could lay their hands on. Bigger line-up - same crap.

To Glastonbury, And Beyond!

It was about this time that the organise of the Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis, noticed that he was lacking a dodgy folk singer for the half ten slot on the first day of Glastonbury '97 and in sheer frustration about the lack of available bands, asked the Shirehorses to open the festival.

Seeing that the band could draw in literally twenty three and a half people to Glastonbury inspired East West Records to offer the Shirehorses the chance to release an album of their 'greatest work' and in October 1997, The Worst Album In The World... Ever... EVER was released.

Unluckily the record company produced too many and the decision was made to release the album at the special bargain-bucker-no-it's-not-crap-it's-brill album price of about nine squid for the CD and about ten pence on tape.

However, the project seemed to cool enthusiasm to keep doing the covers at Radio One, and following Marc's move to the Afternoon Show and the departure of Rhys Hughes for pastures new (well the Simon Mayo show, later the Evening Session and then the Chris Moyles show) led to the previously near-constant influx of new songs, drying up. True, there have been a few songs lately, including a track from subliminal pop band Numbawamba, but the ice has certainly melted in the Shirehorses bargain wine bucket.

Shirehorses, Reborn

A drying up of the creative juices has shown that Marc Riley had to come up with better and more innovative features for his show, like the truly inspirational reading and commenting on things from the newspapers. However, the Horse came back every now and then, joined by newcomeer, Dick The Buttock Struttock, or Patrick as those who know him when he's not prancing around a stage in y-fronts, know him.

And there it could have ended, had it not been for that difficult second album.

14 May 2001 saw Oh Kid, Eh bit the streets, on Columbia records, which came after a major promotional tour consisting of a dizzying four dates in London, Manchester and two nights in Glasgow, where they even sold T-shirts!

It even beat The Worst Album... up the charts, beating the previous best of 27, by getting to 18.

But then, they're a covers band Jim, but not as we know it?

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