Barrow-in-Furness is a small insular working class Northern town situated at the end of the longest cul- de-sac in Britain. To go South, you need to head North. You don’t travel through Barrow, your journey ends there. That’s what makes the town and it’s people so unique.
During the mid 80’s, if you had been in a pub in Barrow and a guy with a mop of raven black hair was playing guitar with some backing tapes, that would have been Gary Cook. The thriving Barrow music scene during this period was a remote outstop of weird indie, electronic, psyche, alt-pop, post punk, indie and rock. Gary Cook was at the very heart of all of it. He was Jade Angel, Tripwire, Barbiehead. He was always hiding behind a new name to catch people out.
Gary was a catalyst and a key member of many Barrow bands in a highly inventive and competitive scene. All of these endlessly rotating bands and their swapping-in-and-out musicians had one thing in common, everyone loved and respected Gary. He was talented. He drew, painted, sang, played guitar, bass and keyboards. He worked primitive drumboxes, wrote fantastic, observational lyrics and created a lot of wonderful, bittersweet music. He was sampling and recycling on the most threadbare, begged and borrowed equipment at the dawn of the technology becoming available.
This record has been compiled from an archive of cassettes left behind by Gary. Unheard outside of one of the remotest places in England and even then, not by many people and not for 30 years. A year in the making, putting together the record has been a joy, a headache and a heartbreak. There were many versions of some songs in various states of completion and sometimes just one, single, fleeting version of others. A haphazard jumble of multitudinous sketches and riffs. A constant, continuous tumble of output. He was prolific. This is what he did. Trying to pick the best versions and highest quality recordings has been tough and there’s more than enough material for another, alternative LP.
What we are left with is a brilliant set of lo-fi analogue electronic, guitar indie-goth-pop. Gary writes and plays everything and it’s a joy to hear his brilliant, observational songs. Sometimes camp, sometimes funny, often devastatingly honest and confessional. Always fabulous.
Gary died in Barrow, May 2006 from complications relating to a burst ulcer. He was 41 years old.
The record has been wonderfully restored and remastered by Thomas P. Heckmann at Trope, who is responsible for a lot of the Vinyl On Demand remastering.
The LP is released in a never to be repressed edition of 300 on red wax with black and white splatter. It includes a hand numbered insert with extensive sleeve notes, a download code and a signed and numbered fine art print of Gary painted in oils by artist John Duffin.
Digital copies are also available.
Listen to tracks from The Fabulous World Of Gary Cook at: https://soundcloud.com/castles-in- space-954241171/sets/the-fabulous-world-of-gary
Buy from the Castles in Space bandcamp site: https://garycook.bandcamp.com/