May 16, 2018

RhoDeo 1819 Aetix


Today's artists are a post-punk/indie rock band formed in 1981 in Leeds, originally consisting of guitarist Jon Langford (co-founder of the Mekons), vocalist John Hyatt and bassist Phillip "John" Brennan, augmented by a drum machine. The band initially formed just before the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, and their first gig was to be part of a "Funk the Wedding" event, but they were refused permission to play because they were drunk. They signed to CNT Records in 1982, which Langford jointly founded, releasing two singles and an EP for the label. A reworking of the Mekons' "English White Boy Engineer", which attacked hypocritical attitudes towards South Africa and apartheid, led to the band being labelled as left-wing rockers. The band explained: "We're not a socialist band. We're a group of socialists who are in a band. It's a fine distinction but an important one  ..............N'Joy

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A side group started in 1982 by Mekons co-founder Jon Langford, the Three Johns, originally made up of Langford, John Hyatt, Phillip "John" Brennan, and a drum machine, specialized in abrasive, politically charged, danceable rock. Sounding almost nothing like Langford's main band, the Johns were a silly-serious bunch of political and cultural provocateurs. Recording during the height of Margaret Thatcher's ill-conceived Tory rebellion, the Johns were openly antagonistic to this new, conservative vision of Britain's future. And while their elliptical and epigrammatic lyrics might not offer the sloganeering that would easily identify them as lefties, certainly there were enough hints dropped along the way to remove any doubt. Unlike other rock agit-prop, the Johns played a fairly accessible version of polemical post-punk anti-pop that embraced big, messy arena-rock-sounding guitars and hard, repetitive, quasi-hip-hop dance beats. Perhaps the most subversive thing about the Johns is that, despite Langford's and Hyatt's goofy vocals, they were, in their own weird way, pure pop for now people, especially those who hated Thatcher. With collective tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Johns took on British and American obsession with materialism, the diabolical Reagan-Thatcher lovefest, the machinations of the pop music industry, all of it done with a great sense of humor mixed in with genuine fear and horror. Frequently hard to pin down, the Johns reveled in being slippery, exhibiting a love and loathing for pop music. In some respects, the Johns resembled friends and fellow Leeds, England mates the Gang of Four, but where the Gang of Four was dour and serious (bordering on academic), the Johns were loutish and boisterous, which when combining politics and rock & roll can, ultimately, be a good thing. The band recorded six sessions for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show, and reached No. 14 in the 1985 Festive Fifty with "Death of the European".

The band split up in late 1988 after a disastrous US tour, but reformed in 1990, releasing Eat Your Sons, a concept album about cannibalism, before splitting again. Langford continued with the Mekons, later releasing a solo album, while Hyatt concentrated on his academic career. They reformed again in 2012, playing five shows, and have continued to perform intermittently ever since in the UK, mostly in the Manchester and Leeds-Bradford areas.

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After releasing a slew of singles and EPs, the Johns' debut LP consists of the political pop damage that had made their earlier chunks of noise so much fun. The Three Johns presented a more casual take on the gothic-rock of Bauhaus and The Birthday Party, thus paving the way for what came to be called indie-rock. "Teenage Nightingales To Wax" and "Do Not Cross The Line" were lively gothic rockers in the vein of Bauhaus, while "3 Junk" quoted The Gun Club's country/ punk-blues, later mounting their own take on the genre with "Missing".

Their rock 'n roll was unrestrained, with such feisty cuts such as "Firepits", but could also be ambitious and elegant, as in the theatrical raga post-punk "No Place". In the meantime, their interpretation of Bauhaus' "Kick in The Eye" in "Dr FreeDom" was loose enough to mark it as a predecessor of 90's slacker-rock. Their own incendiary take on punk-funk with "Sun of Mud" was pure delight, while in "Class War" they created an even freer and more allover the place musical landscape. Atom Drum Bop is loaded with skewed, herky-jerky, unabashedly leftist rock & roll. At the bottom of the jacket it reads, "Rock N' Roll Versus Thatcherism," just in case you were unsure as to how they felt about things. A great record that got lost amid all the glossy Britpop bands of the time with silly haircuts and even sillier names.

The Three Johns - Atom Drum Bop (flac  433mb)

01 Teenage Nightingales To Wax 3:01
02 Do Not Cross The Line 3:34
03 3 Junk 3:08
04 Firepits 3:19
05 No Place 4:18
06 Dr. Freedom 3:37
07 Missing 4:09
08 Sun Of Mud 3:25
09 The Devil's Music 5:21
10 Class War / Merry At Their Toil 3:02
11 Death Of The European 5:54
12 Heads Like Convicts 3:31
13 Rabies 1:41
14 20th Century Boy 4:10
15 Brainbox 3:27
16 Watch It Go 2:54
17 Crazytown 3:21
18 Men Without Bones 3:47

The Three Johns - Atom Drum Bop   (ogg  153mb)

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Far and away the best Three Johns album. Funnier, sharper, and more focused than Atom Drum Bop, The World By Storm really lets the guitars rip, creating a more manic, tuneful wall of noise behind which the Johns rant and rave. The record featured the three best singles the band ever recorded, "Atom Drum Bop" (this is not a mistake -- there's no song by this title on the LP Atom Drum Bop), "Sold Down the River," and the scaborously funny "Death of the European" (with its John Lydon-like opening lines, "Big mouth/open wide/open up the pearly gates of freedom"). The lyrical concerns are the same as always -- mindless, conspicuous consumption, empty-headed conservatism -- but here the Johns sound more in control, and that begets a ferocity and urgency that makes this a compelling record. The Three Johns cult and Mekons fans lapped this up when it came out, but it was only available in America as an import (still is, as far as I know) and sank without a trace. Too bad, as it was one of the best records of 1986.

The Three Johns - The World By Storm (flac  519mb)
01 Sold Down The River 4:10
02 King Car 3:18
03 Demon Drink 3:18
04 Johnny The Perfect Son 3:31
05 Torches Of Liberty 5:23
06 Atom Drum Bop 4:09
07 Death Of The European 4:06
08 Coals To Newcastle 2:13
09 The Ship That Died Of Shame 5:03
10 The World By Storm 4:11
11 Rose Of Yorkshire 2:54
12 Fruitflies 3:19
13 Industry (Live) 3:24
14 AWOL (Live) 4:21
15 Devil's Music (Live) 4:36
16 Engineer (Live) 3:56
17 Never And Always 5:24
18 Turn Up Those Downhearted Blues 5:18
19 Big Whale (Never Live) 2:36

The Three Johns - The World By Storm   (ogg  182mb)

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A solid collection of most of the early singles and EPs which, had one paid import prices for, would have eaten up the better part of a year's record-buying budget. Decidedly inconsistent, Crime Pays, for the true Three Johns fan, is a necessary purchase, but for those just treading into the murky waters of Johndom, save this purchase for later. Considering how prolific they were in the early days, this is as comprehensive as it gets.

The Three Johns - Singles A/B (82-87) (flac  436mb)

01 English White Boy Engineer 3:29
02 Secret Agent 3:21
03 Pink Headed Bug 3:27
04 Lucy In The Rain 4:15
05 Men Like Monkeys 4:19
06 Two Minute Ape 2:17
07 Windolene 2:31
08 Marx's Wife 3:04
09 Paris Forty One 3:32
10 AWOL 4:01
11 Rooster Blue 3:00
12 Image Or An Animal / Kick The Dog Right Out 5:49
13 Do The Square Thing 6:11
14 The World Of The Workers 2:01
15 Zowee 2:59
16 Kinkybeat 3:24
17 Sad House (Razorblades) 2:11
18 The Day Industry Decided To Stop 3:11
19 Fill Me Up 1:23

 The Three Johns - Singles A/B (82-87)   (ogg  151mb)

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Anonymous said...

many thanks

michael abramson said...

very appreciated.

Spoodbuoy said...

EEEEEEEEE! Having given up on ever finding Atom Drum Bop in a lossless format, you pull through once again. Rho, you are the best.