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Give me music and give me noise....

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Unpleasant and unnecessary, Podcast #133 (Aug 2016)

Whoops, it's nearly October and I'm only just posting the August podcast. Niluccio on noise - always one (or three or four) steps behind.

Yes, you'll have to forgive me. It's a disgrace and I'm truly sorry. Anyway, when you finally settle down to listen to this 79-minute-57-second masterpiece, I'm sure you'll agree that much (if not all) of it is unpleasant and unnecessary ...

1: Liquid Concept, Before the night
2: Yusef Lateef, Chang, chang, chang
3: Unpleasant and unnecessary
4: Fadeaways, How can I make her mine
5: Jennifer Lara, A change gonna come
6: Severed Heads, Barbara three edit
7:  Ahmed Fakroun, Falah
8: James P Johnson’s Blue Note Jazzmen, Easy rider
9: Suppression, Good squad
10: Ainst Char, Your cellar, my shrine
11: The Cavemen, I’d kill
12: Jabo Williams, Fat mama blues
13: Aglow Hollow, Browulf
14: Fraktion, Replication of a past feeling
15: Jonathan Richman, Roadrunner
16: Dagger, Run down
17: The Last Poets, It’s a trip
18: Lyd, Parameter morphing
19: Mise, Alive (doing it right)
20: Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries, Boss man dub
21: Golden Teacher, On the street
22: Seclorance, Depths of self-deception
23: Milk Boy, Milk Boy 8
24: Doug Hammond, Spaces and things (lopin’/meno mosso)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Paix Paix Paix

Chris Marker eat your heart out. Here's Don Cherry, the extraterrestrial trumpeter come among you ...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Calling time on late (and early) bands

How late is too late? And how early is too early? These are the vital questions I frequently find myself pondering as I set off for another of my oh-so-exciting gigs.

Bleeding’ hell. They’ve finished. Missed ‘em again.

Yeah, in recent years I’ve failed to see quite a few bands/artists I’ve intended to catch because I was just too damned slow in getting to the church on time.

Or was I? How do you know when bands are actually going to be starting their miserable little 25-minute performances anyway? Forget the laughably inaccurate “stage times” notices you sometimes see at venue entrances. Nearly always wrong. And don’t pay too much attention to what promoters sometimes (but usually only if you go to the trouble of asking them via Facebook or something) might tell you. Again, it’s nearly always wrong.

No, there’s no reliable way of knowing. So what happens? In my case, more often than not I get it all hopelessly wrong. Arriving just as the band I’d fancied seeing are finished their last song. Or, getting to the sweaty little pub/basement bar to find nothing happening and there still being two bands to go before the one I’d actually come for. At this point, in a typical display of my almost Buddhist powers of rigorous self-control and transcendental patience, I normally go straight back home again (especially if it’s in my local east London patch). Bye. Who wants to wait around while lackadaisical band members drink at the bar or fiddle around endlessly with their equipment on stage before … going away again for another 20 minutes?

Then of course there’s that other variation on lateness … not showing up at all! Twice this year I’ve been to see a specific band I’d had my eye on (ear on?) only to find - on both occasions - they’d “cancelled”. Right, keep that up and no-one is ever going to watch you play your rubbishy songs …

So how late is too late? Good question. I’ll leave the answer to the inimitable Howard Devoto …

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hum or whistle, Podcast #132 (July 2016)

Breaking my own landspeed record for supernatural behind-the-clockness, I'm only now posting this July podcast late on a warm 23 August evening. Pathetic. And it's not even any good! No, I take that back. It's great. It's got both humming and whistling. Well worth the wait. Hmm, hmm, hmmm ...

1: Natural Snow Buildings, Ectoplasm rain
2: Kim Check, Kim Eun & drummer (Mu, Seoul 23/7/16)
3: IXTAB, Eidesis
4: Hum or whistle
5: Hackjob, A fist full of molars
6: The Jazzfakers, Phantacusia
7: Unknown insects (Gangnam, Seoul 22/7/16)
8: lowercase, Lighthouse
9: Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou, Mi homian dadalé
10: Sylergic, Babylon shall fall
11: He Jeon Jin, ? (Strange Fruit, Seoul 24/7/16)
12: Mr Foundation, See them a come
13: Moa Pillar, Sun stood still
14: Enslaved Chaos, Spiral youth
15: Obbatuké, Biancamo
16: Nuclear Witch, Forever hell
17: Frak, Radiant dominance (version a)
18: Josh Armistead, Hand of the hunter
19: Remain, Alert
20: Nada Baba, Kangaroo moth
21: Interiors, c.1964, Spring snow
22: False Sacrament, Glouster point
23: T-Bone Walker, The sun went down

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Wealth of the nation, Noisepod #8 (July 2016)

The following took place in a record shop about 30 years ago. I was working there as a shop assistant and, in all my gauche youthful ineptitude, I'm involved in some sort of lunchtime conversation about ... er, music. At one point I happen to mention that I listened to the John Peel programme. Big mistake. Quite angrily, a colleague suddenly rounded on me: "That's not music! It's just noise!". Woah. And this, remember, is a conversation among young people working in a record shop.

Anyway, I hear that thankfully this particular person's now dropped all that mumsy "just noise" nonsense and wised up to the thrill of a good Siberian Ass Torture tune. So I hereby dedicate this podcast to her and anyone else who's ever complained that what they personally don't like is not music, just noise. Because you, dear noise-averse music hater, are the very wealth of the nation ...

1: Enslaved Chaos, Say you love satan
2: Infect, Vocé não é seu passado
3: KlitoriX, Menstruation'z over
4: xDELOREANx, The blacksmith must not die
5: Siberian Ass Torture, Jirre poes!
6: Actual word in question
7: Chain Gang Grave, To the sea
8: Beards, Infinite lawn
9: Condominium, Let's die
10: Corrupt Moral Altar, Whiskey sierra
11: Ilsa 25, Cromwell
12: Dixie, Morbidon spider
13: Perspex Flesh, Black magic
14: Wealth of the nation
15: Kind Eyes, More amps, less angst
16: Like Rats, Russian midnight
17: Good Throb, Psycho disco
18: Negative WorM, I really don't care
19: Fist Of Fury, Fuck the system
20: Starkweather, Bitterfrost
21: Crass, Fun going on
22: Siege Stompers, Loud & clear
23: Slur, Insanity of war
24: A great environment
25: Nuclear Witch, Forever hell
26: Otoboke Beaver, Akimahenka
27: Dyslexic Fudgicle, Fetus hat
28: I Loved, I Hated, Broken homes
29: Ill Fat Liza, Kick in the stomach
30: 100 Demons, Ne desit virtus
31: Help She Can't Swim, Cut the biography

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Very difficult to know, Podcast #131 (June 2016)

After you didn't like the first 130 podcasts I did, what chance is there you'll like the 131st? Answer: it's very difficult to know ...

1: Just Jace, Sidestep
2: Very difficult to know
3: Pale Kids, ? (Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield 24/6/16)
4: Fragile Tom, Just you know
5: G.L.O.S.S., Give violence a chance
6: Golden Grey, Don’t stop running
7: Jherek Bischoff & Konono No1, Kule kule
8: The Cavemen, Swamp thing
9: Casulairs, Satisfied
10: Hack Musician, Reluctant acceptance
11: Gate, IWD4u
12: Rene Hall/Willie Joe, Twitchy
13: Plaza, ? (Victoria, London 16/6/16)
14: Subset, Taganga
15: Asha Bhosie, Dum maro dum
16: Doctor Turtle, I’m what you’d be without her
17: Kode9 & The Spaceape, Nine samurai
18: Nachthexen, ? (Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield 24/6/16)
19: Alireza Mashayekhi, Development 2, op24
20: Full access
21: Patsy & The Count Ossie Band, Pata pata rock steady
22: S.Brinks/M.Cipollone/C.Freshard/G.Fisher, Robot stano
23: Bass Clef & Kasai Allstars, The incident at Mbuji-mayi
24: D Smilez, We are the ravers

Saturday, 9 July 2016

DIY music: death by a thousand sincere announcements

So there I was, at a small gig (about 25 people) in a small venue in Brooklyn, NYC, when ... the singer in the band starts rambling away on the mic between songs. It happens quite a lot. People in bands with "stuff to say". Not necessarily a bad thing - depends what they're trying to say and how they're saying it.

But ... it's kinda dangerous. Long-winded on-stage communications are a sure-fire mood-killer. Ya gotta get it right. Anyway, this was slightly different. He wasn't thanking the other bands (dull), expressing his gratitude to the promoter (also dull) or advertising his band's merch stall (dullest of all). Instead our loquacious New York entertainer began an extended soliloquy on "how great" it was to be part of "DIY indie-rock culture".

For real! This over-sincere Williamsburg dude droned on about "DIY culture" at regular intervals throughout his band's entire set. Even by the very low standards of most stage chat, this was exceptionally cringeworthy stuff. By the third or fourth time I wanted to charge up and grab the mic off him. PLEASE STOP! Was he doing it as some kind of twisted performance art? Tormenting his audience with sincerity until they snapped and caused a scene?

I dunno, people eh? Lest I be misunderstood, I'm the first to extol the virtues of so-called DIY music culture. It's undoubtedly where it's at, and has been for decades. As far as I can tell, there currently seem to be some very good DIY-type venues, promoters and artists in the UK, in New York, in Tokyo, in Italy, and doubtless in numerous other places dotted all over the world. Cool. But no need to shout about it.

Punk, lo-fi, outsider, alternative, squat, community, grassroots: call it what you will, it's a healthy thing and fosters a lot of great music. But phew, it can get suffocating. The Brooklyn gig had one of those hand-written bar signs that - like a lot of chalkboards outside cafes these days - specialised in cloying cutesyness. "Always tip you bartender. Be cool out there. And don't pee on the bathroom floor", said this one. Even worse, a gig I went to in northern England recently had an actual mock "commandment" tablet onto which were written the rules-cum-principles of the venue. Knowingly ironic, but still ... rules for niceness?

At gigs I dislike boorishness as much as the next twee indie rock kid, but ... please stop hectoring or suffocating me like this. Being "shushed" at quiet gigs is bad enough. I think I can just about disport myself in a non-offensive fashion without having to be be reminded that your gig is extra-specially "safe", "inclusive", fully-progressive and just won't put up with bad behaviour. Back off you rule-makers.

No, I'll keep going to these gigs (despite my complaints, they're frequently my favourite ones). But please spare me the ten commandments for "cool behaviour" and stop preaching from the script of "DIY indie-rock". I might be twee and and utterly non-violent but even I have my limit. Cool, yeah?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Jamming with the Taliban

 ... meanwhile, in another place, with newer smartphones and snazzier training shoes, I discuss the Taliban's particular style of music criticism. A clue. It involves AK47s and suicide belts ...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Beyond computer analysis, Dubpod #14 (June 2016)

Blam blam - bam bam. Yeah, shoot 'em down, re-load. Shoot again. Forty per cent of the all the privately-owned guns in the world are in the USA, so they say. Blam blam. Bam bam. Smith & Wesson, Blam blam. Bam bam. Ruger Firearms, blam blam. Taurus Guns, blam blam.

Anyway, Jamaica knows all about gun-toting rude boys. And that worked out really well. Don't understand why it's so important for the world to keep manufacturing deadly weapons? Er ... let's check online. Still unsure? Maybe then ... it's beyond computer analysis ...

1: Mikey Dread, Star sign dub
2: Sugar Minott, Row fast
3: Prince Far I, 354 version
4: Yabby You & Trinity, Jah vengeance (12" mix)
5: It is very quiet
6: Caly Gibbs, Seeing is believing
7: Michigan & Smilie, Rub a dub style
8: The Silverstones, Dub a pum pum
9: Johnny Clarke, Ites green and gold
10: The Shades, Who you gonna run to
11: Go to the tax office
12: Charlie Chaplin, Throw me some corn
13: General Echo, Arleen
14: Sister Nancy, Bam bam
15: Congo Natty, Revolution
16: Almost treated as legal
17: Lloyd & Devon, Cus cus
18: Sir Lord Comic, Jack of my trade
19: Super Beagle, Dust a sound boy
20: Willie Williams, Armagideon time
21: Beyond computer analysis
22: The Valentines, Blam blam fever
23: Randy's All Stars, Guns in the ghetto
24: Jah Lion, Soldier and police war

Monday, 6 June 2016

Quick! Listen to me, Podcast #130 (May 2016)

In these zero-attention-span times you're lucky to get more than a nano-second of anyone else's time. What with their selfies, their Facebooking, their shopping for white trainers - people are busy.  

It's all hustle and bustle in the market place of life. Get ya plums, lovely fresh plums. Make sure your CV's up to scratch, lovely fresh CVs. Anyway, I appreciate all this (no not appreciate, understand, have awareness of, ie dislike and shake my head at, but only in an enlightened-yet-still-kindly-and-definitely-not-superior way). 

Ahem. So I, the great Niluccio, say this to you, mere mortals of the out-of-town shopping centres - stop what you're doing immediately. Repent before it's too late. Quick! Listen to me ...

1: Every Now And Then, The flicker beneath my eyelids
2: Ghost Car, ? (Windmill, London 24/5/16)
3: Tim Held, Dirge:on
4: Death Stuff, Conversations for girls
5: Mikey Gang, Horses can’t dance
6: Wehwalt & Zreen Toyz, Antisymétrique mandala
7: Shark Dentist, ? (Windmill, London 31/5/16)
8: Leisure-B, Remus (Herr Obersturmbahnführer remix)
9: Dirtygirl, Never 
10: Dyslexic Fugicide, Fetus hat
11: Vin Gordon, Fullness
12: Aerologic, Transformation
13: Soda Boys, Doghouse
14: Egg Nebula, Mental communication
15: Bad Breeding, ? (Old Blue Last, London 4/5/16)
16: Supersilent, 13.3
17: Clifton Giggs & The Selected Few, Brimstone and fire
18: Molar, Courage sandwich
19: Ars Sonor & Digital By Birth, Digital soul (Utopia mix)
20: Otoboke Beaver, Akimahenka
21: Winston Flames, In a armagideon
22: Blip Street, You fackin no good cant

Saturday, 4 June 2016

A dawn chorus of music biz noise

A true story, which happened … this very morning.

I’m quite contentedly sleeping (dreaming of the next Niluccio podcast) when, at 5am, I find myself ... awake. Yeah, it’s become a recent habit. Presumably the light summer mornings. I don’t mind - the lovely birds of Hackney are doing their stuff and it’s kinda nice.

Except, what’s this! Voices outside, a mere 40 metres away. Yep, it’s people from an adjoining building out on their roof. In fact, I now realise I’d heard the distinct popping sound of a wine bottle being uncorked (really). It’s what’s woken me up.

Well, well. So they’re chatting away, mere youngsters (compared to me) having a little dawn party in groovy E9. Who can blame them? I’ve done the same myself (though doubtless in far less fashionable circumstances).

Anyway, time ticks on. The chat is getting rather voluble. It’s hard not to tune into what people are saying, especially the loudest one, a woman who speaks in surprising foghorn frequency. She’s blathering on (with total assurance) about some music that can actually also be heard in the background (it’s coming from inside their building). “I LOVE this. Listen!”, she commands. And then other stuff about the musician concerned, who, it seems, she actually personally knows and advises, and possibly even “manages” (I hear her speaking about “being a manager” repeatedly).

Blimey. Early-morning music industry chat. Right outside my window. But … it goes on and on, and the music manager woman is basically a know-all who switches to the EU referendum and the US election with equal self-assurance (and apparent lack of knowledge), talking across other people and generally getting on my nerves.

And so to my point, dear reader. Contrary to received opinion, it’s not loud music that’s annoying when neighbours have their little nocturnal gatherings, but the bloody infernal racket of their nonsense conversations. Give me (even) the Stone Roses at 100 decibels compared to people like my music manager neighbour braying away at 10 decibels.

Many years ago, when I actually lived in the home town of the super-tedious Stone Roses, I once made the mistake of giving in to pressure from my then partner and getting up in the middle of the night to confront our neighbours over their loud music. I hated doing it (shyness, fear) and later regretted it. Who was I to get them to turn down the music? I like music. It wasn’t even bothering me.

No, the noise abatement bores have been focusing on the wrong thing. It’s not music that’s anti-social. It’s people.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Ruining my career, Podcast #129 (Apr 2016)

Listening to Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard's 'Em Are I as I post this fabulous new podcast, I can't help reflecting on how Lewis must now be considered very much NYC "establishment" by the younger musicians of Williamsburg and Forest Hills. Not him!, they must say, as they check out the latest promo murmurings on Brooklyn Vegan. No that tiresome motherfucker Lewis and his boring crew of sing-a-long mates! Yeah, it comes to all of us. We're suddenly old hat. Last year's thing (if we were ever a "thing" at all). Oh dear ...

As it happens, having not liked 'Em Are I overmuch at first blush, I've now warmed to it. Not least to stuff featuring Jeffrey Lewis' underrated brother Jack. Oh no. Having now admitted to retaining a soft spot for the past-their-sell-by-date brothers Lewis, I've probably gone and damaged by transatlantic blogger street cred. Damn it. I'm ruining my career ...

1: Phoenelai, Voices from the fire 
2: Two White Cranes, So much water, so close to home 
3: Oiseaux-Tempête, Nec mergitur 
4: His attacks on inequality 
5: The Hairs, Wild thing (Shea Stadium SK, New York 12/4/16) 
6: Wayne Kinos, Kerberos 
7: DJ Stingray 313, Lurker 
8: Rene Wiegert & others, I went a marvellous party 
9: Cinderblock, Disco killers 
10: Lee Scratch Perry & The Heptones, Three in one 
11: Sean Henry, Everyone was dead (Silent Barn, New York 10/4/16) 
12: My Disco, 1991 
13: Soda Fountain Rag, Oh oh 
14: Ruining my career 
15: Jimmy Penguin, Erupt 
16: Susanna, Burning sea 
17: Box Fan, ? (Silent Barn, New York 10/4/16) 
18: Marrach/Bad Poet/Chtin Mara, Habitus poeticus 
19: Fun-Da-Mental, Dog tribe 
20: Maybe Don’t, Retroactive continuity 
21: Johnny Peinlich, wtf 
22: President Brown, Preserving life 
23: Gregor Thresher, 1982 
24: C Strøm, Dark as a medley 
25: Roger Döring/Konrad Korabiewski, Hof 
26: The Basic Income Earth Network, If not now, when? II

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Rock royalty is abolished. I hereby declare a people’s music revolution

Prince is dead. David Bowie is dead. RIP Prince, RIP David Bowie.

It’s a shame, but there you are. People die. Popular musicians die. Even “god-like geniuses” die. Die die die, human scum …

But what’s this? Prince’s death is the lead item on the BBC radio news at 8pm on the night of his announced death? The lead item?  The demise of the singer of Purple Rain and other tiresome songs from the 1980s is the most significant piece of news in the entire world that evening? (Sorry Prince fans but I could never stand all that Raspberry Beret stuff. Nope, I never understood the cult of Rogers Nelson and his supposed Revolution).

Priorities, eh? When Bowie’s death was announced on that long-ago Monday morning I was listening to the Today programme when the presenter cut short an interview with an aid worker from Turkey who’d been talking about Syrians fleeing from Russian air strikes because … “there’s extraordinary news coming out of New York concerning the singer David Bowie”. Never mind dead Syrians, we’ve got a dead international pop star on our hands …

No, no, NO!, I hear you shriek in your best Prince falsetto. That’s not it at all Niluccio, you fatuous idiot. They’re BOTH important, though important in different ways. There’s nothing wrong with reporting the death of these iconic musicians. They changed lives. Millions of lives. Stop being so superior.

Hmm, now I’m chastened. I should just shut up. Bowie was fabulous. Everyone loved him. Prince was amazing. (Nearly) everyone loved him. What a singer. What a guitarist. What a dancer. What a talent.

Except …well, I don’t share the reverence for either of these (or for other 2016 casualties like Lemmy or Maurice White for that matter). Whisper it here, but I think both Bowie and Prince were hugely overrated. While they certainly did interesting things in terms of image cultivation, I don’t think they compare with less-idolised twentieth-century musicians (Miles Davis, Lee Perry, James Brown, Fats Waller, John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Reed and Cale, etc etc).

There, I’ve said it. So impale me on a jagged RCA gold disc and throw me to the hyenas of the music press. This is all death-defying heresy and idiocy. A crime against music. I should probably shut up before the Ziggy lynch-mobs come for me or the Prince hells angels on their big Honda motorbikes roll up outside my flat.

Nothing compares 2 over-the-top media coverage of dead pop stars

Funnily enough though, apart from the estimable Kiss and Nothing Compares 2 U (my own Prince faves), I’ve a reason to be grateful to Prince after all. His death came during a day of utterly soul-destroying media coverage of the Queen’s 90th birthday. While I think the media then went overboard with Prince coverage instead, there was at least a pleasant irony in the displacement of the Queen by a certain uppity Prince. Roll on the abolition of royalty altogether though. And that means rock royalty as well …

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Led Zep go shopping

Only in SOHO, New York ...

Brace yourself: here's the worst reggae collection of all time

I've previously railed against meagre music selections on long-haul flights, and here I am again with another thrilling instalment.

On the one hand it obviously doesn't matter in the slightest. Anyone with even a passing interest in music is probably going to have a few tunes on their phone or whatever, so why bother complaining? True. But then again ...

Given that big airline companies go to the trouble of serving up music on these flights (presumably because their market research shows a demand), it's only right that I have a go at criticising their efforts. Right?

Anyway, as we begin our descent into New York City and the captain asks that we refrain from any further walking in the cabin aisle, I want to ask: what the hell is this nonsense I'm currently listening to courtesy of Delta Airlines? The nonsense in question is a compilation called Reggae World. Here's what's on it:

1: Althea and Donna, Uptown Top Ranking (Extended Version)
2: Bryan Art, Rock And Come In
3: The Orb, Fussball
4: The Skatalites, Ska Ba
5: Adrian Sherwood, Trapped Here
6: Soundsci, Rastaman
7: Clinton Fearon, On The Other Side
8: Tessanne Chin, Firework
9: Dub Trio, Screaming At The Sea
10: Earl Sixteen, Trials And Crosses

And that's it. Yep, a whole ten songs are on offer (they really searched high and low for the very best reggae tunes all around the world there, didn't they?). Meanwhile, what tiresome dross is this anyway? Leaving aside Althea and Donna's excellent Uptown Top Ranking (which presumably only got selected because it was a big crossover pop hit in the UK charts in 1978) the remainder are ... either terrible, or just mediocre.

Well no, the Earl Sixteen is a reasonable effort (a mid-tempo vocal skank with some quirky whistle-like sound-effects and a creakily experimental feel to its latter stages), but nothing very mind-blowing. But bloody hell, the rest. Half of them aren't even vaguely reggae songs at all. The Orb? The Tessanne Chin offering? - it's some bog-standard, big-voiced pop-soul "anthem" thing. The Skatalites tune is a Mexican mariachi effort played over a ska shuffle (vaguely interesting perhaps). I could go on ...

All in all this is possibly one of the worst faux-reggae collections ever cobbled together. It's insultingly short and consists mostly of plodding non-entities. Weirdly enough, it actually appears in Delta's genre sections as "Caribbean", like they couldn't even bring themselves to use the word reggae. And needless to say, there isn't anything else whatsoever in this so-called Caribbean section. We're dealing with the most token of token offerings here.

To cap it all, dear reader, I want you to know that the Delta player thing has a ridiculously low volume setting. Even at full blast you can barely hear the tinny-sounding stuff you've foolishly tried to listen to (a blessing in disguise it turns out).

No, I think it's time to switch off, stow away my table, and BRACE BRACE BRACE ...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

I just want you to think, Podcast #128 (Mar 2016)

Great excitement on Twitter this week, as people revelled in the mock-confessional #indieamnesty jokey admissions thread. Loads of fun, o'course. Well, for five or six minutes maybe.

No, I haven't got anything against people joking about their teenage infatuation with Ash or the Strokes, and actually Fred Macpherson does a decent job of seeing the discussion as a backhanded tribute to the underrated mid-noughties scene centred around bands like Neil's Children and the Rakes. But, er, it's ... weak stuff in the end. Quarter funny jokes about mediocre bands. (Or quarter funny jokes about bands that were sometimes quite good, but got burnt by the hype of Britpop or the annihilating venality of the music industry).

Oh what a tangled (discussion) thread we weave. Nah mate. I urge you to put aside childish things and ... get serious. What I want you to do is ... think. Forget Jarvis, Liam and Damon. I just want you to think ...

1: Interstitional Praxis, Elsaf rendeg
2: Adrianna Krikl, Sunrises
3: Lucha Eterna, Walter Mercado
4: Dignan Porch, ? (Victoria, London 31/3/16)
5: Prizium, Parameter
6: I just want you to think
7: Hissing Pallas, Last defender
8: Rotten Bliss, ? (Windmill, London 24/3/16)
9: Raul Diaz Palomar, 1607
10: Luciermaga, Behold yourself
11: Unidentified birdsong (Dalston, London 23/3/16)
12: The Room, New dreams for old
13: Drugs Made Me Smarter, Peppermint coffee
14: Drinks, Spilt the beans
15: Birdskulls, ? (Victoria, London 21/3/16)
16: Night Flowers, Sleep (Saif Mode remix)
17: Somewhere very relaxing
18: Nodus1, Desolate distortion blues
19: Windmill, An ordinary man
20: Night School, Night
21: Little Death Machine, ? (Windmill, London 24/3/16)
22: Spandril, Pinch
23: gunctrl, Superfluous hardware
24: Three Mustapha Three, Awara hoon
25: niteffect, Lights off
26: Adam Stafford, Atheist money
27: Mularas Astatki & His Ethiopian Quartet, Shagu
28: Ron & Natas, Backyard mini-ramp

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

All you punks, all you grindfiends, Noisepod #7 (Mar 2016)

If you know where to look (ie listen), there's noise ... er, everywhere.

Emergency vehicles (my bit of east London is alive with them), road works (who doesn't love a pneumatic drill?), car soundsystems (dumpff dumpff dumpff), raucous birds, slamming doors, random shouts and screams (scarily enough) ... yeah, it's all around us. NOIZE.

I was struck recently by Nik Cohn mentioning how "noise" was a predominant quality in the confrontational new rock 'n' roll sound of the fifties. It's not what you immediately associate with Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis, but ... yes, that's it. Noise. Along with swagger, sex appeal, and one or two other things. Noise, lovely noise.

And noise is still with us. Only, er, more so. So unplug your filthy ears all you punks, all you grindfiends. Cos this Noisepod is my own particular tribute to Bill Haley & The Comets ...

1: Lucha Eterna, Walter Mercado 
2: Magrudergrind, Incapacity reigns 
3: Tersanjung 13, Global warming 
4: Mr California And The Mr California Band, My generation 
5: Genocide Pact, Experiments in nihilsm 
6: Fundamental, Violent dance 
7: All you punks, all you grindfiends 
8: Dregs, Parallel justice 
9: Callate, Jabba el terrible hut! 
10: White Christian Disaster, A message for a more united middle class 
11: Dixie, Morbidon spider 
12: Amorous Dialogues, Be reasonable 
13: That circus is fucked 
14: Guilty Parents, Nowt 
15: Roseanne Barrr, A thief's journal 
16: Mozart, The tick 
17: Young Offenders, Outta here/Wen Ho Lee 
18: Black Tambourines, I wanna stay away 
19: Moon Hag, Pills 
20: Inky's oak 
21: 100 Demons, Ne desit virtus 
22: Inquiry Last Scenery, Behind the mask 
23: ChopChop, Good ol' shippers 
24: Kill-A-Watts, Can't be told 
25: The Mummies, (You must fight to live) on the planet of the apes 
26: The Ridiculous Trio, Down on the street 
27: 666 
28: Overbite, Cell 
29: Archie And The Bunkers, Trade winds 
30: xDELOREANx, Trash for my engine 
31: Pick Your Side, Bleeding out 
32: Lifeless, The truth of life and death 
33: The Love Triangle, Do you think that you've found love? 
34: Jimmy Dickinson, Red headed woman 
35: Venkman, Tony no like 
36: X-Ray Spex, Obsessed with you

Cruyff flicked to kick and I didn't know ...

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Friday, 25 March 2016

Started to swerve, Dubpod #13 (Mar 2016)

Having just driven through the super-congested rain-sodden streets of Brixton, dodging the maniac bus drivers and the even more maniacal siren-blaring police vans, I was put in mind of Roger Robinson's excellent Walk With Me, his hymn to the fertile subterranean madness of this locale. Yeah, it's a delightfully groovy place. With, as Robinson says, a black and powerful river running deep beneath the tarmac, deep beneath the concrete. Well there was last night, with all that rain ...

And how did I manage to navigate Brixton Road's many obstacles? Easy. I listened to this masterful collection of dub. At least, until I started to swerve ...

1: Rypton Hilton, No wicked cannot reign
2: Prince Alla, Stone
3: Sly & Robbie & Revolutionaries, Chalice man dub
4: King Tubby, Bag a wire dub
5: Big Youth, Notty no jester
6: I started to swerve
7: Val Bennett, Russians are coming (take five)
8: The Dynamic Man, Boss boss
9: King Stitt, Fire corner
10: Count Matchuki, Movement
11: Alton Ellis & The Flames, Rock steady
12: Koranic recitation
13: Revolutionaries, World of dub
14: Moodie, Ethiopia for Ethiopians
15: Prince Jammy, The champion (version)
16: Prince Far I, Gimme version
17: Soom T & Disrupt, Wee rant
18: ISIS are coming ...
19: The Abyssinians, Black man's strain
20: Jah Shaka, Judgement dub
21: Mikey Dread, Jungle signal (dub)
22: Morwell Unlimited Meets King Tubby, Bald head
23: Wad sacrifice
24: The Specials, Ghost town
25: Tommy McCook, African jumper

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Corré’s bonfire of the punk vanities

Quite a few people have been expressing disgust at the supposed wastefulness of Joe Corré and his five million quid’s worth of punk gear pyrotechnics.

Yes, punk is back! He's going to pour petrol over the lot and VOOM! In place of expensive museum pieces there’ll just be a cloud of black smoke (and maybe the faint sound of cackling laughter down the long-since-gentrified back alleys of Holborn and Soho as the ghost of Malcolm McLaren registers the humour of it). Yeah, OK, it’s a funny old gesture. And it seems to be getting a lot of advance media coverage (more than it’s worth?), but, well, I guess it has a trace of something interesting to it. Burn, baby burn.

First off, though, how many tatty old muslin Destroy shirts and bondage trousers must Corré have stashed in his attic if they’re really worth £5m? Bloody crates of them. All that unsold Sex stock, eh?

I've seen some people complaining that instead of torching his punk stash Corré should ... wait for it ... send the clothes to refugees in Calais and Dunkirk. Er, right. It’s McLaren and Westwood’s son who should help the freezing refugees in northern France, not the combined state exchequers of two of the richest nations on earth.

No, if Corré wants to burn his punk gear, let him. It is his stuff after all. Like Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty with their burning of £1m, Corré’s “extravagantly futile gesture of provocation” might be strictly nonsensical and self-defeating, but that ... doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

As to whether it’s a meaningful or in any way necessary riposte to the heritagisation of Punk London (“40 Years of Subversive Culture”) is maybe another matter. You might say: why bother? It’s a rather over-obvious target isn’t it? And why pin it all on Punk London and the 40th anniversary nonsense? It’s not just this year. Since when wasn’t punk an inglorious mess of hype and image-retailing? The Sex Pistols themselves were initially another type of boy band designed to help market over-priced clothes. Much of the energy and self-creation of the early punk scene was accidental, a by-product of the involvement of characters like John Lydon and the (genuinely anarchic) Steve Jones.

Shoppers seen bargain-hunting for punk gear in Carnaby Street in 1976

Yes, maybe put the fire-lighters away and cool down a bit Mr Corré. How much does it really matter if the mainstream media and corporate London exploits and lays waste to the supposedly sacred history of punk? For Boris Johnson and like-minded chancers, punk will always get reduced to a few snatches of Anarchy and tired old images of a lip-curling Sid Vicious. So be it. Punk’s real value - musically, artistically, attitudinally - is meanwhile in evidence at DIY gigs most weekends in places like Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham (or Williamsburg, or Houston, or the Bay Area, SF).

As Richard Hell says, punk rock wasn’t ever one band, one song or one set of codified behaviours. To use the old cliché, punk is an attitude, and it can be deadly serious (the Sex Pistols at their most gut-wrenching, the jarring vocals on PiL’s Theme) or light-hearted/satirical (TV Personalities, Wire, Damned), or quite a few other things. It can also mutate into superbly aggressive 80s-90s US hardcore, noughties breakcore, the modern grindcore scene or excellent contemporary noise bands like No Form. Dig it kids!

No, maybe Joe Corré needs to stop poring over the websites of minor annoyances like Punk London, put away the Seditionaries dressing-up box and ... go to see a few gigs. It’ll restore his faith. But if he’s dead-set on his bonfire of the punk vanities, he should definitely throw a few images of the dear old Queen herself onto the pyre. It would at least have a savour of McLarenesque provocation.

And by the way … something even older than punk and an even bigger institution in Britain is of course Corrie, aka Coronation Street! How fitting that McLaren and Westwood’s son’s own name should reflect that, a reminder of all that’s cosy and stifling in British cultural life as well as a nod toward the antics of the Sex Pistols in that jubilee year 1977.

A tourist-ified punk (what you might call Carnaby Street punk) has long since become a sort of cosy soap opera, one that “stylists” and marketeers can tap into whenever they’re short of inspiration. And punk practitioners themselves saw this coming (Part Time Punks, How Much Longer). Yes, hyper-self-reflexive and far more knowing than the stereotypes usually suggest, punk was always about fun as well as aesthetics and social comment.

I reckon Mr Corré should soundtrack his punk auto-da-fé with a certain Skids song, TV Stars, the B-side to their punk-pop hit Into The Valley. Altogether now: “Ena Sharples, David Hunter / Meg Mortimer, Stanely Ogden / ALBERT TACKLOCK, ALBERT TACKLOCK …”

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Noël Coward does not dig bebop

If I’d been able to take a few four-month holidays in beautiful private houses on spectacular hillside locations in Jamaica or Switzerland, I’d probably have been able to finish it a lot earlier. But, well, I ain’t no international theatre superstar and I gotta lot o’ work to do, ain’t it?

So, after about six months of on-off, on-again reading I’ve finally finished Cole Lesley’s pretty massive biography of that sleek peacock Noël Coward.

Phew. For someone who seemed to specialise in lengthy holidays, in hosting huge uproarious parties and having regular evening drinks sessions right into his seventies, Coward was horribly productive. Hundreds of songs, over 50 plays, musical revues, volumes of short stories, screenplays, a triple-decker autobiography, acting in The Italian Job (ahem) … yeah, Coward was a workhorse disguised as a louche high society waster. All very impressive.

But why am I wasting my own valuable time on Sir Noël bloody Coward? On the face of it I ought to hate everything about him - his adoration of the royal family, his ultra-English patriotism, his tax-minimising relocations, his cornball theatrical skits-cum-songs, his anti-intellectualism - the whole cast of his life. And … in a way I do, but I also find myself kind of drawn to him. 

Anyway, since hearing Peter Greenwell’s piano-and-vocals rendering of some of his most famous songs (Sail Away, Mad Dogs, Bren Gun, Mrs Worthington, Mad About The Boy) about 20 years ago, I’ve had ... an interest. (By the way, Greenwell's plainer versions are in fact generally better than the over-orchestrated Coward originals in my humble view). 

So Lesley’s opus magnum …

If you can accept that Lesley (Coward’s personal secretary/valet for over 40 years) was a super-ardent Coward admirer who treated “The Master” as a none-too-minor deity, then The Life Of Noël Coward is a perfectly enjoyable read. In fact, it’s well written, with lots of detail and a crisp elegance to it (which is fortunate, seeing as you've got 500 pages of this stuff).

All well and good, but still why - I hear you wondering - why is the great Niluccio devoting an entire blog post to boring old Noël Coward? Conventionally enough, it’s partly a liking of Coward’s wordplay (“In a bijou abode in St Barnabas Road”; “We’ve got some ammunition / In a rather damp condition”; “Our regular crossword-solver / Has got an excellent revolver”), with the theatrically precise diction always entertaining (in a Quentin Crisp sort of way).

What else? Well, contrary to the received image, it’s not all flippant parlour song humour. Though it’s done with a characteristically light touch, there's real emotion in a song like Sail Away, especially with its beautiful melody. And to me there’s often a wistful lost-never-to-return quality to his best music.

Coward’s not, you realise from reading Lesley’s biography, just one thing. By the 1950s he was generally pinned as a cultural throwback, someone who was still peddling old-fashioned plays set in country houses. But he also championed Harold Pinter’s early work (“Nothing happens except that somehow it does. The writing is at moments brilliant and quite unlike anyone else’s”). He was thought of as a Wildean wit, but he was also very kind and loving to his own close friends.

I must admit there was one moment in Lesley’s biography when I utterly groaned at Coward’s idiotic conservatism. He gets taken by Tallulah Bankhead to a jazz club in Chicago in 1947 and … well, read for yourself:

“ … we drove all around Chicago to a dive where there is a trombonist, a saxophonist, a drummer and a pianist who play the latest swing and bebop. The audience, mostly callow youths, become hypnotised and began to wriggle and sway and scream exactly like a revival meeting. To me, the whole thing was completely abominable. I loathed it. The heat, the violent noise, and Tallulah still shrieking. From there we went to Dixieland music. We were driven back into Chicago to a beastly little club and given a table right under the trumpet whereupon I walked out and came home. I am 47 and sane.”

Bloody hell, Noël! You walked out on one of Miles Davis’ legendary early gigs. You big, bow-tied idiot! (And weird that Coward should be so tin-eared when he obviously drew on the blues for some of his own music). 

No, Noël Coward’s a complicated figure, not always exactly my cup of tea but genuinely interesting and in the end surprisingly likeable. There’s an odd lightness to the way he lived his life. He was talented, immensely fortunate, rich, successful, famous, yet … you still can’t really resent him his life. He somehow deserved it. Even his death occurred quite gracefully. He just woke up one morning at his house in Jamaica, had a heart attack, crawled back into bed, and sailed away ...

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The wilderness years, Podcast #127 (Feb 2016)

Shockingly, there was a time, long long ago, when I almost forgot to go to see any bands. It was during those dark and depressing years of my higher edukashun. Slaving away in the university library, I only manage to look up from my books once or twice, remembering that I liked live music, and ... then I managed to trot off to see Spaceman 3 or Bikini Kill (both of these at that house music madhouse The Hacienda, oddly enough).

Though it might well have been because I was half-deafened by The Hacienda klaxons, this was a worryingly barren time for live bands. Just a rubbishy James gig or some Malcolm X-inspired nonsense from Public Enemy to tide me over. Unlike the poor suckers these days, I didn't leave university with £30,000 of debt, but I'm sorely afraid I did miss out on a properly well-rounded musical education. Dear oh dear. It's taken me years to get over it. I'm probably still (over-)compensating for it now. Ugh, those were the wildernesss years ...

1: Dregs, Strange glue pt II
2: SPCZ, Gatria
3: Radical Boy, ? (Sebright Arms, London 25/2/16)
4: HHY & The Macumbas, Gysin version
5: The Holy Innocents, Down, down, down
6: The wilderness years
7: Raw fun, Till the end of the song
8: Ryan Little, Not a swan song
9: White Christian Disaster, Going to the mall just like mum and dad
10: Black Saturn, Cool breeze
11: Brain Queen, ? (Old Blue Last, London 10/2/16)
12: Kuxan Suum, Kinich ahau
13: Mongrels, Half moon (dub)
14: Ben Vida, Damaged particulates XII (unsound/subpac test)
15: Fickle Twin, ? (Stuck On A Name Studios, Nottingham 5/2/16)
16: Miranda Taylor & MikeHunchback, Fuge number one
17: Eyryx, Madness in the fast lane
18: Fruit Bomb, ? (Old Blue Last, London 19/2/16)
19: Michael Howard, The tallest man in Idaho
20: Pencil, NotEnoughNoise

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What MES doesn't understand ...

From his er, "controversial" Channel 4 News interview, a gif of Mark E Smith at the very moment that his mastery of the European refugee issue become plain for all to see ... "What I don't understand is ... why they're all young fellas ..."

Friday, 12 February 2016

Oh! Gunquit just don't quit

A Oh! Gunquit gif from a 2012 gig of theirs ...

Raw, cooked and burnt, Podcast #126 (Jan 2016)

Kill all yr idols, because ... well, they're not worth idolising when you really examine the matter. No, tear 'em to shreds, chuck 'em in the fire.

That's right. Forget Bowie, Jagger, Dylan, Lydon, Cobain. Billy Childish? No, him neither. Nor Tony Wilson, Mark E Smith, or even the saintly John Peel. I'm throwing them all overboard. It's just me and my podcast from now on. Never mind that it's second-hand, hugely derivative and entirely untouched by genius. It's mine. It might be raw, (over-)cooked and burnt, but it's still mine ...

1: Vir Nocturna, Analgesia
2: Martha Rose, Tree. cloud. crow.
3: NITWIT, Fuck to my Romagna
4: MFC Chicken, 29 bus
5: Flat Sucks, Hitoga atsumaruto rokunakotoga nai
6: Help Stamp Out Loneliness, Record shop
7: Nick Didkovsky, Ice cream time
8: Siege Stompers, Accepted price
9: Winjer3, Slowly spreading
10: Courtney Barnett, Pedestrian at best
11: Chester Hawkins, Sepia (for Dieter Moebius)
12: Lord Beginner, Christmas morning the rum had me yawning
13: Umanzuki, Light crystal bounce
14: He was burnt
15: That Fucking Tank, Bruce Springstonehenge
16: Lloyd Briscoe, Jonah (the master)
17: Arrogants, I’m gonna leave you
18: Alien Center Of Disease, Dental work
19: Martin Auer, Draußt auf da Gassn
20: Howard Hughes & David Tattersall, He can see her
21: Kοκκαλα, β7
22: Hinge, How the west was won
23: Meow Meow!, I wonder what went wrong
24: Doug Shepherd, Desert mud
25: Harry Violet & The Sharks, Dance at the Korova
26: Cat Apostrophe, CBA# (3am)

Saturday, 6 February 2016

No Form/Fickle Twin: noise and hair metal

Turn the dial to 11, this was enjoyably punishing wall-of-noise squealing and moaning from No Form, whose best moments came when they went into dark chug-drone mode. The guitarist was particularly animated, apparently engaged in some kind of fight-to-the-death battle with his instrument. Against the often quite thrashy percussion and general cacophony the singer/moaner-in-chief wailed away while throwing himself about in his black mac, doing a sort of spidery fall-over-spring-back-up move that was fun to watch but probably very hard on the ankles. 

No form, no focus:
No Form, Stuck On A Name Studios, Nottingham 5/2/16

More noise, meanwhile, came in the form of Fickle Twin's bass-throbbing sound, which was notable partly because of the growly singer's ironically amused air and expressive facial gestures, as well as the bassist's broody boarding-school-aristo-on-drugs demeanour. A shortish set, all good, no fillers.

Return of the mac:
Fickle Twin, Stuck On A Name Studios, Nottingham 5/2/16

And before I leave you and end this wonderfully illuminating gig mini-review, I should just mention the fact that at least two musicians played in macintoshes at this gig, something which I'm sure you'll agree is ... very much to be welcomed. Rather surreally, meanwhile, as Fickle Twin and No Form did their noisy stuff out front, members of various hair metal-type bands would suddenly appear through a doorway at the back and process quietly through the room, stoned extras from a Spinal Tap remake. It was apparently an instance of two worlds colliding on a rainy night in Sneinton, Nottinghamshire. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Over the telephone, Podcast #125 (Dec 2015)

God, first Lemmy then Bowie, and also - the youngest and maybe most significant - John Bradbury. Not a great time for veteran musicians.

Then again, it probably never was. And at least modern musicians - or quite a few of them - make it to their sixties or seventies, not 39 like Fats Waller or 27 like Robert Johnson. No longevity there.

Yet, in a rather cruel twist, what's bad for the corporeal body (early death) is often quite good for the music. Otherwise, sad but true, you just have squadrons of over-the-hill-and-not-been-good-for-ages types churning out risible rubbish for decades after their early peaks. It's almost an iron rule: go on for longer than about 15 years and in most cases you'll be delivering sub-standard stuff for a dwindling band of long-suffering fans. Most likely you'll be doing it because ... you simply don't know what else to do.

And as these well-preserved - but artistically moribund - musicians go through the tired old motions, playing the hits (if there were any) and generally phoning it in, it'll be clear they're just delivering music ... over the telephone.

1: Jan Swinburne, NEUROsquirrels
2: Elysian Bailey, They’re coming
3: Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders & Caroline Pugh, ? (Lamp Tavern, Birmingham 1/12/15)
4: Achievements, Kids should be delinquents
5: Sometimes, The Ephemeral Man
6: The Vivisectors, Beach boogie
7: Empire Bakuba Et Pepe Kalle, Nadi consoler ngai
8: Capitive Portal, Penny17
9: Whistlejacket, Duck soup
10: Michett, Droids in a bar
11: Shit Present, ? (JT Soar, Nottingham 6/12/15)
12: Over the telephone
13: Pyre, Cursed bloodline
14: Total Unicorn, (o) (o) (o)
15: The Carbon Manual, Ice sleep (rough mix)
16: Chastity, ? (Hare And Hounds, Birmingham 2/12/15)
17: Jeffrey Philip Nelson, Woman around to blame
18: Shadow Of Television, Mayday
19: A crude method
20: Angka, Libka nya
21: Tartine De Clous, Je voudrais être mariée
22: Mozart, The embarrassment
23: J Moss, Slide (improvisation two)
24: Roy Acuff, Jole Blon

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Three Minute Heroes: some rude thoughts ...

Enjoy yourself ... it's a 1982 TV play about 2 Tone teenagers.

Yes, Three Minute Heroes, a BBC Play For Today directed by Michael Custance, is exactly that. A little romp about teenagers of an indeterminate age (15 going on 19) who hang around the centre of Coventry just after the city's ska revival heyday.

Cool times, no? Well, it's definitely ... interesting. You've got bickering teenage girls going on about who they "fancy", complaining about/admiring older lads with cars and - all rather woodenly - discussing their first sexual experiences ("anyway, school Monday", says one after talking about "finding out what it was like").

You've got the two lead characters - "Adrian", good-natured, slightly dreamy, one leg in a caliper; and "Billy", preternaturally street-wise, ironic, kind but disillusioned - who have a bromance with none-too-subtle homoerotic undertones.

And ... well, there are also any number of extra "types" thrown in (many dressed up as supposed "youth tribe" exemplars): a black boyfriend/girlfriend couple who drift about arguing, a rather vacant Hazel O'Connor lookalike, British Movement skins, punks, stiff and arrogant mods, a brothel creepers-wearing Ted, beery straights ... All of life is here, or at least what BBC playwrights trying to capture a youth "scene" probably thought of as a well-rounded representation of it.

Anyway, having just seen an apparently rare screening of a scratched, poor-quality BFI copy at Warwick University, I liked it. The story - essentially the new friendship between Adrian and Billy versus the less-accentuated romance between Adrian and a shy teen-girl admirer "Debbo" - is creaky but still quite touching. The pair develop a rapport through alienation (Adrian as a "crip", Billy as a mixed-race "2 Tone kid") and share a love of arch, self-conscious dialogue. The play ends with the two naked in a large indoor swimming pool at night, swooshing about in a rather lovely scene that filters in a kind of blue-black light. Amniotic fluid? Rebirth?

But hey, I probably wouldn't be writing this fascinating little blogged appraisal of Three Minute Heroes if it wasn't about 2 Tone (OK, I definitely wouldn't be). And so what about the music? Well it's relatively underplayed - the eponymous Selector song, The Specials' (Dawning Of A) New Era, Stereotype, Enjoy Yourself. That's about it. The big hits aren't used and that's probably all to the good - I reckon it would all re-play much less well if it was back-to-back Specials chart songs.

Also, the play uses two Fun Boy Three songs to good effect: The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) (over a fantasy scene with zombie-ghost figures stumbling about in a dry-ice filled subway), and the FB3-Bananarama It Ain't What You Do cover, sounding extremely good, especially the heavy percussion of the intro. Both songs work well in the play but they're also there to signify the fact that 2 Tone is already over. At one point Billy, the never-quite-completely-sincere 2 Tone scenester, self-ironisingly tears at an old 2 Tone street poster, lamenting the fact it's part of the recent past while perhaps seeing the funny side as only a small corner of the poster comes off the billboard.

Yeah, in the end Three Minute Heroes is a play with pretensions toward seriousness, not a musical along the lines of the one (of the same name) recently staged in Coventry. (Thank god for that).

Custance's little drama is fascinating in the same way something like Horace Ové's Notting Hill-meets-Jamaica film Pressure is. It's a game attempt to create a believable drama, capture a scene, throw in some music and even elevate the whole thing with actual artistry. For me the best scene in Three Minute Heroes is the first of the two "fantasy musical" ones, where the characters suddenly transform into guests at a nightclub watching some high-kicking skinheads dancing to The Specials' excellent and under-appreciated (Dawning Of A) New Era. It's entertainingly surreal, with touches of A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick's masterpiece also probably filters through to some of the Coventry "concrete jungle" scenes, the city's multi-storey car park ramps and shopping precincts standing in for Kubrick's South Bank).

Dawning of a new era, indeed. Much-maligned Coventry looks good in the film, rebuilt after the blitz and - just about - managing to balance civic sobriety with demands to build shops and roads everywhere.

In New Era a particularly rabid-sounding Terry Hall fires out some ominous nonsense about walking a chicken factory worker girlfriend home through "Area 6". During my own teenage years nightclubbing in Coventry during this period I never got to go to Area 6. Where is it? Sounds frightening ...