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Posts Tagged ‘Terry Bickers’

 

AND SO HERE WE COME, to a time of consumerism and a mythical figure from a frozen land who is on the dole 11 months of the year. If Christmas is getting to you, relax, put on your slippers, tuck into a chocolate ginger, stick the music mags in the recycling bin and wallow in the Ultimate Guide to 2014 … Porky’s choicest cuts of the past 12 months, in no particular order. Oink oink.

Bill Pritchard: A Trip to the Coast Pritchard 1

We said: Bill Pritchard, English eccentric extraordinaire, the Midlands equivalent of Morrissey and the Go-Betweens with songs about “tea on a Friday morning” and “watching the sun leave the sky”. A pleasantly endearing record that my local library saw fit to buy.

Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business Morrissey

We said: There are snippets of The Smiths, and of Morrissey in his embryonic solo days, but I can safely say this is a typical Morrisssey album, scathing, insightful, illuminating, occasionally humourous, but rarely dull. I’m trying hard to think of other albums released this year, or the past four, that would elicit the same emotions. I fail. Morrissey is an enigma.

Bis: Data Panik bis

What we would have said: Bursting with juicy, punky, in-yer-face, indie disco floorfillers, bis return after a sabbatical or a dozen, with an instant masterwerk that keechs all over their wannabe pretenders. Bouncy, pacy, sparkly, cutting edge and contemporary … if bis were a football team they would be Glasgow Celtic FC.

Gold Medal Famous Free Body Culture (Powertool records)

Gold Medal FamousWe said: Agitating for a vote against the odious National Party at this year’s election, You’re So Outrageous tackles the affronts against the constitution the ruling junta (surely democratically elected government? – ed) has carried out, by using urgency in parliament to push through bills deemed essential, and thus avoiding public scrutiny. Using a hypnotic dance beat and eerie vocals, Gold Medal Famous prove there’s a way of make a political point in this drab cultural era. Free Body Culture, named after a German nudist movement, is varied, playful, angry, and esoteric; it is the band’s finest effort yet.

xBomb Factory: No NO

We said: There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over. NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin Bieber).
Towns: Get By

TownsWe said: Get By doesn’t fit in with the terribly pompous and, quite frankly, staid British music scene of the moment. For one thing, there’s a bit of a swagger about them; not for them the mean and moody look, with songs about lost love and how their beard is growing because they’re too miserable to trim it. There’s a lot of guitars, and effects, and yes that old chestnut, shoegazing is being trotted out by lazy, hazy journalists. Is it 1990 all over again? Well yes, to an extent but it could also be 1967.

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers: Broken Heart Surgery Broken Heart Surgery

We said: It’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

The Moons: Mindwaves

The MoonsWe said: Mindwaves is an attempt at the Great British Album, hence the deft psychedelic touches of Syd-era Pink Floyd, the overblown orchestration, reminiscent of ‘about to call it quits’ Beatles, and, of all things, glam rock. Fever begins with a rehashed riff from a long-forgotten Sweet single, and Heart and Soul oozes Ziggy Stardust period Bowie, with dutiful drops of mash-up-the-beats Kasabian circa 2004. There’s something for everyone.

 

The Primitives: Spin-O-Rama Primitives

We said: The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadows has the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

 

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider records)

Trick MammothWe said: The opening tracks, Baltimore and Pinker Sea, have Millie Lovelock’s dreamy voice at the forefront, but by the third Adrian Ng is sharing vocal duties, and takes on more of such responsibilities as the album progresses. It’s a combination I am unsure of; Lovelock alone gives a breathy atmosphere to Baltimore; Ng’s soft but forceful timbre is apt for Days of Being Wild, but sometimes I am left with the feeling that he should be doing this, and that she should do that, and maybe both of them should be doing the same thing. Or differently.

Trick Mammoth are strong believers in love, happiness, the beauty of flowers, the glory of youth and a deep devotion to music, and its role in the hearts and knees of the world’s pre-middle agers.

 

 

 

 

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PETE FIJ AND TERRY BICKERS come from two different backgrounds; belonging to groups that had very differing effects on Porky. Bickers Broken Heart Surgerywas the edgy, demonstrative guitarist for the House of Love – and still is when they make occasional forays into the world of pop. Readers of  this blog will be well aware of the love affair this scribbler has had with the quartet since 1988, and rightly so.

Fij – an abbreviated form of his gloriously Polish surname which would get about 50 points in Scrabble – was part of Adorable and Polak, with whom neither Porky nor the public at large became overly familiar with.

They’ve teamed up for a ten-track album, Broken Heart Surgery, which consists largely of acoustic tracks, a format we would normally bypass, but Downsizing was one of last year’s finest pop songs, with a stunning video comprising only of closed-down shops. See the link below. It is truly English with its self-effacing look on life: “It’s nothing personal, she said, in the email that was sent, you could say – I was surplus to requirements.”

As the album title might suggest the protagonists are recovering from a love gone amiss, with typical gallows humour and an ability to mock life’s embedded proverbs and philosophies. The duo take a pot shot at the old saying that it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all on Loved & Lost.

“Whoever said that,” Fij drawls, before pausing for breath. “should be shot”.

Life in many ways is played out as a social media experiment, on a timeline where everyone sees the anger and the joy, but not the complexities of it all, and in which one half feels like they’re regarded as a “a voucher code, a free download, the latest plug-in” (Out of Time).

Pete and TelIt’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

http://petefijterrybickers.com/

 


 

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As a teenager during the 1980s, music was best consumed underneath the table, like a dog with a bone it had pinched from above.

Big hair and shambolic, flourescent clothing wasn’t for independent sorts who’d bemuse our parents (and most of our peers) with our preference for Echo and the Bunnymen, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and other long-named bands. Indie kids were to be seen, but not heard.

The radio and the charts were an endless stream of post-new romantic synth pop, and all sorts of corporate-grown recycled product.

But I had fallen in love, with a band by the name of the House of Love. I was smitten and it would take some time for me to get over the inevitable parting.

In my mid-teens I was of that breed that was too young for punk and too immature for post-punk. We’d missed a lot, and there was little of substance to make up for the shortfall.

In my small north-eastern Scottish town I would be recommended, by the plumbers and joiners of the distillery that provided me with my first wage, Brothers in Arms, Queen Greatest Hits Vol 1 and the latest album by Level 42, which I would buy at John Menzies in the High Street (and truth be told I actually quite liked).

Then, at the equivalent of sixth-form college, those ears were turned to the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, New Order and Primal Scream, who with 60s revivalists, The Thanes, would perform at my first ever gig, in Aberdeen.

In 1987 indie music was preparing to say its goodbyes to shambling, the floppy-fringed sub-genre whose godfathers were The Byrds, and which even Bobby Gillespie was one the Ace Faces. It had been the dominant scene for a couple of years and produced some of the decade’s finest pop records. But all scenes have a lifespan.

Baggy, Madchester, rave, techno and grunge were months, or years, away.

There was a vacuum, and into that came the House of Love.

Led by Guy Chadwick, he was ably assisted by his ‘Paul MacCartney’, Terry Bickers, a German Andrea Heukamp, New Zealander Chris Groothuizen and Pete Evans. Heukamp would leave after the first two singles, Real Animal and Shine On.

Destroy the Heart was the single of 1988 and John Peel’s listeners agreed, when voting in their Festive 50. A monumental self-titled debut and a fourth single, Christine, followed; Fontana snapped them up and released an album, confusingly also called The House of Love (but known generally as Fontana) and a re-released Shine On gave them their sole British chart hit.

But Bickers had left, famously while travelling on an English motorway, and some say the gloriously tense, edgy sound had been removed.

Two albums followed, Babe Rainbow in 1992, which I personally think almost matches their debut, and the seminal ahead of its time Audience With the Mind a year later. And that was it. One minor UK hit was scant reward for their immense talents.

Chadwick went solo, recorded a decent album in 1998, and in 2005, in a surprise move, the band reformed – with Chadwick and Bickers having set aside their, ahem, bickering to reform for a tour and an album, Days Run Away.They were softer but hadn’t lost their edge.

What made them so good? I often wonder if they were just another indie band but there was something mystical, almost spiritual about HoL. I was an impressionistic teen, lacking in self-confidence and I found a bedfellow in the band, the same way others my age did with The Smiths.

There was nothing in the lyrics that was aimed at creating a new world or addressing current trends, just simple heart-filled lyrics about love, lust, life and everything inbetween. Chadwick’s beautiful voice, Bickers’ deranged guitar playing, the intense musical relationship between the four.

The albums have been re-released in the past few years along with a series of compilations so there is clearly still considerable interest in the band, more than 15 years after the original line-up split up.

As part of this article, I tried to contact Chadwick or anyone involved with the band to find out what they’re up to and arrange an interview. Emails went out to addresses (or presumed ones) of people associated with the band such as Suzi Gibbons, Mick Griffiths, the company who dealt with their PR for the previous album, the unofficial website and Art and Industry, which released Days Run Away, to no avail. So where are the House of Love?

The only reply I received was from Dave Roberts of the unofficial website, who had been told by Terry Bickers in May that the band were “rehearsing new material and planned to record a few songs “in the not too distant future”.

Here’s hoping.

The excellent unofficial website can be found at: http://hem.passagen.se/nyholm/holindex.html

The cover for the debut album: no words, just two gaunt faces.

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