The Curse Of The Mekons

The Mekons should be better known. They are so much more interesting than Radiohead, or Oasis, for instance.

They were briefly signed by A&M, and released one great album, “The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1989, but the fit was poor, and they were soon back to indie purgatory.
Their next, “Curse Of The Mekons”, which is even better, didn’t even see a US release initially.

I used to gauge a new record store by how many Kevin Ayers albums they had. Then I’d check for Roy Harper and Lee “Scratch” Perry. A quick indication of the depth of their catalog.
In the early ’90′s I added The Mekons to the list. Their cd’s were pretty hard to find, but over the years I managed to collect a baker’s dozen. This compilation covers from 1987-2002.

Formed in 1977 by a group of Leeds University art students: John Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan, and Tom Greenhalgh (Gang Of Four and Delta 5 came out of the same group of students). I just now found out that they took the name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950-1960′s comic Dan Dare.

The band’s first single was “Never been In A Riot”, a satirical take on The Clash’s “White Riot”.
They’re debut album, “The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strnen”, was recorded using the Gang Of Four’s instruments, and due to an error by the Virgin Records art department, features pictures of that band, instead of The Mekons on the back cover.

Through the years, the band’s musical style has evolved, incorporating country, folk, rock, and occasional experiments in dub. These days, The Mekons are often described as a post-punk, cowpunk and/or alt country band.

The Mekons
Jon Langford
Tom Greenhalgh
Sally Timms
Sara Corina
Steve Goulding (The Rumour)
Susie Honeyman
Rico Bell
Lu Edmonds (The Damned)
J. Mitch Flacko

Past members
Ben Mandelson
Dick Taylor (original Rolling Stone and Pretty Thing)
John Langley
Kevin Lycett
Mary Jenner
Robert Worby

Mekons Mekons Mekons

Enjoy!
-BBJ

I highly recommend the terrific documentary, “The Revenge Of The Mekons”

Mekons Mekons Mekons

Number Fifty Two

The Playlist

A friend sent me a link to someone’s idea of the greatest rock guitar solos on record because “Baby’s On Fire”, one of my first posts, and a guitar solo I’d nominate for some kind of “best” list, was on it. I can’t remember what the other eleven tracks were, except I wasn’t familiar with most of them, or my response was, “What?!”. A brief email correspondence took place where I nominated a handful of solos that would be on my list, and got as far as promising it would be the theme for the next “Bullshit”. I started to jot down some ideas, a little disappointed that “Baby’s On Fire was already on Number Fifty when I realized I had no interest in compiling or listening to all that fretful wankery.
Also I’d collected the solo-less “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” from Lux N Ivy’s Favorites and already earmarked it for Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 52.
All the Bullshits tend to follow the same pattern of eclecticism, so I lost the guitar solo theme. That said, a few of them made it onto the playlist. They are grouped together in a mini set consisting of “Old Pervert”, possibly my favorite Kimberly Rew solo from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight. Interesting because this version is not on the cd reissue, where it has been replaced by a vastly inferior rendition. This version is dubbed from a cassette copy I made in 1986 of the original vinyl release. Next up is “Lounge Lizard” from Ian Hunter’s first solo album featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. It’s really hard to narrow Mick down to a single solo, but I think this one stands out for all the right reasons. After that comes “Tit-Nan-Darag”, from Live, Love, Larf by French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson. Three out of four of those guys are well known for their guitar prowess. The other guy for the incredible drumming in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. I hear the album isn’t great, but this track smokes, and when Richard Thompson plays, I listen. It wasn’t destined for my list, but his solo on Fairport’s “Tale In Hard Time” is no laughing matter, either. It’s not a solo, but Blixa Bargeld’s guitar on “The Moon Is In The Gutter” is some of my favorite atmospheric noodling. Davy O’List plays some crazy shit on “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Mick Ronson shimmers tastefully on “Up To Me”, and the guitars on Acetone’s “No Need Swim” are as gorgeous as you-fill-in-the-blank.
Keef’s playing on “Honky Tonk Women” and Ron’s solo on “Twisting the Night Away” would have both made the cut, but I’ve heard them too many times, so here they are together on “Not Fade Away” from The Stones Stripped Deluxe, where no one in the band sounds like they plan on fading away any time soon. And then there’s Lou Reed on “You’re Driving Me Insane”, a song recorded by The Roughnecks shortly before forming The Velvet Underground, where he plays the practically same solo (if you can call it that) as “Run, Run, Run” from the “banana” album.
The Mekons always have good guitars, and are here because this song narrowly missed the cut on my post a few months back. One of the Mekons, Lu Edmonds, is currently playing guitar on tour with Public Image Ltd.
The Liquor Giants “I Don’t Mind” is a dead ringer for Big Star. Too bad it wasn’t covered by them on In Space.
Something by Chris Spedding would have found it’s way onto the guitar list, check out Roy Harper’s “The Game” on an earlier post, so I end the set with the Sharks hysterical “Kung Fu”, from Jab It In Yore Eye(1977). One of those albums that wouldn’t make it onto anyone’s all-time list, but for some reason I played to death way back when, largely due to Spedding’s incredible tone and economy coupled with Snip’s charismatic vocals.
There isn’t any guitar at all on Gene Krupa’s “Scandanavian Baby”, but it rocks nicely and comes from a history of Jazz record my parents bought at a supermarket when I was a toddler.
It’s really about the songs anyway.
Link in Comments.
Enjoy!

The Curse Of The Mekons

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Mekons

The Mekons

The curse is of course an unwillingness to compromise and the lack of success that goes with it. I have no idea how popular they are at this point. I’m sure they still play Maxwell’s, in Hoboken, where back in the day they probably shared bills with the likes of REM, the B-52′s, or other bands that went on to find fame and fortune. Except for a brief experience with A&M, who soon dropped like them like the proverbial hot potato, they have spent their entire career on Indie labels making their music difficult to find. When I went to record stores or cd shops, I’d make a quick check to see how deep their catalog went by looking for artists most didn’t bother to carry. After searching for Kevin Ayers, and Roy Harper, I’d check for anything by the Mekons.

The Mekons are a British rock band. Formed in the late 1970s, they are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands.

The band was formed in 1977 by a group of University of Leeds art students that included Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett and Tom Greenhalgh – the Gang of Four and Delta 5 formed from the same group of students. They took the band’s name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950s-1960s comic Dan Dare (printed in the Eagle). The band’s first single was “Never Been in a Riot”, a satirical take on the Clash’s White Riot. For several years the loose-knit band played noisy, bare-bones post-punk, releasing singles on a variety of labels. The Mekons’ first album, The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen, was recorded using the Gang of Four’s instruments, and due to an error by the Virgin Records art department, featured pictures of the Gang of Four on the back cover. After 1982′s The Mekons Story, a compilation of old recordings, the band ceased activity for a while, with Langford forming The Three Johns.
By the mid-1980s (revitalised by the 1984 miners’ strike) the Mekons had returned as an active group. The band was now augmented by vocalist Sally Timms, violinist Susie Honeyman, ex-Damned member Lu Edmonds, accordionist/vocalist Rico Bell (a.k.a. Eric Bellis), and former The Rumour drummer Steve Goulding, and Dick Taylor, original guitarist of The Pretty Things.

They began to experiment with musical styles derived from traditional English folk (tentatively explored on the English Dancing Master EP prior to the hiatus), and American country music. Fear and Whiskey (1985), The Edge of the World (1986) and Honky Tonkin’ (1987) exemplified the band’s new sound, which built on the innovations of Gram Parsons and blended punk ethos and left wing politics with the minimalist country of Hank Williams. Subsequent albums, such as The Mekons Rock’n'Roll, continued to experiment with diverse instrumentation (notably the fiddle and slide guitar).

The Mekons Rock and Roll was the band’s first major label release. Issued by A&M Records in 1989, Rock and Roll was not a commercial success, but it was met with critical acclaim.

Just as the Mekons began to grow in critical stature, their relationship with A&M Records became tense, and the Mekons were soon dropped by the label, unable to fulfill their commercial expectations. However, they continued to record at a prolific rate, releasing such notable albums as 1991′s The Curse of the Mekons, 2000′s Journey to the End of the Night, and 2002′s OOOH!. In April 2009 the Mekons returned to the studio to complete a new collection of songs, although it was unclear how these would be released as their label Touch and Go had gone bust.

Jon Langford has been busy as an artist and as founder of several solo and band projects, including the Waco Brothers (a punk-meets-Johnny Cash-like ensemble) and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (exploring the music of Bob Wills, Johnny Cash and others). Besides his solo albums he has released CDs with Richard Buckner and Kevin Coyne.

The band has toured and recorded with a mostly unaltered lineup (Langford, Greenhalgh, Timms, Goulding, Bell, Edmonds, and bassist Sarah Corina) throughout the 1990s and early 21st century, and has a highly devoted following.

The Mekons today-ish

The Mekons today-ish

The Curse
Memphis, Egypt
I Love Apple
Chemical Wedding
I Can’t Find My Money
Maverick
Hole In The Ground
Secrets