McGuinness Flint – When I’m Dead And Gone

12th December 1970 · 1970, 1970s, Music

McGuinness Flint revived the rootsy sound of jug bands and skiffle on the first of their only two hits, When I’m Dead And Gone, in 1970.

This rootsy blast from the past has a similar skiffle/jug band sound to Mungo Jerry, blending aspects of blues, country and folk. And mercifully, unlike their previous hit (When I’m Dead And Gone), no kazoo.

McGuinness Flint are another of those early-Seventies groups whose name could have doubled as an Estate Agency or firm of Chartered Accountants. They consisted of Tom McGuinness, skiffle enthusiast turned bassist with Manfred Mann, and (as the name suggests) Hughie Flint, a bluesman who played drums with John Mayall.

Oddly, neither of them wrote or sang their only two hits.

McGuinness is the beardy guitarist at the back alongside Flint: the guy singing and playing the banjo is Graham Lyle, who wrote this song – and their previous hit – with Benny Gallagher, the bass player. The bloke playing the accordion is Dennis Coulson.

Rather than demand a name change to a solicitors’ fim – McGuinness, Flint, Gallagher and Lyle – the latter two left the band after this, their second Top Ten single.

In truth they were always an odd mixture: the titular duo with their blues backgrounds and preference for live performance; Gallagher and Lyle with a pedigree of soft rock, songwriting (initially at Apple Records) and mellow harmonies. It was no surprise when they went on to enjoy success under their own names as a duo (and, quite possibly, estate agency). I even bought one of their albums, which I suspect is rather too mellow for my tastes today, though it produced a couple of big hits several years after this (Heart On My Sleeve and I Wanna Stay With You).

Malt And Barley Blues reached No.5 in May 1971, failing to match the No.2 achieved by their kazoo-friendly debut When I’m Dead And Gone (a tribute to blues legend Robert Johnson), at the end of the previous year. After the departures of Gallagher and Lyle ripped out their creative core, McGuinness Flint brought in various new members, changing and elongating their name like a law firm adding new partners, but without success. Gallagher & Lyle, by contrast, went on to follow their handful of hits together by working – separately and together – with a who’s who of British music aristocracy over the years.

For me, this song slots smoothly into the era’s musical history alongside others that grew out of the short-lived British blues boom of the late Sixties, like Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, Atomic Rooster and Alexis Korner’s CCS.