29 September 2011
The Three Johns - Never and Always
Year of Release: 1987
Leeds outfit The Three Johns were created by Mekons member Jon Langford in 1981, and whilst their track record seems to have been forgotten by most people in the years since, for a long time they were dependable indie chart botherers, releasing one John Peel favourite and NME Single of the Week after the other. Loud, occasionally political ("We're not a socialist band. We're a group of socialists who are in a band. It's a fine distinction but an important one") and periodically ramshackle, there was no suggestion that the band were ever going to be a threat to the mainstream, although in one Record Mirror interview they joked that at least one member might have boyband looks.
It's still worth revisiting their work to realise what some of the fuss was all about, however. "Never And Always" in particular is so urgent, brutal and intense that it's a clear winner for my affections at least. Produced by Adrian Sherwood who is responsible for the clattering, ear-battering drum machine work here, it's a combination of squawking punk vocals, angular guitar riffs and industrial turmoil which, had it been released by Public Image Limited, probably would have been widely respected. Instead it had to make do with a couple of Chart Show plays on the television and a moderately high placing on the indie chart.
The band called it a day in 1990, leaving behind a bunch of material which, while not always perfect, still deserves more listens than it appears to get in the present day. You'll never hear this on 6Music - but that doesn't mean to say that you shouldn't. It still grabs you by the throat even now.
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