“It’s like therapy, but much, much cheaper!”

As promised, here’s the interview with Alexander G Muertos that really should’ve accompanied the session posted below. Drums please…

It was only on walking into a creche that I realised I was in the wrong place all together. Though at the time I’d yet to meet Alexander G Muertos in the flesh, I knew the following to be true: he was a man in his twenties, with a liberal daubing of jailhouse tats and more than likely he would be behind or around a guitar. The middle aged woman who opened the door matched none of these descriptions, so with more than a couple of ‘beg yer pardons’ I made good with my legs and disappeared double pronto. A quick phone call confirmed that I was in the wrong part of West London altogether, and should actually be in Westbourne Grove. Thirty-five minutes later I was.

Shortly after introducing myself I was presented with a steaming brew of a strong brown temperament, the kind you only find in recording studios and building sites. I wolfed it down like the asbestos throated guzzler I am and got on with the business of interviewing Mr Muertos, who although cheerful (a trademark characteristic I l was soon to learn) was reasonably bleary in the eye department

Thanks to a rowdy flatmate, I didn’t get much sleep last night. She piled back with a load of mates at god knows what time, so I’ve spent the morning sleeping on that sofa over there. I’m normally bright as a button, but today’s been a bit of a struggle. As that may be, everyone else in the studio seemed full of beans: the unmistakable whiff of enthusiasm hung heavy in the air like fairground candyfloss and as they listened through playbacks it soon became apparent why.
‘They’re a really great bunch’, said Al of the team he’d been working with for the previous couple of months, ‘completely down to earth, what you see is what you get y’know? I’ve never written with other people or worked this intensely with other people, so I was concerned at first, ‘cus I’m a right miserable bastard!’ The size of the laugh that followed made me suspect otherwise.

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Mark E. Smith

“I take a drink from time to time, but I’m from a heavy drinking family. I mean, if you compare me to the rest of the males in my family, they’re mostly dead!”

Ever the pragmatist, Mark E. Smith discusses dipsomania in an interview with Mark Lawson.

Hirsuit Brutes with Fruity Loops

Replete with the comedic timing of The Two Ronnies, the musical nouse of The Pet Shop Boys and the sartorial flair of Steptoe & Son, Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip can hold their mesh-backed heads up high and enter in to that illustrious club of Great British Twosomes.

What began with a chance meeting on the sordid streets of Camden Town has, over the past year, blossomed into something I’d tentatively call a friendship. Well, we’re friends enough that I’ve just got a text from the Bearded Bard himself imploring me to acquire a copy of their new single- and in these times of digital dalliances and heightened security, that’s probably as close to friendship as I like to get, to be honest – I’ve popped out on my lunch and done just that, I strongly suggest you do similar.

‘Look For The Woman’ is a mournfully memorable stomper that reflects on the impermanence of Modern Love (Apart from getting you to the church on time, what’s so good about Modern Love anyway?), and features all the exquisite wordplay we’ve come to expect from Essex’s primary advocate of Estuary English. What’s more, his partner in crime proves he’s more than just a pretty face by singing a chorus that’s not so much a hook… it’s a fuckin’ harpoon of a melody!

Not that I imagine you ever would, but please don’t just take my word for it. Pour yourself a Horlicks, slip on some moccasins and have a listen to it: if you don’t like it you’re more than welcome to come round the Porter Cabin and smash my face in.

So long, Humph.

When your phone goes ‘Beep’ late on a Friday night, more often that not an opportunity to push on with the revelry is about to present itself. On Friday just passed my phone ‘Beeped’ with, rather than an invitation to see the morning in with a roomful of randoms, the sad news that Humphrey Lyttelton had passed away. Even sadder than receiving such a message, when I announced to the the sweaty throng filing through the doors of the dancing hall that a National Treasure had just bought the farm, no one seemed know who I was talking about or understand why I was verging on the emotional. Some people have no idea of what they’re missing out on.

For the benefit of the tape, Humphrey Lyttelton was Jazzer of impeccable provenance and a compere without compare. A renowned musician (Louis Armstrong labelled him “The Greatest Trumpet Player in the Land”) and band leader of 60 years standing, Humph was also radio institution, presenting Radio 2′s Jazz show for decades and fronting the antidote to panel games ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue’. Such was his affable air and razor sharp timing, Humph got away with telling jokes that really had no place on an early evening broadcast, but such was his charm and self-effacing sophistication the crudity of his humour always went unchallenged. As his friend of 50 years and fellow ISIHAC panelist Barry Cryer said recently “He was a great man with grace and style… he was the only broadcaster I’ve ever known who could get a laugh with dead air”.

The world will be a paler place without Humphrey Lyttelton, but he can rest safe in the knowledge that someone will be having a quiet chuckle each time a Northern Line tube passes through Mornington Cresent.

RIP Humphrey Lyttelton 1921 – 2008

Humph & the Duke

Humph & the Duke, courtesy of www.humphreylyttelton.com


‘Do It’

An album review for rockfeedback.com

To loud fanfare and second-rate splendour, Liverpool took up its tenure as European City of Culture with an enthusiasm usually reserved for primary school plays. There were tumbling acrobats, Blu tack and tinsel, the Farm were dragged from retirement and aspirant pundit Pete Wylie was pulled out of Stewart Macconie’s arse especially for the occasion; a veritable ‘Who’s Left’ of Liverpool, it’s wonders truly never started. But what do you expect when the council are left in charge of a party? It was always going to be like watching a car crash, it’s just a shame it was like watching from inside the car.

Easy and spiteful as it is to list the faults of such a rum do, let’s just say they missed an opportunity to celebrate the city’s real cultural heritage. Liverpool may be known the world over as a pop powerhouse- what started innocently enough with The Beatles mutated over the years into Sonia, The Lightning Seeds and, most horrifically, Atomic Kitten – but the shell suit sheen of affable Scouse pop is nothing more than a façade, a thin wrapping of vulgar paper with the LIPA a hideous, flaccid bow. The city’s real cultural heritage lies with the outsiders who make outsider pop, the bands who, indifferent of absolutely everything else, have pursued their own particular music and mustered enough charisma to keep it interesting for everybody else. Without disappearing into a list, let’s just agree that Clinic are one of these bands and get on with the business of discussing their fifth album ‘Do It’.

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Alexander G Muertos

Good Night Irene

“There’s 12 bars in Ragtime, and I’ve drunk in every one of ‘em”

Alexander G Muertos
is a good lad. He smokes fags like they’re going out of fashion and plays Blues like he’s bringing it back in. Emerging through the acoustic circuit, the native South Londoner is in the process of recording his debut album, and has been good enough to let us drop by on more than a couple of occasions and shove a camera up his hooter.

Listen through the finished material and you’ll hear influences that range from Stax to Studio One but nothing beats a man on his J’s with a flat cap and a six string, so we talked him in to a quick rendition of an old Leadbelly favourite.

There was an interview as well, but somewhere along the line the microphone must’ve got mixed up with a Mars Bar because, try as we might, we just can’t find the audio! Once my lip reading is up to scratch I’ll transcribe it in it’s entirety. Until then… like the man says:

Enough talking, let’s Yentz already!

St George’s Day

I’m not sure if it’s still acceptable to wish you a happy St. Georges Day, but as acceptability is a social currency in which I seldom trade I’ll stick my neck out and wish you one all the same.

The erosion of a collective national identity has been well documented of late, so I’ll not ramble on about it here. After all, politics is very much like sex: though the world would be a much better place if everyone did more of it, you really shouldn’t talk about it at the dinner table. If it is of any further interest, two of the books I find best deal with the subject are Jeremy Paxman’s ‘The English’ and Billy Bragg’s ‘The Progressive Patriot’. Both are good, but The Red Wedge’s will make you look slightly less xenophobic when reading it on the tube.

In an attempt to lift the stigma from this day of St George, I thought it might be worth pointing out that as well as being the first to address the very serious problem of Dragon infestation, Georgie Boy is also the recognised Patron Saint of Barcelona, Beirut, Germany, Canada, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Serbia. Ceasing not in his veneration, he is also the sanctified caretaker of Farmers, Butchers, Archers, Equestrians, Boy Scouts and sufferers of syphilis, strangely enough. All of which leads us to the following conclusions:

Firstly: as well being violently inclusive, The Lad George was a very busy bastard.

Subsequently: People got a lot more done in the days before central heating and Wikipedia.

Loosely tying this rather irrelevant ramble back to music, there’s a song by Flashguns called St George, which is available for your aural delights here

That is all.

Everybody loves a montage…

Mercury Prize – Red Carpet

With brogues polished and microphone at the ready, Porter launches himself upon the red carpet at the Nationwide Mercury Prize. Bat For Lashes goes feral, Young Knives strike a pose, Jamie Reynolds from Klaxons says ‘HIYA’ and Jo Whiley pipes down a bit.

Hot Fire!

Jim Noir

‘Jim Noir’

An album review for rockfeedback.com

Winston Churchill said “Short words are best, the old ones best of all” and to that ends I could’ve summed up this review by simply saying “Ace”. But one of the many problems with Winston Churchill- and it’s probably not one of the first that you’d list -is that he never had a proper grounding in really good psychedelic music, so for that reason I shall expound: Jim Noir’s self titled record is Properly, Properly Ace.

Had Old Winnie decided against spending his autumn years obsessively documenting The History of English Speaking People, and chosen rather to kick back and stick on a bit of really good psyche, I’m sure that amid the fug of joss sticks he would have likely drawn some interesting conclusions. Most probably, he would’ve conjectured that most really good psychedelic music, no matter how outward or expansive, is firmly rooted in the everyday- an alternate everyday, granted, but still a reflection of the time and place specific to said music. It’s also quite likely that he’d have thought up a better name than Psychedelia… but Winston Churchill isn’t the point of our discussion; he is the product of smoke and mirrors, a mere device, a loose concept with which to start and most probably finish the piece. Here lies another important trait in all good psychedelic music.

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