by James Fleming
A box arrives with an uncle. Maybe 70 CDs inside. Some long out of print, some so obscure that even this well-versed writer has never heard of them.
This is entry one of The Best of The Box
To this day, it’s heralded as a sort of renaissance-era for popular music. Classic after classic was churned out by the likes of the Beach Boys, Captain Beefheart, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Stones, Velvet Underground, the Beatles and the Stooges.
For many music aficionados, nothing will ever beat that era. A time of dreamy innocence, the counterculture, free love and Woodstock. Brought abruptly to an end by the notorious concert at Altamont Speedway.
But, there’s another era.
It doesn’t even have a proper name; “post-punk.” Surely everything after the punk rock boom of 1976/77 is post-punk? But, such is the level of artistry and the sheer sonic difference between the groups, that a more definite term cannot be coined.
PiL, Wire, Throbbing Gristle, The Slits, all release seminal albums. The U.S. counterpart, No-Wave, births such stellar bands as DNA, Swans, Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, and even Sonic Youth. This is one of, if not the only, other era that rivals the height of the hippie dream as the most productive and fertile time in pop-culture history. Read Simon Reynolds’ ‘Rip It Up And Start Again,’ and you’ll get a flavour of how impressive these groups were.
A band is formed called RedLorry YellowLorry. And, unusual for the time, they release a total of 11 albums since. Not unusual for the time, they remain virtually unheard. So many great bands were formed, records released and ideas shared that some of them were bound to get lost. And it’s a great shame that RedLorry YellowLorry were one such band.
The Lorries (as they are affectionately known by their fans, who include one John Peel) release what is generally regarded as their finest record; Talk About The Weather.
Being a prolific sort of guy, singer/songwriter/vocalist/guitarist, Chris Reed and the band kick out a further two albums before this one: 1986’s Nothing Wrong.
Of the two RedLorry YellowLorry albums in the aforementioned box, this is the first one that reached the stereo. Good choice.
Spacious rock guitars, trademark post-punk bass lines and a low, soulful voice fill the room. It’s almost sensual, but with a tinge of darkness, a threatening edge. Like the music is going for your throat. From behind.
Goth-rock is the genre that springs to mind (Goth being an offshoot of post-punk). But there’s elements here of other styles: a rock n’ roll disregard for convention, Jim Morrison’s baritone, a slightly-too-fast-to-swing beat. “A rock band that have forgotten the rules. That can only be a good thing.” – Melody Maker 17/12/83
The band stated that their primary influence was MC5. If so, the main impact the Motor City madmen had on the Lorries was attitude. Like all the best records, the angst is laced with enough attitude to ward off naysayers, just enough. This is a band that has not only forgotten the rules, but doesn’t care that they have. The rules, clearly, never meant much to RedLorry YellowLorry. Thankfully.
Chris Reed was and is a master tunesmith. But, besides that, he’s a master sound-smith. There’s no cluttering on Nothing Wrong. Not a note too many, nor an unnecessary drum fill. All the elements compliment each other perfectly and as a result, the whole record benefits.
Nothing Wrong is a criminally underrated record, like all the Lorries’ albums. But, even amongst those unknown classics, it remains unsung, receiving just three out of five on Allmusic. The only criticism you can level at it is that, while the quality doesn’t dip across the 15 songs, neither does it rise. Not much of a complaint really.