Would-Be-Goods, the band fronted by singer Jessica Griffin, owes its name to the 1901 novel The Wouldbegoods, by children’s author E. Nesbit.
On the first album, The Camera Loves Me, released in 1988, on the legendary él label, Jessica was backed by members of The Monochrome Set. In 1993 she worked with the Monochrome Set on a second album, Mondo, produced by Monochrome Set singer Bid and released on the Japanese label Polystar and then on Cherry Red in England. Peter Momtchiloff, formerly of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and Marine Research joined the band in 1999 and two EPs, Emmanuelle Béart and Sugar Mummy, were released in 2001 and 2002 followed by a new album, Brief Lives, released on Matinée Recordings and Fortuna Pop!.
The band recorded a fourth album, The Morning After, in 2004 and a fifth, Eventyr, was released in November 2008. There were rumors that band began working on a sixth album in 2019, but it was only in October 2020 that Jessica Griffin began a new project: writing a song a day, with a new title provided every evening by her partner and bandmate Peter Momtchiloff. All the songs were written and performed by Jessica. Fifteen of the songs were released on Bandcamp (as three five-song EPs) in March 2021.
What Jessica Says: My name is Jessica and I’ve been making music as Would-be-Goods since 1987. I grew up in the south of England and Singapore but have lived in London for over half my life. Would-be-goods has had various incarnations – from me plus The Monochrome Set moonlighting as my backing band to a studio project to a four-piece band and back to me in my hermit’s cell writing a song a day to stop myself going mad during lockdown. Most of the music I listen to is old and I have quite eclectic tastes.
Gillian Hills – Rentre Sans Moi
French version of a Zombies song (‘Leave Me Be’). For once Colin Blunstone’s heartbroken choirboy is left in the shade by this British Bardot (whose voice is much easier on the ear than the original BB’s). Gillian Hills is best known as the star of the 1960 teensploitation film ‘Beat Girl’.
Old Hat Jazz Band – Biguine du Vieux Chapeau
I don’t know much about this London band but heard this on BBC radio’s Jazz Record Requests. I do love a Latin dance tune although I can’t mambo or cha-cha to save my life. Wikipedia claims that the Biguine originated in West African fertility rituals.
Bryan Ferry – Love Me Madly Again
From Ferry’s 1977 solo album ‘In Your Mind’. It segues from raucous Roxy-style strutting and posturing into something much more dark and haunting. It’s over seven minutes long but strangely it doesn’t feel it.
Devo – Snowball
This was the B-side of their hit single ‘Whip It’ from 1980. (I often prefer B-sides.) I didn’t really ‘understand’ Devo and found them slightly scary but I couldn’t stop playing this little song that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Pumpuang Duangjan – Sao Dok Kham Tai (Lady From a Flower)
This is from an obscure compilation called Thai Pop Spectacular. I love the sad, sinuous melody. Pumpuang was a pioneer, combining Thai country with electronic dance music. She had a tragic life and you can hear it in her voice.
Les Voyous – Rock-A-Mambo
Peter and I have become great fans of Congolese music thanks to the wonderful Nostalgie Ya Mboka show on London’s Resonance FM. This is from a CD compilation put together (with an excellent essay) by Nostalgie’s presenter.
Elsie Bianchi – The Shadows Of Paris
A song by Henry Mancini. You might know Fran Jeffries’ more melodramatic rendering from the Pink Panther film ‘A Shot In The Dark’ but I prefer this melancholy nightclub version by the smoky-voiced Swiss singer-pianist.
The Monochrome Set – Surfing S.W.12
Another B-side from the early 80s. I love Bid’s singing here. He sounds like my favourite vocalist of all, Paul McDowell of the Temperance Seven (a 1920’s-style jazz band made up of 1960s Royal College of Art students). It’s charming, slightly deranged and terribly romantic. I wish someone had written me a love song like this.