Grreil Marcus: Lipstick Traces, Cambridge 1989, page 435-436
I go home and listen to "The Building."
The song comes from >it falleth like the gentle rain from heaven-The Mekons Story<, a collection of fragments and detritus that traces the first six years of an English punk band, founded in Leeds in 1977, temporarily defunct as of 1982. The record presents itself as a chronicle of possibility and failure. Vision collapses into bile, shared rage into private shame, wit into self-mockery, melody and beat into the drunken, electronically slurred narration that stitches the pieces together. Merely one of thousands of groups to come together on the terrain cleared by the Sex Pistols, the Mekons were best known as the band that took punk ideology most seriously: "Those who couldn't play tried to learn, and those who could tried to forget." They quickly blew their only chance to submit to the strictures and rewards of a major label, and disappeared into a pop wilderness mappesl by none so well as themselves; on The Mekons Story, you can hear it all happen.
Released in 1978, the Mekons' first, small-label recordings - "Never Been in a Riot," "Where Were You?," and "32 Weeks" - were preposterously rough, left-handed screeches about, respectively, a wish for trouble, a wish for affection, and the number of weeks of low-wage labor required to pay for various household objects, like refrigerators. They were self-conscious affirmations of punk crudity, stabs in a dark brought forth by turning out the lights, and they attracted attention in the small but growing punk community. Made in 1982, when "punk" was just another chapter in the history of rock 'n' roll and no one was paying attention to the Mekons, "The Building"-no instruments, no band, just Mekon Mark White's throat and foot-is beyond crudity. As a smear of oblivion and public life, silence and public speech, it is the antithesis of self-consciousness, of ideology or even style: it is an event, even if as such it's the tree falling in the forest, the building collapsing only in the singer's mind. Naked, demanding that the world be changed, "The Building" is the first punk song, a rant going back far beyond the Sex Pistols; naked, damning the fact that the world is more like it is now than it ever was before, it's also the last.