Wild Billy Childish & The Blackhands were formed in 1988, around the same time as Thee Headcoats, basically a calypso/ska party band, very loose line up which over the five or so years included Bruce Brand (Milkshakes / Len Price 3/ Headcoats / Dutronc), Johnny Johnson (Headcoats) Ludella Black (Headcoatees / Delmonas) Kyra Rubella (Headcoatees / A-Lines) Parsley (Dutronc / Solar Flares) and many more.
They released three albums, two on Hangman records (recently re-issued on DG) and one on Sub-Pop.
Here’s the sleeve notes recently updated by Calico Jack for the ‘Live in the Netherlands’ album…
So here it is again, dear listener: Live In The Netherlands. Recorded live on one Microphone on tour in Holland in May 1993, this musical gem is the stuff of which myths and legends abound.
Billy Childish, having heard the Blue Fields Express, wanted his own broken down engine of a group and put out the word. And so they came, from near and afar. Kyra, practicing her Spanish and rattling the pots and pans. A man who didn’t normally drum to play drums. A trumpet player nursing several stitches from having a glass thrust into his face the previous night in a dubious drinking den at the wrong end of town. Miss Ludella Black, dropping in to sing a few numbers during her lunch break from selling fruit and veg on the high street. Shamus, from south of the Thames – having never met the rest of the ensemble, getting lost in the streets of Medway, banging on the wrong door of the wrong house in the wrong town for 2 hours then whipping out his accordion and busking along regardless. And then of course Billy, stringing up his fathers 1910 banjo, picking in open G and singing in what he imagined were the tones of the lost looking for solace.
Thus are great moments born and sometimes recorded for those of us who like our music – as well our bread – stone ground and cut thick with the crusts.
Calico Jack, December 07.
Above Chatham Reach.