Oh, I do so love a Phantom Wedding
‘I long for mystery, with no explanation.’ ~ A. J. Raffles
One of my very favourite pieces of tat, is the 1973 BBC ‘Music for a Royal Wedding’ from the marriage of H.R.H. The Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips. Many people who scavenge for grot will have seen this gatefold delight; a souvenir of a royal marriage that went slowly nowhere.
Souvenirs of regal failings are strange things. A historical moment is forever fixed, but all the pomp and glamour has ebbed away, replaced with something else… A reminder of unpredictability, and transience.
On the front cover the Brylcreemed Captain has a strange, sly look, sporting a confidence which was apparently at odds with his shy personality. My copy of the LP has ’26p’ scrawled on his forehead in biro. Princess Anne has scrubbed up a treat, and looks almost beautiful. The back cover features them all teeth, sitting in a soft-focus field with a black Labrador.
Inside you have a reasonably nauseous ‘photo-album’. An abundance of horses and handbags. There is also a silver-framed ‘order of ceremonies’ insert-card, with every aspect of the undertaking listed. ‘Printed on Wiggins Teape High Speed Board’ is my favourite.
I can just about understand why someone might want to listen to such a thing in 1973, but in 2011 you’d have to be of very specific mind. There can’t even be many people under the age of 30 who have more than a vague notion who Captain Mark Philips is. Nevertheless at the start of this year I began to see this commemorative object emerging more and more from within charity shops, in the same manner as the elderly Christmas LPs that glumly surface in late autumn. I thought it highly unlikely that the BBC would release a deluxe wedding souvenir vinyl LP this year.
At the same time I was reading various books of English folklore and legends. A passage about Phantom Weddings caught my mind:
Lights are seen there at night, the people say; and the bells ring; and just as the bells all set off ringing, a large dog is seen swimming across the lake. The plates and dishes clatter; and the table is spread by unseen hands. That is the preparation for the ghostly wedding feast of a murdered bride, who comes up from her watery bed in the lake to keep her terrible nuptials.
Around this moment I thought ‘What I’d really like to see is a Souvenir LP of a Phantom Wedding’. Obviously the bride will be a phantom cat princess. And the groom? A duplicitous Cavalier fox, freshly escaped from 1644. And then after going to all the trouble of summoning a phantom bride, she turns out to be completely off her rocker. But fashionably dressed, you understand?
To compose a piece of music, in the Edwardian Reggae style, that endeavours to capture the mind of an insane (but eminently stylish) phantom cat princess? Oh! Such delight! Imagine a ghastly Vulpine family, performing a ceremonial square-dance within a partly-formed abbey, recently manifested out of a frozen hell-dimension. The music just writes itself!
With any Moon Wiring Club release I like to make it confusing. If you are kind enough to listen, you might enjoy it as lo-fi wonky ghost-pop. But the words ‘musical riddle’ are never far from my thoughts, and I’m in love with puzzles, tricks, magic and sly mischief. So fresh.
This was a guestpost by Ian Hodgson, better known as the owner and operator of Moon Wiring Club, to explicate and commemorate Moon Wiring Club’s new longplayer SOMEWHERE A FOX IS GETTING MARRIED, which you can learn more about here and here and pre-order on fine vinyl here.
(Automatically crossposted from warrenellis.com. Feel free to comment here or at my message board Whitechapel. If anything in this post looks weird, it's because LJ is run on steampipes and rubber bands -- please click through to the main site.)