Thursday, November 16, 2006

best gig i never saw - pt. 1

I'm sure we've all done it - a band goes on tour and one of the dates is just down the road from you. You plan to go for ages in advance. But for some reason when the night arrives you don't go - maybe something comes up, or more shamefully, you simply can't be arsed.

Jim and I still console ourselves for having missed Bitch Magnet on their last tour when they played in a tiny room above a pub in Nottingham. That same room was the scene of a date on the last tour from Thin White Rope.

Now, I won't pretend to have been their biggest fan at the time but they were, by all accounts, a ferocious live band - I remember reading a gig review in Melody Maker which talked about how the walls seemed to be melting through the heat (cathedrals of sound, anybody?). I guess they were a kind-of Post-punk-Americana take on Television, twin guitars conjuring up squalls of feedback and noise, which makes them sound like another West Coast art-rock noise experiment.

But TWR had songs with WORDS and STORIES and such like, all strange and dark lyrical narratives. At the time I was massively into the more extreme aspects of the Blast First roster - it wasn't until a few years later that I really started to appreciate bands who didn't put such massive stock in leaping on the LOUD pedal and who played with more dynamic control. This is a great relentless version of a Can song - bet it sounded awesome live...

Thin White Rope - Yoo Doo Right

Most of their songs have really knotty interlocking guitar parts (hence the Television comparisons, I guess). My absolute favourite track by them is "On The Floe", a really great song that starts off deceptively simple and quaint, before it hits a crushing riff throughout the chorus which gets repeated and developed over and over in the long instrumental play out - really clever without being "clever-clever".

Thin White Rope - On The Floe

Thin White Rope took their name from William S. Burroughs' description of semen. I remember another Melody Maker article where singer Guy Kyser was asked what his most embarrassing moment was. His answer was something along the lines of, "When a female flatmate pointed out that I had jism on my wrist". With all of that, it's hardly surprising that they didn't achieve much by the way of mainstream success. Especially when you consider songs like "Puppet Dog", which tells of a lonely man who can only find (ahem) release through the titular glove-toy - "Puppet dog, come bite your master".

Thin White Rope - Puppet Dog

The resulting song is as pathetic, funny and weirdly-moving as that bizarre story would suggest, with some beautiful lead guitar weeping over the end. Maybe I should end this post with something a bit more rousing (I hesitate to say "uplifting")... How about this great widescreen epic which mutates into a rockin' rendition of "Amazing Grace"?

Thin White Rope - Americana / The Ghost

Visit - Thin White Rope fan page
Visit - Thin White Rope on Wikipedia
Buy - "Sack Full of Silver"
Buy - "The Ruby Sea"

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