In October 2017 The Love Family released their album, Tracks. Rather foolishly I didn’t review it at the time.
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.
‘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.
Ah, the home stretch. Not long to go now. It’s Monday. Christmas is on Friday. But there’s still work to be done. Welcome to the letter U.
The Love Family’s album, Out of Reach (2011) was a long time coming. The band had originally formed back in the dying days of the 1980s, with members having previously appeared in the line-ups of Swinging Time, Crystal Tipps and Alistair and Millions of Brazilians.
After a few EPs in the first half of the 90s and a song making it to the dizzying heights of the Radio 1 Evening Session‘s ‘single of the week’, the band fizzled away.
‘If we’d have had any sort of management – or anybody who knew what they were doing – we’d have probably done all right,’ Gary Robertson, the band’s lead singer and guitarist explained when I was researching my book. ‘It wouldn’t have been bad. We were pretty good. But it was just a disaster.’
The band’s reunion – and the emergence of Out of Reach – came thanks to the reunion of The Dentists in 2010. The Love Family were invited to reform specially to support The Dentists at their gig in Gillingham’s Beacon Court. The date was 26 March 2010.
‘It kind of awakened something,’ Robertson recalls. And that was how The Love Family came back.
Out of Reach is an album of two halves – both excellent. There are songs from the band’s earlier incarnation, such as ‘Body, Soul, Heart, Mind’ from The Happy Couple EP, the song which had so impressed Steve Lamacq at Radio 1. But there were other, newer songs too.
‘Up in the Air’ comes from the older selection of songs, having first appeared on the Burnt EP from 1992. It’s typical of The Love Family’s brash, thrashing guitar sound, beats all pounded out on six strings as much as they are on drum skins.
And the lyrics are a picture of frustration and irritation. Robertson sings from the point of view of someone dealing with an emotionally stunted antagonist. ‘Is it hard to care or just to show you care?’ he asks in the chorus.
Meanwhile, the verses show our narrator finds it a little easier to express himself: ‘I just want to bleed it out/I don’t want to heal’.
As with the tune, the lyrics are typical of The Love Family’s heart on its sleeve approach to song writing. Songs like ‘Gravity’ and, of course, ‘Body, Soul, Heart, Mind’ conform to this very emotionally honest template.
Not that ‘Up in the Air’ – or any other songs from The Love Family’s catalogue for that matter – sounds particularly miserable. As with The Wedding Present, with whom The Love Family share a similar palette, it wouldn’t be entirely inconceivable for some indie kids to dance to this stuff.
Find out more about The Love Family and plenty of other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.