Some time back in the early 1990s I picked up a cassette tape of Souled American’s ‘Fe’ album because I liked the cover. The hint of American Gothic in photo and the typeface said it was my kind of music. Published by Rough Trade (RT131) for the trainspotters. It was a fantastic early exposure to the alternative americana universe that started seeping across these shores in mid 1990s. It coinicided with my purchasing of Uncle Tupelo and early Whiskeytown records. Yet Souled American were investigating timbres from that ‘weird old america’ of Harry Smith and Doc Boggs before any of them. They went on to release a smattering of increasingly experimental albums through the 1990s. I have 1992’s ‘Sonny’ and as of tomorrow when I return to Anarchy Records will have ‘Flubber’. It is one of the strangest musical timelines ever and only McSeeeney’s obscure emporium and a handful of online critics even acknowledge their existence. The music continues to eerily fascinate. Like a backwoods proto-punk gothic back porch melodrama hoovering up old Merle Travis and Louvin Brothers tunes then slowing them down to a crawl pace Codeine and Cowboy Junkies. Listening to ‘Sonny’s’ funereal drum-less soundscapes the whole gamut of americana-noire lights up….from Will Oldham through Drunk and 16 Horsepower to Smog, health Lambchop and on…it all starts here…essential water from the well…
Not sure where I picked this little gem up. My life has touched on that of Eric Goulden at various points but we never actually met. Last night he played a blisteringly good set at The Poppy and Pint in West Bridgford, ampoule Nottingham and this songwriter’s song was a highlight on what was an almost faultless night of Wreckless Eric at his best. He previewed at least three songs from the new album amERICa which were as good as anything in his impressive back catalogue. The single was self-released on Eric’s Empire Records through which he released two(recently reissued albums on Fire Records) the Len Bright Combo Presents and Combo Time. A little later he recorded and released a friend of mine Kevin Evan’s debut (and only) 12″ on Ambassador Records ( a record that somebody borrowed and never returned sadly) and his band Ritzun Ratzun Rotzer from Leeds.
Then in late 1990s I would happily frequent the second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Road and I found out that Eric was serving behind counter in a shop a friend Jan Buchanan worked in. I am sure he served me at least a couple of times but I never mentioned the music. It now called Any Amount of Books but I think was called something else then….my memory not great. I remember the period because my friend found out a drawing by a Japanese artist she owned worth a fortune when I told her I’d seen similar on the Antiques Roadshow. Apparently she bought a house in France with proceeds…..we had both worked at Zwemmers in early 1980s. It was a gift from original owners allegedly.
Finally fast-forward the time tape machine to 2003. I am on second ever date with a lady who became my wife. We are at Alan Tyler’s weekly Americana event ‘Come Down and Meet the Folks’ at the ‘Fiddler'(???) in College Street Camden Town watching ..yes…Eric Goulden aka Wreckless. We were both drunk so memory hazy but I think Amy Rigby was either on bill or with Eric…so we both been in relationship ever since…
I recently picked up the Len Bright Combo reissues and Le Beat Group Electrique album from Fire Records and look forward to the new album on scratchy black vinyl 🙂
I hope Mr Goulden gets the attention he deserves…recent features in MOJO and Record Collector show his amp is rising 🙂 He is a national treasure , a Hull Art School domestic Daniel Johnston with words and pictures (actually he a much better songwriter than said cult artist) and has at least a dozen first class songs to his name..maybe more. That he was eclipsed in early days was more because of temperament. He a natural artist/garage band soul without the naked ambition of a certain other Stiff Tour bespectacled songwriter.
Last night Eric talked affectionately of listening to the first ever rendition of ‘Sweet gene Vincent’ by Ian Dury at his flat……
The autobiography by EG below is probably far more entertaining that EC’s recent tome and a hell of a lot funnier ( I looking out for a copy).
Keep laughing Eric and hats off to Amy….for inspiring this late flowering of an artist….or ‘miserable old c***t’ as he called himself on stage last night……
Also available on Amazon : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dysfunctional-Success-Wreckless-Manual-written/dp/1904316182
Last song ended with namechecks for his inspiration ..Velvet Underground and Bobby Gentry featured…at heart he’s a fan of great music…and makes some too along the way 🙂
Thanks for a great evening.
Further info. on The Medway Scene: http://www.goldminemag.com/features/book-review-neck-muddy-medway-waters
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