Friday, 1 February 2008

Swell Maps "Steven Does" (Rough Trade, 1979)

OK then, two posts in one day! And this one has an absoulutely crucial USP: it contains the GREATEST GUITAR SOLO OF ALL TIME. This is something I am not prepared to argue about: if you've got a different opinion; I don't want to hear it. For me, the solo in this song encapsulates the majesty, the glory, the romance and the power of Rock'n'Roll, and it does it whilst being quite obviously drunk and out of tune.
This song is one of four that were on a free EP given away with the initial pressings of the Swell Maps debut LP "A Trip To Marineville". For reasons I don't quite understand, some of the other tracks on the EP have appeared on retrospective Maps compilations, but this truly wondrous vignette remains unreleased.
For all of you out there who may not have heard of The Swell Maps, do check out that Wikipedia page, and follow some of the links. Theirs is a story too long for me to rehash here: suffice to say that without their innate knack of mixing noise with melody, post punk would never have happened ( or at least, it would, but it would have been even more po-faced). I knew Jowe Head via the TVP's (we've done this, haven't we?), but was lucky enough to count Nikki Sudden as a friend for a large part of the 90's. He was going out with a friend of mine, and would occasionally turn up, in the dead of night, on my doorstep, armed only with a bottle of vodka, 200 cigarettes, and a desperate need to listen to sleazy rock music until dawn. Believe me, those are the nights that hurt, that wipe years off your life expectancy, yet that make it all worthwhile. I was terribly saddened when he passed away. RIP Nikki.
It's him, incidentally, that provides the guitar genius on this song, and it's Jowe (Steven being Jowe's real name) who provides the vocals. The song itself may, or may not, be an insight into Jowe's upbringing (the sleeve certainly alludes to it), with the oblique nature of the lyrics (trans: what the hell is he going on about?) we may never be sure -and that's just the way I like it.
If you don't own any Swell Maps CD's, now's the time to right that wrong. Do it now.

Swell Maps "Steven Does" (mp3)

7 comments:

JC said...

Eccentrically Excellent.....that's all that needs to be said

Anonymous said...

Cheers for this - it's always mystified me why this classic has been omitted from every Swell Maps CD collection (as far as I know)

Anonymous said...

Oops - you've already said that! In my delirium I missed that crucial sentence.

Anonymous said...

Swell Maps and the TVPs-without them my 80's (and my life) would have been so very different. My fav ever review of Paul Groovy & The Pop Art Experience described us as " cross between Swell Maps & Moving Sidewalks shambling through a cheap PA".
Now I wonder who wrote that!
x

Raygun1966 said...

I have really enjoyed meandering through your blog. Thanks for some new leads to follow. I hope to continue to learn.

So It Goes said...

Yeah, Swell Maps! But...Iain...why don't you use Media Fire, buddy? It's free...

P GLN said...

we're not as good as swell maps, but still you might like us.

www.myspace.com/kha0salbert0