Remembering Ian Lowery – The Wall Years

David Lowery is proud of his brother. He wishes he hadn’t lost touch with him in the early 90s. “I didn’t get to see him perform live with Ski Patrol” David recalls. The siblings had grown up in Hartlepool in the northeast of England. Once a thriving, industrial area with shipyards, steel mills, and coal mines, after the Second World War, by the late ’60s and early ’70s, unemployment was omnipresent with drastic changes to the British and global economies. For David’s brother Ian, his surroundings didn’t offer much opportunity or escape. So, he veered off the beaten path and began an Art Foundation course at Sunderland Polytechnic. By 1978, Ian Lowery had formed The Prefabs, this was the first of many bands he created and fronted during a prolific musical career, gaining critical acclaim both within and outside the music industry. A well-honed gutter poet since the early days of Punk, Ian developed an idiosyncratic style, fusing a natural gift for sly wordplay and often a snarky phrase for embellishment. Ian’s poignant lyrics were channeled through an explosive if not studied onstage performance. The Prefabs soon disbanded and in late 78, Ian formed The Wall with friends from Art School, John “Joe” Hammond on lead guitar, Andy Griffith on bass with drums bashed by Bruce Archibald. London indie label, Small Wonder impressed Ian with their roster of bands including, The Cure, Bauhaus, Angelic Upstarts, Crass, and more. Demo tracks were sent to the label, a deal was made, a 7” EP was released, and a few appearances on John Peel’s radio show were arranged. Eventually, The Wall fell apart and Ski Patrol came into being, followed by Folk Devils, and eventually Ian Lowery set up The Ian Lowery Group. There were a few more bands and collaborations in between, but it’s The Wall years we are going to concentrate on with David Lowery. He is going to tell the story in a conversation with Norman B and you’ll hear exclusively, previously unreleased tracks from the band. Plus, a very rare recording of Ian Lowery talking about his influences.

Sadly, Ian Lowery died way too young on July 14, 2001. His influence reached so many musicians over the years, in particular the aspiring lads in Seattle and beyond who were part of the so-called, Grunge years. This is essential listening for music aficionados of all stripes. To round out the program, I have chosen new, current music I think Ian Lowery would approve of. Enjoy!

Portions of this information and photograph are used by permission of David Lowery & http://www.ianlowery.com

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Life Elsewhere Music Vol 237

Should I be amazed by the quality of new releases that continue to arrive? Some will say the abundance of excellent new music is a result of musicians being in isolation for a year. That could be part of why there are so many introspective releases. Yet, I also believe there just happens to be a lot of talented people who are making music I think deserves your attention. All the cuts in this volume fit into that category, starting with Suzi Sabotage who hails from Helsinki, Finland. Apparently, Suzi does everything, she sings, plays synths, and writes the songs. Apart from having a moniker I could not resist, Ms. Sabotage charmed me with The World Is A Heartache from her Postmodern Dystopia album. There is an honesty (a word I may repeat) coming to the fore in her work. Paula Borges and Jonathan Skinner know what they are doing and they do it well. As Hanging Freud this couple based in Glasgow has created their own distinctive sound. Yes, of course, there are references (that’s a good thing) but Paula originally from Brazil, and Jonathon from London prove with Puzzles from Persona Normal we need to keep a watchful eye on them. In an effort to deal with childhood trauma and teenage angst, Jen Dajung Kim started writing songs like she was filling a journal. In that journal, she recorded herself ruminating on self-identity, culture, religion, doubt, anger, and love. known professionally as Dajung, was born and raised in the Korean city of Incheon. At twelve, she moved to China and attended an international school, it was there that she acquired her bizarre monicker from her English teacher – Jay Knife – now the title of her album. Untitled showcases Dajung’s poignant songwriting, arranging and performing. I wish I knew more about Husbands and we had more time to plays both cuts from these two lads out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You’ll hear, Must Be A Cop but I recommend you check out, Burn The Witch. They modestly label themselves as “OKC surf, pop, rock, garage, what have you”. There is a lot going on here that may not be so obvious at first. Listen carefully, then listen again. Luc Seacroft out of East London has been on my radar for some time. Every time he sends a new release, I know I’m in for something, unlike his past work. Luc likes to try new ideas our and I’m all for that. About Promised Land he says, “it’s a very personal song, about facing life’s woes head-on. It rejects the guarantee of a happy ending (or “promised land”) but in doing that, finds some peace”. Again, this is one of those songs you must listen to carefully. The subtle effects and processing Luc uses gives an accomplished sheen to the production. Nice artwork too. Erika Bach lives in Greece. Is it possible that those ancient relics nearby lend an authoritative aura to her work? As Lola Demo the singer-songwriter has been releasing well-crafted music for some time, she is also one half of m1nk with Barry Snaith. Erika’s latest solo LP, Stone is clearly a serious contemplation on all that concerns the artist. I have chosen two cuts to illustrate those concerns, Can’t Live Like This and the title cut, Stone. For each track, she has created a video which you are advised to search out. It should go without saying at this juncture, if Josh Idehen sends us a new release, then you can be sure we will get it on the show and send the word out to all smart radio programmers to do the same. The talented, hard-working Mr. Idehen is back with another collaboration with electronic duo LV. This one is titled Somehow. It’s fabulous and it features Shanaz Dorsett. Now, who likes a cover-version every so often. Here is the first of two in this volume. And, it’s an unlikely one, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Sweet Whirl & Gregor. Two successful artists out of Australia on Melbourne’s Chapter Music label. Honestly, it’s a bit of a head-scratching choice, yet their dancefloor-ready version is so radically different, you may wonder if your brain is playing tricks with songs you remember. Also on Chapter Music is The Goon Sax out of Brisbane. Formed in 2013, The Goon Sax are James Harrison, Louis Forster, and Riley Jones. Did you catch that name, Louis Forster, yes he is the son of Robert, of The Go-Betweens fame. In The Stone is the cut. Recently I saw a video of a live set by The Goon Sax – I was impressed. OK, onto the second cover in this mix, “We love Peter Gabriel” say Lowland Hum “shortly after having our first child, we decided to cover his 1986 release, So, in its entirety”. (That took me by surprise). Lowland Hum is a minimalist modern folk band based in Charlottesville, Virginia, made up of Daniel and Lauren Goans. The cut you’ll hear is In Your Eyes from their new album, So Low. Interestingly how their arrangements make Gabriel’s songs sound so vulnerable. Is it a coincidence that The Catenary Wires specialize in harmonies and they have a harmonium on their songs? And fine harmonies they are on their album, Birling Gap as heard with Face On The Rail Line. This five-piece hail from Rolvendean, Kent in the southeast of England. When he is not putting us all to shame with his extraordinary stamina running marathons, Alex of Blackjack Illuminist Records out of Berlin is making music and putting out new recordings. His latest release Alex wants you to know about is the LP, Mind Dawns from Distance Dealer. He says, “This is a brand new post-punk/synthwave band I’m also part of. it’s comprising of Vlimmer (me Alex in Germany) and Phantoms vs Fire (Brazil)”. Hit By A Brick is the track I’ve chosen, and I suggest, if you haven’t already, you check out more of Alex’s releases.

Over on the latest Life Elsewhere, you’ll find an interview with David Lowery about his late brother, Ian Lowery who fronted a number of influential bands, including, Ski Patrol, Folk Devils, and The Ian Lowery Group. But before that, Ian was part of The Wall. Dave recently discovered four recordings of The Wall that have until now, never, ever been heard before publicly.

Playlist

  1. Suzi Sabotage – The World Is A Heartache
  2. Hanging Freud – Puzzels
  3. Dajung – Untitled
  4. Husbands – Must Be A Cop
  5. Luc Seacroft – Promised Land
  6. Lola Demo – Can’t Live Like This
  7. Lola Demo – Stone
  8. LV & Josh Idehen – Somehow (Radio Edit)
  9. Sweet Whirl & Gregor – Have You Ever Seen The Rain
  10. The Goon Sax – In The Stone
  11. Lowland Hum – In Your Eyes
  12. The Catenary Wires – Face On The Rail Line
  13. Distance Dealer – Hit By A Brick

Artwork by Ben Sabato “Self Portrait #5” from The Shadow Series 1998 12” x 13” Inkjet on fiber-paper

Love & Publicity. Questions For The Doctor. New Music From France

Growing up in the south, where tradition reigns supreme, Cate Doty thought about weddings . . . a lot. She catered for them, she attended many, she imagined her own. So, when she moved to New York City in pursuit of love–and to write for The New York Times–she finds her natural home in the wedding section, a first step to her own happily-ever-after, surely. Soon Cate is thrown into the cutthroat world of the metropolitan society pages, experiencing the lengths couples go to have their announcements accepted and the lengths the writers go in fact-checking their stories; the surprising, status-signaling details that matter most to brides and grooms; and the politics of the paper at a time of vast cultural and industry changes. Reporting weekly on couples whose relationships seem enviable–or eye-roll worthy–and dealing with WASPy grandparents and last-minute snafus, Cate is surrounded by love, or what we’re told to believe is love. But when she starts to take the leap herself, she begins to ask her own questions about what it means to truly commit. Just like her memoir, Everything I Know About Love I Learned On The Wedding Pages, Cate Doty is warm and witty with an infectious laugh, as you’ll hear when Norman B asks, “So, what did you do with your Ken doll?”

Also in the program, frequent contributor, Dr. Binoy Kampmark, Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, at RMIT University, Melbourne. The learned scholar offers his take on 1. The origins of Covid19. Are politics always at the forefront of any pandemic? 2. How does the rest of the world view the Biden administration? 3. The hijacking of a RyanAir plane and what this could mean for future dissidents? 4. The demands for Bolsonaro’s impeachment? Should we take more notice of what is happening in Brazil? 5. Burned by the Diana cult and the fall of Martin Bashir. Should the royals have a say in the freedom of the press? 6. A mouse plague after a drought in Australia? Are Pied Pipers standing by?

Plus new music from French singer-songwriter, Raoul Vignal with Red Fresco, a delightful cut from his new album, Years In Marble

Show 426

LEM Reggae Special #1

Without fail, every week we receive requests to hear more reggae on the show and we try to oblige by including a new cut when available. Dub-master, Adrian Sherwood’s talented daughter, Denise has been a recent standout with her album, This Road. Then, this past week an email came in from Ken Graham who writes, “Hello Mr. B, I listen to LEM every week on NWCZ Radio. It’s a great station and you have a really cool show. I remember you saying one time that you had a vast reggae collection and you’d love to curate a whole show from your reggae archives. Not enough reggae is played on the air in my opinion! How about it Mr. B. one hour of reggae, please. Thank you! Ken Graham in Renton, Washington.” Mr. Graham’s message prompted a venture into our reggae archives to search through the hundreds of crates packed full of treasured vinyl. After a day of listening and selecting a 60 minute non-stop mix was created. Some cuts may be familiar to serious reggae enthusiasts, others will be rare grooves, if not obscure versions. The mix begins with the full extended version of Rocking Universally from Willie Williams and Cousin Marshall. Released circa 1979, produced by Jackie Mittoo. The Real Rock rhythm used here is the same on Williams’ Armageddon Time, only faster. It is known to be a Studio One release, but my copy is a white label with scribbled info, “W.Williams – M. Cousins – Rocking Universally – Version – Keep Moving”. Cousin Marshall also listed elsewhere as Marshall Cousin was the son of Alton Ellis. Bongo Gene is also credited on this recording in some catalogs. An extraordinary recording. Listen carefully for the effects. Next up, The Cool Ruler, Gregory Isaacs with the sublime, Soon Forward. This version is the 1979 12” on Isaac’s own African Museum label. The song can also be found on the album of the same name under various imprints. Featuring an all-star line-up, including Sly and Robbie. Gregory is credited as producer. The originator of Lover’s Rock died in 2010, leaving a catalog of over 500 recordings. Ronnie Davis (AKA Max Brown, Winston Scotland) gives us a 1977 recording, You Are The Fool. Recorded at Black Ark with Lee Perry providing the brilliant dub. I saw this one being offered recently for $77. “The lyrics came about because I was in love like everyone else and had a broken heart in the process.” a quote from Dawn Penn in The Sunday Gleaner just after No, No, No had been released in 1967. The Studio One recording was a hit in Jamaica, but it was not until the early 90s when a new version became a commercial success. Be Thankful has, over the years been recorded by a host of artists, this 1975 version from Bunny Clarke, produced by Lee Perry for Clocktower Records has to be one of the best. Dubbing In The Back Seat is on the other side. On the subject of cover versions, can there be a better version than Dennis Brown’s exquisite reading of my high school friend, the late Peter Green’s Black Magic Woman. Perhaps not as well known as certain other versions, Brown’s delicate, soulful voice and Phil Pratt’s production delivers a poignant song. Dubbed The Crown Prince of Reggae, Brown sadly passed in 1999. Any reggae mix has to include a cut from one of the sweetest voices ever, the extraordinary, Cornell Campbell. This circa 1973 Bunny Lee production of You’re No Good showcases Cornell’s masterful falsetto. Possibly one of the most demur, artists, I have ever interviewed. When I asked Cornell if he enjoyed being on stage in front of fans, he replied, “Nah, mon, I prefer the studio, no one can see me face.”. Now 76 years old, the artist also known as Don Cornell and Don Gorgon can still be found performing, occasionally. Between 1976 and 1978 Hugh Mundell and Augustus Pablo lay the tracks for what would ultimately become Mundell’s debut LP, Africa Must Be Free By 1983. Produced by Augustus Pablo, Mundell wrote every song on the record. He recorded several 12″ singles under the alias Jah Levi. Mundell was shot to death on 14 October 1983, during his short life he recorded 5 LPs and numerous singles. The Rockers International 1979 release of Feeling Alright has to be essential in every reggae lover’s collection. The inclusion of the legendary I Roy, one of JA’s most celebrated DJs/Toasters/MCs is deliberate to illustrate the influence he had on rap and hip-hop. Born, Roy Samuel Reid he had a prolific career during the 1970s. For a while, he worked as house producer at Channel One Studios, although his work was generally credited to the studio owners. Bring It To Me was released in 1974, produced by Bunny Lee. Lacksley Castell, sometimes misspelled Laxley, Lacksly, Lasky, or Locksley Castel died in 1983, during his brief career as a reggae singer he released 3 albums and about a dozen singles. Jah Love Is Sweeter from 1980 was produced by Prince Jammy. For this mix, you’ll hear the wicked King Tubby Dub Mix. Get moved by the Nyabinghi drum sound. To close, certainly a rarity to hear the full version of Lee Perry’s, Norman The Gambler, featuring one, Maxwell Livingstone Smith, AKA, Max Romeo on vocals. On this 1997 recording Mr. Perry indulges in fader-mixing and knob-twiddling with such skill, you are consistently surprised as this long extended version moves forward. Brilliant!

Thank you for listening.

Playlist

  1. Willie Williams & Cousin Marshall – Rocking Universally
  2. Gregory Isaacs – Soon Forward
  3. Ronnie Davis – You Are The Fool
  4. Dawn Penn – No No No
  5. Bunny Clarke – Be Thankful
  6. Dennis Brown – Black Magic Woman
  7. Cornell Campbell – You’re No Good
  8. Hugh Mundell – Feeling Alright
  9. I Roy – Bring It To Me
  10. Lacksley Castell – Jah Love Is Sweeter (King Tubby Dub Mix)
  11. Max Romeo – Norman The Gambler

LEM Vol 236

Artwork by unknown circa 1984 “Reggae Inna Dance Hall Style” 12″ x 8″ photoprint

A Conversation With Cathal Coughlan On The State Of Our World Part One

On the release of his much-lauded solo album, Songs Of Co-Aklan, we invited Cathal Coughlan onto Life Elsewhere. It quickly became clear that 60 minutes was not going to be enough time to enjoy what this adventurous musician had to say. Another Zoom session was arranged. Two hours later we had covered a wide variety of subjects, with Mr. Coughlan offering his well-considered opinions. Plus, we ventured to ask the Irish-born musician to select some of his favorite recordings to include in the show. His choices are as eclectic and fascinating as the man himself. Cathal’s passion for music and the artists he talks about is compelling and inspiring.

Born and raised in Cork, Ireland Cathal began singing in the late 70s and by 1980 he had met Sean O’Hagan and formed Microdisney. A band that was hard to (thankfully) slot into a nice neat genre. On Discogs Cathal is described rather aptly, as an anti-Bono. His music and lyrics some may call challenging, I on the other hand was fascinated and loved playing Microdisney alongside the plethora of post-punk-one-hit-wonders that cursed new music in the early 80s. The temptation to slide easily into a lovable New Wave outfit was enough for Mr. Coughlan to see Microdisney dwindle down to a two-piece with O’Hagen and eventually reassemble as The Fatima Mansions, making, splendid yet hard to categorize music. The eventual demise of The Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s led to Cathal stepping away from being in a band to releasing solo albums, taking part in collaborations, and making guest appearances. For a while, he was involved in musical theatre, mostly in France. In 2006 he was described in The Irish Times as the ‘genius of Irish rock’

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