A Midwinter Lucky 7

Johny Brown is one of Velvet Sheep’s favourite artists and people full stop. Both with his long-standing and ever-evolving group, the Band of Holy Joy and with his sonic adventures on equally long-running and distinctive Bad Punk radio show on Resonance FM which I was lucky enough to be a guest on last week, Johny is an absolute force for good and with a discerning taste and passion for great music.

Johny’s been a regular guest on these pages, and I’ve been wanting him back on for Xmas, so I sent out the smoke signals and he’s fully delivered a midwinter masterpiece of winter solstice soliloquies and twilight laments from the North of England. Here’s Johny…

“I’ve got the north in mind, frozen or otherwise. A sonic ley line of frustrated male energy burning bad through the rusting cultural pylons stretching across the Northern landscape to light up the gloomy winter season and block out the commercial xmas HD overdrive, these seven beauties will hopefully see me through the dark weathered days and bright plastic nights.”

And so we start in Morden Towers or with the spirit of Morden Towers in our hearts at least…

Bunting had not written a line of poetry for nigh on ten years in the early sixties when a young Tom Pickard pitched up at his doorstep to pay his respects. Pickard read Bunting some of his own poems, and impressed and inspired by the working class youth’s energy and spirit Bunting composed this Northern beauty.

Listen to his flow, then go discover Morden Towers

Everything has changed and nothing has changed at all in the 50 years or so since this song was originally written and recorded, the poverties and injustices of then are with us now for sure but still a spirit and a culture remains and I’m glad there are cats like Aaron around to chronicle and inspire and push the home spirit out to the wider world.

When winter comes howling in… I love this version of Alan Hull’s “Winter Song” by Aaron Duff of the band Hector Gannet.

Aaron is North Shields born and bred and all his writing concerns itself with the heritage and industry of the area. They hang out at a great coffee shop called the Wheel House on Tanners Bank and unlike Jesus, who had nothing but his thoughts, I hope they never get busted just for talking and befriending the wrong sorts… I hope they live and flourish and get to release lots of their own great material in 2019, that for me would be the greatest of presents…

Another great current song that emanates from the town of North Shields. This is the true story of a man committed to prison for a crime he kind of half committed but served more than his time for.

It’s been a long time coming, but this man is quite simply coming of age, this song is killer, it’s the assured superb vocal delivery that does it for me, I love it, you will too, Howard Rickard and The Pale Riders, check this..

And then a sudden descent and swoop / unstoppable force / a threat of displacement / here in the moment / the necessary evil / northern frustration alchemised into ritual dance / industrial voodoo / feral trance / radio tower on top of winter hill sending out the wrong signal / at last / we are here to go / perverted funk / and weird memory of stage invasion at London’s LSE November 1980 / as North took over South / Winter Hill setting the room alight / dullard streets transcended /ecstasy delivered / winter in all its magnificence / sudden sense of belonging / with supreme alienist stance / dance.

Leeds. There was a time 7 lucky years ago when Leeds was absolutely booming as a town. It was building up a skyline to rival Chicago or Singapore, the football team was once more tearing things up in the Champions league against the greats of Europe, a spike in hand sets, tablets and other commodities had boosted the towns coffers and house prices were amongst the highest in the UK rivalled only by London. Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, these rival Northern cities just melted away in comparison. Most outside commentators attributed the town’s success to its strategic transport links and post Blair boom trickledown, even Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse scheme, but the townsfolk of Leeds knew better. They were all one hundred percent positive that the success was due to a Gannett.

This Gannett had been brought inland by a young man called Tracks and the bird had soon made Leeds city centre its own, imitating the local Herring Gulls by picking up scraps of fish and chips and other takeaways and growing very large in the process with shining plumage. Tracks was hailed as a modern prince. The town loved its Gannet and the Gannett loved the town, pure style, great football, good luck, grand architecture, happy souls, munificence and magnificence shone all around. Then this young man, Tracks, inexplicably, stabbed the Gannett in the chest, for reasons only known to himself.

The stabbing was a disaster and the town of Leeds overnight was plunged back into austerity level Britain with record foodbank levels obscene degrees of homelessness and every corner taken over by spice heads. It was a sorry state of affairs no doubt about it. No matter how hard he tried to explain his reasoning’s the town laid the curse firmly on Track’s head. This young scrote. as they now called him, was cast out of the town, and as his punishment he was forced to travel endlessly on his moped on the A64 road between Leeds and York. Not so much Ancient Mariner as Young Mopeder… Mans on Road, all of a sudden he was owed, with a debt too dark and vast to comprehend, and until the day he finds what he is owed he will continue to travel these roads under dark winter brooding skies, and Leeds will remain a cursed and ugly second division town itsmefez kind of town. Fingers crossed…

Christ, we’ve got to bring some female energy into this, so The Stationmaster and his Mate set off up the North Sea coastline, heading for an empty kirk just outside Thurso where they hope to connect with the spirits of Alice Bailey, Alice Coltrane, Alice in Wonderland, Jenny Hval, Betty Davis, Ari Up, Suzi Quatro, Nico, follow the mission here

At last a moment of peace and beauty and someone seeing something the right wrong way. Before any kind of Fall could happen Martin had to be in the garden, the acid garden, biting on the apple of temptation and working towards his own original sin.

I’m happy to say his love is still working.


Just for ultimate clarity, Johny loves Leeds. Me too.

Happy holidays!