Hopeful Monsters

Hopeful Monsters front cover

Format: Cassette Released: 1992 (North South NS001)
Track listing: The Creator / Love Crime / India / Banjos in Bengal / Pale Guru / Tell Me What Your Girlfriend Said / Néhal / Hopeful Monsters / Just Around The Mountain / God's Other Children / The Birds / Going Round The Bend

Throughout 1992 I hoped for the release of the album Hopeful Monsters, but it never appeared. It turned out later that the band eventually released it on their own label North South after East West/Warners had dropped them from its roster and mainly via mail order or at gigs. An absolute shame, of course. Having listened to this album, I can testify one thing: Warners were daft! The album is excellent, well produced and crafted with some excellent song writing to boot. Twelve tracks, just over fifty four minutes, and I wasn't tempted to skip anything once. Stand out tracks for me are probably India and The Creator.

As it was mainly a mail order or sold at gigs release, availability of this release is scarce to say the least. Steve Broomhead of the band mentioned to me he might still have a spare copy of the cassette, and thanks to him he was able to locate one and send it on to me. You can imagine my unbridled joy when I received this in the post and was able to admire it and imagine what it was like to receive it back in the day. What you see here is now proof of existence of the original cassette in all its glory, with many many thanks to Steve for sending it to me. So without further ado, here's the front inlay including the cover above:

Hopeful Monsters tape front

The promotional picture of the cover was actually part of a Warner Music photo shoot, and postcards for the band were produced in the same fashion. Steve also sent these on to me and you can have a look here for comparison. You can see from the postcard that the image on the cassette was squeezed in to fit!

The inner inlay of the tape has dedications to many people and also information about the making of the album in two sections. As the text is fairly small to read, I've made the scans larger here so you can have a good read of it yourself:

To you.. on the inside of the tape

As you can see it also credits the corresponding parties who've helped on parts of the abum, so Alex is mentioned here as is Dave Wells for bass on Love Crime. And now we know who the voice on "Néhal" is - Jill Barker and as you'll see below, she was Rus' girlfriend at the time of making the album. So if you're reading this Jill, do get in touch.

Here's the other part of the inner tape inlay:

To the guiding spirits..

"To the guiding spirits" basically says a thank you to those who helped with the album, and it shows Geoff Donkin's transformation from tour manager to drummer. It's good to see that credit is given where due and that you felt part of the family if your name was dedicated here.

And to finish off, here's the two sides of the tape:

Hopeful Monsters Side 1

Hopeful Monsters Side 2

Note that the tape has a grammatical error or two on side two: "God's Other Children" is missing the apostrophe, but it's listed correctly on the inlay. "Néhal" also misses the accented character.

Interestingly, having now heard Rus' former band Playing At Trains' album "Go" and some singles, it transpires that two of the tracks on Hopeful Monsters, namely India and Just Around The Mountain had been recorded by Playing At Trains earlier. India appeared on the "Go" album and Just Around The Mountain was the B-side of the Playing At Trains single A World Without Love, which sounds completely different to the Hopeful Monsters release. Many thanks for Martin Taylor for those sonic gems.

Estimated Value: Tough to call, this one. More of these were probably produced than the Higher demo cassettes, but being only sold at gigs may have meant a shorter run. I've never seen one up for sale ever though, so I'd say you'd be looking at least £40 or so, if not more.