I've been to a couple of interesting gigs this week, the first of which took me on a trip way, way back down Memory Lane.
This blogging malarkey is nothing new. Back in 1980 those of us who were surfing the zeitgeist produced fanzines (although given the rudimentary production techniques it was more a case of stapling the zeitgeist). I was involved in one such enterprise in Dorset, having been recruited mainly I think because I had access to a photocopier.
It was hard to get hold of suitable records to review as the only place you could buy them in our town was Woolworths, and they weren't known for their eagerness for experimentation. So I wrote to Rough Trade asking for some freebies, and to my amazement they sent me some. That little bundle contained two classics - "How I Wrote Elastic Man" by The Fall and "Are You Glad To Be In America?" by James Blood Ulmer.
Fast forward 35 years and I found myself in Cafe Oto in Dalston with my old pal Dr Cochrane watching Mr Ulmer in action. It was a solo acoustic set, which suited my tastes as it meant he focused mainly on proper songs, tempering any noodling tendencies. He was in fine form and it was a privilege to finally get to see him live.
The next evening Mister F and I were at the Barbican watching Suicide, who were joined by the likes of Bobby Gillespie and Henry Rollins (below).
There are two ways of thinking of the gig. The first is that you were watching a legendary and highly influential band performing in a style that was as "challenging" as you would expect given their reputation. The second is that you were watching one middle-aged man in appalling trousers assault a synthesiser while another hobbled around the stage occasionally bellowing incoherently into a microphone. I have not yet decided which it was. I can't say that I enjoyed it in a conventional sense, but I'm sort of glad I was there to see it.
Anyway, here is one apiece from James Blood Ulmer and Suicide. This is not the original 1980 version of "Are You Glad To Be In America?" - my single has been rendered unplayable and as far as I am aware the album it came from has never been reissued. The Suicide track is especially for the long-suffering Mister F. And as an extra treat, we have bunged that Fall track in as well.
"Are You Glad To Be In America?" - James Blood Ulmer
"Johnny" - Suicide
"How I Wrote Elastic Man" - The Fall
We will sign off with Mr Ulmer singing the story of my life.