This week, another installment of Hugs and Kisses from Mr. Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press)—another book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties. Again, ahem, we revisit his desk.
TWO UNOPENED CDs
To one side is a brace of CDs—The Real Tuesday Weld, Heartbreak—with press releases attached, received yesterday from Australian pop culture magazine JMag. In my now infamous summary of the Aus music press I vaguely dismissed JMag—a made-to-order magazine for the highly influential Aus indie radio station Triple J—as being a “passable imitation of NME” That’s not fair: JMag‘s brief is far wider, taking in regular book reviews (for example) and fashion spreads; its design is at odds with its weekly British counterpart, being stacked full of words, sometimes contributed by recognisable music critics (Chris Roberts, Martin Aston). The CDs in question are those that intrigued me from a longer list: to the best of my recollection, Tuesday Weld compose a pop collage that draws inspiration from Serge Gainsbourg and Seventies film composers, crackly and gently psychedelic; while current-day Aus faves the Presets have described Heartbreak as being like “Eurovision—if Eurovision had a crack baby” . . . and anyone who knows of my love affair with Pop Music, Pop Music reading as ABBA, first album Spice Girls, ELO and that crazy multi-cultural trans-European pop music competition known as Eurovision, will know how a sentence like that will draw me in. The CDs are unopened right now, because it’s too hot for even such a minor exertion.
A ONE-SHEET FOR NYC ANTI-FOLK ARTIST ISH MARQUEZ
This CD-R was forwarded to me with a note from Jeffrey (or maybe Jack) Lewis’ drummer, stating that everyone knows that “Everett True holds the keys to critical regard in England”—which goes to show what a painfully misguided sense of proportion these Brooklyn sorts have, but is still nice. I only have the one-sheet here, and frankly the type face is too small to read in this light (and it’s too hot to get up…blah blah blah), but I did give this CD a listen or two driving down Waterworks Road and remember thinking, “Wow, this kid’s got a pretty fucking good voice, like he’s the Bob Marley of the anti-folk scene” and, “Wow, these New Yorkers take themselves far too seriously”…but that was as far as it got, and frankly—much as I enjoy the space and catch in Marquez’s voice —it made me yearn for my British antifolk homies, particularly Scrappy Hood (singer with Milk Kan), who’s like Mike Skinner of the Streets if he’d grown up loving Patrik Fitzgerald and TV Personalities, ie: with no chance whatsoever at having a stab at fame; and also Larry Pickleman, who’s plain demented. Here are some videos for you.
A PARTIALLY OPENED CHERRY RED BOX SET
Man, but I’ve been having fun playing catch-up with this one. Back in the day, Cherry Red was one of Britain’s leading independent record labels. Indeed, one could almost blame them for codifying a state of mind into a musical approach (‘indie’) with their 99p-only compilation album Pillows And Prayers, which roosted at the top of the UK Independent Charts for months on end in ’82, or thereabouts. Pillows And Prayers was so damaging because inadvertently—it put paid to all the wonderful multi-culturism and musical adventurism that typified other post-punk UK labels, particularly Rough Trade, and made it acceptable for music press readers to only like esoteric, sensitive white boys jangling guitars with Jacques Brel and Astrid Gilberto on their minds. Well, them and the Smiths of course. Cherry Red directly spawned Creation Records (who spawned Jesus and Mary Chain and Oasis, two groups that between them set back the cause of musical adventurism in the UK by several decades) and gave the world Everything But The Girl. Good reasons to avoid, you might think. Nay, not so! This eight-CD singles box set is nothing if not eccentric—and being nothing if not eccentric is nothing if not wonderful—and contains much that is esoteric and exotic, making for a great snapshot of what was great about John Peel-championed music from the Eighties—The Nightingales, Creation Rebel, Dead Kennedys, Can even, Robert Wyatt, the Monochrome Set, Ivor Cutler, The Reflections, Destroy All Monsters, et al. The utter turkeys (Jah Wurzel covering “Wuthering Heights” springs to mind, as does anything featuring Ben Watt) merely make the unexpected gems all the more pleasurable. You may care to buy the truncated version—I believe Pillows And Prayers itself is currently available as a 3CD + DVD set—but, as I say, playing catch-up can be great fun.