Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Marc Riley and the Creepers

Last week Xfm DJ John Kennedy wrote into Time Out to complain about their music critics’ snide remarks about the radio station, and defending his own championing of new music. He was right – his Xposure show is a place where you can hear good new music and he is tireless in championing it, but his programme is a lone island in a sea of bland corporate indie rock, which has seen the station fall from an exciting and brash new kid on the block in 1997 to a deadweight for which new life seems impossible.

Now I fear that BBC 6Music may be going the same way, with even less excuse given that they’re a publicly-funded radio station. Recent changes to the station have elicited a steady stream of grumblings across the internets, which were brought to an angry head at the end of last year with the replacement of Gideon Coe with lank-haired buffoon George Lamb on the mid-morning show. Here perfectly encapsulated was an example of what was going wrong with 6Music – an obsession with minor celebrity, and a preference (in Lamb’s case at least) for gossip, stories about kebabs and general studio goonery over actually playing any music. The station’s motto of ‘closer to the music that matters’ looks sorely in need of revision, as the station controller steers the ship towards copying, rather than being an alternative to other BBC music stations (which was surely the point in starting 6Music in the first place). I could go on and on here, but there’s no need – the rottenness in the state of 6Music is excellently discussed by Ro Cemm in his recent piece on The Line of Best Fit.

Anyway, all this should create despair, but I’m not ready to give up 6Music completely yet. There are still a few shows well worth listening out for, none more so than Marc Riley’s Brain Surgery on Wednesday to Friday evenings. It’s become my favourite radio programme and the soundtrack to my early evening, dinner and sometimes even baby baths. Riley is exactly the sort of person who 6Music should be employing – he has a clear passion for music, is continually excited about new stuff, has an irreverent and laid-back presenting style, and offers a (usually decent) live band on every show. What’s not to like?

From way back in the days of Mark and Lard, I knew that Riley was a former member of The Fall, kicked out by Mark E Smith in 1982, but it was only recently that I found out that there was more to his musical career than bass-slapper to Salford’s musical dictator-in-chief. A few weeks ago, Tom Robinson (who covers the same evening slot as Marc on Mondays and Tuesdays) played a Peel Session from a certain Marc Riley and the Creepers from 1984. I managed to record one of these songs, which is posted for your edification below. Musically, there’s a clear line of continuation from The Fall, but is slightly less abrasive. Good stuff all in, and a useful starting point for finding out more. I even found an old website dedicated to the Creepers, so there’s obviously a fan base out there. Are any of these recordings still available? I’d like to know.

Download: Marc Riley and the Creepers – Cure by Choice

I also found this Youtube clip of Marc and the Creepers. See how young he looks!

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