Lemon Gets The Horrors!
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE NEWS/NEW POETRY WRITTEN BY MARK LEMON FOR LIVE PERFORMANCE/ LONDON DATES UNDER DISCUSSION/ COVER OF JACOBITES PIN YOUR HEART TO ME RECORDED/ LIVE GIG AS PART OF MOSELEY FOLK FESTIVAL WITH DAVE KUSWORTH/ LITTLE STEVENS PEOPLE GET CD THEY ASKED FOR.....
And here I go again. Last night I wrote a 2 hour blog into which I poured my innermost self, or even innermost self, then accidentally hit delete just as I had finished telling you, all about the nasty 1980s (which were OK for some music) and all about, my gig with the aforementioned Dave K. But actually, this deletion gives me the opportunity to stay up late again and drink a little more than usual, so really I am relishing the opportunity to prattle, rant and extrapolate.
Here at the Village Green we have been writing, recording and producing as usual. The cover of Pin your Heart is partly a cover of myself in as much as I played bass on the 3 original versions. Now I'm singing it, as did Lemonheads Evan Dando with Lemonheads. ps surprise surprise. I never heard his version. I don't know hoiw many Jacobites covers there are; but Mercury Rev did Silver Street. I was a little miffed they missed my 3 part harmony vocal intro off their version- I managed to put it back at the gig I did with Dave Kusworth last weekend. I also played the guitar parts on the Robespierres Velvet Basement songs which I originally recorded, and the intro to Kings and Queens was reinstated for the first time in years. Dave and I did mostly Robespierres songs at this gig which was a tributary to the Moseley Folk Festival. I got there 2 minutes before he went on stage, hadn't seen him for a few years. No rehearsals.I got up and played my 12 string acoustic to the songs, improvising and also playing the parts I originally played on the records. Of course Nikki Sudden is sadly no longer with us, nor is Epic Soundtracks. Epic and Nikki were in avant garde punk band Swell Maps before teaming up with Dave and myself for the Jacobites early albums. Dave was very much in his acoustic mode for this gig, and of course the songs remain very distinguished." Famous When Dead" is the badge I have seen Mr K wearing, but actually he is famous in many countries around the world, we sold tons of records, and if Britain can't get it, well sod them. A few do. The albums keep getting re released as well.
I bumped into Pid at the Moseley gig, who runs the Birmingham mod club. There is a do on at Cobs bar on Sat Oct 10, 125 Sherlock St Birmingham. 8.30- 2.30 playing r&b, rare soul, boogaloo, 60's funk, and mod rarities. Just about every time I go out I see Pid, whether its at Le Beat Bespoke or wherever. I send him e mails, which he answers but when he sees me he doesn't connect me with the e mails! But I think the mod club idea is great. It is called the Brum Beat mod club, you can find it on myspace. Why should the city centre music clubs be a no go zone for everyone with taste? Pid is helping redress the balance.
In my accidentally deleted blog I was talking about British 80s music, and owning up that my appreciation of this decade is growing, when I consider how good some of the leftfield pop actually was. Obviously I was in nappies at the time. But I do remember Lloyd Cole, I was a very sophisticated 4 year old. Lloyds records had a clear air of bohemian literacy about them, it was said he was derivative of Lou Reed but in fairness, thats an easy stone to throw, and Morrissey considered him a worthwhile friend, until LC 'started saying nasty things behind his back'. I'll slap your hands and face for you! There must have been a hissy fit, handbags hurled with no regard to human life, copies of On The Road torn to pieces before the others eyes, Oscar Wilde posters ripped down, and quiffs ruffled. Lost Weekend sounds great now though, so does Jennifer She Said, I love that and always did. Easy Pieces is a great album, in my opinion better than the very good Rattlesnakes- and, much good taste was in evidence in the artwork, guitar sounds, and so on. In fact it was 20 years ahead of its time aesthetically. Nice graphics. I would like to do a cover like that done for Rattlesnakes, but look at the 80s graphics on Easy Pieces! I suppose some people think that looks cool now. I don't know exactly where the chart run petered out for Lloyd, it seems a shame it did, but he went solo with an album which had a harder attitude musically and presented Lloyd Cole as a man's man- and, this is purely my opinion, but I wonder if the record company image making dep't had a hand in trying to toughen up his image. Stubble, cigarettes, and a much harder musical edge. His voice seemed to change and he was recording in New York. All the delicacy of instrumentation went in place of innovative Indie rock, but The Stones Roses and Happy Mondays were waiting around the corner with their baggy jeans and house inspired aesthetic.
Just as punk killed Brian Ferry (for a while) perhaps so too did Indie Dance sweep aside most who went before it. It shook the Jesus and Mary Chain up, who, unnecessarily as it may now seem, began adding dance beats to theiir records. Morrissey hated all that, and managed to survive the shift in fashion, unlike Lloyd Cole. But then The Smiths were for whatever reason a much more important group than LC and The Commotions. They were so adamantly original, and self confidently so. And, they were the soundtrack to the 80s. Stretch Out And Wait is a song I keep on about, but it is just beautiful and special. It is a working class song of innocence. It will change your life forever, if you let it. That's art, and genius.
Genius. It was chemistry, and how old was Johnny? 21? Somebody had to claim the decade and make it theirs, and it wasn't going to be, you know lets be frank here. Frank who? Frank. Frankly Mr Shankly, I am aiming my harpoon of good taste right now at- oh my goodness, can I even bear to think about it, wiithout collapsing- I am a sensitive artist- look, oh God. I'm sorry I have to mention it. Mark Knobflers headband. And his lyrics about micro wave ovens. That is such sad boyo cock rock. We are now entering a frightening malaise of very bad taste, no, don't turn away. If I am man enough to face it, you too must come with me on a brief exploration of that which was so bad, it caused madness. Actually I might get threatened if I go on. But, him with the perm, right? Long shaggy perm. In band with moustachioed singer. Bland, massive. John Peel compared their shows, perhaps a little unfairly, to the Nurenburg rallies. But, we have to be honest about the overall aesthetic. Was it not absolutely vile? Indeed, the Queen I like sang in the fucking Smiths, not in that lot. Really bad offences against good taste in the 80s then.
The mainstream pop and its presentation were obviously the main offenders. George Michael admitted he behaved in deliberately commercial ways- he could sing, but wasn't that music plastic and horrid? And ubiquitous. That's the problem I had with it. Queen Dire Straits and George Michael. There I was trying on my nappies in Debenhams and on it came "microwave oven", and something about magic by Queen. Now to take this further and into more controversial territory, wasn't Live Aid, however noble the intentions of its creators, just the absolute bottom of the barrell? The low watermark. It encapsulated the very worst aspects of 80s pop, in a perfect nutshell. Thanks heavens for the arrival of The Stones Roses. Many imitators rode the wave for a while, then Nirvana kicked in here in a big way with Teen Spirit and once again all was swept aside. I would like to offer my thoughts on Cobain and Courtney in a future blog. Suede were a great band, glam inspired but intense, talented and new. They had a great look, although Brett Anderson happily confessed that he did not 'ponce around in Suede type clothes at home'.
Guitarist Bernard Butler was a huge Smiths fan, and I think it fair to say they were part of a certain lineage of great British bands. The Stairs shone briefly with their fantastic retro single Weed Bus, and by now the 80s was gone in spirit, and style, and almost in politics. I think by then Mrs thatcher had gone, the Tory administration staggering on under the deeply unpopular John Major.
Whatever, things were becoming exciting and pop music, its fashions and attitude were renewed. Most mainstream pop was undoubtedly dire, but something glimmered in the midst of it. I am too tired, and so are you for me to go into the 90s, but plainly something altered radically when Oasis put Cigarettes and Alcohol on a free NME tape. It was I think a great record. They were so strong and powerful, their songs so excellent they defined a whole era. Songs like Rock & Roll Star, and Some Might Say inspired George Martin to describe them (or Noel anyway) as the best, supposedly they heralded the 'new laddism', Cool Britannia! Jarvis came out with his erratic but brilliant band Pulp, Common People being my favourite record of all from the mid 90s.
Tony Blair's arrival seemed to signify enormous hope. It was really exciting. There were bands to get really excited about, and what about the hedonism? A lot of young people got very smashed. It was a working class thing, ladettes and Loaded magazine. A clearly defined era. I'm no expert but I really feel it, how it was back then. It is amazing to compare the feel of the glam era of the 70s, with the punk era, and then the whole atmosphere of grunge, how incredibly distinctive these scenes seem in relation to each other. It is heartening to reflect that, however much the money people seek to take over, the true spirit of pop music seems to keep resurfacing in different guises.
Creativity and artistic sincerity have continued to thrive in this atmosphere of scarcely disguised commerce. We saw The Libertines, The Strokes, The White Stripes come through, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian and others with something real. And latterly, The Horrors. I met Mr Spider Web a while back, he's a really nice lad. I gave him one. Yes, a copy of England's Dreaming Spires, the cover of which he appeared to recognise. He was DJing at Dr Robert's Le Beat Bespoke event, playing obscure 60s vinyl, we were all dancing and having a great time. Their drummer Coffin Joe was wearing a nicely tailored mod suit and dancing to Northern Soul...not what anyone would expect, but then neither is their second album. Well outside my usual sphere of reference, I almost crashed the car listening to Primary Colours. What a collision of experimentation that album is, it is so intense and soulful. They seem like the new heroes to me.