Membranes, Kiss Ass Godhead (Overground)/ Ceramic Hobs, Straight Outta Rampton (Pumf) both CD
(July 2001)

Do they still make candy cigarettes? How about pint pots? One year I tried to extract the beer from 20p's worth of pint pots by leaving them in a glass of water on the window ledge for a month. They eventually dissolved and the water turned a bilious shade of brown. Brewmaster Possession held his glass up to the light - it was pure and clear except for the odd gobbet of gelatinous saccharine - and in a single act moved from boy to man by downing the ale in one. This was followed in quick succession by upping it in several, but was nothing compared to the bodily evacuations that followed my attempt to distil beer from Shandy Bass..

What insidious confectionery we used to have, back in the days when Margaret Thatcher was still only a seer's nightmare. During the Iron Lady's tyrannical reign the playtime preparations for adulthood disappeared from the shelves of newsagents across the land, to be eventually replaced by the infinitely more insidious mobile phone cards. Unbridled capitalism once again working for the health of the nation, as children weaned themselves off the quick sugar fix and started mainlining on the much more addictive fashion-led and divisive telephone. Strangely, the worst sweet of all, and paradoxically the one most beloved of ageing relatives, resisted this trend and is still going strong today. Correctly known as Junior Fellatio, I am talking about seaside rock.

Unfeasibly phallic, disgustingly suggestive, impossible to eat without looking like you're auditioning to give all of the Village People a sloppy blow job and with a hefty payload of future dental problems, rock is unfaltering evil. And Blackpool is the Mecca of this tooth-destroying, paedophile-friendly prick-a-like, you can even go and watch middle-aged mothers masturbating the larger-than-life pink rods, still warm from the extruder before they become rigid and ready for use. A fantasy for some depraved souls, a scene of depravity for the rest of us.

But there's an even dirtier variety of Blackpool Rock, one that John Robb documented all those years ago, and one that's being gleefully rendered today as a patchwork of accidental, genius, ill-conceived comedy, dada noise, magpie non-sequiturs and general cut up confusion by a gaggle of frantic lunatics known as Ceramic Hobs. Alternately lucid, illucid, didacts, dildos, musical, mental, musico-mental and all points in between, the Hobs are a mind-fuck of contradictions and mess and Straight Outta Rampton is a 21st century descendant of those ubiquitous 4-track tape compilations circulating with crudely photocopied fanzines in the 1980s. Shaolin Master is a gruff monologue over a riff even early Cornershop could've managed with a wobbly three-note solo played at roughly half the speed that Pete Shelley first plucked it out. John Peel would've played it every night for 2 months and it would've sold 23 copies. Islam Uber Alles drops a truly threatening fuzz-blues bass under anti-Christian, pro-revolutions ranting ("Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Father Abraham, Sonny Bono and The Ghost In The House") and a guitar wave off the back of Hawkwind's lorry during a particularly bad trip while Public Order fucks up a glam clap/stomp beat and a paranoid hypnovocal. There's a "handy" schema of samples/ inspirations in the sleeve notes. It features The Pastels, Flake, Limerick Cows, Spielberg and chaotic dischord.. in a single song. For mad bastards and fans of Bogshed, Stump and Stretcheads (the two are not particularly incompatible.) 5 to M. Standing, 25 Ivy Ave, Blackpool, FY4 3QF

The Membranes memorably described their birthplace as a Tatty Seaside Town and that homage opens this reissue from 1987 (with bonus tracks, natch). The third album for Blackpool Rox editor John Robb's first band was very much post-post-punk, testing the limits of noise and riffs, of fucked-up rock'n'roll and intolerance to Thatcherism. Recorded by Steve Albini although not as sharply as elsewhere (especially Shellac) it’s obviously of its time, but some tracks stand up across the best part of 15 years. Tatty Seaside Town was and always will be an outsider anthem, a 2-minute pogo of bile-laden disdain for the primal sheep mentality and the group mind, especially when it manifests as tanked-up yobbos looking to do the strange-looking fucker over. Electric Storm is The Fall brooding nastiness and Fuck My Old Boots frazzles with uncontrollable amphetamine energy. John Robb's 91st Nightmare (the unedited full length version), recorded in the toilet, pumps up the drum machine and drops in the meanest riffs on the record to fulfil its paranoia potential. Time Warp 1991 (the post-album single) throws in some Teardrop Explodes vitality and the frankly amateurish Bacon Factory is a post-pub singalong mess. Back when the indie charts meant something, this meant something. Today, when none of the charts mean anything, it means a lot.

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