Tricky one this. More recent than most for me, so the wounds are still fresh.
I first came across Mclusky on the rather oddball compilation (back when compilations were a ‘thing’ and sound quality meant anything – I’m looking at you Spotify) “Sonic Mook Experiment 2: Future Rock & Roll” in or around 2002.
Sitting alongside massive bands like “Joan Of Ass” and “The Toes” and miles above chancers like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (‘Bang’) and The Hives (‘Hate to say I told you so’) was the spit and fury of “Lightsabre cockingsucking blues” by “Mclusky” – assumedly named after the standout character from Grange Hill.
Well most standout unless you count;
Mr. Bronson. (Though his eponymous band weren’t as good)
The track stood out. A mile. Even in that company.
It’s opening lyrics, scream rattled off at lightning speed are;
“Eat what you are while you’re falling apart
And it opened a can of worms
The gun’s in my hand and I know it looks bad
But believe me I’m innocent
I’m fearful I’m fearful I’m fearful of flying
And flying is fearful of me”
And it goes from there.
I was smitten.
That the “Rather good” team did a video with a screaming faced cat (as was the style of the time) helped.
That the lyrics were clever, clear, coupled with vitriol but written as if constructed for a much less aggressive sounding act helped even more and for the first time in some time (the early 00’s being a bit weaker than usual for indie I’d thought), I had a new favourite band.
The accompanying album “Mclusky do dallas” I got soon after, produced by Steve Albini (in a week!), chock full of more witty lyrics and power and recorded in a week, it was similarly amazing.
To the surprise of no one, Mclusky were a John Peel fave (a late period John Peel fave to boot, when sadly the pull wasn’t as strong) which meant sessions and people actually hearing them. In 2002 Peel even broadcast a gig from the Nottingham Boat Club (Datsuns, Mclusky, wolves!, Bays, P Brothers, Echoboy, Six By Sevem Bearsuit, Miss Black America…see what I mean about Mr. Peels’ pull waning in his later years?)
“I’m tired of explaining that it wasn’t supposed to be allowed
I’d buy it but it wasn’t supposed to be like this
You can’t touch me cos I’m never over
But your heart’s gone the colour of coca-cola
I’m laughing cos I’m saving for an overdraft
Because I only want a video or photograph
Of that time you knocked my sister over
But your heart’s gone the colour of a dustbin”
Line up wise, the band were Andrew “Falco” Falkous who played guitar and shouted Jonathan “Thieving Bassist” Chapple who played bass and shouted and Jack “Eccleston” Egglestone who replaced previous drummer Matthew Harding late on in 2003.
I dug out the earlier records with Harding, but they weren’t as…well to be honest they did naff all for me, all a bit ‘early songs’, but everything from the 2001 release of ‘lightsabre’ onwards was great for a good long while.
The singles from the album kept coming and were never dissapointing, even the b-sides were awesome in a lot of cases (EG Exciting Whistle-Ah, Join The Mevolution) and watching them live in 2003 (they really didn’t seem to play London much in 2002, I know, I tried to watch them) they were full of the same passions as they had on record, an awesome live spectacle.
“Kkkitchens, what were you thinking?
Your quality units never stood a chance
With a little forward planning and perspective
You’d have avoided this
But you’re a spook, a legend
An urban myth with a twist in the tail
A precautionary nod to the licensing trade
And children still whisper your name”
Even the T-shirts were (as you’d expect) understated and fantastic.
The third album in 2004 dipped a bit, but it was still pretty damn great in places (“kk kithcens what were you thinking”, “without msg I am nothing”), still had the power, still the lyrical and vocal quality and dexterity, possibly lost the immediacy and had some padding.
Gigs were still great.
And then on November 2nd 2004, Mclusky’s tour trailer was stolen from a La Quinta parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona, about 5 grands worth of kit gone. Somehow this seems to have heightened some issues between Falco and Chapple and lead to them wrapping up the band by December.
Mclusky’s last gig was in December 2004, where they supported Shellac at the Scala. I went and, frankly it was an odd (and a little muted) gig to finish on, certainly it would have felt more satisfying to close out with the previous ULU gigs (some of which ended up on the compilation ‘Mcluskyism’ released in 2006)
Chapple would reform his previous band Shooting At Unarmed Men, release 2 albums, then move to Australia in 2006, reforming the band again with a new lineup and then appear in other bands (Harmony and Poor People).
Falco would almost immediately continue with the amazingly similar (mostly due to his vocals and lyrics) Future Of The Left (recommended listening ‘Manchasm’, ‘Small bones small bodies’), which was basically him and Jack from Mclusky and, for the next 5 years Kelson Mathias from Jarcrew on Bass.
Still, by 2014, Mclusky would be missed enough that when FOTL started advertising Mclusky gigs again for charity causes – they sold out faster (much faster) than FOTL gigs did. Odd when you’re 2/3 the same band (Albeit with an added singer for Johns songs in one case).
But for now, let’s relive the power and lyrical dexterity of Mr. Falcous most famous band with a few punchy Mclusky tracks;
1. Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues (Reading Festival 2004)
This live version gets across the power of this set opener extremely well.
- That Man Will Not Hang (Peel Session 2004)
I’d tried to source a 1st Peel session track, but the quality was so poor I went for this excellent 2nd session effort. Peel expressed surprise he’d had them in the studio so few times by the end.
- KK Kitchens What Were You Thinking (Colin Murray BBC Session, 2004)
Entirely live from Maida Vale comes one of the best tracks from that 3rd album (My Pain And Sadness Is More Sad And Painful That Yours) and as a Brucie bonus I’ve welded an interview snippet onto the end.
- To Hell With Good Intentions (Reading Festival 2004)
Their Reading performance was a belter, (only 4 months before the split too) and whilst it was tempting to use a 2002 live track for a little balance, this version again shows the punch and quality of the band in full flow.
(By the way, I thought I’d choose non studio recorded tracks, or risk Falco’s wrath);
“Please be careful, or we’ll get the world we all deserve. Hobby bands who can tour once every few years if they’re lucky, and the superstars, freed from such inconvenient baggage as integrity and conscience, running the corporate sponsored marathon of £80-a-ticket arena tours and television adverts til their loveless hearts explode in an orgy of oppressive branding and self-regard. Some of us, in all honestly, just want to make the music we love and play it around the world without living in poverty”
By Ed The Saint