Tag Archive: Rob Young


Belbury is a fictional space but it’s easy to imagine it as a real English village or parish that is still stuck somewhere in the mid-1970s.

It is one of locations that make up the world of Ghost Box imagined by Julian House aka The Focus Group and Jim Jupp aka Belbury Poly .

In this months Wire Magazine , House and Jupp are interviewed by Rob Young in the Invisible Jukebox slot.  A very fine piece it is too and a timely one as it coincides with the release of the splendid  Belbury Tales – one of the best Ghost Box creations to date.

The album has a more expansive sound than other records on the label helped by  real live musicians: drummer Jim Musgrave and bassist and guitarist Christopher Budd . The atmosphere, as ever, is that of a more parochial  pre-digital age. Julian House says in the Wire interview:  “I still don’t think what we do is nostalgic. It’s more like a kind of weird regression” .

This is music to the ears of someone of my generation (born 1958) but if you can’t imagine a world before technology ruled the earth, the spoof comedy of Look Around You gives a good idea of what TV and ‘the computer world’ was like back then:

Concluding my list of the fifty greatest British Cult Movies with my top ten of the most groundbreaking, mind expanding or just plain weird films. If I have left out, or down graded, your personal favourite feel free to comment or, better still, make your own list.

10. TRAINSPOTTING Danny Boyle (1996)

Irvine Welch’s superb novel was in sure hands for the transition to the big screen There’s a first rate cast which Boyle directs with real energy and dark humour to show the ups and downs of heroin addiction. Great music too, including Iggy’s Lust For Life and Underworld’s Born Slippy. The screenplay by John Hodge begins with one of the great ‘fuck the system’ monologues:
“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.  Choose your future. Choose life”.

9. JUBILEE Derek Jarman (1977)

Made before the first wave of British punk had played itself out this movie is, like the music that inspired it, crude and anarchic. Don’t even begin to look for any plot as this is impressionistic, instinctive cinema that sets its own rules. Adam Ant appears before he became a dandy highwayman and Jordan as punk ‘anti-historian’ Amyl Nitrite. Continue reading

COMUS HOMMUNCULUS

“Comus are largely remembered for one album, ‘First Utterances’ recorded in October 1970…… its striking gatefold cover depicts an emaciated hommunculus, skin charred to a leathery black and gagging on its own bile………the self loathing mannequin foreshadows the music’s forbidding, often savage disquiet” – Rob Young from Electric Eden.

I worry myself sometimes that I am constantly drawn to music like this rather than Mumford and fucking Sons.

This is the opening track from that album:

Album download link courtesy of Lessmtvmoretmv blogspot

Oliver Knight & Marry Waterson

Today sees the release of a highly recommended album by Marry Waterson & Oliver Knight entitled The Days That Shaped Me on One Little Indian Records. My review for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ tells you why it’s so great.

It marks another chapter in the remarkable family saga of the Waterson-Carthy dynasty. Marry & Oliver are the offspring of Elaine (Lal) Waterson who tragically passed away in 1998 just ten days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Lal is less well known than her sister Norma but is fondly remembered by the folk community, past and present, as a unique and idiosyncratic talent.

In 1972 she made an album called Bright Phoebus with brother Mike which Rob Young, writing in Electric Eden, describes as being “as unpredictable as the English weather”.  As with the albums as part of The Watersons, there are songs to please traditionalists yet there’s never the sense of blindly reproducing tired old standards. Instead, the tunes are injected with a modern sensibility.  Winifer Odd, for instance tells the tale of a woman hit by a car while picking up a lucky star in the road; hardly the typical topic of a folk song.

Lal Waterson

Another example of Lal’s unconventional, and spontaneous, approach to song writing is the brilliant Letter to Joe Haines recorded by Norma Waterson’s for her second solo album The Very Thought Of You (1999) written as a reply to the heinous article published in the Daily Mirror days after Freddie Mercury’s death which criticised the singer’s promiscuous lifestyle and essentially blamed him for being a victim of AIDs.

One verse of Lal Waterson’s song goes:
Read your letter, tore the page
Wondered whether to write in rage
Then I thought it better to use your trade
No-one should ever die of AIDS

It is natural to draw comparisons between mother and daughter but, given that it is 12 years since Lal’s death, it is also only proper that we judge Marry’s songs on their own merits. Thankfully, this does not prove difficult as the one thing they both share is a defiant individuality.

However you choose to judge the album, the collaboration with her brother is a triumph-  great songs, pure and simple and best listened to without any preconceptions.

[Download link to the Bright Phoebus album on the Ghost Capital blogspot]

POLLY PLAYS AWAY FOR EN-GER-LAND

PJ Harvey in Paris, Valentine's Day 2011

I can’t get enough of PJ Harvey at the moment.

Her new album, Let England Shake, was released yesterday and is simply an amazing piece of work.

It takes as its theme England’s role in wars past and present, yet despite this subject matter these cannot be classified as straight protest songs. Instead they are a form of reportage as if she had already accepted the post of ‘official war song correspondent’ offered this week by the Imperial War Museum.

Polly Harvey lets the atrocity of human conflict speak for itself and is more of a lament for wasted lives than an exercise in finger pointing at warmongers. Continue reading

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