Tuesday, 13 April 2010

False Perceptions

This sent in by our non-electro pop correspondent - Neil K

Just to play up to the label of Mr Electro Pop - I admit I bought my first Strangelove CD 50% for the bands name - which is a Depeche Mode single (the other 50% having heard Time For The Rest Of Your Life on Mark Goodiers’ radio show in the mid ‘90s while at my digs at Stafford Uni). You will no doubt be pleased to hear that this one features no electro or pop. Just Radio 1 friendly blasphemy. Guitars. And some brooding teenage angst.

I owned all three albums from this Bristol based band (who were championed by Suede having supported Bret and co); the first two are highly recommended – the second, Love And Other Demons in particular is very strong. Anyway, my mind was drawn back to seeing this band in a small venue in Stoke (curiously I recall only one of the two people I went with). Anyway, the general gist of this posting is how your self made perceptions can be so way off the mark (yes, this means you Mr T with your “Mr Electro Pop” labelling!). My only knowledge of Strangelove at the time had been from playing their first two albums – and seeing some moody black and white photos in NME. I don’t believe I’d seen a video of them (until today) – viva la You Tube. Having three guitarists (not including bass) meant the album is very layered and textured, with lots of intertwining guitar lines, that take a few listens with headphones to make them all out. The first two albums also had more downbeat songs than up tempo attempts at singles, with lush strings on a couple (such as the glorious Sway).

Back to my point. All of this evidence led me to believe that the lead singer, Patrick Duff, would be a shy, poetic type – probably hiding behind the microphone with the occasional whispered “thank you” when the lager started to kick in and his confidence levels were up. What I wasn’t expecting, was a gothic Johnny Rotten on speed – said Mr Duff jumping on tables, spitting, generally being aggressive and insulting the audience. The rest of the band were more like I was expecting from an indie rock outfit circa 1995, so I guess it’s fair to say that the singer certainly made for a memorable evening as it was this that led me to write about them. When they split up not long after, two of the guys joined the equally good Witness. I had my own theories that the band must have been so irritated by sharing a tour bus with the lunatic Duff that they could take no more. Maybe. Maybe not. Thinking about it - the fact that Witness played on Jools Hollands show probably makes it more likely the latter – they obviously didn’t mind sharing the stage with annoying pr*cks (click here for a revealing Guardian piece on the troubled Duff).
Anyway, here are the band in their prime with the video for “Time For The Rest Of Your Life” – a video where it seems they dragged 7 people off the street – gave them a camcorder and told them to film them in the dark.

And I’ve just found what Patrick looks like now (just checking he was still alive) – and it appears he is (just) – although it looks like he may be living rough. Perhaps in a tent. On a recently vacated Wolverhampton roundabout. Buy this mans new CD – I’ve not heard it so can’t vouch for it’s quality – but it looks like he needs the pennies and he has “form” as 1/6 of a great band.

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