Wire’s 100 Records that set the world on fire while no one was listening. 61 – 65
Oh you are going to be SO glad I stayed up tonight!
All my Wire list posts have the best music you will ever hear, but in the list of lists that makes the list great – this little selection for this post has some of the absolute best! Probably my greatest discovery on The Wire List of 100 albums that set the world on fire while no one was listening is the great great Lol Coxhil. Pretty much, the man has the midas touch for me. Anything he is a part of (and he has been a part of pretty much everything) shines with thrill. But that’s not all – the great Nurse with Wound is in this selection (where would a little newbie like me be without the Nurse With Wound list?) and the sublime, cool Robert Fripp. Picture little old me, sitting at my computer, my You Tube channel revved up and ready to go and then I am struck with this selection below. Any wonder I stall bare those original scars with pride?
Lets get into shall we?
Half Machine Lip Moves
One of the things that makes this work for me over other bands that experiment with the alien visitation theme, is that these guys really ‘bought their own shit’ – that is they belive in themselves and their sound. And you can hear it in moody vocalised chant and every thrash of the guitar. This band has a bit of a tragic story. I’ll let The Wire tell it for you:
The core duo of Chrome, Damon Edge and Helios Creed – aided by various musicians who fleetingly joined the project – created music that deserved something more than the cult audience it inevitably engendered Half Machine Lip Moves was a curious and powerful hybrid, which fused a stooges-style aggression with a sci-fi and LSD-inspired otherworldliness, reflected in titles that evidenced their interest in aliens and contemporary technology. This album was arguably their finest moment (Alien Soundtracks was their other meisterwerk): Creed’s searing, heavily FX-laden guitar (Electro-Harmonix Bassballs?) and Edge’s eerie Moog and vocals, underpinned by metallic drums, came together to create what could have become a radical new departure point for a nascent form of post-rock. Their influence may be discernible in the sound of Big Black and a few others; but the extent of their neglect can be measured in the month that Damon Edge’s corpse remained undiscovered after his death in 1995.
There can’t be many musicians who can claim to have played with Tommy Cooper, The Damned and Anthony Braxton, but Lol Coxhill can. For a good few decades his unmistakeable soprano saxopone has appeared in the unlikeliest places, but whether busking under Hungerford Bridge or playing the Purcell Rooms, he’s consistently tapped into the sound of surprise with good humour and an admirable lack of pretension. The two tracks I’ve added here aren’t actually from Digswell Duets, but they are SO AMAZING I thought I would use them for the post anyway. I was a significant jazz fan prior to discovering this list, but I hadn’t heard of Lol Coxhill and that made me a kind of child in the refiing of fine. This man is incredible – its not just the sounds he can solicit – its his attitude. That just-as-at-home under the bridge as on the stage approach that he has that means he never stops making it happen, he never stops pushing the new boundaries and he never ever plays it safe. What an artist! The Wires blurb about this album describes his music ‘as gripping as it is innovative’. For me that sums it all up. I always come away a little smarter after listening with Lol Coxhill.
I can’t find you a good You Tube of the electronic meeting he makes on this album with Simon Emmerson (another brilliant musician) that gives this wonderful album pride of place on the Wire list. Just do yourself the biggest favour and seek this gem out. Precious precious precious!
The Wire says: Most of Fripp’s recorded output showcases his talent as a guitarist, but only Exposure offers any serious insight into the man himself. Returning to music after a four year break studying with Gurdjieff disciple JG Bennett, Fripp’s psyche had veered from frustrated hostility to enigmatic good humour, and his first solo album captures every aspect of a many-sided personality. Angelic electric guitar drone in the form of Frippertronics serves to frame a sparse, moving reworking of Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes The Flood”. Tape recordings of Fripp’s argumentative New York neighbours jostle for space with cryptic spoken comments from Brian Eno. Terre Roche and Daryl Hall sing gorgeous, gentle ballads over mildly unreliable rhythms, but the highlights of Exposure see guest vocalist Peter Hammill chewing glass, barking with grisly charisma over cracking rock riffs. There’s no stylistic consistency, and no need Fripp is resplendent in divergence. It’s the Sergeant Pepper of avant punk.
This is just so good! Lets hear another one of these tracks shall we?
Nurse With Wound
Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
ANOTHER life changing uber album! How how I love love love this! Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella was the debut album by Nurse With Wound, released on their own United Dairies label in 1979. The album enjoys a reputation as one of the most singular debuts of all time. It is described by AllMusic as “one of the more glowing examples of late 70’s industrial noise” and defunct UK music magazine Sounds summed up their response by abandoning their usual star rating system to award the album a full 5 question marks. It includes the Nurse with Wound list which has since become the stuff of legend and, of course, another crucial source of music love for little yours truly. The Wire say: The key document in the development of the British underground, and the cornerstone for all subsequent outsider forays into ‘electric experimental music’. Originally issued in a numbered edition of 500, it received a fitting ‘?????’ rating in place of five stars from Sounds magazine. A monstrous trawl through twilight sounds, where bellowing, scraping avant garde composition met Krautrock’s expansive pummel. 19 years after Steve Stapleton’s youthful trio hit the fade on “Blank Capsules Of Embroidered Cellophane” and went home for tea, it still stands as a monument to their vision and peerless invention.
Monkey Banana Kitchen
I wouldn’t want to follow Nurse With Wound on any list, but these guys make a real pitch for the greatness exhibited on tonight’s little chunk of list. The four piece act consisted of Media Fodder and her three brothers Tod, Rod, and God, obviously a clever lot of pseudonyms, as their discogs.com page reveals a sizeable lot of collaborative members, far more than four, with Alig Pearce being the only consistent member. Their music was generally playful, a hint of dub and reggae mixed with absurd, blissful pop, with synthpunk and sometimes experimental instrumentation. Most of the lyrics were also sung in French, courtesy of original vocalist Dominique Levillain, a combination rumored to be of some significant influence over Stereolab. Over the years, the band reformed several times over, recording and releasing sporadically since their initial demise in 1983. A handful of greatest hits collections have also appeared over the years, attempting to collect the band’s initial singles and best moments. The Wire love this for its ‘simple complexity’ – take another listen and you’ll see what they mean: ‘Multiple reprises of phrases and fragments result in a much more subtle and effective memory-tickle. I can’t count how many instruments finally made it onto the album, though piano (providing much of the rhythm), melodica, sax, synth and cowbell dominate. Their integrated eclecticism is actually layer after thin layer of dub, jazz and New Wave – peering down into this multi-ply music, you detect traces of structural complexity, and the pop that’s there blurs. Lesson No 537 from Fodder members: participate only when absolutely necessary – knowing when to pare down makes it easier to transcend.’