Jim Thirlwell

This post was provoked in part by Richard’s thoughts on Led Zep; the line about those who close themselves off from music that doesn’t have a tune being particularly provocative. Also contributing was a discussion about the most disgusting band names that I heard a few weekends ago on 6 Music*.

When I was a student I got into some pretty uncompromising music, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop and Revolting Cocks, that sort of thing. There was lots of clunking and shouting and men being men.

But of all the bands the most uncompromising, it seemed to me, was Foetus.

J.G. Thirlwell (who was Foetus) had an aesthetic that was instantly recognisable, and a line in outrageous imagery that repulsed as much as it attracted.

Thirlwell had some interesting collaborations over the years, somewhere I’ve got his remix of an EMF song, and he was in bands with Marc Almond and Nick Cave for a bit. And I’m pretty sure that without him, Michael Gira, and Al Jourgensen we wouldn’t have had Trent Reznor and all that industrial/metal cross-over (and for that you may decide to condemn them all to the eighth circle of hell).

Here’s a video of one of the singles I’ve been listening to, which has both reminded me why I enjoyed what he did and why it’s unlikely that I’ll be playing it on a loop over the Christmas period**.

And here he in his Clint Ruin persona singing with Soft Cell back in 1983.

* Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, and You’ve Got Foetus on your Breath beating everyone else by a long, long way.

** That said I have just gone off to find Sink to rip from the vinyl.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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