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The Mekons

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Leeds, United Kingdom

The Mekons are a / band. They are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk bands (rivaled in both categories only by The Fall).

Leeds University art students Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh formed the Mekons in 1977, taking the band’s name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950s-1960s comic Dan Dare (printed in the Eagle). The band first gained widepread popularity with the single “Never Been in a Riot,” a satirical take on the Clash’s “White Riot.” For several years the loose-knit band played noisy, bare-bones post-punk in the vein of fellow Leeds students Gang of Four. Yet Langford and Greenhalgh never hewed closely to genre conventions, and by the mid-80s (now augmented by vocalist Sally Timms and violinist Susie Honeyman) they began to experiment with musical styles derived from traditional folk and country. 1985’s watershed Fear and Whiskey, 1986’s The Edge of the World and 1987’s Honky Tonkin’ exemplified the band’s new sound, which built on the innovations of Gram Parsons and blended punk ethos with the minimalist country of Hank Williams. This style, sometimes referred to as “post-modern country”, is a direct forerunner of the alt-country genre represented by bands like Uncle Tupelo.

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