Until You’re Worth It

About two years ago I posted a snippet of an Andrew Weatherall remix of a Mugwump track called Until You’re Worth It. The remix was a deep, bubbling, bass-led affair with the man himself adding a vocal line, intoning ‘under the water, under the water’. It sounded like it could have been remixed in an undersea kingdom.

The original is a much lighter affair, funky but understated, with a falsetto vocal reminiscent of Prince. Both have finally been released this week and after forty eight hours of being unable to log in to Beatport due to password issues I now have it. I can’t find an embeddable version of the Weatherall remix currently (I think it’s a Beatport exclusive) and can’t really give it away as a download so soon after release, so you’ve just got the original to listen to here.

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Johnny Yen

Johnny Yen is the main character in Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life- ‘here comes Johnny Yen again, with the liquor and drugs and the flesh machine, he’s gonna do another striptease’ is the song’s opening line, before beating our brains and Johnny’s with a pulverising Motown drumbeat and David Bowie’s beefed up ukulele riff. Iggy borrowed Johnny Yen from a William Burroughs novel- The Ticket That Exploded- where Johnny Yen is described as ‘the boy-girl other half striptease God of sexual frustration’. He is also known for hypnotising chickens. Iggy’s Johnny Yen is a self-destructive hedonist and therefore is partly/mainly Iggy himself.

 

Johnny Yen reappears in the James song of the same name, on Stutter in 1986. For Tim Booth Johnny Yen is a performer- ‘Ladies and gentlemen here is my disease, give me a standing ovation and your sympathy’, before going off and setting himself on fire again. Tim Booth further borrows from Iggy/Bowie by referencing the Jean Genie, and then goes onto suicide pacts, young men itching to burn and waiting for their own star turn. He then gets compared to Evel Knievel, hitting the seventeenth bus, before Tim urges someone to put Johnny Yen, the poor fool, out of his misery, to finish him off. I’m guessing that mid 80s vegan, yoga, indie-poet Tim Booth was despairing of the old rock ‘n’ roll cliches, with their leather trousered frontmen and drug habits, but by borrowing Johnny Yen he’s lining himself up alongside Iggy Pop and William Burroughs to some extent. The James song was from when they looked like a really interesting group, spindly, spiky, uncompromising, almost folky, indie-rock. They went on to become a stadium band, which I don’t hold against them by any means, but they sacrificed something when they expanded their line up and sound and began appealing to a wider audience.

Johnny Yen

Often, When I’m On The Fridge, People Tell Me To Get Off The Fridge

Mark Wynn, York’s own machine-gun lyricist and chronicler of the absurdities of 21st century life, is back with not one but two new e.p.s and a brace of videos too. As he said in his email to me ‘I make too much stuff’. I’m glad he does.

Mark gets called things like ‘spoken word acoustic punk’ and ‘York based mumbler of  song and spiel’. Its determinedly lo-fi, done quickly and homemade. The cds come with handwritten booklets. This type of cottage industry thing is good so more power to Mark’s elbow.

Bill Burroughs Was My Baby (one minute twenty two of lyrical gems- ‘Bill Burroughs was an intellectual, he looked good in a full length coat, he wore spectacles and he knew a lot about stuff’)…

And Dave Went Mental, which references Lauren Laverne and her playlist…

You can download either or both e.p.s, naming your own price, at Bandcamp, The Polar Bear Blah and Get Off The Fridge.

103rd Street Boys

Back to the Beats. William Burroughs led a colourful life, not one you’d choose for yourself maybe. Like Kerouac he was full of contradictions- loved by the counterculture for his drug use, novels and poetry he held some pretty extreme right wing views and was by some accounts capable of much nastiness. His writing, especially Junky and Naked Lunch, bled into music. Countless bands have taken names/inspiration from Naked Lunch, despite it being close to unreadable in parts. He shot his wife (accidentally, playing a William Tell game) and later said he’d never have become a writer without having done it. by the time he died he was held up as one of America’s great literary geniuses. Compared to Kerouac or Ginsberg, I can take or leave much of his stuff to be honest.

103rd Street Boys