The Mekons

I Have Been to Heaven and Back: Hen's Teeth and Other Lost Fragments of Un-Popular Culture Vol. 1

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Mekons' heaven is one of ethical socialism, something they idealize but feel has never been realized. The reality is a thin, barely held together level of entropy that is on the verge of the cataclysmic. The Mekons' live shows exude that frantic urgency. Every performance has the sudden importance of apocalyptic religion. The Mekons destruct onstage in a last-ditch effort to save you with guitars and charged lyrics. The cover of this live rarities collection is a photograph of just such a charged moment. Guitarist and vocalist Jon Langford (Bloodshot Records, Waco Brothers, Three Johns, etc.) is lifted from the stage and twisted around by a power chord he just launched. Vocalist Sally Timms beams with an electric, revival-like ecstasy, tambourine overhead. Another Mekon caught up in his fallen shorts, crashes to the floor. Smugly, accordion player Rico Bell smiles over all. Outtakes from sessions for previous albums are jumbled in with unexpected covers (English children's rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" and Rod Stewart's "You Wear it Well"), audience tapings, and more rarities. Called Vol. 1, Mekons actually first rewarded their fans with such a detailed hodgepodge in 1982 with The Mekons Story and in 1987 on New York. These originally English post-punk rockers deliver a fair amount of Americana in their ragged anthems and every line is a closely held belief or personal revelation. On "This Funeral Is for the Wrong Corpse" (never before available in its full length), Langford espouses his political ideals. In "The Ballad of Sally," Timms shares her own insecurity. Mekons offers their fans powerful, Americanized post-punk British rock that is a channel for beliefs on fire and active honesty.

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