Regular viewers may recall previous mentions of the influence my older brother (actually, my only brother, if we’re excluding Brothers from Another Mother) had on my musical inclinations as we grew up.
They may even recall that he has been living overseas for the past few years, and it wasn’t even for tax reasons (as far as I know).
Well, now he’s back, Back, BACK! (obligatory Smash Hits reference, there) in the UK and this weekend I have the pleasure of helping him collect all of his wordly possessions from a lock-up and move them to his new home.
Not my preferred way of spending a Bank Holiday weekend, I must admit, but I owe him one, as when I moved from the sleepy backwaters of Cheltenham up to That London, he hired a van, drove from Nottingham and collected me and all of my crap and delivered us to my old shared flat.
Brotherly love, eh? Can’t beat it.
And there’s even a sweetener for me. Now he’s back in the UK, we had been trying to sort out a good weekend to spend with the ‘Rents, if for no other good reason than to mark Dad’s 78th birthday, which fell a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s how that conversation went:
Bruv: So I’ll hire a van and I’ll either drive down to London to pick you up or drop you back.
Me: You really don’t need to do that.
Bruv: Yeh I do, how else are you going to get it all home?
Me: Get all what home?
Bruv: My vinyl.
A light-bulb pings open above my head. Unlike me, my brother has never sold, lost, lent or traded his vinyl, but it has been in storage for years, partly because he was living overseas, mostly because he hasn’t had a turntable for about thirty years.
What I’m saying is this: expect a series very soon where I go through his record collection.
What I’m also saying is this: anyone else whose vinyl I have been looking after for the past six years, and who has been promising for over a year to come and collect it, you need to up your game. I’m running out of room.
Anyway, whilst the news that I’m about to take on the responsibility of caring for my brother’s record collection obviously fills me with delight, there is a slight downside.
For just the day before our conversation, I had bought today’s record, which I’m pretty sure he owns too.
The Men They Couldn’t Hang get a bad rep, generally described as “not as good as the Pogues”.
It’s an unfair comparison, firstly because very few bands are as good as The Pogues were in their absolute pomp, and secondly because they’re more anarcho-politico-folk-punk (have I just invented a new genre?) than The Pogues ever were.
A fairer comparison would be The Pogues meets Chumbawamba, although that makes them sound absolutely awful, which they most definitely are not.
Here’s the evidence:
The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Day After
The Men They Couldn’t Hang – A Night to Remember
The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Walkin’ Talkin’
The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Kingdom Come
The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Ironmasters
I’d direct you to the last of those tunes, which is an absolute belter in my book. Although as the song talks about 18th Century riots in Wales (“From the smokey stacks of Merthyr, to the hills of Ebbw Vale….on a hill in Brecon is Crawshay’s ruined house…”) my connections with the green and pleasant land may colour my judgement somewhat.
The Crawshay in question is Crawshay Bailey, an English industrialist and staunch trade union opponent. You can look him up if you so choose.
Anyway, achy-armed will be back with some more soon.