Shepperton, England's tight-throated guitarslinger Dan Melchior is one of those intriguing performers who just sort of seem to have appeared out of nowhere, fully formed and freaked out. Melchior is a wild-eyed misanthrope playing the role of troubadour in a community too busy to take notice, which only inspires the racket to grow louder.
Indeed, it is a glorious racket.
Off-kilter garage-meets-country & western rhythms serve as the fuzzy backdrop for Melchior's shouted vocals and lyrics that are by turn absurd and brilliant. "Me and J.G. Ballard" details something as seemingly mundane (but in fact bitingly clever) as unknowingly shadowing reclusive writer J.G. Ballard through the course of his daily routine. Ballard's always a few steps ahead of Melchior, even buying the last of the peas at the grocery before Melchior has his turn.
The musical slant, combined with Melchior's neurotic lyrics ("Car alarms, sirens and construction sites/Got my ears ringing all day and all night/When I go somewhere where there's peace and quiet/I feel terrified," from "Ladies Underwear and Airline Socks"), and even his nasal vocals, earned positive comparisons to Scotland's similarly-minded Country Teasers. However, whereas the Teasers would continue to lace their records with nods to classic country (including some of the most warped, and oddly touching, covers of Tammy Wynette songs ever committed to tape), Melchior would reveal his own affinity for the sounds of Motown and gritty Americana music.
Although he worked with ex-Headcoatee Holly Golightly on 1997's Painted On, Mechior probably gained his first widespread recognition for his 1998 collaboration with Billy Childish (of the Headcoats and its assorted variations), Devil in the Flesh. A bare-bones acoustic blues affair, Devil in the Flesh is probably the most listener-friendly of Melchior's releases, as it strips away the layers of noise and weirdness that constitute much of his latter solo efforts. However, it also tends to be the least attention-grabbing and innovative of his albums, so there is a trade-off.
Melchior's collaborations with Golightly tend to shuffle past Melchior's typically dark and twisted take on blues and country in favor of Golightly's brighter vision of rootsy, back-porch Americana. The fact that it sounds so authentic is surprising more because they're Brits than because of their past musical endeavors.
Having cut his teeth concocting collaborations with Childish and Golightly, Melchior made his proper debut as a solo artist (with a backing band dubbed the Broke Revue) with Oldtime-Futureshock, an album that is virtually impossible to track down. 1999's Sympathy for the Record Industry sophomore effort, This Love Is Real, is more readily available and finds the group establishing the twisted garage-blues sound that would become their trademark.
2000's Instant Love finds Melchior returning to the stripped-down recording style he used with Childish on Devil in the Flesh, as he tears through his songs with an acoustic guitar. The result sounds like it was recorded on a Dictaphone, and although it reaches depths of lo-fi previously known only to fans of Guided by Voices, the low grade sound actually lends the album the air of immediacy of a well-worn cotton-country blues album from the 䀘20s.
Mechior's first release for the seminal In the Red imprint, 2001's Heavy Dirt sounds right at home among that label's other residents (including the Bassholes and Country Teasers) with its fusion of raucous Stooges punk fury and country and blues melancholy. Melchior's grimy voice and writing style are intertwined with a sinister air that keeps things from drifting into any sort of bland/hokey Jon Spencer territory.
While Heavy Dirt was a solid album, Mechior seemed to finally settle into his own skin with 2002's Bitterness, Spite, Rage & Scorn (again on In the Red and again with the Broke Revue). Bitterness at last fully integrates Melchior's affinity for everything from Fred McDowell and Skip James to Phil Spector's wall-of-sound and R&B (check out the swinging riffs of "Gatecrasher" and "The Cruel Pang of Beauty"). A more playful album than previous releases dared to be, Bitterness often bounces along with bits 䀘60s rock glee, only slightly obscured by the obligatory fuzz, as on "(In) Negative" with its swirling mass of guitars and nearly hypnotic piano refrain, and "Beast of the Field" with its gruff approximation of the Lovin' Spoonful.
Although Melchior's releases have continued to evolve and improve, mainstream recognition has eluded him (and most artists of the genre) despite the rise of tamer outfits like the Hives and White Stripes who carry the garage rock banner. ~ Karen E. Graves, All Music Guide
Melchior was born in Chertsey, England in 1972. Ever since then he’s
been struggling to make himself understood through some form of
make a leap of several fairly uneventful years (musically anyway) he
formed his first band of any merit, with his friend Darrel Gardiner on
bass and his (then) girlfriend Vicky Hill on dustbins (metal garbage
cans) in 1995. The band was called ‘The Loaded Souls’. ( This band can
be heard on the last two tracks of the cd version of ‘The Covert Stomp’
released on Hate records- Italy)
leaving In the red the Broke Revue made an unfortunate move and got
themselves embroiled in a bizarre farrago with a local record label,
which has still not been resolved. The band spent one year recording a
double album for the aforementioned label entitled ‘O Clouds Unfold’
which has still not seen the light of day. (I can’t really go into
specifics- as they cause certain parties a great deal of mental and
Dan continues to write prolifically, as his tastes broaden and mutate, so does his output. His wish to push his music into new areas continues unabated....just wait for phase four! - the pink explosion (as he calls it)
David Balthazar NYC 2005.