Friday, 4 September 2015
This is the third post this week by a band or artist which I can't quite believe I've never featured here before (Junior Murvin and Meat Puppets being the other two). The Ruts were a key punk band, bringing reggae influences into their music in a way which didn't seem cackhanded or overcooked. Singer Malcolm Owen and guitarist Paul Fox lived on a commune in Anglesey in the early 70s, gravitating into the punk world via record shops, a Ramones t-shirt and the Pistols on the telly. They pinned their colours to the mast politically, playing several Rock Against Racism gigs and being involved in Misty In Roots' Southall anti-racist collective. They made several belting singles and one album. Staring At The Rude Boys, from 1980, was a comment on the newly arrived 2 Tone bands. And if you're going to stare, it may as well be at rude boys- they're often the best dressed people in the room.
Staring At The Rude Boys (Peel Session)
Malcolm Owen died of a heroin overdose in July 1980 at the age of twenty six, despite recording and singing on several anti-heroin songs with the band. Heroin really was the scourge of the London punk scene wasn't it? According to many of those involved we can thank Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers for that.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Something triggered this off yesterday. Meat Puppets emerged out of the US hardcore scene and like many of their peers- Husker Du, Replacements, Sonic Youth, Black Flag- soon transformed into something other than hard, fast punk. They grew their hair and audibly let in some pre-76 influences (Neil Young, country) and came up with something new. Lake Of Fire is ragged and loose and hair raising, like the rest of their 1984 album Meat Puppets II. Inadvertently they partially invented alt-country, Americana, the Unplugged set up, Nirvana and Uncut magazine's entire outlook.
Lake Of Fire
Wednesday, 2 September 2015
This came our way yesterday, the new song from David Holmes' new project Unloved (although I think Holmes has joined an already existing duo). Guilty Of Love sounds like a pyschedelic girl group song that could have been recorded at almost any point in the last fifty years, possibly in sun dappled, hazy Los Angeles with Lee Hazlewood involved somewhere, the air thick with cig smoke and perfume. Vocalist Jade Vincent has a very evocative voice. The e.p. is out in mid-October.
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
I heard this out over the weekend, played over a decent sized PA, and it sounded even better than it usually does- what's more after checking I'm amazed that in the last five years and eight months I've been doing this thing I've never posted it. Junior Murvin's Police And Thieves, released in 1977 and produced by Lee Scratch Perry with The Upsetters providing the music, is one of reggae's truly great tunes. Scratch produced it along with The Heptones' Party Time and Max Romeo's War Ina Babylon in a burst of Back Ark inspired creativity. The guitar is lighter than air, the rhythm perfect and Murvin's falsetto vocal floats over the top while burying its way into your head.
Police and Thieves
Monday, 31 August 2015
I've had an eventful forty eight hours. On Saturday we took the kids into town to watch the Manchester Pride parade followed by going to see my brother who was taking part in a live graffiti event in a beer garden in The Angel pub. The two djs were spinning old school hip-hop, dub and electro and a good dollop of Kraftwerk, all of which sounded great in the faint Mancunian sunshine. Early evening came and we raced home so I could get out to one of the local Sale pubs to watch a punk covers band called Cheapskates who played a set which was 75% Clash songs. All good fun.
Yesterday we went out into Cheshire to visit my parents. I cycled there, about thirty miles through good roads and sunshine. Just arriving near their house I snapped a spoke. The car was full so I had to try to get home a few hours later with the broken spoke. All was going well. Ten miles from home near Tatton Park a second spoke went. Total pisser. I had to await rescue in a pub made more bearable by a very nice pint of Manchester Pale Ale. Today I will be going to the bike shop.
I pulled out Neu! man Michael Rother's 1977 solo album Flammende Herzen the other day. It doesn't sound like it was made that long ago. Completely instrumental and really very good indeed. Jaki Leibezeit plays drums. Rother plays everything else.
Sunday, 30 August 2015
A total change of pace and style today, a beautiful instrumental from Calexico's debut album proper The Black Light from back in 1998- catgut guitar strings, rim shots, trumpets. They went on to make several really good albums after this but I played The Black Light the other night and it sounded like their best and most effortless record.
Minas De Cobre
Saturday, 29 August 2015
I found this twenty four minute time capsule while looking for this morning's Yargo clip- a special edition of Tony Wilson's The Other Side Of Midnight TV show from the summer of 1989. Mike Pickering's T-Coy, A Guy Called Gerald and Happy Mondays playing live down at Granada Studios. A party, as Wilson says, with the emphasis on part-E. As ever, the crowd (their clothes, hairstyles and dancing) are the real stars.
Italian reader Luca has a guest spot over at Acid Ted where he regularly writes about the joys of Italian disco. Recently he bemoaned the lack of the 12" version of Bodybeat Blues by Yargo anywhere on the internet. I left a comment saying I might have it. I don't unfortunately, neither in physical format nor digitally. I do have the album Bodybeat though and the album version of the song. Sorry Luca.
To summarise, and I'm sure I've typed a paragraph very similar to this before, Yargo were the classic example of an 80s Manchester band who could pull a thousand people to a gig with an M postcode but were virtually unheard of elsewhere. Singer Basil Clarke (the owner of a golden voice that drew comparisons with Marvin Gaye), Phil Kirby and Paddy Steer (drums and bass) had all been in Biting Tongues (the former home of Graham Massey of 808 State and also a man called Eddie, who I know). Yargo played a Mancunian take on jazz, soul, reggae, ska and dub with a bit of rock too. Andy Diagram (trumpet, later in James) also passed through the ranks. Bodybeat, from 1987, is a lost gem, well worth checking out. They also did the theme tune to Anthony H Wilson's late night music show The Other Side Of Midnight, Granada region only, and the source of legendary live appearances by Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. Yargo split in 1991. Basil Clarke has made solo records and sung with Future Sound Of London. Listen to this below (or that above) and you'll see that they should have been much bigger than they were.