MECANO performing live for Dutch radio station KRO on October 14 1980
The story of Mecano starts with a painting, made in 1977 by founder Dirk Polak after finding an old booklet belonging to a Meccano construction box, as fabricated and sold in the thirties.
While scanning the booklet, Dirk was struck by a vision of a world built out of Meccano, in painting, sculpture and even lyrics and music.
In the years before Lego existed, Meccano was very popular amongst parents, as they believed that Meccano was not just a toy, but an educative tool for schoolboys with technical abilities.
An average box consisted of iron strips, wheels and plates with holes in it, based upon half an inch distance in between.
It was designed “for the engineer of tomorrow” and patented in 1901 by Frank Hornby, who advertised it in the swollen tone that colored the first decades of the century and promised membership of “the Meccano Guild” and “unlimited
possibilities as the system itself”.
The examples in the instruction booklet set Dirk to paint his Meccano figures, surrounded by surrealistic landscapes and interiors.
In those days punk was booming and Dirk thought it was time to start a band and together with Pieter Kooyman and a few hired guns he recorded Face Cover Face, b/w Fools as Mecano Ltd. for the “No Fun” label.
But Dirk wanted a real band and so he asked Ton Lebbink to be the drummer.
Ton, who was a bouncer at the famous venue Paradiso in Amsterdam and thus knowing everbody on the scene, immediately introduced the brothers Tejo and Cor Bolten, who also worked at Paradiso,
Tejo as floor-manager and Cor, who was a bouncer too were standing right next to him as he spoke and the band was formed in the blink of an eye. Before that, Dirk was close with Pieter, who was in the short lived “God’s heart attack” and also “The Helmettes” and had a single out that was produced by Dirk and so Mecano showed up with 2 guitar players.
Another advantage of Ton and the Bolten brothers, beside their musical abilities, was, that they had unlimited access to Paradiso, the best rehearsing place a band could think of and they started experimenting and putting the music
together, mainly based on the ideas of Dirk and the Bolten brothers.
Emerging from the punk-era, Mecano is best described as new wave, leaving raw punk behind, adding poetry and remarkable arrangements, colored with unusual guitar harmonies, combining Allen Ravenstine-like squeeks with time experiments,
sonicly floating as one, with brashness and provocation, converting into an ashtonishing electric blend.
Dirks’ lyrics, influenced by such artists as Andre Breton, Paul Eluard and above all Russian poet Maiakovski, are overall cryptic and along the way Dirk added his own grammar like “lack of joie de vivre” or “globeold”.
In the summer of ’79 Mecano made their stage debut and began touring the alternative circuit. Later they toured France and their ’81 Paris concert had an enthousiastic press in the France Soir, their high intensity performance in Reims
left a huge impression on the audience.
Early 1980 newly founded Torso Records had released the mini-lp Untitled and in that same year Subtitled, both nowadays reaching high prices amongst collectors.
The next year Torso released two singles, Escape the Human Myth b/w History Landmark and Robespierre’s Remarks b/w Room for Two, heading for hunters to collect.
After that the band split up, to be reunited in 1982 without Ton Lebbink and Pieter Kooyman and a smaller size Mecano started recording Autoportrait, which came out early ‘83 and on which Pieter Kooyman is present on Suggestive Sleep and
To Life’s Reunion.
At last the Mecano files have been opened and the recordings were professionally remastered by Cor and Tejo Bolten, resulting in exellent sound quality.
This double cd has all of Mecano’s studio-recordings. Also including live recordings which were never been issued before.
Here you can hear them performing live for KRO Radio for the programme Rocktempel.
01 Robespierre’s Re – Marx
02 Prosterity Chant
03 Dissident Lament
05 Iron I an Eye
06 Escape The Human Myth
Line up :
Dick Polak – vocals
Pieter Kooijman – guitar
Tejo Bolten – bass
Ton Lebbink – drums
Cor Bolten – guitar, keyboards
Mecano a formed by Dick (Dirk) Polak and Pieter Kooyman, influenced by the British punk rock scene.
The single Face Cover Face is released on the band’s own No Fun label.
The brothers Theo (Tejo) and Cor Bolten and drummer Ton Lebbink replace the studio musicians with whom Polak and Kooyman have been working so far.
The band’s sound evolves more into the direction of British wave, especially Joy Division. Dick Polak starts the indie label Torso.
April sees the release of the five-track mini-LP Untitled, which is clearly influenced by surrealism, Dadaism and French and Russian literature, especially Mayakovski.
For the title track theyeven make use of an unfinished poem that Mayakovski wrote shortly before he died.
Both Untitled and the mini-LP Subtitled, which is released six months later, earn good reviews from the Dutch music press.
The success of these albums enable Mecano to go on a tour through Europe.
The single Escape The Human Myth is released on the Torso label.
Early in the year negotiations take place to combine the two mini-LPs into one album that is to be released on the US market only.
The band releases another single on the Torso label. It is a much lighter mix of the rather moody Robespierre’s Re-Marx.
When touring through France conflicts arise within the band.
Ton Lebbink pursuits a solo career and the other band members keep themselves occupied with various musical projects.
Dick decides to reform Mecano.
Theo and Cor Bolten and Pieter Kooyman (sometimes) join him, but Ton Lebbink decides not to.
Although reformed they are not performing anymore. Between May and November Mecano is in the studio for recordings of the new album Autoportrait.
1983 – 2002
Autoportrait is released in February on Torso. The dark wave sound has been replaced by a new sound and the result is an extremely varied album.
Some of the songs remind of the US group Tuxedomoon.
Despite good reviews, however, Mecano decide to leave it here and call it quits.
In 1986 the Frenchman Pascal Bussy releases the Mecano compilation CD Titled, which is actually 1983’s compilation LP Retitled plus some bonus tracks.
In 1996 Lazy Doc Records releases a second compilation CD: The Half Inch Universe: Complete Works ’78-’82.
In 2002 the ‘definitive version’ of the Mecano anthology 2-CD The ½”Universe is released on the Mutantjasz label.
Polak and the Ensemble van de Zilveren Eeuw release a Dutch-language solo album (Wonder van de Liefde),which includes guest contributions by the likes of Theo Bolten and Hans Dagelet(Dutch actor).
Snake Tales For Dragon is the first new Mecano album after 22 years.
The album is released on the band’s own Mutant Jasz label.
The album contains an ode to the late dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who got murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist in November 2004.
Release of a new album called THOSE REVOLUTIONARY DAYS
Check out http://www.mecano.ws/ for more details.
ALL INFO SNATCHED FROM THE INTERNET !
One funny detail from my hand , though !
One day on a VPRO radio show, guest Stephen Fellows (Comsat Angels) was asked to react to a Mecano song.
His honest reaction was : “I can’t make head or tails of what they are singing. Is this supposed to be English, or…….? ”
Source : FM > Cassette Audacity > CD WAVE > Flac 8
Another one from the box of old tapes !