Kirsty MacColl – From Croydon to Cuba…An Anthology

I was reminded to seek out this collection when a friend mentioned buying the recent “Best of” CD. Now as I already have one Kirsty compilation and most of the original CDs, I don’t really need another compilation, but this is different. Three CDs, 65 tracks. This includes all the singles, lots of B-sides, previously unreleased tracks, demos, and all the usual things you’d expect on a good set of this kind.

For anyone not familiar, with her work, Kirsty MacColl‘s musical career started with They Don’t Know back in 1979 and proceeded through a dazzling variety of styles until her untimely death in December 2000.

If you don’t know any other songs, you may be aware of Fairytale of New York, a collaboration with the Pogues, which features Kirsty and Shane MacGowan trading insults in what is still the best Christmas record ever. But there’s more, much more. From the rockabilly styled There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis through later collaborations with Johnny Marr of the Smiths[1], to the latin rhythms of her last work, Kirsty was always worth listening to.

She never really achieved the levels of commercial success that I always thought she deserved. But she was the kind of artist who made the music she wanted to, and that’s what matters[2].

As with any collection of this kind, not all the tracks are ones you’ll want to listen to repeatedly, but there is a lot to listen to, and some otherwise unavailable songs, including tracks from an abandoned early album. It’s also much better value than the “Best of” set – I paid £14.99 in a local shop, J G Windows[3]. If you have any interest in Kirsty’s work, it’s worth shopping around for From Croydon to Cuba

[1] Including a superior cover of You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
[2] To me, anyway
[3] Who have a definitively bad website