Friday, January 8, 2010

Trips

Take a look at that cover, an austere English home is ravaged by fire, no one is around, or perhaps they are still inside drinking tea as flames engulf their anglo way of life. It's a fitting image to accompany The Swell Maps debut album A Trip To Marineville. The Swell Maps formed in Birmingham back in 1972 by a pair of brothers with really cool names, Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks, and some mates with equally cool names like Phones Sportsman, Jowe Head, and John Cockrill. It wasn't until 1977 that The Swell Maps got it together and cut a single called "Read About Seymour," which has appeared on numerous punk retrospective comps over the years. A Trip To Marineville was released in 1979. Like the house on the jacket, The Swell Maps are unmistakably English, and seem determined to set alight all conventions before them. The Swell Maps (like Wire) were the reaction of UK punk going stale and having too much in common with the boring geezer rock it initially set about to destroy. This boredom and disillusionment incited a slew of innovative young bands who added wit and art sensibilities to their vocabulary. The Swell Maps took a looser approach than Wire, even having some distinctly Kraut Rock influences at work. My friend Robert Price of the band Kreamy 'Lectric Santa turned me on to this record when we were much younger. I was immediately drawn to its eccentricity and humor (despite most of the lyrics being beyond me.) It also came to me at a time where I too was bored with formulaic punk. The album kicks off with a an adolescent English voice declaring "Say, that's a swell map" and then we are dragged off into The Swell Maps universe. A trip indeed.

10 comments:

Daniel said...

I Gotta Full Moon........... in my pocket. Repeat. I gotta full moon,so good. The howling,the bass lines. Punk. Repetition.

kaplan said...

the best maps album for sure..thanks for keeping 'em alive.

MG said...

Totally forgot about this band.

Thanks for the reminder.

MG

diego said...

Thanks, Aesop. I was always told to check out this band, and here is my excuse.

Anonymous said...

Thank Aesop. Been into the Swell Maps since that 'Collision time
revisited' CD came out- great shit.

I think that it is worth noting the Rowland S. Howard connection- Epic Soundtracks was in RSH's great band These Immortal Souls as well as the lineup of Crime and the City Solution in which Rowland and his brother Harry played that lineup made some kickass records)
RSH also made an album with Nikki Sudden. Epic and Nikki have also passed away.

-A.J. the anonymous jew

Anonymous said...

England rules

chvbby said...

Wade Driver turned meh on to these guys awhile back. I like. Yes. I do.

dean said...

I picked up all my Swell Maps cassetes at Record Finder...they must of bought a ton of them cause everytime I went in there they had every record (err...tape) for like 3 bucks. Great shit.

kathy said...

Hello, I'm writing from Secretly Canadian. Would you mind re-linking to our website rather than an illegal download of the album? Thanks!

http://www.secretlycanadian.com/artist.php?name=swell

Aesop said...

Kathy, since you used the magic word "illegal" I would be happy to.