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Track By Track: Brother Lee - Discotheque Blues Brother Lee talks us through his new LP

Track By Track: Brother Lee - Discotheque Blues

Brother Lee talks us through his new LP

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: March, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

"The song is basically saying that whatever happens, I'll always be there for the one special person in my life because she is everything." - Brother Lee (Mountains)
Discotheque Blues (Dime Records) is Brother Lee's follow up to last years' critically acclaimed Seventh Season. 2022's Brother Lee is still working fast, a singular high-risk auteur, alighting where he dares, landing with an unorthodox and prosaic doxology - for the outsider, for the rest of us. Brother Lee might be pissed that after having contributed this Track by Track, that my contribution here is to mention Bobby Gillespie, Anton Newcombe and Nick Drake all in one sentence, like those guys, Brother Lee takes an equally singular path down... in Brother Lee's case, one Radio Shack mic at hand, "Everything on the album is where you'd need it to be."
Mountains is where I live. I used to live in the city and was always trying to find somewhere to hide, but there’s no point now. You’re still always there. The song is basically saying that whatever happens, I’ll always be there for the one special person in my life because she is everything. You've gotta live in hope. I mean, I might be a mess but I’m doing my best, y’know?

I admit, on paper, the lyrics look totally random, but every line is linked to an actual event. Like pulling hustles when I was homeless in London, or seeing a leopard print tourbus at a pop festival in France, or trying to use a drinks tray as a surfboard on my friends waterlogged roof. It’s autobiographical but it's not in chronological order. And yeah, my shoes really were loose ‘cause they were a size too big, but at least they were free. White Converse. I found them in a park around the corner from where the Apple Boutique used to be. I need some new shoes now. Maybe I should go back there?

Okay, so for a year I was signed to a label and I did a ton of writing and recording with artists for them and I got screwed over on the publishing and royalties. Which is nothing new, it happens to musicians all the time. I pretty much only owned the clothes I stood up in, but I was working for folks with flash cars, and nice houses, and fancy-ass lifestyles on company expense accounts. I’m uncredited on a bunch of records that I should be getting paid for to this day. And my album got shelved too. But ultimately it’s first world problems. All you can do is keep moving forward. C’est la vie and all that.

Sometimes you just have to let things happen the way they’re going to happen. "An overdub has no choice", you know? It’s only a moment, they all are. I enjoyed playing the organ on this song. First take. Most of the album is first take. When I was in Discodor we'd do take after take. And then remix after remix. I swear, those records took ages. And that's fine, those records sound great to me, but I prefer to work faster.

Things affect everyone differently, I guess. But I remember everything about this day clear as crystal, including what was playing on the radio, how I'd barricaded the doors, where the day finished up, and the exact colour of the sky. It’s all here. I wrote an arrangement for strings and woodwind, but it would have been impossible to capture that on my little 4-track cassette recorder, so I used Hammond organ, piano and melodica instead. I still hear the arrangement in my head, even when the song isn't playing.

Bill Ryder-Jones sums it up perfectly: “Whatever you need to do to get through the day is fine. Just do it with the thought that one day you’ll be able to be more than someone who just copes”.

When bad times are the best times you’ve got, then you know you’re in the shit. But things might change, so you’ve got to live in hope. And if hope is all you’ve got, you’ve got to cling to it like a motherfucker.

Another song of hope. If you look after me I will look after you. Fair’s fair, right?

I was on tour one night in a hotel room in the small hours, hallucinating, and I had a major panic attack. This was pre-cellphones and I didn't have anyone I could talk to, and even if I'd had someone there might not have been any answers. I broke some bones in my foot and had to go to A&E and get fixed up. The medication helped. It was summer and in the daytime people would take the piss out of my mohair scarf but all my clothes had been stolen from a launderette so I didn't have a lot else to choose from. I knew I wasn't gonna finish the tour anyway and that was totally fine by me.

When I was in The Prescriptions, sometimes gig promoters or venues used to ask us if we had any special rider requirements. And we'd ask for Turkish delight and glue, although nobody ever gave us either of them. People probably thought we were joking but we weren't. We'd do anything. Anyway, the title has nothing to do with the song and neither do I now. But that's okay. It’s done.
Essential Info
Brother Lee's Discotheque Blues (Dime Records) is available now, check on Bandcamp

Founder & Publisher

Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."

Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV

about LamontPaul »»



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