JD Meatyard – Collectivise (2 Dogs Music)
CD / DL
4th album from former Levellers5 / Calvin Party main-man, oddball genius, anti-folk-hero JD Meatyard.
I’m a son of a particular backdrop / I’m a son of a romantic drinker/ a combination of a number of factors….
JD has consumed and bathed in the history of leftfield musics for many a year. He suckled on the teat of John Peel (metaphorically!) from a young age and joined the pantheon of greats played on the show. From Beefheart to Dylan to the Fall, the blues, the naive and bizarre, the political and the personal. His output is his own amalgam of all of them. He feels so indebted to them he feels he has to credit them in his own songs. His ragbag of intelligent but bewildered rage and anger is so free-form that sometimes it doesnt quite work ( to my ears….) but I am a lazy listener… but I have tried to love JD Meatyard because I know he is right, he is a huge talent and a one-off, an original – yes, despite the fact there is an obvious comparison to be made with Half Man Half Biscuit – with whom he toured.
There is a whole demographic out there for whom this will be one of, if not THE, best albums of the year. They are the fans of the aforementioned Biscuit, the Fall and former devotees and list-makers of the John Peel wingding in its Glory Days. Usually male, over 40, badly-dressed and of a cynical disposition. They are left-leaning and right-thinking with a perennially furrowed brow. They have alphabetically ordered record collections, a lot of books on politics and favour t-shirts indicating a love of cult film, sci-fi and obscure music. They leave cryptic comments on the Quietus after reviews they find they disagree with.
I have some good friends in that there demographic but I am not one….
The artwork paints JD in crude caricature as a leprechaun with a fashionably bushy beard, Badly-Drawn Boys tea-cosy hat and Harry Cross’s glasses. He looks like a Commie Smurf .. from Hell.
‘Some People’ is an epic track – my favourite, as it just doesn’t mess about. If there was still a Festive 50 -it would be in the Top Ten this year.
‘Bill Hicks (For President)’ is a great surreal proposition in song form which suggests Hicks -even though he is dead – would still actually make a darned sight better president than a living Trump.
‘Here Come The Haters’ is a cool Pixies-ish song (inspired by the murder of Jo Cox) which calls for ‘haters’ to be replaced by ‘Modern Lovers’ – which is a neat bit of wordplay/inspira-placement.
‘Karma Kinda Law’ too is a song which I can’t get out of my head …but is also everything which I find ‘annoying’ about JD. The slacker defeatism and apparent contempt for people who are ‘too dumb to care’. Have a listen and make up your own mind. I didn’t set out to be negative….
I have grown to love about half of Collectivise …but after a first listen, I have to be honest I thought, I can’t review this…. it’s too John Lennon-y (circa the Plastic Ono Band – Give Peace a Chance jamming style) and Bob Dylan-y – albeit with a load of post-punk flavours – so I asked my mate Ian Moss, of the Hamsters & German Shepherd records if he could rustle up a few words, as I knew he was a big fan of JD and it was his recommendation made me want to hear it. So here it is – Ian Moss on Collectivise.
One of the things I like about this album is how natural and organic it sounds , JD writes with great economy, never getting bogged down in over-verbose musings. He gets to the point and delivers his thoughts concisely with a sincerity that no cynic could doubt. He tries to make sense of a crazy world and is often left perplexed by the coldheartedness that he views with horror and disgust. His passion moves the listener, his humanitarian beliefs bleed through his music. A theme that recurs is Johns doffing a metaphorical cap to his musical inspirations;- an earlier album track ‘Standing On the Shoulder of Giants’ saw him salute a wide variety of influential figures. Here ‘ Pere Ubu’ in particular are eulogised whilst Slade, the Doors and Jamaicans Symarip who gave us ‘Skinhead Moonstomp are all name-checked. It could sound trite but Johns obvious and sincere affection for his subjects steers him well clear of of cloying sentimentality. This is evident too here on the title track. which in the hands of many would sound like an empty, sloganeering update of ‘ I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing; such is its message of unity, creating something better , once again ,Johns grit and world weariness balance the piece and you are left with the impression of a good man keeping a candle of hope and salvation burning. Without that hope there is nothing but terrible and terrifying waste and destructiveness.
As a bonus here is a great bit of footage filmed by the legend that is Matty Mabey of the band supporting HMHB in Southampton.
All words by Ged Babey except where stated.