Saturday, June 05, 2010
This prolapse article originally appeared in Beat Motel issue #6 (October 2006).
This article about Prolapse wasn’t originally written to be an article for Beat Motel, it was in fact an email I was sending to Jason from Squad 69 that kinda got out of hand and ended up being huge, so I thought I’d reprint it here! The images are all scanned from an old newsletter I found down the back of my filing cabinet, if anyone knows the current whereabouts of this band please let me know!
I dearly love Prolapse, they were the first ‘big’ band I met as a teen that was keen to chat with us after the show and prove they were ordinary folk that liked to share their rider! Their first album ‘Pointless Walks to Dismal Places’ is one of my all time favourite albums, but their later album ‘The Italian Flag’ is in my opinion a work of pure genius, it’s very poppy but retains fantastic originality and the unusual rhythms that made me love their first album (pointless walks) so much.
There was so much about this band that made a massive impression on the 16yr old me, like each copy of their debut album having a hand painted cover made by one of the two singers. Since then I’ve always tried to write songs that owe more to rhythms than wanky guitar playing, it’s so tribal and base, perfect punk in my opinion! When you saw the band live you were never quite sure whether the fighting between the two singers (Linda and Mick) was real or just for show, there were several times a pint glass destined for Mick would whistle past our heads and smash on the floor behind us during a vaguely terrifying rendition of the album closer/ vicious but hilarious argument ‘Tina, This Is Matthew Stone’.
This was a band who (like Jesus and Mary Chain) played with such a ferocity crowds would be split in two, half the room would stand dead still, jaw open and agog at the sheer simplicity of the volumous guitar rituals they were witnessing while the other have of the room would be looking bored, checking their watches and moaning at how ‘Prolapse can’t even play properly’.
After they released their first album the band got dumped by their label Cherry Red records, in fact we saw them play in Norwich a few days after they got the news (supported by a very young and drunk Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki) and they were stunned to find out that Cherry Red had dumped ALL their active bands that week to concentrate on their back catalogue. Bassist Scottish Mick (there were two Micks) was gutted as he explained that they were overjoyed at getting signed to the same label that had put out albums by most of their heroes, including The Dead Kennedys.
Prolapse existed in an age before internet was accepted by the common man, which had one very great upside for us fans. Instead of the stagnant and septic email newsletters that we are subjected to by ands these days we used to get sent real newsletters, on paper and everything. They were written with fantastic humour and you always had to take them with a pinch of salt. One issue declared the news that singer Mick had left the band to start sniffing glue. I’m gutted that I’ve lost them all, but I have found one copy, and that’s where the images you see come from.
There was quite a buzz surrounding Prolapse when their lost their record deal with Cherry Red and it wasn’t long before interesting offers started flooding in. The first release the band put out was the utterly bizarre ‘Back Saturday EP’ in 1996. What made this release really special in an age of over polished turgid shitepop is that the label insisted that Prolapse enter the studio without any songs pre-written. Bearing in mind that ‘Back Saturday’ must have been recorded on a tiny budget the time constraints would surely have suffocated most bands, Prolapse carried it off with style. By the bands own admittance they did cheat a little and bring the ten minute long track ‘Flex’ with them to the sessions. Flex was (in their own words) ‘a proper long song, not just a wee one that’s been stretched’. Whilst the album is probably their weakest it still shows how much creativity this band had at their disposal.
Soon afterwards Prolapse released their most accessible work, an album called ‘The Italian Flag’ which propelled the band to worldwide recognition and helped secure some very tasty USA tours with the likes of Sonic Youth. Around this time sadly the newsletters stopped, although to be fair I can’t remember if they stopped or I stopped getting them as a result of moving out of my parent’s house!
This was never meant to be an exhaustive history and my tea is nearly ready so I’m going to leap straight to their final album (that I know of). ‘Ghosts of Dead Airplanes’ released in 1999 contains two very strong singles that showed Prolapse still had the power to punch with pop really hard. More use was made of Linda’s vocals and this shows the band experimenting more with what was at their disposal in the studio. I wouldn’t dare say this album shows the band losing their way a bit, but there are moments in the album that seem a little lost in comparison with earlier works.
I haven’t got a clue what Prolapse are up to now, I’d like to think that they have released another couple of albums and I just haven’t found out yet. I didn’t find out about ‘Ghosts of Dead Airplanes’ until a couple of years after it had been released. I have spent hours trying to hunt the band down online but Google searches for ‘Prolapse’ bring up a lot of very wrong results, don’t even try an image search! If anyone out there does know any more than me about what they are up to now please for the love of gravy let me know!
To summarise: Prolapse probably had a stronger influence on the way I write than any other band I’ve (yet) heard. Like Dylan, Velvet Underground, and Punk showed previous generations, Prolapse showed me that ideas and creativity is always more important than how fancy your playing ability is. You’ll notice that I haven’t actually made much of an effort to describe what Prolapse sound like, this is partly due to my laziness but more importantly because I want you to discover Prolapse for yourselves with as few preconceptions as possible. Oh, and ‘Beat Motel’ zine is named after the second track on the first Prolapse album, just in case you were wondering!