Saturday, 15 April 2017

John Robb & The Membranes

What can I say about John Robb? I first met him when my band Fruit Tumor sent him a demo tape in the hope he'd produce our first single. The reason I sent him a demo was due to the fact that he was a great journalist with a down to earth roots attitude and would put his name on anything he personally liked. He must have liked our demo because he produced our single which went on to sell about 800 copies!! John was born in Fleetwood in 1961 and was a Blackpool lad with big ambitions. He formed The Membranes in 1977 with Mark Tilton, Martyn Critchley and Martin Kelly. Critchely left early on and they recruited "Coofy Sid" on drums. Their first tune was a flexi disc called The Flexible Membrene in 1980. Their first single was Muscles which got the interest of John Peel and the rest of the music press. They were almost signed to Creation Records (Ride, Oasis, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine to name a few!) but Alan McGee was skint at the time. The band released Spike Milligans Tape Recorder on the Criminal Damage label and received the privilege of reaching number six in John Peel's Festive 50. I don't want to blind you with science (boom boom!) but they went on to release 6 albums but the brilliant Kiss Ass Godhead produced by the legendary Steve Albini was the one for me! Inbetween John released shitloads of albums with his band Goldblade who were described as "punk rock hooligan blues" They had a big following everywhere and were miles away from the Membranes sound but still punk in every way.

  In 2009 The Membranes were asked to reform to play All Tomorrow Parties festival held at Butlins and curated by My Bloody Valentine. The resulting album Dark Matter Dark Energy was a massive return to form and remains one of my new favourite albums. Some of the tracks are pure magic. The opening track The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light is amazing. As is Do The Supernova, Space Junk, In The Graveyard, If You Enter The Arena..., 21st Century Man (an apt song about John?) Hail To The Lovers and more. An album everyone should own. The influences on it are wide open. Punk prog rock, Wire, Killing Joke, Joy Division, Big Black, My Bloody Valentine, The Fall, the list goes on. The band are just oozing with originality that only John can create with his mine of knowledge.
Inner Space / Outer Space ups the game further. The first track is remixed by James Dean Bradfield (Manics) and is totally reworked into something The MS Preachers would be proud to release. The other tracks have been dubbed up, industrialised and reinvented to make an excellent play on the original album. Reverend And The Makers have even turned Space Junk into a dubstep classic!!

Away from this John Robb has been a massive influence in my music adventures. Producing Fruit Tumor, meeting my sons and saying hello at a Sonic Boom Six gig, introducing me to Cabbage and a lot of other bands I would have never discovered without his music magazine / website Louder Than War which makes the NME (who are now the biggest pile of shit I have ever read) look like a second rate Sun. His music and his approachable attitude to all music lovers out there. He deserves some kind of music award for his dedicated hard work and service to music. An inspiration is too low an estimation to this music icon. I could say more about him but you all know how to use Google. 

No comments:

Post a Comment