Hugs and Kisses 70: Young Marble Giants, Television Personalities


Everett True, rocking the Matthew-Houck-in-20-years look

This week, another installment of Hugs and Kisses from Brisbane-based Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press) — another book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties. Sometimes, Everett performs live as the Legend! At least we think that’s what this week’s column is about.

Hugs and Kisses

The Rain-Trodden Outbursts of Everett True

This week: Old Time Music

Five songs I covered recently, in support to LA/K Records charmer Jeremy Jay (who jived and spun like a 21-year-old Robert Forster, uncanny for the streets of Brisbane). Five songs on the Troubadour’s stage, unaccompanied save for a glowing yellow lamp and some enthusiastic applause.

1. “There’s A Man Going Round Taking Names”

I performed this song one time at London’s Barbican Theatre at a “tribute to Daniel Johnston evening,” in front of 1,000 people who’d seen the Daniel Johnston film, in lieu of having to laboriously reintroduce the evening every 20 minutes between bands. It’s an old spiritual I discovered in a teach-yourself-the-blues piano book, as performed by Leadbelly. I got away with singing (instead of talking) the first time, even got the crowd applauding my nerve: second time I came out, folk were more prepared and started booing when I launched into an a cappella take on a Television Personalities song (see below). I can’t help thinking that a Daniel Johnston crowd booing someone for covering TVPs is akin to Sebadoh fans booing Smog — and I’ve seen that happen as well. I didn’t have any such problems at the Troubadour: Brisbane is deserted on a Wednesday evening.

2. Young Marble Giants, “Searching For Mr Right”

It’s an old Young Marble Giants song, taken from their first and only album, 1980’s startling Colossal Youth. I like the idea of stripping away the tune from such deeply melodic songs, reducing them to a near monotone. During the performance, I zipped and unzipped my cardigan in the style of solo UK performer, the Hugely Talented David Thomas Broughton. This affectation didn’t go unnoticed.

3. The Zombies, “The Way I Feel Inside”

I was MC-ing an early Riot Grrrl show in London — or at least a show that featured friends of the Riot Grrrls. (This must’ve been before I was thrown out the pantry for scoffing all the cakes on behalf of ‘The Man’.) It was my pleasure to introduce Lois Maffeo, who opened her set with a spell-binding, voice-only rendition of this Zombies song. Round this time, I’d been planning to cover the song myself — I’d also been trying to convince cutie/Goth/industrial band Cranes to cover it — but after seeing Lois, realised I might as well give it up. It’s taken me almost two decades to raise the nerve again: and I nearly fluffed it straight out, by starting in the wrong key.

4. Television Personalities, “Happy All The Time”

The aforementioned Television Personalities song — I started covering this a few years back after hearing that band-leader Dan Treacy had either a) gone missing, or b) was incarcerated on a prison ship off the coast of England. It isn’t a happy song at all, but it’s great for taking clothes off to.

5. Young Marble Giants, “The Man Amplifier”

It’s another Young Marble Giants song. I figured I’d try to reclaim my own special band from the Pitchfork generation, but I guess it’s way too late. Sigh. I guess it’s lovely the YMGs have reformed to play All Tomorrow’s Parties and all, but seeing as how they hated being on stage first time round — singer Alison Statton is particularly known for that — I do find myself nonplussed by the news.