Chivalrous Amoekons - Fanatic Voyage
Once upon a long time ago, The Mekons shot through the sprawl of the British punk scene and soon thereafter found themselves born again to rock and roll to their roots. Their songs of politics-made-personal, outraged satire served both wet and dry and heart-struck humanity hit many listeners right between the ears, landing the kind of blow that only the most essential rock music can. Their anomaly has evolved over four decades and eighteen albums but those entranced listeners aren’t yet ready to back down on their claim.
Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy’s Will Oldham is one such listener. The Mekons inspired an optimism in this young man that accepted the course of all paths and all fates in life, so long as they could be righteous. And the path from there has never been less than that. In those early days of Palace Brothers / Songs / Music, the third Palace single featured a fine-toothed rendition of Sally Timms’ ‘Horses’. Some years later, Bonny himself performed at The Mekons’ 30th anniversary shows at The Mutiny in Chicago, filling in for Tom Greenlaigh in true deputy style.
Equipped with a variety of voices, Bonnie’s band of 2012 was ideally suited to the multi-headed attack of The Mekons and literally prepared too - they were packing a whole set of Mekons material in addition to the extensive Bonny catalogue and, in the midst of a European tour, dropped it on an unsuspecting audience in Zurich. Is it this that accounts for the high spirits, thick-bottomed rock & roll and fleet-footed country style on display here or is it that the songs of The Mekons simply rock?
‘Fanatic Voyage’ was mixed in homage to Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’, removing all aspects of the live event beyond the musical performance. Bitchin Bajas’ Cooper Crain was brought in to commit this execution; his deft edits allow the band their breathless frenzy while leaving no trace of what must surely have been a gobsmacked Swiss crowd.
Featuring the playing and singing of Ben Boye, Van Campbell, Danny Kiely, Emmett ‘The Cairo Gang’ Kelly, Angel Olsen and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, ‘Fanatic Voyage’ is an exquisite tribute not just to The Mekons but to the spirit and image of rock and roll, the rights of the righteous man and to time, that great elevator and annihilator, from which we will always have much to learn. In the spirit of The Mekons - to pay forward to the next generation with all efforts - proceeds from the sale of these recordings will go to Roots Of Music in New Orleans, Louisiana, whose work empowers local youth through music education, academic support and mentorship, while preserving and promoting the unique music and cultural heritage of their city, which has transformed so many lives already.