Sunday, 19 February 2017
Oliver!: Moonshake - Secondhand Clothes (8 March 1992)
"Too Pure artistes" was Peel's pithy summation of this track on 8/3/92, showing that PJ Harvey's success would have potential benefits in terms of exposure for her labelmates. Unlike Polly Jean and her associates, Moonshake wear their influences very openly, though this makes for a stunning achievement with Secondhand Clothes, which fuses together dub basslines, grunge-heavy guitar riffs and Throbbing Gristle style hornets nest of sonic angst to entrancing effect.
I hadn't heard of Moonshake before this, and a look at their Wikipedia page talks of how their early recordings alternated between dreamy, ethereal soundscapes, piloted by Margaret Fiedler and harsher, abrasive, urban tracks created by David Callahan. Secondhand Clothes was a Callahan composition and alongside the hard rock meets industrial noisecore sampling there runs a lyric which can be read as a straightforward status piece about the importance the young attach to identity through newness and originality. But as well as that, the refusal to wear secondhand clothes could also be alluding to an unwillingness to compromise on the most important things within a young person's life. What Rowan Atkinson termed "The authority of youth" when discussing Stephen Fry's portrayal of General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth, encapsulated here in a track which veers between passive calculation and outbursts of fury. In its contempt and dismissiveness, it rejects reheated thinking, behaviour and emotions. The home that can be made "between your thighs" implies a colder interpersonal rejection towards those who have passed through other hands. There's precious little warmth here, but the sentiments and conviction of viewpoint are white hot.
Video courtesy of mypartofthething.