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Baker's Dozen

Kernow Calling: Mark Jenkin’s Favourite Albums
Sean McGeady , January 18th, 2023 09:12

Cornish bard Mark Jenkin talks Sean McGeady through the soundtracks to his teenage summers, long drives to the hospital, and lonely afternoons hand-processing celluloid, from Junior Wells to Joni Mitchell


Alex Rex – Vermillion

I first heard Alex Neilson with Trembling Bells. My mate got me tickets to see Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy in Penzance, at The Acorn, and Trembling Bells were supporting. It was around the time they did the album together [The Marble Downs, 2012]. Then I went to see Trembling Bells at Port Eliot Festival, around about the time The Sovereign Selfcame out. It’s such a good album, and he played ‘Sweet Death Polka’, which is an amazing song. Then Trembling Bells sort of disappeared and subsequently split up.

Then I heard ‘Postcards From A Dream’ on the radio. It was the first time in forever that I’d heard a single and was like, ‘Fuck me, I’m gonna buy the album’ straightaway. It was the easy way into the album. A lot of it is really dark. It sounded like Dylan but not in a derivative way. It sounded like Planet Waves. I think Alex Neilson is a genius. I don’t know why he isn’t a household name. Maybe because the subject matter is too dark, maybe because his output is so prolific and varied. A lot of it sounds like Trembling Bells, it’s a lot of the same musicians he’s working with. He’s got Lavinia Blackwall on it, and Michael Hastings. It’s really sexually explicit. If it’s autobiographical, which I imagine it is, then it’s pretty confessional. If somebody’s willing to do that, it does really draw me in. ‘The Life Of A Wave’ is really beautiful and ugly at the same time. Sometimes he sounds like a Methodist preacher. I just think he’s a poet. A singing drummer brings something as well. I find this album utterly euphoric. One of my favourites of recent times.