It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home
If you ask me about the center of English creativity in the early 80s, I have little doubt. Of course, the big record majors were based in London and therefore the successful records and bands generally formed there, also according to the indications of the majors. Then we must remember the case of Basildon, where from the same (clearly excellent) music school came out a few years later two illustrious fellow citizens, Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet, and so the small center of Basildon became the birthplace first of Depeche Mode and then of Yazoo.
There was, however, one area of England, with a very strong industrial and working-class connotation, where the strongest and most sincere passions were expressed in all fields. We are talking about the Liverpool area, and the whole estuary of the River Mersey, what is now called Merseyside. Just as in football in those years Liverpool FC of Dalglish, Sounness, Clemence and many others embodied the ambition to conquer the world, in the same way even in music many groups formed that expressed undisputed originality and quality. Then of course, they ended up having less visibility and less resources, away from the London music center, but it’s a fact that certain groups reached peaks of creativity and originality.
Examples include the entire career of the great Pete Wylie and his The Mighty Wah with the beautiful Come Back, paired with the missed Josie Jones. Or even China Crisis, who found great success only with Black Man Ray but had years of career behind them.
And the story of China Crisis is similar to the story of another group that also formed in Liverpool in 1980, released a series of singles and Extended Play, a rather original format with four of five songs, essentially a forerunner of the mix, records that still ran at 45 rpm but contained about fifteen minutes of music on both sides. This group had also seen members leave and others arrive, until they remained with only two members, John Campbell and Jarvis Whitehead, and in essence in the first five years of their career they never released a real album, but only a series of these EPs. We are of course talking about It’s Immaterial, a name that suddenly became visible and famous in April 1986, when their most famous song, the beautiful Driving away from home (Jim’s tune), came out. And that year they finally released their first album, with the curious title Life’s hard and then you die.
The song is absolutely simple, they sing in choruses and speak in verses. The protagonist wants to escape, and a car ride in the evening becomes the symbol of freedom. So he invites a friend (or more friends, or perhaps an imaginary friend) to get in the car with him for a wandering ride. And the song is the actual conversation, like we’re in that car too, or maybe we’re in the passenger seat (on the left side, in this case) while John’s driving. And so here’s the proposal to go all the way to Manchester, Campbell’s birthplace, taking the M62 motorway, it’s only thirty-nine miles and forty-five minutes away.
We don’t know if they really reach Manchester, but probably not, because shortly after the urge to escape gets stronger, and Campbell proposes to go further north, to Newcastle, or maybe even to Glasgow, where he has friends he can call and where there are a lot of nice places to see.
The video alternates scenes of Campbell and Whitehead in the car with other people, to quite surreal scenes, but they have in common the fact of evoking distant places. And so the special effects (quite handy crafted even for those times) that we see at the end of the video mention places like Delhi, Beijing, Fujiyama, Bangkok, Australia.
And in a frame we can even see a map with the indication of the South Pole!
In short, in a matter of minutes and a few notes, It’s Immaterial have really managed to get us in the car with them to escape our daily life and go even further, far beyond Manchester!
It’s Immaterial on Wikipedia