The new album from Latin Quarter comes out on October 29th, 2021 and presents a mixture of newly written songs and freshly revised tracks from the 1980s that were never released by the band. The demo tapes of these tracks were surprisingly rediscovered and inspired the band so much that they became part of the album. Singer and guitarist Steve Skaith said: “For me it felt good and it took me back not only to the 80’s but even to the 70’s. The song ‘Nightschool’ is about stuff we knew in Liverpool in the 70’s and the song ‘Mandela’s Ghost’ is a rewrite of the lyric ‘Che’s Ghost’. The original line ‘I saw Che’s Ghost on the Sierra Madre’ was the very first lyrical line that Mike Jones ever showed me, some years before I had even moved to London and Latin Quarter was even imagined”.
Musically speaking, Releasing The Sheep ranges from pop, over 1970s US West Coast influences in a song like “Keeping My Head”, soul in “Make America Great Again” and African rhythms in “Mandela’s Ghost” to folk rock and Americana Elements is enough. Steve Skaith is particularly excited about the reactions to the piece “Your Last Show”, as he explains: “It was originally written for the 1989 album Swimming Against The Stream but the record company and manager thought we had gone crazy. Let’s see what fans make of it after all these years ”.
The lyrics of several titles are inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The song “That’s Why I Turned My Badge In”, written in the early 1990s, was a reaction to the police violence against Rodney King and is as relevant today as it was then, as Skaith says: “That song was written in the early 90s so not a lot has changed on the ground”. #BLM is also the dominant theme in “Mersey Tales” and “Equality not Revenge”, which are about white privileges.
The first single, “MAGA: A Very Stable Genius” from the album, was released purely digitally in 2020, when the election campaign in the USA was on the last legs. Other pieces like “Another Day”, in which the protagonist longs for change but then has to learn that you can’t turn back time, are about feelings and personal relationships. Margaret Thatcher’s privatization policy was the reason for the piece “Keeping My Head” in the 1980s and got a current approach for the new album, as Skaith relates: “For this album the lyric has been tweaked to take a dig at streaming companies. They pay musicians so little but are difficult to boycott because it means you can disappear from public attention ”.
Anyone who thinks of liberated sleeping sheep by the album title is wrong, by the way, as the convinced atheist Steve Skaith explains: “The song ‘Releasing the Sheep’ imagines God deciding he has had enough with humanity, has given up waiting for us to create a decent world. He’s retiring, he’s going to bed (with a nod and a wink to Douglas Adams). I love this idea and it is part of a tradition of songs that imagine a frustrated God speaking about humanity (the best being ‘That’s why I love mankind’ by Randy Newman.) There is also the suggestion that God realises he wasn’t very convincing. That is a new twist I think. “
The production was overshadowed by a tragic death: bassist John Mckenzie died of cancer in June 2020 and Yo Yo Buys took over. In addition to Steve Skaith, the album also features Mary Carewe (vocals and backing vocals), Steve Jeffries (keyboards, programming and backing vocals) and the drummer Martin Ditcham, who now lives in Brazil.