As if I haven’t spoilt you enough this week, three tracks with a common theme that is pretty damn obvious appear today.
Just to show that he was not a spent force by the time the nineties rolled around, Billy Bragg hit the UK charts at number 27 in 1991 with Sexuality (FF 1991 #29), from the album Don’t Try This At Home. A stellar combination indeed, as it features Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals and Johnny Marr (who also co-wrote) on guitar. It’s an upbeat tune that urges one to ‘stop playing with yourself’ and get it on: safely, of course. This era was a difficult one for Bragg financially, as a million pound advance and a four-album deal with Go! Discs was not rewarded by concomitant sales. Thus, he bought himself out of it (not for the first time had he used this tactic) and regained rights to all his back catalogue as compensation. Nice one, Bill.
New York-based Neulander is Adam Peters and Korinna Kroll, who have been described as ‘the Human League in battle’. They seem to inhabit the same world as Goldfrapp, but with a kind of Germanic icy coolness that puts one in mind of prime period Propaganda, without the huge soundstage of that band. Sex God And Money (FF 2003 #33) is this philosophy put into practice: overheated lyrics about insects making love are treated to a piquant electronic backdrop that shows off Adam’s training as keyboard arranger for Echo And The Bunnymen.
Lucas Renney (vocals/guitar), Neil Bassett (drums), David Younger (synths) and Allan Burnup (bass) orginally recorded all their material as demos at home in Sunderland. Their debut single, I’ve Seen The Light, was obviously something special, and showed off their talent for punchy, dramatic scorchers that prompted Peel to breathe ‘excellent’ after playing Renaissance Kid (FF 2003 #42). A signing to XL Recordings and a praised album Songs Of Praise promised much. Regrettably, they split in 2006, citing ‘lethargy, alcoholism and a deep-seated hatred of the music industry’ as their reasons for doing so. But Lucas Renney added:
We were just exaggerating for comic effect, I suspect. We don’t hate any individuals in the music industry, in fact we’ve made a lot of genuine friends there. But the music industry machine as a whole is, as everyone knows, a fairly brutal and horrible thing.
As far as alcoholism goes, none of us is an alcoholic in the true medical sense of the word, but whenever we do one of those ‘Are you an alcoholic?’ questionnaires in magazines we always pass with flying colours – but that’s the same for everyone who drinks, isn’t it?
As for lethargy, well, I can’t be bothered to elaborate on that!