Recordings / Album: I, Lucifer
“I know what the majority of you think about all this. All this sex and money and drugs. You think: people who live like that never end up happy …. Yes, you’re right. But neither do you. And in the meantime, they’ve had all the sex and drugs and money.”
One evening, drunk in Clerkenwell, I was sat in the pub with my old friend the writer Glen Duncan. One of us suggested the idea of creating a book with a soundtrack. Unlike most ideas born in such circumstances, it survived the night, the next day and beyond. It was time for Glen to write a new novel (and himself out of a financial hole) and for me to write a new album. So the book and the record I Lucifer grew up together in my 19th century apartment above the fleet in London’s EC1 – a bit like ugly stepsisters. The book was finished before the album but it is difficult at this distance to remember quite how it all happened.
I do know it was during the darker final days of a personal apocalypse. I was an insomniac and when I did sleep, my dreams were exhausting and intense – it was like putting in a full days (unpaid) work. In the daylight too, I was experiencing hallucinations and some visions. It was a difficult period, yet when the situation started to clear, I started to miss it. I felt I hadn’t quite got to the end of something so I did what I believed any self-respecting Jungian would do: I started to take hallucinogens on a monthly basis.
It was out of one such experience that Bathtime in Clerkenwell was born – based part on the scene in Glen’s book when Lucifer (given one more chance to redeem himself) manifests in Clerkenwell and part on the very bath in my apartment where he emerges. Alex Budovsky’s incredible animation for the track (see left) went on to win a multitude of international awards, I got chased by publishers and record labels, we all made some money and I suppose in a way Electro-Swing was born. But we called it, and still do, ‘Antique Beat’ because we’ve been influenced as much by the songs and sounds, by the mystique, of the thirties and forties, as by just the swing.
Guest vocalists include Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies, David Guez and Pinkie Maclure. There is some narration by Glen himself.
There are three versions with different track listings: one on the long gone, lovely UK micro label Dreamy Records, one on our current US label Six Degrees Records and the third on European label PIAS. There is also an ultra-rare picture disc clock picture disc version. Check out the fabulous David Lynchian video for “The Ugly and the Beautiful” (see below) shot in Hammersmith mens’ working club.
I think we both believed and hoped that the concept of book and album was so strong that our publishers and labels would get right behind it and make a big deal out of it but they didn’t really.
But the listeners and the readers got it. Bless ’em.