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Everything Momus All The Time

New OL contributor John Robinson is going to review everything Momus ever did or does...

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by John Robinson, for outsideleft.com
An artist who was dropped by Creation - home of Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis - for being too dangerous.
by John Robinson, for outsideleft.com
An artist who was dropped by Creation - home of Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis - for being too dangerous.

It's quite probable that regular readers of outsideleft will be in some passing way familiar with the musician named Momus. It would be quite reasonable if Wikipedia were to use his image as an avatar for the definition of "avant-pop", as he flies under the banner of experimentalism and idiosyncrasy.

Momus is a pseudonym for Nicholas Currie, born in Paisley, Scotland in 1960. His father worked for the British Council and his family travelled extensively when he was young. Nick spent his childhood in Edinburgh, Athens, Colchester, Montreal, and again in Scotland, studying in Aberdeen University but dropping out to join the music scene, recording an album with ex-members of the Postcard Label post-punk band Josef K, and returning to Aberdeen to complete a First Class Honours degree in 1984.

Around that time the character of Momus was born - named for the God of Mockery and Satire in classical mythology - and singing dark songs about sexuality and society. At first he worked in a folksy, singer-songwriter idiom, but moved into electronic pop as the decade progressed. His label similarly changed from él Records and Cherry Red to Creation Records, where a shaky relationship developed with the label and owner Alan McGee.

I became aware of Momus around 1991. I was a teenager living in Scunthorpe, England at the time, I was listening to the D.J. Annie Nightingale late night on BBC Radio 1, where 'Nicky', a Jacques Brel cover, was played, along with a Marc Almond version which was charting at the time. Momus being described by Annie as "a friend of the show" I fell in love with the music immediately, the louche singer and his lyricism, both whimsical and savage in equal and effective measure. I went on to locate and devour his earlier and current albums and followed him from then on, through his lunge for chart success in the late 80s and early 90s, through changes in fortune, location and management throughout the 90s and 00s and into the current day, where he remains a lyrical and musical innovator, composing chiefly on GarageBand and now a prime commentator on current world topics. Who else is as well positioned as Momus to release an anti-brexit album entitled Scobberlotchers, or to skewer current world politics and societal norms on recent works such as Pantaloon and Akkordion? He has also written numerous books and countless print and online articles.

As a celebration of this artist I have started a blog: entitled Fifteen People, for Momus' 1992 declaration that "in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people", a prediction of his own obscurity. The blog follows the career of Momus from his first band album in 1982 with The Happy Family and will continue until I am up-to-date or dead: I have just posted an 18,000 word analysis of the 1995 album "The Philosophy of Momus", and have already covered the classic Momus works "Tender Pervert", "Don't Stop the Night" and "Hippopotamomus". Dense, intelligent, lyrical and literate, his lyrics often include obscure references to philosophical concepts, writers and poets, artists, films and other music (and Other Music), and my blog seeks to unwrap all these mysteries. No knowledge is assumed although some British references and in-jokes creep in from time to time. Momus himself reads the blogs as well, and helps keep me accurate on factual details, but has no impact on my opinions, which are honest and by no means a hagiography. So if you have ever wondered about this Momus fella and whether to have a listen, grab a copy of "Tender Pervert" or "Don't Stop the Night" and read along with it. The reviews tend to match in tone the content of the album, but are always humorous and detailed.

Alongside the music and lyrics I also comment on the narrative of Momus' life and career, astonishing of itself. This is a story which takes in several continents and has a host of guest stars. The story includes kidnapping, machete attacks and elopement. This is an artist who following legal tussles with a corporate monolith had to destroy every copy of his latest album. An artist who having written a well meaning tribute to a respected musician found himself being sued by them for its content, leading to a unique fundraising scheme for legal costs. An artist who took in his stride all these calamities, not to mention the loss of vision in one eye, turning these setbacks into advantages. An artist who was dropped by Creation - home of Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis - for being too dangerous.

Join me in this journey, through his career and through the Britain of the 80s up to the present day, at http://www.fifteenpeople.com


Visit John Robinson's Momus Blog, fifteenpeople.com here

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John Robinson

Based in Scunthorpe, England. A writer and reviewer, working as a Computer Science and Media Lecturer and Educator. Sometimes accused of being a music writer called John Robinson, which is not helped by being a music writer called John Robinson. @thranjax

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