Saturday, December 04, 2004
Songs of Love and Fury
Homestead Records, 1986
Once upon a time, like most such stories begin on this journal, there was three working-class teenage blokes who saw, or maybe heard of, four traveling minstrels who went about the land singing of anarchy, insurrection and having fun. These minstrels were unlike any others these three blokes had ever heard. Back then, only magical wizards who held degrees in musical production and economics and owned massive amounts of expensive instruments could play for the Queen. But here were these four gobs banned in all the civilized places telling everyone they could just pick up their own instruments out of the junkpiles and local shoppes and make their own music for themselves and their friends. Well, these three blokes took it to heart.
But first they went home and watched Dr. Who.
Later they got themselves some instruments and started playing loud and crappy music that peeled the eardrums from the residents of their Tatty Seaside Town. The songs would be like no others pulling in influences from all over the map and then mimicking the sounds around them - the callilopes of the merry-go-rounds, the star of the fortune tellers, the vacuum cleaners of suburbia, even the garish colors of the place make sounds.
They borrowed a friend named Spike's tape recorder with the thought they might put these songs on tape.
But first, they went to the pub and made up unnatural drinking songs on the way home.
Very soon, others in their tatty town took heart and started making their own sounds. Compilations were sent forth, the blokes started their own record label to capture their sounds and their buddies' music. Pretty soon they were able to save enough to put out an EP and sent it over the water to a young Prince who ran a record label.
Another bloke, now dead, started playing their songs as well and more people were coming to their shows and it was good. They started hearing songs from bands hailing from townes and regions known as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, even Arizona and of course their nearby cousins in London and Manchester. And even more new sounds crept into their own music making it even better.
After much back and forth - trips hither and yon playing as minstrels on several continents, the three young blokes put together enough songs to fill the 40-some minutes of an LP. The songs were hailed far and wide even today as perhaps their best collection.
The entitled this collection Songs of Love and Fury but they could have also called it Songs for Waiting For the End of the World and Getting Bored So Making Up Shit to Amuse Us In the Meantime.
It was year of our Lyrd 1986 in Blackpool. Envision a plastic hell filled with itchy-fingered locals and out-of-town t-shirt zombies trading thier filthy lucre for every possible piece of crud possible. Over this consumerist apocalyptic hell stands an iron tower filled with every stupid wonder a half-brained ponytail-cap-wearing creepo might want and you want to burn it down and shut them all up. You leave the town and you see only more of the same and even worst - tanks rumbling by, clusters of beggars, vandals in sandals. Going to your home home isn't much different - your moms playing crappy radio in the living room and rotting beef in the fridge.
But you get older, dumber, the sun comes out, loathesome children come around and start it all over again.
"Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man" (157 kbps VBR, 3.2 Mb)
"Bang!" (212 kbps VBR, 2.6 Mb)
"Big Fun Tonight" (171 kbps VBR, 4.4 Mb)
"Thank Heavens for the Iron Horse" (162 kbps VBR, 3.8 Mb)
Other MP3s of note:
- "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" is one of their more well-known songs - it's not on this album (48 kbps - which somehow is appropriate for this noisesquawk) - courtesy of Radio Bangladesh
- Here's a cover that updates Membranes big hit, "Tatty Seaside Town" by Therapy!
- Speaking of which, John Robb now leads Goldblade, a sort of retro-oi-punk band. They're very tight. Here's a song of theirs - I like it (referring page)
- John Robb, the most visible member of Membranes, maintains a history (google cache, the original page is fubar) and discography of his old band
- Robb also writes for Playlouder.com. He's still the same anti-everything type of guy. His most recent is a Christmas message
- It's criminal but this album is long out of print and never, to my knowledge, available on CD. However, three of the songs ("Kennedy '63", "Spaceships", "Everyone's Going Triple Acid Yeah") are available on The Best of the Membranes import CD
- Kiss Ass Godhead recorded by Steve Albini (one of his first) is still in print. Check here for prices.