“SONG FOR EWE”
with JOHNY BROWN of THE BAND OF HOLY JOY
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today it’s the frontman of a band that featured at one of the first ever gigs I ventured from Gravesend to London to see. His style is part evangelical preacher, part toy kit troubadour. His song “Rosemary Smith” has had loads of play on my earphones, and featured on the NME C86 reissue discs as a downright indie pop classic. He’s still the charismatic leader of Band of Holy Joy, a band who have split and reincarnated many times in many forms both lo-fi and high(er), over many continents, and making music that’s not just on vinyl but also site specific art installations. He plays records on the airwaves, he pontificates, he’s pop, he’s punk, he’s a prophet. Given that he’s a man with many a quiver to his bow, he’s chosen not one but two “songs for ewe”. Take a bow (not a bow), Mr. Johny Brown!
My old school mate and current Velvet Sheep co-editor Phil Knoxville & I travelled up to the old (second) Marquee club on the Charing Cross Road from our Estuary homes to see the left field indie bill Terminal Cheesecake & Band of Holy Joy way back in the very early 90s. It proved to be a catalyst to the fanzine itself. Our eyes and minds were truly open by both bands.
While Terminal Cheesecake played rubber band Can style rhythms and played a hypnotic film of John Pertwee with x-ray spex and a garotte, they were preceded by the big performance of Johny Brown marauding the mosh pit playing a folk-tinged theatrical fuck you that preceded chart botherers The Wonderstuff & The Levellers. It turns out that over the years I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate them even more as I’ve delved back into the C86 scene of The Wolfhounds & Stump and the era of the Weddoes and Nightingales that I was a couple of years too young to see live.
I was pleased to find Johny amongst mutual friends on social media, and he came back to me quickly with two songs that truly meet the obscure song you’ve listened to recently brief of the reincarnated VS zine’s “Song for ewe”. But first I asked for a quick update on his current movements…which are as follows:
“Band Of Holy Joy’s latest album Land Of Holy Joy can be found on Stereogram. They also produce a radio show BAD PUNK every Friday at 10pm on Resonance 1014.4 FM’
If that current vid of “Isn’t That Just The Life” has whetted your whistle, here’s some more of what makes our man Johny tick. Without further ado here are his “song(s) for ewe”…they are on an Alex theme. Make of it what you will.
“Here you go Nick. I’ve had this in my head all day. When Alex is in London he is a proper driven Godhead frontman with his dirty garage band Alkatraz but when he retreats to his Cornwall bolthole we see a more reflective side to the artist and this song My Sweet Pariah under the tag of The Voice of Treason has been bugging my brain all day. Sometimes you just can’t beat a man with guitar and a bit of kick drum coming straight at you from his pad and this does it for me.
And also puts me in mind of my favourite man and guitar in front room set up which is this…
There you go, I’ve cheated here, given you two Alex’s, two obscurities, but these things are like buses aren’t they, you wait an age for one, and then loads of obscurities happen along at once, hey…”
CHEERS JOHNY, AND THANKS FOR THAT MEMORABLE/MIND-ALTERING MARQUEE GIG BACK IN THE DAY. THIS “SONG FOR EWE” IS THE DEFINITION OF A THROWBACK THURSDAY MOMENT.