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Showing posts from September, 2012

"On the one and infinite, again" - PUBLIC ENEMY, ALBUM REVIEW, 1994, MELODY MAKER


IF growing up black is a process of losing hope then in the past few years a lot of us have grown up real fast. It’s not even about alienation from white culture, it’s alienation from culture full stop. And the moment you realise you aren’t welcome today is when you realise you never were welcome, that you bought the lie of unity, of doors opening, not slamming shut. White pop has never been more in retreat from its black heart, the racist steal inherent to its 40 year history never more active. Your idols fear being “swamped” and conjure up little-England pre-immigration fantasies of (Park)life. To the rest of us the door into discourse is firmly shut until we give up our intellect. If your IQ ain’t down you’re not getting in. By DE-INTELLECTUALISING US, you can sit back, do nothing while the super-structure takes care of itself. It ain’t that I want in, but why do you want us out? Redress is due and it’s coming. This LP isn’t ju…


(I well fancied Chick Graning, ever since I saw Anastasia Screamed support the Muses one time. Scarce were his next band and were great and are now nearly entirely forgotten. Not round these parts though). 

DISCO INFERNO - A New Nineties Director's Cut Edition

(Both me, and Ian Crause rabbit on a bit. Quietus sensibly cut some stuff, so this too-long-didn't-read screed is precisely what blogs are for)

1995. BrrrrBrrrr. BrrrrBrrrr. A phone rings in a hallway. I stop building’n’burning and pick up. “Hey Neil, is it ok to speak, it’s Ian Crause here.” “Yeah, Ian, blimey, how the fuck are you?” “Fine. Disco Inferno is over. I’m starting a new band called Floorshow and I need a front man. I think you’d be brilliant”

Later, in fact for years later, I see it as the biggest missed opportunity of my life, lash myself at my craven chickenshitness, wonder what might have been. In 96 things are simpler. I’m in tears. Disco Inferno is over? Inconsolable. Still, 16 summers later, absolutely inconsolable. That band weren’t just a possibility, a chance, a favourite. They were the only fucking soul band we had, the only fucking pop band we…

"a bubble-film of holy shit popping and winking on the asshole of Mother Earth" - two reviews of GOD on wax and in the flesh, 1994, Melody Maker

(Note - Kevin Martin's always made music that's fascinated me one way or the other. "Anatomy Of Addiction" is, if I recall rightly, an album he's not happy with but I think it's ace. The live show was amazing, if I recall rightly they were supported by (or were supporting) Bark Psychosis in one of their last ever shows (or was it Boymerang? Or was it Spring Heel Jack? Who the fuck knows - I just remember being stood next to the entirely marvellous Jonathan Selzer for the duration and both of us being utterly stunned.


THE problem with white appropriation of black music is that all too often the bands choose the least interesting, most conventional aspects of black pop to explore: partly to reaffirm their cultures’ outmoded “natchel riddim” ideas of black authenticity, or to shore up white critical discourse that seeks to claim all true innovation as its own. What’s so fascinating about the British post-rock fringe is that t…

"like a Chippendale's freak older brother" - Rollins Band live review, Melody Maker 1994

(first time in a hotel. jumping on the bed with my shower cap on dizzy with the unreality of it all. first time i ever met another writer - Dele Fadele, or a smudge Stephen Sweet - a lifetime ago. Original headline 'SPUNKS NOT DEAD. Thanks to Mary Peat and Maria for the scans') 

"Walk into the darkness." - Jeru The Damaja LP Review, 1994, Melody Maker.

[Love the righteously combative Ed's note near the end of this. That's Simon Price. Best reviews editor I ever worked for. Later on, roundabout "Wrath Of The Math" I interviewed Jeru. One of the nastiest racist pricks I ever spoke to.] 

THE SUN RISES IN THE EAST  ffrr (Melody Maker, 6th June 1994) As the Guru once said, take a taste of the bass, put your perspective in place.    I’d say the black “renegade” tradition that ran through Miles, freejazz , funk and dub had it’s last exponent with AR Kane. Laswell’s seam aside, in rock, black-avant is alive and well in the likes of God, Pram, Moonshake and 16/17 (none of whom are black), who reappropriate the lineage for their own far-out and fascinating ends. Hip hop and jungle are the terrains on which black (made) pop now maps out new noise. Listening to this and the Nas LP, I dry my eyes after Eric B & Rakim’s split and realise that hip-hop can still make most rock exploration sound tame and chickensh…

"Because FREEDOM NOW will always be a better pop moment than We Shall Overcome, Someday" - Two Fun-Da-Mental reviews, 1994, Melody Maker.

(A brief note: they utterly blew my mind, Fun-Da-Mental, and these two rather breathless epistles from 94 are what leaked out as a result. These reviews in combination with a rather nasty Credit To The Nation slag-off proved to me that I could write this stuff and my editors wouldn't knock it back, were willing to let me explore potentially controversial issues. I was very young and very convinced but what's odd reading these again is just how much of what I've writ prefigures the kind of stuff I wrote in Eastern Spring)
21 May 1994 (Melody Maker) 

In this green unpleasant land, political choice is between you and your remote control Life just isn’t that dramatic is it? It just surges on. So, when you heard that BNP phone message on the new Fun-Da-Mental single, how did you feel? Listen to it again; the passionate timbre of his voice, the chilling conviction. This man means what he says, and he will try to enact it. You realise t…

PANTERA reviews, Melody Maker, 1994

Be afraid, be very afriad.
   If you've never heard Pantera (unlikely, "Walk" is a club mainstay), they are metal as she should be wrote. Their last LP, "A Vulgar Display Of Power" was damn near perfect; a monumentally heavy hymn to isolation and rage, high on aggression and freaked out on its own adrenalin, it ran with all the lights on red and blew people's heads off. Two years on and they're somehow pulling off the impossible. It scares me shitless but "Far Beyond Driven" actually ups the ante, at times it's like being fist-f***ed by the Incredible Hulk. I can't recommend it highly enough.
   Pantera see the studio as an armaments factory, this is metal designed by Kalashnikov and built by NASA: a huge complex grid of clipped titanic riffs, all breathtakingly precise in execution. Sound is stripped of all fat and frill, honed down to one point of maximum impact, coalescing voice, noise and beat into o…

"That's its failure. Do listen." - Two MOGWAI reviews, 97 & 99, Melody Maker

Both reviews stolen from this excellent Mogwai archive & blog