Hungry Ghosts - Stephen Malloch, Tricia Thom, Norman Lamont

Hungry Ghosts by Hungry Ghosts

… in which I revive my band name from the 1990s with singer Tricia Thom, and perform a song with the same name as the band!

Where it happened

Each month, on the first Thursday, John Farrell runs his Shakey Egg night at the Village in Fort Street, Leith. It’s a friendly, intimate music night where he does a set with Gerry Callaghan and invites sets by other friends including Ms Fi and the Lost Head Band, Alan Dawson and myself. He takes great care over the sound and offers performers a video of their set.

This month I had the privilege of backing my former bandmate from two previous bands, Tricia Thom.

What bands?

In the early 1990s, I used the band name Hungry Ghosts for a few different lineups but the most lasting and satisfying was a trio of Tricia, violinist Stephen Malloch and myself. Towards the end of the band’s life we were joined by Sean Doyle on bass and Dave Haswell on percussion. We got some airplay, produced some cassettes, did a BBC radio live session and won the semfinals of a song competition. There’s more detail here.

Following that, Tricia and Sean formed Bespoke, and Stephen returned to his native Australia. I started work on my Wolf album and my solo career. Bespoke folded and reformed in the 2000s, with me as a member. When that died, Tricia and I would occasionally meet in her kitchen to run through some songs and play the odd open mic spot. This spot at the Village was a step further in that direction.

What’s the song about?

Hungry Ghosts is a term from Buddhist cosmology, referring to an afterlife where the greedy have distended bellies but narrow throats, so they can never eat their fill. My Hungry Ghosts is nothing to do with that.

It was inspired by a scene in Doris Lessing’s sci-fi epic Shikasta, in which beneficent aliens try to influence life on Earth for the better by incarnating at precise points in history to shape events in a benign way. There’s a scene in which one of the alien protagonists is about to be sent to his new life on Earth and, hovering around a couple making love, has to compete for his place with other lost souls seeking a rebirth at the moment of conception.

Hungry Ghosts

There she lies

With her lover

Sweet obsession in the dark

Hungry ghosts make no sound

Hungry ghosts gather round

Faces on air

Like a window

Cluster round the glow of love

Hungry ghosts, aching need

Hungry ghosts  come to feed

There it goes –

The seed that knows

Silent eyes divine its tiny


Cells divide

Lunging forward

The shadow man

Dives into the whirlpool

Quiet delight

In the cradle

In the candle shadow gloom

Hungry ghosts fill the room

Keeping watch

Over the baby

All night long..

There’s a very different studio version on the Wolf album.

What next for Hungry Ghosts?

No definite plans. We’ll probably do a few more sets like this, and maybe some recordings. We have this whole set on video. If you’d like to hear more, let me know!

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