Trains are alright, providing they're empty, run on time and don't smell of chemical toilets. So, most of the time, it's fair to say I don't like trains. Nor do I like the weird upper and lower casing in* iLiKETRAiNS*' name (that took me about 53 seconds to type out correctly). It's a shocking moniker, it really is.
So, it's because of the above reasons and a lack of concentration that the first few listens to 'Spencer Perceval' meant the beauty of the track was missed by your reviewer. If you are lucky enough to hear it, put the kettle on, sit down and listen – this is opera; it's historical musical storytelling that only perhaps The Decemberists and Joanna Newsom could currently match.
First, some background: as some of you will know, Spencer Perceval is the only UK prime minister to have been executed. This single tells the story of the execution from murderer John Bellingham's side, while B-side 'I Am Murdered', unsurprisingly, tells it from that of Perceval.
It's amazing in its scope as it is in its inception. 'Spencer Perceval' is ten minutes of historically epic and bloody, wounded, frankly quite frightening rock music.
Perceval made the rulings that were the spark of the Luddite riots, and Bellingham, an angry merchant seeking government recompense, shot the premier through the chest as he made his way through the lobby of the Commons.
“I will rot a broken man in this green and pleasant land.Your position can't save you now,” chants singer David Martin/Bellingham as he reads the last rites to Perceval before shooting him in the heart and being taken to the gallows himself. All the while a flickering tremor of guitars hangs around in the background like the shocked Westminster crowd. It's so good that you forget how long the bloody thing's been going on for. There's no obvious segmentation either, until a bloodthirsty climax of wrestled guitars.
What utter majesty. What scope, to tackle a 200-year assassination when their contemporaries are singing about taxi rank scraps in Wakefield.
So far removed from mainstream music that you want to don a BR uniform and charge people fares just for listening, 'Spencer Perceval' is astonishing. Just don't expect to hear it on Radio 1.
10Will Dean's Score