My Jealous God
"This is so bad, it could've come from Manchester!" writes Al 'Boy' Rhodes of this latest in the saga of indie / dance crossover records, a DJ from anywhere in England other than Manc Central. "Dancefloor reaction? Very poor."
"A very impressive debut outing - new darlings of the indie press," enthuses DJ Stuart Freedson of The Hangout and International in Manchester. "Dancefloor reaction? Excellent."
Over a milky mid-day coffee and fast diminishing packet of Silk Cut, Jim Melly: singer / songwriter / guitarist / voice of MY JEALOUS GOD is reading a stacked batch of DJ reaction sheets in Rough Trade's newly painted conference room.
The responses are either black or as white as the office's stark new decor. Comments that reflect the dancefloor trends spiralling out from the orbital routes to the sea.
"I'm not surprised by the response," says Jim of MJG's debut single 'Everything About You'. "I do realise we're going to get tagged. But I don't think we're one-dimensional. We're harder than the Manchester sound. It's not just about having a Soul II Soul drum-beat.
"I bloody hate my record. The single's been recorded for a year - I'm sick of it. I've managed to avoid it quite well up to now. I've heard it at the Hac and people seemed to like it. But most of the time I manage to walk into a club just after it's been played."
"People do like it. In fact you love it. You're already heard it on Peel and it's played by Crowley. Remember the tune with the spiralling wah wah guitars and dirty filthy bass that does more for your pelvic sway than any amount of sex therapy? "You become naked" - Call to mind those kookily delivered words that draw you into the new dawning of Aquarius, they're sampled from a VERY famous album. And I'm sworn to secrecy. Funnily enough this room's exactly the same colour as that album. And the track's almost more trippy with its seductive "I know everything about you" refrain and backward tracking which is bound to contain subliminals of the most tempting kind: "Buy! Buy! Buy! ... "
My Jealous God were formed a year ago to "finish off" a demo of 'I Know Everything' that Jim had recorded just previous to The Stone Roses' selling out the ICA. He drew on friends he'd known for years, people from around his South East London base: "qualified carpenter" and lead guitarist Danny Burke; "keen cyclist, resident mortgage expert" and bass guitarist Chris O'Donnell; and their mainstream promotional feature drummer Andrew Berkley, who at 21 (two years younger than the rest of the band), is a dead ringer for Jimi Hendrix, currently AWOL and believed to be in Ibiza (Jimi lives - Ed).
"It's going to sound like I made it up," ventures Jim, "but when I started going to clubs, that's where the crossover happened between playing silly little indie songs and this. You just couldn't avoid it.
"You see, I can't say where I went, because I started going to the Hac about four years ago and I couldn't tell you what I was on, I couldn't tell you what happened because I was there, but I wasn't there. I was miles away. So most of the time people organized me to be in places, and I left all the organisation up to other people."
So with some dodgy indie bands and a few years absent clubbing behind him, Jim purchased a How To Get On In The Music Industry guidebook, kept that in one hand, his demo in the other, balanced a cigarette precariously somewhere in between, and watched Madchester happen.
"I think so many people missed out on Manchester that they're now desperate to jump on anything at all that's that way inclined. And so people have just jumped on us. In some ways we're not entitled to what people are giving us. We're getting all this press and you're supposed to play gigs for two years before all that happens."
If you were worried about bandwagon-jumping record labels why pick Rough Trade, they were hardly on top of the scene when it happened?
"Because it's a groovy place - you can womble in whenever you want and they let you do things. To say they let you do what you want isn't really true, but they're not going to force anything down your throat."
So do you see yourselves as an indie band?
"Indie music is dead. You're either doing what The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans are doing or you're not doing anything.
"The real indie bands, people like House Of Love and The Wedding Present were really caught out because they've signed to majors thinking 'Now we're going to be able to crossover', but it didn't happen because while they were off recording their LPs everybody else moved on.
"The Madchester thing was like punk. It was what everyone was waiting for this last ten years. And in the same way punk turned into New Wave, everything that happens in the next two to three years, all the little 17-year-olds who pick up a guitar, will be influenced by THIS!"
Helen Mead
'Everything About You' is released by Rough Trade on July 23, the 12" mixed by A Guy Called Gerald.
NME, 14th July 1990.
Thanks to Jo Fisher for this clipping.
Back to the My Jealous God page