The Mekons – Fast Product – 1978

Never Been In A Riot

32 Weeks / Heart And Soul

Where Were You

I’ll Have To Dance On My Own

Inspired by punk, The Mekons formed in late 1976 around a core of fine art students from Leeds University including Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh. Fired up by the DIY aesthetics of punk they took their rudimentary musical skills and decided to make a bit of a racket but with a more humourous bent to the lyrics.

Their first single ‘Never Been In A Riot’ was a scabrous dig at one of punk’s untouchables, The Clash – who were perceived as fiercely right-on in their thinking – and their clarion call to revolution: ‘White Riot’ . Released to acclaim in early 1978 it was followed by “Where Were You”, whose ramshackle charms led to some favourable press and the band signed to Virgin Records.

The debut album “The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strnen” came a year later, its title – a reference to the infinite monkey theorem – clearly showing that The Mekons weren’t to be lumped in with some of the more moronic elements of punk and the new wave that followed.

However, despite further records they were unable to match the shambling charm of their early work and they came to a halt in 1982 only to surface later in the decade as pioneers of what we now term alt country or Americana. The band continue on an ad hoc basis to this day, having gone through many lineups but still featuring Langford and Greenhalgh.

  1. luggy
    September 25, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Great singles. Another early song of theirs that I loved was ‘Letters in the Post’, think they only did it on a Peel session.

  2. Martin C
    Martin C
    September 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for this, was beginning to despair if I’d ever hear ‘Riot’ or ‘Have to Dance’ again, top stuff. Shame about their later releases…

  3. rich kid
    rich kid
    September 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    well we all went out and bought it but hey ‘riot’ was unlistenable then and it is now. Much like dare i say it most of Crass’s stuff…We got that for them fab anarcho poems.
    Still, great archives

  4. alistairliv
    September 25, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I was waiting at the bar – where were you? I have a very ancient tape of songs played at Puppy Mansions (Westebere) and the Mekons/ Where were you is on it…but it has an ultra annoying gap on it. If I had been able to think forward 25 years or so no doubt I could have got a copy from Pete at Small Wonder. But lacking such hindsight I didn’t … but now I can here it again in all its splendour. Excellent!

  5. Martin C
    Martin C
    September 26, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Unlistenable? You’re having a tin bath, right? “Never Been in a Riot” = ‘PUNK’. Wearing a watch, enjoying ‘cake’, liking your mum, Flux of Pink Indians turning ‘Tube Disaster’ into “serious comment”, supporting a*s*n*l, Philip Roth = ‘HIPPIE’

  6. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    September 26, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    ‘Where Were You’, a real Puppy Mansions favourite.

    Excellent then, and still excellent now.

  7. sean
    September 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    If I remember correctly Peel played ‘Where Were You’ for the first time the same night he played The Users ‘Kicks In Style’ both hugely memorable and both sounded so good even on a transistor radio under the bedclothes.
    That gradually growing drumroll and insistent riff that opened the song before it bursts into a kind of mutant reggae/ska stills sets my heart racing nowadays.
    Another classic released around the sametime was the magnificent debut from Edinburgh’s (if memory serves me right) The Scars ‘Horrowshow / Adult/ery’. My preference was always ‘Adult/ery’.

  8. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    September 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    hippie/punk . .From what i remember about the mekons all their fans were infact, mods. Never did get that

  9. Nic
    September 29, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Great stuff – their early shambolic recordings are always worth a spin…
    (The singles still pop up on ebay with some regularity if anyone ‘needs’ a copy)…

    By the way, if you haven’t heard it, grab a copy of ‘Super Roots 7’ by Boredoms: it’s basically an extended cover of ‘Where Were You’…

    1st Peel session was a classic: “Dan Dare: Oh yeah!”

  10. Sam
    October 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Interesting biog regarding The Mekons and their Leeds University Art and Language roots in the excellent book ‘Rip it up and Start Again’.

  11. tony b
    tony b
    December 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    check this out!

    The Mekons ‘Where Were You’

    with guest vocalist..

    If you aint seen this before then you’ll love it.

    Im presuming that everyone here knows him.

  12. Dave Sez
    Dave Sez
    March 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    For all, if you’d like more Mekons, there is a vast live archive covering 1980 through to the present day at:

    For Sean, if you haven’t got the Users or Scars singles as mp3s, let me know here and (if our gracious host permits), I’ll post links here.

    Cheers, Dave Sez.

  13. Dave Sez
    Dave Sez
    March 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    PS: forgot to point out that the Mekons archives contains .shn files not mp3s, cheers, Dave Sez.

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