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Billy Childish - Archive From 1959 - The Billy Childish Story

  by Mark Rowland

published: 8 / 7 / 2009

Billy Childish - Archive From 1959 - The Billy Childish Story
Label: Damaged Goods
Format: CD X2


Admirable career-spanning double CD compilation from eccentric Chatham-based musical outsider, Billy Childish, released to celebrate his 50th birthday

As the decades roll on, Billy Childish remains a constant figure on the outskirts of art, music and poetry. Working solidly from his home in Chatham, Kent, Childish has developed a set style for each of his major interests, which remains unchanged by the passage of time and fashion. His works hark back to an earlier, simpler time – before home PCs, iPods, conceptual art and digital watches. Childish’s approach is rooted firmly in the past. It is easy to see why Childish would have his detractors – his work never moves forward, he borrows extensively from the pop and art culture of the past, he’s overly critical of people in the public eye who don’t adhere to his way of thinking. But he is also a fascinating character – a sort of anti-pop art magpie, taking what he wants from recent British history – be it cultural or his own personal history – and makes it into something very much his own. With his handle bar moustache and military uniforms, he looks like a walking museum exhibit. He likes abstract expressionism and impressionism, so that’s what he paints. His poems and literature are smeared with the grime of a forgotten era. His music is almost all based on the skuzzy sound of 60’s garage rock – with a little blues and rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure. ‘Archive from 1959’, a release to celebrate Childish’s 50th birthday, features most of the best moments from Childish’s many bands and albums from the past four decades, giving a good insight in the development, or anti-development, of his sound. With two CDs and 51 tracks, the compilation is difficult to take in one sitting, particularly given Childish’s predilection for recycling the same riff many times over (some might call this musically thrifty), but the vast majority is still very exciting to listen to. It’s interesting to listen to the subtle differences between each of his bands. It’s not much of a difference, but it is there. There’s slightly more of a beat influence on the Milkshakes’ tracks, for example, while thee Headcoats had distinctly more bile than most of his other bands, at times (such as on ‘Punk Rock ist Nicht Tot’) sounding like very early Fall. The bluesier feel of the Chatham Singers tracks, which come on like the early attempts at British R 'n' B, are welcome breaks from the punky mod onslaught of most of the tracks, as do the pop-punky female led tracks (usually those by The MBEs, which feature Childish’s wife on bass and occasional vocals). The pure punk rock of the Pop Rivets tracks, which was Childish’s first band, are fascinating from a vaguely historical point of view, listening to a very youthful sounding Childish railing against the system with an inexhaustible energy. It’s hard not to admire Childish for eschewing the well-trodden path of adulthood in favour of doing exactly what he wants, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Considering he’s made the same basic record well over 100 times, it’s a testament to him that he is still creating something interesting.

Track Listing:-
1 The Buff Medways- Archive From 1959
2 The MBEs- Thatcher's Children
3 The Milkshakes- Out Of Control
4 Thee Headcoats- Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot
5 The Chatham Singers- Evil Thing
6 The MBEs- He's Making A Tape
7 Thee Headcoats- Pocahontas Was Her Name
8 The Pop Rivets- Kray Twins (Demo)
9 Thee Mighty Caesars- You Make Me Die
10 The Buff Medways- Troubled Mind
11 Thee Headcoatees- Davey Crockett
12 The Milkshakes- Love Can Lose
13 Jack Ketch & The Crowmen- Somebody Else
14 Thee Headcoats- The Day I Beat My Father Up
15 Kyra- This Wondrous Day (Flemish)
16 The Buff Medways- Medway Wheelers
17 The Buff Medways- I'm Glad I'm Not Like David Wise
18 Thee Headcoatees- When You Stop Loving Me
19 The MBEs- Christmas 1979
20 Thee Headcoatees- Hurt Me
21 Thee Mighty Caesars- Loathsome 'n' Wild
22 The Chatham Singers- An Image Of You
23 Thee Headcoats- She's In Disguise
24 Billy Childish And The Singing Loins- I Don't Like The Man I Am
25 The Chatham Singers- The Man With The Gallows Eyes
26 The MBEs- Snack Crack
27 Thee Mighty Caesars- Cowboys Are Square
28 Thee Headcoats- I'm Hurting
29 Delmonas- I Feel Like Givin In
30 Billy Childish- Ballad Of Hollis Brown
31 Thee Headcoats- Every Little Thing
32 Thee Headcoats- Headcoat Lane
33 The Buff Medways- Sally Sensation
34 Thee Headcoatees- We Hate The Fuckin' NME
35 Thee Mighty Caesars- Lie Detector
36 Thee Headcoats- What's Wrong With Me
37 The Buff Medways- Strood Lights
38 Billy Childish- Get Out Of Here Pretty GIrl
39 Thee Headcoats- It Aint Mine
40 The Milkshakes- For She
41 Billy Childish- The Bitter Cup
42 Thee Headcoats- Girl From '62
43 The Pop Rivets- Fun In The UK (Demo)
44 The MBEs- Birthday Boy
45 Thee Headcoats- Fingers In The Sun
46 Jack Ketch & The Crowmen- Mass Ignorance Culture
47 Thee Headcoats- We'er Gone
48 Kyra- Today Is The Nite
49 Thee Headcoats- Rusty Hook
50 Thee Mighty Caesars- I Was Led To Believe + 1 Other

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Billy Childish - Interview
At a concert in London, Mark Rowland speaks to controversial singer-songwriter Billy Childish about his new album 'Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall', his rejection of technology, his interest in painting and a recent show at the Royal Albert Hall
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