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Tome On The Range

Short Fiction: '5 Albums That Sadly Do Not Exist' By Tore Renberg
Karl Smith , November 23rd, 2014 16:20

New writing this week comes from PEN grant-winning Norwegian writer Tore Renberg, author of Quietus and Knausgård approved novel See You Tomorrow, in the form of a fictional discography and a casual rewriting of musical history

GERALD PRESLEY – THE SON AND THE RAIN

An LP never received a worse reception. In 1973, Elvis Presley's son, Gerald, released the melancholy singer-songwriter album The Son and the Rain, only for it to be universally mauled by critics. Today, there is no question this Nick Drake-inspired album has stood the test of time. In recent years the list of artists who have cited that RCA release of spring 1973 as an influence and inspiration has only grown. Joni Mitchell has called The Son and the Rain “the most personal album in the history of pop music” and Leonard Cohen termed it “a fascinating mix of total self-disclosure, rage against his absent father and a grand piece of art”.

Most contemporary listeners are aware that it was Elvis himself who blocked the doors on Gerald’s career and made a follow-up to what The King labelled “this total embarrassment of an album” impossible. But not even Mr Wiggle and Shake could erase songs like 'When the Son Goes Down', 'Here Comes the Son', 'The Son of Thunder' and 'Island in the Son' from musical history.

Many viewed Gerald Presley’s MOJO Music Award in 2002 as long overdue recognition. He released the comeback-album The Son and the Pain in 2004, to just slightly warmer reviews than his 1973 debut. The general consensus being that he should have moved on just a little bit in the interim. The single 'Your Son is Crying' was voted Worst Song of 2004 by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Gerald Presley died in 2008, stooping in front of a row of California grapes, allegedly saying 'The Sun was Too Hot' before taking his last breath.

WE MUST BE PATIENCE – ENJOY BEING NICE

Not everyone is aware of the vibrant Buddhist community in Leeds, but by now most of us have heard the angelic strains of Shirley Logan’s otherwordly voice singing that surprise summer hit 'My Best Friend is a Goat From Tibet and He Says the Same About Me'.

Hailed as the most unpredictable band ever to rise to fame, the all-girl five-piece from Leeds released their first album in 2011, Full Moon Puja, to complete indifference from public and critics alike. They hit back in 2014 with Enjoy Being Nice, a record the NME hailed as “47 minutes of sheer beauty, Anthony & The Johnsons and Bill Fay would die to make, even though the title is so silly it makes you want to throw up.”

After opening for Arcade Fire on their last US tour, sitarist Emma Rotherham quit We Must Be Patience due to alcohol problems and substance abuse. Her replacement for the remaining dates, David Gilmour, came as quite the surprise, but word has it Emma is to rejoin the band and they will head into the studio to start work on their next album. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne is set to produce and has been quoted as saying “These girls are a genius bunch of Buddhists, they are flying in from eternity.” The album’s working title is We Breathe Joy, You Breathe Hate.

As for those nude photos of Shirley Logan that recently began circulating on the internet, allegedly taken in 2009 by a Leeds photographer and onetime friend, they are “all lies, all fake” according to her brother and manager Bobby Logan.

GIVE HEAD – TOTAL PORN

It took several years before Give Head received any recognition beyond the subcultural spheres they inhabited from the time of their formation in Oklahoma in 1974. Best buddies Roger Worm and Travis F. Buck started “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Porn Band!” when asked to make music for the local High School revue, and the song 'Oh Mother of Cock! Oh Brother of Fuck! Oh Sister of Cum! ' became a major hit despite the ban imposed, and later court action taken, by local authorities. It was etched on vinyl in 1978, but never heard on radio before 1986, when a DJ in Philadelphia dared to play this enduring favourite.

Give Head’s legendary gigs, with their mixture of carnival and hardcore porn, and the almost endless list of albums on their own label, DieHardCockFuckPussyPornShowRecords, have helped keep their reputation alive to this day. Many of their songs are recognised as classics in the genre, like the speed metal hit 'She Gave the Deepest Head', the stadium anthem 'Hips, tits and a Wicked Piece of Cunt', and the Scorpions-inspired power ballad 'I Clearly See the Contours of My Cock in Your Cheek.'

Total Porn, their finest moment, was released in 1998 and became a multi-million selling album in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. The hit 'I´ll Fuck Anything That Moves' (a Dennis Hopper-quote from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet) is taken from this album.

In 2009 vocalist Roger Worm stated in an interview with Classic Rock that he was gay, and firmly supported his buddy Rob Halford from Judas Priest. “It’s all about love,” he said, “I´m just in the porn thing for money. Tits make me wanna puke anyway.” The next day Travis F. Buck issued a press release saying that Give Head had split up because of Roger Worm’s “disloyalty to the glorious world of Rock ‘n’ Porn.”

JENS SCHNELLMANN – OHMEIN

Legend has it that Jens Schnellman knocked on Kraftwerk’s door so many times that the German superband were close to taking out a restraining order. The keyboardist from Münster in Westfalen never got a seat at the Kraftwerk table, but in 1998 the staggering solo-album Ohmein hit record shops. It was an experimental prog-synth-album with nods to to Eno, Neu!, and Kraftwerk, but nevertheless sounded like nothing that had gone before.

Ohmein consists of two lengthy songs, recorded on one synthesiser in the autumn of 1979 – the simple Roland SH-1 – on a four-track Vostex in Schnellmann’s attic. This daring lo-fi period piece is today viewed as an important contribution to the history of experimental avant-garde. Wicked – or friendly? – tongues were also of the view that Kraftwerk would have been a much better, and more human, band with Schnellmann on board.

Jens Schnellmann, father of six sons and owner of a petrol station in his native Münster, took his own life in 1981. According to biographer Sigwald Willibrand Licthenberg, Schnellman was manic depressive and suffered from severe hallucinations where he saw, and heard, what he himself termed “all too beautiful visions from another time, another place”.

Ohmein is the only surviving album from Schnellmann. It is, most critics agree, growing more astonishing for every year that passes, like those chalk horses in Wiltshire or the ancient temples of Thailand. Jane Campion used almost the entire A-side of Ohmein as the soundtrack to her 2004-movie The Lyricist from Sydney.

THE JANE HORROCKS – ALL MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS

Alison Heap, nowadays better known as the voice of “This Woman´s Life” on BBC 6, used to claim she formed The Jane Horrocks as a result of years of sexist bullying at the hands of her stepfather in her Croydon childhood. Later she admitted that this was not the case, and that rather the aggro-feminist band came to her after seeing Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet in 1990 and “falling utterly in love with Jane Horrocks”.

All Men Are Potential Rapists was released on Rough Trade in 1991. The cover featured a naked woman lying in a field, her throat cut open and her legs covered in blood. It spawned the singles 'Treat me like a real person, not a shagbag, ' 'Stop being antagonistic' and 'Girls To The Front, M*f**s! '. The Guardian’s music critic was beside himself with excitement, stating that “Britain´s got a band that will change the world and three girls that will go far.”

The Jane Horrocks sounded like a clash between The Slits and The Pop Group, with an ultra-violent sound and ultra-radical texts, delivered with Heap’s angry, compelling vocals. They quickly garnered wide media coverage due to their extreme views on sex and politics, like when bassist Trisha Jules stated in The Independent that all men should be castrated. Their live shows, where the girls played naked, also attracted a diverse audience.

The ferocious girls who made up this memorable act split in 1994, due to internal differences. Heap became a respected journalist and lesbian activist, known for her long-time friendship with Stephen Fry. Nobody has found out what happened to Trisha Jules, but it´s been rumoured she moved to Norway and works in the oil-business.

Drummer Emma Streatham, now a veterinarian in Norwich, has been very reluctant to talk about her years with The Jane Horrocks. But in a recent interview with the Norwich Evening News said: “I sometimes look back on that period and wonder who that person was. She terrifies me to death. But I must admit I also envy her the rage. I can’t feel it anywhere now. And I am so glad my husband never was castrated. Bless them, lil’ Tommy and Sue.”

See You Tomorrow is out now, published by Arcadia Books. Photograph by Anders Minge

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