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WHILE avoiding the first of the Sunak-Truss Tory election debates with a steely determination unmatched by even the most assiduous medieval plague-swerver I was once again moved to verse, more specifically limerick. But this time it had consequences.
“I’m not watching those scumbags debate.
I’d rather play chess with a skate
Or buy a microscope
From Julian Cope
And watch amoebal forms defecate.”
It exploded over my social media pages in the hearteningly cultish fashion such things tend to do, and I began to get amused comments from fans of the aforementioned Julian.
Soon I had revisited October 21st 1957, the poem I wrote about the fact that the erstwhile singer of the Teardrop Explodes and I share not just the same birthday, but the same birth year.
Also we share a love of English civil war history and of Krautrock, the wave of experimental German bands — not prog, not rock, just weird — which broke on our shores in the early ‘70s — my favourites were Floh de Cologne, proto-punk communist cabaret shouters led by the mercurial Dick Stadler, whose anthem Der Kapitalismus stinkt was a favourite of mine during teenage German lessons.
I met him for the first time in East Berlin at the Political Song Festival in 1987 with the words “Hello Dick! I’ve been listening to you for 15 years. Der Kapitalismus stinkt, nicht wahr? (Capitalism stinks, doesn’t it).” He was touched.
Anyway, I digress. I’d always been a bit sniffy about Mr Cope, and indeed once formed an imaginary band called The Beergut Explodes (alongside another called Beergut 100) fortunately neither ever bothered the scorers in a musical sense.
I nearly always listen to music while writing and for some reason decided to put some of his music on, as is easy to do in these days where everyone’s music is everywhere and we all get paid peanuts for it. And I had an epiphany.
There is only so much music any of us can listen to, and we all choose, sometimes irrationally.
I can’t remember exactly what it was which put me off him for 40 years, but it wasn’t the actual music, that’s for sure, because I have now immersed myself in it and it’s wonderful, especially Jehovahkill.
I am now a disciple of Saint Julian — amusingly, his keyboard sidekick-turned Food Records boss David Balfe lives a couple of streets away from us and used to be a Labour councillor. It’s never too late for a conversion, loft or otherwise.
I shall devote the rest of this week’s column to the glories of the Humdrum Express. It’s not a train, it’s Ian Passey from Kidderminster, and it, or rather he, has just released his latest album Forward Defensive. (That is a cricket expression, or rather was, because cricket doesn’t appear to bother with it any more, they just hit everything, which is much more interesting.)
The Humdrum Express are tuneful, eclectic and absolutely bloody hilarious, a kind of indie, easier-listening Half Man Half Biscuit.
The mundanities of life thrust into the spotlight in a West Midlands accent and drowned in a sea of Enville ale — often in the company of the brilliant Jess Silk at Katie Fitzgerald’s in Stourbridge, the Black Country’s answer to the Cavern Club.
Gig Chatterer takes the biscuit, I’ve had a few of those over the years. They think that paying to get in means they can talk loudly through the gig — fine if it’s death metal, annoying if it’s folk, criminal if it’s spoken word.
I tell them to shut up, and once or twice have physically thrown them out. Third Choice Keeper is a brilliant summation of the (quite comfortable) fate of the understudy’s understudy at a reasonably successful football club.
Staying Inn is for people who build fake pubs in their living rooms and post pictures on social media, and Christmas with Evan Dando is so precise it must be true; the story of a festive encounter with the aforementioned Lemonheads singer on Bondi Beach Down Under. No-one was attacked by rogue flatfish, which is a pity, because Ian could have included the line “it’s a shame about ray.” OK, I’ll get my coat. It’s a great album.
This week’s column is very eclectic, in other words half of you won’t have the faintest idea what I’m going on about. But I hope you’ve enjoyed it anyway.
You can get the Humdrum Express album from https://thehumdrumexpress.bandcamp.com/album/forward-defensive
Take care folks.
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