Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Alex Fergusson - The Castle

Alex Fergusson
The Castle

Released 2006 on Eis & Licht
Reviewed by Burryman, 16/04/2006ce

So right: there's a new RAY DAVIES CD out, and sure he's a legend and all, and yeah he did write "Waterloo Sunset". And I've bought the damn thing at HMV, and it's what you might call "kinda sorta OK" . . .

But there's also a new ALEX FERGUSSON CD out, called The Castle. And it's quite nice.

ALEX you might not be familiar with. He was once in this great, late 70's band with Mark Perry from Deptford called ALTERNATIVE TV, who made a blazin' career out of giving punk rock audiences exactly what they DIDN'T ACTUALLY want to hear (god bless 'em!). They were rough and primative but so inspirational - and certainly more perversely contrary than yr CLASHes or whathaveyou - and ALEX penned all the early riffs.

A bit later on ALEX wrote a lovely tune to a poem by GENESIS P-ORRIDGE, then fresh outta some band called THROBBING GRISTLE. And presto! ALEX ended up as the musical guru within the chaos-magick collective that was PSYCHIC TV. Before those boys/girls/whatevers were done, they'd turned the heads of antisocial criminals, uptight politicians, and open-mined teens (i.e. me!) the world over . . . and while GENESIS hogged all the limelight, a helluva alot of their beauty stemmed from the wonderful songwriting ("Godstar", anyone?) of quiet ol' ALEX.

ALEX left PTV in 1987 and has remained incognito and/or solo ever since. This is his third record. And wouldn't ya know it but it's only available outta freakin' GERMANY. Ya, gut . . .

The Castle strikes me as nothing so much as some great, tweaked soundtrack to a long-lost, over-the-top early '70s Hammer QUATERMASS film - the kind of movie that only ever screened in around-the-back/up-the-stairs venues in deepest, darkest Soho. You'll spot the quiet Brit-folk influences, the VELVET UNDERGROUNDish tunes (from a guy who's probably old enough to have seen the D. YULE-era band!) . . . and a pretty track featuring MS. ROSE McDOWALL (ex-STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE) singing what could be a long-lost DOLLY PARTON song. But hey - the whole shebang holds together nicely as a total side-stepping of THIS GODDAMN WORLD AS WE ALL KNOW IT TO BE. Which is a huuuuge achievement, in 2006.

At present, I most often return to ALEX's should-be-Eurovision hit single, "Hope" . . . I can almost hear the children singing it down the alley . . . hell I still find myself listening to it ALL once each day.

Yeah I would say BUY THE DAMN THING. He'd appreciate it - you'd love it. And it'll help wash the taste of that new RAY DAVIES CD right out of your mouth.

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