❉ 12 reasons why The Golden Mile still sparkles, 20 years on…
My Life Story are an orchestral pop band borne out of the Britpop era of the 90s. Flamboyant frontman Jake Shillingford wrote their catchy tunes with the cleverest, witty lyrics.
They were formed in 1991, and their debut single was Girl A, Girl B, Boy C in 1993 from their debut album Mornington Crescent.
The group had a regular line-up of twelve members but over the ensuing years the membership fluctuated continually, often utilising the services of session musicians.
Mornington Crescent was released on 10 January 1995, however My Life Story enjoyed the most success at the time of their second album, The Golden Mile, which was released on 10 March 1997 and celebrated its twentieth birthday this last week.
It spawned a number of singles including Sparkle, 12 Reasons Why (I Love Her), King of Kissingdom, and Strumpet.
Here’s a track by track rundown of a modern classic – 12 reasons why it still sparkles, 20 years on.
12 Reasons Why I Love Her
A highly orchestrated song which charmingly lists the quirky reasons why “I love her” including “she leaves the pie and always, always eats her greens”. An upbeat pop song which went on to spawn an enhanced version of the song called “17 Reasons Why…”
Suited and Booted
An upbeat song about the joy of preparing for an epic night out in the town, and “being seen on the scene”. Uptempo, citing “the scene” as being all-important.
A song which highlights a disparaging view of marriage against its sometimes mundane reality; starting out with hopeful intention and falling into the impassioned bleakness of domestic abuse. “Could they understand, the marriage blisters over their hands?”
“Cinzano drip fed, leopard print bedspread, Housewife superstar, feather boa constricts her” has got to be the most intriguing opening lyric to a song and was Shillingford’s unique style to draw the listener in with an immediate lyrical hook. The song has the briefest of musical introductions, before launching into this feel-good, upbeat track about ageing ungraciously.
“I hear the vineyards crying for your wasted years, crying vintage tears for what you were”. A melancholic song about the pain of alcoholism. The cello captures the mood of the song initially, which eventually builds into a grandiose crescendo with the weight of the full orchestra behind it.
Asking permission to ultimately marry Mr Boyd’s daughter, but eventually the track progresses, basically saying “you’ve had your fun Mr Boyd, it’s our turn now, so sod it we’re doing it anyway”. Soft Cell-esque trumpets feature heavily.
The King of Kissingdom
A snappy song about overthrowing the Windsors and creating a fun, anarchic new monarchy. Hints of 90s drug references make this song a cheeky epitaph of that time. “The One and Only, your affection majesty, made a decree, “go to work on an E”
“You should never fall in love. You dive”
A drum-led track with a dramatic cinematic feel about diving gloriously and completely in love.
You Can’t Uneat the Apple
This track is a beautiful song of regrettable action of yielding to the temptation of a brief love affair, with the brilliant analogy of the title summing the entire song.
“I know that it’s all better now,
And I know that we’re all through,
And you can’t unseat the apple, no
But I wanna say Thank You for leading me…”
Highlighting the tragedy of how a missed opportunity to sparkle can overcome the mundanity of day to day life
An upbeat poppy number that easily could have been a single, about a woman on a mission of relationship destruction.
The album ends with a lamentable cello-led tune with weeping strings and thundery samples about an individual’s battle with an unnamed disease.
“When the Doctor is prescribing soap and water for your living hell,
While a heavenly choir of angels are pissing down your wishing well”
It presents the merest sanctity of futile comfort, against a back drop of absolute adversity. Beautiful, poignant and utterly heart-rendering.
Despite their epic songs, sadly the band only achieved moderate chart success with the album’s singles, and failed to completely enamour the record buying public. A complete travesty, and in my opinion; they deserved greater chart success than they actually achieved.
At the very end of the 90s when they officially disbanded, My Life Story have re-formed on a number of occasions over the ensuing years, to perform whole album shows, mostly to commemorate anniversaries. Shillingford went on the form bands such as Exile Inside, and more recently Chøppersaurus.
The Golden Mile has finally come of age. If you bought it first time round I’d recommend you dig it out and listen to it again. If you didn’t, you should buy into a slice of pure 90s orchestral pop. Your soul will thank you for it!
❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection “Fame; What’s Your Name?” and her second novel “Baby, Can You Hear Me?” were both published in paperback and Kindle in 2016. Her third novel will be published in 2017.
❉ ‘The Golden Mile’ was released on 10 March 1997 by Parlophone; it is available from Amazon for streaming or download. You can hunt down a copy of the CD on Ebay.