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Sunday 1 May 2022

Half An Hour Of Steve Mason

The subject of today's thirty minute mix is Steve Mason, the man whose doleful  vocals defined the songs of The Beta Band when they suddenly appeared back in 1998. Since they broke up he's recorded as King Biscuit Time and Black Affair and made four albums under his own name- Boys Outside, Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time, Meet The Humans and About The Light, every one of them chock full of great songs. In the first lockdown Steve stated on Twitter that he was going to start a chat show and asked followers to suggest what it should be called. I replied quickly that it should be called 'Meet The Human' which Steve declared the winner and replied to me to say I'd be on the guestlist when he next came through Manchester. It's not happened yet but I'm still hopeful. 

The songs that make up the thirty- three minutes below are taken from his solo albums/ singles, taking in anger and politics, existential dread, depression, celebratory anthems, a dubbed out Weatherall remix and a song that is utterly desolate and which always moves me. Alive is the opener to 2016's Meet The Humans. Fight Them Back, from 2013's Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time, with the sampled voices of Tony Blair and David Icke was written out of frustration and disgust at the political situation and in the aftermath of the riots of 2011, a song urging revolution and taking to the streets. I think he later said he regretted the violence in the lyrics but there's no doubting it's a powerful piece of indie/hip hop/ agitprop. I Go Out was a one off single, fantastic driving psyche- pop with Emiliana Torrini and Steve on co- vocals and Brighton psyche rockers Toy kicking up a storm behind them. Boys Outside, was a stripped back, melancholic, at times fragile album tackling Steve's own experiences of depression. Weatherall's pair of dub remixes of the title track are both superb and push the song somewhere else entirely. Walking Away From Love is from 2019's About The Light, infections guitar pop driven by a Bo Diddley riff. America Is Your Boyfriend came from the same album, with the remix released on an EP called Coup D'etat, remixed by Tim Goldsworthy (who was in UNKLE and LCD Soundsystem). 

Come To Me is from Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time, a gorgeous, metronomic, heartbreaking song that offers redemption (or maybe comfort) in some form. I'm not sure whether it's about loss or depression and think it can be read either way. Many years ago this blog and several others had regular comments and contributions from a reader based in Leeds who went by the name of Dick Van Dyke. His contributions were frequently hilarious, often insightful, and many times better than the original post they were attached to. Dick (not his real name) suffered the devastating and sudden loss of his wife. A few of us were in contact with him via email for a while but things drifted as they often do and I haven't heard from him for some time now. I hope he's still out there and that he and his daughter are OK. I once posted Come To Me for him- it seemed to fit with how he was describing the loss and grief he was experiencing and I thought it might help him in some way. The opening lines 'This is about the rest of us/ the ones you left behind' struck me then (and still do now) and the chorus too- 'and when you come to me/ in the dead of night/ and I convince myself it will be alright/ and when you hold me close/ as the night unfolds/ and I convince myself how we'll grow old'. 

Now of course I've experienced my own loss. Isaac died five months ago yesterday. The grief and the sense of loss are still as present today as they were on 30th November 2021 but here we are five months on. Come To Me has the ability to completely undo me. It was able to do this back in 2013 and it really does it to me now but there's catharsis in listening to it. I'm not even sure it is a song about loss and the verses aren't entirely clear to me but it's become a song about loss for me- it was back then and it is now- and posting it today seems fitting for Dick van Dyke (wherever he is) and for Isaac. 

Half An Hour Of Steve Mason

  • Alive
  • Fight Them Back
  • I Go Out
  • Boys Outside (Andrew Weatherall Dub 2)
  • Walking Away From Love
  • America Is Your Boyfriend (Tim Goldsworthy Remix)
  • Come To Me


Khayem said...

Steve Mason is a musical genius, so this is a very welcome mix with great selections from start to finish.

Each day can be a painful trigger, perhaps more so when you reach significant dates or mark the passage of time. Best wishes for today and the rest of the weekend, sending good vibes your way.

Rickyotter said...

The second King Bisciit Time EP is one of my most played records, so this is a lively treat. Songs mean so many things to many people, artists often prefer not to elaborate on their version as there are myriad interpretations out there. So, if it sings to you and what you're going through, it fits it perfectly. Glad you are getting some catharsis through music. Take care

The Swede said...

A tremendous mix Adam. You've reminded me how great the 'I Go Out' single is - a quick look tells me that I blogged about it over at my place in 2013...nine bloody years ago...which is quite frankly terrifying! The one Steve Mason solo song that has always particularly moved me is 'All Come Down' from 'Boys Outside', which I once described it as '...one of the finest songs of the 21st Century...'. Having just given it a spin for the first time in a good while, I'm happy to stand by that rather sweeping statement.

I'm sorry I've not been around here very much lately, but you and your family are always in my thoughts.

Swiss Adam said...

No need to apologise Swede.
The shock of finding things I thought were recent are actually nearly a decade old is recurring for me too.

Anonymous said...

👆This, entirely