(This article originally appeared in the NME, a UK-based music magazine, 27 October 1990).
Youth opportunities! It's been a long, strange trip for Youth, currently the swine in Blue Pearl. Stuart Bailie meets him to reminisce about his Brilliant career, from punk scams and Killing Joke to Bananarama and U2.
Spring 1981, and the mindwarp is coming in hard. Youth, alias Martin Glover, is staggering along London's Kings Road, half-naked. He's got a massive wad of money and he's setting fire to handfuls of the stuff.
Some time before - hours, maybe days - somebody slipped him a tab of Snoopy acid. This was how Youth ended up running amok outside a Chelsea bank, fried to the eyelids and torching all his savings.
The guy who'd go on to co-write and produce Blue Pearl's 'Naked In The Rain' was arrested wearing just a pair of boxer shorts. Then the authorities put him under psychiatric care, which, perversely, he liked. "The mental home was great," he remembered after. "I went crazy, sure, but then I began to see the funny side of life. I made a lot of friends there, though it was really weird, because I was in the ward for all the flashers. It was quite amusing."
This kind of adventure was fairly typical for the period. Youth was a standard-issue problem child - broken home, erratic education, constantly moving - who'd caught on to punk in an enthusiastic way. He hung out at the Roxy, became mates with John Lydon and cultivated a look that was somewhere between Sid Vicious and Dennis The Menace. He was into Jim Morrison, AC/DC and Aleister Crowley. One NME writer figured he was "willfully deranged and arrogant . . . a spoilt, self-important brat."
When he was 17, Youth cut his first record, 'One Of The Lads'. He was in the 4" Be 2"s, a gang of scam merchants from the late '70s which had John Lydon's brother Jimmy on vocals. Their manager was Jock McDonald, a former pro footballer and 'junior situationist', who'd also given us The Bollock Brothers, hyped up the singing career of Michael Fagin the Buckingham Palace burglar, and pushed a single, 'Why Don't The Rangers Sign A Catholic', by Pope Paul And The Romans.
The 4" Be 2"s signed a few record deals, played in a truck outside the American Embassy, went loopy in Ireland and got arrested everywhere. Youth recalls all this with cool nostalgia.
"I was the only one in that group who could play. It was a punk rock scam and Jock pulled it off. He fleeced a couple of the majors and I made more money than I ever did with Killing Joke. Also, on my first recording session, I told the musicians what to play, and I virtually produced it. It was a club track, with a reggae-disco beat, and Jimmy just shouting 'One of the lads!' in the background. Exactly like Happy Mondays, really . . ."
It was when he joined Killing Joke that the dark energies really started to pile up for Youth. Their record company was called Malicious Damage and the musical fare was brutal, ugly and rhythmic, fused with heavy occult ideas. A frightening exercise in brinkmanship. Even between the group members there was violence and paranoia which led, inexorably, to Youth's freaky scene with the cash and the acid and the boxer shorts.
"That was one of many stories from around that era," he chuckles nervously today. "I can't really tell you what happened in half an hour, because it's quite a longer story than that, I'm afraid. Suffice to say that I was pretty f___ed up at the time, and it still haunts me.
"It wasn't simply drugs either; there was a lot of bad stuff going around at the time, bad people I was meeting. I know at least that no matter what can happen to me in my life, it is never gonna be as bad for me as it was then.
"I know at least half a dozen people who died through drugs during that period, and I think it's terrible. I certainly wouldn't encourage people to go on that journey. I mean, I wanted to go mad at the time - I wanted to go over the edge. And I did, and it scared the f___ing life out of me."
Most of the shit stopped just before March 10, '82 (a heavy cosmic date for occult folk), when Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman, fearing a major planetary upheaval, high-tailed it over to Iceland, later coaxing Geordie the guitarist to follow him. No-one was hugely upset; Brian Taylor, the band's manager, commented: "They're the biggest bastards under the sun. They never gave me a day's peace since I met them two years ago. I'm glad they're gone." Killing Joke appeared to be falling apart.
While Jaz was Iceland bound, Youth discovered the sounds of New York FM radio station, Kiss. When I first met him in '85, he was still going mad over old tapes he'd made of Kiss DJs mixing live in the studio. They'd have four copies of the same record playing at the same time, all going through tape loops and echoes and stuff. "It's totally psychedelic!" he raved to me in the middle of a particularly spacey afternoon. "It's like washing sounds and sending them off into orbit - visual sounds. This has changed my life completely!"
With the band Brilliant, he tried to realise some of these new possibilities. The music was more funky this time, with wiggy rock motifs and the occasional screechy Hendrix reference. I remember seeing the band play in Brockwell Park in '84, and they were an entertaining mess - eight rabid characters all going for this out-there sonic muddle. Youth had long dreadlocks and a paint-splattered technicolour greatcoat. He was having an excellent time.
But after January '85 there were just three of them: himself, singer June Montana and (future KLF, JAMMS honcho) Jimmy Cauty. The 'Love Is War' single was a more disciplined and sedate move. It was the first production hit ever for Stock Aitken Waterman. So was Youth greatly impressed by the trio's working methods at the time?
"Some of them. We spent a year recording that album ('Kiss The Lips Of Life') and both me and Jimmy learned a hell of a lot. That was when we realised just how much you could do if you really wanted. They got results really quickly, they didn't spend three weeks on a single, they did it in three days, and I thought that was so refreshing. You don't have to intellectualise it, or go through any of that."
Brilliant finished prematurely in the law courts. WEA Records had forgotten to renew the band's contract, so Youth and co began talking to interested people elsewhere. WEA promptly slammed an injunction on the group. The judge, contrary to expectations, was actually sympathetic to this move, deciding that since the record company "still felt strongly" about Brilliant, and since they had spent so much money (sob, sob) on developing them, that WEA should be given another chance. He permitted the case to go on to a full scale trial.
They couldn't afford a lawyer for all this, so Brilliant just caved in. Now Youth finds his name coming up in the law courts as a dodgy legal precedent - 'Glover versus WEA' is used by company lawyers to cover for all their clerical cock-ups. As a further irony, Youth has recently been contacted by the same company, asking if he'd care to remix some of the old Brilliant stuff!
"I was kinda relieved in a way when it ended," he figures, "because I wasn't really into being a pop performer, which was what our manager wanted us to be. I didn't feel comfortable with the videos and the make-up artists and the photo sessions. I felt too old to be doing that."
So Youth, like Jimmy, who'd got into EST (confrontational self-improvement therapy), put his head down and began spreading his ideas all over the place. He'd been into diversity before; when he was in Brilliant he was playing gigs with Zodiac Mindwarp and working with Kate Bush. He was Zodiac's accomplice on a famous drugs binge in Formentera, which has apparently inspired a book. "Zodiac's written this really hilarious thing," he says. "It's a pack of lies, of course!" Then he plays me a new demo he's done with Zodiac. Very odd.
And what about playing with Kate Bush during the 'Hounds Of Love' sessions? Was she a big Killing Joke fan?
"For me, that was definitely the highlight of my career, life, whatever," Youth responds cheerfully. "I was totally amazed that she was into what I was doing. She's fully aware of so many things, and that became obvious when I worked with her. She just phoned me up one day, and I didn't believe it was her!
"She's very much a perfectionist, and I spent a lot of time working on what I was doing with her. On her third album, 'The Dreaming', she spent a lot of time getting it how she wanted, and it wasn't a commercial success. For the next one, she was in that dilemma of either getting her own studio and doing it her way, or going back and doing something she didn't want to do. She spent two years making 'Hounds Of Love' her way, and that's a very brave thing to do."
Somehow I don't feel that Kate Bush will feel so charitable when she hears what's become of the Balearic-inspired version of 'Running Up That Hill'. The act responsible for this effort is Blue Pearl - Youth and Durga McBroom, the pair who made the Top Ten with 'Naked In The Rain' a few months ago.
Durga is a charming lady from Los Angeles who got a part in the film Flashdance and majored in theatre arts at UCLA. She'd been doing backing vocals for two years with Pink Floyd when she met up with Youth at a show in Venice. They say they've had a terrific working relationship since.
Durga shows me her skateboarding scar, tells me some Brian Wilson stories (who she has also worked with) and confesses that she used to be obsessed with Tatum O'Neal. When she was 12, Durga taped the dialogue to Paper Moon and learnt all of it by heart. A little bit later, she broke into the young actress' beach house and emptied the bubble gum machine. The minx.
Durga is a creative, ambitious person and has a powerful set of lungs, but sadly 'Naked' - the album - is no stunner. So while we've met up ostensibly to talk about all of this, it's hard, because the act have lost the full-on hedonism of their big single, and the LP skids into a lot of cliches along the way. Instead, we shoot the breeze about some of the millions of other connections that Youth's made during his busy time.
For instance, his rowdy behaviour as a child earned him the tag of 'deprived child', and got him into a boarding school in Oxfordshire, where he became mates with Guy Pratt (later with Pink Floyd) and also with Alex Paterson. The latter was then a roadie with Killing Joke, and then emerged as The Orb, via some dance experiments with Youth and Jimmy Cauty.
Sometimes Youth works with Alex on their Wau!Mr Modo label, and sometimes alone. Records you can trace back to these sources involve the likes of Steve Hillage (on the System 7 record), Yazz, Bananarama, the current Yazoo remix and that 'shite' version of 'Hotel California' by Jam On The Mutha.
It seems like Youth's current strength is that he's informed and playful enough to catch underground ideas - whether it's ambient, Balearic, baggy grooves or what - and turn them around in a presentable style. Bananarama, who've known him since they hung out with the punk crowd as teenagers, will endorse this idea.
"He's very excitable, very relaxed, no tension," says Keren. "He just sits there shaking his head and smashing away on a guitar . . . it's almost as if he knows what's going to happen next."
And with his remix commission for U2's 'Night And Day', it's like Youth has taken dance music to the ultimate crossover situation - helping the unsyncopated stadium boys to shake a hoof.
"It was very hard actually," he says. "I had to do a normal mix, like an extended version, and a remix at the same time. And I had to do it with the band - at the Windmill Lane studios in Dublin. I had long talks with Bono about why he wanted to do this and that . . .
"I told them I had a record with this great preacher man - a Baptist sort of guy on it - and they said they'd really wanted to use some of that stuff in the past, but they couldn't, because they'd have got hit for it in the States. I said, Oh, so what did you do? They said, we just phoned up Little Richard, and he did it for us!
"But what they're trying to do is very admirable for the situation they're in. I mean, they don't have to do anything really, but they have to have challenges and to go to musical places they haven't been, and keep getting inspired."
And how does that compare to working with the likes of Bananarama?
"It's just the same, really. Banarama are quite serious about what they're doing, and it's a real challenge to try and do something different with their sound and yet keep it within the parameters of pop. I love pop music anyway, and I'd like to break down some of those prejudices. I've been trying out ideas, like having these two melody lines - completely different - that can go along side by side."
Youth briefly interrupts his laid-back form for a little piece of philosophy.
"All music is, really, a reaction to something or somebody. I've worked with some very talented people and I've walked into a room with them, and there's been nothing there. And I've said, I don't think this will work - there's no reaction.
"A lot of the time, it can click in the most unusual way. With Killing Joke, we hated each other, but we made great music. And that kind of energy is handy!"