It’s Immaterial

It’s Immaterial was an English sophisti-pop band from Liverpool that released five 1980–85 shortplayers and the 1986 album Life’s Hard and Then You Die, which contains the UK hit “Driving Away from Home.” Their second album, Song, appeared in 1990 on Virgin–Siren.

Members: John J. Campbell (vocals), Martin Dempsey (guitar, 1980-84), Henry Priestman (keyboards, 1980-84), Paul Barlow (drums, 1980-84), Jarvis Whitehead (guitar, keyboards, 1982-90)


It’s Immaterial formed in late when original Yachts vocalist John J. Campbell teamed with two former bandmates: guitarist Martin Dempsey and keyboardist Henry Priestman. Campbell appears on the 1977 debut Yachts single “Suffice to Say.” Dempsey and Priestman continued with the four-piece Yachts lineup responsible for the 1979–80 Radar albums Yachts and Without Radar.

Early Singles

In late 1980, It’s Immaterial released their first single: “Young Man (Seeks Interesting Job)” backed with the group original “Doosha (A Success Story).”

A. “Young Man (Seeks Interesting Job)” (2:56) is a song credited to Terry Britten.
B. “Doosha (A Success Story)” ()

It’s Immaterial recorded and produced the single on May 14, 1980, as the ‘Four Executives,’ a business moniker for their label, Hit Machine, operated at 5 Harvgreaves Rd, Liverpool. The picture sleeve shows a young photo of Czech novelist Franz Kafka (1883–1924).

In 1981, It’s Immaterial released one single (“Imitate the Worm”) on one-press IHM and another (“A Gigantic Raft In the Philippines”) on Liverpool indie Inevitable, the label of Eric’s Club (former Cavern) manager Pete Fulwell.

A. “Imitate the Worm” (2:49)
B. “The Worm Turns” ()

A. “A Gigantic Raft In the Philippines” (2:32)
B. “No Place for a Prompter” (2:28)

Inevitable issued “A Gigantic Raft In the Philippines” as its ninth release (cat# INEV 009), between the second Dead Or Alive single (“Number Eleven”) and the debut by China Crisis (“African and White”).

On November 4, 1981, It’s Immaterial recorded their first session for BBC Radio One DJ John Peel: “A Gigantic Raft (In the Philippines),” “Imitate the Worm,” “White Man’s Hut”, and “Rake.”

In 1982, “A Gigantic Raft In the Philippines” reappeared on two-press The Wonderful World Of.., which issued the second Black single “More Than the Sun.”

It’s Immaterial welcomed guitarist–keyboardist Jarvis Whitehead. In 1983, they released their first of two singles on Fulwell’s Eternal label.

A. “White Man’s Hut” ()
B. “The Worm Turns” ()

Their second Eternal single is a 1984 re-recording of “A Gigantic Raft” with a new b-side.

A. “A Gigantic Raft (In The Philippines)” ()
B. “The Mermaid” ()

By 1985, It’s Immaterial trimmed to the duo of Campbell and Whitehead. In April, they cut their final Peel sessions: “Rope,” “Hang On Sleepy Town,” “Space,” and “Festival Time.”

Fish Waltz

In April 1985, It’s Immaterial released the EP Fish Waltz on the Liverpool indie ARK. It features four Campbell–Whitehead numbers:

A1. “The Better Idea (Push The Boat Out)” (5:04)
A2. “Several Brothers” (3:47)
B1. “Lullaby” (5:50)
B2. “Fish Waltz” (4:13)

In October 1985, It’s Immaterial released “Ed’s Funky Diner” as their fifth unique b-side, backed with “Washing the Air.”

A. “Ed’s Funky Diner”
B. “Washing the Air”


In March 1986, It’s Immaterial released their sixth unique single: “Driving Away from Home (Jim’s Tune)” backed with  “Trains, Boats, Planes.”

B. “Trains, Boats, Planes”

“Driving Away from Home” reached No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart.

In July 1986, “Ed’s Funky Diner” reappeared with a new b-side, “Only the Lonely.”

B. “Only the Lonely”

Life’s Hard and Then You Die

It’s Immaterial released their debut album, Life’s Hard and Then You Die, in September 1986 on Siren, a subsidiary of Virgin. It features the recent a-sides “Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)” and “Ed’s Funky Diner” and the followup singles “Space” and “Rope,” plus seven additional Campbell–Whitehead originals, including “Happy Talk,” “The Sweet Life,” and the original “Funky Diner” b-side “Washing the Air.”

1. “Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)” (4:12)
2. “Happy Talk” (5:29)
3. “Rope” (3:37)
4. “The Better Idea” (5:42)
5. “Space” (3:59)
6. “The Sweet Life” (4:38)
7. “Festival Time” (3:52)
8. “Ed’s Funky Diner” (3:05)
9. “Hang On Sleepy Town” (4:20)
10. “Lullaby” (6:21)
11. “Washing the Air” (5:29)
12. “Ed’s Funky Diner (The Keinholz Caper)” (5:53)
13. “Driving Away From Home (I Mean After All It’s Only ‘Dead Man’s Curve’)” (6:30)

Additional musicians – Brenda Kenny, Gillian Miller, Henry Priestman, Merran Laginestra, Roddy Lorimer, Steve Wickham, Tarrant Bailey Jr., The Christians

Producer – Dave Bascombe
Engineer – Felix Kendall
Written-By – Whitehead, Campbell

Art Direction, Design – It’s Immaterial, Red Ranch
Artwork [Special Photographic Treatment (Clown)] – Tansy Spinks
Photography By [It’s Immaterial] – Alastair Thain

In October 1986, “Space” became the album’s third single, backed with the exclusive “Hereby Hangs a Tale.”

B. “Hereby Hangs a Tale”

In February 1987, It’s Immaterial lifted “Rope” as the fourth Life’s Hard single, backed with the non-album “Festival Time.”

B. “Festival Time”


It’s Immaterial released their second album, Song, on October 21, 1990, on Siren (UK) and Virgin Japan.

1. “New Brighton” (5:51)
2. “Endless Holiday” (5:35)
3. “An Ordinary Life” (5:04)
4. “Heaven Knows” (4:29)
5. “In the Neighbourhood” (5:20)
6. “Missing” (5:20)
7. “Homecoming” (4:36)
8. “Summer Winds” (4:40)
9. “Life On the Hill” (6:12)
10. “Your Voice” (5:18)

Performer – Jarvis Whitehead, John Campbell
Producer – Calcum Malcolm

It’s Immaterial lifted “Heaven Knows” as a single, backed with the non-album “River.”

B. “River”


  • “Young Man Seeks Interesting Job” / “Doosha (A Success Story)” (1980)
  • “A Gigantic Raft (In the Phillipines)” / “No Place For A Prompter” (1981)
  • “Imitate The Worm” / “The Worm Turns” (1981)
  • “White Man’s Hut” / “Solid Piles of Food” (1983)
  • “Ed’s Funky Diner” / “Washing the Air” (1985)
  • Fish Waltz (EP, 1985)
  • Life’s Hard and Then You Die (1986)
  • Song (1990)

2-chord ditty punchy horns, yobbo harmonies “Young Man Seeks Interesting Job” (credited to Terry Britten)…. four wollops per bar, crisp circular bass, ’50s vibrato twang, echoey chords, remote wordless vocals “No Place For A Prompter“…. galloping precision, octave-darting bassline, alternately slashing/matted/harmonic/tremolo guitar, loutish chorus “A Gigantic Raft (In the Phillipines)” re-rerecorded…..————————–….airy, light accordion, 6/4 piano accented “Happy Talk”…..flamenco touches, trumpet laced, mid-tempo, E “The Sweet Life”…..Cm locomotive rhythm, piano/acoustic churn, prominent chorus, harmonica “Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)”….uptempo, punchy sax, pizzicato cocktail guitar, droning/open-cadence bass amid constant pulse, flowing vocals “Festival Time”….soft harmonies, snare drive, Hammond sustain, ascending horn refrain “Ed’s Funky Dinner”….dark (Bb), misty mandolin/violin waltz, drawn vocals “Hang on Sleepy Town”….lengthy gentle vocals, rubbery 1/5 bassline, echoey rhythm box… celesta/woodblock “Lullaby”…glockenspiel….dropping 1/5 bassline in B, metronome, piano-accented key changes, subdued vocals… kalimba “The Better Idea”….soft, understated, subtle tapestries……darting keys, galloping electro/acoustic precision, understated vocals “In the Neighbourhood”… Spanish guitar, echoey piano, windy underground tunnel vibe….soft snare/bass, marimba/piano touches, faint techno sequencing, angelic vocals “Heaven Knows”….pizzicato guitar, light harp filigree, airy/low-key vocals “Homecoming”… whacking 2/4….desolate windy intro, congeals around fragmentary piano, faint/resilient acoustic strum, faint syncopated rhythmic accents “An Ordinary Life”…..same airy, breezy, soft barren”Summer Winds”… trumpet notes….“Your Voice”, “Endless Holiday”, “Missing”, “New Brighton” :)…..Blue Nile and The Beautiful South., vocals remind of Hugh Cornwell at times on Stranglers ballads “My Young Dreams, “Strange Little Girl” “Laughing”….12” extras: @…..Dm/oft-emphasized 5th light accordion, faint piano pizzicato strings/guitar “Faith”… echoey ivory, slightly more emphasized vocal delivery “hey Frankie, I almost died for you”…..“River” 🙂


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