During the 80's, Dan Treacy, the mainman from Television Personalities, progressively became a sort of Ray Davies of our times. The Painted World album is one of his most political, sociological and dark project, and one of his best in musical terms (and he did a lot of marvellous ones). From this LP was released the “A Sense of Belonging” single, with a provocative picture of a battered child, although the lyrics of the song doesn’t talk about abused children, but about the sarcasms of some on those who manifest against the war. I always cherished Television Personalities, from their first single in january 1978 (“14th Floor”) until their last magnificent LP, My Dark Places, in February 2006 (the last one released in 2007, Are We Nearly There Yet?, was recorded before, and is rather weak). Since the only persistent member of the band and main composer is Dan Treacy, it’s a way to say I’m a Dan Treacy fan. This single is very heartbreaking for me because, from the cover to the text via the song (and the Dan’s voice), everything is in agreement here with my conception of what is a great depressive sociological song. The B side, “Paradise State”, is still more Ray Davies-like in its lyrics but more Wyatt-like in music, with a description of the sad everyday life of poor people. Honestly, in 1983, Ray Davies was no more able to write such exceptional texts on the simple men and women suffering under the terrible Thatcherian economical dictature. Difficult to finish as usual with enjoy here, but at least, take a trip in desperate Dan's land here.
The cover of the Painted World LP is this one.
Under, I publish the lyrics of both songs.
"A Sense of Belonging". Once there was confidence but now there is fear. Once there was laughter but now only tears. Once there were reasons for our optimism. But I hope and I pray in my own naive way that one day we can reach some sort of understanding. Try a little more sharing. Try a little more giving. Might find a sense of belonging. Might find a sense of belonging. And I know you think I'm young and naive because I go on CND marches, well that's my decision. I think that you're the one who's naive and like a fool you accept it. And like a fool you ignore it. Why don't you try and stop it? To try and find a sense of belonging? I know you watch "World In Action" and "Panorama". And to you it's just another soap opera drama, it can't happen here. Have a nice cup of tea and we'll all stay calm. And we'll come to no harm in our nice warm underground shelters. There'll be helter skelter. There'll be babies dying, you'll hear their mothers crying. I've seen the devil smiling, I've seen the devil smiling. Try to find a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging. And you laugh and make jokes about what you will do when the button is pressed and we hear the four minute warning. And if you think it's funny now wait 'till the bomb goes off . You'll all be in fucking hysterics. You'll see babies dying, you'll hear mothers crying. I'm only asking for one thing. Just want a sense of belonging. No more weapons and no more wars. No more violence. What's it all for anyway?
"Paradise Estate". Mrs. Brown wakes up every morning. She takes the milk from her doorstep, puts on a pair of faded carpet slippers, and walks a painful mile to the launderette. Her husband Jack is slowly dying, asbestos poisoning had riddled his insides. He got his pension six years early. When they took away his job, they took away his pride. Mrs. Wilson sets her clock for seven to see the children off to school. She can't afford to give them breakfast. Well not as a rule. Her husband Jack has run away. Gone with the barmaid from the Roses' Crown. Picks up her prescription every Friday. She's heading for her second nervous breakdown. Jennifer Lee is only seventeen. She had a baby when she was still at school. Her parents have disowned her and the social service barely calls. The father was a boy she met at a party. Her sister Debbie's twenty-first. She can't remember his face or his name very well. Anyway he probably doesn't remember her. And every day's the same on paradise estate. Because paradise came one day too late. We all live in little boxes. Boxes made of bricks, boxes for unmarried mothers. Elderly and sick Graffiti on the walls. Tells it all "Gary loves July", National Front slogans, "Jesus is coming", "Kilroy was here". But paradise came one day too late on paradise estate.
This is not what I call a great song but this is sure a rare one. And a strange one. Released in November 1979, some weeks after its pH7 album, under the name of Rikki Nadir (an alter ego created by Peter Hammill in 1975 for the fantastic LP Nadir's Big Chance), the motivation of Peter Hammill to release this song under this 4 years old name is a mystery for me. I am not sure he is quite fond of this song since he did not put it on the recent remastered and bonus-added version he did of his pH7 album. Surprinsingly, it was on the original US one. All this is not easy to understand but here it is. It is a reminiscence of the punky folk side of Peter Hammill and maybe where he may have gone if the new wave had caught him. That was not the case. Since the single had no cover, I did the one above myself today with a photograph (but not a polaroid) of Peter Hammill that same year (at least it seems). I think it is not too bad.
A more personal fact now. The cover I did when I bought the single in 1979 was a Leslie Krims photograph. I publish it because for me this song is for eternity (mine at least) associated with this picture.
And for bonus, a photograph of Peter Hammill in concert this same year (here I'm sure). Here is the source.
And a last bonus, the lyrics. I don't know it it's a true story he experienced but it is quite funny.
Me holidays on the Southern Sands,trying to get some fun by way of one night stands...I clocked this girl, thought l'd give her the chat -one of them Swedish blonde types and l've always fancied that. I showed her me Polaroid. She said "I like it, will you please take my picture?"I say "Right then", thinking this is gonna be me lucky day. She whips off her bikini top and I think "OK!" I say "It only takes a minute for this thing to develop."She says "I'd better push off now or me feller'll be jealous."Just then I felt a hand on me collar, and it was a Boy in Blue. He says "You can't take nude photographs on this beach,"and "I'm arresting you."I protested me innocence, but it was no use, the picture was forming;he gave me the official warning that day. He'd seen me Polaroid, so what could I say? I looked around, but she'd disappeared, I say "You don't understand, this was all her idea"but the copper says "Don't worry son, I get the picture OK." He took me Polaroid and I got ten days.
My fave music style is doom. Among various doom substyles, my fave one is sludge. Every sludger has his (her?) own definition of what is sludge and I won't give mine here in poor English. I wrote my own sludge story (in my native language on a collective magazweb and you can find the text about this EP here). For me sludge was born around 1989 and 4 bands seem at the source of this muddy sound. Here's one of them: Fu Manchu. This 3 titles EP released on the Slap A Ham label (6th one) represents the step from the Melvino-Sabbath style to what will become some months later the true sludge sound. The band will change direction as soon as the next single and will later cultivate a much more punky stoner approach (and less palatable to my ears). The vinyl rip (not mine) is not first class but with sludge it's not quite a problem. Consider that as an historical sonor document (but these are 3 fucking great songs too). Enjoy there.
Here's the second single from Alain Kan's Gazoline band. Very different from the previous one. A real punk gem. For me, the only example of a successfull French punk single. The lyrics are in the file because it's not very easy, even for French speaking listeners, to understand exactly what the hell is singing Alain Kan. Honestly, I knew that this would not last. Alain Kan had a much more varied musical world than the one featuring in this single. That said, an LP would have been great and would have remained the only real punk album in this country. Here is a link about Alain Kan (in French). Enjoy (it is really short, don't miss the beginning).
Here's a picture (taken at the Olympia's punk night) showing that Fred Chichin (soon to form the Rita Mitsouko) actually collaborated with Alain Kan. They are both somewhere now, but where?