I’ve been thinking about television programmes which tell the stories of students at Sixth Form Colleges. I remember reading that “Skins” portrayed life as Sixth Formers wanted it to be but “The Inbetweeners” portrayed life as it really was. “The Inbetweeners” showed four boys dealing with friendship, male bonding, lad culture, and an inability to find a girlfriend. “Skins” explored storylines such as dysfunctional families, mental illness, sexuality, gender, death and bullying, with each episode switching the focus from character to character. The teenagers in Skins were impossibly attractive and hedonistic. In Series One And Two, Nicholas Hoult played Tony. He had previously appeared as the boy in “About A Boy” with Hugh Grant and he now has a successful film career, including “Hank” in The X-Men trilogy. Dev Patel, who later starred in “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Lion”, also started his acting career in “Skins”.
I quite like it when characters in “Skins” go to clubs late at night and the place is rammed with people dancing, strobes flashing, drugs are being consumed like sweets and loud electronic dance music is playing. I suppose I quite like these scenes because they are so alien to anything I have experienced – like scenes from a science fiction film. However, this doesn’t mean that I like listening to this music at home but does anyone?
Shane Meadows is a director, screenwriter and actor. he is probably most well known through his film “This Is England” and the three sequels (“This Is England 86”, “This Is England 88” and “This Is England 90”). Each of these films starred Vicky McClure who plays Kate Fleming in “Line Of Duty”. He was the leading actor in his first film was called “Small Time”. When considering what music he could use in this film, he remembered a guy he had met at a party in Manchester called Gavin Clark who had a remarkably soulful voice and wrote great songs. In order to make the music for the film, Gavin Clark formed Sunhouse who subsequently released a magnificent album called “Crazy On The Weekend” in 1998. After Sunhouse split, Gavin Clark formed Clayhill and they released two albums and a couple of EPs between 2003 and 2007.
Shane Meadows kept in touch with Gavin Clark and made a documentary film about him in 2007. By this time, Gavin Clark was struggling with alcoholism but he managed to contribute some great vocals to albums by UNKLE who were an electronic “trip-hop” group. Two members of UNKLE are Pablo Clements and James Griffith and they formed a group in Brighton called Toydrum, recording electronic music. They wrote and produced the music for “This Is England 90” and in 2014 they started a musical project which they called Evangelist. They invited Gavin Clark to be their vocalist but before the resultant album “Evangelist” was released, Gavin Clark died, aged 46, due to breathing problems associated with alcoholism.
“Know One Will Ever Know” doesn’t sound like my sort of music at all. Musically, it seems to be straight out of a club scene from “Skins” but what sets it apart is Gavin Clark’s soulful vocals which are in complete contrast to the electronic hip-hop dance beat music which propels the song forward. It’s very unusual.
“God Song” starts with a prominent bass and Gavin Clark’s vocals, before the synths kick in and his distorted voice becomes more and more manic as he sings “Obviously I, obviously I, obviously I, I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming.” Played at a normal volume, this is good. Played at an eardrum bursting volume, I’m assuming that consuming any drug would seem like a natural thing to do.
“The Unbeliever (I’m Never Wrong)” has gorgeous vocals from Gavin Clark. The song starts with an acoustic guitar and the lyrics launch into an attack on someone who has a materialistic life style which will not lead to happiness. “You want the truth – I’ll give it you straight. You’ll burn alive with all the money you make. A house in the country – a comfortable life. Your children are scarred and so is your wife. I’m right. I’m never wrong.” The song builds, more synthesisers kick in as Gavin Clark repeats “gonna make it happen” over and over. Does he want this life or is he afraid of it?
“Whirlwind Of Rubbish” is a complete contrast. Gavin Clark is waiting for a girl outside a station with just a whirlwind of rubbish for company. His voice is so desperate, doom laden and down that it almost fades into nothing as he sings “the old life is over”.