There's a time when a poet comes and distils where you live into only a few words. Patrick Lyons is that poet, distilling New Cross and Peckham into just a few words in his new Album, Blue Temper, which is released on May 3rd 2018.
One of the best works on the album, Acre Lane Nights, is a modern-day John Cooper Clarke first-hand account of an urban fox. He's not portrayed as vermin, but as your next door neighbour. Only one who lives by night and is a metaphor for the hidden underbelly of South London life, whether it's the nightlife at the Bussey Building or the cute little fox looking for rats near the bins in the alley. Lyons uses this to show how there's a hidden world in the one you're familiar with. During my explorations of the Metropolis, I discovered many hidden things in plain sight, which made me see London in new ways. This poem's intent is exactly that, especially when its dub-influenced backing makes it more like a beat poem. The beats were about seeing America differently.
Lyons himself is the missing link between Alan Ginsberg, John Cooper Clarke and Lynton Kwesi Johnson. The electronics meets Americana backing is used to great effect on his evocation of New Cross in Water Rats, which laments the death of the legendary New York club CBGB, while celebrating the spirit of New Cross in The Amersham Arms, The New Cross Inn, the now Defunct Montague Arms. Its jazz backing wouldn't be out of place at the South London Soul Train, which makes it an ideal anthem for the south London music scene as a whole. It's the naughty part of London, after all, but one that's under threat of sanitisation as venues are forced to close because of noise complaints. It draws a parallel between south London and Brooklyn or 1970s Bowery, especially as CBGB closed down in a dispute with the landlord, a homeless charity.
In a more serious mode, Lyons has The Thing, a poem inspired by the Federation of American Scientists Doomsday Clock that has the line: "It's two and a half seconds to Midnight and you know it's on its way. It's two and a half seconds to midnight and it could come today"
While not propagandist, he poses the question of how you would turn back the clock to a dub bass line. While this may sound like something that could be on the Nathan Barley soundtrack at first glance, these poems demand repeat listening because The Thing, which is about the sublime, the unspeakable horror of nuclear war. With the possibility that North Korea may flout the non-aggression principle, against Japan and South Korea, it's still relevant today. This is bringing up a question that needs to be asked. When that clock strikes midnight, there are no more parties at The Bussey Building or The Wingmill.
Enjoy this album while there's time, as there's hidden depths in London he's pointing to. Let me know what you found out after listening.