A LOAD of us went down to the Ministry at some point in the mid 90s and, despite hearing some great music, we were not particularly impressed by the distinct lack of atmosphere compared to clubs such as Kaos, Basics and Hard Times in Leeds. There just wasn’t the same kind of energy and enthusiasm.
A few weeks later, me and Earnshaw DJed at a party at a mate’s house and someone did some jokey flyers saying we were residents at the Ministry of Shite. We ended up keeping the name when we started putting on parties ourselves.
It was all a bit rough and ready, but we had a run of great parties over three or four years at an old mansion house at the Weetwood end of Headingley in Leeds, with perhaps two or three hundred people coming through the door during the night, generally ending around 6am with no bother from the cops.
We played a lot of new US garage and vocal house but we also threw in old acid, techno, hardcore and hip house at key moments to ensure everything remained suitably blurry and twisted out of shape.
LOCATED in one of those patches of bleak post-industrial wasteland that Manchester used to do so well before all the foreign money arrived, the White Hotel is sort of white but it’s certainly not a hotel. The bar, with staff serving drinks from a sunken inspection pit, seems to indicate a former life as a garage. A dodgy garage, knocking out fake MOTs, no doubt.
It’s just over the other side of Bury New Road from HMP Manchester, in the area of Manchester that once gave the prison its name. They like their evocative place names in Manchester, and this is about as Manchester as it gets. Even if we are in Salford.
THE FALL got together exactly 40 years ago, to the day. Mark E Smith’s modus operandi of basic rock n roll accompanied by a very singular kind of northern beat poetry remains true to his original vision, albeit delivered by an ever-changing supporting cast of musical misfits. And assorted wives, girlfriends and lovers, older and otherwise.
Think what you want about him but nobody gets that lucky this often. The guy is a fucking genius and we are privileged to be breathing the same air as him.
Would I want to hang out with him on a regular basis?
Has he recorded songs that have made me happy, consistently, over a number of decades?
Do his lyrics still dazzle with a deranged, unique and often completely unexpected poetic worldview?
Has he presided over some of the most insane gigs I’ve ever seen in my entire life?
So, this is a few songs from the canon of MES. There is no definitive list of great Fall songs and people who tell you otherwise are liars. These are five MES songs I like today. It’ll change tomorrow.
And that is entirely appropriate.
PUNK ROCK DISCO. When punks tried to make dance music and when dancing music people get a bit punk rock. Or something. All bets are off.
GAD WHIP are a quartet of non-hairy and also hairy freaks from various northern shitholes who present an ungrateful world with a very pleasing hodgepodge of high-energy, low-fidelity punky psychedelia and post-industrial musique concrète, via the medium of cassette tapes, mostly.
Let’s not get hung up on the medium at the expense of the message.
Named after a murkily arcane North Lincolnshire ‘old religion’ ritual involving a long cattle whip being shaken above a priest’s head on Palm Sunday or something, Gad Whip are old enough to know better but they don’t. Me and singer / drummer Pete started swapping zines through the post in the mid-Eighties and I later met Geoff when he moved in across the road from my girlfriend, and their band Aki began to gig around Scunthorpe.
And here we are, 30-odd years later.
On first hearing, these analogue fundamentalists’ albums sound like the craziest and greatest mixtapes you’ve ever heard, but within a few listens each track begins to sound like it could only have been produced by Gad Whip. And you have to wonder what kind of weirdo would have these kinds of mixtapes recorded for them. Me, apparently.
Musically, Gad Whip are all over the place. There appears to be neither rhyme nor reason to their outré oeuvre. They point and laugh at genre politics. The constants appear to be a willingness to experiment and a weary exasperation with the essential rubbishness of modern life.
While middle-aged blokes are always moaning about something (exhibit one: the Twitter stream on the right of this page), seldom has this kind of male-menopausal grumpiness been expressed with such invention, energy and style. They have yet to repeat themselves. And busying themselves with this shit definitely beats waking up one morning and leaving your missus and kids for a florist named Lance or even buying an elaborate surrogate phallus in the shape of an expensive car / motorbike.
I like what Gad Whip do very much.
IT’S been a shit year for everyone. Get over it.
Yes, it’s been a fantastic time for the idiots, charlatans and nutters of the world but they only have money, guns and bombs on their side. We have love, soul and passion. Where they have hatred and intolerance, we have compassion and generosity.
They don’t stand a chance.
Some truly awful things happened around the world this year. The supposedly black and white certainties of the past evaporated a long time ago but the confusing miasma of disinformation and bullshit and lies became so much denser and more impenetrable in 2016. We don’t live in a post-truth world. There was never any truth in the first place.
It turns out there are no good guys or bad guys, no good or evil, no right or wrong. None of those things ever existed. We’re all just people. Some people do ‘good’ things, while some do ‘shitty’ things, and others simply do nothing.
Music provided some respite from the insanity but finding five albums that were released in 2016 and worth talking about isn’t as easy as you might expect considering we live in times when banal, tinkling muzak, with no bottom end to speak of, emanates from every platform and device imaginable.
We’re awash with music, drowning in it, choking on it. Most of it is utter fucking shite, of course. You don’t even have to listen to it to know this. Simply close your ears, condemn the lot as dreary, derivative, philistine nonsense and make exceptions for worthwhile stuff as and when it forces its way into your consciousness. It’s okay. Everyone has the capacity for change. And nobody gives a shit what you think anyway.
IT MUST be a confusing and unsettling time for Americans. How awful for you. Welcome to the party. Where the fuck have you been until now?
I don’t have any advice for you. As one of your former colonial overlords, it’s not really my place to tell you how to vote. The best I can come up with is: Make America Great Britain Again.
Obviously, as someone who inhabits the same hemisphere as all you paranoid, gun-crazy, passportless halfwits, I have a view – for what it’s worth: Hillary is your only rational choice. Trump is an obvious nut case. You can only blame yourselves for this lack of meaningful choice – but why would you listen to me?
And whoever you vote for, the government wins, right?