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Albums Of The Week: Wild Billy Childish & CTMF | Where the Wild Purple Iris Grows

The prolific British garage-punk is in peak form on this raw-boned, raucous set.

Truth be told, I’m a bit late to the party on this one — it came out a few weeks back and snuck right past me. But hey, better late than never, right? Especially with an album this good — prolific British singer-guitarist Billy Childish is in peak form on this collection of raucous, raw-boned garage-punk nuggets. It’s worth the wait, trust me.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Billy Childish – musician, poet, painter and writer — shows no sign of slowing down. The last 12 months have seen him record a “career in a year” with The William Loveday Intention, battle off a debilitating COVID infection and revisit his punk roots with CTMF. We asked him a few questions about the latest, and possibly greatest CTMF album.

Your records with The William Loveday Intention, exploring lyric-led-folk ‘n’ roll have been well received over the last year. With that band you’re aiming to do a “career in a year.” What made you want to make a CTMF album in the midst of it?
I think you must be confusing me with somebody else. I’ve heard some of The William Loveday recordings, and they sound great but the group is nothing to do with me. But we did record a track with CTMFBob Dylan’s Got A Lot To Answer For.

For the uninitiated how does a CTMF album differ from a WLI album?
Easy. They are very different groups, apart from William Loveday poaching a few of our group members and covering a few of my old songs, that is. Also the WLI record in the same studio but there the similarities end.

The album opens with the title song Where The Wild Purple Iris Grows. What inspired the song?
This is about a river on the fens long ago. The last of the traditional eel catchers, and the wild iris growing on the fenland banks.

She Was Wearing Tangerine looks back at your time working as a hospital porter. It’s difficult to think of anyone else who uses their life as source material in such an open and honest way. Why is it important for you to be able to do that?
It must come from my writing confessional prose which I’ve done for 40 last years. The truth must out!

You’ve done a new version of Thee Headcoats track Come Into My Life on this record. What made you want to revisit that song?
That actually goes back to Thee Mighty Caesars. I like to see if my muscles still work at 60 as well as they did at 25.

The closing song The Same Tree has some of my favourite lyrics on the record — laughing dogs, rolling fog, dwarves, giants, cats eyes, drinking tea etc. What’s the inspiration behind that one?
This is actually an old Headcoats song for which I have great affection. Before i started writing confessional poetry I used to write nonsense rhymes. In 1977 i was a big fan of Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Edward Lear, and nursery rhymes in general. I still have a soft spot for nonsense verse. Strange truths can emerge when the mind is set free, (though not reliant on drugs).

The previous CTMF album was Last Punk Standing. I think it’s fair to say you’ve earned that title. How do you keep up your enthusiasm and desire to make new music?
Ah, that’s not my title, it was a genuine question — “Who’ll be the last punk standing?” I was likening to some of my loves in that song — Leadbelly’s Roberta and BuzzcocksSpiral Scratch.

The album cover features a picture of you looking happy and enjoying a cigar. What constitutes a decent smoke?
When I was in the dockyard, 46 years ago, I smoked a clay pipe with the Balkan Sabranie mixture. That is no more. In my 20s I smoked Players Weights. Now I occasionally partake in a pipe with a near match for that the late great Balkan Sabranie. Otherwise on a special opening I will enjoy a Montecristo No 2.

I know you’re selective about the number and nature of gigs you do these days, but are there any plans to play a live show soon?
There’s always a possibility, as Miss Poppins says — “When the wind is in the east, mist coming in, like something’s brewing and about to begin. Can’t put my finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.”