Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Mekons - "The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen" (1979)

The debut album by one of my all-time favorite bands. The title derives from the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" which holds that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters would eventually produce Shakespeare (the title is from "The Merchant of Venice" and the monkey has misspelled strained). There are many references to this in popular culture, my favorite being on "The Simpsons": Monty Burns has a roomful of monkeys at typewriters and he chastises one for typing "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?! You stupid monkey!"
Anyway, back to the LP! The Mekons originated in Leeds, England, also the home of Gang of Four. And not coincidentally, this has much in common sonically with early Gang. In fact, the back cover has a photo of the Virgin labelmates instead of the Mekons, kinda like Stiff putting a photo of Eddie and the Hot Rods on the back of the first copies of The Damned's debut LP. I imagine they came up with the basic sound organically, together, being friends and all.
The bonus tracks at the end are from a 1980 double 7" and finds them developing a more PiL-ish dubby sound. The Mekons moved all over the post-punk map before settling on the post-Gram Parsons honky-tonking for which they became famous, single-handedly inventing For good or ill depending on your point of view. I love the band and basically feel they can do no wrong. They are one of the most entertaining live bands I have ever seen. I have in fact shared the stage with them as a rabid fan not once but twice - at NYC's Central Park in '91 when roadie Mitch pulled several of us up onstage to dance (this after passing me a pitcher of ice cold beer - it was crowded and hot as fuck) and at DC's 9:30 Club in '94 where I joined them for the shouted chorus of "Rock And Roll!" on Memphis, Egypt and even a verse after Tom gave me the nod to take it! There ya go, my rockstar moment-in-the-sun!
Anyway, this is outta print, on sale used on Amazon for an obscene sum, blah blah.

UPDATE 8/31/09: Reupped! Mediafire:
Get it HERE!

01. Like Spoons No More
02. Join Us in the Countryside
03. Rosanne
04. Trevira Trousers
05. After 6
06. What Are We Going to Do Tonight
07. What
08. Watch the Film
09. Beetroot
10. I Saw You Dance
11. Lonely and Wet
12. Dan Dare
13. Teeth
14. Guardian
15. Kill
16. Stay Cool
17. Work All Week
18. Unknown Wrecks

Tracks 1-11 from the original 1979 LP, Tracks 12-16 from 1980 double 7", Tracks 17-18 from 1979 single. All tracks from the out-of-print Virgin (UK) CD reissue.


David Snusgrop said...

Ta! You're a hero!

Juan Duque said...

I was at that Mekons Summerstage show in 91 too! Not as close to the stage as you, alas. That was the only time i got to see them, cos in 97 i came back to my "homeland", Colombia. I had such a crush on Sally back then!! I remember her swinging a bunch of flowers. Anyway, you have a great lil blog here! Your love for rare vinyl shines out and reminds me of my teenage love affair with cardboard and plastic..



Jon said...

Thanks for leaving this up. I searched and searched for a copy of this. A big fave from the '70's.