Monday, February 20, 2023

Papa Sprain writings in reverse

September 28 1991, Melody Maker (this was originally paired with an interview with Butterfly Child done by David Stubbs - you can find that further down this post)

Prior to that I had done a live review... 

June 8 1991 - Melody Maker

What do you know? the whole show is up there and out there

That debut EP Flying to Vegas 

Compare with the review (single of the week), the first of my scrawlings on Papa Sprain

the second EP

Then they did an EP called Tech Yes (do you see what they did there?) the title track of which doesn't seem to be out there but the other two tracks are:

I seem to remember there was an abortive album that got refused by the label (no longer H.ARK I don't think, at this point) and was a noisescape interpretation of  James Joyce's Ulysses or something like that. I remember hearing some form of this in advance and being rather befuddled. I may even have the tape still... 

Ah my memory is not completely wrong here, as this (admittedly hearsay) anecdote I found on a  post-rock blog relates:  

"The story is that an increasingly eccentric McKendry was taking his sweet time recording Papa Sprain’s full-length debut when the folks at Rough Trade demanded to hear some work in progress. McKendry brought them a cassette of freeform guitar feedback and the irritated label people demanded that he produce something a bit more substantial – and soon. A week later, McKendry returned with the same recording  to which he had added his voice intoning the first word from every page of Ulysses.."

As an example of the Artist getting a little bit carried away and losing sight of their real gifts and forte, it's comparable to the goofily abstract album that the Beta Band did that never got released. Actually I believe it was one whole disc of a double album -  that then got contracted back to a single LP. At any rate, I have that too, in all its full folly - I got sent an advance of the full double and kept it the out-there cassette, it's tucked away God know where. 

I also have a H.ARK advance with a few things that never saw release.... 

demo versions, early drafts, unreleased songs aka The Ancient Sounds of Papa Sprain

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Meat Puppets interview - Melody Maker - 1987


The gig I saw earlier that same night and reviewed


Hammersmith Clarendon, London 

Melody Maker 1987 

by Simon Reynolds 

The first ever UK appearance by the Meat Puppets finally gave me a glimpse at just who exactly it is that's been keeping the faith for so long. It's a motely, peculiar congregation assembled tonight--skatepunks in baseball caps; snakebite-quaffing tradpunks; cardigan-and-one-earring herbivore anarchists like the nice, caring bloke in EastEnders; bearded, more-or-less unreconstructed hippies; bespectacled nerds of the Albini/Santiago stripe; REM drummer lookalikes. And rock critics, of course. 

This heterogeneity reflects the schizo-eclectic nature of Meat Puppets music, suggests that each strand of their following trips on a different facet of the group--the acceleration; the virtuosity; the desolation and vulnerability; the free noise wig-out. Over seven years and five albums, the Meat Puppets have created for themselves four distinct sounds, each one a perfect amalgam of country, free jazz, funk and acid rock, an alloy rather than a cocktail. Each of these sounds has been completely new, completely theirs. 

Tonight, at first, it felt like something was missing. The mellower songs from Mirage don't led themselves to the straight slam approach, but this is what they got. The result--neither the billowing cobwebbed delicacy of vinyl, nor the mind-scattered total frenzy of live legend, but an inconsiderable bumptiousness, a speed-country tumult that was consistently impressive, but never left you agog. The audience brimmed o'er anyways, such were the pent-up expectations; Curt and Kris Kirkwood flipped their wigs (Kris's a tange of orange tortelloni, Curt's a Ma Bates mop)… but something was missing. 

And then suddenly the air was sown with magic; there was an abrupt and unaccountable shift from merely "playing good" to "playing possessed", a sudden, seemingly arbitrary willingness to stretch the borders of the songs, cast loose their mooring in the downhome. Songs like "Out My Way" and "Up on the Sun" --frenetic speedfunk, a manic, flashing secateurs snip'n'clip--hurtle like rocket cars across mud-flats, then careen into prolonged and exhaustive supernovae whose final reverberations seem to take centuries to dissipate.

Then there's the brutal plangency of "Hot Pink"--light so intense it's turned solid, a crystal canyon over whose jagged edges your synapses are dragged. "Love Our Children" is rendered straight, then strays into an echoplex meander (although that words suggests listlessness, not a foray this purposeful and driven); the three chord ending is impossibly elaborated, each chord becoming a Niagara of phosphorescent improvisation; the final note dilates into a giant dewdrop the size of a small universe. 

Finally, it's as though the members of the audience are just motes swirling up the cyclone spout of the Meat Puppets' halcyon chaos. The Meat Puppets's MOST visionary moments have a blinding brilliance--but that's the definition of "vision": something that interferes with regular, regulated perception, ensures you will never see the world in the same light again.