Saturday, 21 April 2012

SALT : Issue 10

When I got back from Germany last weekend, I was very pleased to find that the new issue of SALT was waiting for me on my doormat. Being approximately as old in years as it is now in number, I believe, SALT is produced by one Kevin McCaighy whose enthusiasm for all that he writes about, both thoughtfully and in depth, is extremely infectious and always an absolute joy to cast the old peepers across. Keen to scour the darker, often unexplored corners of popular culture, Kevin draws his subject matter from all areas of his far reaching and highly individual tastes, each issue reflecting what's turning him on from the current crop, as well as unearthing histories long buried in the ever expanding morass which is popular culture, winkling out some fascinating and highly engaging interviewees in the process. Drawn towards the obscure, experimental and compendious, regardless of trends, SALT is the expression of a genuine and tireless investigator who has a compulsion to share his enthusiasms with an audience no matter how small that may be. He's a good friend of German Bite, too, and most definitely a kindred spirit.

For me, this issue has as its centrepiece eleven pages of A4 devoted to an interview with Steve Parry who talks of his early influences, move down to London from the north in the late seventies and the milieu into which he fell, this including the young Matt Johnson then laying the foundations for The The. He also tells the story of his band Neu Electric / Neu Electrikk who released two 7" singles - "Lust of Berlin"(1979) and "Cover Girl"(1980) - but remain most famous for their contribution of a track to Stevo's "Some Bizzare Album" released at the dawn of 1981 and which, as we are repeatedly made aware, gave very early exposure to Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Blancmange and the aforementioned The The, as well as other more experimental artists like Eric Random, almost rans like B-Movie and Naked Lunch and assorted nutcases such as Blah, Blah, Blah. Keen to drain every drop of info as he possibly can through his questioning, Kevin has managed to produce an essential, unique and detailed insight into the period which would otherwise most definitely have remained unearthed.

Elsewhere, he interviews James Nice of LTM Recordings who also wrote the fantastically comprehensive labour of love about Factory Records that is "Shadowplayers" a few years ago, this being one of the very best music books ever in my view and so beautifully packaged, too. Another kindred spirit, methinks. Other interviews include a vintage piece from 2001 with The Minders who, I must confess, were a new name to me until now but such is Kevin's enthusiasm that I shall going off to do some researching very shortly, as well as a few questions answered by my very self about German Bite and its origins. This is also coupled with pieces about Maher Shalal Hash Baz and an extremely heartfelt piece about how Kevin fell in love with Royal Trux and why they remain his favourite band to this very day. It ends with a short obituary of the abstract painter John Hoyland RA, who died last year, written by Katharine Simpson, one of whose paintings is reproduced, albeit, unfortunately, not in colour within this issue. Overall, it's a totally superb read and one I keep picking up and browsing through again and again, even though I have read the majority of its contents at least three times already.

It costs £2.50 or $5 and Kevin can be contacted by email at . I don't think he gets a tremendous number printed up, though, so it may be worth dropping him a line sooner rather than later and, whilst you're at it, may I suggest asking him if he's got any copies of Issue 9 left which contained a fantastic piece about the aforementioned "Some Bizzare Album" for which he interviewed one Beverley Glick, she once called Betty Page and a champion of all things electronic through her writing in "Sounds" and the short-lived grown-ups alternative to "Smash Hits" called "Noise", this alongside interviews with Pyha, Carla Speed McNeil, 13 and Korperschwache, as well as pieces on Jason Lytle, Grandaddy b-sides and "A Guide to Great (Fairly Inexpensive) Vodka. Getting the picture? Zum Wohl, Kevin!

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