Some only recall Kirsty MacColl as the other voice duetting with Shane MacGowan on the classic 1987 Christmas hit Fairytale Of New York, but by then she'd already established herself as one of Britain's most original songwriters and accomplished singers; whether delivering delicious, quirky pop or indulging her love of Cuban music. The daughter of folk legend Ewan MacColl, she was signed to Chiswick Records as a result of her backing vocals with punk band Drug Addix and had an airplay hit with her first single They Don't Know (which later charted in the US and was a hit for Tracey Ullman), before breaking into the charts in 1981 with the witty country-flavoured There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis. MacColl's biggest solo hit, however, came in 1985 with her cover of Billy Bragg's A New England. After a lull, the massive success of Fairytale Of New York re-launched her into public consciousness and she had a smattering of hits, notably Walking Down Madison (co-written with Johnny Marr), and she embarked on a series of classy singer-songwriter albums including: Kite (1989); Electric Landlady (1991); Titanic Days (1994); and the highly-acclaimed Cuban fusion album Tropical Brainstorm (2000). Just after her last album was released, however, MacColl was killed in December 2000 by a power boat while swimming with her children in Mexico.
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