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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Cruella De Ville - 1984 Cruella De Ville
Cruella De Ville - 1984 Cruella De Ville

ARTIST: Cruella De Ville
ALBUM: Cruella De Ville
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Philomena Muinzer - piano, vocals * Colum Muinzer - guitars, bow guitars, vocals * James Clenaghan - bass * Mike Edgar - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hong Kong Swing * 02 Gypsy Girl * 03 Blues, Blues, Blues * 04 I'll Do The Talking * 05 Hollywood Hong Kong Swing * 06 Who's At The Door * 07 Oceans * 08 Those Two Dreadful Children [2007 remix] * 09 Drunken Uncle John [second version] * 10 Hong Kong Swing [manic mix] * 11 Gypsy Girl (BBC Session) * 12 I'll Do The Talking (BBC Session) * 13 Marching (BBC Session) * 14 Those Two Dreadful Children (Good Vibrations Single) * 15 Drunken Uncle John (Good Vibrations Single)


Cruella de Ville were a highly original, hugely entertaining, but ultimately short lived band working out of Northern Ireland. They were active in the early 80's releasing a number of singles (some coming out through EMI/Parlophone and had The Move/ELO/Wizzard guru Roy Wood on production duties) before disappearing from view. For a description of what Cruella de Ville sounded like, Eric (my fellow scribe here on GD) has summed them up quite perfectly as 'Brilliant pop melding Queen and Kate Bush with Irish folk and a punk attitude' ....yes really!!...and who am I to disagree. Throughout the intervening years I have attempted to track down other material that the band recorded but found very little, aside from 4 tracks that have appeared on ITunes. In the meantime I put together my own compilation CD, with the aforementioned ITunes songs and my ripped vinyl singles but that was never quite enough, so I kept digging, and much to my surprise late last year I came across all the recorded work of the band (don't ya just love this internet malarkey!), which had been painstakingly put together (complete with full artwork) by a fan and friend of the main creative forces in the band, brother and sister Colum and Philomena Munzier. What is on offer here is (as in so many cases) a band that fell between the cracks and disappeared into obscurity, but nevertheless produced some quite brilliant and breathtaking music. The master tapes of their recorded music are unfortunately not in the hands of the band, but that's another story, but what is here is still of very high quality.

The Songs
To coin a phrase from a certain Kate Bush... Wow! All the songs produced by Cruella de Ville demonstrate an inventiveness that on one hand is quirky, eccentric and downright off the wall and on the other beautiful, graceful and delicate, and all this topped off with a helping of dazzling Brian May style guitar work, oh, and not forgetting a dash of good old hard rock. And here you have it Ladies and Gentlemen..... Cruella de Ville.

'Hong Kong Swing' and 'Gypsy Girl' were both singles released by EMI and showed a band producing songs full of ideas and all succinctly packaged into 2 and 3 minutes respectively with superb vocal interplay between Philomena and Colum and Brian May like flourishes embellishing proceedings, and damn right catchy to boot. Why they were never hit singles still baffles me. Next up is 'Blues, Blues, Blues' which is a cracking hard rock workout with words tumbling over each and guitars wailing. 'I'll Do The Talking', which was also a single demonstrates the more sensitive element in their repertoire, being a beautiful ethereal ballad with brother and sister harmonies sending chills up the spine. 'Hollywood Hong Kong Swing' is as the title implies a new take on the original single complete with cod 20th Century Fox intro and then Colum showing off some extraordinary guitar playing before the band kick into the song proper and we get a wonderful almost vaudevillian music hall style. As an approximation of how it all sounds try and think of a cross between Queen's 'Brighton Rock' and 'Good Company' and you might be there.

'Who's At The Door' is cut from the same cloth as 'I'll Do The Talking', and is a wonderful ballad with a supreme performance from Philomena. 'Oceans' is a marvellous almost straight forward song for the band but that's doing it an injustice as its wonderfully eccentric lyrics lift it right up.'Those Two Dreadful Children' really is a song that almost defies description, essentially it features Philomena and Colum trading lines telling tales of despicable acts done to various family members, it is delightfully daft and totally OTT, but is their crowning glory for me, and sums up what Cruella de Ville were all about. 'Drunken Uncle John' is a great rock work out with another inventive arrangement and inspired lyrics. 'Hong Kong Swing (Manic Mix)' initially featured on the 12' single and is, as was the fashion back then an extended mix of the single, but in reality does little to add to what the original single offered up. Without wishing to brush over the remaining songs, what is left of their recorded work are the Good Vibrations/Polydor single versions of 'Two Dreadful Children' and 'Drunken Uncle John' which differ slightly from the CD and a BBC session recording which does feature 'Marching' a strident rocking stomp of a song.

In Summary
And that's it, the collective work of a band who deserved so much better. History, is of course littered with such stories, but for me back in the early 80's Cruella de Ville were a total breath of fresh air, combining elements of early Queen such as the intricate harmony work and of course Brian May influenced guitar and a sense of theatre and the absurd. Both Philomena and Colum now have little contact with the music business, and to lose such performers with so much skill, imagination and wit is a great shame. There are the inventible videos of the band to be seen on YouTube with them performing their singles of the time and the aforementioned ITunes songs, and a few websites dedicated to the band, and that's about it. I have recently made contact with Philomena and with her kind co operation I can now make these songs available once again so if any GloryDaze member feels they are interested in hearing this material they can contact me via a private message here on GloryDaze, and if you include your email address I can get this collection of wonderful long lost songs to you.

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#1 | Eric on February 08 2015 03:29:55
Awesome stuff Malcom. Thank you so much!
#2 | gdazegod on February 09 2015 11:55:51
Very zany band. They sort of outdo Jeanette Chase and Storm at their own game!
#3 | Explorer on February 09 2015 12:12:39
The Jeanette Chase/Storm comparsion is one that I`ve heard before from other people who know of both bands...bloody marvellous though!
#4 | Explorer on February 12 2015 20:18:18
Eric Dover/Sextus do a cover of Gypsy girl on their Devil Angel
#5 | Explorer on February 22 2015 20:55:43
I have recently had an update from Philomena to say that after a lengthy legal wrangle the Cruella De Ville master tapes are now back in the hands of the band and safely tucked away in the Abbey Road studios archives, and the search is now on for the remaining songs that the band recorded.
#6 | Explorer on March 19 2015 16:47:45
The songs are now available on Soundcloud.
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