Tag Archives: 2010

Steve Ignorant

CRASS used to play in Manchester a lot back in their heyday and 30 years later singer Steve Ignorant is back in the city with his Last Supper tour, singing the songs that inspired a disgruntled generation for one last time.

On one occasion in early 1979, Crass played the Russell club in Hulme – five minutes walk from tonight’s gig at the Academy – where Tony Wilson put on bands in the pre-Hacienda days. They were supported by Linda Sterling aka Ludus, who was a big pal of Morrissey – and it’s not unreasonable to assume that he would have been at the gig.

Did Crass exert any influence on Morrissey? It’s an intriguing idea. Either way, he ended up distributing gladioli to his audience, not pamphlets.

Inside tonight’s venue, I’m disappointed that no one is distributing poorly-photocopied fanzines, but there are more Crass T-shirts in one place than I’ve seen in years. Being a student venue soon after the start of term, there are also quite a few young people at the gig, which I for one am extremely happy about – there’d be nothing more depressing than being in a roomful of the converted being ‘preached’ to 30 years down the line. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, but I didn’t sign up for that alone.

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Jimmy Cliff

JIMMY CLIFF’s role in Perry Henzell’s seminal 1972 feature The Harder They Come simultaneously introduced Jamaican reggae to the outside world and catapulted its star into the international spotlight.

Playing talented bad boy Ivan Martin, Cliff is the focal point of Henzell’s effortlessly authentic tale of a country boy corrupted by the big city after getting involved in the drug trade and worse, the music business.

Based on the true story of armed robber/folk hero Wappie King, The Harder They Come is an unflinching portrayal of the lot of Jamaica’s ghetto youth, the ‘sufferers’ at the bottom of the pile – and the amoral establishment which exploits them.

A simply superb soundtrack includes spine-tingling renditions of Many Rivers To Cross, You Can Get It If You Really Want and the film’s theme tune by Cliff, as well as classics by Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker and the Melodians.

“It’s one of those movies that has relevance throughout generations,” says Dr Cliff – he received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of the West Indies – on a visit to London. “You can still find today a young boy from maybe Glasgow coming to London to make his fortune and, you know ..”

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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.

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There’s no place like Rome

ROME has an eerie familiarity for anyone who has a trace of history and/or movie geekery within them – though if you have seen La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday and Ben Hur, you should be warned that bathing in the Trevi Fountain is strictly forbidden, it’s very easy to bump into people on the Spanish Steps and the Circus Maximus has been grassed over.

On my first trip to Rome a decade ago, I remember being a little unimpressed by the fact that our coach just slowed down so we could take pictures of the Circus Maximus – through the windows – before spending half an hour at the Coliseum and the Trevi fountain and about five hours at the Vatican. I probably would’ve chosen a radically different itinerary.

Me and the little lady were long overdue some holiday sunshine so we put together our own little week-long trip over a couple of nights online, with ruins and records for me, sunshine and shoes for madam.

Sights, shopping, fantastic food, booze, peace and quiet, rest and relaxation. What more could we ask for? There’s something for everyone.

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Wild Palms

WILD PALMS are the one band who’ve made me get off my arse and actually leave the house this year.

I know I don’t get out much these days, but I can’t remember the last time I was so taken with a new act and, despite a rather lacklustre audience, the London-based quartet played a terrific set at the Double magazine party at Islington Mill in Salford last week. It was the fifth time they have appeared in Manchester, so I’m not exactly what you’d call an early adopter, but I thought they were great.

Listen out for their new single Deep Dive on One Little Indian.  More info here. And watch an exclusive interview with the band after the jump ..

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Andrew Weatherall*2

WHEN Andrew Weatherall is playing at your local boozer on a Sunday night, it’s probably a good idea to cancel your plans for Monday morning. Either that, or just avoid getting falling down drunk. Unfortunately, last night I did neither.

Weatherall – sitting on a leather armchair underneath a picture of a moose in the corner of Electrik – played some really fantastic music on his single deck, from a rock’n’roll version of Tainted Love and a steel band version of Gary Numan’s Cars to stone-cold punk funk classics by the Clash and the Slits. People danced. It was a lot of fun.

Some of us had a bit too much fun and by the time I spoke to the man himself after he’d DJed .. well, I wasn’t really at my best. It’s just as well I got the interview on film because I can’t actually remember any of it.

I’d like to to say that the interesting and unique framing of my subject throughout parts of the interview was intentional. But it wasn’t. At least one of us was talking sense.

Many thanks and massive apologies to Weatherall for being kind enough to put up with my confused, rambling non-questions and ramshackle filming ‘techniques’. He is a gentleman and a scholar.

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