WALKING SEEDS : Upwind Of Disaster, Downwind Of Atonement
It's all about the stragglers. One of the last of that weird legion of forgotten 80s/90s English bands to evade redscovery, Walkingseeds' records possibly make more sense now than they did "then" - the usual case of we mere mortals requiring a decade or so's hindsight to play catch-up...
Formed from the rubble of The Mel-O-Tones, Liverpool's legendary purveyors of psychedelic bomb site grunge (& initially naming themselves The Corinthians), Walkingseeds were, from the off, enthusiastically championed by John Peel (of course) & Mark E. Smith - in fact, I first saw them live supporting The Fall on the Bend Sinister tour in 1986 (who knew MES was a Nabakov afficiando, eh?). Maintaining a longstanding relationship with Probe Records, Walking Seeds' Knew Too Much debut was a (relatively) sophisticated updating of the original Mel-O-Tones' sound, though "sophistication" possibly wasn't at the top of their agenda when they crawled into the studio to record it? A thuggy backyard amalgamation of early Iggy & The Glitter Band, it's one of those records that repeatedly fooled me into leaping up to inspect the stylus, only to find out it was supposed to sound like that! The subsequent Marque Chapmanne 12" (via their own, shortlived Moral Burro label) violently upped the fuzz/aggro levels & & ushered in the raucous Skullfuck LP, a twisted & unsettling musical pedal-bin of nasty Nuggets, Butthole Surfers & Blue Cheer influences with a cheeky Grateful Dead-derived title (inspired by Mouse & Kelly's iconic "skull & roses" sleeve). Superior records all, though their Peel sessions from the period are even better (search 'em out).
Upwind Of Disaster, Downwind Of Atonement appeared in 1989 (the band having hooked up with the much-missed Glass label in the interim). Recorded at New York's Noise studio with wayward genius Mark Kramer (Shockabilly, Bongwater, B.A.L.L., et al), Walkingseeds had obviously spent their recess concentrating on writing songs rather than merely jamming around a few borrowed, obscure riffs & the results still sound phenomenal - far more melodic than their earlier releases (though the disruption factor is still immediately evident) & often genuinely psychedelic (rather than just sounding like they'd necked a stack of drugs before recording). Songs like "Slow Dance Of Golden Lights" & "Wreck Of The White Star" share the same wistful 60's shambolism as homeboys The La's (with whom they briefly shared a guitarist or two) but none of the frustrating purist retrospection. Elsewhere, "Sexorcist", "Mad River" & "Ocean Drain" (a petulant flicked-V in the general direction of Liverpool's nostalgia-entrenched local music scene gobshites - "The Greatest Album Ever Made", my arse!) remain 3 of their finest songs. A contemporaneous Clawfist Singles Club 7" - remember them? - features The Bevis Frond covering "Sexorcist" on one side while Walkingseeds give his "Reflections In A Tall Mirror" a seering once-over on t'other - cop a listen, it's a belter. The Bevis Frond would return to produce their Sensory Deprivation Chamber Quartet "dwarf"-LP a few months later &, again, it's an absolute must-have (I'll retrieve it from The Shed one of these days, just you wait & see...). I'd not heard Upwind Of Disaster... for several years (again, my copy's stowed away in The Shed) until Anon. sent me a link for it c/o this blog a few days ago. It's a hitherto unknown (to me) CD edition with a couple of extra songs, including a snotty thrash through Blue Oyster Cult's "Transmaniacon MC" (previously visited on one of their ace Peel sets). I've hardly stopped playing it.
Walkingseeds made a few more LPs after this one, then quietly fizzled out, briefly reappearing as The Del-Bloods (one 7" on Seminal Twang) & then obscurity. The last I heard, monster guitarist Bob Parker was parodying stadium A.O.R. in Batloaf ("Meat Out Of Hell", etc). If anybody knows what crazed vocalist/affable lunatic Frank Martin's now up to please get in touch...