A DYSFUNCTIONAL SUCCESS
Gig Review of:
at ‘Bradford Alternative Cabaret'
‘DEATH. It comes to us all eventually, so we might as well… take the piss out of it!’ Of the original Punk Packet-of-Three making up ‘Stiff Records’ freak assault on late-seventies boredom, Ian Dury’s hits now come in digitalised CD special-editions, Elvis Costello has become a country-Americana god… while Eric?, he’s back in all-over black, uncoordinated spasmic twitch still as deranged as some terminal disorder of the nervous system. Eric’s a real GONE kid, THE wacko, and superannuated Punks crawl from city-wide woodwork just to come here to Manningham Lane to grovel at the black-shod feet of an ORIGINAL. ‘Bradford tonight’ he muses distractedly, ‘I’m doing Macclesfield tomorrow. And I’m playing PARIS Tuesday. And my car only goes fifty-miles an hour!’ He’s making it up as he goes along, tuning and de-tuning, grinning ludicrously when shimmers of unexpectedly delicious guitar escapes. His set is one-man DIY, a one-off, his amped acoustic lasts two numbers before it’s ‘blunt’, and he switches to electric, screwing the volume up with lewd delight at the sheer physical sensation of pure NOISE. He’s as unpredictable as an earth-tremor, as natural as an eclipse, and irradiates as much energy as a supernova.
Wreckless Eric (aka Eric Goulden) spawned an oddball hit – “(I’d Go The) Whole Wide World” (a highly collectible Stiff BUY16, August), as unique a taster for 1977 as anything from the Pistols/Clash/Damned triumvirate. He does it tonight. Its escalating tensions rise from low insidious strum to shattered flash-walls of power, manipulating splinters of light and shade (in muso-speak) – but giving every impression of total spontaneity in his hands. It blueprints his set from “Swimming Against The Tide Of Reason”, about a suicide pact, through “Young Upwardly-Mobile & Stupid” (both from his 1986 ‘Len Bright Combo’ guise), and even into the brief rhyme “She Destroyed Me Fuck By Fuck” (from ‘Le Beat Electrique’ in September 1989).
Judy Radul, a Canadian poet with William Burroughs credentials and fantasy gardens of sexual politics opens the show. She neatly contrasts Eric’s obsessively English eccentricities – Eric’s “Final Taxi” has a bleak black-humerous Morrissey-Northerness while “Semaphore Signals” (original ‘B’-side of “Whole Wide World”) recalls Ray Davies’ ‘Terry meets Julie’ hard urban romance. There’s pack-a-snack and supermarket checkout girls in quirkily affectionate mock-ups of tacky seaside resorts, cheap TV ‘Comedy Time’ dross, and dead Soap stars. ‘They won’t let me sing that one with my band. They say it’s wet. If you agree you can chuck glasses at me, or summat…’ No-one chucks even a beer-mat…
‘WRECKLESS ERIC’ (Repertoire RR4217) thirteen quirky masterpieces on a CD reissue of his debut Stiff LP, with bonus tracks – includes ‘Reconnez Cherie’, ‘Rags & Tatters’, ‘Waxworks’, ‘Telephoning Home’, ‘Grown Ups’, ‘Whole Wide World’, ‘Rough Kids’, ‘Personal Hygiene’, ‘Brain Thieves’, ‘There Isn’t Anything Else’, ‘Semaphore Signals’, ‘Be Stiff’, ‘Be Stiff (Take 2)’