ALTERNATIVE POP MUSIC… from 1980 & into the 21st century

Wax Cylinders of Excitement

Mex - Dr Jekyll & Mrs Hyde reviewed by Lawrence Burton, 17th July 2014

Mex is one of those best kept secrets you always hear about, although he really shouldn't be, and it seems typically ironic that whilst his best work has yet to set any mainstream chart ablaze, you've almost certainly heard him on something at some point given his session and studio work dating back to at least the first version of Wham Rap! by Andrew Ridgeley and the other feller. I myself first encountered the music of Mex when he cropped up on a cassette compilation put out by the Cause For Concern tape label. I hadn't long discovered that whole early eighties DIY tape scene, and I'd dived in with such enthusiasm as to have lost track of what was going on in the world of regular music with its coloured vinyl and Susan Tully dressing up like Boy George. My corner of the ferric oxide universe was a fairly noisy one populated by Cultural Amnesia and their ilk, so Mex came along as something of a breath of fresh air, independent, home-made, and yet definitely the sort of pop music you need when you're a teenager - so breezy as to make Haircut 100 sound like Kleistwahr. I bought the single Happy Life, which still rates as one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded to these ears, and then I bought the tapes.

Both Alternative Pop Music and Intense Living - which should be considered the first two Mex albums, with this one as the third - are low-fi for economic rather than aesthetic reasons, but even with the occasional muddy mix or duff note or the rhythm of what sounds like a Bontempi organ, I played those fuckers to death, and I can still sing the songs even now despite my copies of the cassettes being presently interred within a cardboard box on a different continent.

Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde is, as I say, the third album, which is exactly what it sounds like, rather than a comeback in consideration of the thirty year gap. Whatever magic he was working back then remains patently undiminished, and this time the songs benefit from all those intervening years of experience and a beautifully crisp production. The Mex himself was apparently a little nervous about what sort of response this collection would receive, which is understandable given that I was myself a little nervous about listening to it for fear of the possibility of it being some grizzled old bloke reviving past glories and ending up resembling Creme Brulee's Les McQueen from The League of Gentlemen.

It's a shit business...

Happily such fears are proven entirely unfounded, even should be considered blown away by the opening bars of Angry Man which, whilst being unmistakably Mex, peculiarly also invokes the rockier end of Nine Inch Nails and even Jim Thirlwell since he packed in the grunting and growling and took to singing once more. Being Mex, there's a Beatley element, maybe a trace of Kinks with the more tuneful hundreds and thousands of the punk rock cake sprinkled over the top, but nothing that renders the occasional saxophone or trumpet solo too incongruous - kitchen sink psychedelia maybe, or something along those lines. The tunes, sombre as they may be in a few cases, work their way under your skin like the very best of Beck or Blur or whoever else once dealt in this sort of bitter-sweet pop; except this album, against all the odds, bears no trace of nostalgia or recaptured glories. The material is too strong, too confident for that, even pausing to give the listener a thoughtful neck rub at the halfway mark with the sadly poignant Think About It.

By rights We Don't Speak The Same Language Anymore should be a hit of such magnitude that we're all thoroughly sick of hearing it before the year is out, but then by rights some boutique vinyl label should be battering down Mex's door for permission to reissue his entire back catalogue. I'm not sure if either of these are likely to happen, but then again I never expected a 2014 Mex album to sound anything like this good. Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde is, excuse my French, fucking gorgeous, a perfect pop record. Full marks also for the presentation, one of those screwy jet black compact discs upon which the label side is printed so as to resemble a tiny vinyl album.

Don't just sit there. Buy it!

Mex’s hiatus ends with a 2014 return album

Downloadable from all good online retailers and collector’s edition CD available for only £7.99 including P&P from the Shop page of this site.

After over a thirty year hiatus from the last recording being released, Mex returns with an album telling tales of dysfunctional human relationships, where angst and the dark collide…

With artwork by legendary ‘creative vandal’ Nick Egan, the album features guest performers including Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin, ex-Dr Feelgood Gordon Russell, renowned poet Bernadette Cremin, and acclaimed composer Phil Saatchi. Along with ex-Gambit Of Shame cohort Mike Wallis, punk-operatic Angela Gregory, and former Guy Chambers protégé Louise Flenley, the eclectic mix of characters help create a new Mex twenty-first century sound that echoes the past, yet is older and wiser… perhaps!

Mex collaboration album available

Downloadable from all good online retailers and collector’s edition CD available for only £7.99 including P&P from the Shop page of this site.

A poetess and DIY musician collide, creating a daring conceptual, thoughtful and often improvised album of librettos and melody…

First collaborating back in 1998 for an album entitled 'Sensual Assassins', the dynamic duo once again team-up for the 2015 album, 'Guilty Fist', whereby Cremin recites everyday underbelly tales of the habitual yet bizarre humankind, over Mex’s hypnotic often blue musical soundscapes.

Click here for more information.

Was expecting CD to be like performance poetry and really avant-garde music when I read description - it has a really cool and very melodic neo-psychedelia sound, style and influence in the music, makes you want to keep listening!

The music has a great tension to it, good instrumental and lyrical hooks.

Favourite song is 'Catching a Train' – I like the words to it.

Callum Hendry

Great stuff - listened to it three times in a row!

Haven’t enjoyed anything this much since the new Pixies album (also decades overdue, strangely).

Really bloody good.

Andy Morton

The latest Mex album is here!

Second Mex album from 1981 re-released!

Downloadable from all good online retailers and collector’s edition CD available for only £7.99 including P&P from the Shop page of this site.

Dedicated to Robert Dellar, activist, author and pioneer in the mental health survivor’s movement, this originally released album from 1981, finally gets an official re-release.

‘Intense Living’, the second Mex album, with its collage cut-up cold graveyard cover, set against a New York skyline, features songs innocently depicting mankind’s dark future without possibly knowing what malevolence was to come.
Teamed-up with Sad Lovers and Giants member Cliff Silver, the recordings twist experimental textures with a strange funk dub, awash with melody over the top, in what was to become the last album Mex would release until the 21st century.

New 2017 Mex album release

Downloadable from all good online retailers and collector’s edition CD available for only £9.99 including P&P from the Shop page of this site.

Back with a new offering comes Mex’s Cinema X soundtrack, attained somewhat through fantasy and partial existent reality.

‘Do You Wanna Fuck Around? Soundtrack Reflections on a Golden Age of Vice’ lends a punk sensibility twist to the archetypal 60s and 70s adult film scores through the inspiration of acts such as the Doors, Neu!, Stooges and Velvet Underground.

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Wax Cylinders of Excitement

Mex - Do You Wanna Fuck Around reviewed by Lawrence Burton, 10th January 2018

Just to kick off in what will probably seem like one hell of a tangent, independent art cinema is, perhaps surprisingly, very much an unfamiliar realm for me. I've seen the odd thing inevitably borrowed from Ted at work, but most of those were weird and terrifying, and probably not representative of your average independent art cinema production. My friend Noel made purchase of a Ben Dover video whilst visiting London and so we watched a bit of that seeing as Noel was kipping on my sofa. For the uninitiated, Ben Dover produced a whole string of independent art cinema videos in which himself and a bloke with a video camera travel England, proposing sexual intercourse to random women working in shops, service stations, or just out walking the dog. The encounters seem casual and opportunist, even if they're almost certainly staged, and the appeal is probably mostly in the cheap and cheerful realism. Ben Dover's independent art cinema looks as though it could happen at the end of your road with one or more of the neighbours; and Ben Dover himself resembles a self-employed plumber more than a mogul of independent art cinema, although I suppose it could be argued that he sort of is a self-employed plumber. Anyway, all I can remember from the one Ben Dover production I watched was a scene in which our man enters an actress whilst persuading her to additionally stimulate the penis of the bloke with the camera, who accordingly chirps, 'This is indeed an unexpected bonus!'

Weirdly, it turns out that Mex once came fairly close to providing soundtrack music for Ben Dover; or at least I'm sure I read that somewhere. Do You Wanna Fuck Around?, subtitled Soundtrack Reflections on a Golden Age of Vice, is therefore an album of what could have been, music for imaginary independent art cinema productions. Naturally it's instrumental, barring snatches of dialogue invoking celluloid seventies blueys more than Ben Dover encouraging giggling cashiers out of their knickers. Musical cues come from psychedelia, bits of the Velvet Underground, and things which have since been reclassified as acid jazz in certain quarters - organ swirling over a big fat beat with blues guitar licks squirting hither and thither, at least as wild and sensual as those films always seemed to think they were despite so often resembling Abigail's Party with budget cuts in the wardrobe department. Doubtless owing to the inspiration of similar sources, whilst this could almost be a funkier, wrinkle-free Led Zeppelin in terms of instrumentation, musically it makes me think of Fatboy Slim, or rather what Fatboy Slim should have sounded like, that same sort of punchy bass heavy go-go but without the whole element of trying too hard.

As might be discerned from the first paragraph, I'm hardly an authority in the field of independent art cinema, but it seems to me that the one thing Mex gets wrong is that I don't recall ever seeing a bluey with music this good. In fact, the few I recall had awful midi-synth soundtrack music of a general type which ended up recycled as vapourwave and Go Kart Mozart. So here is an album which is actually better than the thing it's trying to be, if you see what I mean, and another argument for Mex as one of the most underrated artists and producers in the biz.