Wednesday, December 29, 2010

know your conjurer



To those of you who looked no farther than the sacrificial goat, you left the feast empty bellied; to those of you who asked no more from pablo's danseurs than a festive showing, you missed a merry treat.

Squatters on the Bleachers - and there are a few - will be aware by now of my fixation on the astral unravellings of one Daevid Allen; the dark archipelago where hippie collided with punk in those eruptions from Planet Gong. The liaison was fittingly brief. It culminated with a startled Dingbat Alien fleeing passing searchlights - luminous burning spearings - to seek refuge in the bush; it ended with Mark Perry's ATV hijacking a free bus in the Here and Now.

In much the same anarchic spirit, Dave Sez of Know Your Conjurer - aided and abetted by pinkpressthreat - wassailed the house to alert me to a Megapost on some very hard to unearth gems from the band first formed in Ladbroke Grove in 1974. Never once in print jams and unreconstituted vinyl rips. Soundboard Recordings. What began as one man's labour of love seems to have escalated into something more deeply collaborative.

From who ? Where ?

Know Your Conjurer. From Pablo to Bosch. * * e d o * *.

This unforseen doffing of the - conical - cap took far longer to orchestrate than anticipated. A two fingered jab at the keys, and my dashing off to shake a knitted monkey over the crib. Lest I forget, I would like to say a brief hello to baby Cal, too, who entered the world to share his birthday with Stacia of Hawkwind just three short evenings ago. Glad tidings.

Three weeks on the heels of my own impossibly small son; Milo, the Sagittarian. Registered, at last, today.

Know your conjurer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

no reasön

Recorded in Escape Studios, Kent, 1977; produced by Speedy "Thunderclap" Keen(e).

Written by Ian Kilminster.


MOTÖRHEAD: MOTÖRHEAD from "Motörhead" LP (Chiswick) 1977 (UK)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

pablo dillinger, on registering a birth




A knife. A fork.


And the forceps not so small,
nothing remotely tidy,
or encircling in pentameter.

Two feet and a long syllable;
drawn out, redly yawning.

The cerci of an earwig.

This is not what immediately
occurred to me, or even after
the fact. The blood still
drying on my hams. The wailing.

And the young doctor's face:
contorted with the exertion
required to change a tire.
A 4x4. Something heavy hurtling.

I did not think to thank her until
much later, back in the corridor
between soda machine and bins.
Fearing the worst and hindsight.

A knife. A fork.

Not to spell apple, but application.
Raw, dispassionate intervening force.

I do not remember if I did - thank
her - at this late stage. Not formally.

A smile. A nod. That is properly
the size of it; wan, if not quite
hostile. The fleeting discomfit of a
husband discharged. Discarding
gown and overshoes in sanitary
fashion. Dishevelled. Irritable.

And yet. I threw my arms around
the midwife while they weighed
my son, thankfully she did not
think to escape. Imagine the
effrontery. The potential for sheer
awkwardness; "you crazy fool !"
my wife chiding, from the stirrups.

A knife. A fork.

And the forceps not so small,
but my son a rosy bundle,
scalded and petulant; mewling.



illustration from Picasso's "pichet t
ête"
(1953); partial glaze on white ceramic.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

three minutes to three, december 6th




Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The encroaching murmur of sleigh bells.


The due date came and went as the ice fastened and snow drifted. On our trip to the bus stop for what was officially our last antenatal appointment, all that was missing was the donkey. Magi. Three wise men overtaking us by taxi.

The wait was crippling. Or seemed so, as Scorpio fell under the centaur's arrow. And the great goat Pan up to his midriff in dirty slush; spotting by his elbow.

Whittled by uncertainty, all semblance of resolution gone in a puff of smoke, I found myself slyly coveting a random assortment of 70cl bottles on supermarket shelves. Impervious to cajoling, not one absconded in my basket. Fairweather friends. Down to the grain.

The scales stalled at tipping point. Worse, the scales sat empty.

A pregnant pause. A timing of contractions.

Well. Something had to give. The bump was having none of it, the hospital did not want to know.

"Keep an eye on those contractions, you'll know soon enough," the midwife on the line pronounced. She might easily have been an imposter. A mental patient stopping by the desk to pick up the phone.

A falsetto brute with pharmaceutically doctored balls.

Another Saturday came and went. Blanched under two feet of snow. And the madman downstairs, stamping his feet at one AM; belting out "The Sash my Father Wore". I wanted to burst him good, the unenlightened orange balloon.

I took to eavesdropping on Holy Warbles. I was too unnerved by then to even leave a comment. The Holly and the Ivy.

Pascal Comelade is a Frenchman by birth. A Catalonian by calling.

On Sunday afternoon, I was dipping into his Haikus. I pulled out "Put a Straw Under Baby" and cranked up the volume on the PC's wheezing internal speakers. So far as I was able. This apple is so elderly, it ought to have fermented into cider. Acid green and volatile. I have wanted to euthanize my disagreeable neighbour under King Tubby's dubby boom for some weeks now, but our living room echoes like the chilly wooden benches of a Siberian train station, and I have not had the heart to hard wire the woofers out of their box. The patience.

We are in limbo.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," my wife cried out. "My waters have broken! Get me up before I ruin the couch."

On arrival at the hospital she was five centimetres dilated. By 8PM, she was fully dilated and the midwives were convinced she would breathe our baby out by suppertime. Debbie and Lauren. I warmed to them almost immediately.

In my limited experience, midwives are a grounded lot. Where consultants - even nurses - routinely grate or inflame, midwives are the exception. Of course, we had time enough to establish a rapport.

It was not an entirely easy birth, though. Let me attest to that.

By 12:30 AM, as December 5th slipped into the 6th, it became alarmingly clear that my wife was not going to breathe our baby out without some kind of clinical intervention. I am ashamed to confess that after eight hours of attending her labour, I was beginning to tire. My wife kept pushing, and I kept pushing my wife.

Faintly tetchy. Craving the nicotine.

I wanted some of that diamorphine to myself.


By 1:30 AM, the decision was made to move her into theatre. I made my way down through the warren of deserted corridors for a cigarette and a lungful of freezing air while she was prepped, then put on the mandatory ridiculous hat, overshoes and gown. The old hospital is an eerie place at the best of times. The Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The Maternity Unit is a recent addition, but late on Sunday night through Monday morning, most of its wings are locked off and only the most persistant of housebreakers can negotiate admission.

Orderlies and porters are nowhere to be seen, if they retain earthly form at all.

I have visited aged relatives on their deathbeds in there; deep in the bowels of the old building. I have had wounds treated in its accident and emergency unit. Like many people, I have an aversion to hospitals in general. I care for this one even less.

It was a forceps delivery when it came right down to it.

Our son was heaved into an alien world full of halogen lights, scrubs and strange voices at three minutes to three on Monday, the sixth of December. As cleanly as I could muster, I cut the umbilical cord and placed him on his mother's chest.

Skin to skin.


He is a brave little thing, his cheeks a little marred from the steel of the instrument which was used to pry him from his mother's womb. I am told this will certainly fade. With time.

His eyes were quick to seize on mine when I spoke to him and cradled him in my arms. The tiniest bit unfocused at first, awake and mildly curious.

He has yet to grow into a name, my youngest son. Waiting on the whisper.



PASCAL COMELADE: PUT A STRAW UNDER BABY from "Haïkus de Piano" LP & CD (Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier / Eva Records) 1992 (France)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

neville brand ate all the flies | the five gates to hell


"I'm a Buddhist. In case of an emergency call a Lama.”
- Col. Vincent Kane


The fly had been following the end of my brush for close to two days, flitting from room to room like a ball of lint on rotor blades.

I do not care for flies. Houseflies; blowflies; bluebottles. Calliphoridae. Like something decaying off the coast.

Where I might nudge a spider gently on its way - to scuttle under the bed, or abseil behind a door - I have little patience for the fly. The karmic goodwill runs thin. The stingiest dribble of undercoat.

So. After experimenting overnight with a dose of Quick Dry Satin - the ninth configuration of synthetic finishes - I observed enough shredding around the jambs to prompt me to opt instead for an oil-based eggshell. The drying time is a killer, 18 to 24 hours over an offending battleship grey, and all of it an unsightly stippled gloss.

The antichrist of painting and decorating.

I was on the second coat, having walked on down the hall, to where the ghost of a toy tugboat floated face down in the bathtub, when the insect which had been tailing me hovered up and alighted right of frame. I did not miss a beat. Anchored in the greasy slick, the brush caught up with it easily. Swept straight over it. Airbrushed out with a bubblegum pop; a napalm kiss on celulloid.

And what became of Neville Brand ? Lee Marvin’s thuggier twin.

I would not mention the incident with the fly if it did not bother me. Just a little.

Slow witted and lazily sculpted, Brand bristled with the neanderthal menace of the faintly retarded or simply psychotic. A slack jawed insouciance melting into bulging eye and pit bull leer on the turn of a sixpence. Or the onset of a stroke.

Neville Brand wore sharp suits and Brylcreemed hair. His face hewn blunt. Liver lipped. Itching to be cut by a cornerman with trembling hands between the 6th and 7th round.

In truth, I planted both feet heavy in the schoolyard bully’s shoes when I flattened that fly. Smeared on the door with the cigarette fastened between my teeth. I was irritable. Tired. Bitten by self-pity.

In bad need of a slave.

But wait. Killer Kane. Boyd, not Arthur. And several times removed from Stacy’s Colonel.

Neville Brand was no simple bad boy bum. Weighing in for a preliminary bout in Griswold, Iowa, and cremated in Sacramento, his nine times decorated army grunt was D.O.A. from the first. Painted into a corner, I contest, as the result of Dutch and Celtic ancestry. The white heat of Illinois steel.

Typecast by villainous hacks - the revolving door of misplaced mediocrity - the former shoe salesman turned Warner Bros. stooge traded bleeding out by the Weser River for an afterlife of two bit parts.

Sometimes shiny as a quarter in the gutter. Often overlooked.

“I’m a loser! I’m a loser!” he cried, but the truth was far from that.

Scant regard is given the 30,000 books reportedly amassed between petulant acts of cruelty; teased out of acting classes paid for through the G.I. Bill. The raging thirst to distance himself from understudy. Shadow.

“Let me out! Let me out!” he sang.

And all the while the whiskey and remorse. The inability to rearrange at sub molecular level: to set the atoms dancing; to walk - as Captain Fairbanks yearned to - between and through the impenetrable. Walls and floors.

Buttresses.


I have no idea if Neville Brand ever flirted with Buddhism. Perhaps. I suspect not. Myself, I have only used the term emphatically when laid up in a hospital bed. Just to see the charge nurse stiffen.

The closer I peer into cracks and examine those hairline fissures tumbling off into chasms, the weaker my resolve becomes. An endless cycle of filling and painting. Sanding. Immersing bristle and forearm in litre upon litre of turpentine substitute.

It was emphysema which did for him in the end. And the library all up in flames.

Still. The fly is my concern alone. All this chatter of Neville Brand and Hollywood is just so much passing the buck.

Well. It could be worse. Don't ever get me started on the time I aimed a .22 at a crow on the lamb and missed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

calling cllct




Why. Those unholy Oreaganomics get better and unrulier by the minute.

Straight from the lips of lapsed ordainment:

"We had to mortgage our soul to Satan to get it done & I know you'll like it  
(That's a promise right from the "source")."

What's not to like ? 

Late last week with the rain coming down heavy - the pavements along the Crow Road laced with black puddles - I hunched out through the spray of taxi cabs for rent in search of Jim Beam or an iced Jack watered down with Pepsi. My head was pounding.

Our house felt small. In need of a lick of paint. And the varnish was burning in my nostrils.

I fell through the saloon doors and bruised the rail along the bar. The ceiling was high. Pocked with little glass lanterns glowing like whiteheads on the brow of a passed out whore (Hubert might have observed). A trio of jazzmen were two fingers in to the last number of their set. The vocalist sat it out. A glass of stout on the table in front of her and her knees together, tidily.

An empty house. And the keyboard player refusing to let it needle him too much. The drummer laying on some syncopated flourishes with delicious irony.

I finished my first just as they wound it down for the eight o' clock wave of serious spenders. The lights did not go up or down any. A smattering of dry applause. Drowned by the splash of mixer straight into a tumbler two dripping raincoats along.

And that was their cue.

Milton Ager and Jack Yellen. Chasing rainbows. "Happy Days are Here Again".

It was a sterling snook of tumultous wonder, let me tell you. All that was missing was a pint size plastic uke.

If I had a kazoo I'd have whipped it out my pocket. As it was, I turned and clapped my hands together and caught the heel of one shoe on the trailing hem of my pants.

I would like to believe Oreaganomics might have enjoyed a warmer reception. An Acapulco ovation in the last resort. They are deserving of such. "Hand Turkey", as they promise, is the unreconstituted stuff of leg-end. A refusal to be stymied; blindsided; bluffed.

God bless them.


OREAGANOMICS: GHOST TOWN GENERATION from the forthcoming "Hand Turkey" LP / CD (CLLCT) 2010 (US)

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD ON AN EMPTY HOUSE RUSE

Sunday, October 31, 2010

another council tenancy < slight return >



So. Here we are, then. Surrounded by a jumble of unopened boxes still, the lingering itch from a hastily amputated limb.

We packed the parachute before we leapt and slammed into the ground running.

The pregnant one rode out ahead of the marital bed, while I scuttled back and forth between floors and jettisoned all that seemed feasible. We reunited amidst a coil of soldering wire and commenced our tenancy before the school bells sprang a chime.

It took three weeks for an engineer to arrive and connect our phone. Another seven days before a replacement in overalls could be dispatched to correct the overlooked fault.

The line had shredded in its yellowed plastic jacket some time in the previous forty years. Between telegraph pole and bedroom window. And while the signal was intermittent, my ire at placing calls cloaked in crackle and drag was anything but. In these days of fibre optic cable - telecoms cabinets on every street corner - I had assumed those slowly rotting timbers were surely decorative. The second engineer resembled a hungover Glen Campbell in hard hat karaoke as I watched him emerge from the foliage by way of a steel ladder.

One clear October day before the ritual carving of the pumpkin.

Well. The DSL lamp is awake and constant now. Touch wood. The connection is made. It is altogether quieter out west here on the river. Too quiet, perhaps. Though the soundproofing is dreadful, it is as if our neighbours have adapted to this intrusion on their privacy by bedding down shortly after 10PM. If one strains one's ear - even marginally - one can follow a whispered conversation almost word for word. The floorboards squeak above our heads; below our feet.

I find myself pining at times for the dysfunctional pattern of muddling by on the 22nd floor. Insulated by concrete. The asbestos which erupted in a mushroom cloud when they brought our sibling crashing to its knees.

We snuck back on the subway to watch it coming down. They evacuated our old building, of course, but I spoke to a neighbour who barricaded himself in bed and rolled one fat one after another. Just to brace himself against the bang.

The klaxon sounded as we rode the escalator up to ground zero.

We were a street away when the detonators blew, three in quick succession. Shakin' Street. The MC5. The dust was all enveloping. It followed us as we crossed back over the river and clung to ligaments along the bridge and burrowed down into our throats.

Our noses were furred. The children's hair prematurely grey.

Overnight, I developed a hacking bronchial cough; aggravated by my digging into the floorboards at our new address with a ridiculous detail sander fit for windowsills and skirting boards at best. And the cigarettes. Always the cigarettes. Taxed to the butt from recession through depression.

The staple diet of the institutionalized and soon to be interred.

I will get used to the sudden quiet, I expect. Already I am lulled by it on early mornings when the rain falls like rustling paper where once it stuck like an angry slap. A wet towel or a razor strop.

The rest is likely errant nostalgia. A character defect.


Vic Godard: vocals;
MarkBraby (previously Sidi Bou Said): bass, acoustic guitar;
KevinYounger (Armitage Shanks): guitar, piano; organ;
GaryAinge (Felt/Gokart Mozart): drums, percussion.

Special Guest: Paul Cook on drums and percussion;
Guest Backing Vocalist: Simon Rivers.

Recordedby Jon Clayton at One Cat Studios South London,
Mastered by Dallas Masters.
Mixed and Produced by Jon Clayton and Vic Godard.

The ‘We Come as Aliens’ Tour kicks off with a couple of dates in Catalonia on 8th October,
The John Peel Festival Koln on 23rd, then Munster, Berlin, Hamburg,and Hanover 4-7 November.
Candy Apple red glass globe shade available from SeaGullLighting for $51.99,
Subway Sect
's "We Come As Aliens" for considerably less.




SUBWAY SECT: OUT OF OUR ZONE from "We Come As Aliens" CD / Ltd Edition Vinyl (Overground Records / GNU) 2010 (UK)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

long time no jeer



Fiends; roamings; scribblings.

Let me begin, before apologising for my protracted absence, by stalling just long enough to ease a splinter from my eye. Gingerly now. A sliver of pine; an inch of sixty year old plaster.

There has been no motorcycle accident. I am not in traction. Nor have I succumbed to a bout of leather veined blackness. 

Neither have I jumped ship in the dead of night to throw in my lot with the ghost of Tubby. A bullet riddled bulwark floating just off the coast of a sinking isle.

The waters are a little choppy, but the sailing is fair. Or promises to turn so once we negiotiate the dog leg. Her majesty's cannon.

There is a smell of tar and feather in the air. The ship's cat whipped and tethered to the mast.

Nine tales untold, or merely rudely stuttered.

The inky twin tower paired with ours is resigned to demolition, hobbled and bandaged and its windows gouged out. It will be blown to its foundations the first week into October; more trouble and rust.

Enough is enough.

My wife is seven months gone already - pregnant, I mean - and the case for celebration has been tempered with anxiety. We are moving. We are in the process of moving. West of the Gorbals, north of the river. We are leaving behind a blueprint of regeneration before the dust settles. Before late autumn winds gather their breath through the fall.

I am somewhat old to be starting out as a father again. I have had some practice.

The overture to a new tenancy came quite out of the blue.

It would have been churlish to refuse. Unhinged. We are trading two up in a tenement for a 22nd storey shuttle diplomacy accessible only in a steel cage. There are few seagulls where we are going, though we are close to a still functioning shipyard or two. The tenements are too squat to easily confuse with a crumbling sheer face to nest.

Where there are rats, I have glimpsed only brazen squirrels.

Of course, there remain tiny piercing doubts; at the best of times, I can scarcely put one foot in front of the other. I have invested eleven years in this grim place. Close to a life sentence, under British law.

And. I am a Taurean. My neck bristles with territorial huff.

My son took his first steps here. I will miss the uninterrupted view, even though the windows leak.

Our soon to be home needs a lot of work.

Every sheet of paper peeled away reveals an old disaster. Twice I have nearly crashed through the floorboards. I dragged 10 litres of paint through the door only to discover I had misread the label. I live in constant fear that we will not be able to meet removal costs.

Like James Brown speeding out of blacktop, I wake up at 3 AM in a cold sweat. If you have survived the horror and suspense of awaing a decision on a DWP funded Budgeting Loan you will doubtless know the script.

Some things never change.

Still, I am reeling at our good fortune. This is as close to humble as I can bear to err. I am nothing if not not a cautious motherf@cker.

So. Finally. Apologies to all those good people whose e-mails I have conscientiously avoided if not quite ignored. Audio submissions and manual labour. The deaf log is hallucinatory. Nothing is lost, I trust; no trust has been irretrievably fractured.

Let us repair. Without a surly Van.

I may lose my connection for a period, I almost certainly shall.

In the meantime, I leave you temporarily in the capable hands of sibling, Alexis Blondel. Of Year Zero. He stubbed his toe on the bleachers quite by accident.

"Sound Iration in Dub" - the digital brainchild of Nick "Manasseh" Raphael and Scruff, aka Steve Gilder - was originally released in 1989 through WAU! Mr. Modo Records; a fledgling collaboration between Youth - of Killing Joke - and The Orb's Dr. Alex Paterson.

Little Youth, if you catch my drift.

In 2010 it was reissued on a double CD, compiling 14 previously unreleased demos. Alexis informs me it is slated to make its second appearance on (180 gram) vinyl later this month. For audio purists.

You can eavesdrop on more samples via Sound Cloud, here.

Stay tuned for further - wholly erratic - transmissions. 

An occasional table in transit.




SOUND IRATION: MELODY ROOTS (PART 1) from "Sound Iration in Dub" LP / 2 x CD (WAU! Mr. Modo Records / Year Zero) 1989 / 2010 (UK)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

augustus pablo swaby paints



kingston, 1976, photographer unknown.


Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the bleachers echo with the whisper of melodica.

From 10PM to 5AM, its disinfected concrete steps slump tiredly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down with cobalt blue. 

Tubular rails faintly thrumming. 

A late August cough nudging silver wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

By 1AM, the sirens falter. Subside to a wheeze. The hammers to the south bed down in a pulse.

Pablo never sleeps. Not really. The quiet he inhabits are those spaces between sinew and joint. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream.

The engineering is not so critical as the end result. Chin to midrift. Thickening to a river.

Tubby.

Augustus Pablo started out as an anonymous outpouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

As with Miles, the climate is tertiary. Around it. Through it. To it.


Written and produced by Horace Swaby.
Mixed by King Tubby.



 ▼ AUGUSTUS PABLO: CHAPTER 2 from "East Of The River Nile" LP (Message) 1977 (Jamaica)

a sanitary riot



On threading our rented trolley
between the aisles of a supermarket,

we acquired a bottle of bath oil.

As one does.

"Revive & Restore", the label advises.
Very calming. Very restive.
When one is prone, susceptible.

It prompts the smoke detector to howl
everytime we pour a bath.
It triggers a bout of anxious scrabbling.

The effect is less than therapeutic.

Sandalwood, surely, is quite innocuous,
a dash or two of an essential tear.

The pepper spray is an alarming twist.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the ponderosa and the ark of the weak heart



Twenty-two floors above, the green JCBs resemble not so much a rise of the machines as their last bronchial rattle. Scrabbling in the dirt for purchase. Listing drunkly like a man with motor neuron disease. Clinging to employment.

The blueprints for fuel efficient housing will be rolled out where they are needed least, I suspect.

They will not be built round here - not in my lifetime, at any rate - nor in those mountainous rural backwaters to the east, where every last penny of huminatarian aid is siphoned to stem a tide of mainiacs squatting behind RPGs.

Or to line the pockets of a few bent shopkeepers.

At present, those compact intended domiciles exist only as a byproduct of social etiquette. I am supposed to peer out my window and enthuse.

"Oh! What an excellent idea! How nice to see all those young men doing something constructive at last."

Instead, I am having none of it.

The solar panels look splendid. The clay brick and whitewashed wall. When the 4x4s eventually pour in behind the fence with offers, those same young men will hurry back to their street corners. Their leaky tenements and blistered detention zones. Brewing milky teas over toast while they huddle in pyjamas.

A scrum of newspapermen will descend on them with cameras - to take their picture as a local concilor rumbles into a microphone and hands out diplomas - and the instant will immediately be interred.

They will tear down the two little houses they have built. Harvest its parts for organ transplant.

They will lay polythene sheeting over the supparating foundations to prepare the space for a car park.

They will chisel and gouge and my contorted face will be at the window still. A little more lined, simian. A monkey. A nun. A sentinel fed by tubes.

A stain.

Gradually fading away to nothing like a sun bleached snapshot. A splash of urine drying in the crotch of a mildly befuddled hospital patient.

There will be no spontaneous protest which has not first been vetted three times over by the politically correct. The first out of the trenches will be mown down as they fumble for the switch on an antique bullhorn. The ones idling just behind will obediently fall back to their beds.

The nursey is what we know. Sand. Gravel. We fasten to its smoke and mirrors even as the generators fail.


Postscript:
The LP which came to be known among collectors as "E-E Saw Dub" - twelve original Jacob Miller riddims mixed and overdubbed by King Tubby at his Waterhouse studio - was a paper sleeve only limited release, mislabelled as Earl Zero's "City of the Weak Heart". Recorded at Randy's and Joe Gibbs, and produced by Ian and Roger Lewis of Inner Circle, these dubs are celebrated in no small part as the result of quite innovative techniques involving synth patterns overlaid by IC keyboardist, Bernard 'Touter' Harvey and enhanced by Tubby.

"Ghetto On Fyah Dub", too, specifically brings Augustus Pablo's contribution centre stage.

While the original vinyl release is much coveted and fetches exorbitant prices at market, the LP was subsequently reissued in digital format - with two bonus cuts - as "King Tubby Meets Jacob Miller in a Tenement Yard" through the independent UK label, Motion Records, active between 1996 and 2007.


Horsemouth Wallace & Santa Davis: drums and percussion;
Ian Lewis: bass guitar;
Chinna & Michael Chung & Roger Lewis: guitar;
Bernard "Touter" Harvey: keyboards and synthesizer;
Augustus Pablo: xylophone.


JACOB MILLER / INNER CIRCLE (FAT MAN RIDDIM SECTION): GHETTO ON FYAH DUB from "E-E Saw Dub" 12" / LP (E-E Saw) 1975 (Jamaica)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

royal dub pretender, phase ii



One more dub from Kingston 11.

"His Majesty's Dub" - produced and arranged by Jah Woosh - was variously recorded at Channel 1, Joe Gibbs and Randy's with The Revolutionaries before the reels were taxied over to Tubby's for mixing. On the back of a motorcycle.

Dillinger was far from uptight. At Black Ark, it was business as usual.

Lloyd James and Tubby steal top bill on this release, although Errol Thompson in his role as engineer at Joe Gibbs Studio and Lancelot "Maxie" McKenzie for Channel 1 deserve joint credit. A huge fat blunt. Oiled and smoking.

This particular dub, with all its off kilter eccentricities is a particular highlight, I feel. "Throne of Judgement" is often cited as the riotous jewel in the crown, garnering accolades for its thunderous drum rolls and momentous foreboding, but this one is whacked out joyful. Or just plain daft.

Lloyd James first lit up a studio at the home of his in-laws in Waterhouse, Kingston 11 some time in the mid seventies. A sound system veteran, he learned his trade operating an electrical repair shop from his mother's house in the late 1960s. When an opening was peeled back from the kerb at Tubby's place in Dromilly Avenue, just around the corner, Jammy leapt at the chance.

The district of Waterhouse was alive with cable and valve; a solid state tower built from the ground up, straight off the grid.

By 1977, the prince graduated from mixing and engineering to full scale production on Black Uhuru's "Love Crisis". A major player in the evolution of dub from analogue to those entirely digital rhythms and effects adopted in the 80s, this dub illustrates to what outlandish degree the chicken predated the egg.

"His Majesty's Dub" was eventually reissued through Original Music, a label established by Jah Woosh in 1989 as a vehicle for his own back catalogue and various related productions.

Save me from the dancehall. I don't got the stamina nor stomach for it no more.


PRINCE TUBBY V KING JAMMY: JAH WORKS from "His Majesty's Dub" LP (Sky Juice) 1976 (Jamaica)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

22 unM4SKed



"the hollows" by simon woolham. biro on paper, 2008.

Honest to Christ, that drill. 

A machine gun rattling in its pillbox. Stalling ocasionally, the bit overheated, encased in concrete. Starting up again in earnest before one can catch one's breath.

At 3 AM, I rolled off the futon to close the windows. Hobbled into the kitchen to slam both catches when it occurred to me the noise had merely jumped channels in a stereophonic assault.

The demolition is ongoing. Every morning, too, entire new sections of the M74 have been bolted into place. 

The shoemaker's elves spit rivets all through the night.

And speaking of drills, it would appear I have missed a dental appointment. I am forced to grovel to avoid a fixed penalty. 

As if losing one's teeth is not punishment enough.

M4SK 22 - a collision of postcodes - is an experimental project fusing input from artists Simon Woolham and David Moss. They met in Manchester in the mid 90s, but did not begin making music together until January, this year.

"We make music and videos as products which we work on furiously, then we put them out online and move on to the next idea."

There is no obvious manifesto. Working remotely on passages traded via the internet, each bends the material as the moment dictates; throwing out a curve and letting it float. Simon is a renowned visual artist, David makes music and film. Their product is tested on M4SK 22.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" began as a guitar part recorded by Woolham, with additional strings - piano and more guitar - overdubbed by Moss and relayed back. Moss was keen to to evoke a sense of traditional Scots and Irish melody familiar to him from childhood, and Woolham responded with a spoken word narrative shaped by recurring themes in his drawings and installations.

Looting archived public domain film footage, Moss then developed a short animated visual sequence incorporating stock elements of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Musically, the end product is faintly claustrophobic. Full of echoes. Reeds. Inkeeping with the historic ballad which in part informs it, a rhyme of the Yarrow Water running through the Scottish borders. Collected in 18 variations in Francis James Child's "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", first published in ten volumes between 1892-8.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" drags one out of the past by the scruff of a cigarette burned anorak.

Into the nettles growing through the inner tubes of bicycle tyres a child might paint as snakes. Discarded bottles of Buckfast Tonic.

Of course, nothing is linear. Or quite so transparent.

M4SK 22 aim eventually to commit to a series of live performance. Until then, by far the best way to familiarize yourself with their sometimes challenging product is to visit the archive direct.



M4SK 22: THE SPINDLE FROM THE DOWIE DENS from "M4SK 22: The Screen We Face is the Primitive Mask of a Global Society " MP3 / Multimedia (M4SK 22) 2010 (UK)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

banksy may, or may not, have been here



Well. The origin of this post - the inclusion of this one song here, at least - is convoluted and curious. A matter of chance. Straightened roots. Jonderneathica - from Underneathica - certainly provoked, in part, this latest slide into phase 2 of the dub. With timely intervention and nod to Ari Up's mischievous association with On-U-Sound. Her continuing adventure in a black market cut. The role of Keith Levene in aiding and abetting.

And then, more specifically, there was the matter of my friend, Jon - the other Jon, the New Jersey refugee with Tillie from Asbury Park still breathing in his armpit - and his very recent account of how "Staggering Heights" provided lucid relief from "too much liquor, guns, drugs, unhappy girls, poverty and small town life."

Or absolute surrender to a script straight out of "comedy central". 

I did not recognise the sleeve. I did not stop to measure up, or try on the jacket.

In fact, were it not for yet more coincidence - the "Copper Shot Dub" of Roots Radic on a passing bus -  I might have never made the connection. And that would be an abysmal shame.

Recording "War of Words" for Adrian Maxwell Sherwood's London label in late '81, proto dub syndicate, Singers and Players was - loosely - a collaboration between various musicians formed out of celebrated Kingston session players, Roots Radics, and top flight superstars including Prince Far I, Bim Sherman, Mikey Dread. Guitarist, Eric "Bingy" Lamont and bassman, Errol "Flabba" Holt were seasoned professionals; contributing to a string of dance hall hits as part of Channel One house band, The Revolutionaries. Half a decade before the the departure of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare prompted a change of identity, if not direction.

The On-U-Sound back catalogue, mirroring those Kingston launched imprints Sherwood coveted, is an impenetrable tangle of poorly indexed releases. Myriad pressings. Mixes. Much of it, allegedly, incompletely represented in later compilations.

Sherman's "World of Dispensation" from "War of Words" - released through Ed Bahlman's NYC based 99 Records in the US - would be reprised on the dub, "Resolution (Part 2)" on the On-U-Sound sequel, "Revenge of the Underdog" in early '82, but by 1983 Ashanti Roy - formerly of The Congos - brought a wholly lighter flavour to the table. 

While the resulting "Staggering Heights" may be fondly remembered for Far I's splendid and fanciful, "Bedward the Flying Preacher", or Roy's "African Blood" - issued as an appetizer ahead of the LP - closer inspection reveals the following song to be something of a show stealer. Stripped to the bone and fleet of heel.

Gamely dodging bullets. Bouncing over cracks. Like The Clash shadowing Junior Murvin after a bright summer's drinking in the park.

And that is probably exactly how one should hear it, on balance. On a boombox. A ghetto blaster. Not basking in the shade in front of a finger smeared monitor on a Sunday afternoon, fatigued from god knows what or when. The bass tuned out a little, the brilliance of clarity dimmed by a yellowing blind.

Still. I made it to the supermarket. The chilled aisles packed either side with exotic fruits and choice meats. I bought a mango. I smoked two or three cigarettes between underground rides; I endowed my default browser with a new persona; I tidied my desktop.

I watered an orchid.

The skies are ablaze. I will share the mango when it has ripened on the window sill. The cigarettes I could do without, but can't.

Written and sung by Roydel Johnson.

SINGERS AND PLAYERS: SNIPERS IN THE STREET from "Staggering Heights" LP (On-U-Sound) 1983 (UK)

Friday, August 13, 2010

on the route of the 19 bus, again | a detour


Recorded sometime in the 1980s, the rythym track behind this dub appears to have been laid down by either the Midnight Rock Crew or Roots Radics; at Channel 1, Harry J's, or Dynamic Sound in Kingston, W1. The precise location is not so much shrouded in mystery, as clouded - I suspect - by amnesia.
 

Produced and arranged by Nkrumah "Jah" Thomas, the magic ingredient - of course - could only have been procured from one source. King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi. Never an exact science, despite what the label might read, Overton Brown cannot be faulted in his supporting role here as sorcerer's apprentice.
 

In the course of these burning sounds - compiling, in the main, compositions from Thomas - Tubby keeps the dub deep n' loaded, while Scientist's occasionally irritating electronic flourishes never truly underwhelm the mix. 

Their take on "Copper Shot", penned by Don Drummond Jr. and Tommy McCook, is for me the highlight in a wholly decent set.
 

Leaving even "Ghetto Dub" face down in the dirt. Like so many empty bottles.


KING TUBBY & SCIENTIST: COPPER SHOT DUB (MUSIC IS MY OCCUPATION) from "King Tubby's Meets Scientist at Dub Station" LP & CD (Burning Sounds) 1996 (Jamaica)

attack of the rabbit hole




Produced by Bunny Lee. Written by Bunny Lee.

heh, heh, heh


PRINCE JAZZBO: THE WORMER from "The Wormer b/w The Great Pablo" 45 (Attack) 1976 (Jamaica / UK)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

out of the fish, a dark crocus emerges


According to those annals curated by Ubu Projex, Proto Pere stole under the wire into what was soon to become Ubuttoir De Facto in the city of South Euclid, Ohio sometime in late 1975. Therein seeding the earliest documented shoots of their "Heart of Darkness".

While drummer, Scott Krauss shares writing credit on its definitive coupling with "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" - released on Hearthen (Hearpen) in that same year - the dress rehearsal is anchored solely by Tim Wright's bass; the shadowy weight of an exploratory craft set adrift with one hand pummelling on its rotten hull.

Quite what the cargo is, or where it is going, is subject to conjecture.

Undecided. Agitated. It sails drunkenly on stagnant, uncharted waters. 

Underlining Conrad; foul orchids; the potential for misdirected violence.

In its protean form, it remained unreleased until its appearance on the terminal drive of Cooking Vinyl's "Datapanik in the Year Zero" some twenty-one years later. Its direct descendant, more than any other offering from Pere Ubu, perfectly anticipates the concrete chambers and valves of Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures". Muscle and tendon infused with lead.

Peter Laughner is restrained. Strung out. Focused. Pere Ubu, a coiled tuberous corm.

In one song - one might reasonably claim - stocking a reservoir of refracted dystopia for years to come.

Well. We have been here before, you will doubtless recall. I am infected with the unfolding of the crocus still:

"At times a virus infected spider scrabbling over shards of brittle glass, at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent, the corpulent presence of Thomas and the nihilistic but hugely inventive experimental tones created by Laughner coalesced into a cold blue flame licking out broken windows in the seedy bars of Cleveland to ignite pockets of interest outwith even America."

That Pere Ubu's earliest Cleveland recordings continue to elicit fascination owes much to Laughner's part in the group dynamic, of course, but does not alone explain it. Those nutrients percolating down into the basement propelled Ubu out of the tombs into the blank triumph of "The Modern Dance" and beyond. Peter Laughner's tragic demise was a wound which Pere Ubu survived. In those days before David Thomas chased out Vachel Lindsay, or outwardly bore witness to Kingdom Hall, the forces which galvanized him seemed not so much biblical as tainted by universal pollutants.

Vietnam. Recession. Listlessness. Fright.

The interment of an irrational optimism which flourished briefly in the 1960s.

Much of the time, I find myself not so much in disagreement with any dire prognosis, as simply astonished that one day continues to follow on the last; an endless succession of crisis and war - disorder - a flipbook animation of human distemper travelling all the way back to Adam and Eve.

One holocaust after another.

So. Same as it ever was. A tangle of angels and words. Jihadi. Pulchritude. 

Mortal combat.

Endurance of the human condition through procreation rather than spiritual rebirth.

The 'p' in Hearpan might be Anglo-Saxon for 'th' - the whole a harp or lyre - but I hear mostly moist flutterings. A deluge of insects.

David Thomas: vocals; Peter Laughner: guitar;
Tim Wright: bass; Dave Taylor: EML synthesizer.


PERE UBU : HEART OF DARKNESS (REHEARSAL) from "Disc V: Terminal Drive: Rarities (Datapanik In The Year Zero)" 5 x CD (Cooking Vinyl) 1996 (US)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

white socks | lost in laundry



Just over a year ago, you may recall, I featured a still from photographer, Wayzata Camerone's 'Glendale Series' after stumbling on an enlightening piece on Nothin' Says Somethin'

Most people, I suspect - passing familiar with Camerone - will remember him as feverish vocalist and player with white L.A. rioters, The Braniacs. Nathan Nothin' also recalls that he ran a "notorious afterhours punk club frequented by X, Blasters, Plugx, Go-Go’s, Fear, Weirdos"; a rotating cast now almost as noirishly delinquent as 1950's mugshots. Flipped over on a sticky ringed bar.

Let's get lost.

Less well known, perhaps, is that Wayzata Camerone was himself an accomplished practioner in 10 x 8. Teaching F-Stop and depth of field in a class in Pasadena in the 90's. Perfecting, I waxed back then, "a hardboiled eroticism perfectly at home in the seedier Californian haunts once home to would-be Hollywood screenwriters and miscreants". Images snatched with all the delicacy of a safecracker in the thick of armed robbery.

Well. Posthumously, Wayzata deserves his share in the heist bankrolled by east coast upstarts of the calibre of a Richard Kern. Should anybody call on me as a witness, I will gladly attest to it.

The Wordpress blog, Wayzata Camerone, is an attempt to set the record straight by executors of his estate. Director, India Jennings recently got in touch with me to the effect that more negatives have been uncovered; "probably made between ’93 and ’94 at Wayzata’s cottage-studio in Glendale, or at a West LA apartment he rented from ’94 to ’95."

The above slice of tail is one of two original prints dusted out of a cottage he procured while on the run. From demons, maybe. A scarlet virus.

It is almost perfect. I would clap my hands, but the ghost of recalcitrance gets in the way. The gnawed shaft of a #3 wood.

Let's get crossed. Off everybody's motherf@ckin' list. 

I know a hit when I smell one. The perfect fairway strike continues to elude me.


postscript:
WDC is alive and swell. MCB. Not so much drunk with funk, as fine and finnegan; reconstituted in DC.

CHET BAKER: LET'S GET LOST from "Chet Baker Sings & Plays With Bud Shank, Russ Freeman & Strings" LP (Pacific Jazz) 1955 (US)
CHET BAKER: LOVE VIBRATION from "The Incredible Chet Baker Plays & Sings" LP (Carosello) 1977 (US)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a cruel and incontinent punishment



If I did not know it for the broken crock of shit it almost certainly is, I might hazard that my game is cursed.
 

For some time now, my son has been fond of golf. 

What began simply enough as idle simulation on a games console quickly gravitated to genuine curiosity on the green. Junior clubs were procured and for several months now he has been honing his skills on municipal courses.
 

Now. Golf is all very well - even old stooges have a weakness for it, I realize - and while its modern form may have originated here in Scotland, I for one have never truly graduated beyond a passing fancy for park life pitch and putt.
 

Shepherds knocking stones down rabbit holes on the site of the old course at Saint Andrews ? Sounds suspiciously like fallacy through the wrong end of the looking glass.
 

Anyway. Having previously demonstrated no fear on both the front nine and a driving range, last Sunday I ferried my son by bus to break his 18 hole cherry.
 

Since kids get in for free I could hardly argue. And since adults similarly enjoy a waiving of fees, providing they are merely there to escort a minor round said sprawl of urban wilderness, I settled on merely caddying. Besides, years of bad posture have taken their toll.
 

My back is not up to swinging a shortened stick.
 

As a family, I feel I must add, we also possess a forty year old set picked up in a thrift store, but these are "Ladies Clubs" - each one has this failing branded into the iron like a caution, even the woods - and while I concede there is no real justification for me to turn up my nose, one has to draw a line in the sand somewhere.
 

I would sooner desist from doing so with a ladies' wedge.
 

Well. The boy done good. He hit some more than decent balls. He did not tire, or peak too soon, he did not whinge. Nor did I cajole.
 

So. A good neighbour of ours caught us slouching home, weary but jubilant, and promptly made a gift of a set of full-size clubs. It was an offer I could not refuse, or accept on loan, he knocked on my door and insisted I take them.
 

For all my reservations, I was delighted. If nothing else, I could do with the excuse to get out there and burn off the bloat, as much as the shriveler's block.
 

He is a good egg, this neighbour.
 

Almost but not quite a novice then, I struck out alone to get in some practice.
 

On the first tee, I sliced my drive into the rough. I recovered with a shot straight into the bunker guarding the green. There ensued several woeful attempts to clear the ball. More buckloads of sand than Dylan on the beach. When I did at last make good contact, the ball sailed respectably aloft and onto the front of the green. My putting was adequate.
 

Close to exceeding my stroke limit, I did not bother writing up the scorecard.
 

The next two or three holes went by void of drama. And no spectators to witness me make amends.
 

On the sixth, a steep incline on a fairly short par three, the wind picked up. Once again I was fighting from the rough. I made the shot. My bag toppled over on the fairway behind me, spilling clubs like Pick Up Sticks.
 

I righted it and immediately saw that the vintage putter - a Fred Letters' Silver Swan, no less - had sheared clean through at the foot of the shaft. I have no idea why this might have occurred, unless there were some inherent weakness to it when it was cast. Still. It had clearly lasted decades without incident.
 

I soldiered on.
 

Somewhere between the seventh and the ninth I lost the vinyl cover to the No. 10 Driver. I retraced my steps half-heartedly but there was no sign of it in all that sea of green. I was glad my neighbour seemed entirely plausible in his largesse. I had no stomach to dwell on, less report, this second loss.
 

With every subsequent drive, my game deteriorated rapidly.
 

I made it to the 12th playing the same ball that I began with. At least there was that. Some teenagers appeared over the brow of a hill. Making off with the flag. Whooping drunkly like a tribe of native americans sold down the river for beads.
 

The green was pocked with litter and plastic bottles. I still made the putt in two.
 

There I stood on the 13th. "The Wave". A small pond choked with weeds. Farther on, an undulating sculpted feature right across the fairway.
 

I pressed in the tee and balanced the dimpled ball on it.
 

My arms and shoulders were aching now, my face and neck awash with sweat. On the 17th, to my left, a father and his two young sons were busy making inroads with a couple of well judged pitches. A pin-seeking chip. The youngest son cavorted cheerfully on the lip of the green while his dad remonstrated without much feeling.
 

I lit a cigarette and smoked it down to the butt before settling into the drive. Two afternoons previousy, my own boy had struggled with this one. It was a psychological thing. He fluffed two or three attempts before I stepped up to the plate and smacked it high up in the air, a good ten yards or so beyond the undulating horizon.
 

It felt good. Showing him how to rein in that fluttering dread.
 

I drew back on the stick and let fly with it. Ping! It smacked down in the water with an almighty splash. The six-year-old on the 17th stopped cavorting and silently watched me fish a second ball out of my trouser pocket. No matter. I was justifiably piqued, seeing as I had made it this far with the ball I started out with, but it was a minor gripe. Sploosh! The second ball fell dead in the water in the exact same spot. This time I could feel the second kid watching me. His father too.
 

I fidgeted my shoulders and lined up a third ball. Not counting that first ball, I had another five in the zippered pocket of my golfing trolley. What the fuck. I could make it on home with enough balls to spare.
 

Plop! went the third. The fourth. Now I was seriously pissed and sweating worse than before.
 

The father and his sons drifted away to tee off on the 18th - "Past Caring" - a little too hesitantly for my liking. I dug out the fifth ball and noticed there was no sixth. Between that distant first fairway and this one, I must have lost one somewhere in the deep grass. I did not remember, but I knew I set out with six.
 

That Sunday drive could not have been a fluke. 

I wandered down to the edge of the pond and spotted a fat white globe caught in the reeds. I plucked it out of the water and dried it off on the sleeve of my shirt. Well, all right. Now I had a backup.
 

I squinted at the three of them disappearing over the hill towards the clubhouse and teed up the fifth. An affluent looking bastard in khaki had by now taken their place on the 17th green. I hadn't seen him coming.
 

The fifth and sixth balls went the same way as the rest. I was out of balls. Humiliated. Emasculated.

I was relieved, then, my son was not beside me to share in any of it.

I stashed the clubs away and heaved the bag up on my back. It felt heavy as lead. Heavier than an unsorted sack full of mail. I have worked for the Post Office, too, you know. I have tossed crates around for the odd paycheck between meals; here and there, this way or that, but never once freshly slaughtered slabs of meat.
 

Well. I lumbered off that golf course under my cross and carted those clubs the extra half mile or so to catch a bus.
 

On the way through the gates I stooped to pick up a single ball lost between the vege and chain link fence. I could not leave there empty-handed.
 

More circumspect men than me might have gone to pieces. As it was, I arrived home to a conveniently empty house and hooked up the hog to get it all down. For posterity. Austerity. An absence of silverware, winning smirks.
 

There is no home run, I find, in the long run home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

red army fetish



Judy Nylon, now sixty-two years old, arrived in London sometime in 1970. 

Between the death rattle of the swinging 60s and the arrival of glam rock, most of the British Isles - the media would have had one believe - was deep in the grip of a very public mourning over the demise of The Beatles.
 

Beards predominated, as Nick Kent - and assorted terrified children - observed. 

Dense thickets of facial hair deep enough to hide a monkey in.
 

Divorce and therapy became the order of the day. A primal scream or two, if one could gather together enough coin. While up and down the country everybody's mum and dad was stroking their chin and brooding over Alex Comfort's "The Joy of Sex", I was still getting off on "Meet the Monkees"; glueing my fingertips together in the struggle to get an Airfix B-52 off the ground.

Look ma, no prints.
 

Patti Palladin took a little longer to scrape together the airfare. Connecting briefly with Nylon via a transatlantic telephone conversation; leaving New York City three years after John & Yoko moved in, nailed the windows shut.
 

By 1974, of course, the complexion on and around the Thames was a good deal more refreshed. The popular charts were once more ablaze with spots. Teenage acne. Jimi Hendrix was dead, and his closest living relation was a diminutive imposter who had not long since traded his white swan for a metal guru. 

Jim Morrison's beard floated south in a bath tub in Paris back in '71, and by 1974 even Marc Bolan no longer seemed quite so elfin. Of course, by then he'd been on the game for close to ten years.
 

Suzi Quatro from Detroit was in vogue. Paper Lace. Mud. The Rubettes. 

A predatory paedophile called Gadd. 

In hindsight, there was really very little fairy dust being flung around. Snorted. Despite all the glitter. Nothing remotely glamorous. The London which propelled Snatch out of obscurity into more of the same was a soot bricked Dickensian warren of shysters; apprentice Fagins peddling smack on the side; swarthy entrepreneurs from the Midlands resembling Fred West.

In fact. The beards might have been shorn but, underneath the undrneath, it was all still business as usual.

Look a little closer and one is hard pressed to unearth a single genuine teenager lurking near the top slot. Just a bunch of corseted paunches masquerading as puppy fat. Propping the stage door open to usher in an endless procession of wan underage meat.

Between 1974 and the emergence of punk commercially, any blushing roué on stacked heels was virtually guaranteed an audience. Just chauffeuring the Glitter Band radiated enough of a spark to leave an adolescent open to persuasion.

I suspect.

Well. It might not have been Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Butt. A steel capped size nine in the seat of the pants was nevertheless just what the doctor ordered.
 

"I.R.T.", back to back with with "Stanley" on Lightning Records and Bomp in 1977, may have basked a little in the receding spectacle of a sweet jane disappearing into the dark maw of the subway painted on "Loaded", but really it had more to do with those fluoroscent tunnels trailing under Piccadilly Circus; a blinking strip light in Finchley Central.
 

Rumour continues to circulate that The Damned's Captain Sensible makes his presence felt on "Stanley", but so far as I'm aware it has never been corroborated. Exactly who plays on it subject to speculation. Judy and Patti have never openly dispelled the myth, but The Heartbreakers play a later documented role in their fabric of conspiracy.
 

In 1978, Snatch very nearly scraped the bottom of the UK Top 40 with a double A-Side - "All I Want" b/w "When I'm Bored" - featuring ex New York Doll and one time Heartbreaker, Jerry Nolan on drums. It got to No. 54 and promptly sank without a trace. Nylon and Palladin appeared unperturbed.
 

There followed a collaboration with Brian Eno. Another single: "R.A.F.". By then I only had time for Hurricane fighter planes.

In 1983, Pandemonium Records compiled a string of demos and those all too few 45 releases titled, simply, "Snatch". Irritatingly, although it includes versions of the tracks which appeared on the 1980 Fetish issued EP, "Shopping For Clothes" - their final release, produced by John Cale - those versions differ markedly from the (uncompiled) original Fetish product.

The Pandemonium curated mixes are a good deal crisper, more commercial than the Fetish issue. Interesting, but only by way of contrast.
 

Now. I did not buy into this snatch of vinyl first time around. "Shopping For Clothes" passed me by. The following vinyl rip(s), then - so far as I can gather now completely out of print - were cribbed from the now defunct Direct Waves.


SNATCH: JOEY from "Shopping For Clothes b/w Joey / Red Army" 12" (Fetish Records) 1980 (UK)
SNATCH: RED ARMY from "Shopping For Clothes b/w Joey / Red Army" 12" (Fetish Records) 1980 (UK)

a fluttering of owls

Some years ago, too many years ago, I was arguing with my then partner over breakfast. I no longer remember exactly what prompted it or where it went from there. I had arrived somehow in my thirties - a good way past the stain of the big "3-0" - without hitting the panic button, and I couldn't summon the energy to do much more than grunt.

We were sat at the table - me in my boxer shorts, she in my boxer shorts too - and the grey light shone like a beacon through our tenement window. The table was big and round, dressed with some kind of cloth to protect the faux teak, and for all our squabbling the setting was fairly civilized.

"Listen," she might have said, "you are turning into some kind of old fart."

"Well," I retorted, "You can gripe all you want. If I don't wash the dishes and occasionally drag the hoover around we would be up to our knees in shit."

Perhaps she had returned back from a night out with her friends to find me darning a hole in my jacket pocket. That might have torn it. That, or the fact I was content to do my drinking at home.

The last gasp of punk rock. Mending holes. Needlepoint.

The words were washing over me when I noticed a lump on my thigh. I prodded the raised flesh, immediately fearing the worst, moving back in my seat to shed a little light on it.

"Sure," I said. "Uh-huh. Whatever you say, dear."

Actually. Bar the music burbling from the stereo, we more or less fell back into the not quite truce of silence. Each with our separate ashtray, a carcinogenic his and hers.

Well. I poked at my leg until I was all but certain it was merely a boil. I dug my fingers under it and bore down until I felt something give.

It did not so much erupt as ignite like an indoor firework. As fascinating to behold as these inocuous little brown pills which, when lit, keep going until they leap up out the box and hang like ripe intestines. As big in diameter as a plug of toothpaste.

"Dear Christ!" I exclaimed. "Just look at that thing!"

My partner got up and left the table with a dignified little snort of contempt. I did not give a fig. I felt only a peculiar sense of liberation. As if the accumulation of a decade or so of bad karma was being exorcised inch by inch. Drained out of me by invisible shamans. Operating at ceiling height, somewhere in the cornicing.

Chemicals, certainly, but more than that. Arrows. Slings. Toxic mutterings from an industrial zone in deep space.

The minute it was done, I jumped up and danced into the bathroom to splash what passed for iodine over the evacuated area. Oh, I was light headed; cleansed. And only the tiniest of indentations. Not even the trace of a scar.

Our cat, Biff - a gentle old tom who could be found most nights under the tables of the free house three doors down - lay grooming himself on the floor as I bathed the wound. Owlish, alert, but quite disinterested.

Of course. By two or three o'clock that same afternoon, I was back to pouring all that bad shit in, I did not hesitate or waver. What started out, quite benignly as some kind of karmic zit, quickly mutated into something more entrenched. 

Subcutaneous. Learning to conceal itself, slyly burrowing deeper.

What did you expect ? A happy ending ?