Friday, August 1, 2014

the quality of mercy is not strnen

The Mekons battled ennui and convention with the deconstructionist punk high jinks of this art school entertainment.  Formed in 1977 at the University of Leeds by  Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh.  They took their name from the villain in the Dan Dare comic and released their first single 'Never Been In A Riot' as a cheeky response to The Clash's 'White Riot'.  

Never Been in a Riot

32 Weeks

Heart and Soul

Where Were You?

"I'll Have To Dance Then (On My Own)"

Lanford looks back:  "The original idea of the Mekons was that we were a band that couldn't play, but the ideas would be strong enough that you could sustain it without being technically proficient. That rock 'n' roll could be made by people that can't play really, really well. What was wrong with rock 'n' roll in the '70s was that it was being made by people who could play too well for their own good. I We came from a fine art background, but it wasn't much of a fine art background because we formed the band when we were nineteen. Basically you could say we came from a high school background. (laughs)... It suddenly made complete sense that a lot of things were really boring. The reasons they were bor-ing was because they were so very complacent. There was a rigid class structure to popular culture-you had to pay your dues before you could become a rock 'n' roll millionaire. Punk was like 'This is pretty point-less.' It was suddenly exciting again-you had a bunch of little bands playing on a Friday night. Suddenly it was like your favorite band would be the band that was playing around the corner. You could go and see your favorite band play, rather than waiting for...It wasn't like there was a rigid manifesto saying what punk rock should be, It was more about what you shouldn't be. You shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do that,-and so you do what's left. It's a bit like DaDaism or something like that-an instance where you have to say 'this is all fucking shit'." 

After releasing a series of singles on different labels, they secured a deal with Virgin Records.  The lineup for their full length debut was Andy Carrigan and Mark White on vocals;  Kevin Lycett and Tom Greenhalgh on guitar;  Ross Allen on bass;  and Jon Langford on drums.  It was recorded at The Manor with producer Bob Last and engineer Richard Manwaring using the borrowed instruments of fellow University of Leeds students in another band Gang of Four.  Virgin Records mistakenly put a picture of Gang of Four on the back of the record.  The iconic cover of 'The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen' features a chimpanzee at a typewriter approximating Shakespeare.

'The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen' 
full album:

Like Spoons No More             02:05
Join Us In The Countryside      02:05
Rosanne                         02:34
Trevira Trousers                04:05
After 6                         04:35
What Are We Going To Do Tonight 01:48
What                            02:08
Watch The Film                  03:18
Beetroot                        04:12
I Saw You Dance                 02:17
Lonely And Wet                  05:03
Dan Dare                        02:32

bonus tracks:
Teeth                        3:27
Guardian                   4:15
Kill                            4:40
Stay Cool                  4:02
Work All Week          3:16
Unknown Wrecks       3:13

John Peel, 1978

1. What Are We Going To Do Tonight (0:10)
2. Trevira Trousers (3:28)
3. Roseanne (7:26)
4. Like Spoons No More (9:50)

5. I'll Have To Dance Then (On My Own) (12:03)

John Peel, 1979

1. I Saw You Dance (0:09)
2. Beetroot (3:12)
3. After Six (7:14)
4. Watch The Film (11:55)

'Revenge of the Mekons' trailer

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

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