OK I will write this blog, was not going to attempt it tonight as I rather feel my brain is taken apart, I'm coming off Tamazepam again, and large great chunks of flying faeces are hitting the fan with horrible regularity in my life, and especially in the lives of those close. (PS Which impacts on me. What touches those close to us seems to touch us very much). I came to the conclusion recently that life, is about making hay while the dark clouds amass above us. Because, they never stop for long. Or to put it Lou Reed's way, 'make a point of having some fun'. Things can go along quite well for a good while, but I think life's ever shifting kaleidoscope regularly turns to monochrome and this is why my new philosophy, is to take this into account and put some splashes of colour into life's mix from now on. I mean, all sorts of shit is going to happen. I used to be the sort of person who thought my life a horrid mess because the sky was never free from clouds, whereas everyone else's life seemed relatively sunny. Sorry for obvious metaphors. Whereas now, I have no reason to assume my life is particularly bleak. I now think most people's lives are, frankly rather bleak, and that therefore lets all make hay, and sun, as a deliberate policy amidst the grey skies.
Thank you Marcus Rossi, an extremely clever, good looking, intelligent man who writes for Shindig! Magazine, for the following review of England's Dreaming Spires, my LP available now from villagegreenmachine.com:
Village Green Machine is to all intents and purposes a one-man operation, the man in question being the estimable Mark Lemon: and a man of considerable taste and refinement he is.
England's Dreaming Spires, as its title readily suggests, taps into a very specific and cherishable vein of UK popsike. However, while Marks unadorned English singing voice betrays a loving debt to Syd Barrett and often calls to mind David Gedge of The Wedding Present, oddly the finished product utilises a considerably broader palette than one might expect. The super-clean guitars and splashy drums, deliriously awash in a bath of reverb, are closer in essence to Joe Meek than George Martin, while Marks lyrics throughout are sharply observant, wholly contemporary, insightful and witty.
You Make Me Feel That Way, Rollercoaster and The Whole Of My Heart, all effortlessly immediate, would be hit records in any truly civilised society, while My Eccentric Cousin is what 65-era Dylan would have sounded like sharing a travelling rug with Phil Spector in a rainy Birmingham bus shelter.
Thanks Marco. One thing is for sure, I always use 60s sounds. Usually I experiment as well. The truth is beyond this what I do is difficult to pin down, as I never stay still for long. So England's Dreaming Spires echoes Cliff Richard one minute, The Ramones the next, while being made to sound like early Beach Boys. And I mean, I sing in a British accent. I utilise whatever influences come to mind, I mix everything up but ofcourse one has to be able to write a good song. A certain plugger recently accused me of being reliant on other people's material as the basis of my work, this is complete arse. I celebrate my influences but, if he had bothered to listen to the substance which is mine alone, I think he would have found some worthy original substance. Great that Psychodrama has been played on Radio 6. Wiithout the assistance of a plugger.
This week, we got in despite some heavy personal issues and got recording, I did a song called I Love The Music, kind of Beatles folky/sea shanty style. But I let go of this blueprint and experimented with the types of overdubs, and just generally experimental....the muse flew in the window when I was producing and its a happening track, its got this very distorted fuzztone guitar- the one given to me by a close personal friend from a very cool famous group from the 1960s lol- . Describing music is plainly like trying to describe a colour, ... but I am glad because I am never secure, in as much as I can never sit back and think, the next recording will be really good. That would just be a dangerous conceit, and not everything I do turns out. I am still not happy with English Cafe, and I've recorded that maybe 6 times or even more. If you like Village Green Machine I will tell you though, I am really thrilled by the way the second album is shaping up. Doing this thing is my life, any money I've earnt before VGM has been snorted up someone else's nose, or worse, and music, is all. I think album 2 will be on its way in spring next year. File sharing, I can't condemn that since I expanded my own musical landscape a lot by copying albums onto tape when I was a kid, but, supporting us with an album purchase will help keep this thing going.
Did anyone see that interview with Cliff Richard recently by Piers Morgan? Why ever doesn't that bloke come out of the closet- and Cliff Richard as well.
I have criticised Cliff in the past, for having made a lot of bad records, but now with my blog apparently being read by several hundred people a week, (look I'm not Rupert Murdoch) I think I had better be careful incase I offend the over 70s, Cliff fan club. There is a Monty Python sketch where the Conservative women's institute or some such decide to sort out lazy working class men, and people interested in sex, and go on the attack with their handbags- (ps pre Margaret Thatcher) I am shaking in my shoes at the thought of the very real possibility of offending at least one Cliff fan I know - but anyway I'm sorry but I am going to speak my mind. I think, he was, and is, a great bloke. No, hold on hipsters, don't go yet. I was in a band with a drummer who was also a security guard at a major UK venue, and apparently when CR played there, he gave them all T Shirts (which they wore of course) and was really nice and allright. Well, it does count for a lot and I'm not being ironic. Whereas when Barry Manilow played, allegedly, he made all the security guards turn their backs when he mounted the stage. The thought of being mounted by Barry is enough to make me thrash around in search of something, anything, less horrific to distract and console- where was I, yes, Cliff Richard's good records. Now I defy anyone- to you know, tell me I'm talking crap on this. I think, Move It, In The Country, When Blue Turns To Grey, Miss You Nights, We Don't Talk Anymore, Carrie, Wired For Sound, and especially Devil Woman are great records.WBTTG and ITC, I take that sound as a role model, among a thousand others in the Village Green Machine mix. Its no good being snobbish, if a record is good its good, however dodgy the image, dance routines etc. And with Cliff, I suspect a choreographer was to blame for some cringeworthy performances. Also I have to say, I was disappointed by that clip of the latest Shadows reunion. They're 70 and looking amazing, but they had these girls doing the hand jive for a song called guess what Willie and the Hand Jive, and it was kitsch nostalgia taken a step too far. I mean, theres no need for that. Because, among musicians, guitarists at least, who are into old pop, The Shadows are, I don't think I am exaggerating to say, iconic. Hank leading all those hits with great melodies, on guitar? And Brian Bennett, a very class act on drums with a great sound. I happen to know the tickets for these shows were £60 a head- (I didn't go) but I have 2 original copies of greatest hits on original vinyl, looking cool sounding even better, and anyone who knows Village Green Machine stuff will surely recognise the influence of The Shadows ''The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt'' on my guitar playing. (Cliff and the Shadows on tour)
Thanks for enquiries about Jacobites and related, it was great, we had a lot of fun. All go and listen to It'll All End Up In Tears on youtube, that's incredible.
Three times a week is a lot for anything (l o ******* l) no thats nasty but it is - and I've watched The Anniversary starring Bette Davis and Sheila Hancock three times, not in a week but in as many days. I got a DVD of it on ebay. Made in Britain in 1968, Bette Davis plays the tyrannical matriarch a few of us may recognise in our own experience. With a patch over one eye, she waltzes down her staircase dressed in an orange Crimpelene mini dress to greet her 3 family business sons for an anniversary gathering. One son is a 'knicker snatcher' ooh er, another a regular workman with his own children and wife sheila Hancock, the third a dapper young mod with a beautiful fiance to introduce to mother. It is a black comedy period piece without conceit, every aspect exuding conservative sixties style aesthetically.The knicker snatcher speeds away in a Vauxhall Victor FC estate with chrome bumpers, ofcourse. The mod son wears a double breasted jacket with small high lapels, a 'pea coat', and has a good haircut unlike myself (bad hair day thanks to Christos) The film looks old, in an indescernable way which I, we?, like. Basically, Bette Davis plays this dragon who runs the family building firm, the entire plot being a study, an hilarious disturbing observation of family politics, when a tyrannical nasty woman is in charge. High entertainment. I won't disclose the plot further, but I highly recommend this film as a suitable companion to Entertaining Mr Sloan. It is pithy, direct, unpredictable, outrageous and funny. I found it on UK ebay.
For more reviews and the usual news, come back soon ie next week