Hi, yeah s’me, keeping up the Song of the Day feature like dedication was as word I know the definition of!
No excuses not to, I mean I am of the generation when Roy Castle clasped his trumpet weekly, ready for the signing off of “Record Breakers.” No, it’s not a euthanasim, Google it whippersnappers.
Might also explain my fondness for brass. Brass is class, and a vital element of ska. Yep, four tunes in and I couldn’t resist sharing some ska with you.
It’s a commonly misguided notion that ska is a retrospective cult here in England. It tends to convey a bygone era of Two-Tone records, boots and braces.
Yet today, while said stereotype has a grounding, ska is an international phenomenon, particularly in South America. I did write a piece about this region’s love for ska, and how it’s roots out of Jamaica bare a different tale from our own.
To show you how fresh it can be elsewhere in the world, and it’s not a reminiscence for a
load of overweight balding pensioners as perceived in the UK, here’s all-female bar one Mexican band, Girls Go Ska, who I’m secretly in love with, (so secret they don’t even know themselves….until they use Google translate!) doing an instrumental jam.
Girls and ska; what’s not to like? Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….
- Reggae Perfection; Winds of Matterhorn
Again, we find ourselves in the most unsuspecting part of the world to find the perfect reggae sound, Switzerland. Fruits Records release Winds of Matterhorn at the end of this month, 30th April.
Rather than the unanimous Rastafarian camp, Jamacia’s hills of Wareika, Swiss-Italian trombonist Mattbrass and producer Jackayouth have taken inspiration from the eminent mountain in the Alps for this four-track instrumental EP. Unlike the progressive nature of the Jamaican music industry, Fruits Records, as ever, find their penchant in a more classic sound. The tried-and-tested formula of roots reggae may be deemed old hat on the island of reggae’s origin, but no one can refute the global influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and the consequential epoch which followed.
The mechanics of the profound effect reggae’s golden era has had on music as a whole is inconsequential here, because there is no fusion or experimental divergence. You will not hear rock or soul’s pastiches of the formula, there’s no preaching vocals, you will only hear a crisp and refined approach to the true sound. This is reggae at its finest, a driving riddim, occasional wail of an electric guitar, heavy bassline and saturated in sublime horns.
To emphasise these classic elements of reggae are evidently profound, each tune is singularly named after the four classic elements; earth, air, fire and water.
Earth is marching one-drop reggae, the kind you’ll identify with the later works Bob Marley & The Wailers, such as the 1979 album Survival. But Air is no lighter, there’s a real deep, roots feel to it, a plodding bassline fills said air, but throughout there’s this continuation of a tight horn section, managed to perfection. Fire has more upbeat jollity about it, so much so it near-verges on the classic ska of the unrivalled Skatalites. Water brings it back around, with that proud one-drop march.
This is the traditions of reggae, elsewhere at its very best, the only thing it lacks is the vocal affirmation to Rastafari, or anything else uniquely indigenous to JA, rather a structured salute to the sound, as if it was performed by Mozart or Beethoven. There’s the nutshell, if Beethoven went to sister Mary Ignatius Davies’ class at Kingston’s Alpha Cottage School, with Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Roland Alphonso et all, his symphonies might end up sounding something like this; it is that accomplished.
Top marks, as if they not done it before on Devizine, and I’ve still not gotten fully over how awesome Wonderland of Green was!
- Chapter 4: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead
The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole
Chapter Four: in which our heroes awake in unusual circumstances.
Recap: Can you stop asking me for a recap, and just read the chapters before this one? I got to keep going over the same shit, just because you cannot be bothered to keep up with the story, is that it? Look, just read the previous chapters, or wait for Spielberg to notice the movie potential of this humble fable, won’t you? I’m done with recaps.
There was something divinely erotic being one of thousands of workers in a foetus position, imbibing on one of the many lactating teats of a larvae queen with the head of Margaret Thatcher in a sado-masochistic pupae dungeon, at least to Councillor Yellowhead there was.
Hymenoptera knew their place in the nest and never questioned authority; he liked it here. When the lactose ran dry, they’d head out for duties without question. Though to Yellowhead feeding was sexually stimulating, he never wished for it to end. He yearned the Gyne would churn her pulp royal jelly once more, but with bellowing, unquestionable authority her words echoed around the chamber, “to those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-churn, I have only one thing to say: You churn if you want to. The lady’s not for churning!”
Yellowhead squirmed with excitement, near ejaculation, as she continued in a less conversant voice, “now, Mr Speaker, I suggest you wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!” Confusion to the alienness of the accent, saw off his climax, and he felt rejected despair. Yet, somewhere deep in an archive of Yellowhead’s mind, it had familiarity, as if from long lost past, another time, another realm.
Yellowhead’s mouth overwhelmingly tasted of mud, water spurted from deep down his oesophagus and sprayed from his lips. The light hurt his eyes as their lids unlocked involuntarily. The Thatcher Gyne fizzled out of reality, ignoring his pleas to stay, and the equivocal outline of a human head came into his focus. “Wake up!” the voice came again, this time he recognised it.
“Get off me this minute, Briggs,” Yellowhead commanded, “you necrophiliac homosexual!”
“You lost breathing,” Briggs pointed out, highly tense, “and had no pulse…. I……”
Yellowhead pulled his torso up and rested on his elbows, “did you perform CPR on me, Briggs, just answer me that?”
“Sir,” Briggs implored, “there was nothing else I……”
“You are a sexual predator, Briggs, a sexual predator of corpses, and I was your prey!”
“It was necessary,” Briggs pleaded his cause, “there was nothing else I could have done to save you, and sir, I did it, I saved your life!”
Yellowhead stood up as Briggs scrambled away from him. Remaining on the tarmac he looked up to his superior, feeling the wrath of his outraged expression. But Yellowhead took a moment to compose himself, and sighed. In a whisper he told Briggs, “young man, tell no one of this, for as long as we both shall live. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
“Yes, sir, oh yes,” Briggs whimpered, “I’m just glad you’re alive!”
Yellowhead bit his bottom lip, it still tasted of sludge. “Quite; well, I must say, I mean, I find it difficult, erm, in a situation, I find, you know, at times I, and there are times, many, of which the erm, timing is not right, but let me say, if I can, that, I, damn, Briggs this is hard, so very hard for me, to, you know, find the right words, but yes, I erm, I thank you, Briggs, for, you know, saving my life!” He sunk in his own admission and self-loathing.
Briggs beamed a smile from ear to ear.
“Look, Briggs, I think that’s enough for one day,” he confessed while composing himself from his horrid ordeal; showing his gratitude was an unimaginable desolation of his principles and character and an unwarranted prevalence for Yellowhead, the near-death experience wasn’t particularly nice either. “Just paint that yellow circle around the pothole and we’ll be off, I think, Briggs. There’s a good fellow.”
Herein is where Briggs showed signs of astonishment and confusion. “That’s the thing, Sir,” he announced, “there is no pothole!”
“What are you dribbling about, Briggs?”
“The pothole, all of the potholes, they’ve all disappeared!”
“Don’t be so stu……” Yellowhead looked around him. Scanning the area which once looked like an asteroid impact site. The A342 appeared untainted, completely even, and not a pothole, rut or divot could be seen as far as the horizon. Yellowhead scratched his bald patch, looked to Briggs for his expression, which was the confused jollity of a maniac headless chicken. He mumbled, double-checked the road, double-checked Briggs’ grin, felt faint, and suggested, “well, I guess, erm, I guess our work here is done, erm, Briggs, me lad. Let’s head back to Davizes; I think a pint of best is the order of the day.”
“But, sir, how did……”
“Don’t ask, Briggs.”
“But, sir, the road, it couldn’t……”
“What did I just say Briggs?”
“It couldn’t, like, repair itself, I mea……”
“That’s an order, Briggs.”
They got to the van, parked just as it was before the incident, but it looked somewhat different. Briggs noted the subtle changes, Yellowhead became outraged by its graphics. He slammed his palm on the side panel. “Briggs?! Why has this van still got our old motto printed on it?”
“You mean the, Where Everybody Matters one?”
Yellowhead quivered, “Don’t! Just don’t even say it! We rid ourselves of that slogan some time ago, and for good reason, Briggs!”
“Because it’s untrue, everybody doesn’t matter, sir?”
“NO! Because, Briggs, because, there’s too many letters, it costs too much to keep adding it the vans,” Yellowhead explained, “and that’s the truth behind that. What really gets my goat up and sends it galloping from its pen, is the stupidity of you to book out an old vehicle with the incorrect graphics, Briggs; these should’ve been put out of service years ago.”
Briggs stood motionless, his face one of ghostly expression. “Sir, I didn’t, there’s the thing, it’s out there….”
“Didn’t what, Briggs?” Yellowhead questioned, “think? You didn’t, Briggs, you didn’t think at all!”
“No, sir, I didn’t take out an old van with the old slogan printed on it. It wasn’t like that when I took it out. In fact, it’s not an old van at all, but a new one. Look, it’s electric-powered!”
“Ye gods!” cried Yellowhead, “a monstrosity! What low-level leftie scum replaced our vehicle with this, this environmentally-friendly milk float!”
Briggs pointed out the horizon. “It’s, erm, not just that, Sir, look!”
Yellowhead followed the angle of his pointing, to note across the land was situated tens of wind turbines, their propellers turning by the gentle breeze. “No!” he screeched, “get Christina Brownie on the phone, development project department, I want names, I want dates; who gave permission to wreak havoc on our beautiful landscape with these, these conservational eyesores?!”
“Sir,” Briggs hesitated, but it was the only explanation he could fathom. “I think we were out, you know, drowned in that pothole for longer than we think we were.”
As Yellowhead wore an expression of total disbelief and confusion, a horse pulling a gypsy caravan passed by. A gaunt dreadlocked Caucasian youth with full beard and Romany attire called out, “hi there, y’ need any help?”
Yellowhead looked up at him with distaste, “not from you, beatnik heathen! Solstice is not for another two months; get your hippy bandwagon out of our county, or I will be forced to have you removed by force, by our constabulary! For the love of Priti Patel, I thought you lot had been deported to the inferno of abyss you came from?!”
The hipster shrugged as the caravan passed by, “suit yourself!”
Yellowhead confessed to Briggs that he didn’t feel well. “I fear I’m going to puke, if I don’t pass out, Briggs. This overload of leftie growths is like a wart on the backside of Satan, and they’re making me nauseated.”
“Maybe we should get in the van,” Briggs suggested, “and make our way to town. I think you need to see a doctor.”
“I am not getting in that van! Not without petrol in it!” Yellowhead least tested the water, by peering in through the window, and outraged, “reformist bastards have replaced my Bollinger for soya milkshakes!”
As a succession of eco-friendly traffic, hippy buses and horse drawn gypsy caravans gently passed them by, Briggs supposed, “maybe it’s always been this way, and we’ve been so wrapped up in our conservative ideology to notice!”
“What conservative ideology, Briggs, you daft wazzock? It’s just the natural order of things. There’s no obsessive notion to any such right-wing agenda with me,” Yellowhead assured him. “No, I think this is still part of my dream, the nightmarish end section. I favoured the beginning part most, would you care to imbibe on Thatcher’s teat too, Briggs?”
Briggs looked sincerely at Yellowhead. “I think I’ll give that a miss, sir, if it’s all the same to you?”
“As will I to your requisition I board this eco-fiendly passion wagon!” asserted Yellowhead with arms folded.
“Eco-fiendly?” Grant smiled, appealing to his better nature, or searching for it at least. “I see what you did there, clever stuff. You can sing your patriotic hymns all the way to Davizes.”
Yellowhead gulped, held his nose and sat in the passenger seat. “You should note I’m getting in because there is nothing better to get into. Besides, I am reasonable, you may listen to some pop music, if you wish……”
“That is considerate of you….”
“……provided it’s Morrisey or the Who.”
“The Who?” Briggs laughed, observing the small compact disc selection had mysteriously changed to the likes of the Bob Marely, the Clash, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
“Indeed!” Yellowhead announced proudly, “great bunch of Brexiteers. Boris listens to the Who, he was instructed to listen to the Who, even the lefties said he should. I trust I can let you know, Briggs, I was with him and a bunch of others at the Cheltenham Festival, just last year. We sat in his limo, drinking Chateau Le Pin, snorting a nosebag off the tits of some top brass prostitutes and listening to their greatest hits, when we suddenly realised, they meant The World Health Organisation. Oh, how we laughed!”
Briggs sighed, and tried to hold in the notion it was a mistake which caused the spread of Covid19 and the deaths of thousands. Yellowhead was so engaged in his fond memory he had failed to notice the vast changes in Davizes, and how they increased the closer they got to the town centre.
Hordes of youth walked at liberty, grouped they wandered the streets attired in crusty clothing, many with braids or dreadlocks. They were a wider racial demographic then before too, and they mingled with joviality. Houses hung speakers from their windows, and small crowds gathered to dance in the streets below, as DJs spun their tunes. Live acoustic music too was sporadically dispersed along the road, tents hosting wellbeing workshops, Buddhist meditation and Indian head massage. People held up signs for free hugs, others responded. Children ran free without care, playing together and making petty mischief for their own amusement.
By the time they had arrived in the Market Place, gone was the void and the patch of grass. A multitude gathered around a huge stage in the centre, an afro-funk band played lively African rhythms on drums and guitars. Scattered around it were hundreds of stalls, selling a variety of street food and international cuisine, chai, clothes and charity fundraising tents. A comedy marquee sat at one end of the market place, a children’s area at the other, with traditional fairground rides rising behind them both. The whole place lit up with the colours of the rainbow, décor and dress, the smells of food, sweating people, unwashed dogs and cannabis melded and the sounds of joy, laughter and the bass of the music, blended; it resembled a festival. Grant Briggs gulped.
“There was a time, Briggs, when….” Yellowhead continued, then looked up, “what in the good name of Mosely is going on here?!” He stuck his head out of the window. Briggs suggested he didn’t, but it was too late. “What in the name of Thatcher do you think you beatnik scum are doing?! This is not some Glastonbury love-in, this is a level-headed insular Miltshire market town, full of law-abiding conservatives, you have no right to invade it with your hippy bandwagons and freeloading festivities; now go, clear off before I am forced to inform the police. This is against lockdown restrictions, and even if we weren’t protected from a pandemic, I’d still enforce the limitations of showcasing what is clearly a leftie act of terrorism on England’s green and pleasant land!”
A slender earth mother dressed in a loose Kaftan pointed and giggled, “man, you are like, too funny!” She nudged a fellow next to her. He wore a tie-dye t-shirt, khaki sand shorts and sandals, and was currently engaged in sliding a cold, half-eaten burrito in his wiry beard for safekeeping. “Farquhar, look! There’s some street theatre. A delightful comedian, clearly too old to be from the council is shouting abusive satire and pretending to be all anti-alternative, from a mock council van; it’s hilarious!”
“I’ll give you too old!” Yellowhead screeched back her.
“Is he for real?” Farquhar gasped, “like hey man, git outta there, there’s no one allowed to be on the county council aged over twenty-seven!”
The earth mother elbowed him in the ribs, “silly man, it’s a joke, Farquhar, you fool!”
The man went for the burrito, “well, it’s not funny.”
Councillor Yellowhead burst from out of the van to parade the area, verbally assaulting everything he saw in such quickfire horror the puss of his global acne turned a fiery red and looked certain to blow at any given moment. Concerned, Briggs followed behind, trying to warn him yet keeping what he considered a safe distance. If the yellowhead was to detonate, Briggs was uncertain of the epicentre of its impact zone.
“These, these, vehicles are parked here illegally!” Yellowhead ranted, while people formed a circle around him, still believing it was a comedy act of street theatre akin to that of Alf Garnett, though they never had heard of that character. “Even if they have paid the fees, which I highly doubt, and can and will be checking, they are not within the white lined parking spaces. And are these street stalls licenced?” He leaned into a noodle bar, the lady at the counter nodded her head to inquire of his order, but he lambasted her, “licenced, are you? Permission to be here?”
Without waiting for an answer, he begun addressing the crowds once more, too many inconsistences and misconducts were happening at once for him to focus on a particular one. The earth mother and associate known as Farquhar sauntered behind them, still debating if this was a comedy routine or not. “You are all here illegally!” Yellowhead continued, “Miltshire Council has given no permission for any kind of, of, whatever this is, a hippy love-freak-out festival, you should stay in your homes, watch Netflix!”
“Hey buddy!” someone called from the crowd, suspicious this was no act, “this isn’t a festival, this is just an average weekend in Davizes!”
Yellowhead spat his words as his face reddened, “it is a Thursday!”
“Ain’t no one work Fridays, man, not for centuries!” laughed another, imagining the absurdity.
“You should come here when we do have our monthly market place festivals!” another giggled.
“The guy is a sham!” the calls came quick and fast;
“I think he’s funny!”
“Do the one about the pandemic again; like, too funny man!”
Yellowhead’s yellowhead was spinning. “the Covid19 pandemic is not a subject for comedy! I am not a comedian, it is very real, and you are contributing to the spread of the virus!”
“Ha-ha!” the crowds laughed, “the virus was obliterated a year ago, government closed the country down!”
“I remember,” one said, “how they stopped international airship travel, boats too. I remember how they vaccinated the key workers first, how they only invested in bona-fide companies making protective clothing and how that wonderful app worked so well because they funded the contract to a renowned and established internet organisation! They capped new laws until objections could be heard effectively, ensured immigration was protected, housed the homeless, secured care homes foremost, and yes, it was a hard six months, but with faith in our government and their ability to set a good example by complying to the regulations themselves, we got through it!”
Yellowhead was lost for words, confused in mixed emotion. These people were not the extremist anti-governed anarchists he believed them to be. “Yes,” he stumbled, “I errm, well, I am glad to hear of your love and respect for the government, but still, this illegal gathering is unlicenced and no permission has been granted by the council to allow it to happen! So, I order to cease your festivities, return to your jobs, if you have one, return to the jobcentre if not!”
The crowd laughed once more. “Where is this guy from?” many questioned, or similar responses.
A nearby dreadlocked crusty leaned into Yellowhead, “you need to chill, my friend,” causally he offered Yellowhead a large hand-rolled smoking cigarette. It smelt rather exotic to Briggs, who tried to stop the crusty. Yellowhead took a look at the fellow, aghast.
“Is that what I think it is?! Is, is that a cannabis cigar? Is that Tweed you are smoking?” He did not wait for an answer, but yelped to call it to the attention of a casually dressed passing police officer. “Arrest this man at once, officer!”
The policeman strode towards the commotion. “Hand over that spliff!” he demanded.
The man handed him the smoking implement. The officer took a puff, “where did you get this from?” The crusty pointed out a small stall, in front of Greggs. “Cheers, I knock off in an hour, might get me some, it’s good shit!”
In absolute revulsion Yellowhead quivered, this was the final straw. Briggs warned the officer and the crusty to step back. The chief councillor looked up at the sign for the Greggs bakery, which now read: Greggs Bakery and Riff Raff Spliff Café.
Now desperate from leftie surplus and in a state of horrified overload, he turned urgently towards Briggs for assistance. “Tell me this is a nightmare, Briggs,” he uttered insanely, “pinch me, punch me, clout my very chops with an iron if you must! Whatever it takes to wake me, I plead, I implore you!”
It was at this injunction he noted his assistant had his mouth sealed tight enough to whiten his lips, his cheeks were bulging, and with an unintended giggle, a puff of smoke exited his lips. “Briggs!” he shouted with all his might, “are you……”
Behind his back, Briggs quickly attempted to pass the joint back to the crusty unnoticed.
“…. Are you?” Yellowhead gasped.
Briggs turned his head downwards and pointed it away from Yellowhead, to exhale the smoke. It was a pathetic attempt to hide the truth.
Briggs looked back at his superior with the fake expression of shame.
“A…A….” Yellowhead enraged, his pimple-head boiled puss at critical mass, “…. A…. A…. A whacky-baccy cigar? For crying out loud to the good god Oswald Mosley, man! Are there no depths of depravity you are willing to descend to? Is there no act of villainy you will refute?!”
With that, those who took cover were shielded as best as they could. Others, unaware of the explosive nature of Yellowhead were covered in yellow pus.
Will our hero councillor survive this weird influx of unlicenced carefree festivities? Just what is going on with the usually conservative town of Davizes, and has the whole world gone as mad as Diana Abbot on nitrous oxide, or is just the moonrakers? Find out in our amazingly liable continuing fable, next Sunday morning….
- Summer Solstice Celebrations Looking Likely at Stonehenge
With the green light given for the A303 tunnel at Stonehenge, the lockdown restrictions at winter solstice and EH’s solstice parking fee demands, it’s understandable we haven’t seen a positive message from the pagan high priest, Uther Pendragon for a while. But this week proved different. If Uther used emojis on his social media posts it would be near all smiley faces, but he’s not the type to, so there wasn’t!
Nevertheless, the leader of the warrior and political arm of the modern druid movement, The Loyal Arthurian Warband, reported back from a virtual RT meeting with English Heritage, Police and other interested parties, save Wiltshire Council who Uther noted, “steadfastly refused to attend.”
Assurances about this year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge appear positive. Urther called for “assurances from EH and their partnering ‘authorities’ that there are no plans to restrict access by ticket and/or advance booking, or to take part in any Goverment pilot or other such ‘trial’ that restricts access to ‘all-comers’ due to perceived health issues or certification. And that no pilgrims will be denied entrance, save for those who’s anti social behavior dictates such.”
“EH are continuing to make plans and arrangments,” Urther reported, “for the managed open access to go ahead as scheduled for the night of 20th/dawn of the 21st June, subject to the lifting of Government restrictions, due to end by this point.”
On the eve of lockdown last year, English Heritage said, “we know how appealing it is to come to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice, but we are asking everyone to stay safe and to watch the sunset and sunrise online instead. We look forward to welcoming people back for solstice next year.” And with that, and this positive development, we hope things will run smoothly for 2021.
- Song of the Day 34: Jon Amor
Here’s a thing, did you know the Michael and Janet Jackson duet “Scream,” is cited as the world’s most expensive music video, totaling a cost of $7 million? And Wacko dished the cash out of his own pocket?
Despite critical acclaim at the time, reaching number 3 in the UK pop charts, and the retaliatory nature of the song against the tabloid assault on Michael after sexual abuse accusations, I thought, and always will think, it was a bit shit, to be perfectly frank!
Look, I mean, okay, bit harsh were the allegations, so MJ thinks, I know, I’ll bag myself a B-movie spaceship, take my sister off the planet, buy us both matching knobbly jumpers, dance about in zero g, and cough up seven million dollars for someone to film it, that’ll convince the fans I’m not a complete fruitcake.
They didn’t even save enough pennies to get it filmed in technicolor. Input sad face emoji.
Compare and contrast to Devizes-own Jon Amor, who, with just the creativity of Lucianne Worthy, a big chunk of inspiration from Jim Henson and some snazzy blue loafers, pulls off this absolute beauty for the track Rider from the latest album Remote Control.
Smashed it, guys, and it’s in colour too. Proof you don’t gotta do a Wacko Jacko and push the boat out as far as Mars to accomplish something all together entertaining.
And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….
- Wiltshire Council Leader Advises Tory Candidates to Block Correspondence With Save Furlong Close Campaign
It has been some time since we’ve covered the disgraceful fiasco at Rowde’s Furlong Close, where residents with learning disabilities face closure of the HFT site, their home, and undefined, separated relocation.
The reason being, the situation had fallen into a political stalemate, as HFT ceased all dealings with Wiltshire Council. It seems HFT are no strangers to closing sites down, and equally Wiltshire Council’s reaction is lacklustre. I cannot decide who is really to blame in all this, but something certainly doesn’t add up; perhaps they’re both as bad as each other, and the clock is ticking for May 19th when closure is planned. You know me, I’ve been concerned my anger at this issue will lead me to publish speculation, and the last thing I want is put forth misleading information.
Now, it seems, via a Tweet from The Save Furlong Close campaign group, in a memo released on Easter Sunday, Wiltshire Council Leader, Philip Whitehead advised councillors and future Conservative candidates to block all correspondence with Save Furlong Close Campaigners, in fear it’s being used as “an election matter.”
This is very concerning, while both sides battle the politics out, the Save Furlong Close campaigners are merely worried for the future prospects for the residents there, and least deserve a voice. So, I’m pleased to be able to publish an article, by Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, which outlines the history and current situation.
I merely offer to endorse their rightful campaign and promote it as much as possible. If then, residents of Furlong Close are indeed moved out, it will be a terrible day for Wiltshire, and a shameful reflection on a county council, but if this happens and I stood there and did nothing, it’s a shame I would partly bear too, and I have no intentions of that happening. I hope our readers and supporters will agree, and I fully believe, with the permissions of the campaign group, we need to arrange a socially distanced peaceful protest, as soon as feasible. So, WHO IS WITH ME? Watch this space, but here’s Mark’s outline of the happenings in Rowde.
SAVE FURLONG CLOSE
“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
For the last 30 years, Furlong Close has been home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy. The residents live in 5 bungalows in a cul-de-sac at the edge of the village of Rowde, sharing a community hall, workshops and gardens (including a market garden and pens for sheep and rabbits). It is a short walk to the centre of Rowde and a short bus ride to Devizes. Many of the residents have lived at Furlong Close for more than 20 years. They are happy and settled, have formed life-long friendships and are a close and caring community.
In October last year, however, it was announced that Hft (the charity which owns and operates the site) and Wiltshire Council (which funds the majority of the residents) had “jointly” decided that everyone was to be “moved on” by June 2021, the site shut down and the land sold off for development. The shocked families were told that there would be no consultation or discussion; it was a “done deal”.
Already reeling from the emotional impact of the pandemic and cut off from the support of their families, the residents were fearful and anxious. Their disabilities make change extremely stressful for them and being forcibly evicted from their home of 20+ years would cause them great trauma and distress. For some, the trauma would be life-shortening. My cousin, David, who has lived at Furlong Close for 18 years, was left in fear of the future and telephoned his 95-year-old mother, Audrey, many times a day, often in tears, to ask her where he would go and who would look after him. Sadly, Audrey passed away in March, spending the last months of her life wracked with worry about what would happen to her beloved and vulnerable only child (https://twitter.com/savefurlongcl/status/1374671484187242507).
So, why is Furlong Close facing closure? At first, Hft and the Council said it was “not about money”, but was only about doing the best for the residents. It was said that “moving them on” from their settled and happy homes would be an “exciting opportunity” for them, but no-one could quite explain how breaking up a happy community and scattering them to new and strange places would be either “exciting” or an “opportunity”. Certainly, it was an “opportunity” which none of the residents or their families wanted. Subsequently, it became clear that it was in fact “all about money” after all, with Hft accusing the Council of grossly underfunding the site over many years and refusing to pay the full costs of care.
Faced with this cruel threat to the well-being of our vulnerable relatives, the families organised and the local community rallied to our cause. People became angry. 43,000 people, from Wiltshire and beyond, signed a petition. Legal proceedings were commenced by the family of one resident, to seek to have the decision set aside as a breach of her human rights.
Faced with this local anger, Wiltshire Council promptly threw Hft under the bus. It claimed that the “joint decision” was nothing to do with it, but solely a matter for Hft. Hft responded angrily, accusing the Council of “lying” and trying to “hide behind” it, and gave notice that it was withdrawing services, not just from Furlong Close, but from Wiltshire as a whole. With Hft and the Council each pointing the finger at the other, the situation deteriorated into what has recently been described by a judge in the pending legal proceedings as “a shambolic mess”.
As the clock ticks down to the termination of Hft’s contract for the site on 19 May, the residents and their families fear that we are being hung out to dry. Hft has offered the Council the chance to buy or lease the site and bring in another operator, but neither has taken decisive action to make this happen. Many suspect that the Council is just playing for time, to try and kick the can down the road until after the Council election in May. Meanwhile innocent and vulnerable people are suffering and the families are calling on Hft and Wiltshire Council to act now to save Furlong Close.
Please, if you want to help:
- Sign our petition – https://www.change.org/p/hft-and-wiltshire-council-stop-the-closure-of-hft-in-rowde;
- Email the Leader of Wiltshire Council at email@example.com and the CEO of Hft at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to ACT NOW TO SAVE FURLONG CLOSE;
- Visiting our crowdfunding page at To prevent the closure of Furlong Close, Wiltshire – a Community crowdfunding project in Rowde by Trish Gange (crowdfunder.co.uk) and please give just a little to help fund our campaign through this next critical stage.
- Chapter Three: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole
Chapter Three: in which our intrepid heroes arrive in Davizes, stop for refreshments and move onwards to face the mighty potholes of the A342.
Recap: As our heroes head out into the big, wide world and have shaken off the seagull obsessed councillor at Matalan, Yellowhead has pointed out the standard procedure for repairing potholes in the county of Miltshire, and it’s fair to say, it’s quite longwinded. Out story continues, for what it’s worth….
Councillor Yellowhead snarled at the lack of people parking in the Market Place, as he dismounted his lard from the van. Potential revenue was being lost here, Yellowhead made a mental note, tripling the parking fees would be the best solution, and he need add it to his notes for the next meeting.
From the safety of the driver’s seat, Briggs peered out in wonderment at the goings on in Davizes Market Place, while Chief Councillor Yellowhead ventured outside to fetch some light refreshments. Briggs observed a bus leaving the stop, how pensioners on it seemed to wear their facemasks as chinstraps, and they sneezed on students on the seats in front while brandishing them for not social distancing.
Other than the odd passer-by, and I mean odd, not much was happening. The only gathering appeared to be centred around a tacky layer of fake grass akin to what fruit and veg market stalls used. A few pub benches were busy with coffee drinkers, chatting happily away and breathing carbon monoxide from the few passing cars with affluent drivers able to afford the parking fees. Others circled the town endlessly looking for a free parking spot on-street. Some only popped in for a loaf of bread, the cost of which would be quadrupled if they had to pay the minimum hour parking fee. Others could not understand how to use a smart phone to pay for the parking, ergo no other option was available.
Briggs recalled the memo, it was something the Council promised to fix, maybe, he figured with no clue of his impending fate, when he passes his training, and became a real councillor it was something he could raise at a meeting.
Yellowhead returned laughing hysterically and pointing profusely at a small child who had tripped on the fake grass, which was curled up at the edges. A dog had just urinated on the exact same spot minutes before. He struggled back in the van launching a brown paper bag at Briggs and waving two bottles. “Here you go, partner!” he smiled, “a pheasant and truffle bake, and two bottles of Bollinger!”
Briggs looked surprised. “Is that your definition of light refreshment?”
“You’re not wrong, the foie gras and swan bakes were overpriced and my expenses form is already maxed. Just thank the good lord Enoch Powell no snowflake Corbyn legionnaire recognised me; they’ve still got their knickers in a twist over the traffic lights system on the London Road in this pathetic market town.”
“It just needs a filter light for the traffic heading right,” Briggs observed.
Yellowhead snatched the pheasant bake back. “Watch your step young trainee, we’ve not got that kind of cash lying around for filter lights,” he warned. “Now, head out towards the proposed new railway station site, there’s a good fellow. We need to prioritise the potholes closer to my house first.”
Briggs shrugged, he wanted to sit and admire the fake grass and white picket fence, which didn’t look at all out of place in a historic and idyllic town centre, not one bit. Yellowhead noted the direction of his gaze. “Ghastly, isn’t it?” he sniggered. “That’s the lively entertainment space those nonces at the town council were forced to put up to keep keyboard warriors from losing their shit over, and still, they lose their shit over it.”
He belly-laughed, “And they call themselves Guardians! Ha, of all things; Guardian readers more like! Meanwhile we rake in parking fees,” with a huff he scanned the lack of parking in the Market Place, and the traffic building to find on-street free slots, “least that was the plan; bloody freeloaders.”
“Why they ever accepted your ultimatum, I mean acquisition of duties, sir, is beyond me,” Briggs laughed. “I mean, you just gave them control of all the shit bits Miltshire Council couldn’t be arsed to take responsibly for!”
Yellowhead popped the champagne and lugged at the bottle top, clearing quarter of the contents before coming up for air. With a burp he noted, “precisely Briggs, have your bake back. Because, young padwan, they’re do-gooding busy-bodies with the political awareness of a hedgehog, in command of an indoctrinated majority willing to blindly conform to Tory totalitarianism. Putty in our hands, Briggs, putty I say.”
“They crave more power; we say they can have control of the swings in the playpark but you must raise two thousand K in parking fees annually; it’s a win-win, really is!” He took another gulp of Bollinger, “the land out in Rude, by example, Furry-long Close, worth a fucking a mint, but houses adults with so-called learning disabilities. Adults, for crying out loud into Nigel Farage’s blessed lap, if they’ve not adjusted to real life yet the losers never will. So, we close the facility, blame the charity, and send them out into the real world; it’s easy to convince the majority here it’s in their best interest.”
Yellowhead projected his arm across the windscreen, encouraging Briggs to look at the view beyond. “Look around you, Briggs, look at these imbeciles; the Furry-long Close residents will blend in just fine, and the land is ours for seven thousand luxury homes, and four affordable one bed flats. I’m on for a new stable if we pull this off, the old couple are looking a bit dated. You’re welcome to come visit once the pandemic is over, I’ll have some guttering jobs for you.”
Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.
Past the school, Yellowhead continued his rant. “Houses, houses, houses, Briggs my dear fellow, take heed, rich people need houses too. Look at the size of that sports field, and for what, I ask you? Most kids are obese anyway, what do they need a sports field for, dropping empty packets of Wotzits on? They can’t even vote! No, lower the school budget, I say, and the council are mostly unanimous, make them pay for their repairs by selling off that land. The Constabulary headquarters too. Protected wildlife they cry. Why? Tress and fields and country walks, so dog-walkers can hang doggie poo bags on trees?”
Briggs just shrugged, and drove on.
“Look around you now,” Yellowhead demanded, “and tell me what you see?”
“Farmland?” Briggs answered, though wondered why he bothered.
“Are you drinking that plonk?” Yellowhead asked, snatching it from the driver and launching his empty bottle out of the window. “I see potential! A railway station, so our lustrous MP Danny Cougar can get to Westminster, a business park, alive with industry, a tunnel under every monument so tourists don’t get a sneak peek of it without paying, a velodrome, Briggs, think about it my boy, a velodrome, a monorail, glass tubes vacuuming people to work, a space shuttle launchpad, the possibilities are endless.”
“Affordable homes too, sir? Homeless shelter?”
“Don’t be a dreamer, Briggs,” Yellowhead snarled, “we don’t have a bottomless pit of funding.”
As ordered Briggs pulled the van over. The potholes here resembled an asteroid impact zone. “This will save us some pennies,” Yellowhead observed, “something to do other than blasted Zoom meetings. Cut out the middleman, Highways Agency are a hinderance on our budget,” he stated as he gulped Briggs’ Bollinger. “If a job’s worth doing…. Now, get out and spray a yellow circle around that one!”
Briggs got out to paint the circle, despite not be trained. Yellowhead followed suit, to fart. Briggs opened the van’s rear doors and climbed inside to fetch the spray paint canisters. Upon his return he looked rather flushed, but Yellowhead failed to notice it. A gull, of all things, had descended upon him and was frantically fluttering around his head. He shoed it off with his arm, when a random and unsolicited thought occurred to him: find love for your fellow man, and take heed of all god’s creatures, for they may hold a message for you.
Yellowhead questioned his own thoughts as he scared the gull away, mumbled something about leftie snowflakes invading his psyche via telepathy being the final straw, and yelped, “Nora! Where are you when we need you the most?!”
“It’s quite a deep one,” Briggs observed the pothole, despite it was filled with water, so hard to tell exactly how deep. “Maybe pop a cone in it?”
“Yes, yes, whatever!” belched Yellowhead, the kerfuffle and also, the fresh air taking effect on his drunkenness.
Briggs dropped the cone in the centre of the pothole. It floated for a matter of seconds and then sank out of sight into the muddy puddle. “Oh, it is deep,” he noted.
“Get that cone out of there!” Yellowhead demanded as he retched up pheasant chunks. “We’ve not the cash lying around to lose a cone.”
Briggs hesitated, then attempted to straddle the puddle, but it was too large. His right foot went partly in, and so he naturally extended his left foot outwards into the centre. Next thing Yellowhead noted was Briggs completely disappearing under the water. “For the love of Thatcher!” he moaned to himself, and pulled his phone from his pocket. “Yes, it’s me,” he reported, “yes, I will fill out the minutes to the last meeting as soon as I get back. Sorry? Yes, on a mission, yes. Look, this is an emergency, I need a new junior councillor sent out, one with some water wings.”
There was a cold silence as Yellowhead listened aghast to his superior. He tutted at Briggs’ stupidity, but supposed he asked for it, his naivety cost him his life out here. It was untamed territory, life was hard. He wasn’t completely inhumane, and he mourned the boy’s death for the best part of ten seconds. “What do you mean, the one I’ve got? He’s an idiot, sir, with all due…….”
Another cold silence as Yellowhead listened, even more aghast. He gulped, “erm, drowned sir, in a pothole……Have I what, sir? Well, no, I erm…. Now see here, you cannot seriously be propo…. Yes…… Yes, I know that, but……paperwork, sir, liable?…… Okay, okay, I will see what I can do!”
With that Yellowhead sighed like he’s never sighed before, not even when Tony Blair outlawed fox hunting. He waddled reluctantly to the van, cursing under his breath that lefty altruists had infiltrated the top hierarchy of Miltshire Council and plagued it with a sickening level of compassion. Once there he thrust open the van door, examined the contents of the footwell, considered the quarter-full bottle of Bollinger, exhaled, and selected Nora’s machine-gun.
Waddling over as close to edge the pothole as he could bear, still complaining, he pushed the barrel of the gun into the puddle. “Briggs!” he bellowed, “Grab hold of this!” That was when the gun accidently went off. It had a kick harder than Yellowhead’s hunting rifle, and stunned, it knocked him backwards.
Unaware, perhaps due to his levels of intoxication, that a spray-can obstructed his path, and rolled under his left foot, Yellowhead then fell forwards with a cry out to Churchill to save him, and with a splash he entered headlong into the water.
Tumbling and frantic he gurgled under the water, scrambling to find the edge, but failing. All he discovered was a sunken traffic cone, which promptly bobbed away. The surface seemed unattainable as he gasped for air and the scene fell into a ghostly dark black.
How will our heroes survive the devastating predicament of sinking into a gigantic pothole on the A342, if they have, and would you really want them to, anyway? How much more would it have really cost to put some decking in the Market Place, rather than tacky fake grass? How can you have any faith the council will build these extravagant projects, like spaceship launchpads and train stations, when it cannot even fix a pothole? Find out, or not, next week, on The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!
- Horses of the Gods; We Wish You Health
I once reviewed a cassette with a photocopied punk-paste zine style picture of Mr Blobby as the cover, where a distraught male voice screeched, “take an overdose, ginseng!” continuously over some white noise. Thank heavens that’s in a long-lost past!
Fortunately, I’ve never had anything quite so bizarre to review since, not even this week when, Erin Bardwell messaged; “one of the drummers I do things with, Matty Bane, has a side duo project and wanted to let you know about their latest album.”
Sure, I’ve heard of Matty, seen him listed as one of Erin’s collective, trekking with them to Jamaica in 2003 to record with Recoldo Fleming at Dynamic Sounds. Further research shows he’s drummed in Bad Manners for over ten years, and is now part of Neville Staple’s From the Specials setup, headhunted from days as part of the Special Beat tour with the original rude boy.
Given this, I was naturally expecting said side-project to be reggae, stands to reason. What might’ve eased the surprise was to have pre-known of Matty’s own band The Transpersonals, a minimalistic, psych-rock outfit lounging somewhere between Pink Floyd and Spaceman 3. Still, nothing was going to prep me for what I got; We Wish you Health by Horses of the Gods.
There’s only one reason for facetiously mentioning the eccentric Mr Blobby cassette, because this is unusual too. The likeness ends there, though. “Bizarre” can connote excruciating, as with the cassette, but, as with We Wish you Health, can also imply uniquely stimulating and inimitably disparate. So much so, it’s astonishingly good. For those seeking the peculiar, those at their happiest dancing barefoot in Avebury’s morning dew, or for whom reaching the summit of Glastonbury Tor before sunrise is priority, will adore this, with jester’s bells on.
Matty teams up Mike Ballard, a media and games lecturer with a penchant for folk. And essentially this is what we ought to pigeonhole Horses of the Gods as; Somerset folk, is as near in modern terminology you’re going to get. But for comparisons I’m going to have to max my flux capacitor way beyond my usual backtracking.
If I relish in music history without the technical knowledge, I understand one has to either accept four-time pop, or untrain their ear to acknowledge other musical metres, in order to appreciate folk, classical, even jazz, but particularly the kind of sounds We Wish you Health is embracing. There’s something medieval, least pagan mysticism about the influences here, of shawms and hand-cranked hurdy-gurdies, miracle plays, and Gallican chants of plainsong. And it’s swathed with chants and poetry as if in variant West Country Brittonic tongue.
We have to trek beyond futurist Francesco Balilla Pratella’s Art of Noises theory, to an olden ambience of nature, of birdsong, storms and waterfalls. The opening track starts as a spoken-word toast and ends akin to medieval court jester entertainment, over a haunting chant. Equally passe but equally amicable is a sea shanty called Down in the Bay. Then a clocktower chime follows; left wondering if this was Dark Side of the Moon recorded in 1648. Sow In uses mellowed hurdy-gurdy to mimic what the untrained ear might deem an Eastern ambience. With a solstice theme, it’s so earthy it makes the Afro-Celt Sound System sound like Ace of Base! (Joke; I love the Afro-Celt Sound System!)
In many ways the next tune Ostara follows suit, more eastern promise yet slightly more upbeat. Consider George Harrison’s collaborations with Ravi Shanker. As the album continues, experimentation with traditional abound, obscure instruments are thrown into the melting pot; the Victorian circus sound of The Thing and I, the rural west country ditty of Digger’s Songs, in which you can almost smell spilt scrumpy as folk rise from haystacks to jig.
Throughout you’re chopping randomly at influences, this medieval court running theme, blended with an oompah band styled sound on The Whole World Goes Around, will make you want bells on your shins like a drunken Morris dancer at the village fete. Else you’re haunted by the chill of evocative soundscapes, unable to pinpoint an era this falls into. I’ll tell you now, it was aptly released at Samhain last year.
We Wish you Health may be bespoke, and some wouldn’t give themselves adjustment time, yet Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds were famed for pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in contemporary pop. This is a fissure to the norm, a testimony of yore, for while there’s a demonstration of newfound passion within ancient realms, it is fundamentally timeless. Though I suspect there’s myth and history behind each track, which extends the album from a set of songs to a research project for the listener.
The finale, for example, has a reference in Wikipedia; John Barleycorn, a personification of the importance of sowing barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. Though in the House of Gods, cider gets a mention. John Barleycorn is represented as suffering indignities, attacks and death that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation. It goes onto reprint a Robert Burns version from 1782, though stating countless variations exist; Matty and Mike use an earlier version:
There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try, And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die, They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head, Til these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.
I’ve rushed out this review to make you aware of it, and because I’m so utterly astounded by its uniqueness, but fear I’m only teetering on the edge of its fascinating historical references myself. Thus, is the general nature of folk music, to dig out lost fables which once would’ve entertained young and old, and bring them to new audiences, and The Horses of the Gods does this in such a way, the negative confines and stereotypes commonly associated with folk music just melt away.
- McDonalds Coming to Devizes….
Yes, you read it right, it’s been confirmed in a Devizes Town Council Zoom meeting this week, permission has been granted after decades of rejections, to build a McDonalds restaurant on the outskirts of town, and work could be starting as early as July.
In an exclusive conversation with MP for the Devizes district, Danny Kruger said he is delighted at the news. “With the Devizes Gateway station proposal looking likely,” Mr Kruger explained, “this will be of great benefit to the town’s economy, will provide jobs for local chavs, thickos and acne-covered juvenile delinquents, and will also fill in all the potholes along the main road with discarded slices of pickles.”
“Face it,” he continued as if someone cared, “no one is going to stop off to visit Devizes if they look out of the train window and see the Lydeway as it currently stands; all muddy fields and an elderly trailer trash park. No, people need to see the golden arches, they need to know they can get a Big Mac, or a Fillet o’ Fish. Heck, when I get back from Westminster, all I crave is a nice Twirl McFlurry, but no, not here, pal; whad up wid dat shit?”
Despite the train station project not being complete until a predicted 2025, local franchiser and entrepreneur, Mr Michael Hunt of The Bottom, Urchfont has pushed for development of the land surrounding the site into a multi-purpose entertainment complex, with many other facilities, including chain restaurants Wagamama and Nandos, as well as a multiplex cinema, and an American style bowling arena, with a regular free bus service from the town centre and surrounding villages. But, for Mr Hunt, construction of the McDonalds is paramount and prioritised. “I’ve given the Town Council an ultimatum,” he claimed, “build a Maccy D’s now, or businesses will shift out of the area long before the first train stops here.”
Asked if Mr Hunt is laying down a rather rigid and uncompromising petition to the Council, who have rejected many past proposals of having the fast-food giants in town, Mr Kruger replied, “No way, Mike Hunt is a softy. Anyone can enter [the debate] and slip their piece into it.”
Therefore, local busy-body Liam Wallis, no stranger to a burger or three himself, has set up a steering group on Facebook, The Devizes McIssue, here, where tory partisans can air their views, but has warned members of the group he won’t stand for personal attacks on the businessman, who is known for making outlandish claims. “I love his proposal of having a McDonalds,” he cried, “but many locals see my Mike Hunt and laugh. I will not have Mike Hunt compromised, if people come to stick two fingers up,” he demanded, “they will be banned from the group.”
Clerk for the Town Council has spoken negatively about the idea, but feels they have no choice. “We don’t think it’s time to change our traditionist ethos and move with the times. But Mike Hunt is big, and hairy, and everyone on the council is afraid. He’s not just some tittering schoolboy blogger’s running joke wearing very thin, and one which, I might add, will undoubtedly get him in a lot of trouble. He is a risk to everything we stand for, and Chick-o-Land. I went to a McDonalds once, when I was about twenty- eight, or was that The Michelin star Hand & Flowers in Marlow? Oh, whatever, they gave me this cheap plastic toy with my meal, and it broke within five minutes of playing with it and I cried all the way home, and my mum told me off. Is that the kind of fiasco we need for our children?”
You can join the Facebook debate group, and give your views, by clicking here. Perhaps you think a McDonalds is well peng and you is lovin’ it, or is as unlikely as a train station, or maybe symbolic of an undesirable insignia of mass US commercialisation, an institute of Satan, or maybe you just prefer the gravy in KFC.
Or perhaps, you’re bitter because I led you up a garden path and everything I’ve said, if you’ve bothered to read this far, is simply an April Fool’s joke, and now, right, you’ve got a craving for a thick shake. Well, friend, you’ve gotta, like, get out of your onesie to drive to the Sham, else chance an underpaid Deliveroo driver will enter our Tory haven with gun-toting rednecks waiting to pick them off in the hills of Bromham.
Oh, and if you get to the Sham, be sure to adhere to the local tradition of jettisoning your mountain of waste packaging out of the passenger window onto the leafy lane of a quiet, unsuspecting village at three in the morning, you know, so your mum doesn’t see it and tell you off. Yeah, I like your cut G, you is Chuck Norris gangsta. Big up Danny K for gittin’ us a golden arches!
- Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!
It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.
Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.
Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.
To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.
The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.
“Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”
The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.
A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)
Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.
The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.
But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.
- Song of the Day 33: Andy J Williams
Having a great album reviewed fairly recently on Devizine doesn’t exclude you from being in the spotlight of our Song of the Day posts. And if it ever does, call me out on it. Just ask me who hell I think I am, Vlad the Impaler, or something similar.
Check the review of Buy All That $tuff by Andy, here, or just enjoy today’s video, Night Terrors, exposing where the band practice, under the beds of children, obviously! Which kinda makes we wish I was a kid again, as there were no bands practicing under beds back then. Just once I’d like to have discovered, I dunno, the Bangles perhaps, practicing under my bed!
And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….