The Mekons

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The Mekons
Origin Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Genres Punk rock, Post-punk, Cowpunk, Alternative rock
Years active 1977 – present
Labels Fast Product, Virgin, Blast First, A&M, Quarterstick Records, Scout Releases
Associated acts The Three Johns, Waco Brothers, The Rolling Stones
Website Club Mekon
Members Jon Langford
Tom Greenhalgh
Sally Timms
Sarah Corina
Steve Goulding
Susie Honeyman
Rico Bell (aka Eric Bellis)
Lu Edmonds
J. Mitch Flacko
Past members Kevin Lycett
Dick Taylor
Ben Mandelson
John Langley
Robert Worby
Mary Jenner

The Mekons are a British rock band, though they have been based in Chicago now for many years. Formed in the late 1970s, they are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands. Through the years, the band's musical style has evolved, incorporating aspects of country music, folk music, alternative rock and even occasional experiments with dub. These days, The Mekons are often described as a post-punk, cowpunk and/or alt country band.

History[edit]

The band was formed in 1977 by a group of University of Leeds art students: Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh - the Gang of Four and Delta 5 formed from the same group of students. They took the band's name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950s-1960s comic Dan Dare (printed in the Eagle). The band's first single was "Never Been in a Riot", a satirical take on the Clash's White Riot. For several years the loose-knit band played noisy, bare-bones post-punk, releasing singles on a variety of labels. The Mekons' first album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, was recorded using the Gang of Four's instruments, and due to an error by the Virgin Records art department, featured pictures of the Gang of Four on the back cover. After 1982's The Mekons Story, a compilation of old recordings, the band ceased activity for a while, with Langford forming The Three Johns.

By the mid-1980s (revitalised by the 1984 miners' strike) the Mekons had returned as an active group. The band was now augmented by vocalist Sally Timms, violinist Susie Honeyman, ex-Damned member Lu Edmonds, accordionist/vocalist Rico Bell (a.k.a. Eric Bellis), and former The Rumour drummer Steve Goulding and Kelvin Weech on food, They began to experiment with musical styles derived from traditional English folk (tentatively explored on the English Dancing Master EP prior to the hiatus), and American country music. Fear and Whiskey (1985), The Edge of the World (1986) and Honky Tonkin (1987) exemplified the band's new sound, which built on the innovations of Gram Parsons and blended punk ethos and left wing politics with the minimalist country of Hank Williams. Subsequent albums, such as The Mekons Rock'n'Roll, continued to experiment with diverse instrumentation (notably the fiddle and slide guitar).

The Mekons Rock and Roll was the band's first major label release. Issued by A&M Records in 1989, Rock and Roll was not a commercial success, but it was met with critical acclaim.

Just as the Mekons began to grow in critical stature, their relationship with A&M Records became tense, and the Mekons were soon dropped by the label, unable to fulfill their commercial expectations. However, they continued to record at a prolific rate, releasing such notable albums as 1991's The Curse of the Mekons, 2000's Journey to the End of the Night, and 2002's OOOH!. Natural moved the band to a more folk-flavoured sound. In April 2009 the Mekons returned to the studio to complete a new collection of songs, released in 2011 as Ancient and Modern on Bloodshot Records.

Jon Langford has been busy as an artist and as founder of several solo and band projects, including the Waco Brothers (a punk-meets-Johnny Cash-like ensemble) and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (exploring the music of Bob Wills, Johnny Cash and others). Besides his solo albums he has released CDs with Richard Buckner, Kevin Coyne, The Sadies, Kat Ex (Katherina Bornefeld) of The Ex (band).

The band has toured and recorded with a mostly unaltered lineup (Langford, Greenhalgh, Timms, Goulding, Bell, Edmonds, Honeyman, and bassist Sarah Corina) throughout the 1990s and early 21st century, and has a highly devoted following.

In a September 2010 interview, Jon Langford revealed that new Mekons album called Ancient & Modern has been recorded and that the band will tour the United States in 2011.[1][2]

In a February 2011 interview, Langford discussed the music documentary about the band, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio.[3] The film premiered in 2013 at the DOC NYC festival with members of the band in attendance.[4]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • 1979 – The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen (LP)
  • 1980 - The Mekons [aka Devils Rats and Piggies a Special Message from Godzilla] (re-released in 1997)
  • 1982 - The Mekons Story (re-released in 1986)
  • 1985 - Fear and Whiskey (re-released in 2002)
  • 1986 - Edge of the World (re-released in 1996)
  • 1987 - The Mekons Honky Tonkin'
  • 1988 - So Good It Hurts
  • 1989 - The Mekons Rock'n'Roll (re-released in 2000)
  • 1991 - The Curse of the Mekons
  • 1993 - I ♥ Mekons
  • 1994 - Retreat from Memphis
  • 1996 - Pussy, King of the Pirates (with Kathy Acker)
  • 1998 - Me
  • 2000 - Journey to the End of the Night
  • 2002 - Oooh! (Out of Our Heads)
  • 2004 - Punk Rock
  • 2007 - Natural
  • 2011 - Ancient and Modern[5]

EPs[edit]

  • 1983 - The English Dancing Master
  • 1986 - Slightly South of the Border
  • 1986 - Crime and Punishmnet
  • 1989 - The Dream and Lie of...
  • 1990 - Fun '90
  • 1992 - Wicked Midnite
  • 1993 - Millionaire

Singles[edit]

  • "Never Been In A Riot" b/w "32 Weeks" and "Heart & Soul" (FAST 1 Jan. 1978)
  • "Where Were You?" b/w "I'll Have To Dance Then (On My Own)" (FAST 7 1978)
  • "Work All Week" b/w "Unknown Wrecks" (VS300 1979)
  • "Teeth" b/w "Guardian" and "Kill" b/w "Stay Cool" (Virgin double 7" - 1980)
  • "This Sporting Life" b/w Frustration" (CNT1 1986)
  • "Hello Cruel World" b/w "Alone & Forsaken" (Sin004 1986)
  • "Ghosts of American Astronauts" (Twin/Tone 1988)
  • "Untitled 1" b/w "Untitled 2" (qs31 1995)

Compilations[edit]

  • 1980 -- Mutant Pop (PVC/Jem), a US reissue of various early Fast Product singles, including the Mekons first 7", Never Been in a Riot b/w 32 Weeks, as well as Where Were You?, both first released in 1978.
  • 1985 - "They Shall Not Pass" CNT Miner's Strike compilation includes "Fight The Cuts" and "This Sporting Life"
  • 1986 - The Mekons Story (re-released in 1993/2008)
  • 1987 - New York (re-released in 1990/2001)
  • 1989 - Original Sin (Fear & Whiskey with bonus tracks)
  • 1999 - I Have Been to Heaven and Back
  • 1999 - Where were you? Hen's Teeth and other lost fragments of unpopular culture Vol. 2
  • 2001 - The Curse of the Mekons/Fun '90 (combined reissue)
  • 2004 - Heaven & Hell (The Very Best of the Mekons)

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • 1996 - Mekons United (book with CD)

Documentary[edit]

  • 2013 - Revenge of the Mekons directed by Joe Angio

References[edit]

External links[edit]