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- • Live at the Ribdale Club
- • The Kilgore Trout Movie
- • Live From A Car Park pt 1
- • Live From A Car Park pt 2
Live at the Ribdale Club
(Martin Slater, 1990)
It’s geographically fitting that this was filmed in Preston. And given that, unsurprising that the action takes place in a country and western-themed working men’s club. Full Moon Over Blackpool was written after watching TV footage of the 1987 Conservative Party conference and coming to the realisation that, by any reasonable criterion, this ragbag of toothy, inbred landowners and razor-sharp political philosophers with hearts of pure evil – whose power in the UK was literally unassailable at the time – was collectively and clinically insane. Some of the music on this is quite exciting, I think, given the two-men-and-a-drum-machine format. I’m not so sure about the pictures. If I come across a little antsy in the clip, it’s probably because I’m worried that Courtney Love is going to ask for her dress back before the end of the song.
The Kilgore Trout Movie
Chariot / Children / The Peacock Nose, 1987
It is a fact well established that if you want to be a Pop Group you need to have a Video. I don’t know why. Nobody asks that a professional tennis player also excel at mah jong, or a successful prostitute be able to represent a range of farmyard animals via the medium of origami. But that’s the way it is. And because there’s a little part of everyone, no matter how contrary, that wants the cake very badly indeed, we made one. Well, three stuck together. Why skimp? And… um, they’re OK. Older residents of Sheffield will enjoy fading memories of long-buried landmarks such as the Hole In The Road, the Fish in the Hole In The Road, the Fish in the Botanical Gardens and the Old Bus Station (amazing to think that it was possible, in 1987, to walk from Hallam University – the Poly as it was then – to the Boardwalk without stepping outside of a system of piss-stinking tunnels: a pre-Netto Montreal for the Special Brew generation). Non-residents will have to content themselves with a bunch of boys twatting around with a Land Rover and some fireworks. Again, the sound quality is poor, but I enjoyed the version of the otherwise unrecorded Chariot, if only for Julian Scarlett’s irresponsibly fine bassline and the song’s unabashed desperation to be an out-take from Perverted By Language.
Live From A Car Park pt 1
Live From A Car Park pt 2
Cataract Jack / English Never Listen / Right Boys / Bank
From 1985, Hits and Corruption, the label who released the first Kilgore Trout 12”, organised a series of gigs on the tops of multi-storey car parks. Or rather, they would set a date and like-minded souls the length and breadth of Airstrip One, as it was known at the time, would organise the gigs themselves. The third and final one of these uncelebrated events took place on my twenty-first birthday and was convened to mark the 1987 General Election. For the benefit of younger readers, that was the second consecutive election where, regardless of who you voted for and notwithstanding the fact that well over half of the electorate despised the woman and her party’s policies, it was a foregone conclusion that Margaret Thatcher would win. When I am chastised by well-intentioned politicos (usually former SWP/RCP types turned New Labour running dogs) for my lack of faith in the western model of parliamentary democracy, the 1987 election is a useful thing to remember.
Having not seen this footage for a very long time, the main thing that struck me was the gulf between what this music sounded like in our heads and what it actually sounded like. The first song, the deservedly unreleased Cataract Jack – a bleak Telegram Sam for the bleak 1980s - was supposed to be a brutal mesh of cunning time changes and angular slabs of guitar noise. It actually sounds like a box of tools falling down a fire escape while a man shouts. The other three, sped up beyond all reason from the versions that had appeared on record a year previously, are a little, but only a little, more transparent. It’s hard work. You can take it from me. I used to be in the band and everything. But stick with it. Things become more interesting mid-way through the second song. No thanks to the band, mind.
(Note for geeks: this was digitised from a second generation copy of the original VHS tape. So, instead of moaning about the appalling quality of the soundtrack – which all but gives up the ghost on the last song – rejoice in the relative clarity of the pictures.)