Veteran songsmith Ian McNabb has launched a social media broadside following a muted reception to his new album.
The Icicle Works frontman released his 13th solo studio offering, Utopian earlier this year, but admitted to being baffled at the failure of vinyl, CD and download sales to get anywhere near his online audience numbers.
McNabb, 60, has frequently played in Kinross and Perth and thanked fans for buying the 20-track double LP, while raising the issue of Facebook users offering ‘virtual support’ — without actually putting their hands in their pockets.
The Scouser tells it like it is
Addressing his followers on the commercial performance of the 16th self-released album since 1998, the Scouser declared: “It’s done a lot more than usual on online sales at this stage, which is fantastic.
“However — it’s now slowed to the expected trickle. This is where I usually go on the road and we sell a fair amount of music that way. However, as we all know, at this point I can’t.
“I’m also surprised hardly any of you have felt enthused enough to write reviews — but I did see one from some geezer who shall remain nameless on (my) unofficial page who said he’d played it through — nothing grabbed him, but he’d give it another chance.
“Thanks pal. Flog it on eBay. Sorry to waste your time.”
They don’t appear to think I am important enough to write about or for my music worthy of being heard on the radio… plus they need to leave enough space for Paul Weller, Nick Cave and anyone from America, but most importantly record companies who take out full page adverts in exchange for positive reviews and features.
McNabb, who voiced concerns about the mental health of touring musicians last summer after the pandemic halted gigs, claimed he’d been largely ignored since his Mercury Prize-nominated 1994 concept album Head Like A Rock.
“They don’t appear to think I am important enough to write about or for my music worthy of being heard on the radio,” he added.
“Fair enough, plus they need to leave enough space for Paul Weller, Nick Cave and anyone from America, but most importantly record companies who take out full page adverts in exchange for positive reviews and features.
“It’s deeply frustrating but I gave up being annoyed about it a long time ago.”
Utopian’s opening track with its “Boy, they’re going to praise you when you’re gone,” lyric, could sum up Ian’s struggle for recognition.
Building to a gorgeous sax-fuelled crescendo, the track’s an eye and ear-opener that sets an immediate high standard.
It’s followed by the swooning, piano-led Harry Dean Stanton — quite simply, a life in six minutes — before the troubadour’s trademark feelgood vibe kicks in on the dreamy soft rocker Mesmerised.
One of McNabb’s best yet
There are soothing sounds aplenty — none better than the ultra-mellow Goin’ To A Place — but Macca’s not afraid to rock out either, with Jonesin’ channelling Neil Young / Crazy Horse, while Anamorphic Anodyne offers up guitar workouts that’re all the more muscular thanks to his crystal clear production.
Filler-free, Utopian is arguably McNabb’s most rounded and mature offering to date and available to hear in full online.
“The fact is streaming is the only way people who’re not fans will hear my music,” he declared.
The disappointing truth
“It’s always a disappointment that less than 20% of the people who think I’m worthy of a follow on social media ever buy an album or a concert ticket. I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to do to get them to spend less than the price of a round of coffees on something I’ve put every ounce of my fibre, time and money into.
“None of my records have ever made a profit and the best I can hope for is I break even. You can now hear the entire album on Spotify. I have given this to you for nothing. If you like what you hear, please buy a CD or a vinyl.
“I never enjoy writing posts like this, but us musicians have had the worst 15 months of our lives, and we still don’t know when we can get back on the road — the only way we earn a very modest living now.”