12
Apr 00

Talking Telstar

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38 years after the fact, and 33 years after Joe Meek’s final self-destruction, those involved with my favourite single of all time, The Tornados’ “Telstar”, seem destined to forever intrude on my life. I read in the current edition of Britain’s dullest and most bafflingly enduring music publication, Select magazine, that Tornados guitarist George Bellamy is the father of Matt Bellamy, a member of tedious, grinding rock band Muse. While this might reveal a generational decline – father otherworldly futuristic in the grey, repressed Britain of the early 60s, son a depressingly prominent living fossil in 2000 – the death of Tornados bassist Heinz Burt from motor neurone disease at 57 is a minor tragedy that has gone almost completely unreported.

This Guardian obituary isn’t really the best way to be remembered, portraying Joe Meek as a “mad svengali” whose Fake Plastic Elvises are represented as being on the same level as those perpetrated by Larry Parnes and Norrie Paramor. Someone reading this who’d never actually heard “Just Like Eddie” would take it to be a gentle, maudlin tribute of the type Cliff Richard might have given us – in fact, it’s a fizzing, flowing pop production which sounds like rock’n’roll remade by the Owen Luder Partnership as they built the Tricorn Shopcentre (and which Momus had never heard, despite appropriating its every turn for “Spy On The Moon”).

Those in search of Joe Meek’s real legacy could do much worse than …

BROADCAST – Come On Let’s Go (from the album “The Noise Made By People”, Warp Records)
This album’s been seducing and destroying me for the last 24 hours, attracting me with its luscious poise and analog folk songs, almost pushing me away with its utter coldness, loneliness and devastation, but always winning me back with the *use* of the electronics and Trish Keenan’s voice (every cliche is true – she does sound like a lost child, and the whole album evokes the forbidden childhood most of us hide, where Plone’s “For Beginner Piano” generally evoked the joyous childhood most of us remember). “Come On Let’s Go” is one of the best moments – Meekish pop at its most evocative, its most suggestive of a new world beyond the trap of forbidden childhood (indeed, it’s probably the only really optimistic song here). In a perfect 1962, all pop music would have sounded this good. As it is, we had one genius whose influence is acknowledged, but not yet, it seems, in a mainstream media which continues to worship mid-60s Rockism as though it was the birth of everything, and conveniently ignore the thwarted futurism that somehow managed to flourish at the start of the decade. Broadcast sound as though they still live in this world, and there are few more appealing places to be.

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