Words and pictures .. and anyone but England

I’VE SAID it before and no doubt I will say it again. Even 30-odd years down the line, the Fall are still producing records with more good ideas in one song than many bands have in their entire careers.

The group’s latest opus Your Future Our Clutter (Domino Records) contains a joyous thumping racket that, I prophesy, will come to be regarded with the same high regard, nay veneration, as many of the legendary ye olde Fall albums of yore.

Heed me, miscreants!

The current line-up is a really tight unit playing some particularly inventive music, with the album’s production job by Ross Orton and Ding proving both sympathetic and absorbing.

For example, Bury (the video for which Bury council have decided to stick on their municipal website) initially sounds like the Glitterband recorded through cottonwool before – in time-honoured Fall fashion – switching up a gear and morphing into a swaggering ultra-heavy kind of 12-bar blues, with an intricate, densely layered sound full of odd detail and funny-clever bits.

Of course, Mark E Smith is on conspicuously good form too. “And one day, a Spanish king with a council of bad knaves tried to come to Bury ..” he sings. Disappointingly, he doesn’t finish the anecdote, talking about how they don’t make them like they used to instead.

And in Funnel Of Love, the group sound the poppiest they have in ages – it even has  a chorus and everything. In other times I might have forecasted a surefire big-time chart hit, but do they even have chart hits these days? I have absolutely no idea. And if so, where is the stupid Facebook campaign to get the Fall to number one?

Yeah, precisely. There isn’t one, you idiotic cunts. If you were sucked in by all that Rage Against The Machine hype at Christmas, please, do yourself a favour and give this album a listen. You owe it to yourself. It’s brave new world.

Everyone sounds like they’re having a lot of fun, which isn’t necessarily a good thing in the Fall. The boss doesn’t like people to get too comfortable, you know. A mate who went to the group’s two-night residency at Peter Hook’s Factory club in Manchester earlier in the month told me that he thinks the band is getting a bit predictable these days. Time for a change, perhaps?

Talking of which, the UK now has a new government. The people have spoken. Let’s hear it for the democratic process. A very wise man named David Icke once told me that the shape-shifting lizards who control the world – who really control the world, beyond the dreams of priests and politicians and even Simon Cowell – work in very subtle ways.

They specialise in presenting solutions to seemingly intractable ‘problems’. A problem pops up out of nowhere and their agents are able to present a solution to that problem which just happens to move the world in the direction our metamorphosing reptilian overlords wanted it to go in all along. It’s almost as if the problem was created by someone, or some thing, with that precise outcome in mind. I am just saying.

Wait a minute. An uncertain world, pointless foreign wars, a Tory Prime Minister making public-spending cuts in the belief that the free market will deliver us from all evil – haven’t we been here before?

While it might seem like I often hanker after the old days in this blog, I’m not hankering after the old days that much really. I’m happy where I am, thanks. And I’m particularly not hankering after a re-run of the early Eighties, with that all-pervasive fear of everything: fear of imminent nuclear annihilation, the DHSS, meatheads killing you on the street, your boss, what Thatcher would do next. It was a shitty time. I do not want those days to return, even if it means we get another Metal Box.

But every cloud has a silver lining. The oppositional culture I was hoping for last month is ACTUALLY starting to materialise! Honest! Well, it’s not, clearly, but I think I might have come across the 2010 version of D&V we’ve all been waiting for, in the shape of the Agitator. You can see the very smart promo vid for the Agitator’s  new single Get Ready here.

A bit more obviously soulful – and weirdly, simultaneously more sloganeering – than the trailblazing anarcho duo from Sheffield, I like the Agitator’s style in small doses but I’m not sure how I’d hold up to a full album or gig’s worth. We shall see.

Gagging for Nerve Rack to reform? Then why not try the next best thing – and by next best thing I mean the spiky mad-mentals from Glasgow called We Are The Physics? Frantic and stupid punk rock, just the way I like it. And there may well be a druggy Butthole Surfers-type vibe around the edges too. Either way, there is clearly a lot to love in this band. Intro vid here. “This is explain”, it says. Don’t take that as gospel.

The band are playing at Bar Bloc in Glasgow this weekend (June 26). During the gig, fans will be asked to rate a set of new songs “using a sophisticated pen / paper  interrogation process, as well as a home-made Clap-o-meter”. Entry is free before 11pm. Details on bullshit Facebook here.

King Antics almost lose my vote when they describe themselves as “tribal dark” but I suppose nobody’s perfect. And to be fair, they also say: “We don’t want to explain anything; we love people to use their imagination, we just start fires and then we run away ..”

I have no big Eighties comparisons for King Antics, though the single above is vaguely reminiscent of Badly Drawn Boy’s early stuff at certain points. This is a good thing, obviously. I can’t promise all of their stuff sounds like Badly Drawn Boy though. This is probably a good thing too.

I first caught the Manchester phenomena known as Richard Thick at the Eurocultured festival in the city earlier this month. In between my scary Cravats records and simply incomprehensible theatre pieces, this archetypal Morrissey-fan lookalikes’ funny, irreverent and erudite verse betrayed a mind obsessed by language, by the sound and feel of words, and by their power. He was spiteful, vicious and as funny as fuck.

His stuff is all about real heart and passion and wit and anger and energy – where are the rock and roll bands with this much fire? Where are the house music producers with this much soul? I predict great things for this young man – not least an interview for this very interblog. More news on that one as we get it.

In the meantime, here he is in disguise talking about the type of twat who takes a gun to a funeral. And here’s another one of his poems, Tabasco, that is if anything even better.

The soon-to-be-legendary Richard Thick is performing at the Wordoodles .. From The Doodlebug Side of Life Up North event at this year’s Big Chill (August 5-8). A product of the strange mind of art maverick Michael Barnes-Wynters, known by one and all as Barney, Wordoodles is a late-night snapshot of a very particular part of the weird and wonderful Manchester arts scene.

Alongside our friend Mr Thick, Wordoodles will showcase the work of such talents as former Jam MC Chris Jam, electronic folk artist Caro Snatch, the Moss Side poetry collective Young Identity, artist Maya Chowdhry, actor Sean Cernow, Greenroom artistic director Garfield Allen and Rochdale’s foremost agent provocateur Mr Suhail Khan. Oh, and someone called Mr Scruff in conversation about his journey from stacking supermarket shelves to hosting Supermarket Sweep.

And if all that wasn’t enough, I’ll also be there reading extracts from this very blog. Wish me luck. It’s all very exciting. Well, it will be if I can get the time off work. Actually, you’d probably better wish me luck with that instead.

One thing I can’t get excited about is the world cup. I just don’t give a shit about football. All the flag waving stuff does my head in. And as for that God Save The Queen nonsense ..

I’m glad that it makes people happy when the England team does well but when it comes down to it, I couldn’t care less about the whole thing. Unfortunately, avoiding it is easier said than done, even for a determined football refusnik.

The problem is, the further England get in the competition, the worse it will be when the national side eventually crashes and burns. It’ll kick off. It’s fucking tedious. We’re absolutely rubbish losers. If winning is about some dubious shared sense of national pride, the sour behaviour of my beered-up brethren when we lose makes me hang my head in shame. It’s embarrassing.

But we’re even worse winners. If the England team somehow manage to win the world cup this year – by, I dunno, being the sole surviving team after some kind of terminal collective hissy-fit or something – imagine how long it will be before we hear the last of it. I’ll tell you how long it will be: forever. We will NEVER fucking shut up about it.

People are still naming their unfortunate offspring after the 1966 team almost 50 years later. Unlikely though it is, the idea that the national side could win it this year is a sobering prospect.

Anyone but England? I’ll drink to that.

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