The Priest

You don’t have to go very far at the moment in this country to see the impact of the social policies of the last Conservative government and the current one. Go into central Manchester (or any British town or city) and take a walk around and you’ll be confronted by homelessness on a massive scale. It became unavoidable in Manchester city centre some time ago, people living on the streets in huge numbers. The public’s reaction to it is appalling too at times- I saw three young men stop, point and laugh at a homeless man sitting on the street recently. Out here in Sale, a 15 minute tram ride from Piccadilly Gardens, 4 miles from the city centre, there are people sleeping in the precinct, on the steps of an electrical substation and in the doorways of Boots and Sainsburys.

Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake have collaborated on a track called The Priest, highlighting the problem of homelessness, based on the poetry of a Big Issue seller Joe Gallagher.

Johnny Marr is finishing a third solo album. In an interview about The Priest and the forthcoming solo album he said this-

‘Because of what had happened with Brexit and Trump and everything, I came into this record really determined to not let those fuckwits impede on my creative life. But you’re living in this world and you can’t do anything about it. So much of the record is about dislocation.’ The full interview is here. There’s an internet meme that goes around which is ‘Be more like so-and-so‘ and in this case it stands up- be more like Johnny. Be more like Maxine.

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The A666

The A666, the Devil’s Highway, is a road I know well- I use it everyday to get to work, picking it up on the southern edge of Bolton and following it across the Lancashire moors towards Darwen. The road goes on into the heart of Lancashire, having started miles earlier in Salford. The A666 has been celebrated as the opening song on The Eccentronic Research Council’s album 1612 Underture which came out last year and which I got for Christmas. 2012 was the 400th anniversary of the trial and executions of the Pendle Witches. The ERC’s album bills itself as A Folkloric Sonic Pilgrimage To the Home Of the Pendle Witches and it’s a really interesting record. Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers Records were involved, often a mark of quality. Maxine Peake narrates most of the tracks, telling the story of the Pendle Witches and drawing some modern parallels, dragging in William Blake, Dr Who, Holland and Barrett, Terry Duckworth, barm cakes, Crocs and flip flops, Top Of The Pops, city councils and Rabid Cameron, with the dialogue bouncing between 1612 and 2012, ending with a ouija board resurrection of Old Lizzie Southern. It is, it states in the liner notes, a concept record. The album has a real story telling flow, some cracking electronic music and sonically becomes quite disturbing two thirds of the way in. This is the opener….

Autobahn 666 (Travelogue #1)