Monday, 30 August 2010

Meat Is Murder.

I'm sitting writing this at home when I should be at Hursts Cross to watch FC United of Manchester play Ashton United, particularly as I've enjoyed that ground and its friendly staff on previous visits, and FC are on fire at the moment, unbeaten in three and five one winners over Retford United last Saturday. The picture above is from that match, and is of my eldest son. He's been coming to FC with me since the first 'home' game in August 2005, and he now ballboys (is that a verb?) whenever he can. He's proud to be an FC fan, knows why we can't go to Old Trafford, and is developing a great understanding of all aspects of the game. Somebody recently remarked to me, on hearing that another fan's daughter was off to university, that 'the FC experience' had provided us with a group of confident, friendly and intelligent kids. He's right. When we finally move into Ten Acres Lane, the football ground and community facility we're raising funds to build in Newton Heath, I know it'll be in safe hands.

I was also 'doing my bit' on Saturday, selling vegetarian hotdogs in FC United's pre-match gig/club night / carnival, Course You Can Malcolm. It's always a bit of a mixed bag is Course You Can Malcolm; there's usually a local band playing, for free, a set which lasts twenty-two minutes, one minute for each player on the pitch. Except this week there wasn't, instead there was an excerpt from MAD Theatre Company's upcoming Thai Brides and Teacakes, and jolly good it was too. It's worth noting that we're no strangers to culture at Course You Can Malcolm, previous treats have included a Christmas Choir featuring members of the Halle, a mini-play featuring Early Doors' James Quinn and John Henshaw (see it here) and a troupe (if that's the right term) of belly-dancers.  The whole point, though, apart from providing us all with a pre-match pub environment in the bowels of Gigg Lane complete with manly growling, is to raise funds for FC United.  Which is why I was cooking Quorn in a kettle; the Carrot Corner Kettle mark two and The Eldest was getting piss wet-through chasing up and down the side of the pitch.

Thanks to Alistair Adams, one of our wonderful army of volunteer matchday photographers, for the picture. See more of his work at

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Time Bomb High School.

booktemp1, originally uploaded by mithering.
We Never Learn. The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001 - Eric Davidson. A review.

It's fair to say that the vast majority of the bands featured in this book will mean next to nothing to 99% of the music-consuming publics, but for me it represents a confirmation that every dog eventually has its day. More so than seeing Urge Overkill or Sonic Youth on Top of the Pops - that was achieved through major label sponsorship and for those singles the pursuit of 'novelty', more so than the eventual arrival of John Waters' queer trash sensibilities smack in the middle of 'normal' culture - My High School Hairspray, anybody? It's almost not worth listing the bands or trying to codify an approach or rationale for their individual trajectories (always, always down, it must be said) because writer Eric Davidson is trying to lasso together a pool full of jerking, slipping, sliding electric eels.

To explain, this book is two things; a brief history of The New Bomb Turks, a great punk rock band from Columbus, Ohio who were mainly active in the 1990s, and the chronicling of a non-scene Davidson has seen fit to label Gunk Punk.  To be fair, apart from a transparent rush to the end of the book when it seems he's not really all that interested in the bands he is writing about but his professionalism demands that they are highlighted, it is the only time he is wrong-footed. One can only assume that Gunk Punk, a non-term, came from an editorial / publishing decision intended to give Joe Public a label to attach to this motley bunch of scenes, bands, towns, promoters, labels, fanzines, arseholes, losers, smackheads and drunks.

That's the small print out of the way; the book itself is magnificent. Well, magnificent in the way that a book about DIY bands on tuppeny ha'penny labels in Buttfuck, Minnesota can be. It's extremely comprehensive - I was mired in this scene in the early 90s, publishing four issues of Moral Sense, a fanzine which had (mainly) US garage punk running throught its veins, and I've been hard-pressed to find many glaring omissions or playings down of reputation (personally, I'd like to have seen a tiny bit more about The Phantom Surfers who, despite playing surf music, personify the fun, stupid, basic approach which characterises much of this music). All the 'major' players are either interviewed or mentioned; Gories, Oblivians, Supercharger, Estrus Records, The Mummies, Supersuckers, In The Red, The Devil Dogs, Crypt Records, The Gibson Brothers, The Dwarves ... oops, I promised no list-making was necessary.

Davidson highlights the influence of the Back from the Grave compilations of the trashier end of the 60s US garage punk scene and their 70s counterparts, Killed By Death, on the bands he has written about and its clear that those compilations, along with the economic reality of not being able to afford the good studios or slick producers, contributed to the bluntness of a lot of this music.  It's also clear that most of the good stuff was in the past by the time there was a 'garage' boom fuelled through NME coverage in the earlier part of the century. Distance from the roots led to a lot of pretty weak stuff masquerading as garage, or the lionising of fairly unoriginal (and that in a scene where non-originality could sometimes be regarded a badge of honour) bands who would previously have been confined to the backwaters.

Anyhow, you can judge for yourself to a degree, because there's a free twenty-song download with this book which includes some great stuff. The book also has an index; Lucas, Michael - tick, Long Gone John - tick, White, Jason - tick, Balcarcel, Raul - not included. The greatest band of all in that scene, the never-missed Fingers are relegated to footnote status in an interview with Jason 'Sheer Filth' White. There are also lists of the best fifty singles and the best one hundred LPs (surely it should have been the other way round) and while Davidson misses a trick (again) by omitting The Fingers from the singles list, he makes up for it by confirming that, of the fifty listed, the best of all is 'Teenage Love Bomb' by Australian slop-kings The Dirty Lovers.

Buy it.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

THE GORIES (final show) "Ghostrider"

I've nearly finished reading Eric Davidson's 'We Never Learn' and will review it over the next couple of days. In the meantime, and as a follow up to the Supercharger interview 'reprinted' earlier. Here's a piece from the final days of Detroit's magnificent Gories written for Moral Sense magazine by co-conspirator, Mr. Richard Hector-Jones.  Thanks also to for the video of the band in action.

Archive Interview With Dan Kroha From Detroit City’s The Gories

The Gories hail from Motor City itself, Detroit. To us Limeys, there are not many other places above it for Rock'n'Roll romance. The Stooges, The MC5, Tamla Motown, Derrick May, Underground Resistance... the list goes on.

These Gories fit tastily in with Detroit's finest, these sick little puppies play the rockinest, sexiest, most primitive rhythm and blues this sinner has heard. Just check out Outta Here (Crypt Records LP) to know that I'm not telling you lies. Like Jack O'Fire, they never even consider music as anything other than soul.

Moral Sense contacted Dan Kroha (rhythm guitar/vocalist) and pushed him for dope on the band, Detroit and any other stuff we needed to know. The only other knowledge you need is that Mick plays the lead guitar (in pure righteousness) and sings, while Sister Peg plays the traps in a style so primal it's XXX obscene. Well, she did, but that's all to come.

So, is Detroit the town we think it is?

"Detroit is a lively town and it has its scenes. There are tons of bands here, just not that many you or I would dig. There's a big cheese-o metal scene. Whatever's big on MTV is big in Detroit for the most part."

But what about its rocking history, after all the town has nurtured?

"To get an idea of how MC5/Stooges were perceived at the time, you have to listen to Frijid Pink, Frost, Grand Funk Railroad and other Michigan bands who were big at the time, cos only then do you realise exactly how OUT THERE The Stooges and MC5 were."

Yeah, you do take their importance for granted when you see them out of context.

"People throw around the names because they've become cool. But you know The Stooges didn't get any airplay then. At least 'Kick Out The Jams' was a local hit, but it didn't take long for MC5 to get dropped by Elektra and decide to clean up their act for Atlantic. Don't get the impression Detroit is empty, it's just there are vacant patches. A lot of cooler bands seem to skip playing Detroit altogether. They get a better crowd in Ann Arbor (a rich college town about 45 minutes away). The Blues Explosion did pretty well there but only attracted a few people here. Same with The Gibson Brothers and '68 Comeback.

"The Gories did a gig a few years back opening for The Gibson Brothers. Jon Spencer was with them. After we'd played, Jon came up and raved (though Jon doesn't really rave) about our set, saying we were the coolest thing he'd seen in a long time. I booked them a gig the next night in Detroit and they said, 'No way are we following you guys on stage, we'll go on first'. It sucked because no one was there, but it was fun.

"I've seen The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion a couple of times, and they're rockin'. That Extra Width LP is great! This young girl came up to Jon after their Detroit gig and asked him how did he get so much soul. He said he sucked a lot of black cock, but I'm sure he'd choke on any cock, black or white! That girl had obviously never heard a Stax record. Dig?"

Finally on Detroit, is there really a Stooges museum?

"Apparently there is a Stooges museum at Ann Arbor, where the Asheton Brothers are from (Stooges' drummer and guitarist, Scott and Ron). I've never been to it. It's just some guy who has a house with a bunch of Stooges stuff in it, I guess. Maybe a wax likeness of Iggy and a pair of silver elbow length gloves. I asked Barry Henssler, singer with Big Chief about it, and he wouldn't give me a straight answer."

So what's The Gories story? How did you get fixed up with Alex Chilton (of Big Star, Box Tops fame)?

"The story goes, a friend of ours from Detroit was travelling down South to do some research for a film he wanted to make. He saw Alex in a club down there in Alabama or something and ended up hanging out with him after the show. They were somewhere with a tape player and our friend Dan played him a tape of The Gories and he flipped over it. "Who's that?" Alex goes. Dan goes "It's some friends of mine from Detroit" and Alex said "Here's my number. Have someone from the band get in touch with me. I think I can help them out". So Dan tells me about it, I call Alex, and the first thing he says is 'Who's your drummer?' That's pretty prophetic because he's living with her now. So anyway, Alex loved The Gories from the word go. He said, 'I think you guys would go over well in Europe, I want to help you get a record out over there.' He was already doing records for New Rose, so he talked to the head man there about getting a Gories LP out produced by him. I think if Alex's name was not going to be on it, New Rose would never have done it."

Soon, things turned for the worst.

"We signed a one LP deal with them, drove down to Memphis, got our $6000 advance and recorded. I'm glad we recorded it fast cos we had $1000 left over, which we split between us. That was the only money we saw from New Rose. We were really excited about it at first because The Lyres, The Cramps, Real Kids etc had all recorded for New Rose. They promised us a tour over there, and we thought we were on our way. Of course, the tour never happened. The LP was impossible to find in the USA and if you could find it, the price was outrageous."

Fortunately, the good people at Crypt are reissuing the first two Gories LPs so hopefully the matter will be remedied to an extent. Further more, it gives the public at last the chance to listen to some classic supercharged garage punk.

So what are The Gories up to at the moment?

"No one has officially replaced Peg, although I have been teaching a friend, Christine, a few Gories tunes. The person who replaces Peg has got to be taught that style. No one who already knows how to play drums can do it. There are no new records yet. Mick's doing a lot of writing and is a big fan of comic books. He wants to put out his own, but writes many stories for others. He has ideas for at least four different bands at any one time. He's an ideas man with a highly developed imagination."

With The Gories on the back burner, what are you up to at the moment?

"Well, there's the Demolition Doll Rods, the brain child of my friend Margaret who plays rhythm guitar and writes all the songs in that band. She thought up the whole idea, band name, instrumentation, me as a girl. It's kind of modelled after The Gories which is one of her favourite bands. I play lead guitar and wear Margaret's clothes. She's not big, I'm just small. It's her sister I'm teaching to play drums in the same way Mick taught Peg."

Finally, what is of most importance to you and the esteemed Gories?

"Well, things that will be obvious to any true garage band. Play what you like and fuck what people think, don't try to follow trends. If you feel behind the times stick with it, cos trends inevitably come back round and you'll look like you were ahead of the times all along. Musically, I prefer old guitars and old tube amps that don't have master volumes, then FRY THOSE POWER TUBES!! (That's valves to you Brits)."

Words from the wise cos like I said at the start, The Gories rule.

Richard Hector-Jones

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Rocket From The Crypt - On A Rope.

I'm still working my way through Eric 'New Bomb Turks' Davidson's 'We Never Learn', the story of a web of vaguely-connected DIY music scenes, bands, venues and shakers I had loose involvement with in the early 90s. Once I've read it, I'll try to post a review. In the meantime, here's a Top of the Pops appearance by Rocket From The Crypt. I was in Spain when this was on TV. I know this for sure because I had tickets to see them in Madrid on the Friday night. The show was mysteriously pulled at the last minute due to 'venue problems'. Next day, I bought a copy of The Guardian and saw in the TV listings that the previous night's live edition of Top of the Pops was due to be repeated that lunchtime, complete with an appearance by Speedo and The Gang. Bastards.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Up Against The Wall XX: Morgan is a lesbian with Katrina. Yeh.

From the playground next to Bala's ground. Is Morgan a 'boy' name or a 'girl' name?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Time's Up.

Kick-off in Bala has been delayed for half an hour for no apparent reason.

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls.

Woohoo! Yay! Off to another FC United pre-season friendly. Another Euro away at Bala Town in Wales. Mints bought.

Friday, 6 August 2010

4D (Fourth Dimension).

Been meaning to post this for a while; an appropriately gimmicky tribute to Frank Sidebottom. 3D picture in shop window with the glasses taped to the glass. I'm sure he would have approved.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Rock Lobster.

This is where Lobstera retired to after ravishing Dawn Davenport in John Waters' Desperate Living - Gulliver's World in Warrington. Pinky and Perky are also here, but more about them soon.

Up Against The Wall XIX: Toe Rag.

Toe Rag., originally uploaded by mithering.

No, this is not the door plate for the London recording studio where the Saturn V Featuring Orbit recorded their "Behind Closed Doors At A Recording Session" 7", instead it's some random graffiti on Copperas Street in Manchester and a much-neglected insult.