Leave The Capital

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I’ve put together a Spotify playlist to accompany my book ‘Leave The Capital’, published by Route Books and out on the 13th November. The Spotify playlist is available here and covers much of the material alluded to in the book, including the 13 songs which form the basis of the discussion therein (for a playlist of just those, see here) .

However, as is the way with these things, not every song discussed in the book is available on Spotify, so I’ve compiled a more comprehensive list of  songs below, with comments and YouTube links. They’re in book order, so you can listen along, should you so desire.

Nymphs and Shepherds:  The Manchester Children’s choir, with The Hallé, conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty. The first great Manchester recording, and for forty years the only one.  (Bob Dylan, who was recorded live in the same room,  notwithstanding).

Rock Island Line: Lonnie Donegan. The entrée to a whole new world for many a UK rocker. Surprisingly authentic. But on London Records.

Hello Josephine. One of the songs Wayne Fontana performed for Jack Baverstock at The Oasis on 4th May 1963 (under its original title ‘My Girl Josephine’). Of Wayne’s band, only bassist Bob Lang turned up, so Wayne recruited Eric Stewart and Ric Rothwell on the spot.  It became the newly christened Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders’ first single.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Produced by Phil Spector and sung by Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans. Another of Wayne’s audition pieces, it’s main gift to posterity was the largely accidental fuzz effect on the guitar solo, which every guitarist in England subsequently attempted to lift. It directly led to the invention of the fuzz pedal.

Till There Was You. The Beatles, as witnessed live at Abbotsfield Park, Urmston, on 5th August 1963, by Peter Noone and Alan Wrigley. Pete would go on to use it as a blueprint for The Hermits. Alan would go on to be surplus to requirements.

I’m into Something Good. Herman’s Hermits’ first single. UK no 1, US million seller. Can still be heard ringing round Old Trafford on match days.

Look at Me. The Whirlwinds’ first (and only) single. A Buddy Holly makeweight with a particularly bonkers guitar solo from Graham Gouldman. The band split up shortly after.

For Your Love.  The teenage Graham Gouldman’s first hit, courtesy of the Yardbirds. The song’s obvious pop allure hastened Eric Clapton’s departure from the band. So Graham did them a double favour really.

Um Um Um Um Um. Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders first hit, written by Curtis Mayfield. As the lyric is clearly Mm Mm Mm Mm Mm, its odd he went with ‘Um’ for the title (it’s not like it makes any more sense). A great record nonetheless, with brilliant production from Jack Baverstock to boot.

A Certain Girl. From The Mindbenders’ first album. Blows The Yardbirds‘ version’s away. and in an Eric v Eric guitar-solo standoff, Stewart beats Clapton (slow) hands-down.

The Game of Love. WF&TM’s finest hour. Clint Ballard Jnr’s song is great, but The Mindbenders’ performance elevates this to a whole new level. The Beatles, The Doors, Eminem and Oasis were all listening.

Show Me Girl. Herman’s Hermits’ slightly more downbeat, and UK-only, follow-up to ‘Something Good’. It’s noticeably worse chart showing convinced Mickey Most that jollity was the way to go with the Hermits. You’d be hard pressed to find a song with a sunnier disposition than ‘I’m Into Something Good’, but Most managed somehow:  Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat was subsequently a US no 2.

Listen People. Graham Gouldman’s first successful pitch to The Hermits. From the Soundtrack to When The Girls Meet The Boys, The Hermits’ film debut.

Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. The song that sealed the Hermits’ image as cute little brothers and killed any chance of credibility. Sold millions though.

I’m Telling You Now. A U.S. no 1 for Crumpsall’s Freddie and The Dreamers. It was succeeded as US No 1 by ‘The Game of Love’, swiftly followed by ‘Mrs Brown You’ve Got Lovely Daughter’. That made 3 consecutive US number ones by 3 different Manchester bands, something Liverpool never achieved. (But who’s counting?)

We’re Through. The Hollies first self-penned single. Not their finest hour, it has to be said. More of a shop window for their respective skills than a song, if truth be told. Terrible hand claps as well.

Look Through Any Window. The first of Graham Gouldman’s Manchester quadrilogy. The Hollies, like all artists who record other people’s material, do their most enduring work with songs that contain some personal resonance, and thus it proved with this bitter-sweet classic. It’s third-person storytelling predates Paul McCartney’s similar shift in subject matter by months.

If I Needed Someone. The Hollies’ version of George’s classic, released on the same day as Rubber Soul. Like ‘running onto Manchester City’s pitch wearing a United outfit’ according to Hollies’ bassist Eric Haydock.

You Stole My Love. The Mockingbirds’ great lost single. What a riff! The first half found its way into the intro to Joy Division’s Novelty. Someone needs to ‘borrow’ the whole thing though.

Bus Stop. Another brilliant Manchester-inspired tune. You can tell that because it’s a story that revolves around an umbrella and it’s set in July.

No Milk Today. When Graham Gouldman’s father challenged him to imagine the sadness behind something as simple as a note in a milk bottle, Graham responded by creating a euphonious piece of Manc melancholia that inspired Peter Noone’s finest vocal performance.

East West. Some prefer Herman’s Hermits’ version, others the cover by another product of Park Hospital Davyhulme, Stephen Patrick Morrissey. Either way, it’s impossible to deny the power of this homesick lament of a globetrotting popstar.

It’s Nice to be out in the Morning.  From the soundtrack to the Hermits’ film Mrs Brown You’ve got a Lovely Daughter, and written by Graham GouldmanSurely the only time either Besses O’ the Barn or Boggart Hall Clough will ever appear on a lyric sheet.

It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late.  Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders follow up to ‘The Game of Love’. It had everything its predecessor had – a brilliant vocal, a nod to Bo Diddley, a great guitar solo and Eric Stewart’s memorable backing vocal sighs that would later become a Buzzcocks trademark – while being nothing like it.

Pamela Pamela. Wayne Fontana’s biggest hit, post-Mindbenders. Written By Graham Gouldman (Or Godley and Creme, according to Eric Stewart). The Wombling Song lifts its phrasing wholesale, but don’t let that put you off.

A Lovers Concerto.  The Toys’ pilfering of the melody from Christian Petzold’s Minuet in G major is surely what gave Tony Wine the idea to similarly purloin the Rondo movement of Muzio Clementi’s Sonatina in G major for ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’.

A Groovy Kind of Love. Dianne and Annita’s original version. The vocals (probably by Carol Bayer) are decidedly creepy, if not a little disturbing.

One By One Dianne and Annita’s other attempt at a hit, also recorded by The Mockingbirds.  Clearly not the same singer as ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’.

A Groovy Kind of Love. The Mindbenders Wayne-less smash hit. Despite some terrible rhymes, the classical melody is so strong it imbues the lyric with enough emotional weight to make this a brilliant example of love-lorn power pop.

It’s Getting Harder all the Time. The Mindbenders at their very best, from To Sir With Love.

Schoolgirl. (album version) Graham Gouldman’s first composition for The Mindbenders. Remarkably punky for 1967, at least until the middle eight’s falsetto voices kick in.

Uncle Joe the Ice-cream man The Mindbenders’ nadir. While the band were recording it at Olympic in Barnes they had a visit from Mick Jagger, who was working next door. ‘Why are you singing this shit?’ he enquired, not unreasonably. Neither Stewart nor Gouldman had an answer.

Sausalito. Credited to The Ohio Express, but really one of the Bubblegum tracks written (and performed)  by Graham Gouldman and friends for Kasenatz-Katz. The lyric might have come from sticking a pin in a map, but the guitars sound massive.

Animal Song By Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon (AKA Godley & Creme). With Gouldman and  Stewart on bass and guitar respectively. One of  Strawberry’s first fruits.

Susan’s Tuba. Ostensibly by Freddie and The Dreamers, in reality the proto-10cc at Strawberry. Chorus lyric:  ‘Ooby dooby dooba, Susan’s on the tuba’. Sold 2 million. Go figure.

Neanderthal Man. Yet another band (in this case Hotlegs) that turns out to be 10cc in everything but name.  The production’s the star. Welcome to Strawberry.

My Sentimental Friend. Late period Herman’s Hermits. The song’s notable for having far more emotional heft than Peter Noone is normally given credit for.

Daisy Chain (Part1). A distinctly strange instrumental Keith Hopwood and Lek Leckenby provided for the soundtrack of the film Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. A bizarre psychedelic oddball, it wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place in The Haçienda in 1990.

The Man. The first Herman-less Hermits single, recorded at Strawberry with Peter Cowap on vocal and Eric Stewart on production duties. More West Coast than West Didsbury.

Stretford Enders. Burke and Jerk’s novelty Manchester United football song. A cheery ditty with a lyric that paints football hooligans as lovable scamps, and train wrecking and mass-brawling as youthful high-jinks, it was inevitably banned from radio. Personally I’d have banned it for the dreadful keyboards alone.

Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Of course the single takes an over-sentimentalised view of hardship and allows nostalgia to knock the rough edges off memory, something Lowry’s paintings never do. But both record and paintings share a justifiable pride in basing their art in real working-class Manchester life, and sentimental or not, their subject matter remains all-but unique in both fields.

The Man From Nazareth. Recorded at Strawberry by John Paul Jones (not the Led Zep one) who was forced to change his name after an injunction from John Paul Jones (the Led Zep one) . Owes a lot to Big Bad John.

This Will Be Our last Song Together, by Neil Sedaka, recorded at Strawberry with Creme, Godley, Gouldman & Stewart. The song simultaneously represented and memorialised the ending of Sedaka’s partnership with lyricist Howard Greenfield. Neil had written some of his best-known hits with Greenfield and the resultant performance is remarkably raw, and achingly authentic. He’s on the verge of tears throughout.

Waterfall. The first proper 10cc recording, though Jonathan King hadn’t yet come up with the name. The recording’s combination of old-fashioned songwriting with try-anything production techniques set the blueprint for everything they would go on to create together.

The Wall Street Shuffle. One of 10cc’s best singles. A distant cousin to Money by Pink Floyd, both musically and lyrically, it’s catchy piano run later turned up on the similarly fiscally obsessed Money Money Money by Abba.

I’m Not In Love. Self-evidently an incredible recording. The instrumentation is so appropriate to the track’s air of wistful commitment-phobia that it can’t be unheard – all subsequent cover versions and attempts to strip the song back to traditional instruments sound just plain wrong, including the ill-advised one by Stewart and Gouldman in 1995.

When Things Go Wrong. A worryingly apt title for this track from Godley & Creme’s triple album ‘Consequences’. Features the ‘Gizmotron’. And Peter Cook, briefly.

Boredom. Buzzcocks. ‘…and triple albums were first to the bonfire’.

Everybody’s Happy Nowadays. ‘Love is a dream’, Shelley decides, which must have been a painful discovery. After all, he’d seemed pretty convinced of its existence over the course of the last two albums and five singles.

Why Can’t I Touch It?  John Maher’s drumming is amongst the best of his career, and Steve Garvey’s steadfast bass riff provides a beautifully solid dance floor for Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle’s intertwined guitars to gambol upon.

I Believe. Pete Shelley hits peak existential angst, and for punk’s greatest romantic, there is no love in this world anymore. A brilliant end to a brilliant album.

Warsaw.  The first track from An Ideal for Living by Joy Division. The count-in is Rudolph Hess’ prison number, and the song is sung from Hess’s point of view.  Clearly they weren’t Nazis, but the accusation could hardly have come as a surprise.

She’s Lost Control. The Manchester bass-line-with-added-drone in excelsis. First heard on Buzzcocks’ Walking Distance,  it also appears on The Fall’s Underground Medecin (and Love Will Tear Us Apart of course).

Shadowplay. the quintessential Joy Division song. A single repeated bass line and Bernard’s beautifully expressive guitar work, one of the main features of which is his willingness to stop playing, are all that’s required.

New Dawn Fades. has there ever been a song where the music and lyric are so satisfyingly matched?  It really is possible to ‘admire the distance’.

Keep On Keepin’ On By Nolan Porter. Any resemblance to Interzone purely non-coincidental.

Love Will Tear Us Together Two tales of the underlying paranoia lurking beneath a long-term relationship, mixed together by Malcolm Mclaren.

Bankrobber A distinctly sprightlier version of The Clash classic than we’re used to, recorded live in December 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Once it touched the damp and melancholic Manchester air a month later, the song took on a far more doom-laden vibe. The drums on the recorded version in particular are infinitely more ‘New Dawn Fades’ than Revolution Rock. The tangible downturn in mood came a little too late for the lyric, though the ponderous disposition imbues the words with an air of regret that’s singularly absent from the early live version.

Rockers Galore Mikey Dread’s vocal on the B-side is sung over the same backing track, and it’s even more unbecomingly jovial than Bankrobber. At one point he even relates how he shrugged off the harsh Scottish winter with a nice hot bath. (‘You jump into the tub and then you sud and then you sud.’) Lovely.

Leave The Capitol.  Mark E. Smith’s ‘definitive rant’ against all aspects of London living, recorded in London. Perhaps he couldn’t summon sufficient bile to power his performance anywhere else.

Marquis Cha Cha. The Fall. Boasting one of Smith’s funniest, most sinister lyrics, in which he casts himself as a Lord Haw-Haw for the Falklands War, the recorded version features a slip-shod, under-rehearsed backing with glaring errors and wonky timekeeping.  With hindsight, that’s almost part of its charm, though at the time it was an embarrassment.

Garden A treatise on the nature of man’s relationship with God since expulsion from Eden? A sideways look at the dank underbelly of suburbia? Or both?  Mark wasn’t telling. He certainly wasn’t telling me.

Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot Smith slaps his band down about as effectively as he had done on an Australian dance floor the previous year.  ‘You can clutch at my toes*, you won’t drive me insane. You know nothing about it, It’s not your domain. Don’t confuse yourself with someone who has something to say.’ Cheers.

*I originally had ‘toes’ as ‘coat tails’, which makes as least as much sense, but according to the unofficial Fall website  (and as pointed out on the discussion board) I am incorrect. I must have got it from somewhere, though. 

Hand in Glove  Recorded in the ‘mists of the north’ – a fog-shrouded Strawberry Studios –  on Sunday 27th February 1983.

Pretty Girls Make Graves. It still beggars belief that Morrissey thought Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke only deserved 10% of The Smiths’ profits. Has he heard this track?  That said, In Autobiography Morrissey claims he wanted ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’ as the third single instead of  What Difference Does it Make?,  though it’s nowhere near as commercial and has a title that would never have been allowed anywhere near the charts. So he’s not the best judge, is he?

I Don’t Owe You Anything. A song so achingly romantic that on one occasion it brought Mike Joyce close to tears. The ritual of ‘going out tonight’ retains the iconic allure it has in This Charming Man and this time the narrator is up for it, presumably having found something to wear.

Suffer Little Children No song has ever been more appositely described as ‘haunting’. If a Manchester band had to tackle this subject sooner or later, The Smiths were the perfect candidates.

Jimone & James II James recorded their first two EPs in August ’83 and October ’84 at Strawberry – though the five songs were treated to so little EQ they could really have been recorded anywhere. The band chose what they considered to be their least commercial songs for inclusion on the two EPs, and would brook no aural enhancement or studio jiggery-pokery. Factory must have been delighted.

Tell Me The B-side of The Stone Roses first single, So Young. Neither track could properly be described as a song, but then neither could Fools Gold. It would probably claim a place amongst the Roses better-loved songs if it wasn’t ruined by Ian’s wobbly Kirk Brandon impression on the vocals.

I Wanna Be Adored (early version) Written on the spot in the studio at the behest of Martin Hannett. It’s little exaggeration to say that when you listen to the Strawberry recording of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ you’re actually hearing the birth of the real Stone Roses. What Hannett gave the band more than anything else was showing them, as he had done previously for Joy Division, the power of emptiness.

Fat Lady Wrestlers The production on Bummed, the Happy Mondays’ second album, is probably Hannett’s last great work. The basic recording was done at Slaughterhouse studio in Yorkshire but by the time it came to be mixed, relations between Factory and Hannett had thawed sufficiently for them to engage him. Of course he insisted on Strawberry, and Hannett ‘played’ the studio’s desk and effects like another member of the band. If there’s any record where you can hear where the songs were mixed, Bummed is it.

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An interview with Rufus Dayglo – ‘It’s all about technique – style is adaptable!’

Borag Thungg! As a comics fan of some years standing, I was delighted when none other than Rufus Dayglo agreed to take care of the art for the new Brix & The Extricated album –  not least because it afforded me the opportunity to pick his brains about some of the amazing stuff he’s worked on in the past. As you’ll see our conversation ran the gamut from the Bash Street Kids to Buzzcocks by way of Bugs Bunny and Battle Action. To find out more about Rufus’s amazing body of work visit http://www.rufusdayglo.com/

PH: Me and my brothers started off on The Beano,  then went via Tiger to The Mighty World of Marvel. That  started in 1972, and printed the silver-age Marvel stuff. That was the game changer, really. What was your first exposure to comics?

RD:  The first comics I remember seeing were 2000 AD and Battle Action, which my dad would get for me. I instantly fell in love with the Dinosaur strip called FLESH, about time travelers hunted and devoured by T-Rexes! I recently got to draw these very T-Rexes for a Judge Dredd board game that will be out at Christmas…so childhood dream achieved!   I was definitely given a stack of Mighty World of Marvel and POW! which came from family friends. So my first exposure to super heroes was in black and white. ha ha I was quite horrified to discover their costumes were so garish. I assumed they’d be all camouflaged and stealthy…. not dressed like cereal cartons.

Ha! Wouldn’t be the same though, imagine a grey hulk…

There actually WAS a grey Incredible Hulk at one point! Ha ha But yeah… they knew their audience better than me. Ha ha! No wonder I don’t draw superheroes! I did love the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx…anything drawn by Leo Baxendale. He is so amazing.

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Class 2B

Brilliant – especially considering the speed they worked at.  I also loved the incongruous little details – like Chiefy in ‘Little Plum’ watching telly in his wigwam! Ken Reid was fantastic as well –  his ‘Faceache’ was the stuff of nightmares, wasn’t it?  

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Faceache by Ken Reid

Ken Reid is one of the greatest British humour artists! Happily his work’s now finally being collected by Rebellion Publishing, who also own 2000 AD. So there are collections you can now buy online of his stuff! I have been really lucky to professionally draw many of the characters I loved when I was a kid!

 

 

I even made my own Bend Sinister shirt as a kid, by cutting Mark’s face out of cardboard and potato printing it on to a shirt. I was very proud of it… but It looked suitably awful. Ha ha!bs

‘Suitably awful’ is right – I bet the T-shirt  was done with more care than the actual cover was! Speaking of professional drawing – what was your first paid work – is it true you started in animation rather than comics?    

I did start professionally in animation and worked in it for over a decade. I drew Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in Space Jam for Warner Brothers.

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“Look Daffy – it’s Mark E Smith!’

The animation in Space Jam is great – though Chuck Jones wasn’t a fan of what the film had his characters saying, apparently!   Did you work on that in the UK or US?

I worked in London ( a big chunk of the film was done there!) Warner’s set up a studio in Covent Garden for a few years…  We even had Chuck Jones come and visit. He seemed like a very nice chap! Art hero!

I also worked on Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle and Pop and Lucky charms. Later I got to work on lots of pop promos for bands like Gorillaz. I always wanted to do comics, but animation was my training ground. It forced me to draw anything and everything. A bit like being a session musician. It was about technique, style was adaptable!

I like that! It’s true – I improved more as a drummer in a covers band than any other band I’ve been in.

Absolutely!  Working on commercial jobs forces you out of your comfort zone!  It’s important as an artist or musician to be versatile and be able to do MORE than what you WANT to do. I worked all over London in dozens of animation studios. I got to learn from some insanely talented people. Later on I got sick of drawing Nesquik bunnies and finally jumped ship into doing comics full-time.

How do you  do that? Is the comics world easy to get into?

I sent samples to dozens of companies…and was roundly rejected by ALL of them….for years! Ha ha!  I just didn’t give up…. I kept working on my art, trying to improve, and doing my own mini comics and fanzines. It was a great learning curve. It’s the same for a musician…when you hear yourself recorded or filmed… you learn from your mistakes. I don’t know any decent artist who likes their own work….it’s always a search for improvement! Eventually I submitted work to 2000 AD, and they very kindly gave me a chance…and from there I have kept working,  thankfully!

It can be hard as there is no security, but you have to be inventive, and keep connected to editors and writers. It’s like a little spiderweb of creators.

I much prefer doing comics because primarily it’s about storytelling! My job is to tell a whole story, not just draw a small sequence like in animation. It’s like difference between being in a band, and being in an orchestra. Ha ha!

Ha! – for one thing the catering’s not as good! Any aspirations to be a one-man band? Do a Frank Miller and start writing as well?

Yes! I am working on couple of series ideas myself…that I plan to launch in the new year on Patren ( an online art platform ). I love collaborating with others, especially other writers as I can take their idea, and add to it…. but I definitely want to do my own stuff too!

Which comics have you worked on?

I have got work on Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Bad Company ( and also created new series for 2000 AD, my favourite comic magazine!) , Metal Gear Solid and help relaunch Tank Girl with the original writer, Alan Martin.

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I’m sure everyone asks you this, but what did you think of the Tank Girl movie?

 I now have a huge respect for the Tank Girl Film. It wasn’t the film I wanted to watch at the time….BUT in the years since, it has become a huge hit in the States, as it is on TV a lot, and has helped so many teenagers create a role model for themselves. I have had so many letters and emails from kids who identify with the character, and hold her up as the hero, their ideal. Especially from kids who have discovered their LGBT identity.    This to me is a huge thing. It has become the natural successor to the Rocky horror Picture Show. Also Lori Petty has been hugely supportive of our books, and the character, and she is a very kind lovely person. We have become good friends, and she truly is a role model worthy of the title.

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Lori Petty as Tank Girl

And we did get to see Ice-T as a kangaroo! It would be nice to see a reboot, though, wouldn’t it?

Going back to 2000 AD itself, It must have been incredible, to end up working for your favourite magazine with the writers you loved as a kid. Does it live up to expectations?  Is Tharg the Mighty a good boss?

Tharg the Mighty has been huuuugely supportive! 2000 AD is a dream gig, there is so much freedom and chance to try new things.  2000 AD‘s anthology format means you can try stuff and experiment, and Tharg is supportive of this. I have also got to make original series like Counterfeit Girl for 2000 AD  – with Peter Milligan no less!

(Peter Milligan is a legendary comics writer. He created ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Bix Barton’ for 2000 AD before moving on to DC  and Marvel, working on Batman and X-Men among many others)

Wow- Is it daunting, working with people like him  and Alan Martin knowing what they’d done?  

It has been a real treat, working with the people whose work you admire. Comics is a small world, and to work with the people who actually inspired you to pick up a pencil in the first place is  just crazy!cg

Working with Peter has been particularly rewarding, getting to work on Bad Company, my childhood favourite…and also getting to work on new series like Counterfeit Girl. Last Gang in Town for DC Comics ( a series about a punk band who decide to rob the Queen during the Silver Jubilee ) and I am currently drawing a new sci-fi series for 2000 AD called ‘The Devil’s Railroad’ which will be announced soon! In all my work I try and draw in a lot of music references… either adding favourite musicians into stories ( like Dee Dee Ramone and Adam Ant in Tank Girl ) and The Clash, Sex Pistols and Alternative TV in Last Gang in Town. In Judge Dredd I turn song titles into graffiti in his world.

You’d have to have The Clash in ‘Last Gang in Town’ wouldn’t you? 

Ha ha! Absolutely! They are one of my go-to bands for graffiti in comics! I always listen to my favourite bands while working, so inevitably they end up in my work. Over the years I collaborated with a few favourite bands and their ‘camps’, doing art for Alternative TV, Menace, a London punk band , Buzzcocks, Mark P’s Sniffin’ Glue special, Joey Ramone ( with John Holmstrom for Joey’s annual Birthday bash ), Dee Dee Ramone and his ICLC band and now Brix and the Extricated!

Ha! Nice plug! You mentioned ‘Bend Sinister’ before –  were you a fan of The Fall? It can’t have been the sleeve that attracted you!  

I think like many kids it was John Peel –  I listened to the radio, and I loved the name ‘The Fall’, it was easy to write on a school bag or shirt! Ha ha!  I didn’t have a fuckin’ clue what Mark was talking/singing about…. But it was such a cacophony of noise I was thrilled! As the years went by, my admiration of the band continued to grow… like all good artists The Fall took risks. It felt like real rock ‘n’ roll in danger of either spinning out of control…or falling apart at any minute! I saw the band dozens of times, and every gig was amazing for different reasons, from temper tantrums, unplugged instruments, weird cover songs, to only playing new songs…  you NEVER knew what you were gonna get. The Fall to me was true punk, it was about substance, about ideas, about evolution/devolution.  Brix and the Extricated are from the same DNA, and are just as exciting… but what I actually prefer is there is an inherent positivity to the new band…. like all the best elements of The Fall, but without the toxicity.

That’s really gratifying to hear –  a suitable mission statement. In fact that’s a good place to finish:  ‘Brix and The Extricated – all the best elements of The Fall, but without the toxicity, since 2014’ . BRIX TOUR POSTER uk poster 125

 

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The most thrilling moments in recorded history?

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The most thrilling moments in recorded history – keep ’em coming! 

Now, this is an entirely subjective work-in-progress. I’ve no doubt that there are infinite equally-valid variations. And the fact that my original suggestions end in 1977 says more about me than it does about any decline in the quality of pop music since. It’s also unapologetically mainstream. But these tiny moments each have something that transcends even the records they appear on. ‘R n R as primal scream’, as someone far cleverer than me once said. Suggestions that tickle my fancy will be added, with appropriate accreditation, as and when required.

1) The false start on Elvis, Scotty and Bill’s ‘Milk Cow Blues Boogie’  (00:13) is clearly pre-planned, but in terms of capturing the zeitgeist, when Elvis says “Hold it fellas. That don’t move me. Let’s get real, real gone for a change” and they start again at a million miles an hour, it’s a pivotal moment in the history of rock and roll, if not the world.

2) On September 14th 1955, Little Richard was stuck for an intro to his new song – a ribald, if necessarily coded, confession that he was partial to all kinds of fruitiness. ‘You should start it with a roll’ he told drummer Earl Palmer. ‘Something like Wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bop-bom’. No drums required. (00:00)

3) At the end of ‘Twist and Shout’, as the Beatles play the last chord (02:28), Paul McCartney’s off-mic ‘Hey!!’ is luckily captured for posterity. It’s a simple thing, but that one shout perfectly articulates an epoch-making moment, and it’s almost like he knows it. At that very second, the band have not only topped off what was a particularly demanding day with an absolutely spine-tingling recording, but they’ve also completed their first album, kick-started the sixties and , with a little help from the end of the Chatterley ban, invented sex. (© Philip Larkin) .

4) There are a number of massively exhilarating elements to ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’ by the Four Tops: The plaintive flutes at the start, the galloping percussion that accompanies them (btw if you can figure out what was used to create that sound you’re a better man than I), and the buried James-Brownesque growl just as the main vocal kicks in, to name but three. But when Levi Stubbs leads us out of the tambourine solo into the chorus with an imperious ‘Ha!’ (00:46) the world, briefly, becomes a better place.

5) ‘Good Vibrations’  succeeded ‘Reach Out’ as UK Number one, and it’s a record even more densely packed with invention. But while ‘Reach Out’s envelope-pushing arrangement and production were there to serve the song, ‘Good Vibrations’ was created as an exercise in expanding what a pop record could do: the song came later. In the hands of lesser mortals, such self-conscious cleverness often loses sight of what makes pop great in the first place, but ‘Good Vibrations’ manages to both fulfill and confound our expectations of a Beach Boys single at the same time. And it all starts with that exquisite sigh. (00:00)

6) When Roger Daltrey sounded his barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, seven minutes and forty-five seconds into ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, it was swiftly, and quite correctly, acknowledged as one of rock’s greatest moments. In fact it’s so iconic that when they perform it live these days he won’t risk screwing it up – a sample from the record’s played at the key moment. Which is a shame, but somewhat inevitable, given that he’s pushing 75. Most people couldn’t have pulled it off at any age.

7) The bit in ‘Jean Genie’ where Trevor Bolder goes to the chorus before everyone else and Bowie tells him to ‘get back on it’ (00:38) absolutely makes the record. They could have done it again, they could even have fixed it with a bit of skill, a razor blade and some chalk, but thank God they didn’t. Sometimes mistakes are the cleverest thing in the world. Most of the time, sadly, they’re just mistakes.

8) The pinging firework noise that comes just before the ‘No Future’ coda of ‘God Save the Queen’ is uniquely electrifying (02:29). Who thought of it? Where did they source it? Was it from a sound effects album or taped out of the window? Whatever, it’s a sure sign they knew they were lighting the blue touch paper, despite JR’s ridiculous assertion that it was a ‘coincidence’ that God Save The Queen’ was released during the silver jubilee. It also serves as a reminder of just how well-produced the whole of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ is. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that the ‘Spunk’ bootleg is better. Utter horseshit.

9) As nominated by my old bandmate Kelly Wood-Hingley: Jeff Buckley’s sigh at the beginning of the original studio version of ‘Hallelujah’. (00:00) While it’s not always a good idea to imbue recordings with posthumous meaning, in this case it’s nigh-on impossible not to.  Keep breathing Jeff.

10) Nominated by Paul Saxton on Twitter and Geoff Oval on Facebook – Louie Louie, by The Kingsmen. At around the two minute mark, following a brilliantly erratic guitar solo from Mike Mitchell, singer Jack Ely attempts to come back in, utters one syllable, then swiftly realises he’s 2 riffs too early. Legend has it much confusion ensued, with half the band going to the chorus while the rest ploughed on with the verse. Nonetheless, this (take 1) is what got released, and it remains the definitive version of the song. I wouldn’t worry too much about half of ’em playing the wrong bit though – the verse and chorus are the same riff anyway.

11) Alistair Price on Facebook suggests the audible click the first time Keith Richards switches his fuzz pedal on during ‘ Satisfaction’ (00:35).  The switching on/off of the fuzz effect is haphazard enough to suggest that Keith was doing it himself as he played, which is a lovely insight into how recording was done in the mid-sixties. As Alistair says, ‘suddenly you’re in the room with them’.  If Keith and co. sometimes forget that innovative pop is vastly more interesting than inferior slogs through Robert Johnson’s back-catalogue, then it’s moments like this that enable us to forgive them.

12) My good friend Mr Richard Thomas has selected a particularly satisfying moment from Culture’s astonishing piece of self-fulfilling prophecy,  ‘Two Sevens Clash’. Released in May 1977, the lyric was based on a speech by Marcus Garvey, (though no-one is quite sure what he actually said).  Joseph Hill predicted major unrest on the day the two sevens clashed, i.e. 7th July 1977 (which is actually 4 sevens, if you think about it.) Such was the power and influence of the record many Jamaicans stayed indoors and businesses shut up shop on the day in question. Mr Hill’s wonderful ‘What?’ (01:42) perfectly sums up the dissatisfaction therein.

13) The glorious racket that is ‘I Heard Her Call My Name’ by The Velvet Underground has clearly been a key influence on many bands, all of whom fail to balance aggression and melody  as well as Lou, John. Mo and Sterling. Of course noise for the sake of noise can sometimes be exciting, but it gets boring very quickly. Conversely, because it serves a purpose, the feedback that illustrates Lou Reeds’ mind splitting open (as Tony Gleed on facebook describes it ‘when Lou disembowels his guitar all over his fellow Velvets’) at 02:16 remains massively thrilling to this day. (Suggested by Gary Jordan on twitter)

14) My friend and fellow Buzzcock-obsessive Mr Rob Smallwood has suggested John Maher’s thoroughly unexpected snare-and-cymbal slam at 03:18 in ‘Nothing Left’. The song has dropped to a whisper at this point, and is about to start a (very) gradual build-up, so it’s completely out of the blue. It’s one of the many, many examples of John’s perfect enhancements to Pete’s wonderful songs.

15) If the sixties really started with the Beatles first LP, when, culturally,  did they end? In ‘Revolution In the Head’ Ian MacDonald has a couple of suggestions, the day in September 1970 Jimi Hendrix that died being one, and rather more prosaically, October 1973 when OPEC doubled the price of oil overnight. But  it can be argued that the sixties gave way to the seventies at a rather more specific moment: namely when Iggy screamed ‘Looooooord!’ at the beginning of The Stooges’ ‘TV Eye’ . As Kevin F Chanel on facebook points out,  The Stooges  spoke directly to ‘the generation that WASN’T ‘feeling groovy’.  Up till then the MC5 had come closest to articulating this particular sense of disenfranchisement, but it took them their whole catalogue to do so. Iggy boiled it all down to a couple of seconds at the beginning of a song.’

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Simon Foster

I played drums in a covers band for a few years, West Timperley’s second best new wave covers band, in fact, the mighty XL5. Because we all lived close together we used to rehearse in a local rehearsal space, Altrincham Rehearsal Studio Enterprise. (House rules: No kids; No gum, No fucking around). The more observant amongst you will have spotted the handy acronym that most people knew the place by. When Brix & the Extricated need somewhere to rehearse, ARSE seemed like the logical choice. It was easy to get to (though it wasn’t in Altrincham), it was well lit, it had decent equipment and it wasn’t too expensive. None of which really set it apart from most other rehearsal studios. But the USP of ARSE (if that’s not too many acronyms for one sentence) was never its infrastructure, it was the warm welcome that awaited you on arrival.

That welcome was invariably provided by one man, Simon Foster. Simon was a band veteran, a guitarist of many years standing, and ARSE was a labour of love rather than any attempt to make a living. Simon opened up the place, set up gear, tweaked P.A.s, and took the money. He’d even brew up if he was in a particularly good mood, all the time providing a running moan on the day’s events, the football or the other useless bands who used the place.  I assume he was equally as dismissive of our racket, I certainly hope so. Simon recorded and mixed the demos that became the songs on the Extricated album. He did it quickly without fuss, pretension, or any suggestion of difficulty. They sounded great.

Simon died on 25th November 2017, after a cruelly short illness. No-one who used the rehearsal room knew he was ill, so of course no-one said goodbye. Why would we? We all expected to see him again, maybe standing on the front step, brew in hand, listening to The Archers.

sf

In normal terms, I didn’t know him particularly well. I didn’t give him Christmas cards, he didn’t tell me much about his wife and daughters, and I never really discussed my family with him either. But often that’s not how things work around bands and musicians. Friendships exist for the time you work together, then hibernate until you find yourself working together again. From the outside, these marriages of convenience can appear shallow, and there’s probably some truth in that. But to dismiss such friendships is to diminish the impact Simon had on the people who worked with him. He was funny, loyal, helpful and completely un-mercenary.   In short, it was a pleasure and a privilege to know Simon Foster. His regular customers are hoping to keep the place going in memory of him. I hope they succeed, but it won’t be the same.

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In Conversation

I was recently asked to take part in  ‘Library Lounge’, a new series of relaxed ‘in conversation’ events hosted at the wonderful Manchester Central Library. The evening was conducted by Mr Brendan O’Shea, one of the directors of The Manchester Central Library Development trust, and a good mate of mine. It was a most enjoyable evening, and we covered everything from Sooty to Spotify. I was also delighted to be asked to take part in Manchester Central Library Lovers’ Back a Book initiative. You can read about the scheme here.  I picked 1985 by legendary Mancunian curmudgeon Anthony Burgess, as it was a book that was recommended to me as a 14 year old by a librarian at my local library who’d noticed I’d already borrowed 1984 and A Clockwork Orange and thought I would appreciate it.  Professional librarians who take an interest in the library’s users, What a brilliant thing.

1985

The conversation was recorded for posterity by the good folks at Route and you can see it below. I’d urge everyone to get themselves along to Central Library, Manchester is remarkably lucky to have it.

 

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Talking books

Here’s a link to the panel at the ‘Louder than Words’ literary festival that took place in 2015 featuring Si Wollstencroft, Dave Simpson, our kid (Steve Hanley if you didn’t know), and me. A jolly time had by all,  and it certainly whets the appetite for Steve’and Simon’s books. One moment worth noting is Tony Fletcher’s longest question of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8Y86O1ARFI

A couple of weeks’ previous I’d taken part in  a similar event at Gorilla as part of Bob Stanley’s launch for ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ – another interesting evening, though no documentary evidence as far as I know. That one was with Dave Haslam, Stella Grundy, Ruth Daniel and the very brilliant Jeremy Deller. Ruth was also a member of The Fall though i imagine it’s further down on her CV than it is on mine.

Incidentally ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah is an astonishing piece of work,  as good a combination of reference work and love-letter to pop as you could wish for.

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A review of the mighty Public Image Ltd in (nearly) their original incarnation. With thanks to the Fodderstompf website

Manchester, Kings Hall, Belle Vue, UK
February 23rd, 1979

Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig
John Lydon
Keith Levene: Guitar
Jah Wobble: Bass
Eddie Edwards: Drums

Set List:
Theme / Annalisa / Low Life / Religion / Attack / Belsen Was A Gas / Public Image / Annalisa

© 2011 Fodderstompf.com / Paul Hanley

PiL - Creation For Liberation, Manchester, Kings Hall 23.2.79 Flyer .

The palpable excitement I felt at the prospect of seeing Mr Lydon live on stage was tempered somewhat by the knowledge that to get to King’s Hall involved a walk through Gorton and Belle Vue, the Burke and Hare of East Manchester districts. I had turned 15 the week before the gig and the area along Hyde Rd was as rough a place as I would ever wish to encounter on foot. The fear was not enough to put us off, of course, and we arrived safe enough, but the tangible mood of foreboding and disquiet continued once inside the venue. The cider-fuelled belligerence of the Mohican-and-tartan brigade was a constant presence at gigs of the time, as were the hails of gob that greeted anyone who took to the stage, no matter how tenuous their links to ‘Punk Rock’ might be.

As abhorrent as I found the practice of expectorating over people who’d come to entertain you, I could feel some sympathy in the case of The Pop Group, the first band we saw. Their brand of feeble agit-pop certainly left me cold. ‘This can’t be The Pop Group’ I remember shouting to no-one in particular – ‘they’re supposed to be good!’ they were as smart-arse oh-so-ironic as their name would suggest, and if there’s anything more annoying than watery funk played by skinny white guys I’ve yet to experience it.

The two poets on the bill did their best with a sound system vastly unsuitable for spoken word – Linton Kwesi Johnson’s immensely powerful ‘Sonny’s Lettah’ had recently been seen on ‘So It Goes’ and his basso profundo intonation went someway to addressing the PA’s inadequacies. Local hero John Cooper Clark is always guaranteed a good reception around these parts. At that time though he had an annoying habit of whipping through his hits at breakneck speed – his delivery of ‘Chicken Town’ in particular resembling nothing more than an amphetamine-heavy farmers auctioneer who needed a pee. His set seemed to last about 5 minutes.

Finally it was time for PIL. It was immediately obvious that the gig was vastly more important for the audience than it was for the band. In these days of Arena spectaculars and across the board professionalism it’s easy to forget just how half arsed some gigs were back in the day, and if there was a pinnacle of half-arsedness, this was it. Public Image Ltd shuffled on – ‘Just us, no theatrics, take it or leave it’ as John put it, as if the audience had spotted them while walking past instead of buying their tickets weeks in advance. With an obviously under rehearsed drummer, they ran through the highlights of their first album. With songs of such quality even the general air of nonchalance couldn’t dampen the thrill of seeing Messrs Lydon, Levene and Wardle in the flesh, though Jah Wobble was harder to spot as standing and playing at the same time was beyond him at this point. ‘Theme’ and ‘Religion’ were as bellicose and unsettling live as they were on vinyl, and with the quality of Virgin’s pressings in those days it was nice to hear them with no jumps. The drummer coped better with the faster tracks ‘Annalisa’ and ‘Low life’ though all he had by way of guidance was the occasional curt nod or shake of the head from the ever-cheery Keith Levene. He must have been a wreck by the end of it.

‘First Issue’ was never the longest of long players and with Religion 1 and Fodderstompf missing the set was in danger of coming in below 30 minutes, but for the addition of ‘Belsen Was a Gas’. For a 15 year old punk rock fan two emotions fought for dominance at this point – sheer delight at being able to say you ‘d seen Johnny Rotten perform a Sex Pistols song live, and severe disappointment that they’d chosen the worst song (by a country mile) in their cannon . ‘This is irony’ John announced before the launched into it, presumably that the lyric ( supposedly written by Sid) ended with the line ‘Kill yourself’. I’m only guessing, mind, John was in no mood to elucidate. ‘Public Image’ the song turned the gig briefly into everything I had hoped it would be – the crowd was energised; Lydon’s vocal’s finally took flight;, Levene’s million-guitars-at-once showed the Edge what to do for the next 30 years and Wobble’s thrumming bottom end was enough to get everyone except him to their feet.
And that was it. They did return for an encore – very showbiz, except for the fact that it was ‘Annalisa’ again, and then they were gone. We ambled away, free to wander the savage lands of Belle Vue once more. On the plus side, it was earlier than we’d thought it would be.

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Stuff the Superstars

By way of an opener, my review (as previously presented in ‘Reformation’, The Fall webzine (terrible phrase)  of a gig I attended ‘back in the day’ (another horrible expression): 1979 if you prefer. I saw a fairly large amount of gigs at this time but this one retains a certain amount of significance for me. Firstly because all Joy Division gigs were soon to become important for fairly obvious reasons, and  secondly because I’d end up playing drums for the aforementioned Fall within the year…

I turned 15 in 1979. I had a drum kit, I know that. I was becoming seriously obsessed with music, I know that too. Apart from that the details are a bit vague, if I’m honest. School was as soul-destroying as ever, the endless dismal days of double chemistry only lightened by the opportunity to play ‘Another Music in a Different Kitchen’ on Fr. Green’s dansette at lunch time. (Father Green, like Joy Division, later attained a certain amount of notoriety but for very different reasons)  I also had a job in a butcher’s shop on Saturdays, as I recall, but that’s about it.
Regarding Saturday 28th July 1979, however, I can be quite precise as to my whereabouts. I was at Belle Vue’s celebrated (!) Mayflower, or rather The Fun House, a new wave club which occasionally squatted on the premises in much the same way as The Factory holed up in the Russell Club.

 
 

It was a memorable day, for a number of reasons.

 

For one, my brother’s band was one of the many scheduled to play that night, which meant I got in for free. Secondly, me and my mate Pete, who lived up the road in Openshaw, made our own way there, on foot. The quaintly named Belle Vue was at least as rough then as it is now, probably more. Hyde Road was as schizophrenic as it’s literary namesake, the last few visitors to the  amusement park giving way to all manner of cut-purses and ne’er-do-wells as the watery daylight surrendered to the grimy darkness (which never seemed to be far way in late seventies Manchester). We walked, because that’s what you did then. The days of parents dropping you and picking you up after the gig (which I’m afraid I’m guilty of with my 15 year old) were a lifetime and a seismic cultural shift away. Luckily we made it unscathed, physically if not mentally.

    

The gig was billed as ‘Stuff the Superstars’- a kind of indoor festival, which featured most of the Manchester bands of note (Buzzcocks weren’t there, of course – they’d signed to UA by then and were probably in London eating Lobster and chips and quaffing champagne).

 
 

 

 Nominally top of the bill were The Distractions, who I’d previously seen supporting The Fall at Kelly’s, a tiny venue in Manchester, and who were earmarked (if only by City Fun) as the next big thing, though of course they never were. We (naturally) were ostensibly there to see The Fall, although Joy Division were also a major attraction. They’d also made significant headway since I’d seen them earlier (at Bowdon Vale youth club) and they were on the verge of next big thingdom themselves.

 

City Fun Fanzine was definitely Manchester’s magazine-du-jour (if magazine is the right word).  Sold at virtually every gig (as well as Virgin and Piccadilly records) it occupied a hallowed status among the concert goers of Manchester. It wasn’t a bad read either. Admittedly it was as humourless as The Passage playing at a Funeral, but in its defence, they were humourless times. Bands these days are so desperate to convey their wit and sense of fun you tend to forget that in 1979 most bands (or certainly most Manchester bands) were primarily anxious to convey their solemnity. The Joy Division of the NME and the Joy Division in the café next to Davidson’s rehearsal room were two very different beasts, believe me.    
 

City Fun were also the organisers of ‘Stuff the Superstars’, which would explain how the appalling Glass Animals (featuring writers Andy Zero, Cath Carroll and Liz Naylor) were so far up the bill (and the fact that they weren’t booted off stage after one song.) 

 

One of the first bands we saw were the ever-brilliant Hamsters. Who said Manchester bands were humourless? (Well I did, I know, but there has to be exceptions) ‘Friday Night at the Chinese Chip shop’; ‘Ole Spain’; ‘I’m a C**t’ – I could sing them now. If I ever get to curate Meltdown (and surely it can’t be long) they’ll be first on my list.      

 

Next band were Armed Force, featuring the ubiquitous Muppet on vocals. He was at every gig you ever went to, in those days. (I often wonder what he did with his leather jacket with ‘Adam & the Ants’ lovingly rendered across the back. When ‘Prince Charming’ came out it must have broken his heart.)  I remember he had Leopard Skin hair, but I couldn’t tell you what they sounded like if you put a gun to my head. Punky, I’d guess.

 

Also on the bill that day (surprisingly low down) were The Frantic Elevators, forever known (in my house at least) as Mick Hucknall’s proper band. He had a decent set of pipes even then, though in those days he sounded more like Jon Anderson of Yes than Curtis Mayfield.  ‘Feel Like the Hunchback of Notre Dame’ – that was their big one, simultaneously more witty, poignant and catchy than anything Simply Red ever did (except possibly ‘Holding Back the Years’, but then that was an Elevators song as well).
 
 

 Joy Division were next on the bill. There were two things which really stuck in my mind about their set. One, inevitably, was Ian Curtis’ dancing, which, cliché though it is, really was a sight to behold. It didn’t seem linked to normal dancing, i.e. based on enjoyment of music or getting into the rhythm, at all. He just looked like some unseen force was making him do it. A man possessed, and simultaneously as exciting and disturbing as that sounds.

 

 

Being a drummer, the other thing that stuck in my mind was Steve Morris’ ‘Syn-Drum’™, which he could make go KCHKCK! and BO! (but not at the same time). This was obviously the future of drumming. All it needed was the ability to make 20 or 30 other interesting sounds and it would have really caught on. Funnily enough, the BO! sound can be heard on lots of records of the time, like ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ or ‘It Feels Like I’m In Love’ but I don’t remember the KCHKCK noise (which sounded like someone hitting corrugated iron with a screwdriver) appearing anywhere but ‘She’s Lost Control’. SLC was always 10 times better live than either of the recorded versions. In fact, their whole set that night was a lot rockier and aggressive than their albums would suggest, almost Heavy Metal at times. Barney’s guitar in particular was noticeably diminished by Martin Hannett’s production. In any case they were astonishing, much better than the next time I saw them, supporting Buzzcocks at the Apollo. On that occasion their set was cut to about 20 minutes, presumably for fear they would upstage the headliners. Heart-breakingly, then, ‘Stuff The Superstars’ must have been about as good as Joy Division ever got, as they didn’t have long left.   

 

They were followed by Ludus, most notable (at least to me) for featuring Linder, who designed the sleeve for ‘Orgasm Addict’. I’d seen them before (and hated them), so presumably I declined to stand through another performance, as I have no recollection of their set at all.

 

Next up were The Liggers. (Think a punk 3 Degrees, none of whom could sing particularly well. In fact, they were Bananarama, before Bananarama were). They were rather good, before their time, if anything, though their choice of associates left a little to be desired. It all kicked off back stage when Craig Scanlon, the newly installed Fall guitarist, in an outrageous display of arrogance, rested his arm on one of the Liggers guitar cases. He was rewarded for this disgraceful behaviour with a flying head butt from a Neolithic skinhead (One of The Liggers liggers?) After apologies had been proffered (Craig apologised for hitting the guy’s forehead with the bridge of his nose, and for getting blood on him, and the skinhead guy apologised for being a bit forward) Mark Smith sought to pour oil on troubled waters by tripping up the aggressive cave dweller as he walked past, then denying all knowledge, despite the baldy guy threatening to rip his face off. I was seriously impressed with Mr. Smith’s bravery, if not his common sense. I was also struck how the whole band had stuck together to deal with this unprovoked attack on one of their own. That’s how bands behave, I thought. This is the life for me, then.

 

Shortly after this The Fall took the stage.  The preceding events must have fired them up, as this was as good a performance as this line-up ever presented, complete with Mike Leigh’s legendary rendering of  ‘A Figure Walks’ standing up, new single ‘Rowche Rumble’ in all its ragged glory and ‘In My Area’ featuring those bloody awful rototoms. It was also Yvonne Pawlett’s last gig, according to my sources. The transformation from Witch Trial’s drilled and musicianly supergroup to the strange and quirky odd balls we all know and love was complete. Mark E. Smith, at least in those days, was as fascinating a figure to watch on stage as Ian C. had been earlier, stalking the stage, glaring angrily into the middle distance and doing that funny dance he used to do. His between-numbers patter in those days was also as entertaining as the songs.  What an absolute joy it was to watch The Fall in 1979. Someday all bands will be like this. 

 

The Distractions could only ever be a footnote, after that, though it’s a shame their lovingly-crafted pop vignettes never reached a bigger audience. The big problem was they never looked like the part, the singer and drummer especially (respectively the wrong side of 34” waist and 34 years old. It’s a tough gig this pop malarkey.) They had a male guitarist and a female bass player who wore matching outfits, I remember. They should have formed a duo, they looked great. Interesting side-note –  Legend has it that there was once a cash crisis at Island Records and a last minute meeting was called to decide whether to drop The Distractions or U2.  (They went with Distractions, by the way)

 

The ticket /flyer will tell you there were other bands on that night, Elti Fits, for instance, but I must confess I have no recollection. (At least I remember their existence, which is more than can be said of The 5 Skinners.) I must have also missed John the Postman, though I suspect he may have done Louie Louie. 

 

The evening (from the walk to the venue onwards) was imbued with the kind of tension and unease that you don’t get at gigs these days (or at least I don’t). The venue was filthy in the way that only Manchester clubs in 1979 could be. The sound was muddy, and to describe the organisation as amateurish is to be over generous.  One of the best gigs I ever attended, in summation. The Mayflower no longer exists, of course. The last gig I ever saw there was ‘Nik Turners Inner City Unit’. On that occasion me, Steve, Marc and Craig, and Bob and Moey from The Hamsters were the entire audience. Shame there’s nowhere to put the blue plaque.  

 

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