Back In The Day

‘Back in the day
Even circles were squares’.

Another lost piece from the Joe Strummer jigsaw, Generations was recorded in a day in 1996 while Joe was in Los Angeles. Having spent some time driving around the surrounding areas in his Cadillac with Shaun Ryder, Bez and Richard Norris, getting hopelessly lost on occasion, Joe was beginning to get back towards a band style scenario. The Mescaleros started to come together not too long afterwards, Joe writing with Richard Norris. England’s Irie, England’s unofficial Euro 96 song led to Joe’s only Top Of The Pops appearance with Black Grape. Joe was on the move. Contacted about a project to put out an album called Generations- A Punk Rock At Human Rights Joe went away inspired to contribute a song and wrote the lyric quickly. It was then recorded in a day in LA with Rat Scabies and Seggs from The Ruts on bass and drums. The producer Jason Rothberg came up with the name Electric Dog House. Joe’s response was along the lines of ‘well we’re not going to come up with anything better today’ so Electric Dog House it was. It’s a funny song with plenty of charm- loose drumming and some organ open it up and then Joe comes in. The mix and echo on the vox make it sound quite chaotic and the instruments pile up towards the end but there’s a good tune inside it, a nice chord change in the chorus and an affecting lyric- ‘let’s go running down the road’ Joe repeats. It’s a shame the three of them didn’t go on to record anything else together.

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Cities In The Park

Just over twenty five years ago Factory Records put on a two day festival in Heaton Park, Manchester, in memory of Martin Hannett who had died earlier that year. Day One, Saturday August 3rd, included Buzzcocks, Paris Angels, Ruthless Rap Assassins, The Railway Children, OMD and The Wonderstuff. Day Two, Sunday, was almost entirely Factory acts- Happy Mondays, Electronic, ACR, Revenge, Durutti Column, The Wendys and Cath Carroll plus De La Soul, 808 State and New fast Automatic Daffodils. There were two day camping tickets- but who would want to camp in Heaton Park?

We went on the Sunday. It was hot. I met my brother there, who came in when some of the crowd outside pushed the fence down. He had a ticket but just fancied coming in through the fence. From memory Durutti were good but a bit lost in a giant field, Revenge were a bit iffy (Hooky playing bass, singing and whacking the syndrums repeatedly, probably trying to overcompensate for the bad blood between him and Bernard Sumner, New Order’s split and their relative positions on the bill). ACR were good, 808 State really moved the crowd, De La Soul were shouty. Electronic were imperious, especially when the Pet Shop Boys turned up on stage and you scanned left to right and saw key members of New Order, The Smiths and PSBs all together for one song. It’s shame they played live so rarely.

The whole event was filmed and a video released which I bought but no longer have. Here’s a scene setter…

And here an enthusiastic Tony Wilson interviews Johnny Marr, Rowetta, Shaun Ryder and Bez…

This Youtube uploader has labelled this as Electronic live in London  but it’s definitely Heaton Park.

Happy Mondays were by 1991 a stunningly effective if very unlikely stadium band. Kinky Afro rocks. No, it doesn’t, it grooves.

19 Julio

Sleep deprivation on a bus traveling backwards through Europe (me travelling backwards, almost everyone else claimed they had to face forwards or they would be sick). It causes strange things to happen. I dozed off briefly and was woken with Shaun Ryder intoning  two lines from Black Grape’s Reverend Black Grape…

‘You do  nothing but socialise and become a menace
Put on your Reeboks man, go and play fucking tennis’

This rang around my head for a good while. Then, at about two thirty a.m. we stopped at a service station somewhere in The Netherlands. One of the kids emerged from the top deck, rubbing her eyes, and disappeared into the toilet. When she came out she said ‘Sir, are we in Argentina?’

I have no idea.

Reverend Black Grape

What A Feeling

A song from 1990s Four To the Floor e.p. where Manchester’s A Certain Ratio returned to the dancefloor. Good Together is possibly my favourite ACR song- it opens with a vocal sample (Lou Reed) before a 303 kicks in, the song takes over, the Beach Boys get referenced and Bernard Sumner and Shaun Ryder give backing vocal assistance too. I never get bored of this.

Good Together