“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 musician, actor, artiste, writer, curator, enfant terrible, idiot savant, bon viveur, rock survivor, best man at the wedding of The Damned’s Dave Vanian, whose powerfully prescient band Doctors of Madness in their proto punk pomp (the band were active between 75-78) were supported by The Sex Pistols, The Jam, Warsaw (Joy Division) and Simple Minds. John Peel loved him, Vic Reeves raves about him, which is more than good enough for me.
Now back with a brand new album, the appropriately named and flavoured “Dark Times”, produced by his friend and top notch producer John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses et al) and featuring some great guests including our old mucker Terry Edwards, I was reminded of the great man when my mate Johny Brown of the Band of Holy Joy had him on the bill at his Pop Not Hate event in London recently, and so I was thrilled when he agreed to choose a “song for ewe”. He’s always very busy, but now more than ever, not only with the new Doctors album which has been a long time coming (all new material, pertinent and still punk, Johny Brown called it thus “currency”), a recent cameo on the ace Anni Hogan record but also with a full and purportedly last ever Doctors tour on the horizon and a must-see solo tour playing the songs of Lou Reed, so it’s an honour that he’s made time for us on VS, welcome to the living legend, that is Richard “Kid” Strange…!
Check out the deets of that remarkable Lou Reed tour, with a stellar band in tow…
Richard Strange has a CV as long as your arm, that is if your arms belong to Mr. Tickle. It must be hard for even he to keep up with his own exploits. As well as the baritone baracking of the Doctors of Madness, it wasn’t long ago he completed a retrospective tour of his 1978-80 solo performance opus “The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange”, a one man multimedia political fable that still rings true.
He has recently sang in a number of concerts organised by the celebrated American Producer/Arranger Hal Wilner, most notably “Stay Awake!” a programme of Walt Disney songs, which was performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall as part of Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown Festival, and also in New York. The shows featured Grace Jones, Nick Cave, Steve Buscemi, Pete Docherty, Shane McGowan, Jarvis Cocker and Beth Orton.
Richard also sang at Wilner’s “Rogues Gallery”, an evening of Sea Shanties at London’s Barbican Theatre, in July, alongside Tim Robbins, Shane McGowan, Martha Wainwright, and Suzanne Vega.
He reopened his signature Cabaret Futura (Soho’s first ever multimedia cabaret night) after a 30 year hiatus which has recently featured performances by Gary Kemp, Sarah Jane Morris, Michael Nyman, Richard Wilson, Rupert Thomson, Stella Duffy, John Lenahan and Ed Harcourt
He performed the children’s fantasy book “Anna and The Witch’s Bottle at the Barbican’s Surreal House exhibition”, and curated the New Territories International Festival Of Live Art in Glasgow.
He presented and co-wrote “This is Not Magritte”, a programme commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to coincide with a retrospective of the work of the Belgian surrealist and hosts a monthly live chat show, A MIGHTY BIG IF. His recent guests have included Mike Figgis, Gavin Turk, Simon Day, Robert Elms, Cornelia Parker and Michael Nyman.
He’s also curated a special one-off evening for the Tate Gallery, called “Cabaret Apocalyptica”, inspired by 18th/19th Century artist John Martin, written songs for films including “Dark Hearts” and worked on the Scott Walker tribute evening “Drifting and Tilting”, with Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker.
That’s not to mention his acting over the years, including in big names like “Mona Lisa”, “Batman”, “Guest House Paradiso”, “Gangs of New York” and loads and loads more.
In fact he makes being a polymath seem like pure mental arithmetics.
“Dark Times” is a real tour de force, cynical at times but ultimately optimistic, polemic yet poetic. It features a great supporting cast of players too – the aforementioned Terry Edwards (Near Jazz Experience/Gallon Drunk/PJ Harvey), Joe Elliot of of Def Leppard, Sarah Jane Morris (The Communards), young protest singer Lily Bud, Steve “Boltz” Bolton (Paul Young, The Who, Atomic Rooster) plus the Japanese power duo Sister Paul (Susumu & Mackii Ukei). Strange sounds like Nick Cave and Blixa Bargeld rolled into one, and he pre-dated them both. The music is tightly wound and darkly imbued, dripping with portent like Queen’s “Innuendo” or Simple Minds “Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call”, and if you cut into it, it would bleed black like The Damned “Phantasmagoria”.
But enough sick sycophancy from me, what has the Strange man himself been listening to lately? Without further ado, this is Richard Strange’s “song for ewe”…
“Hardboard House by The Beale. from the album 21 Years in Kranj.
A rare musical outing by Adrian Shaw of the Performance Art duo Boyle n Shaw..hilariously disturbing or disturbingly hilarious..not sure…not Shaw… If Syd Barrett had got a synth and Garageband this is what he might have done.”
THANKS SO MUCH RICHARD.
“DARK TIMES” BY DOCTORS OF MADNESS IS OUT IN SEPTEMBER WITH A SINGLE COMING IN JULY…
Check out more deets on the link to Richard’s site below: