‘This is my happening and it freaks me out!’ Thank you, Vintage TV: Brix & the Extricated featuring new tune ‘H.C.’ (plus Pneumatic Violet, Valentino, L.A., Damned for Eternity, and Hollywood). Fun stuff.
Me yammering on all things noir and writing over at Write with Phil:
Why do you write?
‘It’s fun! There’s a Dylan line about needing a dump truck to unload his head. Writing is my dump truck.’
I didn’t know what a Graham Gouldman fan I was until I made my way through this book. To be fair, I only have two speeds: not interested and totally obsessed. Unfortunately, the obsessions can be really off kilter and sometimes I’m running so fast after the thing that I think is interesting, I don’t stop to question the assumptions passed along the way.
Like 10cc=Godley & Creme. Ha!
10cc (and Godley & Creme) has been one of those fading in and out interests. Of course Consequences because of the Peter Cook obsession, but one of my top fave singles as a youngster was ‘I’m Not in Love’ and yet it didn’t really sink in that the song was ‘written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman.’ Ditto ‘Things We Do for Love’ which was the only 10cc record I bought at that time. I know: eejit.
But it goes back further. On my scratchy hand-me-down but beloved Herman’s Hermits LP the best song by a mile (much as I enjoyed all the bubblegum) was clearly ‘No Milk Today’ which of course is also Gouldman. So I’ve been catching up on his solo stuff and kicking myself for being obtuse.
Now about the rest of this book: there’s tons of reviews here and there, and some great interviews (including this new one with Real Gone), so I won’t drone on about the usual things. It’s an inventive angle (A History of Manchester Music in 13 Recordings) which really brings out the deliberate desire of many Mancunians to ignore London and its machinations as much as possible.
It doesn’t matter that this London isn’t entirely real. The fact that the elitist, greedy, insular, condescending Emerald City exists as much in the collective minds of the North as it does on the streets of the capital doesn’t make its rejection any less important.
The intimacy of the recording tradition in Manchester has a lot to do with it starting small — minuscule even — but also that it’s rooted in the musicians and sound folk wanting to give back to their community. Hanley contrasts this with the whole-hearted embrace of the capital by groups like The Beatles, who not only set up there but in the richest neighbourhoods, too. Savile Row and Mayfair certainly radiated ‘success’ but left them a little rootless.
It’s worth emphasising this again, when Eric Stewart first pondered the possibility of building a professional-standard recording studio outside London, he was completely alone. The thought hadn’t struck anyone else at all.
Strawberry Studios became a nexus of creative sound for the next three decades, an influence that’s still felt. ‘You could tell it was built with love rather than profit in mind,’ the studio’s first female engineer, Julia Adamson, told Hanley.
It’s a fascinating look at pop music, recording, musical influences and the history that binds together any given record made in the city in these formative years. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a terrifically funny book. I read most of it on the train then on a cross-Atlantic flight and I’m sure I annoyed the people around me by constantly chortling at Hanley’s mordant wit (cf footnote 161). What might have been a dull listing of names and dates instead sounds like the best pub conversation you ever overheard.
An oldie that mashes up the odd Fall lyric, Peter Cook ramblings and a little Dud:
I’m not sure I will write up the kind of remembrance or encomium that many folks are producing out in the wake of the news that The Fall’s frontman Mark E. Smith died yesterday. I tend to write at a slant anyway. But I will say that I wouldn’t have much of a crime fiction career without his lyrics. Some would doubtless argue I still don’t have much of a career at all, but what I do have — that I don’t owe to Mr B — I owe to MES (and some to Aitch as well because I probably wouldn’t have picked up Renegade without that crazy night on the tube reading out lyrics from the Orange book in German and English after the show where he made me miss John Cooper Clarke opening and his brother got hit by a bus [non-fatally–it didn’t even slow him down]).
It would be easier to list the stories and books that weren’t inspired by lines from Fall songs. So many: I suspect MES shared that same weird phenomenon where a word or phrase gets stuck in your head and the best way to exorcise it is to use it in something. I guess I will keep on doing that. You will be missed, Mr Smith.
Thanks to Paul Hanley’s Leave the Capital I know a lot more about Graham Gouldman, whose music I have loved for years though I didn’t really know it. Review of that tome coming as soon as I get a moment to draw breath. Also, I need to chase down that whole episode of Arena.
Suburbia holds more than you care for…