Tag Archives: The Claim

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: The Full Story

A-Z

You can blame a chap called Philip Kane for this. Back on 1 December, he posted on Facebook the social media version of the old chain letter thing that went as follows:

“So the idea is to fill facebook with music, breaking the monotony of nasty, divisive headlines and images on our news feeds.

If you ‘like’ this post, you will be assigned a letter for a musician, band, artist, song, track or dj to post to your time line with this text”.

I liked it. He came back to me with the letter R. I came up with Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.’s ‘Santa Domingo’ – as you do – and before you know it I’d committed myself to the idea of stealing the whole concept and coming up with some music of Medway origin (or, if you will, MOMO) for each letter of the alphabet.

26 blogs later and I can finally move on with my life.

It has actually been fun – not least because there’s been the opportunity to focus on individual songs in a way you might not otherwise. Being an alphabetical list, there’s been less need to focus on continuity and history.

One day we’ve had a song by Balance Lost (a current band), the next we’ve had a song that’s had two outings: once in the early 1990s and then just a couple of years ago. Then, the day after that, we’ve had a song from 2010 which expresses its boredom with Medway bands from the 1980s.

It’s meant there’s been a wide variety of styles and sounds which all goes to show what an amazing melting pot of ideas this small collection of towns in the north of Kent is.

If you missed any of the blogs, not to worry: here they all are listed for your convenience – in alphabetical order, obviously.

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and the Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

N – Hand of Stabs – ‘The Night Had No Terror For Us’

O – The Daggermen – ‘One More Letter’

P – The Prisoners – ‘Pop Star Party’

Q – Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire – ‘A Quick One – Pete Townsend’s Christmas’

R – The Ambience – ‘Rome’

S – Balance Lost – ‘Shield Against the World’

T – The Kravin’ “A”s/Suzi Chunk – ‘Tripwire’

U – The Love Family – ‘Up in the Air’

V – The Flowing – ‘The Voyage’

W – Lupen Crook – ‘World’s End’

X – CTMF – ‘X-Craft on Tirpitz’

Y – Bear vs. Manero – ‘YRANYRBYM’

Z – KILL RPNZL – ‘Zombie Midwife Afterbirth Squad’

Find out more about many of these bands and artists – and many, many more, in my book: Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet – the story so far

A-M
Tradition dictates that the lead up to Christmas comes with some form of countdown – or, strictly speaking, a countup – often involving chocolate.

Here at Reviewage Heights we don’t have any chocolate on offer (as I’ve eaten it all myself), but I can point you towards a song for every letter of the alphabet – with two to come of Christmas Day.

As we’ve reached the half way point – and you might have missed some on the way – here’s the songs that have featured from A to M.

These songs are in no way meant to represent a “best of” – although I would maintain they’re all pretty darned good. But hopefully they do give a broad overview of the wide range of music Medway has had to offer over the last few decades.

So, here we go:

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: L is for ‘Losers Corner’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

The Claim - Black Path
Would it be such a bad thing, such a wrong thing, such a deluded thing to say The Claim should have been a much bigger band than they were?

Listening to ‘Losers Corner’ some 25 years after it was released as single, the song has all the ingredients of an indie classic. There’s a poetry to the lyrics that recalls both Morrissey and Ray Davies. And there’s a lilting, fairly simple melody that will haunt you long after the song has finished.

Mixed together, you have a song full of yearning and dissatisfaction and frustration set against the most heartbreakingly beautiful of tunes.

If a song like this drew large audiences for The Kinks (‘Autumn Almanac’), The Jam (‘Smithers-Jones’) or Blur (‘Charmless Man’), why, apart the whole thing about being in the right place at the right time, having the right management and having more than a little bit of luck on your side – apart from all those trifling little issues – why did the same thing not happen for The Claim?

It is, I’d dare to argue, only because a song like The Smiths’ ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’ is so familiar, compared with The Claim’s ‘Losers Corner’ that we feel inclined to believe the former of these is a better song. And that ain’t necessarily so.

“It seems, yes it seems, that it’s gathering speed/to find a home and a car and a new family” runs the chorus of the world-weary song. It’s a song about suburban dreariness, the boredom of keeping up with the Jonses and the futility of working hard to achieve very little.

And yes, these themes have all been dealt with by all of the above – and more – but, in ‘Losers Corner’, there is an eloquence that makes these musings seem fresh and so very vital.

“To be told you’re too old to learn a trade/to be placed at the gates of the unattainable” goes the song’s opening couplet.

The poignancy of such lines, mourning the triumph of inevitability and mundanity over the seemingly powerless and unutterably bored, is so intense that, for the four and a half minutes during which the song runs, there never have been any Kinks, Jam or Smiths. There has only ever been The Claim retelling tales of infinite tedium and sadness.

You can buy The Claim’s best of, Black Path, featuring ‘Losers Corner’ from Amazon and iTunes.

Find out more about The Claim and plenty of other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.