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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Mekons Rock’n’Roll June 12, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I’ve mentioned before that moment where a group just clicks in your head. One moment you can’t see what all the fuss is about and then the next it’s as if they were never not there? The Clientele were like that for me until a year or two back. And then there is The Mekons. A group which moved from post-punk to a blend of post-punk and folk and country and many other points between and with a range of members (as a musical collective how could it be otherwise) that was drawn from former members of various groups as time went on. Throw in radical politics and that’s what you get.

For years now I had a best of The Mekons sitting accusingly on my hard drive demanding that I play it, and on occasion I would, but the 32 tracks were too great a challenge, and I sort of gave up. Which was odd because I’ve been a very long time fan of The Three Johns, which Jon Langford of The Mekons was involved in during the 1980s (and from where the WorldbyStorm handle is derived).

Then fairly recently I was able to get The Mekons Rock’n’Roll, released – almost unbelievably – in 1989 and a few tracks in I thought, okay this I get. Perhaps it is because there’s a certain crunch to the guitars that to some degree, but only some degree, tilts them away from their proto-alt-country output prior to this (unsurprisingly there are sounds that are adjacent to The Three Johns) or the female/male vocals (the latter somewhat Strummerish), or the punky energy to a range of the tracks, or the lyrical concerns from the neat dig at Bono on ‘Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet’ to the capitalism critical ‘Empire of the Senseless’ and on to the starkness of Club Mekon. 

But this brings us to the heart of the album which is in its totality a reflection on the commodification of… well, pretty much everything, music included – as with Club Mekon. And in that way this is both a very subversive critique of capitalism (no surprise there to those of us who followed The Three Johns) and a brilliant set of songs positioned in rock’n’roll/post-punk/punk/folk. That mixture of genres shouldn’t work, not really, and yet it does, somehow they manage to bring it all together. 

Wondrous.

Learning to Live on Your Own

Empire of the Senseless

Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet

Memphis Egypt

Only Darkness Has the Power

Club Mekon

Comments»

1. sonofstan - June 13, 2021

Memphis Egypt is a phenomenal meta-critique of rock’n’ roll while being a great rock’n’roll song. Watching Langford play it solo while standing on a table at Northern Guitars (a venue about the size of a large living room) was a great moment.
I have a lot of time for Fear and Whiskey from the miners’ strike era, which most people rate, and Honky-Tonkin’ which doesn’t get much attention.

Liked by 1 person

2. sonofstan - June 13, 2021

But this wipes me out every time…
Maybe too country for you though 🙂

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2021

That’s a lovely song and not on the career retrospective album I have of theirs. Thanks Stan. Appreciated. They really are something.

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