Casual Violence have long been one of our favourite sketch acts, blending dark narratives, tortured characters and twisted black humour to joyful effect.
Unlike most sketch groups in this country, the group have a definite leader in the form of James Hamilton who has written and directed the entirety of their many brilliant Edinburgh Fringe shows.
This year James is taking a break from rest of the Casual Violence crew the with his first solo show, suitably titled James Hamilton is So Lonely.
To mark this venture into one-man performance we got James to list his five favourite acts who went solo after group success.
Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine that Paul McCartney was ever the bass player in The Beatles. Think about everything he did by himself: Wings! Live and Let Die! The London 2012 Olympic ceremony! He’s the most successful songwriter of all time. Are any of the other Beatles the most successful songwriter of all time? Only artistically, at best.
Percy “Thrills” Thrillington
In 1977, Percy “Thrills” Thrillington released his bravest and first album to date: an orchestral cover version of Paul and Linda McCartney’s underrated, homespun album “Ram”, just six years after the original first came out. The most daring thing about this album was not its content: despite his convincing name, Thrillington wasn’t actually a real person! Nobody knew this until it was publicly confirmed in a 1990 interview, but Percy was actually a pseudonym used by former bassist from the “Beatles” Paul McCartney, who even took out adverts in UK music papers describing the fictitious Irish bandleader’s comings and goings about town.
So many questions remain: why did Paul go to all the effort to not only do an instrumental cover of his OWN album – but then release it as an imaginary human being? And that presumed Percy even WAS a human being – I mean, look at that cover art! Only a man who primarily used to play bass in the Beatles would have the artistic courage to do something like this, but the other instrument players in the Beatles probably wouldn’t have let him.
Electronic music experimentalists Fireman released two whole albums of swirling, psychedelic ambient techno – “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” in 1993, and “Rushes” in 1998 – before they finally revealed their true identities to the world in 2008: former bass player from the Beatles Paul McCartney, with a producer named “Youth”. An electric music album from Paul McCartney – who would have seen that coming?! He would never have done that when he was just the bass player in the Beatles.
Their 2008 release – “Electric Arguments” – was the first to feature vocals and lyrics from McCartney himself, and the first to be publicly acknowledged by him and EMI. Before that, people were buying Fireman albums without even knowing that a former Beatle had made them. Bet they have egg on their faces now!
The Country Hams
In 1974, this mysterious band released “Walking In The Park With Eloise” and its B-side “Bridge On The River Suite”. The single bombed because nobody knew the lead track was written by the grandfather of James McCartney, James McCartney – whose son, James McCartney (more commonly known by his middle name “Paul”) was the bassist of the Beatles. James McCartney (the third one mentioned in this paragraph; the second one chronologically) recorded and released the song with his band “Wings” under the pseudonym “Country Hams”! Such a brave decision, both creatively and financially!
As of yet, there has been no public announcement from former bass player from the Beatles Paul McCartney that “James Hamilton” is actually a pseudonym, allowing Paul to experiment with absurdist storytelling and character comedy during Edinburgh on the PBH Free Fringe. But given his track record for creating unusual work under a crazy pseudonym: it’s not unreasonable to expect that I’m actually Paul McCartney, taking the sort of creative and financial risks I would never have been able to take if I was still a member of the Beatles, just sat in the corner playing on a bass like I used to do before I went solo. I’m so much happier now. So much happier now. So much happier now.
James Hamilton Is So Lonely
8-30 August, 9.30pm