I woke up at five-ish this morning, for some reason thinking about Kirsty Maccoll. I have always been a huge fan of her voice and writing, and have an intense weakness for those spectacular, sparkling harmonies.
I was very troubled by her death, and it continues to crop up in my mind from time to time. Listening to ‘Days’ is almost unbearable – I’ve dashed out of many a shop to avoid hearing it since. I braved it this morning, though, and remembered how much I love the production: those rimshots at the beginning, really live and ‘roomy’ compared to the relative dryness of the vocal. The bass in at 0.36, and a subtle build to full, shiny, pop majesty – layers of complexity sounding like simplicity itself. And Johnny, of course.
What really murders me about the song, though, is its stoicism. We have Ray to thank for that. It should be called ‘Days (or How the English Grieve)’.
When I was a teenager I used to borrow tapes from the library. Kirsty’s ‘Galore’ was pored over. When you folded out the sleeve there were various plaudits from people she had worked with. I remember reading Morrissey’s in his idiosyncratic handwriting: “She has great songs and a crackin’ bust.”
What the fuck would Kirsty think of Morrissey now? Can you imagine? He wrote about her death in his morbidly unputdownable autobiography. Apparently he was the one who suggested she visit the Mexican resort in which she eventually lost her life.
After ‘Days’ I played something I haven’t clocked before: the 12” version of ‘A New England’. Wow! Talk about a host of heavenly angels – it sounds really festive and does exactly what an 80s extended mix should do. It’s fucking amazing. I’m guessing it’s arranged by Steve Lillywhite. To all those people who can no longer bear to listen to The Smiths, dive in for joy.
“I don’t feel sad about letting you go, I just feel sad
about letting you know.”
Last year I was a given a novel called Nod by a friend. It’s a dystopian affair that tells the story of
what happens in society when suddenly, over night, almost everyone loses the
ability to sleep.
The blurb says: after
six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks
the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises
in which those previously on the fringes of society take the lead.
When I look around me at the moment I see so many elements
of Nod’s hallucinatory chaos and
Nod was written by
a bloke called Adrian Barnes (born in Blackpool). In an author’s note at the
end of the book entitled ‘My cancer is as
strange as my fiction’ he confides that as the book approached publication,
he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.
He says, ‘As both the disease and my novel progressed I
began to notice eerie similarities between the two, even down to the physical
similarity between the eye on the book’s cover and an image of the tumour
itself, with its vein-like tendrils spreading out across my brain […] I began
to see the end of everything. I was going to slowly lose the people I love, as
Paul [the protagonist] did. Insomnia made the world insane to Paul, just as my
damaged brain has made the world insane to me.’
In the final paragraph of the novel, the character Paul says:
So this is my final
entry. Time to say goodbye to it all, to the world and all of the words I’ve
loved so much. Goodbye to it all.
I go to my bed and lie
down flat on my back.
Goodbye to chocolate and puppies and hard ons and old running shoes and used books and Christmas morning and crisp newspapers and babies and Coca Cola and sunburned skin and white cotton sheets and bad moods and late night eating and high speed internet and Charlie Brown and ice cream and Beatle music and Beach Boys harmonies and fruit smoothies and thrift stores and black and white photos and favourite books and cold beer and snow storms and heavy rain and meals in restaurants and arriving and departing and exhaustion and the need to piss and tiredness and bicycles and cars and kisses on the neck and stretching and arguments and water and salt and painting and shade and Dickensian waifs and waxy pine needles and hot sand and the smell of cedar and every line Shakespeare ever wrote and shaving and sore muscles and crunching ice cubes and mail boxes and popcorn in movie theatres and pay cheques and the smell of limes and
But what has this got to do with the mix of music below?
This is a podcast about rebel women of the trade union movement. It’s inspired by the recent discovery of a set of minutes books that tell the story of Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades Union Council from 1895 to 1919.
It will introduce you to some trailblazing, risk-taking women who fought hard to improve pay and conditions for poor female workers in the early 1900s and contrast their triumphs and challenges with those of young female trade unionists today.
You’ll hear about the Women’s TUC organising secretaries Eva Gore Booth and Mary Quaile, and a contentious resolution put to the Council by Christabel Pankhurst.
Produced and presented by Abigail Ward.
Featuring: Bernadette Hyland (Mary Quaile Club), Sarah Woolley (BFAWU), Claire Trevor (Unite), Alison Surtees (Bectu), Mary Sayer (Unite) and Michael Herbert (Mary Quaile Club).
Image: Mary Quaile, 1925.
Music: Jennifer Reid, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Electrelane
Special thanks to: Working Class Movement Library, Manchester Histories and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Sat, 9 November 2019 12:00pm – 3:00pm YES, Pink Room 38 Charles Street Manchester M1 7DB
Saturday November 9th 2019 marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This free afternoon event at YES, Manchester, celebrates that anniversary through live music, conversation and film, as part of the HOMOBLOC festival.
Mark Reeder & Beate Peter: in conversation
Manchester-born, Berlin-based producer, filmmaker and cultural catalyst Mark Reeder (B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989) talks to Dr Beate Peter about Berlin’s underground music scenes in the years leading up to the fall of the Wall, and how he risked his freedom to bring punk to the East.
Abigail Ward with Howard Jacobs & Mandy Wigby: live music
Queer curator, DJ and co-founder of Manchester Digital Music Archive, Abigail Ward debuts new live material in response to the theme of the Berlin Wall with percussionist Howard Jacobs (808 State/Architects of Rosslyn) and synth torturer Mandy Wigby (Sisters of Transistors/Architects of Rosslyn).
Wes Baggaley & Margo Broom: live music
Toast of London’s queer underground, DJ Wes Baggaley (Fabric, NYC Downlow, Robert Johnson) and producer extraordinaire Margo Broom (Fat White Family, Meatraffle, Big Joanie) play a set of exclusive electronic music inspired by the Berlin Wall.
Mark Reeder is a 61-year-old Berlin-based producer, remixer, musician and filmmaker.
Born in Manchester and part of its late 70s punk scene, he moved to West Berlin in 1978 and immersed himself in the music scene there, becoming Factory Records’ German representative. He promoted the label’s bands Joy Division and ACR, whilst working as sound engineer and spending time with Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld and other musical luminaries of the West Berlin scene.
In 1983, Reeder put together a Berlin Special of The Tube, which he co-presented together with Muriel Gray. This show featured music from both sides of the walled city. Mark risked his freedom to smuggle Western bands into East Germany, putting on illegal shows in churches at a time when the Stasi was attempting to crush the country’s nascent punk scene.
In summer 1989, Reeder was asked by East German officials if he would produce an album for up-and-coming East German indie band Die Vision for the state-owned record label AMIGA in East Berlin. He assumed at the time this was so they could keep an eye on him. Mark is now recognised as the only English person ever to have produced a record in the East, because days after finishing the album, the Berlin Wall fell.
This album was incredibly important to many East German kids, including Dr. Beate Peter. She will talk to Mark about this and many other things, including their shared passion for electronic music, Mark’s pioneering dance label MFS and his work with New Order.
In 2015 Mark was starred in a film based on his own life – B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989. You can see a trailer for that film here.
We are grateful to the following organisations for their support: HOMOBLOC, YES, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Digital Music Archive, Arts Council England, Economic and Social Research Council, RAH! Research in Arts and Humanities and The Lapsed Clubber.
The Lapsed Clubber Audio Map is an online platform that allows members of Manchester’s original acid house community to share their spoken word memories of clubbing and its culture during the ‘first decade’ of rave, 1985-1995.
This podcast is a conversation between the project leaders Beate Peter and Abigail Ward, interspersed with memories from anonymous clubbers and tunes from the era. Beate and Abigail also discuss their own (occasionally tragic) early clubbing experiences in Berlin and Preston, Lancs, respectively.
The Lapsed Clubber Audio Map is a crowd-sourced digital heritage project led by Manchester Digital Music Archive and Manchester Metropolitan University, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund.
I have been awarded an Arts Council England ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ grant. The grant is to help me reconnect with my practice as a musician, songwriter and performer. The loose plan is to get some mentoring, work with some great musicians, record and do some gigs. I’ll have some time to write and do some cool drifty thinking.
I’m really interested in collaborating with like-minded musicians/producers of all stripes. It would be nice to find a real artistic connection with someone who is on my wavelength musically. Having worked in record shops for so many years, I have a very varied collection, but in terms of how I write, it’s all about a sense of melody, melancholy and mystery.
I have made a brief mix of tunes that I feel represent a vague direction.
Tom Quaye is one of my fave artists – his ability to capture the queer zeitgeist in ridiculous memes is second to none. So I was on cloud nine when he asked me to DJ at his ace club night DANCE YRSELF CLEAN, which is a colourful, inclusive LCD Soundsystem/DFA-inspired soiree at the PINK ROOM at YES, featuring one of the best soundsystems in MCR. Join us – it’s only a fiver. I will be playing a 2-hour marathon of pop, rave and house. Make a request at your peril!