Friday, 15 June 2018
Oliver! appendices: Love Battery - Foot; Silverfish - Jenny (3 February 1992)
This blog doesn’t often go down the awards route except when looking at bands who should have been Oasis before Oasis, but these two appendices from Peel’s Nachtexpress show of 3/2/92 both earned something imaginary, but heartfelt, from me to put on their mantlepieces.
Peel opened his Nachtexpress show with Love Battery’s new single on Sub Pop Records. Amidst its punk/garage rock scratchy opening, brawny hard-rock chorus and swamp rock bridge, Foot weaves a touching and vulnerable lyric about the hurt and sadness felt when a trusted relationship falls away. The chorus sees singer, Ron Nine, weighing up the options of giving himself over to an intimacy of some description with a new companion, but riven with doubt about whether to “put my foot in” before having full confidence in the recipient “Don’t follow blind” being admirable advice. In 1992, the sonic wallop of Love Battery’s performance would have swung me. In the words of YouTube commenter Maggie Marl, “Now we know where Foo Fighters steal their songs from” and it has that wonderful sense of joy that the best hard rock singles can put across. But of more prescience to me in 2018, it put me on a road to hearing the album, Dayglo, which has remained on YouTube
since I blithely commented about it when reviewing the Nachtexpress show just over 2 years to this day. If I listened to Dayglo at the time, I clearly didn’t “hear” it in any great depth back then and certainly not enough to comment about. But having taken the opportunity to do so while preparing this post, I found myself stunned by it. Like all great guitar records, it sounds like the best bits of all your favourite records cooked up with Love Battery’s own unique touch. I think it may be the best, or at any rate, most compelling record I’ve heard from any Sub Pop act. Bear in mind, it took me a while to embrace any of Nirvana’s material from their Sub Pop days and although I went for all of the selections that Peel chose from Smells Like Smoked Sausages, I still think he left the best tracks out of his playlists, or at least on the recordings I heard. But, as the blog prepares itself to cover a new play through the summer of 1992, I’m praying discreetly that Peel was taken by Dayglo as I was - though knowing my luck, he probably played the tracks from it that I merely liked rather than those I could rhapsodise over at great length. Time will tell, but in the meantime, and if you’ve never heard it before, get to YouTube and seek out “Love Battery Dayglo album”. Then go to Discogs and buy it. You have 2 weeks before I get paid - I urge you to make the absolute most of this opportunity. I will console my own sense of loss, should it come to pass, with happiness that new ears are falling in love with Love Battery and Dayglo. Best Sub Pop Act? Based on what I’ve heard so far, the jury went home weeks ago
The other award for this evening is the Best Female Fronted Band of the Oliver! Rehearsal and Performance Period. This is not tokenism on my part. Looking back over the 400 odd posts clocked up so far, when it came to guitar music across Oliver!, it was woman-led bands who offered up the greatest range of multiple selections. PJ Harvey probably should win this given that over 1991-93 it was the name given to a band rather than just Polly Jean herself, but she dominated the visual look of that band so much that, with no offence intended to Rob Ellis or Stephen Vaughan, I regard Dry and Rid of Me as PJ Harvey solo records in all but name. It wasn’t either of them swanning around in their pants for 4-Track Demos, for instance. Hole’s splendid Peel Session had me feeling for a time that Courtney Love was the talented one in that turbulent relationship with rock’s most unprepared messiah. I had plenty of love also for the likes of Bleach and Curve but ultimately, I could only keep coming back to be flogged and abused by Silverfish, a band which consistently and brilliantly placed the listener lips first to the leather of Lesley Rankine’s DMs and had them saying, “Thank you, mistress. May I have another?”. Jenny may well be their masterpiece out of the slew of Silverfish tracks that Peel played over early 1992. Who was Jenny? If she was a real person then it’s terrifying to think that Lesley Rankine knew someone even more vengeful than herself. As was typical in Silverfish’s world, Jenny was forged in blood and violence but quickly spots an opportunity to turn her brutal genesis into something beneficial to herself, “Will I taste and will I feel/If I lie and if I steal. This is mine/Dip it in greed and set it on fire!” she squawks like a kingpin. Previous Silverfish tracks on this blog have dealt with overthrowing the patriarchy, childbirth and woman as avenging angel. Jenny is an extension of Vitriola but applied to terrify whole communities rather than just cheating lovers. The band play out with the intensity of exploding buildings and flames burning, while Rankine’s refrain of “I’m so pretty when I’m angry” turns her protagonist into nothing less than a She-Hulk. Mad, bad and dangerous to know...but thrillingly irresistable with it.
Videos courtesy of Lance Vance (Love Battery) and skawashers (Silverfish)