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.