#10: The Buff Medways – Troubled Mind (2002)
The twist and flex of renaissance man. Because it’s not especially easy to do a concise Billy Childish piece; we are here to chew the fat about garage rock wonderfully executed, after which comes the freedom to hotfoot it over to tonight’s Pastels gig without a sense of diversion. Except that it’s not that straightforward. I mean, how many tracks that comprise the Fucked-Up Festive Fifty are written and performed by an artist-cum-poet-cum-World War One revivalist who for all practical purposes appears to live in a parallel universe of his own devising? Someone hooked into a relentless conjuring act; the blitzkrieg of electrifying punk rock, under a dictionary’s worth of celebratory monikers, since the seventies (off the top of my head: The Pop Rivets, Jack Ketch & the Crowmen, Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, The Members of the British Empire…I could continue).
Reasons for loving Billy Childish. The raw energy embedded within the grooves of each slice of vinyl. The resonant turn of lyric, dipped with autobiography. The façade of simplicity that camouflages the perspiration of precise construction. There’s also a strong element of home about his aesthetic. It’s there in the reverential acknowledgements of the past. Present in the barrage of references to his home town (I spent a weird eighteen months living in Chatham in Kent before the equally strange Scottish exile; his is a sound I’ll eternally equate with that time in a town – a proud place standing sentry over the estuarine mud of the River Medway. I also quite fancy owning a moustache as grandiose as Billy’s, but probably lack the gumption to pull it off).
Thus from a vantage of fandom, it’s obviously no easy task to select a track from the literally hundreds of records he’s been involved with over the years. Yet what strikes me about ‘Troubled Mind’ is the encapsulation of what Childish is all about – the momentum, the wryness, an all of the above kind of statement – and if that’s good enough for me it’s certainly good enough for the FUF50. Indeed.
The Buff Medways / Troubled Mind