The Mekons are the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. They started in the 70s as a punk band from Leeds but by the mid-1980s had picked up fiddles and mandolins to go with their loud guitars, and learned to love Hank Williams and Gram Parsons as much as they’ve sadly learned to hate the injustices meted about by the systems and people that run everything. Their “Mekons Rock’n’Roll” was a simultaneous eulogy and elegy to their loud and debauched chosen musical form, “capitalism’s favorite boychild” as they themselves described it. The followup, “Curse of the Mekons” is probably the best record made about the end of the cold war, lamenting not only their cursed bad luck, but refusing to see it even a defeat for socialism which they reasonably point out can’t “really be dead when it hasn’t even happened”. A decade later, they also probably made the best (if possibly unselfconscious) record about 9/11 and its aftermath, “Out of Our Heads”.
If all of this makes them sound dour and serious, they’re not. Or at least, they know enough to seize the day, to turn their amps up and party while they watch the decay of the world around them. Over the years, they’ve dispersed to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, London and England’s West Country — and still get together every once in a while to record, tour and generally raise hell without, as far as I can tell, increasing their income too much. And in the process, they’ve probably been responsible for two or three of the best rock’n’roll shows I’ve ever been to, in North America and in the UK.
To honor (or praise, or bury) their career, filmmaker Joe Angio has shot the footage for a documentary “Revenge of the Mekons”. But they’ve run out of money for editing, and have enlisted the internet to help: Kickstarter is a brilliant site which enables groups to find (financial) supporters from around the world (and reward them in kind). You can support the film — the project is more than halfway toward their $20,000 goal. Depending on the amount of the pledge, you can get various prizes, including records and artwork by members of the band as well as books signed by some of the Mekons’ more famous fans (including rock critic Greil Marcus, novelist Jonathan Franzen, and writer Luc Sante), not to mention your name in the credits of a film. So, keep the corpse of rock’n’roll limping along — donate what you can.