Jon Langford was among the founders of Mekons, one of the institutions of universal rock, and as far as I know he never left the band. Or rather, hands and feet, as he held the sticks for the Leeds band until the mid-80s, when he took over guitars and vocals.
Mekons are cool, everyone knows (or should know) that, and one day we’ll come back here to talk about them. But today the talk is about ‘the other’ Langford group, equally seminal but much less talked about, the Three Johns.
Of course, anyone willing to delve into the many affluents of post-punk has already come into contact with the three Joãos, but today while listening The world by storm – his second album – I thought that maybe not all PCP readers had that opportunity. Or maybe they just play “Lucy in the rain”, classics from São Paulo basements from when I still frequented them, so I decided it would be a good idea to provide this meeting between them and you. But then I was in doubt about which album to put on the wheel.
Any of the Three Johns albums is worth a post, from first to last. Then I remembered a compilation released in 2015 called Volumewhich compiles the aforementioned Wold by stormyour predecessor Atom drum bop (out of ’84) plus all the band’s singles and B-sides plus another batch of live tracks, 12 inches and so on, in a great musical compendium of what they did between 1982 and 1987. And that’s no small feat.
The select is a portrait of Jon Langford, John Hyatt, John Brennan and their drum machine in this period; of their verve as leftist as that of Mekons himself and fellow countrymen Gang of Four (without the seriousness), of their sound experimentation that at times resembles them somewhat to Bauhaus, at times to PIL and at times puts them close to the dance floors of the so-called ‘ disco-punk’.
By the way, speaking of sound experimentation, maybe – just maybe – Langdon kept Three Johns in parallel with Mekons as a way to ‘escape’ from the paths followed by his original band in the eighties, when they released albums (celebrated by critics) in which, well, let’s say embraced other influences, especially country.
And they got boring as fuck.
Ramblings or tastes aside, the thing is that Three Johns is too cool, for me even more than Mekons, so much so that in 1990 – when nothing else was expected from them – they pulled out of the hat a last dark record and as abrasive as everything else that have always done, called Eat your sons🇧🇷 But this one, as well Death of everrything & more these are other chapters in the story of the three Joãos that we will tell on a future journey through the guys’ music. For today we stop here. End of transmission.
Listen on the stalk!
But a stumbling block: