This is the first time Colin Newman has voted in a British General Election in Brighton. The rhythm guitarist, songwriter and singer for seminal UK art-punk band, Wire, and his partner moved there from South-West London a year or so ago.
“London has its charms, it’s definitely a great city. But it’s not very practical for those who live in it. London’s big problem is cross-city transport. Everything happens in the East these days and getting home via public transport after midnight is impossible so you are in a taxi for £70.00 or on the night but for 3 hours. Maybe the 24 hour tube on the weekends will help that but it’s not all lines and and it’s only two nights a week.
“In the 90’s, where we used to live in South-West London had some culture - nightclubs, record shops etc. and we had the centre in easy reach. Now all the venues are closed not only in that area but in the centre too. No record shops in SW London either..”
Guitarist Dylan Webster from Newcastle band The Fools
In the early ‘90s, raw and tough rock and roll was supposedly being re-birthed. Grunge had ushered in The Year That Punk Broke and the mainstream was finally embracing music that wasn’t safe and bland. Yeah. Right.
In reality, Real Rock and Roll was still fighting. The tidal wave that was the MP3 was about to arrive in earnest but the only game in town, as far as The Industry was concerned, was Grunge, a sludgy offspring of heavy metal and punk that promised little and (mostly) delivered less.
Too harsh? A lot of fine and worthy bands were trampled under the rush by major labels to sign any act with tuned-down guitars wearing flannelette shirts. It didn’t matter if their songs mostly remained the same; the big label A & R men couldn’t see past their own shaggy fringes.
Like Newton used to say, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. In Australia, a fresh wave of high-energy acts like Powder Monkeys, Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, the YesMen and Bored! were kicking against the pricks and doing things their own way. A lesser light from the industrial port city of Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney, created their own ripples.
They’re entering the 53rd year of this career thing but guitarist Dick Taylor and his band, the Pretty Things, aren’t showing any signs of calling it a day.
With a vinyl only live record (“The Pretty Things Live at The 100 Club”) recently released and a new studio album ("The Sweet Pretty Things Are In Bed Now Of Course" ) in the wings, the Pretties have gone a step further by unleashing what’s probably the last word in box sets.
“Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky” (on Madfish through Snapper) does the band’s considerable legacy justice, bringing all of the 11 studio albums together, along with two documentaries and a brace of CDs of rare or previously unreleased material, beautifully presented in one compelling package.