Monday, 18 November 2019

Family of Noise - Rough Versions (1996) C60

Bit of a dud this week, I'm afraid, but no-one's forcing you to listen to this shit and maybe it will sound as amazing to you in 2019 as it apparently did to me in 1996.

Yes, 1996: I'd just left Academy 23 (or possibly UNIT - can't remember what we were called at the time) because learning all those progressive rock symphonies was beginning to feel a bit too much like homework and I was getting tired of playing other people's songs, not least because I thought mine were better. I was going through a bit of a pre-mid-life crisis crisis and trying to reinvent myself as something less ridiculous, and thusly decided there was no good reason why cunts shouldn't be learning to play my fucking songs for a change. The clock was ticking, so I placed an advert in Melody Maker calling out for musicians with the intention of Family of Noise becoming something which played gigs and got paid. I got a few replies, more than I expected, and made up a demo tape to send out to the authors of those responses which hadn't obviously been prank calls. I was going to reinvent myself as some sort of hybrid of Courtney Love and Marc Almond and these were to be the songs you will be playing, I told my potential minions, should you be good enough to join my amazing band.

The first guy was an Elton John style keyboardist and an American then living next door to Emma Thompson. He said my tape reminded him of Fad Gadget, which seemed fair enough, and he was probably the gayest man I've ever met. He was also massively talented and way out of my league, so I suspect had replied more for the sake of making friends with other weirdos in a foreign country.

The second guy was about fifteen and lived in Chatham with an older, seemingly long-suffering girlfriend. He raved about Hummingbird and then strummed and sang one of his own songs, proposing we might add it to the set. It was called Morphine and suggested not so much that he'd had experience of the drug, but that he listened to a lot of Nirvana records. I reversed from the flat giving a series of positive McCartney-esque thumbs aloft signals, got back to London, then phoned the poor cunt and told him I'd changed my mind.

Finally I met Gareth who, so it turned out, lived around the corner from me. He was already in a band, specifically a popular Queen covers band as their John Deacon, and I don't think he'd been particularly impressed by my tape, but something I'd said had apparently given me away as a fellow Doctor Who fan (this was before it came back to the screen and was shit in 2005), so he got in touch mainly out of curiosity, and we never formed a band but have been pals ever since.

The universe was trying to tell me something, and that was to not bother forming a band. With hindsight I realise that the universe was probably right. While these tracks aren't entirely without their qualities, I couldn't really sing and the lyrics of which I was once so proud are unfortunately spattered with all sorts of faintly ludicrous references intended to make it sound a bit edgy and dangerous, which it actually wasn't.

The first four were from New Golden Age; I don't think My Remaining Eye ever appeared on anything; Hummingbird and The Girl Who Has Everything were eventually recycled as War Drum tracks; New Breed became UNIT's This Hour's Mine, which is a bit of a sore point; Cenotaph, my token dalliance with martial industrial bollocks, turned up on some UNIT tape I haven't got around to digitising (and probably won't bother); and Shit Factory (which was massively influenced by Third Door from the Left and was recorded in Lewisham with the involvement of the late Andrew Cox of Pump and MFH) ended up on War Drum's Year One tape which I haven't bothered digitising as most of the tracks were from other tapes. Also, the original master is a C54 which truncated the end of Shit Factory. As this tape is a compilation, and not so much a straight digitisation as a reconstruction from the original source tapes, there didn't seem to be much point in truncating the last track for the sake of authenticity, so it's the full version.

1 - Song of the Snake
2 - New Face in SE13
3 - New Golden Age
4 - Tin Men
5 - My Remaining Eye
6 - Hummingbird [inst. version]
7 - New Breed
8 - The Girl Who Has Everything
9 - Cenotaph
10 - Shit Factory

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