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Ancient & Modern

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Audio CD, September 27, 2011
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For about a year back in the 1970s the Mekons epitomized the risks,
extremes and ludicrous promise of punk rock. It was a different time
f’sure BUT eerily similar to NOW. For a while back THEN the Mekons were
indeed very interested in punk rock but it wore off (for reasons too
obvious & well documented to dwell on here). After the huge success of
their FAST PRODUCT 45s ... Read more in Amazon's The Mekons Store

Visit Amazon's The Mekons Store
for 34 albums, 4 photos, and 2 full streaming songs.

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Ancient & Modern + Honky Tonkin
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bloodshot Records
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,638 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Warm Summer Sun
2. Space In Your Face
3. Geeshie
4. I Fall Asleep
5. Calling All Demons
6. Ugly Bethesda
7. Ancient & Modern
8. Afar & Forlorn
9. Honey Bear
10. The Devil At Rest
11. Arthur s Angel

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mekons take you for a walk down memory lane, to the world as it was just before WWI - to the Edwardian Era, to the Naughty Naughties; cricket on the village green, punting down the river in a striped blazer and boater, off with the hounds, picnic hampers, community singing, mistresses and wives, mysticism, secret societies, dangerous poetry, radical modern art, Freud, national strikes, revolution, anarchists, and bombers!


"This is music that is effortlessly, spontaneously great!" --Pitchfork

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ramin D. on February 11, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'll jump on the bandwagon and concur that if you want the best possible cut-by-cut dissection of this wonderful album, then you can do no better than read Hutchinson's and (especially) John Murphy's reviews. Kudos indeed gentlemen. I even appreciated the slight yet risky comparison of a song here and there to the sound of The Clash. I've felt that before myself listening to The Mekons, especially when the vocals are in the hands (or vocal chords, I should say) of Mr. Langford, but then I would always question myself and think I've lost my mind. It's good to know that I haven't.
But I digress. I actually saw the nine-piece band pull this off brilliantly in a semi-acoustic performance a few months ago in a large metropolitan market in front of a very small crowd of less than 100, and I was likely one of the least rabid Mekons fans there. So where the heck is the rest of the world when it comes to appreciating such lovingly crafted music? So, of course, I went and got the album itself and I'm not one bit disappointed. At 35 years in, these guys still magically avoid all the traps that tear down the integrity of long-running bands (e.g., the Stones, who started sucking at about a third that time). Then again, many folks would probably remind me that it is precisely this undiscovered aura about them that preserves them so well. In that case, go on mighty Mekons, keep it our secret to the bloody end!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leicester Bangs on October 4, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Mekons - Ancient & Modern 1911-2011 (Bloodshot / Westpark)
Back in the old days when I was a sallow spotty-faced youth, with a disheveled mop of greasy spikes and a black leather jacket, I assumed, quite logically, that if you read NME and enjoyed indie, post-punk, alternative music, etc., then chances are you'd have a couple of Mekons albums in your ever expanding record rack. After several hundred conversations I discovered that wasn't the case at all. Though nearly everyone of that persuasion had heard of the Mekons, hardly any of them had actually heard their music. Fewer still had bought a record. Needless to say, after that painful realization, I had to go and have a little lie down.

When I got up, they were still making records, though Jon Langford had a dozen side projects on the go and Sally Timms was a proper solo artist, as well as a Mekon... and still the records kept on coming, including a few bona fide classics along the way. In fact, 1985's "Fear And Whisky" has since been credited with inventing alt. country, which must have been nice. Their latest, the 26th long player of their 35-year career, isn't quite up there with their best, but it's still a damnably fine collection of unkempt guitar pop. The subject matter, humans and their unnerving ability to screw things up, is effortlessly distilled and condensed by Langford and his merry troupe into rollicking rock `n' roll tunes, together with the odd ballad. The best of these, "Space In Your Face", young Sal's cabaret turn on "Geeshie" and the irresistible "Honey Bear" are up there with their good stuff. Go on, break the habit of a lifetime and buy a Mekons album. You know you want to, and they probably wouldn't mind, either.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on October 13, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Mekons are back with a great new album! They always have an organizing Concept, and this time it is the parallels between 1911 and 2011. "[T]hings aren't that different if you look at a hundred years ago and today" says Sally Timms in an interview in Spinner. Adds Jon Langford: "It's sort of like an Edwardian travelogue ... there's a disconnect between the rulers and the reality of the dangers of the things they flirt with." The slaughter of the impending War looms over the music, and time seems to shift back and forth as it is sometimes referred to as if it had already happened. Interestingly PJ Harvey's brilliant new, and very Mekons-esque album Let England Shake (see my review) is also about World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, and Thomas Pynchon's sprawling recent novel Against the Day is also set in the pre-WWI period.

The album, two years in the making, sounds oblique at first, but with repeated listening it quickly becomes familiar, with strong melodies. The album leads with "Warm Summer Sun," a grim song by Tom Greenhalgh, one of the three principal Mekons singer/songwriters. The song ends with the war: "I look out on corpses, skeleton trees. An unimaginable hell in front of my eyes." This sets the tone for ANCIENT & MODERN, as did Greenhalgh songs for Journey to the End of the Night (2000 -- see my review), and Natural (2007 -- see my review).
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Format: MP3 Music
This starts, the subtitle tells us, in 1911. Edwardian hopes emerge from the tinkling and creaking sounds opening "Warm Summer Sun": "Firelight and toast after I come home from playing cricket", the narrator muses. But, this is no Village Green preserved from a sunny afternoon on a Kinks record. "I look out on corpses, skeleton trees" reveals the "unimaginable hell in front of my eyes."

For their twenty-sixth album, this Leeds-founded ensemble in their thirty-fourth year can look back themselves on a career from heaven to hell and back (to paraphrase their titles from a live LP or two), of raucous merriment and searing sorrow in their diverse, punk-folk rooted approach. The CD is cleverly packaged as if an old phonograph record, with witty band member monikers and period illustrations, but this presentation plays against, or off, the serious contents of its untidy moral tales.

Mekons embody the stories of people caught up in the gap between the idealized and the real. Their political outlook incorporates, on this album as many before, references to diverse struggles: "it's really just a story that's been told", they conclude on "Arthur's Angel", only to add as the final line, "a story that's been sold".

A reflective album of diverse melodies, these nine Mekons share a varied soundscape. The promotional tour for this release alternates between "a quiet night in" and "a wild night out"; this album balances these two moods. Acoustics dominate "Warm Summer Sun" but clash with the warbling, anguished vocals that follow the pastoral opening.
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