For the (ahem) possibly the last time this year, Everett True examines the contents of his desk. But first, he thought it’d be pertinent for us to remind you again that Entertainment Weekly once called the following author, Everett True, “the man who invented grunge.” But wait, there’s a disclaimer: “Now I come to think on it,” he writes, “I’ve never actually seen that phrase written down, except on the sleeve to my first ‘proper’ book Live Through This (Virgin, 2001, but long since out-of-print) and my initial source for the quote was an inebriated Jon Langford from The Mekons in a Chicago bar circa 1993.” Point being: Everett True invented grunge. E-mail him at email@example.com.
THIS WEEK: The increasingly tired device of examining–and writing about–objects on Everett True’s desk continues. Possibly for the final time: after all, we have an exclusive Kate Nash interview to run with …
ITEMS ELEVEN AND TWELVE: Two promotional Happy Mondays CDs–their two finest moments, actually–Bummed (1988) and the splendiferous, sprawling, monstrous, drug-riddled and era-defining Pills ‘N’ Thrills & Bellyaches (1990). If you want to recreate the spirit and fug and off-yr-head dementia that assailed British youth at the start of the Nineties during those few crazed months when rave culture and indie crashed and exploded and started breeding full on, you’re far better off looking here than to Primal Scream, who were only ever (exquisite) courtesans; or to The Stone Roses, whose records never created the borderline hysteria of the live performances. These grooves reek of dry ice, sweat and hedonism: these tracks feel like they’d fall apart any second if it wasn’t for the relentless groove, the sodden disco mania. Both these reissues come via Rhino, and both come with the requisite bonus tracks and discs featuring 12-inch versions and Vince Clarke mixes and ‘rare’ live footage and the ‘Hello Girls’ mix of ‘Mad Cyril,’ etc–but that’s not what concerns us here.
What concern us here are the following factoids.
Factoid one: while reviewing Happy Mondays for popular British musical paper NME, upstairs in a London pub in support to the doubtlessly redoubtable McTells, I used the word ‘grungy’ to describe their guitar sound. This was in 1987. Grungy. That’s right. Uh-huh. Happy Mondays invented Seattle and Kurt Cobain and fucking MTV 120 Minutes several years before anyone even thought of calling Billy Corgan a puffy-faced twat.
Factoid two (momentary diversion): Rowetta Satchell–famous for, uh, being the last remaining female entrant in the first series of The X Factor in the UK (Americans may call it something else)–featured on backing vocals on Happy Mondays’ only US (minor) hit, 1990’s ‘Step On’. Rowetta Satchell was delirious/crazy with a voice to call the angels down to Manchester for a quick bevy to: absolutely the only time ever, in the entire history of TV, that anything involving Simon Cowell has been worth watching, and…she was in Happy Mondays! That is so perfect.
Factoid three (clears throat): well, I was going to tell the story of how I woke up one evening in Valencia, blood and vomit and water strewn across my back, my bed and my room, my photographer screaming at me for 15 minutes straight…and when, how I finally calmed him down enough to ask how I managed to get in such a state, he listed five different fist-fights with various bands, an escapade with security that resulted in myself being thrown down three flights of stairs, being dragged across the gravel in front of the hotel, strangling the van driver at 80mph…and how, when Bez (the really fucked up one out of Happy Mondays) encountered me that evening, he gravely announced me to be “the most fucked up person” he’d ever seen…but I thought better of it. Fuck rock’n’roll. It fucked most my friends.
ITEM THIRTEEN: A finished CD copy of the Rough Trade records’ Arthur Russell tribute, a very fitting tribute actually to the still much-missed New York composer and cellist, who (according to Wikipedia) career bridged the downtown, dance and rock scenes. . . wait, why am I telling you this? This is the fucking Village Voice I’m writing for, right–not Necrophilia Daily. You people are cultured. You laugh at Steve Buscemi. Anyway, I wanted to mention this CD, firstly because it is indeed lying on my desk; and secondly, because it contains two of my most cherished songs of 2007, namely Vera November’s tumbling and trembling piano arpeggios that run delicately through ‘Our Last Night Together,’ and (former Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman) Taken By Trees‘ equally beautiful take on ‘Make 1,2.’ (Not that I dislike the other two artists present on this four-track EP tribute –Swedish Mike Flowers Pops wannabe Jens Lekman and Hidden Camera and total warbler Joel Gibb–but I’m trying to focus here.) It is a source of some pride that I can hear traces of the musical collaborations I made a couple of years back with Verity Susman of Electrelane (aka Vera November) within her contribution: not that I’m saying my darkened, depressed spoken word over her pristine piano even vaguely compares with her solo radiance, just that. . . it’s nice to feel you may have a hand in something, however small.
HUGS AND KISSES TOP 5
The music Everett True likes at the moment
1. BABYSHAMBLES, “You Talk” (Parlophone single). Sometimes, I like to pretend I’m down with the kids. Humour me, why don’t you?
2. THE WAVE PICTURES, “We Dress Up Like Snowmen” (forthcoming Moshi Moshi single). In case you were paying particularly close attention, this is the “David is the monster” song. Someone really ought to be making an MP3 blog from these playlists…
3. VAMPIRE WEEKEND, “Mansard Roof” (Abeano single). Unaccountably reminds me of someone Massive Attack would’ve collaborated with– Horace Andy, duh–circa 1990. Utterably gorgeous.
4. BASS CLEF, “Zamyatin Tapes Vol 1” (Blank Tapes single). Rad outsider dubstep meets gabba-punk garage…or so I’m informed.
5. THE SLITS, “Born Again Rhythm” (from the bonus disc with the forthcoming Blast First Petite album Return Of The Giant Slits). A nervy, dub-wise version of my favourite Slits single ever (‘In The Beginning There Was Rhythm”). . . and that’s some compliment, trust me.