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#atozchallenge: E is for Ecstasy…

a2z-badge_2016.jpg.jpegThere was a time in the ’90s…

Oh alright, if I’m going to do this, I may as well be honest about it.

The ’90s; when a large portion of our free time was spent having a very good time indeed, primarily due to our fascination with “chemistry experiments”, which my friends and I carried out with great dedication and regularity.

The second half of the ’80s had laid the foundation for all this psychedelic dabbling, with more organic (and free) debauchery made possible by the inordinate quantities of “magic” psilocybin mushrooms that grew in and around Crowborough, the rural Sussex town in which I grew up, along with the old faithful standby of acid (LSD).

Many of us had grown up with the hippy-trippy psychedelia of bands like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, but with the new decade there came a new pretender to the throne of pharmaceutical entertainment; Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or, more simply, MDMA, the main constituent of Ecstasy.

Or “E” to its friends. And boy, did it have a lot of friends.

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Initially, some of us were wary of this new addition to the pantheon of party paraphernalia, mainly because of the nature of the music it was associated with; There weren’t any guitars! But, as anyone who has been to a rave will tell you, once you’ve spent several hours in the company of hundreds of like-minded experimentalists, you realise that it isn’t the musical genre that matters, it’s the entire experience of feeling the music.

Now, I’m fully aware of how incredibly dull and pretentious it can be, reading other people’s drug stories, so I’m not going to inflict a load of new age wankiness on you (mainly because, even back then, we thought the whole new age thing was just that, a load of wank) but I’m not going to lie to you either; for those few years, it really did feel as though there was a lot more love in the world, at a time when a whole new subculture exploded into existence, almost overnight.

New trends are always viewed with sceptical cynicism, especially when the champions of such things are the younger generation. After all, what do they know about having fun? We were the hardcore party animals, there wasn’t anything they could teach us, was there? But that’s just where we were wrong, because what we learned was one of the most important lessons, that of inclusion.

Whereas the various tribes of youth culture in the past had been divided along fault lines of age and musical genre, the E Generation didn’t seem to care if you were a hippy, a mod, a punk, a metal head or none of the above; as long as you were having a good time, treated everyone with respect and didn’t cause any trouble, you were as welcome as the most devoted raver.

I probably had friends with a wider range of ages, lifestyles and musical backgrounds in those few years than in any other period in my life, before or since, and I have no doubt whatsoever that a large part of what brought us all together was something which the rest of society (the uninitiated, as I’m sure I would have thought of them at the time) considered to be an evil and depraved substance which was quite rightly illegal.
And yet the same society will happily go out and drink themselves into a stupor on Saturday night and that’s just fine and dandy, as is the strain that their perfectly legal drug of choice puts on the NHS and medical services all over the world.

It’s strange that a drug that regularly causes fights and car accidents, incites people to rape and assault each other and is responsible for untold health issues every day, is not only available on every street corner, but is even used by the government to raise taxes, yet one that results in a feeling of love and oneness with your fellow human beings is demonized by the same government.

{Obviously it would be irresponsible of me to condone the use of illegal substances by young people, so I’ll just say that these are purely my own opinions and it’s not big or clever, don’t try this at home, just say no kids, etc etc etc.}

Somebody who has covered the subject of the E Generation in a far more reflective and introspective fashion is the fabulous Cheri Lucas Rowlands and I urge you to read the beginning of her story that begins in 1997

I couldn’t possibly go without posting some music to go with this, so I’ve picked three tunes which would have been on heavy rotation in those days (despite the fact they aren’t all strictly contemporary to the period) and are still very evocative of those hedonistic years.

Enjoy.

#atozchallenge

 

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The last rock ‘n’ roller…

I’ve been a huge fan of music for 40 years and over that time I have discovered a great many bands and artists who have stayed with me, such was the impression they made on me when I first heard them.

And when one of those cornerstones of my personal music heritage passes away, it always seems right that I should pay my respects somehow, even when the subject of any such tribute would almost certainly scoff at it for being over-sentimental nostalgic bollocks.

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Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, 24/12/45 – 28/12/15.

My taste in music has always been eclectic, purely because (with the exception of embarrassing childhood purchases like The Bay City Rollers and Showaddywaddy) I have continued to listen to everything I have ever bought, so I’d never seen any contradiction in being a Pink Floyd fan who loved  Kraftwerk, or a Rush devotee who was also massively into New Order, although the tribal subdivisions of youth sometimes caused some friction, of the “you-can’t-be-a-headbanger-and-like-Gary Numan-too” variety.

All of which I ignored.

I didn’t want to be in their gang anyway. Or anyone else’s for that matter.

But then one band, one voice, one thunderous, gloriously over-the-top wall of noise arrived and for a while it was all that I listened to with my small group of junior metal-head school friends.

Even in an era where metal, punk and new wave were all still popular in the record shops and on the chart rundown every Sunday, this astonishing sonic assault was nothing like we had ever heard before and Motörhead soon became the very epitome of “heavy” rock.

And this particular blistering album by them was rarely off the turntables and tape decks of our teenage bedrooms at the time.

The band’s frontman, Lemmy, is credited with being everything from “the godfather of grunge” to “the hardest working man in rock” and was once described as having a voice “like a man who gargles with hot gravel”, but however the media portray him he has only ever described Motörhead as a rock ‘n’ roll band and has repeatedly corrected journalists who labelled them as “Heavy Metal”.

Lemmy did, after all, first find success in another of my all time favourite bands, Hawkwind, the stoner space rock collective who would eventually sack him for reliability issues brought on by his already herculean intake of amphetamines, resulting in his subsequent speed-related arrest on the Canadian border whilst on tour with them in the late ’70s.

Here he is playing with his trademark thundering bass style on perennial Hawks crowd pleaser, Silver Machine…

Undeterred, Lemmy formed Motörhead a few years later and has been fronting the rotating line-up ever since; their style never changing from the original frantic, bass strumming, drum galloping, speed soloing, throat shredding, grimy rock bulldozer that finally found them international fame with the archetypal Lemmy tune, Ace of Spades.

Seemingly indestructible for the last three decades or more, Lemmy Kilmister died today, only a short time after being diagnosed with cancer.

It’ll be a long time until someone who so perfectly embodies the term “rock ‘n’ roller” comes along again and the world will be a less entertaining place for his passing.

Killed By Death, indeed.

Like I said, he wouldn’t have given a toss about any fawning retrospectives on his contribution to music, so I’ll leave you with the best possible tribute to one of the world’s last real monsters of rock; the man in his own words.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lemmy: The Movie, enjoy.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser: Transition…

image So, the first phase is complete. The mission: to listen to all my CDs in order, as they came out of my totally uncatalogued collection, just to see what sort of interesting combinations would turn up.

And yesterday I eventually came to the end of the second of the two shelves that hold the six hundred or so discs, mostly albums, with a scattering of singles and EPs, a musical journey that began the day before Christmas Eve and has provided many unusual, unlikely and downright unhinged juxtapositions ever since.

The three CDs that completed the world’s longest mixtape weren’t any exception; An unmistakably bouncy chunk of “Madchester”, a minimal electro reworking of a modern pop classic, from the Black Forest of Germany and a laid back slice of alt-folk from Norwich.

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Here goes then, the final trilogy of tunes from the Melodic Randomiser, hope you enjoy at least one, if not all of them.

New Order – Spooky

Slow – Michael Mayer (Kylie Minogue cover)

Concrete Sky – Beth Orton

Mind you, I have still got all those cassettes under the stairs.

Hmm, there’s an idea…

 

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Tina Lynx fourth…

So, I have Returned.

You see what I did there?
What do you mean, “no”?

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You clearly haven’t been paying attention, otherwise you’d be aware that The Returned, spooky, French Twin Peaks-meets-Lost supernatural thriller TV series, was the last link in my continuing chain of questionable continuity, which unspools uncertainly out in front of us today like so;

The Returned, or Les Revenants to give it its original title, is one of an increasing number of foreign language dramas that I watch on TV, (a result of the increase in choice offered by digital TV, or a sad reflection on the British television industry? You decide) another example being twisty Danish political nail-biter Borgen.
Borgen means “Castle” and one of my favourite castles is Castle Drogo on Dartmoor, not far from where my good friend, digital artist and Wicked Spins Radio DJ, Shaun Histed-Todd lives.
I first met Shaun at last year’s Weird Weekend, which I was attending with old friend and cryptozoology nerd, Zippy (Richard Thorns), who was there to give a talk on the Pink Headed Duck.
Zippy’s website is called Which One’s Pink?, a reference to a Pink Floyd lyric.
Pink Floyd recorded Comfortably Numb, which was covered by Scissor Sisters
…and Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters sang on Jetstream by New Order.

And by staggering coincidence that brings me to my next musical highlight of the year.
I give you, New Order’s collection of unreleased tracks and rarities that someone found in a skip, Lost Sirens.

Enjoy.

Incidentally, if any of you has a particular cultural highlight of the last twelve months which you would like me to attempt to insert into the midst of a future Lynx post, let me know.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, cryptozoology, Music, TV

 

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