Back For The Weekend (Wreckless Eric/Len Bright Combo)

My musical weekend began on Thursday evening with a rip-roaring session on BBC 6Music by the Len Bright Combo. The band were using their stint for Marc Riley, off of the Fall, as a rehearsal for their one-off comeback gig the following night at the Lexington on the Pentonville Road. You know it, the nice looking pub just up the road from the Angel. The iPlayer & the “listen again” facility offered by the Beeb is undoubtedly a useful tool. For an organization which is paid for by my & my fellow countrypersons’ hard-earned, the prevailing vainglory while offering Internet services seemingly aimed at 14 year olds is less engaging. Praise Parabrahman then for Fire Records who have allowed us to enjoy the full 90 minute gig on the Y-tube. (We’re Crosby, Stills & Nash…You’re not fucking Young !”…great heckle)

“Selina Through The Windshield” is not, according to those who were paying attention to the Combo on their first time around, the best of LBC’s recorded output. Now these same sources, having had 26  years to reconsider & this scorching new version to savour, are using phrases like “glorious racket” (isn’t that one of mine ?) & “thrilling pure sound”. By Jove, he’s got it ! These noisy men made 2 LPs. The debut has been described as being  “soaked in reverb, sounding like a cross between The Kinks, the Velvets, early Who and Joe Meek’s wildest productions”. If that don’t get your motor running then thanks for dropping by & get on back to downloading that Lorde stuff.

The guitarist Wreckless Eric, for it is he, had seen his contemporaries,Nick Lowe, Costello, Graham Parker & others, find a way to make the music pay. Eric Goulden’s approach was admirably lo-fi but he was not helped by having that most awkward of drinking dilemmas, two hands & only one mouth. In 1984 there was no record deal with little idea or inclination to push it along. A move to Chatham in Kent brought contact with a scene which shared the DIY ethic & a love of 60s garage bands. Joined by two-thirds of the admirable Milkshakes, drummer Bruce Brand, bassist Russ Wilkins, the Len Bright Combo recorded the first LP in 2 days for just £86 ($141). They may have played a church hall or a pub near you & you never knew it. Eric was enjoying being in a band, making loud music but there was never any plan to any of it. One time there were Belgian TV cameras pointed at the Combo while they played.

Fire Records have re-released the 2 LPs this month. It is the reason for this fantastic gig & it is an opportunity to hear records which gracefully & naturally capture a sound that others spend much time & money hoping to do similar. I can do no better than Allmusic’s review of the first LP, ” Experience it in person, however, cranked up loud with your mind’s eye wide open, and it’s records like this that make music worth hearing. And nothing else will sound so great for days”. Yeah Man !

For the next decade Eric became a rock & roll gypsy, different bands on different labels. He lived in France, wrote a book, the guy who wrote “Whole Wide World”. Since 2006 he has recorded 3 lovely LPs with his lovelier wife, the talented singer-songwriter Amy Rigby. 2012’s “A Working Museum” is bright, funny, playful & packed with great tunes. “Days Of Jack & Jill”, Eric’s reminiscence about his grandparents’  shop, his childhood visits in a pre-Beatles world is the third from the record to make this blog. It’s a winner.

At sometime in the future a musical archaeologist will dig up all of Eric’s music (almost 40 years already). She will brush off the dust, place it in order & context. Historians will be mystified how such a quality body of work could be produced in almost complete anonymity, neatly side-stepping any hint of success. I asked a man with a mission to spread the word which of Eric’s past work he would recommend. So, “The Donovan Of Trash”, “Bungalow Hi” & “12 O’Clock Stereo” ? No me neither. If there is not enough time in your days for such tomb raiding then the 3 LPs by Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby are 21st century essentials So, what is this, a staring contest ?

Eric & Amy have quite an e-footprint, their blogs & F-book pages being as low key, funny & interesting as their music. I really do hope that there will be more music to come from them. While Eric is in the UK he is also playing a few solo gigs. One of these, on Thursday, is in the hometown of my correspondent/adviser/fanatic. Here is Eric’s cracking cover of “Sweet Jane” that my friend released on his own label but it is his fanboy’s escalating excitement which is going to require medication if he does not calm down in the next 48 hours. He’s going to have a great night.