Results for The Mekons

interviews

The Mekons

To put it simply, The Mekons are a bit of an enigma. The 40-year-old band hails from the English punk scene, with contemporaries including The Sex Pistols and The Clash. However since 1977, The Mekons have been writing their own unique narrative. The group worshipped American roots music from artists like Hank Williams, and blended their raucous live performance style with sounds of punk, country, folk and more. The Mekons have always had a revolving line-up, and three members joined Jim and Greg for a chat and live performance: Jon Langford, Tom Greenhalgh and Lu Edmonds. They talk about their long career, a short stint on a major label and the unusual methods used to record their latest album, Existentalism.

Go to episode 578

Jon Langford

Next up, Jim and Greg sit down with Jon Langford of The Mekons, and his current band, Ship and Pilot. Many of the band members will be familiar to music fans, including fellow Mekons singer Sally Timms and punk rock pioneer Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu. In addition to playing with The Mekons and Ship and Pilot, Jon is a member of the Waco Brothers and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts. In addition, he is a painter and author and recently put on a multi-media performance at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art based on his three-volume set The Executioner's Last Songs. Those albums raised money for the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

If that wasn't enough, Jon Langford also has a new album coming out in March. Hear live performances of some songs off that album on the show. In addition, Gold Brick features a cover of the Procol Harem song "Salty Dog." Like Jon, Greg is a big Procol Harem fan and wonders why aside from their hit "Whiter Shade of Pale," they were so underappreciated. Perhaps they just needed to be on more soundtracks.

Go to episode 8

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442
reviews
NaturalNatural available on iTunes

The Mekons Natural

The final album up for review is less high-profile, but no less worth your time according to Jim and Greg. Leeds-born, Chicago-based band The Mekons have a new album out called Natural. Pioneers and survivors of England's punk era, the Mekons have been making music together for thirty years now, and for this effort they gathered in the English countryside to record. You can hear this“natural”approach in the live sound of the record. This also accounts for the album's accessibility despite many of the songs' dark themes. Greg calls Natural one of the band's bleakest albums, but also one of the prettiest. Jim agrees that the record is gorgeous, and not off-putting. If you are new to the Mekons, this is as good a place to start as any. Both critics give Natural a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 93
dijs

Jim

“Ghosts of American Astronauts”The Mekons

It's Jim's turn to add a song he can't live without to the Desert Island Jukebox. To honor the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, he chooses "Ghosts of American Astronauts" by The Mekons. Jim was initially daunted by the Chicago punk/alt-country band. They've been going for three decades, so where do you start? So Good It Hurts was the doorway for him, and he discovered how smart, political and also seductive they can be on songs like "Ghosts of American Astronauts."

Go to episode 191

Greg

“Teenage Nightingales to Wax”The Mekons

Greg has been enjoying the live return of the British punk band, The Mekons. He in fact wanted to play a Mekons song, but Jim stole his thunder with his pick from show 191. Greg decided to play a track by Mekons offshoot band, The Three Johns, featuring bon vivant Jon Langford. Langford and company took the idea of protest music and gave it a twist, making it less precious. In honor of the Mekons and Langford, Greg plays the track Teenage Nightingales to Wax this week.

Go to episode 503

Greg

“Train Kept A-Rollin'”Johnny Burnette Rock 'N Roll Trio

The Mekons' 30-year run is an impressive one, especially when you consider that the dominant story in rock is one of instant and fleeting fame. An example of this is the Johnny Burnette Rock 'N Roll Trio, the band behind Greg's Desert Island Jukebox pick this week. The Memphis trio comprised of the Burnette brothers and their friend Paul Burlison only had one recording session in the mid-'50s, but for that brief period they were all the rage. Johnny Burnette was Elvis and then some, and Burlison had a completely unique and groundbreaking guitar style. You can hear this on the song "Train Kept A-Rollin'," a Tiny Bradshaw-penned tune, that has since been covered by everyone from Led Zeppelin to Aerosmith to Motörhead. But it's The Johnny Burnette Rock 'N Roll Trio version that deserves a slot in Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 93