Wild Billy Childish & CTMF – Acorn Man (Damaged Goods)
CD DL LP
A 35 year quest for ‘the ever-essential bones of pop’ … ‘the sound of yesterday, tomorrow’ or the 900th album from Billy Childish exploring his usual obsessions, God, nature and his self. Ged Babey scratches his head.
You probably know what to expect from a new Billy Childish album; pretty much the same as the last one; raw, one-take garage re-writes of Louie Louie, Wild Thing, early Kinks, Link Wray and blues-garage, dustbin-mod classics about his current obsessions.
But you always get a couple of surprises… and some great cacophonic, clamourous guitar…
Billys guitar solos are one of my most favourite sounds. They are a racket but beautifully judged and have a tumbling beauty something like a pile of tin trays being flipped up in the air and falling down a metal staircase. They are ten to twenty five seconds of gorgeous noise where tunefulness and dissonance collide and the right notes are played but not necessarily in the right order and sound like bullets shot from a bell.*
Billys wife Nurse Julie has had quite an influence on a fair few of these songs. Instantly Delete and Zero Emission, the ones with references to the new fangled hinternet are not something Billy concerns himself with. He is more into nature and God nowadays, although interested in the Curious Filters through which everyone else views the world nowadays.
The two tracks which are the most fascinating and the most typically Billy on this new album are Punk Rock Enough For Me and the Song of Myself.
I have to confess my ignorance apropos the latter, the lyrics to which are constructed wholly I believe from lines from Walt Whitmans epic American poem of the same title. Before I knew that I was a bit baffled with the archaic language and what exactly a yawp was.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
All of this over the most primitive re-jigging of Louie Louie/Wild Thing. It has the feel of a prayer. It is joyous yet straight-faced. Egotistical yet humble. Existential truth or the ravings of a lunatic. It means everything or nothing. ( Yeah, I’ve been reading the Quietus a lot lately).
The other song of note ‘Punk Rock Enough For Me’ takes Punk as the measure of all things that are inspirational. And yet goes for the least obviously punk by most-people’s definition as an act of defiance and bloodymindedness.
Freddie and the Dreamers are Punk Rock Enough For Me.
A Cup of Tea is Punk Rock Enough For Me.
As are Wire at the Roxy, Dostoevsky, Ella Fitzgerald and “the Beatles without George Martin”. It’s another great list song in the style of These Are A Few of My Favourite Things.
Even though every album might ‘sound the same’ to many people ears, the fact is, (to use the words of Greil Marcus talking about UK Punk) that this and any of Billys albums “sound like the greatest thing you’ve ever heard….You can’t place one record above the other, not while you’re listening; each one is the end of the world, the creation of the world, complete in itself…. For as long as the sound lasts, no other sound, not even a memory of any other music, can penetrate.”
And that’s Punk Rock Enough for me.
* a steal from Trevor Chaplin in the Beiderbecke Affair that bullets/bell quote.
No facebook, twitter or Rolling Stones … in 1977.
All words Ged Babey. More writing by Ged on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.