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Not many bands would be willing to give, much less follow the advice "Destroy your safe and happy lives before it is too late " But the Mekons, who first sang those lines four years ago on "Memphis Egypt", a love letter/letter bomb adressed to rock 'n' roll have made a career out of career avoidance In fact the long-lived roots-punk combo has been so unfloggingly plagued by what it blithely dubbed The Curse of the Mekons (on a nose-thumbing 1991 farewell to its first major-label deal) that it came as little surprise when the band's much-touted contract with Loud, a Warner Bros subsidiary, proved to be so much worthless parchment.

Still underdog status alone can't explain the ravenous following that's accompanied the Mekons on their Job-like journey through the belly of the rock ‘n’ roll beast. The reason that half the audience at a rent New York performance knew all the lyrics to the scathing but melodic "Millionaire" two months before the release of I (heart) Mekons might be that there are a lot of folks for whom a band able to draw an broken (if meandering) line through history connecting Patsy Cline, Bob Marley, the Clash and Friedrich Engels is like manna. Of course the fact that the long-delayed album, released at last on Quarterstick/Touch and Go spent more than 18 months in contractual limbo might have something to do with it too.

"The past two or three years have been very frustrating and destructive to the band", says guitarist Tom Greenhalgh, who, with guitarist Jon Langford, cofounded the Mekons 16 years ago. "Hopefully, we’ve turnmed a corner by virtue of the fact that we’ve got it out; things quickly got out of control in the other situation. It’s too long a story to explain properly, but in short, we’re managing ourselves again, and we’re finally working with people that we can relute to again."

From their nussency as part of a politically charged Leeds England punk scene that also spawned the Gang of Four, the Mekons have baslanced an unwavering sense of purpose with a sense of irony: They titled their first album ‘The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen’ mocking the maxim that given an infinite amount of time a group of monkeys could produce the works of Shakespeare. They’ve likewise tempered a broad intellectual streak, one taht’s rife with ‘isms’ from socialism to deconstructionism, with as hearty asn aprreciation of alcohol-soaked good times as any band. "The whole punk-rock approach has a certain distance; it's not as simple as early rock 'n' roll" Greenhalgh says. "So coming into it from that background it makes sense to have a certain distance in the way you work. Without sounding too pretentious there's what you might call a first-order experience and a second-order. But then again people who put faith in postmodernism for its own sake have a lot of problems. The real world is infinitely more complex than we can ever imagine." I (Heart) Mekons maintains that equilibrium with Langford's gruff deslamations and Greenhalgh's ragged rocker's rasp (on "Point of No returnand the football chant "AII I Want") standing in contrast to the quieter tracks ("Love Letter" and the aforementioned "Millionaire") sung by Sally Timms. Her clear bell-like voice has enough emotionalresonance to bring a bustling roomful of club employees to a standstill with an a cappella soundcheck version of John Anderson's "Wild and Blue" (a longtime staple of the band's live set.

In many ways I (Heart) Mekons demonstrates that even 11 albums on, withmits members stretched across two continents, this ever-changing organism is stronger than ever. "We’ve never been a normal band, esppecially in the way we organize ourselves, which has ist ups and down. Just keeping the band togethert has been very difficult, as people have to get on witht heior lives and do other things", Tom Greenhalgh says. "The Mekons is bigger then the sum of its parts, and any individual in the band as well. "

Article provided by Dan Bailey. Thanks again.

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