17.6.09

BIG FLAME : Rigour 1983-1986 (1996)

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Arguably the most astonishing band on Ron Johnson's roster - though not necessarily my personal favourite (that'd be A Witness or The Shrubs) - Big Flame were, without a doubt, the label's "Outstanding Contribution to Music". John Peel absolutely adored them in their day, unsurprisingly - first impressions (i.e. the Sink! 7") suggested that they were a punked-up, pitched-up Beefheart tribute act - Trout Mask Replica at 78rpm, or something. Wrong. What Big Flame did have in common with Van Vliet's polarising masterpiece is the plethora of memorable riffs & brickbats simply itching to emerge from their torrent of scratchy chaos, providing you were prepared to invest a little heavy duty listening time. Big Flame were at the forefront of that other "C86" vanguard, the one that indolent (or merely uninformed) music journalists prefer to overlook these days - the jagged funk/punk squall of Bogshed, Mackenzies, early Age Of Chance, & the aforementioned Shrubs & A Witness (we weren't all sporting coy fringes & Anna Karina hair grips back then, y'know), all of whom have been written out of 1980s music history by Stalin-esque cuties like Bob Stanley & his beige ilk. Conspiracy!
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Big Flame = three Mancunian Revolutionary Socialists miscreants (with guitars) - none of whom ever performed in George Michael's backing band, despite the rumours & backyard yatter - who "set out to change the world. After five 3-track 7"singles, fighting everyone and everything we called it a day at the Boardwalk Manchester in October 1986. But we did change the world, fullstop". In 1996, Drag City briefly compiled all of those 45s onto a single CD. That CD was up for sale on Amazon for £153.39 (splutters, drops Daily Mail, etc) at the time of writing. It's worth it. Big Flame, after all, were very good indeed.

Earsore

N.B. They've got a website but it was phaffing about last time I visited. Tsk.

10 comments:

  1. What Big Flame did have in common with that amazing album is the stupefying plethora of scratchy tunes waiting to spill out if only you'd invest a little time listening first.

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  2. One of teh best bands ever! As goes for A Witness.

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  3. They still sound amazing, 25 years on! x

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  4. P. RAMAEKER5.3.12

    File is no longer there! Can it be reuploaded?

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  5. Hey P, Rigour is now restored to it's former glory - enjoy!

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  6. ...and i thought i was having a bad day!

    it horrifies me that i've yet to meet anyone over here whom have heard of any of the good 'C86' bands! likened to what you said 25 years later... and they're still ahead of their time!

    in an infinite echo, THANK YOU!

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  7. Haha, cheers. Big Flame, as a band, were conceptually watertight & entirely unprecedented I think? I think I actually enjoy their music more NOW than I did then, so it's strange to think that it's been out of print for so long - perhaps the band prefer it that way (that's the only explanation I can think of)?

    It's only a matter of time, of course, before The Wire (et al) pluck Big Flame out of "obscurity" for 6-pages of glossy reassessment/retrospection. No doubt the current generation of bearded archivists will slobber all over 'em, but they'll never see them live will they? HA.

    I have a couple of self-recorded B.F. cassettes, I'll upload one shortly, feel free to remind me, my memory ain't what it used to be (!).

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  8. "...the jagged funk/punk squall of Bogshed, Mackenzies, early Age Of Chance, & the aforementioned Shrubs & A Witness (we weren't all sporting coy fringes & Anna Karina hair grips back then, y'know)..."

    No, we weren't!
    Bloomin' 'eck, some blast-from-the-past names there: Bog Shed, great live and on vinyl, photographed them at a Nottingham gig in the mid-80s; Age of Chance, simply stupendous, the 'KissPower' bootleg/promo/mash-up track is still one of my all-time favourites (still have it on cassette tape somewhere).

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  9. Was that show at Trent Poly perchance? I was lucky enough to see all of those bands on multiple occasions in Nottingham in the mid '80s - Bogshed & A Witness seemed to play here on a fortnightly basis at one point! Big Flame were best of the lot though, they make me glad I'm old (I wouldn't have witnessed them polarise audiences with their ack-ack splurge otherwise...).

    n.b. The link to Rigour has expired unfortunately - I'll re-post it shortly, with updated waffle, if you're interested?

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