Category Archives: post punk

Bummed by Happy Mondays (Factory Records)

IT’S 9am on an autumnal Saturday morning and my world-leading not-so-full English breakfast is missing one vital ingredient.

I get a packet of Cauldron’s world-class Lincolnshire sausages from the Tesco Metro in Stretford Arndale and then head upstairs to check out the new record shop Suzie has been talking about.

Reel Around the Fountain’s doors are open but there’s nobody about as I quickly scan the sleeves poking out of the tops of a couple of dozen racks dividing up a pretty generous amount of retail space. There’s even a settee.

“Morning,” I say to the guy who emerges from the back.

“Is it?” he says, rubbing his head.

After a long day at work yesterday, Nigel got home to find DIY awaiting him, one glass of wine turned into another and, long story short, he’s now in work at 9am on a Saturday morning, hungover as fuck.

He was in the market downstairs for a couple of years but he’s only been in here for three weeks, and you need to put the hours in. The shop opens every day of the week, apart from Sunday.

Am I looking for anything in particular? Mate, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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Flowers of Romance by Public Image Ltd (Virgin)

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD’S early stuff wasn’t all about the bassline. It wasn’t 100% about Wobble’s bossy, insistent, unstoppable low-end throb. No. I believe the band had a singer, a guitarist and an occasional drummer too.

Let’s have it right though: from the outset, from the very first moment of their very first single, it was Wobble’s bass that defined, bullied, pushed and pulled PiL’s sound forward.

Don’t get me wrong. Lydon’s whiney and increasingly obtuse voice style and Levene’s insane guitar had their moments, obviously. Anyone who had a hand in First Issue or Metal Box deserves our gratitude and admiration. And, while PiL had some absolutely fantastic drummers, either Lydon or Levene, individually, would have totally dominated the sound in any other band.

But how can you compete with Wobble?

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Death Valley 69 by Sonic Youth (Homestead Records)

I’M PRETTY sure that Death Valley 69 was the first Sonic Youth record I ever bought, prompted by hearing it on John Peel’s radio show or reading about it in fanzines and the NME – the principal arbiters of my tastes in those days.

It was a lovely little package. Its front cover features a vintage Savage Pencil grotesque on a bright pink background, while the reverse has a photo of the band in the back of a candy-pink pick-up truck, in an airport, at night. I thought it was an impossibly glamorous scene.

In fact Thurston Moore’s look – a hooded top with khaki jacket over it, couture fans – exerted a strong influence on my own fashion choices for a good five years afterwards.

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Combat Rock by the Clash (CBS)

I WAS on an exchange visit to my Spanish penpal in Getafe, just south of Madrid. It wasn’t my first trip alone or abroad but it was an odd kind of holiday, not speaking the language. While Jose’s English was a million times better than my Spanish it was still pretty rudimentary and I couldn’t help feeling a little isolated and homesick at times.

Jose was a very sweet and considerate guy – much more than I was when he made the return trip to the UK, let’s put it that way – and probably noticing I was looking a bit miserable, he took me to see a subtitled version of The Life of Brian at a cinema in the centre of the town.

Unfortunately, everyone else in the cinema was reacting to the subtitles rather than what the characters were actually saying with the result that most of the dialogue was drowned out by what I remember as gales of slightly nervous laughter – the Church was an integral part of Franco’s dictatorship afterall, and he was not long dead. Not long enough, obviously. Either way, Spain was (and remains) a very religious country.

At the time, I think the place was just getting more liberal in general. Jose also took us – him, his girlfriend, and one of her mates from school with another exchange student from the UK – to a community hall in the middle of a big estate to see some Spanish art-house movie. It got progressively more erotically-charged before an excrutiating, crazily explicit scene that forced Jose, after much nudging from his mortified girlfriend, to lead us out of the hall to hoots of derision from those seated behind us.

Travel may broaden the mind and all that but the mind broadening can sometimes be a fraught process. The main evening meal, as is usual in and around Madrid, was usually about 11pm and not having eaten since the afternoon, in a rare display of good manners, I ate everything that Jose’s mum put in front of me, from black pudding to squid soup – including little tentacles with tiny suckers on them and what I think might have been an eyeball. An EYEBALL! The horror.

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Bela Lugosi’s Dead by Bauhaus (Small Wonder)

BAUHAUS were four arty white boys from Northampton who made a big deal about driving around in a hearse and wearing pointy shoes with big buckles on them. In 1979, they inadvertently invented Goth with an anaemic dub reggae homage to an icon of the Silver Screen who was forever defined by his most famous role.

I have no idea of what Bauhaus thought they might possibly be doing when they recorded Bela Lugosi’s Dead but whatever it was, a works like a charm (I’m thinking alternating little bats and skulls, in platinum, natch). It’s an extraordinary piece of music.

“Bela was just a simple bossa nova rimshot beat with a slowed-down glam-rock guitar riff and a ton of reverb,” says jpsst34, on former Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy’s site forum, spoiling it for everyone. “None of the individual sounds in that song were original. Only once put together to form a complete work did they become ‘groundbreaking’.”

Meanwhile, according to some clueless NME worker drone: “Bauhaus are to Goth what Radiohead are to Prog ..” Really? What the fuck does that mean? I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean. Do they really think that Radiohead invented prog rock? Are they mad? Continue reading

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Once Upon A Time/The Singles by Siouxsie and the Banshees (Polydor)

THESE days, buying records, actual vinyl, from Boots the well-known High Street chemist and purveyor of beauty products probably seems about as likely as the idea of buying, say, a vibrating cock-ring from Boots would have seemed 30 years ago.

But, of course, thanks to the unending onward and upward trajectory of civilisation, you can now buy vibrating cock-rings in Boots. Terrific. I’m glad. I am genuinely pleased that cock-ring enthusiasts are now catered for. I’m just disappointed that you can’t buy vinyl there anymore.

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Gnaw by Nerve Rack (Meantime Records)

I KNOW for a fact that Doug only started talking to me because I wore a White Riot T-shirt at sixth form. He’s told me often enough. And as he will also no doubt tell you given half the chance – like it’s somehow an issue – I was actually more into reggae at the time.

We’ve been bickering about my fake punk credentials ever since. You’ll find that Doug crops up in a fair few Hip Replacement pieces, one way or another. On balance, he probably has a few more embarrassing stories about me than I do him – but not that many more.

Despite his often lamentable taste in music, extraordinary clumsiness, excessive flatulence and outlandish dress sense he is a top bloke. Generous, reliable, as dry as fuck and – although he’s always been a good deal more sensible than me – as daft as a brush. Well, he was daft as a brush once. Having children often makes you a good deal less daft and it seems to have done the trick for Doug. He’s still a bit daft though.

Together with Rachel, Garbage, Andy and Paul, we used to go to a lot of gigs in exotic Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Retford, as well as Steve Bird’s discos in town, various boozers in the village, John’s mum and dad’s flat above the Post Office – anywhere there was loud music and alcohol really.

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