7 Jul 2006
Steve Martland / Endymion live @ Purcell Room 
On Wednesday, former Factory Classical mainstay Steve Martland played a rare UK concert at the Purcell Room (aka "the tomb" (c) Martland 2006) on London's South Bank. He was conducting the Endymion collective through a programme of original Martland and other pieces.

The small stage was filled with which he described as a "tomb" later) with grand piano, marimba, drums, electric bass, electric guitar, violin, trumpet, bugle, trombone, and 3 (count 'em) saxophonists.

Programme highlights included "Kick", originally written for Euro 96 (no idea why that was included ;-) though Martland made a cheeky comment that he was glad England didn't make it to the semi-final because there would've been a bit of divided loyalty from the audience, not least from your correspondent) and "Beating The Retreat", written as a response to the Criminal Justice repetitive beats legislation and commissioned by the BBC.

Martland does not play, preferring to compose for others. He also conducts in a rather athletic, dancing style. Indeed, during the talk which followed afterwards (unbilled, except for in th programme) it came out that he plays the piano badly and is a frustrated dancer. Apparently, he had wanted to become a dancer as a boy but, Billy Elliott-style, he wasn't allowed to by his dad(!).

From the beginning, the talk took on some quite serious overtones, touching as it did on death and life (in that order I think). Martland, now an Italian resident, bemoaned the UK's classical music establishment and explained why pop musicians should never be allowed to receive government subsidies (and why he's never got any either!).

And so may it remain...

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A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

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