It's been ages since I picked up a new 7" slab of vinyl so I was delighted when two of them popped through my letterbox recently. The first, the 'If You Don't Want Me' EP by the very lovely, self-styled 'king of swing' Richard of Lowsley recording artistes Ricky Spontane is a treat of quirky delights that comes sleeved in a painting by one Nick Sykes that looks like Mondrian meets Paul Klee, which is a fine start to proceedings. On the back of the sleeve, Richard looks like a pale and interesting soul, perhaps with a pile of early Pulp records under his bed (no bad thing, I have to say, and if I have to say that I have to add that in fact 'Little Girl' remains one of my very favourite songs of dark seedy aches ever) and perhaps a Momus tattoo on his left buttock, which is a fine second step. However, finally slipping the disc from the bag, slapping it on the record deck and listening to 'If You Don't Want Me', it all reminds me less of the aforementioned, and more of the Househunters, who were a madcap troupe of Edinburgh noiseniks who made at least one Jowe Head produced single for the 53rd & 3rd label, and then promptly disappeared. Or I forgot to watch what happened to them. Or both. Anyway, on 'If You Don't Want Me' Richard sounds just like Stefan Vogel of Househunters, delivering deadpan vocals over a cool drum-machine beat which in Richards case is care of Baxendale's Tim Benton and incidentally, whatever are Baxendale up to now? I could do with a new blast of their iconic Steps-on-Ecstasy-and-a-half-of-bitter-shandy electric Pop shimmy right now. Oh yes I could. Househunters' dynamic electro-punk beat on the other hand was made by the very wonderful Trudi (Mercedes - this is a different Mercedes to the cat that lives behind us, obviously - provided singing and bass whilst Lucy blasted an Alto Sax, kind of like Lora Logic, to just clear up who did what with Househunters) and in times like these I wonder if perhaps Trudi is Tim Benton's big sister. Or his auntie. Which just goes to prove that holidays are a bad thing.
Speaking of cats, the label image on the Househunters' 'Cuticles' single features a portrait of a svelte young thing wearing a, ... what would you call that? A tiger hat /wig type affair? Perhaps. It reminds me of the photo that graced the sleeve of the Alive In The Living Room album on Creation; that bizarre band of street troubadours all decked out in animal costumes, delighting the crowds of Oxford Street. Well, I say Oxford Street, but I'm sure it wasn't. It was probably in Paris because the animals look French. And because you can see L'Arc De Triomphe in the background. I always loved that sleeve, and I loved that album because I never got to go out much when I was young, and I played that album on my record player and my bedroom became the Living Room. I couldn't play it in our own living room of course because my mum and dad wouldn't have been as delighted by the raw raucous noise of the Jasmine Minks doing Love as I was. Such is life.
I listened to the Real Audio stream of the Jasmine Minks Popartglory album launch radio show the other day, (catch up with it on their ace website at www.jasmineminks.com) and listened to Alan McGee talking about the Minks, and Creation, and all sorts. He was talking about Lawrence, about how he listened to 'The Final Resting Of The Ark' the other day and was struck by how Lawrence had in fact been singing about all the things like the Warhol factory scene, not just from a consuming point of view, but from a deep desire to recreate those times. How Lawrence is currently in a 'dark place' as a result of that journey. It seemed fair enough, and whilst I think it's dangerous and probably ultimately pointless to re-live someone else's past, I can't help but envy Lawrence the determination to be so totally immersed. And I can't help wishing that either, or both of us had had the energy and wherewith-all to persevere with that biography we had planned. It would have made a classic Pop book. It still could.
I was partly immersed in the early Creation myth for a while, but I never much believed in the whole rock and roll deal, so when I called my own club night The Living Room towards the end of the 20th Century it was more from a playful doff of a cap than anything else. I'm not sure that we ever played any Creation records at The Living Room, although I tell a lie because I did used to play the Love Corporation regularly and the Weatherall remix of My Bloody Valentine was a favourite too. Instead we used to spin and mix up pretty much anything with a mad beat, topped off with movie samples and looped dialogue from spoken word tapes. So there would be a Squarepusher, Optical or Alec Empire track rampaging with Kerouac floating on top, or Kafka read by Stephen Berkhoff because there was a line about sitting in the living room. That kind of thing. In fact, not unlike that other 7" single that came in the mail; the DJ Ordeal single 'Maureen', on the very ace Johnny Kane records, Johnny Kane being of course the label that released the Clientele's yearning 'All The Dust and Glass' single, as well as the Relict's 'Southern Way', and the two bands' split single which had the Clientele rope in Indie-queen and Black Tambourine/Pines vocalist Pam Berry to record '(I Can't Seem To) Make You Mine', which although sadly not a cover of the timeless Seeds classic was nevertheless as gorgeous as an Autumn morning with the orange of leaves on your tongue. But DJ Ordeal sounds nothing like the Clientele, or The Relict, and sounds instead like a rogue field recorder stumbling through a field of movie-dream memoirs, stitching the sounds onto a quilt of scratched beats. Kind of like if Shiori Satanaka in Hirokazu Kore-eda's terrific Afterlife was making records instead of movies. Haunting, groovy, out-there and utterly essential late night listening.
© Alistair Fitchett 2001