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The Mekons

More than any band that came out of late-'70s England, the Mekons (the name taken from the popular sci-fi comic Dan Dare) have perhaps the most devoted fans of any band even remotely connected to punk rock. And why not? Over the course of several decades, this band, with an ever-shifting lineup (only Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh remain from the original), produced some of the best rock & roll on the planet, be it amateurish rock-noise, cool synth-driven pop, guitar rave-ups, or postmodern country & western, the Mekons have done it all and done it with style, grace, and a ribald sense of humor.

Emerging from the same Leeds University "scene" that begot Gang of Four, the Mekons weren't as overtly political as their Marxist-inspired brethren, but their punk rock pedigree and unsubtle anti-Thatcher and -Reaganisms did set them apart from the post-punk world's innumerable careerists and posers. Their early recordings were exceedingly lo-fi affairs that valued emotion and energy over anything that remotely resembled musical proficiency. Songs like "Never Been in a Riot" and "32 Weeks" sound as if the band entered the studio, arbitrarily decided who was going to play what, and started the tapes rolling. It was fun, challenging, and anarchic -- principles to which the band has clung, musical genre notwithstanding, ever since their inception.

From the time of their debut album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, the Mekons had turned into a slightly more accomplished post-punk band that, like their pals in Gang of Four, wielded trebly guitars and shouted vocals over semi-funky rhythms tracks. The songs lacked focus, but this was a bizarre record that, for all of its oddly ingratiating music, offered little insight as to whom was making it. This remained true for a couple of years or so as the band (basically Langford, Greenhalgh, Kevin Lycett, and whomever else they could rope into a session) made one exciting, enigmatic, and extremely difficult-to-find record after another.

In 1985, after it seemed the earth had swallowed them whole, the Mekons released the startling Fear and Whiskey, a ragged country album influenced by the ghosts of Hank Williams and Gram Parsons that was unlike anything they'd ever recorded. Thus began the second coming of the Mekons, who finally began to reach an underground/alternative rock audience that had missed them the first time around. Soon they began touring more frequently, putting on clamorous, exciting shows. Talented new members jumped on board, like violinist Suzie Honeyman and singer Sally Timms, and even former Pretty Thing Dick Taylor was a Mekon for a while; records started coming out with more frequency and, despite considerable trouble from major labels that sent them back to the indies, could be found in nearly any record store. From Fear and Whiskey through subsequent records including The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll, Curse of the Mekons, Retreat from Memphis, and Natural, they continually reinvented themselves: sodden country band, wise-a** folk-rock band, cranked-up guitar band, trouble-making punk band. Whatever the scenario, what has remained consistent throughout the Mekons' existence has been great music. After an extended recording break of four years, and Touch & Go's Quarterstick imprint reissuing key titles in their catalog, the Mekons returned to recording withe same lineup they've employed since the mid-'80s with the concept album Ancient & Modern: 1911-2011 on Bloodshot. The set tracks history -- via the Mekons' deadly sense of humor and politically astute, ironic rock & roll -- from the Edwardian era just before the First World War, to the humanitarian crisis in Sarajevo, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to surveillance cameras being used in virtually every metropolitain community in Great Britain. ~ John Dougan
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Ancient & Modern

1. Warm Summer Sun

2. Space In Your Face

3. Geeshie

4. I Fall Asleep

5. Calling All Demons

6. Ugly Bethesda

7. Ancient & Modern

8. Afar & Forlorn

9. Honey Bear

10. The Devil At Rest

11. Arthur's Angel

x

Track List: Natural

1. Dark Dark Dark

2. Dickie Chalkie And Nobby

3. The Old Fox

4. White Stone Door

5. Shocking Curse Bird

6. Give Me Wine Or Money

7. Diamonds

8. Burning In The Desert Burning

9. The Hope And The Anchor

10. Cockermouth

11. Zeroes And Ones

12. Perfect Mirror

x

Track List: Heaven & Hell

Disc 1

1. Hard To Be Human

2. Curse

3. Ghosts Of American Astronauts

4. Big Zombie

5. Where Were You

6. He Beat UP His Boyfriend

7. Hello Cruel World

8. One Horse Dub

9. Millionaire

10. Snow

11. Chivalry

12. Brutal

13. Memphis Egypt

14. The Building

15. Oblivion

16. Prince Of Darkness

17. Work All Week

18. (A Dancing Master Such As) Mr. Confess

19. The Olde Trip To Jerusalem

20. Poxy Lips

21. (Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian

22. Out In The Night

23. Hate Is The New Love

24. Dancing In The Head

25. Neglect

26. Johnny Miner

27. Last Dance

29. My Song At Night

30. This Sporting Life

31. Empire Of The Senseless

32. Never Been In A Riot

Disc 2
x

Track List: Punk Rock

1. Teeth

2. Corporal Chalkie

3. I'm So Happy

4. What

5. 32 Weeks (Live)

6. Work All Week

7. The Building

8. Rosanne

9. Trevira Trousers

10. This Sporting Life

11. Never Been In A Riot

12. Lonely And Wet

13. Fight The Cuts

14. Chopper Squad

15. Dan Dare

x

Track List: OOOH! (Out Of Our Heads)

1. Thee Olde Trip To Jerusalem

2. Dancing In The Head

3. This Way Through The Fire

4. Hate Is The New Love

5. Take His Name In Vain

6. Only You And Your Ghost Will Know

7. Lone Pilgrim

8. Winter

9. One X One

10. Bob Hope And Charity

11. Stonehead

x

Track List: Curse Of The Mekons

1. The Curse

2. Blue Arse

3. Wild And Blue

4. Authority

5. Secrets

6. Nocturne

7. Sorcerer

8. Brutal

9. Funeral

10. Lyric

11. Waltz

12. 100% Song

13. Makes No Difference

14. Sheffield Park

15. Having A Party

16. One Horse Town

x

Track List: New York On The Road 86-87

1. Chicago Introduction

2. Big Zombie

3. Trouble Down South

5. Slightly South Of The Border

6. The Story Of Nothing

7. Tex Rico

8. Flitcraft At The Iron Horse

9. Moby Dick/Shallow Bourgeois Smile

10. Dadaist Rhetoric In Boston

11. Prince Of Darkness

13. Abernant 84/87

14. Tommy

15. San Francisco D.J./Audience Participation

16. I Cant Find My Money

17. Robert And Steven In The Heartbreak Hotel

19. Hard To Be Human

20. Beaten And Broken At Garage D'or

23. Shanty

24. My Body In Chicago

25. Revenge

26. Sophie

27. Chivalry

28. Where Were You?

29. Never Been In A Riot

x

Track List: Journey To The End Of The Night

1. Myth

2. Out In The Night

3. Last Weeks Of The War

4. City Of London

5. Tina

6. The Flood

7. Cast No Shadows

8. Ordinary Night

9. Powers & Horror

10. Neglect

11. Something To Be Scared Of

12. Last Night On Earth

13. Bonus Track

x

Track List: Where Were You?: Hen's Teeth And Other Lost Fragments Of Unpopular Culture Vol.2

1. Fancy

2. One Horse Dub

5. Nice Julie (Waltz)

6. East Is Red

7. 1967 Revisted

8. Darkness

9. Dick's Van 2

11. Folsom Prison Blues

12. My Song At Night

13. Polaroid (I Don't Own I Only Dote)

14. Brixton/Leeds Phone Tune

15. Where Were You?

16. Untitled 1

17. Dick's Van 3

18. Noisy Gertie

19. Crap Crap Woof Talk

20. Crap Rap

21. Angel Dog

22. Dick's Van 4

23. Untitled 2

24. Dick's Van End

x

Track List: Me

1. Enter The Lists

2. Down

3. Narrative

4. Tourettes

5. Flip Flop

6. Gin & It

7. Back To Back

8. Come And Have A Go If You Think You're Hard Enough

9. Men United

10. Mirror

11. Far Sub Dominant

12. Whiskey Sex Shack

13. Thunder

14. Belly To Belly

x

Track List: Rock N' Roll

1. Memphis, Egypt

2. Club Mekon

3. Only Darkness Has The Power

4. Ring O' Roses

5. Learning To Live On Your Own

6. Cocaine Lil

7. Empire Of The Senseless

8. Someone

9. Amnesia

10. I Am Crazy

11. Heaven And Back

12. Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet

13. Echo

14. When Darkness Falls

x

Track List: So Good It Hurts

1. I'm Not Here (1967)

2. Ghosts Of American Astronauts

3. Road To Florida

4. Johnny Miner

5. Dora

6. Poxy Lips

7. (Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian

8. Fantastic Voyage

9. Robin Hood

10. Heart Of Stone

11. Maverick

12. Vengeance

13. Revenge

x

Track List: Honky Tonkin'

1. I Can't Find My Money

2. Hole In The Ground

3. Sleepless Nights

4. Keep On Hoppin'

5. Charlie Cake Park

6. If They Hang You

7. The Prince Of Darkness

8. Kidnapped

9. Sympathy For The Mekons

10. Spit

11. Trimdon Grange Explosion

12. Please Don't Let Me Love You

13. Gin Palace

14. Sin City

15. Danton

16. Prince Of Darkness

x

Track List: The Edge Of The World

1. Hello Cruel World

2. B**tard

3. Oblivion

4. King Aurthur

5. Ugly Band

6. Shanty

7. Garage D'or

8. Big Zombie

9. Sweet Dreams

10. Dream Dream Dream

11. Slightly South Of The Border

12. Alone & Forsaken

13. The Letter

x

Track List: The Mekons Story

1. Letter's In The Post

2. Not A Bitterman (Born To Be Mild)

3. Dance And Drink The Mekons

4. Bomb Train

5. Trouble Down South

6. Car-Men

7. Eden

8. Frustration

9. Fight The Cuts

10. Byron

11. This Sporting Life

12. Rosanne

13. Garden Fence Of Sound

14. Miriam Always

15. Walking Song

16. The Building

17. I'm So Happy

18. I Bought You These

19. He Beat Up His Boyfriend

20. 1st Guitarist

x

Track List: Fear And Whiskey

1. Chivalry

2. Trouble Down South

3. Hard To Be Human Again

4. Darkness And Doubt

5. Psycho Cupid

6. Flitcraft

7. Country

8. Abernant 1984/5

9. Last Dance

10. Lost Highway

x

Track List: The Mekons

1. Snow

2. St. Patrick's Day

3. D.P. Miller

4. Institution

5. I'm So Happy

6. Chopper Squad

7. Business

9. Karen

10. Corporal Chalkie

11. John Barry

12. Another One

13. Killer Ken

14. Another Set Of Teeth

x

Track List: Jura

1. A Fearful Moment

2. Refill

3. An Incident Off St. Kitt's

4. Shine On Silver Seas

5. Land Ahoy!

6. Beaten And Broken

7. Getting On With It

8. I Am Come Home

9. The Last Fish In The Sea

10. I Say, Hang Him

11. Go From My Window

Comments

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oooooooooooo - y a y - 2 comments in 12 mo's.
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my favorite band of alcholics-wh o always relapse and then head for the studio-ya gotta luv em !
Report as inappropriate
Note to have played at my wake
Report as inappropriate
The Three Johns are hard to come by in digital or cd format - could this be why they are not found on Pandora? I'd pay hard cash to have World by Storm on CD!
Report as inappropriate
It seems that Pandora has not heard of The Three Johns.
Report as inappropriate
The Mekons. Check. Now how about Langford's first band, The Three Johns?!
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Journey To The End Of The Night was a great book by Celine. Nice to see others read the ugly truth.
Report as inappropriate
Mekons I say jolly good to you!

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