How NOT to write about music – 56. MXMJoY


You may know them better as Maximum Joy, cult funk/post-punk band from Bristol from the early 1980s – peers and equals of Rip, Rig And Panic and Pigbag, born from the ashes of two extraordinarily powerful Bristol collectives, The Pop Group and The Gl*xo Babies, and to my way of hearing the equals of even the mighty post-Slits collective New Age Steppers.

Bam! There is a whole raft of references, a whole slew of treasure trails for you to up and follow if so minded. It’s only you yourself who will be missing out if you don’t, you fuck-witted incipient lapdog, so really it’s down to you.

God, I so loved all this fluid, elastic, edgy, funktastic, dub-wise, attitude-laden, inherently political, jazz-flecked, disco-pulsing music back then – and I still do now. We can trace paths from it, through the work of (early collaborator) Neneh Cherry and the nascent On-U Sound, through other Bristol collectives in the early 1990s, Soul II Soul, Bjork, Pylon etc, to much wider afield and back again, and still only touch the tip of a bewildering assortment of exotica, fluid dance movements, ever-changing patterns in the sand but… you know. Whatever. As I indicate, I AM A FAN of this sort of music – and none more so then the elusive Maximum Joy, who released one incredible 12″ – ‘Stretch’, LISTEN NOW – plus several other wonderful singles, one killer album (1982’s Station MXJY, on Slits label Y) and then in 1983 seemingly vanished, just when they were on the verge of totally overloading, if not the mainstream, then certainly every fucking white male boy-boy indie chart extant. Word.

So there is a reason for that. You need to read Charlotte Richardson Andrews’ fine words over at The Guardian to discover the next part of this story. 

I am not going to say any more. Not because I don’t want to, but because I really want you to read Charlotte’s article. Excellent writing, but also clearly a difficult piece to write – and full respect to both Charlotte and Maximum Joy/MXMJoY singer Janine Rainforth for making it happen.

Make your own mind up.

I love this shit, I adore it, revel and linger and lounge in it, the fluidity, the elastic pulsing disco base, the fragility and friendliness, the beauty, the beauty, the elongated stretching of vowels, the off-beat noises, the dub effects, the hope and hatred, the easy flow, the pacing, the way it reminds me of a time when I was furious and unskilled on the dance-floor but still inspirational trust me, the way it reminds of a time – perhaps tomorrow? – when I was hopeful and not too distrusting of the future, of broken promises and shattered dreams, of trauma and silence, reclaiming and moving forward; and the beauty, the beauty, the mellow incandescent beauty of it all. But fuck it. I ain’t going to say anything. Make your own mind up. Ignore me. I’m a tepid maelstrom. Make your own mistakes. Make your own allies.

Let’s not hesitate. Let’s always hesitate.