Tim Marchman has written something very long about The Mekons over at Deadspin (on the Concourse, whatever that is). It is a history of the band and an attempt to explain why they’re so great (and were so especially in the 80s), by discussing their elpees of that period in Tim’s order of preference.
I thoroughly enjoyed it because I learned some things about the band I didn’t know, there are good funny quotes from the band, and his song choices and clips are excellent and I enjoyed listening to them all.
On the other hand, the idea of convincing someone that a rock band is great because of the way they embody the moral ethos of failure, and embrace it like a lover or a murderer or something like that, seems kind of pretentious and beside the point. The reason a person might get into the Mekons and think about their history and the way they changed over the years and struggled with lack of sales but also wore that proudly as a badge of honor, is because you fell in love with the music. In other words, you heard a song, you went to a show, and it turned out to be one of the best shows you’ve ever seen. That’s when these other ideas start to have some importance.
I mention this because I think if you didn’t like/weren’t interested in the Mekons you might throw your computer at the wall as Marchman goes on and on, like this about the band’s album, Rock ‘n’ Roll:
“This is basically how the whole record plays out, as a very good and very bitter joke; there are reasons why many aficionados claim this is the Mekons’ best record, and why they may be right. They were certainly never tighter, more confident, more focused, or better engineered than they are here; the whole thing is just a straightforwardly great rock and roll record, which they seem to be uncomfortably aware of. It’s hard to think they meant lines like Throw another rock n’ roll song on the fire, or This song … is in a pretended family relationship with the others on this record and on the charts all that sincerely, and while they may have been mocking a gringo military fighting a rock and roll war, you know they had a little sympathy for them, too. The Mekons may not have wanted to be a great rock and roll band, but they were, and perhaps consequently, they were too honest to either moderate their view of rock and roll as an expression of imperial capitalism’s worst impulses or to take it at all seriously.”
Play the damn song! Fortunately he does.