Monday, March 04, 2013

Music Monday: Blyth Power

More good music coming up at Cafe Crema (306 New Cross Road). This Friday 8th March there's a return of their periodic 'New Orleans, New Cross' acoustic jam session, 'musicians and listeners of good taste and discernment' will be welcome to gather 'around the soulful piano'.

Blyth Power
Then on Friday 15th March they've got Blyth Power Duo playing: 'Joseph and Annie play songs old and new in a long overdue visit to Cafe Crema, run by Chris Boddington, from Blind Mole Rat and The Ice Cream Men, and also one time Blyth guitarist. Chris' current band Reverend Casy (edgy rock'n'roll flavoured with country and blues) will be providing support' (see facebook event details)

Blyth Power go way back to early 1980s anarcho-punk - band founder Josef Porter had previously drummed for two of the best bands in that scene, Zoundz and The Mob. I first saw them in 1985 in a squatted pub in Brixton (I believe it was the Crown and Anchor), where they played along with Flowers in the Dustbin, The Astronauts and Karma Sutra (my friends' Luton punk band whose van I came down in). They stood out in those days for their melodies but also for their subject matter - songs referencing cricket, obscure episodes in English history and trains. The band's name came from a locomotive and their early song title Bricklayer's Arms alluded to the famous railway depot on the Old Kent Road, the area now covered by Mandela Way, though the song is actually about the playwright Ben Jonson.

In various line ups Blyth Power have continued ever since - Jamie Hince of The Kills (Mr Kate Moss) is among the many musicians who have passed through its ranks.

Deptford '77

Can't claim Blyth Power as a South London band, Porter is from the West Country and was living in Hackney when they started out. In his memoirs though, Porter recalls that when he first moved to London in 1979 he lived off Camberwell New Road and then in a council flat on Tanners Hill in Deptford. He also described earlier visits to Deptford to see his brother:

'I paid my first visit to Colin, at the Rachel MacMillan hall of residence, Creek Road, Deptford, in October 1977... I was charmed by his quarters, charmed by his friends.. charmed by the student union bar, in which I became cheaply and horribly drunk, but most of all charmed by Deptford itself, which featured prominently in the mythology of the punk scene, and was a concrete manifestation of all my record collection had led me to aspire to. I took to Deptford like a duck to water. Just being there simply blew me away. It was everything that Castle Cary was not: dark, evil, mysterious, but to my eyes fantastically beautiful.

...Colin moved out of the halls of residence and into Speedwell House, a condemned block of flats just off Deptford High St. Technically they were squatting, as the council had given up on trying to collect rent there. The whole place was a magic maze of brickwork, stairways and balconies, covered in graffiti and full of lost souls in which Colin and Sam kept the flat in a constant state of devastation that I found irresistible. Coming back one day after a hard day posing in the West End, I found a minor music festival happening in the courtyards below. The Realists, This Heat, and a host of Deptford's alternative heroes played and jammed until late at night, the whole scene illuminated by the beams of a car's headlights. This was Deptford Fun City at its finest' (Joseph Porter, Genesis to Revolutions).

Oh and Blyth Power's first album, 'Wicked Women, Wicked Men and Wicket Keepers' (1987) was recorded at RMS Studios in Crystal Palace.

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