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Shack (band)

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OriginLiverpool, England
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1987 (1987)–1992, 1998–present
LabelsGhetto, London, Sour Mash
Associated actsThe Pale Fountains, Arthur Lee
MembersMichael Head
John Head
Iain Templeton
Martyn Campbell
Past membersJustin Smith
Michael Hurst
Dave Butcher
Peter Wilkinson
Alan Wills
Ren Parry
Guy Rigby
Johnny Baxter

Shack, are an English band formed in Liverpool, England in 1987. Originally Shack consisted of Mick Head (vocals/guitar), his brother John Head (guitar), Justin Smith (bass) and Mick Hurst (drums).


The Pale Fountains

Before founding Shack, Michael and John Head were in the cult 1980s band The Pale Fountains, and released two albums, Pacific Street in March 1984 and ...From Across The Kitchen Table in March 1985.[1] However, though critically acclaimed, the albums only reached Numbers 85 and 94 in the UK Albums Chart.[2] That band ended around 1986 and returned from London to their home town of Liverpool. Bassist and founding member Chris "Biffa" McCaffrey died of a brain tumour in 1989, a few years after the band broke up.

1987–1996: Zilch, Waterpistol and hiatus

The Head brothers soon re-emerged as Shack, signing to the Ghetto Recording Company,[3] home of record producer Ian Broudie's solo project, The Lightning Seeds and British soul band Distant Cousins. Shack's first album Zilch was released in 1988,[3] but was neither critically nor commercially successful. The album was later re-released on the Red Flag Recording Company label with three extra tracks in 2007.

The follow-up, Waterpistol, was recorded in 1991 at London's Star Street Studio and Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire. Shortly after the recording of Waterpistol was complete, the Star Street studio burnt down and most of the tapes were destroyed. The only remaining DAT of the album was in the possession of producer Chris Allison. At the time, Allison was in Los Angeles, and when he returned, it transpired that he had left the copy in his hire car. It was only found weeks later after a frenzied search.[1] However, by this point, Ghetto had folded so the record was without a distributor. Shack split, with Wilkinson joining fellow Liverpudlian John Power (formerly of The La's) to form the successful Britpop band Cast. The Head brothers accompanied Love for a few touring dates in 1992.

Waterpistol was finally released in 1995 on the German independent record label, Marina.[1][3] NME described Mick Head as "a lost genius and among the most gifted British songwriters of his generation". The album was later re-released with new artwork on the Red Flag Recording Company label in 2007. Michael Head went on to form Michael Head & The Strands with his brother John, which found them further critical acclaim with their record The Magical World of The Strands on its release in 1996.

1998–present: Reformation and new albums

The Head brothers, along with Iain Templeton (who drummed on The Magical World of The Strands) and bassist Ren Parry reformed Shack in 1998, releasing HMS Fable (1999), reaching the Top 25 on the UK albums chart. Parry was replaced by Guy Rigby on bass for ... Here's Tom With the Weather (2003). Wilkinson rejoined in 2005, replacing the departed Rigby.

The band signed to Noel Gallagher's 'Sour Mash' record label. In May 2006 they released the album ...The Corner of Miles and Gil, which is named after two of the Head brothers' heroes, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

In October 2007, the band released their greatest hits compilation album, Time Machine, including two new tracks. They toured briefly in England in October and November with Martyn Campbell on bass, including a set at the Liverpool Academy on 26 October 2007, which was filmed and recorded for a possible live album and/or DVD.

In February 2008, the band re-formed the Pale Fountains for two critically acclaimed live shows in Liverpool and London. The members of the reformed band were Michael Head, John Head, Martyn Campbell, Andy Diagram, Thomas 'Jock' Whelan and Iain Templeton. Since 2008, John Head has pursued a solo career playing live shows with his band The Streams. Michael Head launched a new project Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band on his own label Violette Records.

Shack played together again in June 2010 at a charity event in Winsford.



  • Michael Head – vocals, guitar (1987–1992, 1998–present)
  • John Head – guitar (1987–1992, 1998–present)
  • Iain Templeton – drums (1991–1992, 1998–present)
  • Martyn Campbell – bass (1992, 2007–present)


  • Justin Smith – bass (1987–1990)
  • Michael Hurst – drums (1987–1990)
  • Dave Butcher – keyboards (1987–1990)
  • Peter Wilkinson – bass (1990–1991, 2005–2006)
  • Alan Wills – drums (1990–1991)
  • Ren Parry – bass (1998–2002)
  • Guy Rigby – bass (2002–2004)
  • Johnnie Baxter – drums


Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart position
1988 Zilch
  • Released: March 1988
  • Label: Ghetto
1995 Waterpistol
1999 H.M.S. Fable
  • Released: 21 June 1999
  • Label: London
2003 ... Here's Tom With the Weather
  • Released: 11 August 2003
  • Label: North Country
2006 On the Corner of Miles and Gil
  • Released: 15 May 2006
  • Label: Sour Mash

Other albums

  • Arthur Lee & Shack Live in Liverpool (2000)
  • The Fable Sessions (2003)
  • Time Machine: The Best of Shack (2007)


Year Title Peak chart position Album
1988 "Emergency" Zilch
"High Rise Low Life"
1990 "I Know You Well" Non-album singles
1991 "Al's Vacation"
1999 "Comedy" 44 H.M.S. Fable
"Natalie's Party" 63
2000 "Oscar" 67 Non-album single
2003 "Byrds Turn to Stone" 63 ...Here's Tom with the Weather
2006 "Tie Me Down" 114 ...The Corner of Miles and Gil
"Cup of Tea" 126


  1. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 863–864. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 415. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1072. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 490. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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