Farewell Albert Maysles

The documentary film-maker Albert Maysles died last week at the fine age of 88. Albert and I crossed paths 11 years ago when I was about to release my very first record – ‘Cheap Songs Tell The Truth’ under the name The Music Lovers on Le Grand Magistery Records. I decided I wanted to use a still from the Maysles Brothers documentary ‘Grey Gardens’ on the sleeve.

I approached Albert directly with my request and graciously got back to me almost immediately. He asked me to send him the songs that would be on the EP and if he liked what he heard he would allow me to use the image. Albert’s representative in New York advised me that Albert, though extremely gracious would rarely let people use stills from his films for commercial purposes. So, I sent him the songs and three weeks later Albert responded with…’ Yes, I loved the music. It’s graceful. You have my permission to use the still.’ FYI – I kept the emails.

That the great Albert Maysles would allow a wee indie band and label to use his work was a profound boon to our spirits and spurred our sense of  purpose. Thank you Albert. Your generosity will not be forgotten. Thank you too for your moving, inquiring, and exquisite films.

The sleeve was designed by Matthew Jacobson. There are a few copies still available at http://www.darla.com

Cheap Songs Tell the Truth

Rex Ray

Last month The Unfortunates lost a dear friend and occasional collaborator: Rex Ray. Rex was known internationally for his incredible collage work, his Fillmore posters, book covers and his record sleeves for Diamanda Galas and David Bowie amongst others. He was gracious enough to design two record sleeves for me, including the original lithograph sleeve for our album ‘The Fates.’

I met Rex in the Summer of 1995 at Recycled Records on Haight Street in San Francisco. I was terribly enamored by his (admittedly moth-eaten) Sparks t-shirt of mid-70’s vintage. There started a smashing friendship.

Rex was funny, whip-smart and a great aesthete. I loved him and will miss him. His encouragement was indispensable to me in times of doubt.

Bye Mate.


‘The Fates’ by Rex Ray 2013.

February ‘Madness’ Lupercalia and Water Rats



A fairly busy February stretches before the Unfortunates with three performances this month:

Saturday February the 7th: The Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham. We are opening for the Major Toms my chum Owen Comaskeys group which features ex and current members of Broadcast, PWEI and UB40. We’ll be on at 9PM.

Saturday February the 14th: We will be performing an invitation only afternoon show in a village in Shropshire in celebration of the Roman pagan festival of Lupercalia (replete with wolves and blood). It starts at 3pm with the gothic-country noir of The Black Road, followed by a set of ambient (and not so ambient) guitar music from Haress. We play last at 5PM and will be premiering new songs. This show is free and open to whomever wishes to attend but we ask that you email me to RSVP at matthewunfortunate@gmail.com. It’s byob but we do have a barrel.

On Wednesday February the 25th I am performing a solo acoustic performance at The Water Rats on the Grays Inn Road in London. I’m sharing the bill with my Australian friends Ollo. I imagine I’ll play at 9PM.

Also this month we return to  Woodbine Studios in Leamington to record a couple more songs for the follow-up to the Fates. More news on this soon…