Saturday, 22 July 2017

Ruth's Refrigerator 1990 -1992

Songs, albums, European tours all happened with the band Ruth's Refrigerator. I don't quite know how it all came together but it provided an excellent side project during a time when there were no other members of PO! to play gigs or plan anything significant.

Ruth's Refrigerator l-r Terri Lowe, Ruth Miller, Blodwyn P. Teabag, Alan Jenkins, Robyn Gibson
Main man, Alan Jenkins was in cult 80's band The Deep Freeze Mice and he put out records by various obscure artists. He wrote a letter to me after hearing the flexi on John Peel and invited me to his flat in Leicester to talk about him putting my song 'Appleseed Alley' on a compilation. Then he invited me to sing on some recordings and a band was formed. Before long we were writing songs and drinking lots of very strong coffee.

Alan Jenkins was always intriguing and fun to work with. We had a connection without talking much or touching or anything like that. One of the best aspects of playing music with other people is the spirit of play. Writing songs with a like-minded person creates a world-in-a-bubble that stretches time. Alan and I both liked a songwriting challenge. We would take a title and each write a song to go with it, or we'd take a guitar to the corner of a room with 20 minutes to come up with a song. Sometimes we'd choose a random phrase from a book or newspaper: "When it comes to being a lollipop person..." and both write a song.  "Gosh what a lot of umbrellas" was another like that.

Gro Harlem Brundtland Wants Some Fish

In putting together an album and a tour, Alan gathered various musicians that we were both linked with: Terri Lowe, Blodwyn P. Teabag and Robyn Gibson. We recorded versions of each other's songs, swapped the singers around and brought out clarinets, accordians and all sorts. The title 'Suddenly a Disfigured Head Parachuted'  was chosen in the style of the game consequences with each band member selecting and writing a word on paper. Alan's manic artwork and sleeve notes are very amusing. 
Now reissued :

The best days were probably those where Alan and I just did songwriting, but it soon evolved into group evenings and happenings. There was a soup dinner party where we had five different kinds of soup - all eaten from paper bowls because Alan didn't like washing up. Between 1990 and 1992, I had the greatest of times, although there was a distinct awkwardness between Alan and Terri Lowe of PO! They were very different musically, creatively, socially and in terms of work ethic. This culminated in an end-of-tour argument about whether Terri should have been paid extra for driving the van, and he decided to leave. Since  there was now a chance to do more with my own band, PO! I finished with Ruth's Refrigerator but subsequently missed the creative challenge and friendship that I had lost. 
Ruth's Refrigerator l-r Ruth Miller, Blodwyn P. Teabag, Alan Jenkins, Robyn Gibson, Terri Lowe

During my time in Ruth's Refrigerator, I wrote a few songs for the group, including:

  • Gosh What a Lot of Umbrellas
  • She Lies in State
  • My Head's on Fire
  • The Lollipop Person
  • Exit ....Pursued by Bear