Tuesday, May 01, 2007

billy be childish

some time ago i mentioned a cassette that stuart mctell had sent me with all sorts of exciting things on it - from swell maps to happy flowers, cult figures to sexton ming.

as you'll know if you've been paying attention, i still have this cassette and occasionally i still listen to it - even though i have most fo the songs on record nowadays.

in 1990 i started a new band. it was called pimp. we needed a second guitar player and the drummer worked with a guy he thought would fit in.
the chap in question did indeed fit in.
he was a third generation mod - he got it off his dad.
he loved the milkshakes, prisoners, all those medway bands.

james taylor quartet | mission impossible

apart from buying a couple of LPs by the james taylor quartet in the mid eighties, the medway scene was something i'd never really delved into.
just never seemed to get round to it.

thee mighty caesars | john lennon's corpse revisited

i knew thee mighty caesars from stuart mctells cassette, but little else.
after visiting my guitarist's place and listening to a bunch of records i decided i should investigate.

thee headcoats | the kids are all square this is hip!

i ordered a headcoats LP from hangman records and when it arrived there was a list of other things i could buy.
included in the list was a bunch of LPs by sexton ming.

sexton ming | 6 more miles to the graveyard

i'd loved the 3 or 4 songs by him that were on that compilation cassette and so i ordered a couple of records.
i guess sexton is probably an acquired taste. i know people that love him and i know people that loathe him.
for me he's just a really funny, surreal and very clever writer who happens to make the occasional record.
he came out of the medway poetry/punk scene along with billy childish.

i started to correspond with the girl who ran hangman records' mailorder.
her name was kyra.
at the time i had no idea that she was billy childish's girlfriend and a member of thee headcoatees.
she had some of my cassettes to listen to and a couple of the short stories i'd published.
she suggested hangman stuff i might be interested in.
i bought one of sexton's books, "the man who created himself", thought it was terrific and so ordered one or two more along with one by billy childish.

when they arrived the book by billy had been signed, "to crayola, love billy" along with the date.
i wrote to him directly and thanked him and he sent me an invitation to the opening night of an exhibition he was holding in north london. sorry, the date and location escape me, but thee headcoats played too.
he gave me the same feeling that john robb had given me a few years before - here was a man who was totally pro-active, energetic and enthusiastic about other people making art and music.

a year or two later i was putting together a cassette compilation called "disasterous zoological experiments" for release on my label and sexton gave me a handful of songs to use.
there was a note with it, "bill says that you are OK and i can trust you. here's some songs" - that's basically what it said.
the note's been lost in the mists of time so i can't quote it word for word.

wild billy childish and the blackhands | live in the netherlands

i never bought a huge amount of records by billy or any of his bands.
when the press picked up on his stuckism movement they never really got to grips with the fact that he'd been doing the same thing for 20 odd years.
and that's why i didn't buy a great deal of his records.
you only need five.
any five will do.
my favourite childish band is actually the blackhands.
kinda deep south blues with a hint of, dare i say, lo-fi calypso.
something like that.
i think i like them best because they don't quite sound like all the other childish groups.

singing loins | steak and gravy

i also really dug and still LOVE chris broderick's the singing loins - i'd bought their collaboration LP with billy and liked it so much i bought their two LPs proper.
both records are terrific modern english folk poetry.

i've kept in touch with bill on and off over the years and he's always genuinely interested in what i was doing.
and then in 2001, when i left the UK for a year, he kindly played a live set at my leaving party.

most of the people there were strangers.
most of them were japanese girls.

which made me very happy.


  • At 9:33 AM, Anonymous brogues said…

    Just found your blog and it's a right rivetin' read as the Star useta say :)

    Saw Billy and co. in Glasgow recently and they were fiery and tight and magnificent!


  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger crayola said…

    glad yr enjoying the blog.
    whereabouts in glasgow did they play?

    i've not been up there for ages.
    nearly moved there a few years back as i have so many friends up there.

    in fact at one point (2003) i had an interview for the job of event organiser at the arches.

    i MISS monorail and it's veggie dinners!!!!

  • At 10:10 AM, Anonymous brogues said…

    Hey chap!

    Monorail is ace! The 1990s launch their album there on Sunday night which promises to be a treat. Glad you like Glasgow ... always gives me a wee bit of civic pride when people say nice things about it :)

    Billy played at former porn cinema The Classic Grand on Jamaica Street between the Sub Club and MacDonalds. It's an ace venue! Andy Weatherall dj'ed, too, and played nothing but rockabilly and garage. A fine evening!

    I'm glad I found your blog and the Sarandon page. I have the first 3 Sarandon mini albums and love 'em so I've ordered the 4th from ya ... looking forward to hearing it! I enjoyed your session for Lard a bit back ... top stuff.

    All the best, brogues

  • At 12:55 AM, Blogger crayola said…

    you're very kind.
    just recorded the new ep.

    now have alan brown of bIG fLAME playing bass!!!!

    how exciting is that??!!??

  • At 3:21 AM, Anonymous brogues said…

    Wow! That's ace! Next Phil Wilson will be joining you for an Emerson, Lake and Palmer style super group :)

  • At 9:49 AM, Anonymous brogues said…

    hahahaha... just got 'The June Bride' in the post today and noticed that Phil does indeed sing on it. That's great! Please don't write a song called 'Elton John', mind :)

  • At 5:59 AM, Blogger crayola said…

    well, i'm about to move house - we're going to be living in the same village as engelbert humperdinck.

    now THAT would be a fine collaboration!!!


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