The longer this blog goes on (and I’m surprised it has gone on this long), the more hits I’m getting through search engines. Which is great. Every hit is a good hit.
I’m very intrigued by the search engine terms that have brought some visitors here, though. They include “sweaty Marquee” (just about everything about The Marquee was sweaty, especially the sticky floor), “Marco & Tony Leeds bouncers 1980s”, “lego ladies”, “quick police sex” (two different searches, presumably pulled in by the Sex Pistols and Police tags), “poor Mrs Bonky”, “hysterical injury”, “sticks fingers up his nose” (I’m glad I don’t know why someone was looking for that) and “Scabies anak kucing” (answers on a postcard). But my favourites so far have to be “PJ Harvey pushes nose up” (what is it with noses, people?), “Georgian bukkake” (if we’re talking about some recently discovered 18th century pastime, I do hope Tony Robinson will soon be making a telly programme about it), and “Gaye Advert pants down”.
Everyone’s doing their end-of-year lists at the moment. PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake” seems to be a lot of people’s choice for Best Album of 2011 – which makes sense even if it is a little predictable. If I were to write out an Albums of 2011 list (which I’m not going to do because I’m too old for that sort of carry on), PJ Harvey would most likely appear quite high up. I’ve also really enjoyed this year’s efforts from Roots Manuva, James Blake, Alphabet Saints, The Fall (natch) and the utterly daft Master Musicians Of Bukkake, but the album I’ve played most and liked best in 2011 is “Bye Bye… We’re Melting” by The Millipede Engine.
“By Bye… We’re Melting” picked up some great reviews here in blogland but was largely ignored by the mainstream media, which is a shame. Maybe it’s because The Millipede Engine – Brill Nudie and Honey Lane – don’t fit easily into any musical category. I guess they’re kind of art rocky, kind of edging on proggy pop (or poppy prog). They like guitars and synths in equal measure, they’re not averse to brass and strings, and Brill Nudie’s vocals have been compared to David Bowie, Pete Shelley and Hurricane Smith. Brill and Honey are clever lyricists too. “The Cup Of Unconditional Love” is about a Jonestown-style mass suicide, while “Magic Robot” and “The Planet Tasters” delve into Ray Bradbury-esque sci-fi territory (and I’m a huge Bradbury fan). My old Melody Maker pal Mick Mercer described the Millipedes as “a bit weird, but in all the right ways” and you’ve only got to take a cursory glance at the sleeve of “Bye Bye” to see what he means.
You can hear every track on “Bye Bye… We’re Melting” at The Millipede Engine’s website (typically oddball of them, it scrolls across the page rather than up and down). Just click here and fire up their steampunk jukebox. If you don’t have time to listen to more than a couple of songs, choose from numbers 1, 3, 4, 9 and 11, and get ready for some multi-coloured dreams.
I’m glad PJ Harvey has won this year’s Mercury Prize. I’ve not heard every album that was nominated, but I have heard “Let England Shake” and it’s a pretty special collection of songs. I’m not especially a fan of Polly Harvey as it goes, but my fellow Melody Maker writer and one-time flatmate Ngaire Ruth was one of her very earliest champions. She wrote the first review of PJ Harvey to appear in the national music press – a live review from the White Horse in London in 1991. Click on the clipping for a larger version if the text is too small for you to read.
Ngaire and I were living in Tufnel Park at the time of this review (a short distance from the White Horse and also a few minutes walk from venues like the Town & Country Club, the Bull & Gate and the Boston Arms) and I’ve a vague recollection of Polly popping round the flat once or twice. I seem to recall that she was quite friendly and very polite, but a little on the shy side. I don’t believe she ever wore a feathery headdress thing, though. I’m sure I would have remembered that.