So I just caught the train. Which train, I’m not entirely sure. But it seems like the right one. Everyone else seems to think so too, but we won’t know for sure until it leaves, and they tell us where it is going.
Bill Drummond was in “Big in Japan”, a late 70’s pop group. They had a hit record which I think was called “Big in Japan”. Japan was exotic but mysterious in the 70’s, a bit like Sweden was the sexiest place in the world at that time.
He then became manager of two Liverpudlian groups, Echo and the Bunnyman, and The Teardrop Explodes. His ego clashed with that of Julian Cope, lead singer with the latter. Cope hates Drummond, Drummond seems more benevolent, without actually respecting Cope.
Later he got back into making music himself, being part of The J.A.M.M.S. and The KLF. The KLF were an Art Terrorist Music Collaboration. Everything reeked of theft and cheapness, but with a great font and the best beats money could buy.
Bill Drummond is, to me, the Jushin “Thunder” Liger of music. They both “Con through beauty”.
The train is going where I hoped, incidentally.
Wrestling is all about fakery. Fakery has been a proud tradition in wrestling for well over a hundred years. All but the true fan invokes voluntary suspension of disbelief to achieve their enjoyment.
I love Wrestling, but know that very few matches will be great matches. In truth, most fans of anything know this. No one goes to a football game to see a nil-nil draw, no one goes to a baseball game to see it won one to nothing in the bottom of the third, no one goes to a Rothko exhibition to see a load of paintings that look the same. You go to see a 5-4 victory, a 10-9 won in the bottom of the ninth, an installation which is so vast and brooding you can barely move, but it is still easier to be convinced.
Wrestlers, good ones, act their hearts out. They so want for you to believe its real. There tends to be two different ways they achieve this. One is the intensity match, where two great wrestlers pit their wits, matching every hold, achieving dominance, losing it, regaining it, until all the knowledge the audience has of who should win is lost, and they are lost in waiting for the final move which might clinch it.
The other method is to stun the crowd through an act of insane bravery and stupity. Allowing yourself to be thrown off a twenty-five foot cage to break through a desk certainly fits this category. I’ve seen this done by Mick Foley. A good wrestling fan will have a “Foley is God” sign in their collection, such is the notoriety and fame he achieved through this single act.
Jushin Liger is a different matter. He dresses as a character from a japanese comic book, a mask with three horns. He is tiny but athletic, gracious and spectacular. For years I only read about his exploits. Then one day I bought a tape from a trader, the underground network of wrestling fans. Dodgy copies of copies of matches from all over the world, Japan, Mexico, America
He was everything I expected and more. He could tell a story with the way he wrestled, never the same match. Moves that won the week before would be blocked, so he would use a new offense each time. But the final match on the tape had the most spectacular of them all, the Shooting Star Press.
He threw his opponent out of the the ring. As they staggered near the ropes, he ran towards them at speed and hit a slide under the ropes. This knocked his opponent over the ringside barrier, sprawled across the crowd. Jushin stood on the edge of the ring, holding the top rope. He looked quickly behind him, and then jumped up on the top rope. And then flew.
Backwards, he flipped through the air, arching upwards, then falling, over the barrier, and onto his opponent. It looked further and higher than Bob Beamon jumped in Mexico. Simply stunning, but it wasn’t the end of the match. It should have been. It should have been the end of his career. It didn’t in reality hurt him that much. B ut in my world he would have been carried away on a stretcher, waving to the crowd like Evel Knievel, and never wrestled again. It would have made that moment all the more magnificent.
But a few minutes later both he and his opponent were back in the ring. I can’t quite even remember if he won the match or not. At a moment like that, despite the fakery, you forget that and simply lose yourself in the beauty of the moment.
The KLF told you their music was stolen (KLF stands for Kopyright Liberation Front), almost to the extent that they want you to hate them for it. But they made something beautiful from the pieces. Their appearences on Top of the Pops were chaotic, surreal and comic. Adverts in national newspapers alerted you to their actions, normally a record release or media stunt; enigmatic statements (unless you recognised the font). A lways promising the event that would end or change the world, never quite right, never quite achieving what they or you had hoped for, but even in failure they achieved their own form of beauty.
Julian Cope once penned a sweet little pop song called “Bill Drummonds Dead”. I’ve met Julian Cope, stood outside Brixton Fridge after a gig. When he turned up, I was writing in my diary. I got him to sign beneath the last word I’d written. I took it back and carried on writing. He was very friendly, and chatted to the assembled few whilst his heavily-pregnant wife waited in their 2CV.
Bill Drummond wrote in his book “45” that he wanted to write the story of how The Teardrop Explodes should have been. They would have ended up in South America, unknown there, playing small bars, but writing brilliant music. They would mail tapes back to Bill Drummond to release to the Western world. After a few years, he would seal their greatness by flying out to meet them, going off alone with Cope, and shooting him in the head. Tragedy would add the final ingredient, and make them one of the greatest bands of all time.
I’ve just read “45”. It is a great book. Within its pages Drummond hints quite heavily at his daily routine. He doesn’t live far away from me. I think I may be able to track him down.
I pondered what I might do if I met him. It occured to me that I could seal his greatness. I could meet him, mine him for ideas, and then shoot him in the head. I could then go and meet Julian Cope (I have a pretty good idea where he lives too). We could record a tribute single. Ideally it would get to No.2, behind a remixed version of “What Time is Love”. Drummond 1 Cope 2. I think he would like that.
But I won’t. If I do meet him, I’d rather thrust a chaotically-typed version of the past few pages into his hand, and walk away. I might spraypaint something onto a nearby wall to commemorate the occasion. Perhaps:
“What the fuck just happened? 2002”
“Flotsky wants his moment of beauty”
“Art for the individual. Make it. Look at it. Destroy it. Start over”
But it will probably be:
“Bill Drummond met Flotsky Bruce near here (insert date). Drummond read (not dead), Bruce walked away”