Video premiere | Elle Osborne – Toast (The Ballad of Michael ‘Mini’ Cooper)

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Back in 1974 filmmaker Franc Roddam – who would go on to direct Quadrophenia – made a documentary about child arsonist Michael ‘Mini’ Cooper, who at the age of 10 was incarcerated after setting fire to his family home while his abusive father was asleep inside. The film, which revealed a deeply intelligent child who spoke eloquently of his life of bunking off, stealing, and setting fires, provoked a fierce debate about how the country treated its young offenders, and it remains as powerful today as when it was made. That is exactly how Elle Osborne found it when she watched the documentary as it inspired her to write ‘Toast (The Ballad of Michael ‘Mini’ Cooper)’. Powerful as the film was, it could not save Cooper from four decades spent in and out of care, jail and mental health units, but it did inspire Osborne to revisit his story. “When you’re silenced with violence, and you’re given no chance and no choice,” Osborne sings, “When you’re brilliant and bored and you’re beaten, fire is your vengeance and voice.”

The song appears on Osborne’s new record It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice, released today, and to mark the occasion we have the premiere for the video to ‘Toast’, which features footage of Osborne’s first performance of the song with clips from the original film. “I couldn’t have not written this song,” Osborne said. “Mini Cooper was too smart, too beautiful, and too grave to ignore. He is what happens when clever kids get neglected.”

Osborne will be hitting the road with her new record at the end of the month, playing a couple of solo dates before hooking up with James Yorkston’s tour. The dates are below.

26th Nov – London, Islington Folk Club
27th Nov – Lewes, The Con Club
6th Dec – Hebden Bridge, Trades Club *
7th Dec – Bexhill East Sussex, De La Warr Pavilion *
8th Dec – Birmingham, Kitchen Garden Cafe *
9th Dec – London, Winterville Victoria Park *

*supporting James Yorkston

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