Billy Childish was, for years, one of those artists whom I knew of by reputation rather than being in possession of any of his music. All that changed with the purchase of Archive From 1959 – The Billy Childish Story an epic 51-track compilation released on Damaged Goods back in 2009. The record label offered up this as background:-
Billy Childish has been releasing records, painting, writing poetry and generally doing his own thing for the past 32 years.
He first took to the stage back in October 1977 with seminal punk garage band The Pop Rivets, they split after two years and from there he joined The Milkshakes along with fellow Pop Riveter Bruce Brand and local lads Micky Hampshire & Russ Wilkins, after that came Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats, The Buff Medways and right up to date with his two current ensembles The Musicians Of The British Empire & The Chatham Singers.
This 51 Track compilation is a look back at the more Rock N Roll aspects of his musical career which is why there’s no spoken word or poetry on this album.
In amongst these more well known bands are tracks he recorded solo and with other artistes like The Delmonas, Thee Headcoatees, Singing Loins, Kyra Rubella etc.
Over the years Billy has been championed by lots of great bands and musicians including Beck, Mudhoney and Kurt Cobain and more recently by Eddie Vedder & The White Stripes. Even with that praise Billy has been largely ignored by the music press in this country which is really surprising as he has now released over 120 albums (including 4 on one day!).
Many of the tracks on this compilation have been unavailable for ages and some also have never appeared on CD as well as many unpublished photos on the cover and 12 page booklet.
Lois Wilson (Mojo) has writing the sleeve notes and there will also be a deluxe triple vinyl version as well as a double CD digipak deluxe package.
Now seems to be the perfect time for people to catch up with what he has been doing for the last 32 years.
The compilation features songs attributed to no less than 12 differently named acts. As such, it does suffer a little bit from inconsistency but it’s fair to say that it makes a fairly compelling listen, albeit I usually find myself hitting the FF button on every occasion, albeit not for the same songs every time. One my favourites is a single released back in 2008:-
mp3 : Wild Billy Childish And The Musicians of the British Empire – He’s Making A Tape
There’s a case to be made that this is the ultimate break-up song for the muso anoraks generation. I’m surely not alone in having spent hour after hour in my bedroom working out the best way to fill up both sides of a C90 cassette in order to gain the attention of someone with whom you hoped intimacy would appear on the agenda. Furthermore, I can understand the anguish being ably demonstrated by vocalist Nurse Julie (aka Julie Hamper aka Mrs Billy Childish) given that there was period in my life when I was married to someone but spent a fair bit of time lovingly compiling tapes to pass onto someone with whom I was having an affair to demonstrate the extent and quality of music in my collection (it obviously worked as I’ve now been living with the recipient of the tapes for nearly 30 years!!).
It’s just two minutes in length, and comprises a great tune and very droll and funny lyric. But obviously not if you’re on the receiving end.