The Mekons And Robbie Fulks Jura on LP + Download
As the story goes: Jura, an island off the coast of Scotland with more sheep than people, so bare and infertile the Vikings passed it by, is a place replete with longing, isolation and remote Gaelic oddness. It's where George Orwell went slightly mad and finished 1984. It is also where folk-punk lifers The Mekons teamed up with Chicago's musical polyglot Robbie Fulks for a month to record this limited-edition collection of rough sea shanties and mournful tales pulled from the fog of the bay and the fog of the local whiskey distillery.
Here are songs to be whispered over a dung fire in a sparse peasant's cottage, the incessant winds being your only constant companion, or to be sung while pounding the pint glass on the pub's rail. Or, perhaps, to be wailed into the tempests beyond the cliffs, to wonder if they'll ever be heard. The songs were organically written together, covered, or taken from traditionals and played by all of the assembled cast of musicians or by a select few. Includes the re-working of the Mekons classic "Beaten and Broken," which, with Fulks at the vocal helm sounds, according to Rolling Stone "natural, if not a little dangerous."
The cycle of music crossing and re-crossing the Atlantic continues in wonderful and weird ways. From the rather hilarious liner notes written by Robbie Fulks, which kind of sums up the vibe of the time: "Maybe you've heard the long joke with the cowboy and the lesbian at the bar, where the lesbian tells the cowboy in great detail what she does as a lesbian, and then asks the cowboy what he does. He replies uncertainly, "I thought I was a cowboy..." Well, I thought I was a drunk. Then I met the Mekons. Their drunkenness approached the heroic, the hard-to-believe, a drunkenness as sky-reaching as the drifts of snow in nineteenth-century snow disaster stories or green groaning piles of turtles in Dr. Seuss.
"No day trip was so tight that multiple pub stops, starting about noon, couldn't be shoehorned in. No night ended without jugs of peaty brown swill upended, and no night ended as it decently should have. There was staggering, backslapping, laughing into tears, bobble-headed nods into unconsciousness, loss of motor function, and out-of-doors vomiting. But that was all me; the Mekons were so at one with liquor that, with a couple notable exceptions, no amount of it changed them."