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The Mekons

“Heaven And Hell - The Very Best of The Mekons” (Cooking Vinyl)
Double CD anthology released 1st Oct 2004

“… make the Sex Pistols look like Paper Lace” – Tony Wilson

“… are the most revolutionary group in the history of rock n’ roll” – Lester Bangs

“Heaven And Hell – The Very Best of The Mekons”, a 32 song anthology, spanning the bands remarkable 26 year career. The songs stand as a marker to the band’s self-reinvention: punk, folk, country, garage rock. “Heaven And Hell” carries all the familiarity and diversity of a mix tape, whilst all the while reaffirming the amazing truth: this is the work of a single band. The album also features the promo video for track “Ghosts Of American Astronauts”.

The Mekons formed in Leeds in 1977, and were a collection of art students who thought it might be a laugh to mess around with the Gang of Four's equipment while they were in the pub. Not only did the band outlive its mentors, but pretty much every other new wave band as well. Their first single, "Never Been in a Riot", a tongue in cheek response to The Clash's "White Riot", placed The Mekon’s down-to-earth humour in opposition to the posturing of many London new wave outfits. Lo-fi even by punk standards, it encapsulated the punk ethic of 'everyone can do it', which The Mekons carried through to their live performances by allowing anyone to pick up an instrument and join them on stage. At one point, band membership is thought to have numbered over twenty, although by the release of the first album, “The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen...” in 1979, it had consolidated around the creative nucleus of Andy Corrigan and Mark White (vocals), Tom Greenhalgh and Kev Lycett (guitars), Ros Allen (bass) and Jon Langford (drums). Their second album, “The Mekons” was released the following year.

Although the band didn't formally split, its members formed spin-off projects such as Jon Langford's involvement in the Three Johns. By 1980, The Mekons had virtually ceased their live performances and an appearance at an Anti-Nazi League benefit in the summer of 1981 marked the end of the first chapter of their history.

During the turbulent political wake of the 1984 miners' strike, The Mekons re-emerged as a tightly focused, highly motivated outfit. Their remarkable 1985 album, Fear & Whiskey, revealed them as a fierce, kick-ass country band that gigged incessantly, spreading the word at benefits up and down the country, and lent tracks to compilations in support of the homeless, the stricken National Union of Miners, Pro-Choice campaigns and AIDS charities.

Throughout the 1980s, The Mekons had maintained strong links with Leeds and the north, often recording there, and littering songs with references to their home town. After receiving critical acclaim in Rolling Stone and Village Voice via rock critic Greil Marcus, and attracting a cult following in the USA, the turn of the decade saw half of the band relocating permanently to the States. The Mekons continued to periodically re-group, and gained sporadic artistic (if not commercial) successes with “The Curse of the Mekons” and “I Love Mekons” in 1991 and 1993 respectively. In 1996 they released “Pussy – King Of The Pirates”, an off kilter collaboration of music and the spoken word novel narration of American writer Kathy Acker.

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Above Photo © Jon Iingledew
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