Posted by Rodger in September's Magazine
Let me introduce you to a man whose abiding wish is to make chewing gum for your ears. If he was a car, it would be a purple Mini 1275 GT driven by Gloria Jones and wrapped round a tree You’ll like him. I know you will.
If he was a multiple-choice question, it would be: What’ll You Do Til Sunday, Baby? a) Lubricate Your Living Room, 2) Tape Your Head On or III) Adidas Francis Bacon
His first band proper played their debut gig at Leith Community Centre in March of 1980. He’s the capital’s finest musical export since the Rollers. He’s the Billy Liar who got on the train – though some will say he had a knack of getting off at the wrong stop.
If he was a Russ Meyer flick, it would be Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
What’s more he’s a self-styled sea with three stars. He’s Edinburgh’s George Clinton slash Captain Beefheart oblique Prince chop Lou Reed. He’s an agent provocateur covered in baby oil and quoting Cocteau while the coloured girls go doo do doo do doo do do doo. He is, of course, Davy Henderson and you may know him from such franchises as Fire Engines, Win, The Nectarine No.9, and The Sexual Objects.
If he was an era, it would be forever five years ahead of his time
When Paul Morley, the NME scribe loved/hated for his dancing about architecture, first encountered Fire Engines, he was smit. “This metaphysical mix of fun and mythical significance, concentration and distraction, fury and devouring intensity; David Henderson is a compulsive liberating, possessed new hero….[with] the substance and fashion, the look and the gaze of a star.”
If he was a building, it would be decreed a stately pleasure dome
Alan Horne, he of Postcard Records, was just as taken. He had been mightily irked to have missed out on Davy – despite having Orange Juice and Josef K on his label – so post-Fire Engines, he snapped up Win.
If he was a Raymond Carver short story, it would be What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Frothed Horne: “Win talk it, show it, take it, make it, and ARE it! Win are one of those real groups: scruffy and seedy and smart and a relief from all the studenty groups who’d rather lunch with the lawyer than powder their nose or go shopping for clothes or goodness knows what.”
If he was a part of Marilyn’s night attire…why, it would be Chanel No.5, of course
Win came close, oh so close, but then, as Henderson himself put it, “in the space of five years, we lost!” The success of You’ve Got The Power – and ”saccharine mash” was how he described that number – took several reissues, and what the marketing cats used to call a high-concept ad, to bring it to the nation’s attention.
If he was a colour, it would be that of His Purpleness – see also the tint of Marc Bolan’s Mini
Perhaps if he had persuaded Virgin to dispatch him to Paisley Park or say call in Arthur Baker, his career might have gone the way of Scritti Politti. But that I-could’ve-been-a-contender mantle doesn’t seem one he seeks – and in any case Davy’s more Rod Steiger than Marlon Brando.
If he was a Flaming Lips lyric, he’d be She Don’t Use Jelly
Nectarine No.9 were a case of back to basics in a sense. He found himself no longer labelmates with Simple Minds or guzzling Brian May’s booze or offering a shoulder for a post-Wham! Andrew Ridgeley to cry on. He was free. And myself I helped him wile away one of his free afternoons with pub talk of Iggy P and Alice C’s golfing apparel, shortcuts through Edinburgh Zoo (what a windup merchant), and the intergalactic splendour of Sun Ra (one cause to which he did find a convert).
If he was an equation, it would be Fire Engines + Television Personalities = Creation Records (– Oasis) ÷ Richard Hell & the Voidoids
The Sexual Objects? More of the same, only different; merely the latest installment in a career marked by many moments of brilliance, serial bad luck, and a contrarian spirit pure and nothing simple – even Zappa-like. Take his approach to playing the SECC in 2005 with a reformed Fire Engines, when he bounced onto the stage wearing a grin and his girlfriend’s 60s print dress. It was very Nancy Sinatra says he. Cue boos, heckles and missiles from 5,000 teen Wegians who didn’t much like the filling in their Kaiser Chiefs-Fire Engines-Franz Ferdinand sandwich.
If he was a mythological character, he’d be Sisyphus supping a never-ending pint of McEwans in a neon and chrome pit in a loop of a 1985 advert
He once said he was “turned on by girl singers and primitive drums, and boys who wanted to be girl singers playing primitive drums,” and that’s the kind of artist I applaud. I give you Davy Henderson; a sea with three stars (he spells it c***) in a summer dress ironed at just the correct temperature. ■
Info: Sexual Objects’ Cucumber is a vinyl release that can also be downloaded online