Isn't this the magazine that asks what you were listening to when you were sixteen? Go on then, try me. I could come up with all sorts of cool quips, and I probably wouldn't be lying too much. Yet, it's also true to say I would listen to John Peel religiously of a night, waiting for the occasional burst of brilliance. Now, with the new Radio One schedules, not a lot has changed, and ahem number of years later, I've just heard one of those bursts in the fine form of Dick Johnson yelping that they wanna fuck the Make Up. I'll go with that.
Now, the Make Up's 'After Dark' is one of those unexpected records that suspend reality, and transform the everyday into that vivid world of adventure and glamour we always knew planet pop ought to be. It's cheap, comical, contrived, erotic, enlivening and the guitar goes clang, clang, clang, like guitars ought to. There's a lot of screaming, testifying and it's electrifying, and I bet it's going to get better. Yet, would it work if they came from Wallington and not Washington? Would it heck.
So, what do I like about the Make Up? I like Michelle Mae a lot, and I've loved her since she wrote that skateboarding broadside for Grand Royal. I like Ian Svenonius even more, and I've loved his screaming more than anyone's since James Chance. In fact, I've been playing the Make Up back to back with James Chance and the Contortions' first LP, which has been reissued by Henry Rollins, and if you want to hear where punk and funk meet free jazz and psychotic swagger, go for it, and play that next to Miles' 'On The Corner' and the Fire Engines, or Ed Rush and Nico with the Slits and Talvin Singh.
You can probably tell me more about this, but the Make Up evolved from Nation of Ulysses, infamous Washington DC fire raisers, with a masterful line in incendiary sleeve notes and functional hardcore. I could see the appeal, but didn't need the records. However, in the more general DC picture, with Fugazi and the Riot Grrl tradition, I was very much attracted by their no alcohol, no drugs defiant pose. Now, am I dreaming this, or did they argue that recreational drugs were used by the authorities to undermine the minds of the youth? My own pet conspiracy theory no less. Oddly, the DC scene echoed many of my own ideas, and I should have been more tuned into their form of expression. I could see the attraction but preferred Massive Attack and Black Dog.
But now! Well, I'm getting on, seem to be getting more into free jazz, can't understand why anyone would like the Spice Girls when Luscious Jackson have a new record out, and I am still having a whale of a time rummaging around in the Punk Rock archives. I do like my new French disko, Chicago Art Ensembles and I love the new Roots LP, but I do feel the occasional need for a bit of rough, which is where the Make Up come into their own. Mind you, I'll go for Dick Johnson too.