Students are bringing the 70s number 1 hit, ‘Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’ to a new audience with a cover of Brian and Michael‘s award-winning track.
The University of Salford’s brass band has collaborated with Beehive Sound System to create a new version of the 1977 folk classic about artist L.S. Lowry, as part of a project working with charity, Mustard Tree to tackle homelessness in the city.
The project was led by Mark Denby, producer and leader of Manchester-based Beehive Sound System, who oversaw the recording of the piece at 80 Hertz Studios in Manchester earlier this year. As the original song contained a brass band, Mark and the students were keen to include its traditional sound as a reminder of working-class life in the North of England and in recognition of the university’s significance in brass banding heritage in the United Kingdom.
“The brass arrangement we developed with the students really bring new emotions to the song and it is a wonderful homage to a piece of music that is very much embedded in the bricks of Salford’s history,” he says.
The new cover is accompanied by an animated music video, developed by the university’s animation students that pays homage to Lowry’s painting style and imagines how landmarks such as MediaCityUK, the Lowry Theatre and Manchester Central Library would have looked if painted in his signature style.
“Creating the animation was a real challenge,” Mark adds, “but the result is a beautiful companion to the song that faithfully echoes Lowry’s unique artistry.”
Elliot Gray, who graduated from the university this summer, lead on the brass arrangement and conducted the six brass instrumentalists from the Musical Arts programme during the recording.
“It was an amazing experience,” he says. “The final track is fantastic. It is amazing to see how it evolved through the recording process. To see how the brass parts fit into the overall piece has been very creatively satisfying. I learnt so much from writing in a more commercial style and working in an independent way. It was great for me and something that I can point to as an example of real-world professional experience.”
The track is now available on Spotify and other plaforms. And early next year Mustard Tree and the Beehive Sound System are holding a live music event with special guests performing the track along with other songs to fund raise for Mustard Tree.
Jo Walby, CEO of Mustard Tree says: “Lowry is a shining example of how someone born with limited experiences can go on to leave a lasting legacy through discovering and following their passion.
“Mustard Tree exists so others across Manchester and Salford can come together and create opportunities of their own. We’re extremely grateful to the University of Salford and Beehive Sound System for approaching us to be a part of the project – helping us to combat poverty and prevent homelessness.”