Brilliantine Mortality

Third Battalion

Third Battalion home / The Origins and Early History of the 3rd Battalion / Embrace the Past / A Rock in our Hearts / First Rites / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2003 / Cath Aubergine's 2003 BSP Travelogue / ULU / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2004 / Cargo / Springtime at Sea / True Adventures in the Land Beyond / To Cork and Dublin / The Children of the Summer's End / The Fall of British Sea Power

Footnotes The Search for HMS Sussex / Irish Jack

Fan reviews of BSP gigs can be found on the main site


Embrace the Past

The problem (solution?) with music, is that it is just too damn important. It isn't really is it? There are far more life affirming events happening at home, at work, and in the world at large – so music should not be that vital, but quite simply... it is.

In 1977 when I was 12 I heard the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen. I bought it the next day. I had already been hassling my father to drive me down the King's Road so I could look for London's punk scene. I was utterly besotted with the notion of the youth, the fashion, the sheer power of the music. Having seen the Pistols' Bill Grundy interview, I kind of felt that this was something that I wanted to be part of – but unfortunately I was a hapless spotty kid, too young and clueless to get out of the suburbs.

Living through Punk, although not quite having the brains to articulate or get involved eventually led me to the whole 1979 post punk scene - namely Joy Division, The Teardrop Explodes and a whole host of bands from the Rough Trade stable. I didn't really listen to night-time radio for some reason, so relied on the weekly music press. Great, I had just read about JD, thinking I should check them out, when I was soon reading of their singer's demise. I would just have to get submerged in the vinyl and bootleg tapes - becoming obsessed and desperate like a million other 16-year-olds. Angst never tasted so good. I listened to New Order – was lucky enough to see them touring their first LP – but it did not quite happen for me. I wanted something that could not exist anymore – and felt really cheated. We deserved to get a chance with JD, but had to settle for New Order and unfortunately they were not going to provide the answer.

I moved through tons of records, going back through the Velvets to the Johnny Cash and Burt Bacharach LPs my father used to play me. I also went to as many gigs as I could – from The Stranglers and The Bunnymen to Virginia Astley, Sonic Youth and Kraftwerk – I just had a superb time. The one thing in the back of my mind though, was great as they were, I never really felt that any of these bands had completely taken a hold of me. When I read articles about Lou Reed, or Bowie or Postcard Records, I always thought there was something larger than the actual music. Something more complete.

Whilst keeping an open eye and ears, not too much from the last fifteen years has really taken my imagination. I am not knocking current bands – but times and politics have changed - Rock n' Roll is fifty years old now. The business side of the industry is suffocating talent in favour of fast returns and aquiesence.

I heard about British Sea Power on an off chance, and was immediately intrigued by their giving a music journalist map co-ordinates for a prospective interview. Their ideas sounded good – definitely worth checking out I thought. And so at a summer festival in 2002 I did so. Yan had flying goggles hanging loosely around his neck. Although there was no similarity in behavior, I immediately remembered a picture of Sid Vicious casually wearing something similar. Musically I was astonished, the band had a full grasp of power, melody and soundscape, with a looseness of attitude (whilst being seemingly VERY WIRED) to die for. I found myself thinking of contradictions all over the place (I have always loved the notion of contradiction).

A couple of hours later I passed the (then) four band members in one of the bars – and stopped to tell them that their performance had been superb. "Thanks," Yan replied, slightly bemused. Yeah, thanks indeed...

Having achieved this epiphany and reinstated my faith in modern music, I immediately set about telling everybody that I could back in London about the band. I was in very quiet heaven. I attempted to find as much stock as was available and to my delight, I sent a cheque payable to the band's guitarist for a copy of their first single release. This felt really global – but close – and very special. From here on there's been a long catalogue of events marking a personal journey following the band's progress, and coincidences from people to places to events. Everything comes to those who wait.

Some four months after the Remember Me re-release, I was sent a copy of the record dedicated to my grandfather. Everything comes to those who wait – it is true. I finally feel that a band with ALL the credentials are here – NOW – don't fuck it up, and don't miss it.

So finally, how is it that in our consumer world, a band can inspire such thought and attention from their fans? In my eyes, it has to be because they are actually offering an intoxicating way forward partly influenced by the past. Rehashing fifties bubblegum is not going to work, and nor is trying to be the new New Romantics. But taking a look at the world that pre-dated Rock n' Roll (and ultimately created it), is a masterstroke.

Going back to the source with interests outside of the product has to be the answer. For me personally, the music closest to my heart has been made by people who have had a wider incentive than getting their faces into the papers or on TV. People that really meant it. Once they however make it into the papers and on TV, well, that is the perfect marriage.

I do not know the musicians who comprise British Sea Power, but from their music, lyrics and interviews, I just get the sense they are having a fantastic time doing what they want to do, and also have a lot more to offer. The gigs are the best live events I have ever been to. The anticipation is immense. So, enough of this self indulgent analysis. As Ian McCullough said at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983: "Lay down thy raincoat, and groove."


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