Go to the lyrics or some soundclips.
Mekons most richly textured album is one of their most lyrically poignant.
Some bands follow formula. Some defy every expectation. After 20 years in the biz' the Mekons still like to insert the wrench into the works and on ME they've pushed it in all the way. If you had dreams of hearing them on the radio: forget it. Lyrically, this is a minefield, a journey through desire--lust and life, with no stone left unturned and no punches pulled - especially on "Tourettes" "a stream-of-consciousness English litany". What makes the starkness and harshness of the lyrics really stand out, though, is the fact that musically, this is the most richly textured album the Mekons have ever released. It's not lush exactly, but they've colored in all the way to the lines and filled in spaces. Essentially, what they've done is just released their best record ever. Nothing's shocking - Well, from romance to lust is a very short drive, and from there to the other emotions are all close neighbors. No matter what you might hear about other new albums, this is hardcore.
The Mekons' new ME is one peculiar record even by their standards. The four years since the Chicago-via-Leeds outfit's last proper album have been filled with anticareerist detours collaborations with artist Vito Acconci and late novelist Kathy Acker, a traveling show of members 'art with accompanying catalogue', Jon Langford 's three albums with the Waco Brothers - so it's no shock that this outing has a side project's diffuse feel. What's suprising is that it hangs together at all.
The new record takes the band s insistence on its collective identity further than usual- songs, instruments and production alike are simply credited to "Me" as if this were a solo album by a single polyvocal monster. Guest spots by Terrie Ex and Rebecca Gates get respectfully individual credits. Fittingly the music is a dubby patchwork of treated and disguised vocals faceless two-chord patterns and intentionally inane choruses- "Come On Have A Go If You Think You 're Hard Enough" pokes repetitive fun at Chumbawamba 's "Tubthumping." Fortunately drummer Steve Goulding is unmistakenly present adding a personal touch to the most dim-witted rhythm duties. The vocal personalities of core members Langford, Sally Timms and Tom Greenhalgh peek through along with accordian and violin touches that reference the band's mock-country peak. "Tourette's" is par for the course with Greenhalgh's stream-of-libido inanities "Come on my tits", "Do these pants come pressed" alternating with Timms' deadpan reading of dildo ads. There's a lot of sex on "ME" but it's just another item on a good consumer's shopping list. "Tampax Dexatrim Slimfast ipacac syrup"" recites Timms in "Enter The Lists."
The highlight ironically" is "Gin and It" a "real song" whose alcoholic narrator refers to himself using the impersonal pronoun "Me" and all the other its are there dancing "Dancing around the square." Here the Mekons effectively describe depersonalization instead of merely enacting it. ME is more listenable than any album so frequently meant to be annoying has any right to be but fans may also want to check out SKULL ORCHARD, Sugar Free's Langford 's recent more straightforward solo effort.
It has been an article of faith among Mekons fans (a small but
devoted crew) that, if they really wanted to, Jon Langford and his
musical mates could be hugely successful. The great thing, though, is
that the Mekons really don't give a shit about world domination. Oh,
they may have once, around the Time of "Rock 'n' Roll" and "I Love
Mekons", but recently the band seems far more interested in pushing its
demented pop to all sorts of experimental extremes. Finally, after some
truly out-there projects (including "Pussy, King of the Pirates," a
collaboration with the late Kathy Acker), the Mekons have returned to
the musical fold with the eclectic, highly enjoyable "Me." As usual,
the album has more than its share of superb melodies (including the
delicately harmonized "Mirror" and hilarious sing-along soccer chant
"Come On Have a Go If You Think You're Hard Enough"), but, as usual, the
Mekons make damn sure that none of it could actually be played on the
radio. Take the album-opening "Enter the Lists," with its sharp beat
and cheerful, foot-tapping violin line. Instead of going on about
whiskey and vodka, the song spirals into a happy mess of electronic
voices and weird spaces, with vocalist Sally Timms nonsensically
chanting "Tampax, Dexatrim, Slim Fast, Listerine, Advil, batteries."
What can you do? It's impossible to criticize a band that has so much
fun shooting itself in the collective foot.
written by Dan Catalano
Since their emergence from the Leeds punk scene, the Mekons have approached record labels with a "we record what we want to record even if we lose money. Deal with it or drop us! We can always find another label!" attitude. Needless to say, they were dropped countless times until their 1993 union with Quarterstick Records, who seemingly didn't care about losing money. Together they have successfully spent the intervening years doing just that -- losing money while making music. Twenty-one years into their career, it's hard to say whether the Mekons are visionary, profound or merely self-serving articstic masturbators who are simply so esoteric that they're mistaken for profound. Given that beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, and (in this case) I am the beholder, I will choose profound. "Me" is an album so twisted, it defies just about any musical reference points. If Beck made history by blurring the lines between musical boundaries, "Me" makes Beck look almost juvenile. Excuse me, but the pros have come in. Best said, "Me" is a mixture of cow-punk, techno, spoken word, drum machines and weird studio effects set to the soundtrack of a spaghetti western. "Me" is sexual innuendo, sex without the innuendo and recited shopping lists. "Me" is electronic, disjointed, and melodically layered with violin, accordion and sensuous vocals. "Me" is sex reduced to a shopping list. "Me" is lust in a fast-food world. Most surprisingly of all, be it through brilliance or masturbation, "Me" is even a remarkably cohesive musical composition -- as beautiful as it is crude, or perhaps just beautifully crude. While I would have to warn those whose musical tastes don't move beyond Matchbox 20 to avoid "Me" at all costs, this may simply be the most erotic, eclectic, and hit-you-over-the-head brilliantly unique record of the year -- or possibly just a beautiful mixture of dumb luck and artistic masturbation.
Have you heard my new Mekons record? It's called Me, it's all about me and,
according to my liner notes, I wrote all the songs and I play all the
I'm great! Unlike my last Mekons record of four years ago, Retreat From
Memphis, which was noisy guitars and big-bottomed bass in the service of grand
anthems, my new Mekons record, Me, is my Mekons as you've never heard before.
My Me is high-tech-pop-acousti-lounge with a narrower lyrical scope this time: me. It's about how the world began when sperm met egg to produce me. It's about me getting off. A lot. It's about me as a split-lipped talking whore dog. Of course, like all my Mekons records, Me is about much more and much less than it seems, but if you're like me, you'll like Me.
'Me' As in Mekons
Jon Langford pushes the pornography button and out comes -- surprise! -- politics
Thought the "me decade" was over? Think again. It's never really ended, at least not according to the Mekons. With the release of their new album, Me, the band has added another chapter to its still burgeoning manifesto. "It's about the perception of self," Jon Langford, vocalist and guitarist for the band, explains. "It's political, with a small 'p'. We were trying to deal with sex, death, birth -- everything. It's not like a Seventies concept album, but it's about trying to think about the major things that happen in your life and when are you really *you*: When are you yourself?"
Touching upon such topics as advertising, pornography, the music industry and, of course, politics, Langford sounds every bit the social revolutionary that a twenty-year veteran of punk rock should. Indeed, a sense of self-awareness and cultural criticism have always been part of the Mekons legacy. Formed in Leeds in 1977 by Langford and Tom Greenhalgh, the band has never shied from speaking its mind. But the issues addressed on the Mekons' latest are far from self-righteous anthems. One of the many things the Mekons haven't lost over the years has been their sense of humor.
"It's quite cheeky," Langford says. "A lot of the songs are quite viciously attacking the idea that it's very easy to express yourself. In the system that we live in it's actually quite difficult and complicated. The notion of the self that is so important to rock music and Western society is more difficult than people perceive it. There's a myth of self expression that permeates through rock culture, which we don't think is necessarily realistic."
Of course, Langford doesn't see rock as standing alone among the machinery of soul-robbing conformity. It's followed the same path of corporate homogenization and dumbing-down that has plagued advertising, politics -- and even pornography. And while a thoroughly academic investigation might illuminate the link between adverts, pop culture detritus and the lost sense of identity, the Mekons actually came across their evidence the old-fashioned way.
"We bought a lot of Seventies pornography from a thrift store and Sally [Timms, vocals] brought it to the studio when we working on the album. We were saying, 'Wow this pornography is really different than pornography today -- this pornography is really funny, and kind of cheeky and naughty and fairly inoffensive. If you do a little of history of pornography and then lay that against advertising and rock music they all seem to have gone down the same road, which is kind of scary."
And the mileposts for that road would be?
"I think people used to have more pubic hair. And now people believe they don't have so much pubic hair, you know. It's like you're air brushing your life out," Langford continues. "I think that's one of the things that we tried to talk about. We air brush everything.
"Pornography and advertising are selling people images of themselves that they don't need, don't have, and can't rightfully expect. Their politics is the same thing. When you look at the similarities between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, it's style above content: Airbrushed politics. No pubic hair. Except Clinton's letting that side down a bit there."
Langford's and the band's take on this airbrushed culture is probably best stated by Me's opening track, "Enter the Lists." A rollicking litany of products -- "Molding mud, Sun-In, Tampax, Dex-a-trim, Slim Fast, Listerine" -- the fiddle-led ditty addresses that God-given right of the capitalist society: shopping.
"The idea of that song was, Who are you? Am I what's in my handbag? Some days I feel like I am what I shop. Sometimes I really feel like 'My god, I've gotta go shopping.' I feel better when I've shopped, and I'm a pretty sane, critical human being. But sometimes when I go by a shop, I just wanna buy something, I want to be involved in that process."
It's a culture-bred response mechanism that Langford thinks exploits individuals at the cost of their sense of self. "It's a very competitive and nasty world, it's amazing that it's gone on so long, this idea of brand names and logos. I thought that was just a little fad that would pass, it would dawn on people that poor people walking around wearing adverts for huge corporations was deeply ironic. But it hasn't passed, it's the norm now. I hope a generation will come along and say this is fucking crazy. You walk around Chicago and you see poor people dressed in the uniforms of their oppressors, it's the kidnapped adopting the language of the kidnapper."
Surprisingly, none of this information is conveyed through the heavy-handed musical vehicles one might expect. The material on Me is signature Mekons -- a mixture of dub and pub, drum loops and ancient Arabic instruments, synthesizers and strings all arranged in engaging melodies that are instantly accessible. Oddly enough, next to the band's political take, their approach to their craft has drawn the most criticism.
"People are very conservative in what you're supposed to do, we've always been about 'you can do anything' -- that was what punk rock was about. Once you're in a box you should try to get out of that box. We've never been particularly purist about what we do." But Langford does lay part of the blame on the media. "I think there's a real attitude, especially with people who write about rock music. There's a deeply conservative streak to it. It's baffling, but the main criticism is that we're too interesting."
In the face of the criticism, a number of things have kept the band together over the years, the least of which has been, "The idea that we're not supposed to [still be together.]" Langford laughs at the notion. "I felt very strongly in Britain that you're meant to stop doing music when you're thirty, and that's for me when it got really interesting."
It's a level of maturity that could only come from a band whose philosophy has been brewing for so many years. As usual, the Mekons take a long hard look at themselves first, realizing that it all comes back to Me.
"I find pop groups making big political statements in their music [to be making] prescriptive statements, rather than descriptive statements. I find that really offensive, because unless you observe your own position in the scheme of things, it doesn't make much sense."
The Mekons will be bringing Me to the masses during June and July of this year.
i can't help but think that Mekons have enough of the old punk
iconoclasm left in 'em to really be looking forward to all the stupid
things critics are going to say about this record. i've already been
misled enough by an early review (in CMJ New Music Journal) that
described it as "baffling porno rock" to come up with a whopper on my
own: in a way, Me seems to fall into your lap from an alternate universe
where people are a little less self-conscious about, well, sex, and
liberally sprinkling those old Anglo Saxon words in one's speech or
songs is regarded as healthy. ...and maybe that is a tiny part of what
is going on here. there are indeed almost as many obscenities as on the
Mekons' collaboration with Kathy Acker, Pussy, King of the Pirates. But
while Sally Timms' half-laughing chant in "Enter the Lists" sounds like
a set of supplies for something fairly decadent, and she reads what
seems to be a dildo catalog in the background of "Tourettes," there's
much more than glorification of fleshy pleasures to this thing. Several
of the songs cycle from their last word back to the first, and the
melody and words of album closer "Belly to Belly" appear in at least
three different contexts. So this is a concept album, maybe? Uh, about
the circularity inherent in obsession with the self? Which "Mirror" is
explicitly about? Again, i think there's some of that, but that's not the
whole story. Fer example: "Narrative" presents a stream of consciousness
look inside a dog's mind. It starts out funny and takes a sudden turn
into the territory of dominance and submissiveness:
"guilty smells of punishment...your odour disgusts me but i roll over and beg/Give it to me wag wag fear in my eye."
In this context, you might think "Come And Have a Go If You Think You're Hard Enough" would be a straightforward invitation either to sex or to a brawl? Not with the Mekons as your tour guides. "What it is don't come in a bottle/The drug the software and disease" Langford (i think) warningly intones as Sally Timms leads the lament in a gorgeously catchy reverb-laden chorus you'll never hear on the radio:
"Oh shit got some on me/Oh fuck got some in me/Oh shit got some on me/Oh fuck."
i guess i expect some of my critical peers not to get this record because part of the job is often summarizing the records in easy soundbites: recommended if you like Soundgarden and the Beastie Boys. The mass consumption part of the music industry -- radio and video airplay, soundtrack advertising tie-ins -- is just not set up to deal with music of complexity and depth. The record has got more than one theme? That didn't play well in test marketing. Simplify it. But one of the tremendously cool things about the Mekons is that they clearly don't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks of their records. They make records that don't have any potential for an "emphasis track." But they also make records with an intelligence so fierce that it strikes me as somehow ruthless.
i spend (there's that self-obsession thing again) more time in these reviews talking about what i think records mean than what they sound like -- there's lots of other folks who're better at that than me. But i think this one sounds awfully damn good, and just in case you won't go buy this thing with nothing more than my say-so, i'll try to explain a little bit of why i say so.
When the Mekons started out, twenty odd years ago, part of the point was that they couldn't play their instruments. But that was twenty-odd years ago. The Mekons circa now may be one the most formidable musical ensembles on the planet.
It's nothing but straight-up stupidity, of course, to try to predict what will and won't sound dated later when a record has just been released. But nonetheless, i'm betting that this won't sound dated a decade hence, because it does a better job of integrating late 90's aural tricks -- big fat electronic beats and assorted synthesized and digitally processed sounds -- with aural tricks from the rest of musical history.
To wit: The nearly-instrumental Thunder starts with an airy, echo-y multi-tracked vocal (think Enya) over a flurry of mid-eighties sounding synthesized toms for a few heartbeats before real drums, electric guitar, bass and piano kick it into drive for real. At the two minute mark a big thick electric organ comes whomping in, dueling with a scratchy, slightly discordant guitar in a way that simultaneously reminds me of the Doors, the Velvet Underground and the Fall.
The first five seconds or so of "Enter the Lists" sound like they could have come straight from So Good It Hurts -- but then that folky banjo and fiddle intro suddenly crashes into a big, richly textured, rock sound. (One thing that does date it -- it's hard to imagine making this record without digital editing reaching maturity -- it would be so easy for sounds of this complexity to disintegrate into mud.)
There's something almost Tom Waits like (in a very weird way) about the grinding, bassy drive of "Down," (one of the vocals sounds like it was dropped an octave after recording, which somehow makes me think of Zappa) and the smoky, tremelo voice -- Rebecca Gate's guest turn, i'm guessing -- that sings the refrain "Deep in its hole, the bunny is bleeding," reminds me of nothing so much as Colourbox's Lorita Grahame (i know, that's a hopelessly obscure reference. They did a great version of "You Keep Me Hanging On" which came out at the same time as some much higher profile artist's.)
"Narrative" veers back and forth between techno-influenced big beats and violin and acoustic guitar-based interludes, but doesn't lose its propulsiveness in either mode.
The drum and bass driven rap of "Tourettes" might sound a lot more standard (if you didn't listen to the words) if it weren't for that accordian part.
The hushed "Flip Flop" gets a lot of its creepy vibe from the brooding fretless bassline, and the acoustic guitar accents have an almost flamenco quality, but jazzier. i could go on for pages and pages, i think.
One last question: What do you think, is the resemblance to the cover of New Order's 1989 album Technique (conveniently pictured here to facilitate comparison) coincidental or deliberate? And if the latter, what on earth d'you think you're supposed to make of that?
Usually, once you get here i want to keep you here, but this is interesting enough that i will send you there. Just come back here when you're done. Oh yeah, and one of those, too.
buy this release at Quarterstick Records, distributed by Touch And Go Records:
PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625 USA
Songs About Fucking
"When I was just 17/Sex no longer held a mystery/I saw it as a commodity/To be bought and sold like rock and roll," the Mekons' Sally Timms sang 10 years ago, when the unstoppable Heidegger-and-Heineken English band was already a decade old. The album which contains that line, The Mekons Rock `N' Roll, is still the high point of their career; it was followed by a long period of business reversals and stylistic dabbling that's made their '90s work fairly scattershot (can we just forget about the collaboration with late experimental writer Kathy Acker, please?), though their live shows remain epic, swaggering, beery celebrations. With Me, though, the Mekons have partly returned to musical form--and also rediscovered the mysteries of sex.
As its title suggests, Me is neatly poised between the band's collective ego and id: deliberately solipsistic and sex-obsessed. But the "me" in question is the Mekons' me, so the identity and libido of Me belong to a band rather than a person, which is a curious thing. The songs, as well, seem to have been written by committee--each lyric has a basic theme, but they seem strangely disjointed and opaque line by line. (The chopped-up voice-overs that appear here and there--most hilariously the fragments of sex-shop sales pitch and orgy narrative that Timms intones in "Tourettes" as Langford dryly free-associates "Everything compressed/Come on my tits/Do these pants come pressed"--suggest that cut-up techniques were part of the album's lyrical strategy.) And everything's permeated with twitchy, obsessive sexuality: "Oh shit, got some on me/Oh fuck, got some in me," everyone chants in unison on the ridiculous drinking song "Come and Have a Go if You Think You're Hard Enough."
Me is also the most musically extreme mentally extreme, sexually obsessed record the Mekons have made since the bizarre F.U.N. '90 EP--mostly assembled from samples of the band (it sounds like), with very little audible guitar (aside from a guest solo by the Ex's Terrie) and lots of accordion, violin, and bleepy sound effects, not to mention the World's Loudest Drum Sound. It's great that they've expanded their sonic horizons, but some of the actual tune-making becomes secondary to the band's peacock-display of its new capabilities. And even as Langford puts in more time with his cowboy-hat band the Waco Brothers, the Mekons qua Mekons have lost touch a bit with the country music they used to get inside so well, and that kept the soul of their own work human as it grew more intellectual and high-concept; the closest thing to country here is the vacuous "Whiskey Sex Shack," whose techno-dub tricks don't cover up the fact that nobody bothered to finish writing the song.
Whenever Me threatens to get overwhelmed by rococo conceptual art or electro-goofiness, though, the band unleashes a line or instrumental detail that's another reminder of what's great about it. "Belly to belly/Back to back/Dancing, dancing round the square," goes a line from "Gin & It," and they like those words so much they devote two more tracks to different settings of them. Their self-assuredness and cleverness are sexy, all right, but if they explained themselves better to people outside their self-contained world, it'd be a lot more of a turn-on.
AMERICA, THE BRUTAL-FUL//THE MEKONS TURNED FROM PUNK LEGENDS TO INSURGENT COUNTRY PIONEERS TO TECHNO-EXPERIMENTALISTS - TO REMIND US THAT ALL IS NOT WELL IN THE LAND OF THE FREE.
Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Jim Walsh, Pop Music Critic
1) While so many of the class of '77 stuck to punk's rigid rules, Mekons developed a mix of wildly experimental sounds.
2) The Mekons appear Thursday night at First Avenue in Minneapolis.
It's morning in America on the 4th of July. All across the land, millions of people are preparing to celebrate their hard-won independence from British rule.
But at least one man, Jon Langford - the congenial co-founder of Mekons, one of the five most important bands to survive the punk wars of the '70s, and a native of Leeds, England, who moved to Chicago in 1992 - isn't so quick to join the party.
``Living here, you learn to tune quite a lot out to stay sane,'' Langford says from a motel in Indianapolis, where Mekons are in the middle of their first U.S. tour in four years. ``There's a lot of good things, but there's a lot of crap, too.
``For a supposedly civilized First World country, I don't think you realize how far behind you are. You've got the largest prison population of any industrialized country, per capita. You have the death penalty, which hasn't existed in Europe for years. You have 30 channels on TV, with nothing I want to watch - they just disturb me with their brutality, and their lack of content.
``There's a harshness to living here: the disparity between rich and poor; the lack of any government involvement in the culture. You don't get that in Europe. It's like people really don't matter over here. And I hate the fact that I get hardened to it. If there's a murder in Chicago, sometimes it's not even reported. Hell, if there's a murder in the town I grew up in, you'd hear about it for a year.''
Langford is a former art student who, over the past 20 years, has donned the guises of songwriter, producer, painter, cartoonist, writer and all-around rabble-rouser. In the process, he's become one of the most provocative voices pop music has ever produced.
That voice is all over Mekons' 19 recordings, including their latest, ``Me,'' released earlier this year on the Chicago-based Quarterstick/Touch and Go label.
``Me'' is built around a theory that lyrics come first, and found-sounds, melodic pop and computer-enhanced electronica come second. The ``Me'' manifesto lampoons the cult of personality and artistic narcissism. Ironically, much of the recording is a direct reaction to Mekons' chosen mode of expression, rock 'n' roll, and the vacant ``Me, Myself, I'' mantra that exists at the core of so much American entertainment.
``The great myth of modern society is that you're all out there, expressing yourselves, and you're all so much better than the Communists, who are all just drones,'' says Langford.
``There's this idea that you're free, when actually, you've got a lot of poor kids wandering around the ghetto branded with corporate logos, thinking they're individuals.
``Rock music perpetuates that myth, as well. Bands say, `You can do it; you can be free by buying our record: Express your individuality by buying an over-priced record that everybody else has bought.'''
Thankfully, there still are a handful of bands out there who break that mold. Formed in 1977, Mekons' (core members: Langford, singer/guitarist Tom Greenhalgh, singer Sally Timms) original sound was a mixture of pub rock and industrial noise that wasn't too far from that of their hometown mates, Gang of Four.
But while so many of the class of '77 stuck to punk's rigid rules, Mekons developed a mix of wildly experimental sounds that coalesces punk with formalistic pop, rock, reggae, country and electronica. Two of their finest releases, ``Honky Tonkin''' (1987) and ``The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll'' (1989) appeared on Minneapolis's Twin/Tone Records.
Soon after, the band jumped to another indie label, Blast First Records, then another, and another. Indeed, Mekons' socialistic lyrics aren't mere posturing, or requisite music industry-bashing. Their catalog is checkered with no less than 10 different labels over the course of nearly 20 years.
``The way we worked didn't always fit into the way the music industry works,'' says Greenhalgh, in a separate interview. ``Touch and Go is a good label for us now, because we don't have a manager, and we do everything ourselves. Touch and Go is one of the few labels that actually welcomes that approach.''
That approach has put a premium on creativity, and a pox on pigeonholing. It's no stretch to call Mekons' classic 1985 record, ``Fear and Whiskey'' (which contains a barroom-brawl-inciting version of Hank Williams' ``Lost Highway'') the first insurgent, or alternative, country record.
That sound has been central to the most recent Mekons' output, as well as Langford's side projects, the Waco Brothers, and Jon Langford's Skull Orchard Band. And while some critics have made clumsy comparisons between the insurgent country movement of the '90s with the original punk explosion of the '70s, Langford knows his history better than that.
``I think the punk-rock thing back in '77 had far more ramifications, right across the board,'' he says. ``We wanted to destroy everything. It was a real naive, heartfelt disgust for the whole music industry. And for a moment, the major (labels) lost their grip, and it felt like anything was possible.
``The insurgent country thing is something that's been going on for a long time. It's just that people have given a name to it now. But within country music, there's always been corrupt commercial poppy stuff that gets on the charts, and then people doing really good, interesting stuff that comes out of other traditions.
It's morning in America on the Fourth of July. On July 5, Langford and his wife would celebrate their son's first birthday. The night before, Mekons would perform at a club in Chicago. As with the rest of the tour, most of the material would be made up of material from ``Me.''
But considering Langford's mixed feelings toward his adopted country, it wouldn't be surprising if Mekons whipped up a version of ``America, the Beautiful.'' Or, ``America, the Brutal.''
``The thing about America is, the potential of it is so great, and the traditions are so amazing, and the culture you have is so fantastic,'' says Langford. ``But you built this non-culture on top of it, where everyone wants to be the same. You spent all that money fighting the Cold War, so you could all be individuals, and be free. And you're like (bloody) slaves.
``It's like McDonald's is some sort of Stalinist totalitarian empire. Why is all the radio the same? Why are all the malls the same? Why does everyone want everything to be the same?''
Good questions all, but here's a better one: Why aren't we living in a Mekons world?
if you didn't have it already: http://www.salonmagazine.com/ent/music/reviews/1998/05/20review.html#mekons BY MARK ATHITAKIS
The Mekons never said it was going to be easy. Not life, not love and certainly not rock music, which the band dismissed as "something to sell your labor for/when hair sprouts out below" on their finest record, 1989's "Rock and Roll." But the Chicago band (via Leeds, England) was making great rock even while they were uncomfortable with its trappings, anxiously searching for justice and sanity in drums, guitar chords and wailing violins. Twenty years after they started as art-damaged punk rockers, nothing's changed, because the politics of rock haven't changed; their chosen trade is just as polluted with greed, sexism and mediocrity as it ever was.
With all their deep thinking weighing down on the music, "Me" is rough going, both as rock album and political tract. Jumping from drum machine beats to country-folk to straightforward rock to absurdist lyrical rantings, it lacks the flow necessary to keep the deep thinking about sex and ego listenable; like most of the band's recent albums, it sprawls badly. But from song to song, each song signifies, whether it's Jon Langford's nursery-rhyme chanting over the shambling beat of "Tourette's," or Sally Timms' winsome vocals on the chirpy groove-pop "Mirror." Cynical, joking, frustrated and philosophical, it's post-structuralist pop for the next millennium.