Joe Meek & The Blue Men - I Hear A New World

When writing posts for this blog, I have always been cautious of hyperbole. Sensationalising art, talent or life account is not in my interest, for exaggerative subjectivism provides only a boring tabloid read; one that becomes repetitive and that ultimately undermines subjects that really do deserve particular acknowledgement. In describing the career of Joe Meek I believe it is more simple, more honest, to state that he was a rare case of a musician whose talent was completely unique. In hindsight, his life reads in such a fantastical manner that it seems more befitting of a surrealist b-movie than of actual reality. Having served as a radar technician in the RAF, Meek developed a fascination with outer space that aided his lifelong interest in electronics. He then became a musical engineer and producer later in his twenties, despite an affliction that instantly separated him from normality: Meek was tone deaf. He could not sing, he could not play instruments and, most alarmingly, he could not write musical notation. For every idea he would have, Meek hummed a demo version, tunelessly articulating a melody for a chosen group of musicians to then interpret, clean up, and re-record. His worldwide hit Telstar (written for The Tornadoes) was composed with this method and curiously still reached No.1 in both the UK and the US. After just thirty-seven years, Meek's life came to an end in 1967 when he shot his landlady and then himself in a tragic conclusion to a life of troubled genius. I can't really comprehend his talent, but for in terms of 'outsider art': Meek had the ideas of a genius but lacked ability in a way that screamed naïveté. Art isn't about learned skill, formal education or convention, but rather about the interpretation of one's inner mechanisms, emotions or ideas. And so, despite Meek working in a way that bordered on lunacy, he embraced an unaffected manner that feels rawer than the most articulate and competent of performers. His masterwork I Hear A New World - performed by The Blue Men - blurred reality and fantasy, with Meek taking the listener on a tour of outer space. Recorded in 1959, the album was innovative in its electronic experimentation, although it remained unheard and unreleased in full until 1991. A comparison could be made with the talent of Dan Treacy, the troubled frontman of Television Personalities. Treacy's life of drug abuse, illness and crime runs parallel to a career as a wide-eyed cult hero. It is unsurprising that the title track of I Hear A New World, as featured in this post, was covered by Television Personalities on their record Fashion Conscious.

Label: Triumph / RPM Records
Year: 1959 / 1991
Genre: Outsider Music, Electronica, Space-Age Rock

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