Cloudbusting, released in 2006 as a double A side with Largs Hum, was Swimmer One‘s only cover version, unless you count Heroes, which we performed for the first dance at our friends Kirstin and Alan’s ‘not wedding’ (a big party celebrating the fact that they weren’t getting married) but never quite got round to recording properly.
Although… technically Cloudbusting is two cover versions, since we threw in a bit of Lovesong by the Cure at the end. Or, depending on how you look at it, it’s three cover versions, since the arrangement Hamish came up with was a bit of a nod to Something Good by Utah Saints.
In hindsight it might have been sensible to include Cloudbusting on our first album, given that it was one of our most popular songs (even acknowledged on the original song’s Wikipedia page, which makes me happy). The recorded version is notable for a lead vocal by our friend Cora Bissett, who I first met at an album launch by her band Swelling Meg; I thought they were brilliant, told her as much, and we kept in touch. Later I heard that Cora had mostly given up on music and was focusing on theatre. What a shame, I thought, she’s such a good singer, we should make a single for her given that we’re an up and coming band who are probably going to be famous soon. And so we did.
Either I didn’t know the whole rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Cora’s former band Darlingheart at that point, or I just hadn’t been listening properly because I was so caught up in my own ambitions (and specifically my vainglorious idea that we could somehow be the Pet Shop Boys to Cora’s Dusty Springfield, or the Massive Attack to her Tracey Thorn, forgetting that you need to be an actual pop success yourself before you can help relaunch someone else’s pop career). Anyway, given that Cora is now a multi-award-winning theatre director, I’m very glad she stuck to the path she’d chosen, but recently it made me happy to see Cora revisiting her musical roots – and singing on stage again – in her show What Girls Are Made Of. (An aside: we still have some rough recordings of three or four songs by Cora, made a few years later, which we’d hoped might become an album produced by us, a project that stalled mainly because we were all too busy with other things; one day maybe…).
I had various other daft ideas around that time, including an EP that I thought it would be funny to call Swimmer One Meet Girls. This would have consisted of Cloudbusting, a remix we’d done of Never Enough by Astrid Williamson, and a couple of other tracks we never got round to recording. In the end we came up with a better plan, which was to ask our friend Laura to join the band. We first met Laura when we performed at a brilliant cabaret/live art night she ran in Edinburgh called Silencio, one of our first ever gigs. Later we made a theatre show at the Arches in Glasgow with her company Highway Diner, which was a lot of fun and ended up taking us to Italy. Later still, Laura and I got married, had three children, and moved to the Outer Hebrides, but that’s another story.
Laura singing Cloudbusting would later become a highlight of our live shows. We didn’t do many of these so there’s not much footage around, but our friend Susie did once film us doing Cloudbusting on her phone, at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. We’re at a funny angle for the first few seconds before she remembers to turn her phone sideways.
Our version of Cloudbusting has been put on YouTube a few times by various people. My favourite is the one that describes it as ‘Cloudbusting – remix’, as if we had somehow found a plug-in that makes Kate Bush sound Scottish.