When most musicians reach a career milestone they take it on tour. Texas, whose debut album turned 30 last year, had bigger ambitions. Rather than simply perform their old songs, the Scots set out to meet their old selves – the wide-eyed kids who made Southside, their two million-selling, Top 3 debut, and the band who bounced back eight years later with the six times platinum White On Blonde.
The vaults at Universal were raided for recording sessions for both albums, stored on tape and DAT and never digitised. Top of Texas’ list was their first, failed attempt at I Don’t Want A Lover, scuppered by Chic bassist Bernard Edwards.
“Just after we signed, we were in the studio with Bernard and Chic’s drummer Tony Thompson,” recalls guitarist Johnny McElhone. “Bernard got coked up and ended up running away to Mexico before Sharleen even started her vocals. But that’s a whole other story.”
Late in 2018, the aborted version was found, alongside several songs recorded during different sessions which didn’t make their debut. The biggest revelation, however, was a 15-strong batch of tracks from the White On Blonde sessions which both Johnny and Sharleen Spiteri had forgotten existed. “When we made that album, no one in Britain gave a shit about Texas,” says Sharleen. “We were still doing really well in Europe, but here we couldn’t get arrested.
“No one at our label was asking to hear any music or pushing us, so we just kept writing and recording and trying out new stuff until we felt the record was ready. Hence we ended up with a lot more material than usual.”
So good were the songs that Texas initially planned to release them as a ‘lost’ album, possibly to be called Blonde On White. But working with their old recordings inspired them to start writing new songs.
“Tweaking the old stuff was so much fun,” says Sharleen. “It felt like us, now, collaborating with ourselves of 25 years ago. It was amazing to go back there – my voice was so young! – and to hear how much energy and passion we had. We were fighting for our careers at the time, trying to prove that Texas were still relevant.
“Our excitement at finding this treasure trove of songs collided with our excitement from back then and, unplanned, new songs started coming. You could say we were inspired by ourselves, if that didn’t make us sound insanely big-headed.”
Hi, Texas’ tenth album, is the result of that bonkers journey back but has its eyes firmly fixed on the future. The title track and sensational first single aptly fuses the two. A brand new collaboration with Wu Tang Clan, it finds a soulful Sharleen nestled next to boisterous raps from RZA and Ghostface Killah over a cinematic backdrop of lush beats and acoustic guitar.
Limited white vinyl.