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Lawrence, formerly of Belgravia

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2012’s Lawrence of Belgravia documentary will be released in the coming weeks for the first time on Blu-ray, so to get you/me in the mood, this week some music by the man himself from various points in his career.

I’ve not been keeping too up to date with Lawrence’s career in recent years and I’ve only just discovered that he is now going under the moniker Mozart Estate and playing at an event at Glasgow University in August called Glas-goes Pop.

I’ve not been keeping up with Record Store Day either. In its early years it had struck me as a good idea but more a good idea for other people to help keep record shops open so that I could visit any day of the year that hadn’t been installed as RSD. I’ve just never felt any inclination to queue up for hours on end in order to get the chance to fork out over the odds for a 12 inch piece of grey vinyl speckled with pink – or something equally hideous – featuring a couple of tracks I already own on CD or could download within seconds.

Jean-Luc Godard is credited with once saying that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun and here we see that a girl and a record collection are all you need for a promo video. With a jingle like simplicity, this is Mozart Estate with Record Store Day from 2021:

Presumably the singles here were supplied from Lawrence’s own collection and the biggest surprise is likely the inclusion of Lio, who featured in my previous post. I didn’t have him down as a Red Noise man either. While I would never classify myself a collector, I have owned a fair amount of the singles featured and have even managed to hang on to a number of them such as Horrorshow, Blue Boy and Ambition by my favourite Godard, Vic, and his band Subway Sect.

That final 45 you see, Felt’s debut Index is one of two copies of the single that Lawrence sent to John Peel – when the first copy wasn’t played, Lawrence guessed that it must have been lost somewhere down the line and sent another but Peelie was just not very keen on it, a fact that prompted Lawrence to then post off what the DJ later claimed was the most ‘vitriolic and nasty’ letter he’d ever received.

Before Mozart Estate there was Go-Kart Mozart, and before Go-Kart Mozart there was Denim. Denim’s music was rooted in the music of Lawrence’s childhood and deliberately rejected the 1980s – the closing track of 1992’s Back in Denim was even called I’m Against the Eighties (you might legitimately ask why he has joined the Glas-goes Pop lineup as the acts are all associated with 1980s indie). In Middle of the Road, though, it is earlier musical sacred cows that he merrily slates: ‘I hate the King, I hate Chuck Berry / I hate Hooker, I hate Leadbelly.’

Lawrence obviously doesn’t hate Jonathan Richman and the Roadrunner guitar riff, to which he added a little glitterbeat (he even hired a couple of The Glitter Band to help out) and Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. Yeah, ooh wee Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. Released in January 1993 on Boy’s Own, this is Middle of the Road:

And now for some Felt from 1984, a year that was perhaps the highpoint of independent music in Britain with the releases of Upside Down, Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, The Smiths’ self-titled debut album and Felt’s Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow.

The latter begins and ends with a bassline maybe influenced by Jah Wobble’s opening of Public Image. In between there are some great strings, a very pleasing vocal interplay between Lawrence and Strawberry Switchblade’s Rose McDowall, and Maurice Deepak’s chimiest of chiming guitars. No video unfortunately but you can hear it here:

On Wednesday 15 June at 7pm, the BFI and Rough Trade East (150 Brick Lane, London E1) present a special launch event, with a screening of Lawrence of Belgravia to be followed by a conversation with Lawrence and Paul Kelly, hosted by journalist Siân Pattenden.

The following day sees the official release of the Blu-ray. For more information, click here.

Here Comes Dumb And Drummer

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Nightingales Album Art

Last September, after getting the heave-ho from yet another label, The Nightingales decided to go it alone. They recorded a new album at Faust Studio in Germany – they can now count a former Faust member Hans-Joachim Irmler amongst their ranks – and they’ve just self-released it, with as they put it: ‘No interference or outside opinions, no label, no distributor, no catalogue number, no bar code or logo shit, blah blah.’

The album has the defiantly radio unfriendly title of For Fuck’s Sake, and comes in the singular format of a 180g vinyl LP that, since the 9th of April, has only been available to buy at Nightingales live shows.

Luckily, if you want to buy one, they are currently touring and have included two Scottish dates in their itinerary, Glasgow’s Nice N Sleazy this coming Wednesday and the Citrus Club in Edinburgh two nights later.

The album is a thing of genuine beauty and is packaged in a matt varnish gatefold sleeve with five very fine photomontages by David Yates, a massively talented artist from Scarborough, whose work you can see at the top of this post and in more detail here. He’s also a musician and, indeed, his band The Crumplehorns supported The Nightingales in Scarborough last night.

Although formed way back in the post-punk days of the late 1970s, this amazingly enough is The Nightingales’ first ever official promo video. Directed by Nick Small, it’s called Dumb and Drummer:


You were thinking during that that how amazingly cool drummer Fliss Kitson is, weren’t you?

For more on the ’Gales:

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The first time I heard Dumb and Drummer was when it appeared on the recent Mojo Presents… Death Disco post-punk compilation that also included tracks like Loadstones by The Fall, Simply Thrilled Honey by Orange Juice and Primitive Painters by indie legends Felt, who like The Nightingales, were formed in Birmingham in 1979.

Featuring the inspired pairing of Lawrence with Elizabeth Fraser of The Cocteau Twins, Primitive Painters became a #1 independent hit in 1985 and was voted #7 in John Peel’s Festive 50 at the tail-end of the year.