Search This Blog

Monday, February 7, 2011

326. "Dennis and Lois" by Happy Mondays

See, I know this recording sounds weird. At this point the MOTU unit only works about 75% of the time, and certain things will make it crap out not to be revived for several hours. And right after I got everything ready to do this tune, I stupidly did one of those things. There was nothing for it but to proceed using the condenser mic on the Mac, and that meant that a lot of stuff I normally would have played, er, analogically, like bass and electric guitar, got ditched or replaced by sequencing (which might sound good, but programming bass takes me a lot longer than playing it). And then when I started to record the acoustic guitars, for some reason I couldn't get them to stop phasing. There didn't seem to be any electronic reason for it, so it was really puzzling. Thinking about it later, I guessed that the phasing was a natural, physical acoustic thing relating to the room in which I was recording and my position within it: I was dead center in my living room underneath the seam of its rather large cathedral ceiling, and I think the sound waves were just bouncing around in there canceling each other out. The vocals weren't affected nearly as badly, so of course I added some artificial phasing to those.

Jim Poe said to me once long ago, "One thing I really like about the Mondays is that they're kind of total dicks", and I completely knew what he meant. It resonated years later when I was talking with Skates & Rays bassist Cliff about the Stones, and how there was something truly seductive about evil as they portrayed it, much more matter-of-factly than your average faux-Satanic or ultra-hedonistic metal band. Those kinds of bands are off-putting to me because they're really just about establishing their own badassness over and over again, never really getting to anything else. The Mondays and the (interesting, evil iteration of) the Stones don't take much time to posit their own evil or threateningness: it's just there, and then they're on to the next thing. The Cult of Badassery seems to have grown to new levels of all-pervasiveness in recent years, and it's hard to imagine a "bad boy" group being as totally weird as the Mondays in this Michael Bay world... nobody hoping to look threatening to your mom would bother to be as goddamn groovy, or to spew forth lyrics about whatever the hell it is that Sean Ryder's on about when some gothy makeup, a scary logo and a broody, sharp-sounding name will do the trick. And I loved the Mondays for it, bastards though they were and are. In some ways, it was a dry run for my later mania for The Fall (whom I actually heard and liked well before Happy Mondays existed, but didn't become pathologically obsessed with until much more recently)-- it's beyond imagination that Mark E. Smith and Sean Ryder appeared at the same spot on the map, because while they're really two of a kind, the parallel only really holds on paper, and hearing either man at work you'd never begin to get them confused.

One last piece of Fall-related trivia: a few years back I was following a Fall discussion group trying to piece together the sordid tale of the backstory and fallout of the infamous Brownies gig, with then-Fall-member Julia Nagle relating her side of the story. Julia referred a few times to a NY couple who'd helped to organize and promote the doomed tour and with whom she'd corresponded about trying to get some of her gear shipped back to the UK, and at some point I realized that she was referring to them as "Dennis and Lois". And yes, they turned out to be the Dennis and Lois of song, about whom I'd previously known nothing, and who are pretty damned fascinating. Above all I was surprised to learn that they were American.

Personnel: Rex

No comments:

Post a Comment