Listening to…..400 Blows

I’ve been doing this on my Facebook page for a while now, but came to the conclusion that it was the wrong ‘forum’ for writing about music.  The thing is, like most people, I’m probably overburdened with opinions about just about anything you care to mention, but I guess that won’t come as news.  Anyway, I like to write about music (amongst other things) and I listen to a lot of it, so this Blog will give me hopefully the right kind of ‘forum’ for this.

Right now, for example, I’m listening to a John Peel session recorded by a band called 400 Blows back in 1984.  I know little about the band, though I’m pretty sure they are British (not to be confused with another current American band ) and clearly took their name from Truffaut’s  ‘Les Quatre Cents Coups’.  Their music exists on the borderline between synth-rock and experimental electronica and they use a lot of tapes and effects.  One track – ‘For Jackie M.’ – has always given me the chills ever since I first heard it 25 years ago.  It’s basically a radio interview with Charles Manson with a fairly weird musical ‘backdrop’ of speeded-up/distorted banjos/guitars that fade in and out.  Not sure when the interview was done but Charlie sounds like one seriously damaged individual.

The four tracks from this session are a long way off the mainstream and (like many before me) I have to take my hat off to the late Mr Peel for giving airtime on a populist national station to left-field bands like this – and 400 Blows were hardly an isolated example, nor indeed was theirs the most challenging of the stuff he played.  One day, I might even forgive him for supporting Liverpool…..


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