Friday, August 12, 2011

DEF & G (B is for Bristol)

Being the second in a series of posts wherein I rediscover music lost in the great iMac crash of 2008 (See the first here.)

Just before my trusty iMac gave up the ghost, I had been spending a good deal of time listening to the Pop Group ("p" being not entirely unrelated to "b"--they are the two bilabial plosives in English, after all). Viz. "Trap":

Mark Stewart's near-falsetto warble (and occasional gibbering) obviously influenced by David Thomas's:

which I was also enamored of at the time. Who wouldn't be? Frightening, both of them.

Stick with me. The Pop Group were part of an extraordinarily rich scene in Bristol in the late 70s/early 80s. They shared members with dozens of other, less well-known bands (about which, see below). A recent Wikipedia search reveals that Bristol has not lain dormant since then. It was also the birthplace of so-called "trip-hop," being the cradle that bore Tricky, Portishead, Roni Size, and DJ Die (fitting, in this second post, to have the D a Double), among others:

Incredibly intoxicated, I attended a Roni Size/Reprazent show around the time this track came out. I am told I didn't move once (though I distinctly remember being asked to move by an officious security guard). I had been floored by some surprisingly potent substance, ingested just before the drive into LA. Some sense of misplaced nostalgia must have led me to rip these tracks to my computer, though I had long since stopped listening to them, having embraced a rather less Dionysiac lifestyle.

The newest Portishead album is pretty good, though.

Looking through the list of Bristol bands on Wikipedia revealed a couple I was unfamiliar with. Electric Guitars was one such band, and it is kind of a shame, because they're pretty fantastic, based on the album Jolts, I think their only album. It starts off with "Eternal Youth," which could almost be a track from This Heat's Deceit:

Almost. Still, it's great.

Thanks to a short-lived infatuation with Spacemen 3 (and an even shorter infatuation with Spiritualized), I was already familiar with Flying Saucer Attack. I think I prefer Flying Saucer Attack, and the fact that I couldn't find any Spiritualized or Spacemen 3 on the iMac would tend to support that. I did find Flying Saucer Attack, though, and it's not bad:

I'll take Hawkwind's Hall of the Mountain Grill over any of them, but I don't think they're from Bristol, so mum's the word.

Maximum Joy were formed when an earlier band, Glaxo Babies -- whose first (and, again, I think only, at least in that incarnation) album I had just downloaded when the computer crashed -- broke up. Glaxo Babies, in turn, were formed when Dan Catsis, guitarist for The Pop Group (see above) left the Pop Group. I was really excited to find the Glaxo Babies album, based on that pedigree and their second single, "Christine Keeler"

The album (Nine Months to the Disco) is actually a little disappointing. Vocalist Rob Chapman had been replaced by that point, and a couple of other lineup changes seem to have dulled the sound quite a bit. There are still moments, but "Christine Keeler" is absent, as is their other early single, "Who Killed Bruce Lee?"

Both are missed. The omission was addressed in a post-breakup collection called Put Me On the Guestlist, which collects most of the Rob Chapman material, though "Christine Keeler" and its B-side are still missing. A shame.

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