Shriekback: Nemesis

Shriekback - Nemesis

Uh-oh – I was so focused on getting The Fink Brothers post out in the right order I hadn’t realised that Shriekback’s Nemesis was released in an earlier year than I’d have expected! UPDATE: I’ve found that Nemesis got to Number 94 in the UK charts published on Saturday 1st June 1985 (though according to IMDB the music video was released on the 18th of June) – that would be around the time of the prog with the Glenn Fabry El-women cover (Prog 420), but I’ve missed that so am posting after Prog 428 instead.

Twelve different versions of the single were released, including three different mixes of the actual song, two sizes – 7″ and 12″ – and releases across six different countries/territories – UK, USA, Australia & New Zealand (a single release), Australasia (not the same as Australia & New Zealand, apparently), New Zealand and Australia (separate releases and somehow different to both Australia & New Zealand and Australasia). The song was recorded at Hatfield Polytechnic and mastered at The Town House (Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush). At this point I’m wishing I’d mentioned that Sam Slade’s robotic landlord in Brit-Cit was called Goldhawk…

The tune and lyrics are by Shriekback (David Allen, Barry William Andrews, Martyn Barker and Carl Marsh) and in my opinion have nothing to do with our favourite Warlock. So why have I included this song in my blog? Because whatever inspired the song itself, the video very definitely features not just Nemesis the Warlock, but also has a cameo by Torquemada.

Some time ago the official Shriekback tumblr published a post (a tumble?) about the making and meaning of the music video. Unfortunately it’s a bit scant on the inspirations for the song itself, so I’m going to attempt to interpret what’s in that post. In their words “I decided to conflate the Greek goddess of cosmic retribution with him because, let’s face it, while she embodies an important principle, she doesn’t have a nose like a harpoon”. While this can apply to the video the only connection in the song lyrics themselves is the single name Nemesis.

As a matter of interest, the band Shriekback were formed in 1981 in Kentish Town – so pretty close to where the Thrill-Suckers launched their attack on Earth in 1983

With all this talk of Nemesis the Warlock I should probably mention that Eamonn and I have discussed the series (a couple of times) on the Mega-City Book Club.

After all that – here’s the actual video – first the link to the official Shriekback youtube and then an embedded version of the same (first time I’ve done this in wordpress – I’m not a fan of auto-play, so if it does that after I’ve posted it then this will be the last time as well).

There have been a few covers over the years but the only one I can find right now is Iron Lung Corp from 2013 (I’ll be sure to add any I come across to this post).

Grailpage: as there are so many editions (some of which have different art) I get more of a choice than ‘front of the record sleeve’ or ‘back of the record sleeve’ this time. I’m going to pick the 12″ front cover which has the kind of fish you’d expect to encounter if you were in one of those tiny submarines at the bottom of a sea trench.

Grailquote: tricky – I’ll go for the chorus from David Allen, Barry William Andrews, Martyn Barker and Carl Marsh: “Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals, Everybody happy as the dead come home, Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis, No one move a muscle as the dead come home” – I was tempted by the lines about “breath of reptiles” and evil being “an exact science” but how can I resist a line which rhymes parthenogenesis?

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