Hey! When you commission David Bowie to go see, maybe talk to trip hop ingénu Tricky, you don't expect the standard Q piece. You except a bizarre, semi-poetic fantasy written in Burgess-like futurespeak in which the Dame and the Trickster, erm, climb up the side of a tall building... don't you? Don't you? Strap yourself in, then: protein pill and helmet combination once again essential. Invoice to the usual address, Dave...
"You Don't Wanna Be Painting 
Your Face Like That..."
Or, The Beautiful, It Won't Rap, She Won't Dance, Very Tricky Piece*

*Spelling and punctuation: author's own.

Oh Martina, you're soft spoken about what was sold. As safe as safe in Broadmoor sitting high on the make-up table, piecing together the four-piece empire of trip. And down the backstage, the glow of those tragic soft faces, for tonight is all that is left alive. All that the auctioneer could rustle up for the party from the backtown market of red doors and corridors.
  It gets loud. It gets a Bristol-blues bruising buffered by the pace of dub. The pace of dub where Karmacoma shouts: "We don't look for music, it just hangs there". His stand, it's just like Tricky Thaws to say that. In vague memory of the slow-simmering garden wall where you, Martina, sang me down, under the turf. Fighting for air, I was. I stole away in the yellow nether regions round the corner. All the other sounds had been farmed-out and cut-up. So get cut thought I. Get cut and rough and raw like the end of the world. Excape this jonberry of a British Isle hell. Escape this heat-death diving into a gene-pool, just for a laugh, like Tricky and Martina. I was the Original Mesmer and they were just the clubbers, so I waited and watched the fat-tracks slither across the stage like slimey steam assassins. Eating all they slid over. Into those front-row mouths
they squirmed, trails of mucus on well-trained pink-chinned limeys. But, oh, Martina, but we were so limey with the nod of "Yes" to Tricky's STOP, STOP, STOPPIT, STOPPIT, STOP. A No-Bunch in what was an exercise in remembering America. Don't hide the fragments. They're all we've got left. But you, Martina, just following the night you'll be making some money. Follow the blues lines and you'll make-up the future as you go along.
  Don't look for the music, it will look for you. But meanwhile the quiet English faces on the front row, in what could have been the glow of shepherds' fire-baskets, nodded out their fleeting thoughts as they were Overcome. So is this the slow shimmering speed that loaned a few moments of the future to us all? A heartbeat pounds and clutches to the edge of the world. So is this just for the laugh, the crack? Good. It needs to be. Your soft spoken money-making glow of words cuts me up beautiful. The outlands are urgently required. For your mother Tricky Thaws. Do this thing for the boxers. Remember the Auctioneer in his dub-black tall hat and his blood stained white gloves, glowering over the new find, selling to the future. For the price is high but not high enough that's for sure. Oh but the night is young. It's not
even on meat yet but that comes, in time it comes. The teeth clamp down and pull brutal at the flesh, ripping reality asunder, all our yesterday spilling out as a gooey flood down the nice white front. Ribbons of meat and only the memory lingers on.

A conversation with Tricky
(imagined). While climbing!

"Dog? Right, right, write down dog. Big D, Dog, but the first hundred years are the toughest. Don't forget to write that".

BACK IN AMERICA DO YOU REMEMBER so wound up in their immeasurable self-hurt aching and griping. They didn't understand your loss. It was in parade form all aglow with sex and bass.
     Back then Tricky was the tough guy staggering across the ballroom floor shooting wicked looks at the plumbs and peaches. He carried blue steel and wrote black lines. The edgy conspiracy theories that grew up around him.
     "Men are very instant" he'd say. "You fuck with a man, he's raging weak. You suffer a woman and two years later she makes you ruthless".

I'D BEEN CHASING TRICKY FOR a number of weeks, diving down into the low bars of Bristol. "He don't live
here no more," I'd be told. "He went to America". I wasn't going to buy that. He'd been spied by the Magpie girl only last Thursday, slipping in and out of the shadows down by the quay, drawing black lines on his own posters drenched in salty-sea splash, grinning synergy and singing swatches of malodorous song.
     The dark wisps of rumor trailed him like tow-ropes and now I was reeling him in. I didn't know what to expect. The phantom was known to move as a group of one. Never took prisoners. You'd never catch him snorting vodka at the bar. You'd never catch him period, I'd been told. A shaman who'd never slept with the Others, he was still pure, his spells unblemished. "Maxinquaye," he would intone, his eyes rolled back into his head, the beads of sweat, jewel-like, rushing upwards over his skin, an eerie light, green and mouldy, circling his feet.
       "Hurry up and be cool", I heard him intoning from four blocks away. "Control me", his voice sneered. The dark bassline moved me along to the shrieking doors. Door number two. That would be it. One on Earth and one in heaven.
      "We're climbing tonight", I yell as I foot the latch and the mauve paint splinters off from the door panels. "Oh, there you go", Tricky accepts. "I'm tired a bit, soccer's no game for a man. I bin playin' all afternoon and I'm a sore man. But I can climb. Is it quiet out there?"
      "Yes, it's sleepily lullish, I confirm. "We may need the coiling ambience of a narcotic".
      The building we picked is towering and uninformed. It's warm outside and very, very cold! Be less than upright and we fall.

We stood there in the wound of the little house, winding bandages around our hands and strapping on the little
paraballons that would float us down safely from the heights of the climb.
       "Don't touch the stars", says Tricky pulling on a deeply purple ski-mask, "they're mine". The plain concrete of the inner town looked faintly pretty in the flickering negative-lights. Even along to the foot of the 'Breaker', the 97 floor explosives
depository that seperates Ground Street from Little Breaker Road. Standing at its base as we crane our necks and stare up through the watery moonlight to the ever so high, high topness of it.
      "Ready"? I ask him.
       "Groove-up", he insists. I no longer understand - I overstand. I do this becuase we're at about floor 77 and very cold it is too. My fingers are frozen and sore, the middle and the thumb bleeding from tearing desperately at the cornice of a passing
window when I slipped an hour or so ago. As I locked myself back in place my head slammed into the concrete. The sky whirls and the street below seems to beat back and zoom foward in quick succession.

 When my head clears I find Tricky's quizzical mug furrowed into mine. His mouth moves. I hear nothing. Then I hear something. A swish of metal narrowly misses my head.
      "Keep statue-like", mouths Tricky. "It's a culture-jacker".
       Sure enough, round the corner of the building disappears a guy called Gerald. Well known and well done on the skyjack circuit, Gerald made headlines by jumping from three buildings in two nights.
       "Clever kid" grins my companion. "Never misses a trick".
       "When do we jump?" I ask. "When do we see what's what?"
       "Patience, older guy, let me tell you why we even stick to the wall. Let me tell you stories. I'm like Jesus. I have an
argument with the cloying mass of this town. The petty. The posse I left behind. I think of them. Did you know that cars can fuck you up through your body. It's the energy, any 15 year old kid can tell you this. I get rude, knocking crockery, but I'm not the kid anymore. I graduated. I'm no more the hard affair.
     "I'm like Jesus. I see the first overripe thing, all slowed down. It's a saddness and it does big changes. Bad ones. And
you smoke too much. Here we go calling notorious the young townies. This means you have to learn the young kids' peace. Learn them peace. Beware that you don't run into personality. The warehouse, the homewares, the rampage crime against yelling out loud. You look at a young one and he's breaking into a cancer. He should have a going at-home woman but he's
become a Knowle-West disease, using the town badly.

     "I suppose it's got an off-beat kick to it, all sinister, dark and distorted. It pisses me off that you talk and get arrested. They give you the time and trippy delusions of what it's like to be demented. I've learnt though. I've gone through big changes with a load and a hard".
     "What about your enemies?" I ask.
     "He's fucked-up, ole what'sisname. I thought I was unknown but I was robbed. It's a bad thing, stealing names like that. I stayed in my area, laying low, like. What to do, I thought, now there's a war on? So I grabbed a song, seeing through and watching the machine stealing.
      "What'sisname gave me some scary look, mouthing off and all that. But you learn when you're raised all dark and distorted. You run into a little black and things get high in the pulse department. I get rude but look..."
       He points into the glass next to our faces. A bang of YMCA-rinse ladies are pulling some powerful stuff from their bottles. Eyes expectant with the raising of an affair, they catch sight of our two faces, white and black, on the night and run screaming to the office door. You've never heard such sobbing pursued by clattering billows of exits ringing the air. 
     "I'm running solo myself", chants my small griot, chanting as he is, to the chimes of loneliness and far distant traffic.
     The mists of the '90s surround us, permeating every pore with their grey clammy fingers. should be on the jump any time soon.

     I LOOK SIDEWAYS AT THE TRICKY AND watch his flattened cheeck scruff at the brick, so hard as it pressed that I swear he's listening to the heartbeat of the building. With his eyes slowly closing and his lips moving, I sense his breath as a broken circle of vapors hits the pane.

     A missile of babble rises through the night. I look down. Word is out that there will be a jump tonight. A quite large crowd of urban jollies have gathered at the base of our mountain. Frying thoughts, I suppose, passing round the warm epithets and bon mots no doubt. The fires are lit and I spy a news team. Their lights strike up the face of our man-mountain with the
speed of lizards. I'm caught in a bright-beam and I can't see.
      "Don't look down", says the voice. "Look up. It's the only place.
     "You know something" he continues, "only the kids shoot each other off. The children-to-be. The baby-guns. Don't you just thrive on this behaviour? It's the haunting '90s, man. It suddenly turns out we've never heard of it. They've been here before, y'know. The '90s, I mean. I remember them. Long, long ago they brooded on the side-lines when Christ was crucified, and then again when the rats brought the plague to Europe in the dark-time. They keep cropping up, the intolerable '90s. Heh heh heh.
      "Just don't look down. We're gonna jump in a minute. But first I want you to think back. It's a Saturday. You're tweeny-little, just a speck of a spindly-stick. You're deprived of gaggles. No friends to speak of. Pleasure starts slowly from that
place. It raises itself up like a crimson monster, hauling its huge limbs with an ever increasing strength. Huffing and puffing its nature into your heart. Weaving little deeds to inspire the smartest hooligan out of you."
     By the time your a teen, you're in a renegade-chapter, carrying on and off with the pick'n'mix, selling and stealing,
shooting the others and sobbing at home. To protect yourself, to not let you sadness contaminate, you dream of the smartest moves, ringing the sexual sponge dry, crimes against a tricky kid. You're soon to tour. What pleasure will
be lurking by those shopping-mall escalators? The first carry-on despicable crime. Very nice. You're now a known associate. You're soon to tour but can already contaminate the dead.
       "I was like Jesus. 15 and spinning. Breaking into the Saturday afternoon Knowle-West perils, using sex as a threat. They swarmed all over me, brooding and grabbing and threatening. Hard life innit? The smartest go to war, deprived, so they tell me. No longer guardians they let the hollow nausea of failure drip out of their blown out stomachs. They go off with a bang.
Not for me though. That's powerful stuff that is.
        "Going out and hunting down death on some wretched field in god-knows where. Deluded, some men are. Pisses me off, do-gooders lying on the greasy paving slabs, it's petty. Deluded they are. I'm just gonna press the alarm button, so don't be alarmed".

A BLUR OF LEATHER WHIPS OUT AND his boot cracks me on the arm. My fingers straighten in panic and I'm
free-falling, pitched into the bad light and murk which rushes at me like a foul memory. The little group of gawpers enlarge with the perversity of a colony of maggots.
      "Now I'll show you something" he yells, sticking papers to an alrady massive spliff, "This drop will go on for hours, maybe eternity. I cut our paraballoons. They're not going to function so we may never land".
     The rinsed-ladies wave, the stars twinkle. I hear the rachets of fun from a distant games-machine. I smoke. My little white hard life looks up at me and forms the shape of all my hopes and desires. This must be sex as death. The peril of music. This album is over. It was the best of chimes. It was the hearse of chimes. Here come the horses to drag me to bed. Here come the Tricky to fuck up my head.

© D. Bowie 1995

want me bigger? click!want me bigger? click!want me bigger? click!want me bigger? click!
  photos: Mark Allan 

  from: Q magazine, October 1995 

analyze me (Tricky)
Shepherds Bush Empire, 3.8.95 (concertography)