Wreckless Eric – live on French TV – unknown exact date, but 1979 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Wreckless Eric to end the week. Unintentional, but following Elvis Costello last night, who was a label mate of Wreckless Eric when they were all of Stiff Records.
Wreckless Eric was born in Newhaven, East Sussex. He is a cousin of actress Gemma Arterton through her mother. In 1973, he began attending Art School in Hull, where he joined bands such as Dirty Henry that played local clubs. On a break after his first year at school he saw Kilburn and the High Roads in Oldham. Struck by their honest approach to music, Eric decided to employ the same to his composing and performing. His next band, Addis and the Flip Tops, were the first incarnation of what would later be known as the DIY style. He first became known as one of the original members of the late 1970s Stiff Records artist roster, along with Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. Eric’s first appearance on record was “Whole Wide World” on the Stiff label sampler A Bunch of Stiff Records in April 1977. The single version of that song was finally released in August. The song was produced by, and featured bass and guitar by Nick Lowe, with Steve Goulding on drums. The following month, the song was one of five tracks broadcast for the first of two sessions Eric recorded for DJ John Peel at BBC Radio 1. The song went on to make number 47 in John Peel’s ‘Festive Fifty’, the so-called ‘lost list’ of 1977; it was number 8 in the Sounds critics’ singles of the year; and it received an ‘honourable mention’ in the NME critics’ chart. The song’s reputation has grown over the years and numerous bands have covered “Whole Wide World”, such as the Lightning Seeds, Mental As Anything, The Monkees (on their Pool It! album in 1987), The Proclaimers (on their 2007 album Life With You), Paul Westerberg, and Cage The Elephant (on their 2017 album Unpeeled).
His debut album Wreckless Eric was a Top 50 hit in the UK Albums Chart. His second album with Stiff Records was The Wonderful World of Wreckless Eric.
This performance comes right around the time of the release of that second album. You’ll be happy to know he’s still at it, even though he was laid low for a bit with COVID last year. No updates, but he seems to have gotten through it.
For a reminder of his live performances during the Stiff period, here’s a TV appearance you might want to crank up and get ready for the weekend with.