WARMER MIXTAPES #607 | by Martin Luuk
Yeah, Pop Music was my first love, for a long time, my only love. It not only gave me excitement and helped shape my identity, it taught me how to read. In a way that books never ever could, the words contained in the records of my formative years – both in the lyrics and even more often, in the sleeve notes – pointed towards a literary language that formed me as a writer. These times – the early 80’s – were full of overblown manifestos, cheap heroics, cheap thrills, crappy Sloganeering and just plain Silliness, but they were my overblown manifestos, my cheap heroics, my cheap thrills, crappy Sloganeering and Silliness. Much more than any existing literature, these scrambled pieces of texts came to be the building blocks of which I wanted to build my own literature. A literature much more exciting than the books I came across in my teens. A literature that fuelled my imagination and passions as much as the actual Music itself. This June I released my debut single A Gentleman’s Story and I will soon be releasing my sixth book of prose. It is still my ambition to realize the vision that these fragments of text stirred up in me.
1. Dexys Midnight Runners | Tell Me When My Light Turns Green
Deliver me from my persecutors; for they are too strong for me. (Sleeve notes to Searching For The Young Soul Rebels LP, 1980)
This, of course, is from the scriptures. From The Psalms, it’s a prayer. The Psalms are full of prayers and Poetry for lost souls battling fear, Weakness and Paranoia. Most of them are attributed to David who sought refuge from Saul in the cave of Adullam. It could just as well be the prayer of Jesus (aka David’s son) in his crazed final hours, or the prayer of you and I when the accusatory voices inside our heads become too loud and nasty to bear.
2. ABC | Tears Are Not Enough
The record had been completed and with it Stage One in the proceedings. ’Are you pleased with the results?’ the voice got louder. ’Mr. Fry?’ The singer was thinking fast and furious, so one card had been played, the self congratulary moments were not enough. Fry was thinking about the next move. (Sleeve notes to Tears Are Not Enough 7”, 1981)
It casts front man/singer Martin Fry as the man with the plan and the vision. For a young teen, taking on all the chaos and nonsense with a plan and a vision seemed like an attractive prospect. But age has taught me not to cling too firmly to the plan and the vision, there is beauty also in Chaos and Nonsense, perhaps even more so.
3. Queen | Bohemian Rhapsody
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on… (Lyric from Bohemian Rhapsody 7”, 1975)
Yes I know it's got all that Scaramouche and Bismillah-stuff in it too, but I’ve always really really liked this line. I love that overblown stuff. We’re doing something important here. Risking our lives. And even if I die, the struggle must/will continue…
4. The Teardrop Explodes | Colours Fly Away
’Copey, what are we going to do’, said Troy from his home in 14 Bliss St. (Sleeve notes to Colours Fly Away 7”, 1981)
It’s just silly really. But I was glad they put it in. Smack in the middle of the lyric sheet. They didn’t have to. They chose to anyway. The Teardrop Explodes were a great Pop group. Full of Fun and Folly and some substance too I must say.
Also this from the Wilder LP, 1981:
Let’s make that plain from the very beginning, from the start.
Under no circumstances should we be the cause of grievous injury.
A body torn on our behalf?
No, no, no.
That would never do.
That would never do.
Not ever, under any circumstances.
But we would like the screams.
5. The Bureau | Let Him Have It
There was an audible murmur in the court. It seemed, for the first time, that the prosecution had made a mistake. (Sleeve notes to Let Him Have It 7”, 1981)
If the group and the song have long since been forgotten, the two sentences on the sleeve I could have quoted on demand any given day the last 30 years. I guess it has to do with humans’ - and perhaps especially children’s - capacity for filling in the blanks. It’s amazing how few building blocks it takes to build a castle in your head. These two sentences used to evoke more Drama and Emotion in me than the thick volumes of Prose we had to read in school. But not only that, I always thought it was kind of finished as it was, it didn’t really need expanding on. Even if it asked the what and the why, it always felt kind of complete in itself. Like a little haiku – on the sleeve of a throwaway tune…
6. The Cavaliers | It’s A Beautiful Game
He has given you power to bind and to loose, to be the darkness and the light of mankind. He has given you unexampled supremacy over the people, victory in battle from which no fugitive returns, in forays and assaults from which there is no turning back. But to not abuse this power. (Sleeve notes to It’s A Beautiful Game 7”, 1986)
él Records was the pet project of Cherry Records - founder Mike Alway. The label originally only lasted four years, and although it released records by a slew of different artists – such as The Would-Be-Goods and Momus – everything released under the él-banner always most of all projected Mike Alway’s dream world of a never ending warped 60’s cocktail party. And although I never really shared his vision, I always admired his Stubborness and Dedication to it. And I do love this text-fragment. It’s from The Epic Of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest pieces of Literature known to man. King Gilgamesh wanted, but failed, to find the key to Eternal Life, but the god Enlil consoles him. Eternal Life is not for you. When the Gods created Men, they also created Death. Life they retained in their own keeping.
7. The Jam | Man In The Corner Shop
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to Earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many – they are few. (Sleeve notes to Sound Affects LP, 1980)
From the poem The Mask Of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Cheap heroics?! Romantic revolutionary daydreaming? Yes yes yes, but there is fuel in the daydream. You must remember that for a young man the Glory and the Beauty of Revolution does not merely lie in the thought of Justice and Equality, but also in the hope of inflicting Hurt upon those who have. Only years later did I realise this was actually an ode to Non-Violence. Youth will colour Life any way she wishes. And so will Adulthood too, of course.
8. Elvis Presley | Don’t Be Cruel
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true. (Lyric from Don’t Be Cruel 7”, 1956)
No, don’t be. He should have cut the rest of the words away and just sung that for 20 minutes. Maybe the Colonel wouldn’t have let him. So he would have fired the Colonel and done it anyway. And then perhaps he would still be here. Alive, but still not happy. Still singing his song. Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
9. Dexys Midnight Runners | Liars A To E
I know of records that give strength. I have heard records that inspire people (not scrambling musicians or groups) to BE who or whatever they choose. I own records that have the power to make me cry. Records to be by and with – truly precious possessions. It is the ambition of the Midnight Runners to make records of this value. (Sleeve notes to Liars A To E 7”, 1981)
An underrated single from one of their finest years, 1981, and also perhaps their greatest ever sleevenote/manifesto. It was exactly how I too knew that a record could and should make you feel. And it was also how I wanted everything I myself would create to feel. It still is to this day, by the way.
10. Al Green | Belle
It’s you that I want, but it’s Him that I need. (Lyric from Belle 7”, 1977)
The Flesh vs Christ. The best lyric ever from the best song ever. Yes, it somehow cuts to the very Essence of Everything. Having sung that, everything else seems superfluos. Yes, even the word Superfluos seems superfluos.