Diesel Park West’s album Shakespeare Alabama was one of the most critically acclaimed, drooled-over and striking debuts of the late eighties. Packed with anthemic ‘instant classics’ (Q Magazine) written by front man John Butler, the album was awash with the same jangly folk-rock influences (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield) that helped fuel contemporaries R.E.M.
However, despite rave press reviews, near-universal acclaim and expert production from Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey the album struggled to find an audience. Perhaps the band was, as its label claimed at the time, ‘years ahead of its time’.
In his Debut essay for Strata Books, John Butler recalls the early struggles to secure their record deal, the creative challenges they faced in the recording studio and the aftermath of the album’s release. As outsiders swimming upstream against a seemingly impenetrable tide of haircuts, fashions and fads, John’s story is a fascinating insight into the life of an artist, songwriter, and musician for whom it has always been about the songs and the music rather than the fame.