“SONG FOR EWE”
with JON LANGFORD of
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a prolific punk provocateur, originally from Wales, super active in Leeds and now mostly based in Chicago, who formed the iconic and critically acclaimed DIY ensemble The Mekons (originally as drummer, then guitarist), cult post punk combo The Three Johns and Chicago collective The Waco Brothers.
Most recently, he’s been recording with like-minded, loveably apposite individual, Martin Bramah of the Blue Orchids and together they’ve made a fantastic 7″ “Worm In Your Ear” b/w “Stone Tumbling Stream” on the best indie label in Britain – Tiny Global Productions (also home to The Nightingales) which is out on 21st May. In the mean time, we’re super chuffed to welcome to these pages, the irrepressible Jon Langford!
The story behind the new single with Martin Bramah goes thus. While Jon was visiting Tiny Global Productions label boss John Henderson in Budapest after an art exhibition in Belgrade, he teamed up with label mate Bramah to play a couple of gigs. Each one did a solo set, then they teamed up to play hits from all their various combos, a Johnny Cash cover and other curios. Inspired by their collabo they got recording in a basement and came up with four songs – two versions of Martin’s “Stone Tumbling Stream”, Jon’s never before released “Worm In Your Ear” and a take on an unreleased Bramah song “Action” from his band Thirst. Two of the tunes are being released by Tiny Global as a limited (double a side if you will) 7″ single – the aforementioned “Worm In Your Ear” and the fast, one and done punky version of “Stone Tumbling Stream” with artwork from Jon (as per image above). Everything on both songs is played by Jon or Martin, nobody else involved. Of course that meant Jon playing drums later in the mix he did in Chicago for “Worm…” and the Tiny Global bandcamp blurb seems to suggest the conspiracy theory that Jon’s return behind the skins led to the recent 100 Club revival of The Mekons’ original line-up. I hope so…either way, it’s not often I buy a 7″ single these days, but I pre-ordered this one…
But what did Jon order as his “song for ewe”? Without further ado…
“HALF PAST FRANCE – John Cale from PARIS 1919
I first heard this song at the Folk Club down by Newport docks when I was a teenager. It was creepy and sombre and for some reason that really appealed to me at the time. I think that’s probably the first time I heard the name John Cale. The fact that he was Welsh made it even better. Its like a doomed chapel hymn full of weird Welshness and Germanic misery.
Years later when I moved to Leeds to go to artschool I met Andy and Mark who would become the Mekons lead singers. It was my first day there and they took me to the pub. Andy told me he had a mate called Andy Gill, another art student, who was forming a band that was a cross between Dr Feelgood and the Velvet Underground and they might be looking for a drummer.
I knew about the Feelgoods but I’d never heard of the Velvet Underground. I was 18… I did some research and was amazed that John Cale was in them. Later Sally Timms and I recorded this song on one of her solo albums. One Boxing day in the 90s I was visiting my parents in Newport and we went to a drinks party at a neighbour’s house. Mrs. King who I’d known most of my life and who lived just round the corner asked me if I was still living in Chicago and if I ever went to New York. She had a first cousin there and asked me if I knew him. What’s his name? John Cale…
Here’s a link to the Cale original: “
Here’s the link to pre-order the single “Worm In Your Ear/Stone Tumbling Stream” (where you can also order it as part of a bundle with the brand new Nightingales single featuring Vic Godard (Subway Sect) “Commercial Suicide Man”, also out on 21 May.
MANY THANKS TO JON LANGFORD AND JOHN HENDERSON.