Swans Way





I’D BEEN tuned to the BBC World Service, listening to Arthur Negus delivering a forthright and powerful lecture on the ethics and basic philosophy of reconditioning antique chairs, when I casually flipped the dial to find Kid Jensen spinning a piece of fresh-from-the-press vinyl entitled 'Theme From The Balcony'.

The platter yielded a confusingly alluring musical plasticity, like a midnight downtown meeting of the Lounge Lizards and Tom Waits. It seemed like an attempt to stir up a sleaze-riddled, fake-jazz storm.

It began with fingers snappin' out the rhythm, the low deep moan of an upright bass, a brief run along a vibraphone and, later, a saxophone attacked with an uncouth coarseness. All instruments generally being handled with a punky modicum of technical expertise.

The singer sounded as though he was gargling with a high-powered bleach, his phrasing slithering and twisting into partially non-decipherable throaty expressionism but managing to cough out such lines as ‘the heat in here makes me hot’ and 'what time is it?', later to be repeated in French.

It was a song seemingly hellbent on creating an effect, crafting a clever illusion of a particular style, and it was likeable despite, or perhaps because of, its bold and deliberate inauthentic.

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 


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