Song of the day – 438: Melody Dog
I wanted to write about ‘Futuristic Lover’, especially as I found this great blog entry about it via Down At The Picnic Ground:
In a letter to the Pastels about their (at the time) new alb Illumination, D.C. Berman likens it to the first Royal Trux alb; he even calls it a sister record. I’ve listened to the two side by side a couple times now and I think I’ll understand the meaning of “infrared deer plunge into the digital snake” before I see any similarities between those two records.
The first Trux alb has Neil and Jennifer at their most primitive and nasty. The songs are minimal, w/ only enough instrumentation to get the point across and sometimes not even that. Illumination on the other hand is the album of a formerly great band who has diluted their unique qualities w/ indie session musicians and over-dubbed atmospheric (read: non-essential) guitar tracks. The songs are there, but the band isn’t.
Now, what actually does sound surprisingly like early Royal Trux is “Tomorrow’s World”, the b-side to Melody Dog’s IPU single. Melody Dog was made up of Pat Laureate of the Vesuvius label and future-Pastel Katrina Mitchell. They would later be joined by Aggi.
Back to “Tomorrow’s World”. This song is falling apart right from the start. And it’s great. Guitars stumble about as Katrina sings of traveling to Jupiter with, I assume, her new alien boyfriend. It has this great, ridiculous rock & roll moment where Katrina & Pat trade off “Oh No!”‘s and “Oh Yes!”‘s and that leads into an awesome harmonica bit that makes it abundantly clear that they had no future in the blues. This then descends into 20 seconds or so of cool feedback. Along the way there’s all sorts of joyous clatter. I think they have one of those kids keyboards that makes animal sounds; if so, there’s a generous serving of the monkey setting.
Sure, it’s not as scuzzed out as the Trux could get, but it’s not that far from those early Drag City singles either.
But I couldn’t find ‘Futuristic Lover’ online. Nor could I find the review I did of Melody Dog’s debut performance, in Aggi’s bedroom in Scotland – present were me, Aggi, Pat and Katrina. Whirligigs were whirled. Recorders were blown down. Hearts were melted. Smiles crossed faces continuously. Nor could I find my reviews of their two singles, both of which I made Single Of The Week in Melody Maker, at least one of which I pledged my undying love to. And nor could I find any reports of the tour of Southern England in 1992, where at the Bristol show The Pastels were supported by Jad Fair, Melody Dog and The Legend!, and so much laughter was had by all.
So I thought I’d post this instead:
The YouTube blurb is wrong. Melody Dog weren’t a Pastels offshoot. Pat (Vesuvius) and Katrina formed Melody Dog before Katrina joined The Pastels.
How magical is The Pastels’ 1997 album Illumination? Four of my favourite people, and musicians, together in a studio – Stephen, my fellow fanzine-maker Aggi, Shop Assistants founder David Keegan, and Katrina.