Mekons' 1985 album Fear and Whiskey came out of a chaotic period of reinvention that followed the demise of Mekons mark one when Andy Corrigan and Mary Jenner left the band. In 1983 Tom Greenhalgh, Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett and Mark White traveled to Bridlington, a seaside town in Yorkshire's East Riding, with engineer / button melodeon player / fiddler John Gill to record an EP for CNT Productions at KG studios. Songs were made up on the spot with percussion supplied by the Three Johns' customized Roland 606 drum machine. Two songs from this session and the resulting English Dancing Master EP, Last Dance and No Country were later recorded for Fear and Whiskey.
Trouble Down South (a reworking of the minimalist electronic track created by Lycett and Piers Storey for The Mekons Story from 1982) featured contributions from Dutch band The Ex and Delta Five vocalist Jacqui Callis, violinist Susie Honeyman, Chicago DJ Terry Nelson and Welsh punk vocalist Ralph Mulcahy. Greenhalgh, Langford, Lycett and Honeyman returned to Leeds the following year to record four new songs at Lion Studios using the Three Johns' Sequential Circuits drum machine "Hugo." This session produced Chivalry, Darkness and Doubt, Hard to be Human and Psycho Cupid. Along with Trouble Down South these songs made up side 1 of Fear and Whiskey.
When Langford returned the band recorded the five songs that make up side 2 of Fear and Whiskey at a "secret location" in London in one afternoon. When the record was completed Greenhalgh and Langford set off to the USA with the Three Johns for a tour armed with cassette promo copies of Fear and Whiskey which they handed out to anyone who gave a sh*t; successfully seeding Fear and Whiskey throughout North America.