“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 originally from what long term mate of the zine Simon Williams annually reminds us was the best band ever, the C86 legends bIG*fLAME and he admires their vocalist/bassist Alan Brown so much Simon plays with him in long term project turned full time band The Great Leap Forward. Brown’s returned the favour in Simon’s old band Sarandon and they’ve also both been in a reformed A Witness – also C86 vets. With Simon’s help, I got in touch with Alan who not only sent me their latest and greatest album, the polemically pleasing “Revolt Against An Age of Plenty” but also badges and beer mats (they’ve had their own brew recently) through the actual post, which took me right back to when I originally wrote this fanzine – that personal, DIY touch and it’s a feel that permeates all the tunes on said record.
“Revolt Against An Age of Plenty” is also nostalgic of the 90s in its use of found sound samples, except here it’s gonna even further – Cassetteboy-esque in its manipulation of Boris booster-ism with “world’s greatest liars” conflation. The references are achingly up to date, even as far as plays on the protective ring supposedly thrown around the care homes at the beginning of the pandemic and a bemoaning of the break-up of the Red Wall. Given that the name Big Flame and The Great Leap Forward themselves are nods to political movements / pivotal (and deadly for the latter) moments, the lyrical overtness of Brown should come as no surprise. What makes it all so compelling is the sheer tunesmithery of the enterprise, it’s McCarthy meets McCartney. We are chuffed to welcome to VS, the man that can fashion a pop nugget from a frown – it’s Alan Brown!
“Revolt Against An Age of Plenty” – named after a collection of writing by Jack Common (and out on A Turntable Friend Records) is burgeoning with meaning and intent, enough to make you feel cleverer for listening. “Can You Kanreki?” refers to a Japanese custom of rebirth around the 60th birthday, one pertinent to Brown, whose increasing years have only added fuel to the flames rather than diminish the pilot light.
His legacy as an indie firebrand has long since been secured with nine John Peel sessions in the 80s with bIG*fLAME (4), The Great Leap Forward (2), A Witness (2) and Inca Babies (1) but Brown has revitalised The Great Leap Forward with an album that’s been four years in the making, widening his political pot shots with a spot of introspection, and also a reworking of bIG*fLAME fav “Debra” with the cheeky styling “dEBRA 2021”.
Although it all started contemporaneously with bIG*fLAME back in the day, a bit like the Indian summer of the reformed contemporaries The Wolfhounds, TGLF are on their effective second wave (coming back in 2008 with “Finished Unfinished Business” and then 2012’s “This Is Our Decade Of Living Cheaply And Getting By”) and if anything everything’s getting bigger, bolder and better. “A Life More Ordinary” sums this up best for me with its soaring hope among the invective. And there’s nothing ordinary about The Great Leap Forward.
Given the sheer amount of ideas and tunes he’s been responsible for, I was intrigued to find out his pick of tune – so without further ado, here’s Alan Brown’s “song for ewe”…
“On the new TGLF album the song “Songs To Die To” considers the the influence of songs and bands in my formative years.
One of those bands was The Comsat Angels: from South Yorkshire (like meself), quite forlorn and atmospheric, with driving drums and heavy grinding bass overlain by sparse cutting guitar, angular keyboards and wistful lyrical vocals.
I utterly love their seminal debut album “Waiting For A Miracle”, which includes probably their most famous song “Independence Day, but here I’ve chosen a different track “Missing In Action”: a driving, edgy and powerful example of The Comsat Angels at their best – great organ sound too.”
MANY THANKS TO ALAN BROWN AND TO SIMON WILLIAMS.
You can buy “Revolt Against An Age of Plenty” here: