Rock On Regardless

God, I am tired. I lost my patience with a certain elderly relative earlier, what do you do with someone who stops washing their hair because they can't remember to any more? It can wind you up, I couldn't begin to explain the details and since you might be interested in my music, I can tell you I am in a hurry to change the subject in that direction right now!

I listened on playback last night to a track lined up for the second Village Green Machine LP. Hadn't heard it for a while- it is a finished production. It reminds me of a sea shanty, it is a folk tune with 12 string guitar and Farfisa organ. Influenced by Donovan and Rubber Soul era Beatles, it swings and sways, I wondered if it was dragging but probably my sense of time was disturbed by tiredness. Its kind of PF Sloan. Who? PF Sloan. I never got his voice, but every song I have heard by that man is a piece of life changing genius, and I recommend, you check him out. (Other people's interpretations of his songs, especially). In fact, this 1965 Breton capped folkie is responsible for what some think impossible- a good Herman's Hermits record. He supplied the songs to an excellent film soundtrack, well jangly and with a swing and a groove, played by the fore mentioned HH.

One talented boy
PF Sloane

Also, their 45 No Milk Today is, to me, a f****** (flipping) blueprint. I love that record. Its my scene 101%. Just 2 up 2 down, that is f****** sublime. A big influence.
And while I'm on the subject of music which is perceived to be crap but which is really great, I will say I think Shang A Lang by the Bay City Rollers is a superb pop record. It has that mysterious ability to elevate ones spiritual state, its a really exciting record, which has a great sound, marvellous melodies, good singing. I still want to go onstage wearing a BCRs t shirt and black eyeliner. OK their image was embarrassing, but with records like Shang A Lang, Remember and Summerlove Sensation, and fans as cool as The Ramones, I feel no need to apologise. And what is pop but a trashy fix? But what a fix it can be. I do have an appreciation of more serious music, but it was an interview with Bob Stanley from St Etienne (whom I met earlier in the year at Le Beat Bespoke) which led to my appreciation of pop as an aesthetic. He likes the trashy 1973 pop single Who Do You Think You Are by talent show winners Candlewick Green- it has always been a favourite record of mine. Now the truth is, this stuff transcends trashy pop- it is great pop. But also trashy, and I think, the point is trashy pop can be great pop, full stop. And great pop is great art, hence we can talk about the trash aesthetic not in some highbrow, pretentious way, but as something real. Garbage can be beautiful art. Uneducated people digest it like sugar and love every minute- its the intellectuals who have to follow this line of circuitous appreciation. But mostly they never get that far, and just listen to really boring, goodness knows what. Tedious, pretentious stuff. That's a shame. They should just get a record player and an original vinyl copy of River Deep, Mountain High.

Having said all this, I think there has been a lot of dreadful, trashy music. And some good, serious pop. David Bowie, God Bless you. The Stone Roses (ok only that first LP). Scott Walker. The Pretty Things. And many more. Neil Young. The White Stripes. I bought their album Icky Thump a while back, my initial impression was that it started off being rather, almost generic rock. But after 3 or 4 listens I think its incredible. A good example of musical weirdos becoming an accepted part of things- so can I please step forward now with Village Green Machine?

I mean it. Those songs deserve recognition. David Taylor and I didn't spent 3 years working on the EDS album to be ignored, you know. Its a really good album. If you can't afford to buy it, copy it, but if you can afford to buy it I would prefer you to, as we need the money. VGM no 1 on an Irish download chart isn't a bad start. I hope the good people making 'Freak' will choose Psychodrama as a track for their series, it would go great.

A cigarette cometh, how sublimely politically incorrect. Do you know, modern middle class society is as hidebound as Victorian middle class society was, as stuffed up with morals, only the whole scenario has changed. It is a fascinating debate- plainly, society is dynamic, and extreme swings do occur. That really worries me and we cannot afford to be complacent. We think society is fixed, perhaps. An easy and dangerous trap to fall into.

Who else, in the hallowed anals of pop history, can I dredge up to dust with caster sugar, coat with almond essence and place on a silver salver for your delectation (god I've been drinking, I'd love to go on a total f****** bender), now let me see.

That one on the left
looks pretty camp

My friend and fellow Jacobites survivor Glenn Tranter is a fan of Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse, as is my friend Steven Gridley, a respected rock photographer. We also all like, Jesamine by The Casuals, wow what a tune. Everlasting Love by my acquaintance Steve Ellis with his band Love Affair is another such gem, and there are other British pop hits from the post psychedelic period which were, and are astounding. A slightly later one is Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman, which had a heavier feel but was still very pop. PS I know half of you know this stuff already that I'm talking about. I always liked Candida by Dawn, for years I thought they were singing about a sexually transmitted disease, perhaps I'm getting it mixed up with thrush or clamidia. Knock Three Times by Dawn, that is REALLY trashy but I quite like it. What Are You Doing Sunday I always liked, so too evidently did Jarvis Cocker. Tie A Yellow Ribbon however, is a step too far even for me. That is so ghastly sentimental. At the time people like Demis Roussos were making records, what was his called, Forever and Ever, sorry but yuk. That mid 70s period was fertile with crossover pop-soul, stuff like Philadelphia, with acts like the O'Jays whom I like a lot.

Cheesier than a tramp's cock.

There was The Delfonics with their lush sweet ballads- and actually one record I still like is Kung Fu fighting by Carl Douglas. Very kitsch, but its a beautiful record. Just listen to the backing- same with George Mcray, Rock your Baby apparently the first big disco hit, sublime. On the same Jay Boy label, KC and the Sunshine band made records like Sound Your Funky Horn, a number of their records I consider to be exceptional pop. On the glam side, I like forgotten heroes Hello, with their New York Groove and Tell Him, both great. Around 1974? Rock On by David Essex is a great record. The Bitch Is Back by Elton John- I wish something that good would come out now, I'd buy it straight away. I scarcely need mention my abiding fondness for The Sweet, T Rex and Slade, and a few Alice Cooper singles, and a few Mott The Hoople songs- they're reforming for some gigs I hear, I hope to get there. I will just talk finally about Elton.

He plainly lost his way in the 80s along with David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and surely more of the old guard. Excessive lifestyle choices and yes people helped none; he could appear to be spoilt, preening and ridiculous. Absurd stage costumes did little for his reputation, but it was surely a crazy cocaine fuelled existence and the giddy heights of fame, combined with a camp sensibility which led him into dark pastures. In fact, his success, as outwardly displayed, could make me wonder what on earth the point is in bothering to pursue success in the music world. Who wants a heated pool with a chandelier over it? Or a sash curtained 4 poster bed? with that chap in it? Its all ******* bollocks. Also, I think his early records, before they deteriorated, were mushy sounding. Lester Bangs called it a kitsch vat. But Lester failed to see the point- and maybe Elton John had yet to prove the point- that behind this sometimes dubious period production lay a talent of substance. His voice is one of authority, his piano playing rolling gospel r&b, his songwriting sufficiently good to establish him in the front ranks. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, was perhaps a Bernie Taupin lyric. But EJ deserves much credit for a song like that. Strip away the production, and what emerges with Elton John is a raw talent. I liked the Scissor Sisters collaboration. Compare it to what they've done without him- see the difference?

yours, Captain Pop

Mark Lemon, Village Green Machine

Reading Village Green Machine's ezine. Rock On Regardless
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