The Coles went to the nearish and notable city of Bristol on Monday and packed plenty in; a monumental Chinese meal and a trip to @Bristol proved particular crowd pleasers. Personally, it was merry to shop in Fopp, my favoured music store chain which has an outlet at the bottom of Park Street. To be honest, I could have spent longer in there as racks and racks of utterly tempting treats costing as little as 3 or 5 British quids were beckoning me brazenly. I ended up purchasing Our Favourite Shop by The Style Council (as I only read glowing reports of this long player) and a Brazilian post-punk recording by the esteemed 1980s combo As Mercenarias called, rather apocalyptically, The Beginning of the End of the World. I quite like investigating Brazilian records; I have a theory that you can choose a genre (1960s psychedelia, synth-pop, funk, post-punk) and the canny South Americans were producing incredible variants on what their earnest British and American counterparts were crafting. They can play association football a bit too. The As Mercenarias album is fine but a bit shouty and hectic; I prefer my post-punk to convey mystery and gloom and an existential otherness.
Talking of post-punk (this isn’t thrown together, you realise), my favourite Fopp acquisition was a remarkably interesting tome, Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews by Simon Reynolds. Essentially, this book is a companion volume to the splendid and indispensable Rip It Up but, instead of scholarly prose about that wonderful musical movement, consists of countless delightful interviews with key post-punk movers and shakers. There are too many highlights to mention but, as ever, anything coming out of Green Gartside’s mouth is worth listening to and I liked learning that all he listened to during his youth were recordings of John Peel shows which he’d play again and again during the week. Edwyn Collins wryly looks back at Orange Juice and is agreeably pithy; Steven Morris examines with a refreshing candour the myth of Joy Division and Ian Curtis; Phil Oakey scrutinises early Human League and the impact of sudden fame; Andy Gill, despite Gang of Four’s serious and stern image, emerges as self-deprecating and humorous; and Alan Rankine warmly observes the flawed genius of his Associates band-mate Billy Mackenzie. Totally Wired is a tremendous read and a glorious reminder of, in my opinion, the greatest, most challenging and important field of music that these shores have fostered and nurtured.