Warning: Today football will be included in this blog!
Today Liverpool were presented with the premiership trophy after beating Chelsea 5-3 at Anfield. Although they won the league 11 times they had never won it since it became the Premier League. There’s such passion for football in Europe and often musicians here are as excited about the football as they are about a rare Syd Barrett track. It’s been a 30-year wait and I’m so happy to say that in their winning year I actually got to go to Anfield and see a game, sitting in the middle of the stadium with a great view and they won (against Brighton). Although in that game, Allison (goalie) was sent off and it was pre social distancing and I can tell you it was sardines. Seats very close together, knees in the back, touching the strangers on either side. After the game, I hung around to take it all in and watch people file out. They played Fearless from Meddle by Pink Floyd because The Kop (the Liverpool die-hard fans) are on that record. I walked back from Anfield down into the city and back to the studio where I was working with The Wild Swans. I shared that walk with a family from Brighton, parents and two kids, that’s how it should be, no animosity between the fans whoever wins, whoever loses.
The last time I was at Anfield was when I lived on Merseyside in the seventies. It was so long ago, I can barely remember, but it was a European cup game and I think it was against Bayern Munich and I have no idea what score it was. My family were never into football, no interest at all so I was never encouraged to go to games. Living on The Wirral (which is across the Mersey from Liverpool city), the local team was Tranmere Rovers. I remember we had one kid in our class who supported them. His name was Derek, we called him Bugsy. Sadly this year Tranmere were relegated to League 2.
Olivia bought me the Liverpool scarf for my birthday in 2018 and last week the shirt arrived in the post from a fan, Henrik in Denmark, who’d been to see Olivia and I play in Hamburg. For me, music always comes first but I like lots of things in the world, including libraries, architecture, gardens, the sea and football. I also like to watch tennis, snooker and the occasional game of rugby. The super bowl I could watch if I was in America. I could never watch horse racing or yachting but curling now that’s exciting!
It’s an interesting scenario at the games at present because due to the pandemic there are no crowds. This is the difference between music and sport because sport can continue without crowds whereas music can’t because with music you aren’t competing against another group. Can you imagine Cat Stevens on one side of the stage and Roy Harper on the other trying to beat each other with their songs, fans cheering each side on. Cat fans on one side of the hall, Roy fans on the other, a fracas breaks out as the man in the Roy T-shirt says something derogatory about The Cat! But then both sides realised that they both love Peace Train and they both love One Of These Days In England and so they decided to just listen and clap with the passion of football supporters.
I went up to Dare’s today and on the way, I picked up some broccoli from the greengrocers. As I was talking to Dare a wriggly green caterpillar crawled out of the bag and onto the table. Dare saved it and put it on a leaf in the garden. I thought what will it become? There’s a website where you can see the caterpillars and what they turn into. It was another example of how we humans take amazing things for granted. I recognised the caterpillar from the picture and it said that the caterpillar would turn into “a plain white butterfly” (a cabbage white), but since when has a butterfly been plain?
Music today has to come from Liverpool and I thought I’d pick some Echo & The Bunnymen related projects, mostly Will Sergeant. One of my faves comes from Poltergeist, Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder) (2013), an instrumental project from Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant and ex Bunnymen bassist Les Pattinson (Nick Kilroe on drums), Will also plays keys. It’s just what you’d expect, great bass lines with inventive guitars. It’s hard to find on vinyl but it is on Spotify so you can hear it. Luckily Les sent me a copy, it’s hard to find now and between £50 and £150 on Discogs and not available anywhere else. Make sure you listen to it, it’s so off the radar and so good. You can buy it here.
In 1982 Will Sergeant made Themes For ‘Grind’ on the label 92 Happy Customers. I’ve had this record for years and it’s been a while since I played it. It has all the sounds of the synths that OMD used back then although there’s much more to it than that. It’s ambient, electronic, early eighties, grey soundscapes that make walking through a Liverpool street past a disused factory in the mist in November a real pleasure. It is still available at a reasonable price. You can buy it here.
Will made Weird As A Fish in 1978 which seems to have been re-released as Weird As Fish/Le Via Luonge (perhaps originally a typo?) in 2003. You can read a review here.
Things Inside was released in (2012).
Will Sergeant’s Glide project has been releasing records since 1997 with Space Age Freak Out, Performance in 2004 and Curvature Of The Earth in 2004, that’s the one I have on CD. Assemblage 1 & 2 was released in 2014. Curvature Of The Earth is much closer to Poltergeist than Themes For ‘Grind’ but I have to admit I have only heard the records I have so I’m not sure of the creative arc on Will’s projects. I always like what I hear. It’s also on Spotify.
It’s fascinating when you analyse the solo projects of these Bunnymen members when you consider that the dark soul of The Bunnymen seemingly manifests in the voice, stage presence and demeanour of singer Ian McCulloch. But in fact, all the weirdness comes from Will Sergeant and as a collaborator in Poltergeist Les Pattinson.
McCulloch’s first solo outing was the 12-inch single non-album track and cover of the old standard made famous by Frank Sinatra, September Song (1984), I guess the crooner in him thought it was a good idea, I bought it, I like it. The solo album Candleland came in 1989 after McCulloch had left The Bunnymen. It’s nice, which might be what’s wrong with it. Despite the coup of the title track featuring Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser it was tame and was more of a showcase for McCulloch’s crooning. If you like that, then this was good, if you missed the edge then this wasn’t for you. It made it to No. 18 on the UK chart and Faith And Healing was a No. 1 single on the American Modern Rock chart which sounds like Vince Clark at a solo Fergal Sharkey listening party. Listening back to it now and realising it’s 31 years old, it sounds so smooooooooooth and Pop and designed for commercial appreciation. It’s the polar opposite of Sergeant’s more adventurous approach to original music.
Videos & Sounds Of The Day are: