TTW#21 - Cathi Unsworth - Johnny Remember Me
“Johnny Remember Me” written by Cathi Unsworth, as read by:
A: Cathi Unsworth
B: Pete Woodhead
Recorded by Pete Woodhead at Techsmex, London W10 on 18.04.2010
Cathi Unsworth is a writer and editor who lives and works in London. She is the author of three pop-cultural crime novels, Bad Penny Blues, The Singer and The Not Knowing, and the editor of the short story collection London Noir, all published by Serpent's Tail. Cathi has written on music, film, art, fashion and culture for Sounds, Bizarre, BFI Flipside, Mojo and Nude, amongst many others. Her collaborator on this release is Pete Woodhead, an electronic composer who cut his musical teeth as part of O Yuki Conjugate and The Sons of Silence and is now best know for his soundtrack contribution to the hit British zombie movie Shaun of the Dead. Pete and Cathi previously collaborated on the Transmissions Series that are available for free download on www.cathiunsworth.co.uk and continue to conspire on new projects.
Cathi Unsworth writes...
“Johnny Remember Me was originally commissioned by Brighton's Literary Loogster Jay Clifton for his Peripheral Vision series of live screen talks, in which authors were requested to pick a movie and spin off a character or situation from the film into an original short story. Already deep in research for Bad Penny Blues, a novel set between 1959-65 in Ladbroke Grove and Soho, I chose Edmond T Gréville's Beat Girl (1959), set around a swinging beat cellar club in Berwick Street that is populated both by art students and the strippers and their moody bosses from the nitespots of neighbouring Walker's Court. It was the club itself that I chose as my starting point. I had originally wanted a band to appear in the novel and had based The Buccaneers mainly on Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, but with Carlo Little, the drummer from Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages, morphing into my character Fredo Long. As it gradually became apparent that I would never fit the band into the finished tale, I let them take centre stage in this story instead. I have always been somewhat obsessed with the John Leyton song 'Johnny Remember Me', and while researching the life and times of its producer and co-writer Joe Meek for Bad Penny Blues, had pause to wonder why it was that he ended up with Johnny Kidd's band as The Tornados – but without Johnny. The song being so evocative of curses and ghosts, I wove a little urban myth of my own. Here's how it begins…”
“He stood at the back of the room, in a smartly cut pale blue suit, so cleanly shaven his skin still had a rosy glow from the razor’s kiss, thick brown hair set into a shiny pompadour that looked as though it had been set in plastic. His bulbous dark blue eyes darted around the cellar, and he pulled on a cigarette fretfully. For a second it seemed that he was too nervous to come across the floor, but then his eyes became still as they settled on what he was searching for. With a sudden sense of purpose, he walked towards Johnny. And that was when all the trouble started.”
Aquarius Records (US):
Another batch of sonic mysteries from UK tape label The Tapeworm, and if you didn't think the Tapeworm was eclectic already, these two will undoubtedly convince you. Johnny Remember Me is not a band, or really a record, instead, it's actually a book on tape, written by UK author Cathi Unsworth, who has a pretty serious resume (Sounds, Bizarre, Mojo, Uncut, not to mention a handful of novels), and besides writing about music, also writes about crime, but through a pop culture, new music filter, a hip hybrid of bands and artists and gangsters and criminals, which is what you get here. Unsworth is teamed up with musician Pete Woodhead, from the group O Yuki Conjugate, who did the music for awesome Rom-Zom-Com Shaun Of The Dead, for a pretty straight reading of Unsworth's novel Johnny Remember Me.
It's a pretty cool story, rife with pop culture references, loads of music, and yeah, some criminal activities, with Unsworth and Woodhead each tackling the story, both with appropriately thick UK accents, which gives Unsworth's tale the perfect British crime novel vibe.
LIMITED TO 250 COPIES. With killer cover art by Savage Pencil.
Further proof that anything goes when it comes to the Tapeworm series, this latest installment is a short story penned by novellist, crime/noir fiction writer and critic Cathi Unsworth, read by the author herself (on the A-side) and by her musical collaborator Pete Woodhead (on the B-side). Set in 1950s Soho, the tale concerns itself with London's burgeoning rock & roll scene, the seedier, underworld elements of the city and Joe Meek. … Limited to 250 copies.
Vital Weekly (NL):
Cathi Unsworth is a UK novelist of what are called “pop-cultural crime novels”. By invitation she wrote a story on a character from a movie, “Beat Girl” (1959) in this case, and follows him in the nightlife and rock n roll. She reads this story on “Johnny Remember Me”, while on the other side Pete Woodhead (of O Yuki Conjugate, The Sons Of Silence and co-composer of the soundtrack of Shaun Of The Dead) does the same, which somehow eludes me a bit. The cassette is a fine medium for such things, but I rather read from paper and hear great music at the same time.