- Or see Mekon (disambiguation).
|Origin||Leeds, West Yorkshire, England|
|Years active||1977 – present|
|Associated acts||The Three Johns
The Waco Brothers
Rico Bell (aka Eric Bellis)
J. Mitch Flacko
|Past members||Ben Mandelson
The Mekons are a British-American rock band. Formed in the late 1970s as an art collective, 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. They are known for their raucous live shows. These days, The Mekons are often described as a post-punk, cowpunk and/or alt country band. The band is currently based in Chicago.
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 lead guitar. 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.
In a February 2011 interview, Langford discussed the music documentary about the band, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio. The film premiered in 2013 at the DOC NYC festival with members of the band in attendance.
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.
Their second single, "Where Were You?" was featured in 2016 in an Acura commercial.
Jon Langford is a visual artist. Langford has worked as the founder and member of several solo and band projects including the Waco Brothers, a punk-meets-Johnny Cash-like ensemble, and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a project that explores the music of Bob Wills, Johnny Cash and others. Besides his solo albums Langford has released CDs with Richard Buckner, Kevin Coyne, The Sadies, Kat Ex (Katherina Bornefeld) of The Ex (band).
Bloodshot Records is a Chicago, Illinois, record label that has released Mekons solo material by Sally Timms, Jon Langford, Rico Bell and side projects such as the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and the The Waco Brothers.
In 2014, a group of The Mekons dubbed "mini-Mekons" along with Robbie Fulks went on a trip to write and record a record on the island of Jura in Scotland. The record, named Jura, will be released in November 2015 on Black Friday and is made up of original songs written on the trip as well as traditional songs.
- 1979: The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen (Virgin Records / Blue Plate-Caroline Records)
- 1980: The Mekons aka Devils Rats and Piggies a Special Message from Godzilla (Red Rhino Records, Cherry Red Records, Quarterstick Records) -- re-released in 1997
- 1982: The Mekons Story (CNT Productions, Sin Record Company/Feel Good All Over, Buried Treasures Records) -- re-released in 1986
- 1985: Fear and Whiskey (Sin Record Company) -- re-released in 2002
- 1986: The Edge of the World (Sin Record Company) -- re-released in 1996
- 1987: The Mekons: Honky Tonkin' (Sin Record Company, Twin/Tone Records)
- 1988: So Good It Hurts (Sin Record Company/Cooking Vinyl, Rough Trade Records Germany)
- 1989: The Mekons Rock'n'Roll (Blast First, Rough Trade Records Germany, Collector's choice) -- re-released in 2000
- 1991: The Curse of the Mekons (Blast First, Rough Trade Records Germany, Collector's choice)
- 1993: I ♥ Mekons (Quarterstick Records/Touch and Go Records, Rough Trade Records Germany)
- 1994: Retreat from Memphis (Quarterstick Records, Rough Trade Records Germany)
- 1996: Pussy, King of the Pirates with Kathy Acker (Touch and Go Records)
- 1998: ME (Quarterstick Records)
- 2000: Journey to the End of the Night (Quarterstick Records)
- 2002: OOOH! (Out of Our Heads) (Quarterstick Records)
- 2004: Punk Rock (Quarterstick Records)
- 2007: Natural (Quarterstick Records)
- 2011: Ancient and Modern 1911-2011 (Bloodshot Records)
- 2015: Jura the mini-Mekons with Robbie Fulks (Bloodshot Records) - Record Store Day vinyl only release on Black Friday
- 1983: The English Dancing Master (CNT Records, Rough Trade Records)
- 1986: Crime and Punishment (Sin Record Company)
- 1986: Slightly South of the Border (Sin Record Company)
- 1987: Hole In The Ground / Sin City / Prince Of Darkness (Sin Record Company, Cooking Vinyl, Twin/Tone Records)
- 1989: The Dream and Lie of... (Blast First)
- 1990: F.U.N. '90 (Blast First)
- 1990: Greetings Eight (Materiali Sonori, Italy)
- 1992: Wicked Midnite/All I Want (Loud Music)
- 1993: Millionaire (Quarterstick Records)
- 1978: "Never Been In A Riot" b/w "32 Weeks" and "Heart & Soul" − FAST 1 (Fast Product)
- 1978: "Where Were You?" b/w "I'll Have To Dance Then (On My Own)" − FAST 7 (Fast Product)
- 1979: "Work All Week" b/w "Unknown Wrecks" − VS300 (Virgin Records)
- 1980: "Teeth" b/w "Guardian" and "Kill" b/w "Stay Cool" (Virgin Records) -- double 7"
- 1980: "Snow" b/w "Another One" (Red Rhino Records)
- 1981: "This Sporting Life" b/w "Frustration" − CNT1 (CNT Records)
- 1982: "This Sporting Life" b/w "Fight the Cuts" − CNT8 (CNT Records)
- 1986: "Hello Cruel World" b/w "Alone & Forsaken" − Sin004 (Sin Record Company)
- 1988: "Ghosts of American Astronauts" (Sin Record Company, Cooking Vinyl, Twin/Tone Records)
- 1990: "Claw" b/w "Crap Rap" with The Ex (Clawfist)
- 1990: "Sheffield Park" b/w "Having a Party" Blast First)
- 1990: "Makes No Difference" b/w "Having A Party" Blast First)
- 1995: "Untitled 1" b/w "Untitled 2" − QS31 (Quarterstick Records)
- 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: Mekons New York (ROIR) -- re-released in 1990/2001 as New York: On the Road 86–87
- 1989: Original Sin (Rough Trade Records) -- Collects together Fear and Whiskey, parts of The English Dancing Master, Crime and Punishment EP, and Slightly South of the Border EPs
- 1999: I Have Been to Heaven and Back: Hen's Teeth and other lost fragments of unpopular culture, Vol. 1 (Quarterstick Records)
- 1999: Where Were You? Hen's Teeth and other lost fragments of unpopular culture, Vol. 2 (Quarterstick Records)
- 2001: The Curse of the Mekons/Fun '90 -- combined reissue
- 2004: Heaven & Hell: The Very Best of the Mekons (Cooking Vinyl)
- 1996: Mekons United book with CD (Quarterstick Records)
- 2013: Revenge of the Mekons directed by Joe Angio
- Pareles, Jon (30 April 1987). "Rock: Britain's Mekons". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Roberts, Randall (23 June 2015). "Unsung Mekons are a musical beacon of persistence and creativity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Pareles, Jon (17 December 1989). "Recordings; The Mekons Take Aim at Rock-and-Roll". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Watrous, Peter (30 August 1993). "Review/Rock; A Sound With a Sense Of History, and Humor". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Pareles, Jon (5 July 1991). "Pop/Jazz; The Mekons Shed a Label For a Curse That Works". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Miles, Milo (19 May 1991). "Recordings View; The Mekons Try a Little Wizardry". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Kenigsberg, Ben (28 October 2014). "Critic's Pick: Far-Flung, Long-Lasting and Still Punk at the Core". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Zimmerman, Lee (25 April 2014). "A Fat Welsh Bastard: Jon Langford". Blurt Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
Originally published in 2010
- Martens, Todd (24 September 2010). "A Mekon reflects: 'We've always been stupid enough to keep doing this,' says punk survivor Jon Langford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Markowitz, Andy (10 February 2011). "The Ask: Jon Langford: What the Mekons Is". MusicFilmWeb. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Tannenbaum, Rob (24 October 2014). "The Cult Band That Keeps on Chugging: A Documentary Celebrates the Mekons". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Kot, Greg (11 July 2015). "Mekons review: Still fierce after all these years". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Acura (2016-04-25), Acura – Brand – 30 Years Young, retrieved 2016-06-03
- "Jon Langford". Yard Dog. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Allen, Jim (11 November 2015). "Songs We Love: The Mekons, 'Go From My Window'". NPR. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Moss, Marissa R. (5 November 2015). "Hear Robbie Fulks and Cowpunkers the Mekons' Wild 'Beaten and Broken'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Breihan, Tom (21 June 2011). "Mekons Announce New Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- "Mekons & Robbie Fulks: Jura". Record Store Day. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Anders, Pat; Spott (16 November 2000). "We (heart) Mekons". Stay Free!. Archived from the original on 20 November 2000. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Club Mekon
- Waco Brothers
- Bloodshot Records
- The Mekons at Internet Archive Live Music Archive
- Revenge of the Mekons