Thursday, 25 June 2015
Oliver: Culture - Life (15 December 1991)
I was having dinner last week with a friend from Cornwall, who was up here (Orpington) visiting her daughter and son in law. We met the three of them at an Indian restaurant where during the course of the evening her son in law, Simon and I got talking about music. He's the guitarist in a band called Amy Blue whose sound he described as "noisy shoegaze stuff". Hearing the words, "shoegaze" took me back to 1991 and so I told him about this blog. We had a good chat about his band and what they've tried to do over the last 10 years, but when talking about Peel, he said something which I had cause to reflect on as true in a lot of different ways. "I've got a few tapes of his", he said "and the thing is, he definitely followed a formula. Whenever he played a kind of safe, indie track, he always followed it up with a piece of hardcore German electro. Just to stop things getting too safe." It's true and it was a formula which kept listeners constantly off balance. There were other elements to the Peel formula you could rely on too, usually over the appearance of acts on his playlists. As demonstrated here, if he played Culture on the Saturday night,you could bet your bottom dollar they would re-appear on the Sunday....
Whereas the Culture track on the 14/12/91 was a classic cut from one of their keynote albums, tonight's selection brought things up to date, coming as it did from that year's release on Shanachie Records, Three Sides to my Story. Playing out over a bassline which would later inspire Sinead O'Connor among others, Joseph Hill and friends document the unfairness of life and notions of how "community" and "society" surely cannot countenance such unfairness, particularly when you work for your place in society; a stance which led Peel to remark wryly, "No such thing as society, Joseph, Mrs Thatcher said so" and which appears to still be the case today. Most curious of all is the pro-life line, "I love even the unborn babies", which causes me to think that the "life" being talked about is that which refers to the fellow man, rather than "life" as fate. The allusions to community and society appear to reinforce this.
Sinead seemed to have reggae on her mind a few years after hearing Life's bassline.
Videos courtesy of Marco Weststar (Culture) and Sasha Charan, whatshapeami (O'Connor).