White Light

Whoosh! and oof! This arrived in my Inbox yesterday and is a tremendous racket, a full throttle explosion with flailing, driving, distorted guitars and pounding drums courtesy of Psychic Lemon (a three piece who rehearse and record in a studio in the back of a small garden in Cambridge apparently). They released an album last year called Live At The Smokehouse, a five track, forty- two minute long recording of a show they played in Ipswich. I think Drew turned me on to it. It’s an intense and vivid blast of psyche/kraut/space rock, an instrumental guitar and synth freak out. The song titles alone should give you an idea about what to expect- Interstellar Fuzz Star, Satori Disko, Hey Droog!, Johnny Marvel At The Milky Way and White Light, the song in it’s studio version that they now offer as a free download. Their new album Freak Mammal is out in November. Press play. Turn volume up. Cobwebs blown.

Simple Lives Yeah

Back in 1988/89 The Stone Roses were a blast of fringes, flares and winter coats coupled with psychedelic, insurrectionist guitar pop and abstract expressionism. They also had a tendency to take the tapes they’d recorded their songs onto and play them backwards. These backwards experiments created four songs, all four of which are headspinning adventures in sound. I remember reading an interview with the band where Ian and John spoke about for fun they used to drive out to the airport, park up near the runway and lie on the bonnet of the car while jumbo jets took off overhead (hallucinogens may have been involved). I seem to recall them saying that the backwards songs were partly an attempt to get that kind of sound on disc.

The first released fruit of these studio experiments was the Elephant Stone 12″ single, out in 1988 (Elephant Stone sounds more and more to these ears like one of the shiniest gems in their back catalogue, especially the 12″ mix). Full Fathom Five (named after a Jackson Pollock painting) is Elephant Stone backwards, vocals and music, Squire’s guitar lines recognisable, the trippy shoom-shoom sound of backwards cymbals a constant with Ian’s menacing backwards vocals.

Full Fathom Five

Released the following year (round about now in 1989) the Made Of Stone 12″ had two B-sides, the acoustic ode to oral sex that is Going Down and Guernica. Guernica is the music from Made Of Stone backwards (minus the drums) but with new vocals, sung forwards, smothered in reverb to sink them into the track. ‘You wanna hurt me stop the row’ Ian sings, and ‘we’re whores, sit down, we’re whores, that’s us’ (and the line at the top of this post). The driving guitars and bass of Made Of Stone sound immense backwards and it sounds like there may be some extra guitars or feedback added by Squire to double up that ghostly, rushing sound. It’s not unlike hearing them in a wind tunnel (or underneath the engines of a jet plane taking off). Guernica was produced by The Garage Flowers, an alias they used when producing themselves, and it’s no surprise they took the backwards experimentation further. Like Full Fathom Five, Guernica is named after a key 20th century painting.

Guernica

The third backwards B-side was Simone, only available in 1989 on a U.S. import 12″ (I Wanna Be Adored). It was this point, standing in HMV in ’89 that I realised I was in deep, about to cough up £8.49 for a 12″ single with only one song on it I didn’t already own. Simone is Where Angels Play reversed, a backwards version of a song that wouldn’t be put out by the group until Silvertone released as a B-side in 1991 in an attempt to milk the cow while it tried to sue them. Simone is a trip, shimmering and moody with guitar lines coming out of the inky blackness, no drums, the faintest, echo-laden whispers of vocals and then throbbing rushes of rhythm guitar. A swirling psychedelic stew. Play all three backwards songs back-to-back for full on backwards fun.

Simone

The ultimate backwards song was Don’t Stop, a song that graced the debut album, Waterfall backwards with cowbell, new drums and words, perfectly pitched (and perfectly placed, following on from it’s forwards version). I wrote about it last year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968. It’s here. I said then that to write the lyrics for Don’t Stop John listened to Waterfall backwards through headphones and wrote down what Ian’s backwards vocals seemed to suggest, creating with one of the best set of lyrics on any Stone Roses song. You better stick Don’t Stop on after the first three for full effect.

Six

Jackson Pollock, number 6

Good morning, happy new year to you all. On January 1st 2010 I published my first post here so today is Bagging Area’s sixth birthday. Suddenly that seems like a long time to have been writing this stuff- sometimes I can’t see where the next few posts are coming from and sometimes they stack up like a warehouse. I’ll suppose I’ll just keep going as long as there is something left to witter on about. See you tomorrow for more of the same.

Here are some Sneaker Pimps.

6 Underground (Two Lone Swordsmen Vocal Mix)

Box Energy

Untitled 1951, Jackson Pollock

Box Energy by DJ Pierre is one of the foundation stone records of acid house- an 808 drumbeat and Roland TB 303 bassline synthesiser set to mindfuck squiggle mode. Strange to think this sound was invented back in 1987, so long ago now. How much sense this track makes on a Tuesday morning in October I don’t know. I like to think that acid house, Chicago style, has something in common with Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Colours and shapes. Movement. Action. Energy. Certainly those lines of colour were the sort of thing I’d see when I closed my eyes when dancing to this kind of record back in the day. But that could have been the strobes.

Box Energy

Result

Jackson Pollock Number 1 (Lavender Mist) Detail

I’ve been into work today for the A Level results. To celebrate a great set of results for my A Level History students and our establishment’s results generally here’s Andrew Weatherall’s latest two hour radio show for NTS, broadcast last week. Expect the usual selection of weird and wonderful.

That Old Town

While in London we took the students to the O2 arena to see the Museum Of British Pop Culture. As soon as you put rock ‘n’ roll in a museum it seems to lose some of its charm in some ways but some of the exhibits were good. There were large projections playing in slow-mo (The Smiths, Wham and The Stone Roses on Top Of The Pops in the 80s, The Clash and Sex Pistols from 70s TV), different rooms for different periods, a room full of guitars and drum kits to play on and a rather nifty touch screen virtual record box which tried to tell the story of dance music (a good selection of tracks although I tutted and shook my head at what I thought were a couple of factual errors). In the rooms, as well as some touch screen stuff, there were various pieces behind glass- some Bowie costumes from the early 70s, a Small Faces bass drum, a royal flush of Spice Girls outfits, dresses belonging to Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield, a pair of Rickenbackers- Weller’s pop art guitar and Mani’s abstract expressionist bass (John Squire’s handiwork, along with Mani’s paint splattered clothes from that NME cover, visible in the left of the second pic).  Art-rock crossover. I was hoping for a Cubist drum kit but left disappointed.

It transpired that two of my 6th form students’ Dads were present at Spike Island along with me, a quarter of a century ago. They say working with kids keeps you young- it can also make you feel very old. I then spent some time racking my brains trying to think of when Weller and Mani might have played together and came up with this 7″ single from a few years back, a super sharp slice of Mod pop, recorded with Graham Coxon.

This Old Town

And here played live on the gogglebox- Weller, Mani, Coxon and Zak Starkey on drums.

They probably played together on a Primal Scream B-side too (‘Til The Kingdom Comes, XCLTR era, sounds like The Who) which I have posted before. In fact having just searched the blog, I’ve posted This Old Town before too.

 

All Dead Yet Still Alive

A House’s Endless Art was mentioned on Twitter the other day. The Dublin band nearly had a hit with it in 1992, a list of dead artists names and dates set to music. It starts with Oscar Wilde (‘All art is quite useless’) and goes on with Turner, Toulouse-Lautrec, Warhol, Hemmingway, Hendrix, Yeats, Monet, Beethoven, Vicious, Tennyson, Man Ray, Henry’s Moore and Miller, Presley, Miro, Bach, Brahms, Kerouac, Pollock (above), Picasso, Degas, Dali, Ian Curtis and a load more before finishing with Mickey Mouse.

It’s a record I really like but I don’t need to hear it that often. They got criticised at the time for having a list of endless artists that included no women (the female artists then turned up on the B-side).

Endless Art