Monday, 16 February 2015

Oliver: Bleach - Wipe It Away (30 November 1991)

When John Peel left London in the early 70s to move to the village of Great Finborough in Suffolk, he threw himself fully into the country life.  Whether it was inviting everyone at his local pub back to Peel Acres to celebrate Christmas 1973, opening the village fete, swopping Anfield for Portman Road to get his football fix  or running the local youth club (the brilliantly named Great Finborough International Airport), Peel was a part of the East Anglian furniture.

His residence there also meant that the East Anglian music scene had an important ambassador which provided East Anglian bands/artists with a window for their music, similar to that which Welsh bands currently enjoy with Huw Stephens.  At the time I started listening to Peel in the late 90s/early 00s, he would play plenty of examples of "the sound of young Stowmarket/Bury St Edmunds/Lowestoft" (delete as applicable).  Names like Cowcube, Miss Black America and The Vaults.  Peel planned to wear a Vaults T-shirt in the photograph that would have accompanied his unwritten article from his Peruvian holiday in order to give the band more publicity.

The best remembered of the East Anglian bands that Peel played were probably Extreme Noise Terror, whose short sharp bursts of explosive grindcore could inspire Peel to rhapsodic lyricism when singing their praises.  If you've never heard Extreme Noise Terror's music, it's basically the sound of a band vomiting, shitting itself and spontaneously combusting in quick succession.

Ipswich based 4-piece, Bleach were another Suffolk band that Peel championed and it was a message he read from the band informing him that their debut album would be out in early 1992 that encouraged him to play this track from their debut release, Eclipse EP, which had been released in 1990.
Starting out with a thumping drum pattern, the song is given the hurry along by Salli Carson's stroppy sing-song yowl as she canters through a thoroughly pissed off and demotivated list of complaints from the perspective of an exhausted worker - numbed by the tediousness of what she's doing, disgusted at the sight of schoolchildren in their uniforms "already fucking socialised" who will eventually find themselves in the same place as she is.  The rising rage is mirrored by the unfolding swirl of feedback running in the background as the first verse progresses.  When the guitar comes crashing in, I initially saw the battle between guitar and vocals as the song's declaration to reach for the skies, even when we can't lift our arms.  But as Carson announces her intention to have someone remember her after she's dead and the worms "eat my bones and turn me to dust", it suddenly struck me that this song is a planned workplace massacre set to music.  And it's absolutely brilliant.

Video courtesy of marmaladesoup.

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