Ladies and gentlemen let us raise a glass tonight to all those road warriors, Transit van dogs and rockers who play over 300 gigs a year, release a record or two but never quite make it through to the promised land of private jets, lingerie model girl/boyfriends, performing to 250,000 baying Brazilians and parties featuring nude midgets toting trays of illegal substances so exclusive that we, poor mortals, have never even heard their names. Tonight I’ve picked Mournblade Time’s Running Out a mini-LP from 1985 that I picked up in July 1988. It was the 32nd LP I ever bought, sandwiched in between Dark Side of The Moon and Foxtrot, which is one of the things that makes it interesting to me.
I started collecting records because I got so into Queen that I wanted to own them all, from there I branched out into other bands, but obviously just the ones I’d heard of before, so all mainstream, all major label artists. I had no real understanding that there was an underground, or indie-label scene, just presuming that all the good stuff got snapped up and released ‘properly’. Back in 1986, my uncle Alistair knowing I liked Floyd a lot, gave me a taped copy of an LP he was playing a lot which was Time’s Running Out. His copy was all signed and dedicated to him, because he’d met them and hung out with them when they’d played Taunton, or Weston-Super-Mare*, which I thought was just amazing because to my mind bands played Wembley Arena and travelled everywhere by helicopter with a 16 person entourage. I can still remember the tape cover because he used a gothic script Letraset which was a nice touch.
I was a fantasy geek and had consumed all of Michael Moorcock’s output by this point** so I was well aware of the significance of the name Mournblade (brother sword to Elric of Melniborne’s sword Stormbringer^) and I liked the way that this LP seemingly translated all this into fantasy/sci-fi terms. Check out the back story; Bless the Blade!
Listening to this in 2013 I immediately think ‘Hawkwind, Hawkwind, Hawkwind’, but back in 1988 I had no such frame of reference and I just lapped it up. The spacey whooshing noises (God, I dig spacey whooshing noises!!), the pretentious bits in the lyrics and the fact that Mournblade were a very good rock band, with a real bite in places. Just witness the hard rock of ‘Sidewinder’, with its appropriately jet-propelled riff, it still sounds really exhilarating to me. The heavier tracks like ‘Hunter Killer’ and ‘Titanium Hero’, just worked for me back then and I still like them now. Whereas I liked the escaping through a beer can, Edward Lear referencing, lyrics of ‘Battlezone’.
Listening back now I recognize that what limits Time’s Running Out in places is what usually does for bands in their position, cheap production values and that really is no criticism of Mournblade at all; it is very rare that a band can make a million dollar sounding LP without that spend. Not that they make a bad fist of it, it is just that certain bits sound a bit thin whereas others could do with a bit of sonic fattening (sorry if I’m getting too technical here folks!), but I guess that Flicknife Records couldn’t afford 4 weeks of Mutt Lange out in the Bahamas. So Mournblade had to push on through to the other side relying on their road-honed chops and force of will.
I remember that the band broke up a few years after Time’s Running Out and became a Motörhead-style metal trio, who played a couple of times and then faded away.
When I was looking at this LP again I looked up Mournblade for the first time ever and this really rather good website I really would recommend a look, particularly the various tales of rock and roll silliness they got involved in. They seem to have been stalwarts of the Stonehenge (pictured on the back cover of the LP) free festival scene^^ and the Hawkwind links are detailed in full. I was really pleased to see that amidst all the vast tracts of the internet dedicated to nonsense and porn, there was a little corner that would be forever Mournbladed.
When the history of Rock is eventually carved onto the side of the mystic mountains of Amruth-Baal, by gigantic totally well-stacked Valkyrie wearing nothing but skimpy chainmail bikinis, it shall be remembered that Mournblade also served.
And here’s a taste:
*home town of Ritchie Blackmore, not that it’s relevant.
**apart from the Jerry Cornelius books, I could never get on with those.
^I could go on about it’s capacity to drink the souls of the wounded, the fact that it is in fact a trapped demon and had a certain corrupt free will of its own leading to all manner of inadvertent betrayal and self-loathing on the part of its wielder, but I’m trying to pass myself off as a ‘normal’ these days and I don’t want to frighten all the hot chicks away.
^^note for overseas chums, free festival celebrating the Summer solstice witness to some horrifically heavy-handed policing during late 80’s, courtesy of our little-mourned then prime minister.