Archive for the ‘Links & Downloads’ Category

Sexy Hooligans – Memories of the 100 Club Punk Festival – 20/09/76

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Exactly thirty seven years ago tonight, a Monday night, Michelle was waiting in a queue to witness the two day punk festival held at the 100 Club in Oxford Street in the centre of London. Below are written memories of that night and of the era. The text immediately below is written by Michelle herself and the text below Michelle’s was written by Caroline Coon for a review of the festival which was published in Melody Maker a week or two after the punk festival had taken place.

The two photographs of Michelle in the ‘leopard skin’ jacket at the front of the queue for the event are courtesy of the Caroline Coon collection. All the photographs of the bands at the actual festival were taken by, and are part of Michelle’s collection. Also the photograph of Michelle in 1976 that heads this post and the photo booth shots from 1977 to 1979 are from Michelle’s collection. Thank you to her for letting KYPP use them.

Fast forward a handful of years from those nights in September 1976 and Michelle would front the band Brigandage and live amongst the Puppy Collective in and around the squats of Hampstead. Michelle’s band, Brigandage, was a firm favourite of the Puppy Collective and to a much younger Penguin.

Previous to forming Brigandage in 1979, Michelle was in the band V.D.U that put out one 7″ single ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ on Thin Sliced records. Sadly I do not own this artefact but if and when I do I will place it up on KYPP.

You may hear Brigandage in all there glorious pomp on two previous KYPP posts HERE and HERE.

Michelle is still involved in the scene in no small way after all these years. She has never really been away. Brigandage have not reformed (although that might be nice at some point in the future). What Michelle has been doing for several years now is to create lovingly screen printed replicas of some of the original Seditionaries stock, original stock long gone now. Michelle also creates her own clothing inspired by the Seditionaries brand from 1977 which are equally beautiful and well made for both men and for women.

For more information on her business Sexy Hooligans you may follow this link HERE.

Six examples from the huge range of Sexy Hooligan clothing may be viewed below the 100 club punk festival post.

Please support Sexy Hooligans if you can, and no there is not a free shirt in it for me!

MICHELLE’S THOUGHTS

My boyfriend Bruno and I were a little different at school in that we loved Roxy Music. I think we loved them more than Bowie although we saw him on the 1976 ‘Thin White Duke’ tour. We loved Lou Reed and the Velvets and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bruno had a massive record collection for the time. We just liked things that weren’t long hair and flares and dull like Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Genesis. This made us odd at school.

He read the Melody Maker and when we were about 15 we started going to gigs, even rock and roll gigs. It was fun but there was a feeling in the air that something was about to happen, about to explode. Then one day we read about a band called Eddie And the Hot Rods and they sounded exciting. We did not make it to the gig, we had tickets for Doctors Of Madness instead. Then it happened: Sex Pistols front page of the Melody Maker. The fight from the stage of the Nashville club in Kensington. That was it, straight up to London to see them perform. They seemed so exciting, out of the ordinary. They looked like us, were young. They did not have long hair it was short like ours.

People do not realise how absolutely boring and tedious Britain was in the early 1970’s, how the sixties dreams of revolution had died and left a vacuum. Also it was a lot easier for me to get to gigs because I lived in a suburb of London.

The atmosphere at the 100 Club punk festival was electric. We had seen Sex Pistols several times before, and The Clash. They had five members then, Keith Levine was the third guitarist for a while.

Dreadful bands like The Suburban Studs used to support them. They were dreadful. We nearly walked out before Sex Pistols came on! They brought a pigs head out on stage, so you see people were already trying to latch on to this new feeling of punk shock but getting it dreadfully wrong.

It was an incredible two nights but it was marred by the glass throwing incident which Sid, then the drummer of Souxsie And The Banshees (or Suzy And The Banshees at that festival) got blamed for. My cousin and I got small bits of glass showering over our face but it was a friend I’d met at Blitz, Cherry (I think that was her name) who got glass in her eye. It blinded her in one eye and I think she was and wanted to continue to be, an artist. The incident put paid to that. Obviously the atmosphere changed suddenly. There was blood, screaming, crying and ambulances and police. It calmed down after she was taken away but everybody started to leave. Souixsie stood on the stairs and asked people to stay and support The Buzzcocks.  Bruno and myself could not as we needed to get the last train back to the suburbs. Should have stayed to see them, as it was Howard Devoto’s band at that time.

All I can say about seeing Sex Pistols was that the first time Johnny stepped onto the stage I practically fell to my knees, it was like a life changing religious experience. Here was someone who understood what I was feeling inside. I now longer felt alone. We were individuals shoulder to shoulder with other individuals. Not some mindless gang but a group of people who had finally found their way to a home.

Michelle Brigandage / Sexy Hooligans

100 CLUB PUNK FESTIVAL 1976

Monday, September 20th: The Sex Pistols, the Clash, Subway Sect, Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Tuesday, September 21st: The Damned, Chris Spedding and the Vibrators, the Buzzcocks, and Stinky Toys (from France).

The first mass exposure of Punk Rock to the music press and record industry. On the second day, after an accident in which Dave Vanium’s friend lost her eye, Sid Vicious was arrested. When I tried to find out why, I too was arrested. During most of Chris Spedding’s set I was in the police station with Sid but I was released (and later given an absolute discharge) in time to see the festival end.

Monday September 20th

Nothing quite so collectively out of context as last Monday’s queue outside the 100 Club has gathered on Oxford Street for nearly a decade. When the Hari Krishna chanters stopped rush-hour traffic in their saffron robes and bald heads and started pinging finger cymbals, there was no denying that the hippie era had arrived.

The six-hundred strong line which straggled across two blocks waiting for the Punk Rock Festival to start was again indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin.

Two eighteen-year-olds from Salisbury were at the head of the queue. ‘I’ve been waiting for something to identify with,’ says Gareth enthusiastically. ‘There’s been nothing for years. I just want to be involved, really.’

Michelle and Bruno are both sixteen. Their hair is short and neat. Their attire, shirts and ties, ‘leopard skin’ jackets, stilleto heels, pointed toes and dramatic make-up, is echoed down the line – in various home-made and inventive variations.

‘They’re the best bands around,’ says Michelle, who’s a seasoned fan already. ‘They’re playing the music of the people.’

Over the last eight months, a generation of rock fans has been developing an extraordinary sense of belonging together. Excited by the blast of direct energy in the music of the bands playing on the Punk Rock Festival bill, they are creating a new cultural identity for themselves. They have their own clothes, language, ‘in’ jokes and fanzines. There is a healthy comradeship and competitiveness in equal doses. The established bands share their equipment and rehearsal space, and most of the established musicians are encouraging friends to form bands of their own. Apart from the thirty musicians actually playing in the Festival, the audience itself is seething with new talent.

Tim, Pete, George and Bill – all seventeen – are from North London and Southend. ‘We listen to everything from Weather Report to MC5,’ says school boy Tim. ‘But we come here to pick up tips. Our band’s called “1919 Ulterior Motive Five” ’cause there’s four of us, see.’

Johnny Moped is there looking to find musicians for his band The Morons. Chaotic Bass is on the loose. Fat Steve of the Babes says he’s rehearsing. Fourteen year old Rodger Bullen, Rat Scabies’ protégé, has just joined Eater.

The creative buzz and exciting feel that something is ‘happening’ is infectious. There is a continual stream of criticism and rude abuse poured over each other’s favourite enterprise, but having and giving back that kind of attention is part of the fun. ‘Do It Yourself’ could be the motto down at the 100 Club. Everyone wants to get in on the act. Everyone can.

The Subway Sect. It’s their first-ever gig. There’s Vic Godard (19) and Paul Myers (bass). Paul Smith (18) has played for five weeks and Robert Miller (lead guitar) for three months. They are familiar faces, having been in the audience at many Pistols gigs. It’s been tough for them to find rehearsal rooms, but after a weekend at the Clash’s spacious studio, their set is debut ready.

They stalk purposefully on stage and without looking at the audience start a lengthy, foot-finding, tuning-type warm-up. Already they look like they belong together.

‘We’re the, er, Subway,’ pause ‘Sect’ pronounces Vic, turning at last to the audience.

The Clash planned to let Siouxsie and the Banshees use their equipment at the 100 Club festival, but when their manager, Bernard Rhodes, saw Siouxsie wearing a swastika arm band (which she refused to remove), they withdrew their consent. Why?

‘I felt she wasn’t aware of what she was letting herself in for’ said Bernard. ‘Our equipment is very distinctive we’ve painted it luminous pink. If she used it, we too would be associated with the swastika. I felt she was mucking about with a loaded gun and we didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

‘The whole swastika thing is quite funny really. When I was working with Malcolm he went up North and came back with a whole load of bits and pieces with swastikas on them which someone had given him. Eventually Siouxsie wore one of the shirts, more because it was there than anything else. She said that as a symbol of shock, the swastika was the only thing around. I don’t think she thought very much about it. As a symbol, or an emblem it was a random choice. A bad accident. A bit of a red herring. But the Clash are into specifics, not red herrings. If we’re going to use emblems, then they should be nearer the mark. People can do what they want. But we don’t think the swastika means anything relevant to us.”

Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s never the same at a Pistols’ gig nowadays if what is known as the ‘Bromley Contingent’ isn’t there. This inseparable unit are Steve (21), Bill (22), Simon (19) – he sells hot-dogs off a mobile stand during the day raspberry-haired Debbie and Siouxsie herself.

They first heard the Pistols at their local Tech in January, and they’ve been faithful followers ever since. They made the trip to Paris in a ropey old car to see their heroes’ first overseas performance, and Siouxsie, shocking in her semi-nudity, got punched on the nose.

She is nothing if not magnificent. Her short hair, which she sweeps in great waves over her head, is streaked with red, like flames. She’ll wear black plastic non-existent bras, one mesh and one rubber stocking, suspender belts (various), all covered by a polka-dotted, transparent plastic mac. Over the weeks the Bromley Contingent’s continuous parade of inventive dress (it’s rarely the same two weeks running) has set the fashion. It was only a matter of time before they took their street theatre to the stage.

Apart from Siouxsie, membership of the band was not settled until the day before the festival. Everyone thought, though, that they’d carry out their much advertised plan to sing ‘Goldfinger’. It was not to be. At the last moment, in an orgy of rock iconoclasm they decided on The Lords Prayer spiced up with ‘the most ridiculous rock songs ever written’.

Two-tone Steve (his hair is black on top, white at the sides) was on a bass he picked up for the first time the night before. Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten’s friend, and inventor of the pogo dance, was on drums. He had one rehearsal. A mature gent called Marco was lead guitarist.

The prayer begins. It’s a wild improvisation, a public jam, a bizarre stage fantasy acted out for real. The sound is what you’d expect from, er, novices. But Sid, with miraculous command, starts his minimal thud and doesn’t fluctuate the beat from start to finish of the, er, set. Against this rough corrugation of sound, Siouxsie, with the grace of a redeemed ghoul, rifles the senses with an unnerving, screaching recitative. ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ creep into the act. Sid flickers a smile, Marco, his guitar feeding back, rolls up his sleeves, and Two-tone Steve two-tones.

The audience, enjoying the band’s nerve and audacity, eggs them on, gets bored, has a laugh then wonders how much more it can take. Twenty minutes later, on a nod from Marco, Sid just stops. The enthusiastic cheering is a just recognition of their success. If the punk rock scene has anything to offer, it’s the opportunity for anyone to get up and experience the reality of their wildest stage-struck dreams. The bar-flies are horrified.

‘God, it was awful’ says Howard Thompson, an A&R man from Island. But Siouxsie is not interested in contracts.

‘The ending was a mistake,’ she says. ‘I thought we’d go on until they pulled us off.’

The Clash. ‘They’re Great!’ shouts a bespectacled youth half way through this band’s set. ‘I used to listen to Yes and Genesis.’ At last, after three months intensive rehearsals and three gigs, the Clash hit close to top form. We see a glimpse of their very considerable potential.

They have reduced their line-up. Rhythm guitarist Keith Levene is off forming a new band. This has left Joe Strummer (lead vocals and guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar), and Paul Simonon (bass), more room to move. And this they do, powering through their first number, ‘White Riot’. The audience is instantly approving. The band is fast, tough and lyrical, and they’ve mastered the way of dovetailing Joe’s mellow approach with Mick’s spikey aggression. They blaze through ‘London’s Burning’ with raging intensity. Terry Chimes (drums) uses the opportunity to undercut his solid bass drum surge with candescent splashes over the high hat. They play eleven of their eighteen songs including ‘I’m So Bored with the USA’, ‘Protex Blue’ (with Mick on lead vocals), ‘Deny’, and ‘Janie Jones’. They end the set with ‘1977’.

Later, I ask Paul Simonon, who has played bass for only six months, how he feels about the set. ‘I’ve got to get better. I’m never content. I know I can do a lot with the bass. Most of them stand still like John Entwistle. I want to move around and give the audience a good time. And give myself a good time too.’

Joe Strummer, who’s last band was the now-fabled 101′ers, has played with very experienced musicians. What was it like playing with someone like Paul who’s learning as he goes? ‘It’s really great,’ he says. ‘When a musician knows all his oats it gets boring. It’s not exciting for them and they start playing for playing’s sake and the emotion disappears. It’s really exciting playing with Paul because there are no rules. My guitar style is really rudimentary and Mick’s is great, so the combination is really interesting.’

The Sex Pistols. The atmosphere in the club is feverishly high pitched. This is the band everyone’s been waiting for. Not everyone, however, is happy about the Pistols’ growing success and notoriety. The private party is over. The band is public property. It had to happen. But with mixed feelings the band’s throbbing nucleus of fans are holding their breath as their champions start a steady climb to the ethereal reaches of stardom and rock immortality. Will the businessmen spoil them?, is the anxious question.

Already the band has changed – especially Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones. Once Rotten would poke his pretty mug into any camera lens and leer. Now he’s likely to sweep his arms across his face with an Ava Gardner gesture of exclusivity.

Jones, once the brooding loner unsure of his sex appeal, is now exuding a magnetic confidence which guarantees a screen of exotic women around him. Glen Matlock and Paul Cook, perhaps because they’ve been less ‘visible’, have yet to zip into their rock star mantles. They will, once their partnership – Glen’s driving fluid bass lines and Paul’s billowing drum storm – is recognised as the superb bed-rock of taut rhythmic structures it is.

The band’s fanatical following is growing fast. Fans follow them all over the country from gig to gig. They are the unquestioned stars of the Punk Rock Festival and as they step on stage they are greeted with lung bursting cheers.

‘We’ve got another Underground at last,’ shouts an ecstatic youth, ‘I’ve waited seven years for this.’

Over the nine months that the Pistols have played together, Rotten has developed his stage presence beyond the realms even his most ardent fans imagined possible. He is still prying open the nether reaches of his personality and presenting audiences with yet another dark fragment from his psyche. Once he moved over the stage squirming and jiggering around like a spinderly, geigercounter needle measuring radio activity. Rarely was he motionless. Lately, he rarely moves. He can be quite sickeningly still. This deathly, morgue-like stance sets skin crawling, and his lyrics are as suffocating as the world they describe.

He wears a bondage suit for the festival. It’s a black affair, dangling with zips, chains, safety pins and crucifixes. He is bound around the chest and knees, a confinement symbolising the urban reality he sees around him.

The set begins. The band hit their instruments in unison. It’s the fanfare intro to ‘Anarchy in the U.K’. SMASH – and their instantly identifiable, careering, evisceral splurge sears the air. The fans go wild. Johnny strains at his jump-suit prison. He breaks loose and burns into ‘I Wanna Be Me’. The crowd sprawls at his feet, a struggling heap of excited bodies.

‘Alright,’ says Johnny calmly disengaging his feet from the melee, ‘all off the stage, chuckies…’

The photographers fight for better shots, the pogo dancers leap above the crowd, sweat pours and the crush rolls forward and back from the stage like a tidal wave.

The band, lifted by the positive vibes, delivers pin-perfect versions of ‘Seventeen’, ‘I’m a Lazy Sod’, ‘New York’, ‘Pushin’ and A Shovin’’ – the fans call out for ‘Sub-Mission’ – ‘next number’ drawls Johnny. It’s the Monkees’ ‘Stepping Stone’. Then ‘I Love You’, their cynical anthem to suburbia.

Steve breaks open, flinging his guitar diagonally across his chest and slicing up his fret, he leads the band with power and imagination through a breathless one hour and fifteen minutes of thunderous rock ‘n’ roll. They play ‘Sub-Mission’, ‘Liar’ – a favourite with the audience – ‘No Feelings’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Pretty Vacant’ and they finish the set with ‘Problems’ and ‘No Fun’. They are called back for a triumphant encore.

The Sex Pistols were terrific. Compulsively physical. Frightening in their teenage vision of world disintegration. And refreshing in their musical directness and technical virtuosity. Whether their music will make the Top 20 or not is irrelevant. They’re doing it for a new generation of rock fans who think they’re fantastic.

Tuesday, September 21st

The audience on the second night of the festival is conspicuously longer haired and more denim clad. The atmosphere is competitive still but without the reigning kings there’s not the same buzz.

Stinky Toys. Ellie (20), the Stinky Toys’ singer, has calmed down. The night before, when she realised there was no time for the band to play, she’d made a not-too-successful prima-donna exit – kick, push, tut-tut at tables as she ran out into Oxford Street where, it is said, she was saved from wounding herself under a bus.

Her band is very French, i.e. very, very serious. They’ve frowned for two days and they frown even more when, after three very short numbers, including ‘Under My Thumb’ they get nil reaction from the crowd. There’s Bruno Carone (lead guitar), Jacno (rhythm), Oswald (bass), and Harve on drums. They play completely out of tune even though they spend minutes between numbers ‘tuning-up’.

Ellie’s voice, a high pitched whine, has 90% of the older male population diving back to the bar. And yet? Well, even though she sings in English and not one of the words from songs like ‘Pe Pe Gestapo’ or ‘Kill The Pain’ are intelligible, she has presence. You have to watch her. As the band liven-up with petulant anger at the impassive crowd, Ellie, frisking her blond hair out of beautiful blue eyes, does a frenzied dance before the mike. If only the rest of the band didn’t give the impression they want to get off the stage as fast as they can.

Which singers, I ask Ellie, before she dashes off after the set to catch the last train to Paris, have influenced her most? ‘Brenda Lee,’ she says ‘and Glenda Jackson…’ Umm.

The Damned. There’s something very special about this band. They’ve come a long way fast from the night, three months ago, when they played their first gig at the Nashville. Not that they actually played together that night. Each one of them did his own number in a private daze. Out of time, out of key, the cacophony was terrible enough to be great. The band took to the stage like famished maggots to an over-ripe cheese. They are all born performers, without a shred of inhibition. They are more voluptuous, both musically and physically, than the Pistols, and less classically musical than the Clash. But, with these two bands they are the third key-stone to emerge and they are holding up a corner of the canopy loosely covering the punk rock scene.

Rat Scabies is already being tagged a nubile John Bonham. He drums as solid as an express train. Ray Burns, whose lips always glisten with Woolworth’s best pearly pink Tu lipstick, plays bass as if he were Marc Bolan on lead guitar. He’s articulate and sensitive but he chooses to fool everyone with a front as benevolently mad as a village idiot’s. Bryan James (lead guitar), the band’s ‘elder’, is likely to look up from his guitar, catch Rat and Ray acting out their star trips, and crack up with spontaneous laughter.

Their lead singer, Dave Vanium (he gave up his daytime job as a grave-digger last week), looks as if he’s immaculately risen from Dracula’s crypt. On stage he hisses like an angry bat. And, for one so new to the game, he can keep a show going through appalling obstacles.

As they steam blissfully through ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ and their soon-to-be-released single ‘New Rose’, the sound is atrocious. Vanium’s mike keeps crackling and cutting out, but the show goes on with the minimum of fuss.

Half way through ‘Fan Club’ they take off, pile-driving and crazy fierce, with Bryan pounding the coagulation with a fine treble texture. They are having fun but after their non-revivalist version of the Beatles’ ‘Help!’ the music staggers to a halt.

‘Who’s come here tonight to listen to music?’ challenges Rat as he spars with his drum-sticks on Ray’s bass. It is always difficult for Rat to keep sitting at his drum kit for more than a few numbers at a time. Bryan, meanwhile, has broken a string. After ten minutes the roadie still hasn’t fixed it. Chaos on stage. The show starts again.

‘We’re sorry to sound just like the last band,’ leers Dave, ‘but we can’t help it,’ and he rips into the Stooges’ ‘1970’. He leaps and scrabbles at the torrid air and flinging back his glossy black head he spits out lyrics in a style which is developing into a show-stopper.

Suddenly he jumps into the audience. O.K. that’s par for the course. But when he gets back up on stage again he screams with a conviction which transcends a stage act, ‘Someone has just hit one very near and dear to me’. The show goes on, but Dave is on the verge of freaking.

Minutes later three people appear at the back of the club. There is no commotion but they are bleeding. The atmosphere chills perceptibly. Onto the stage leaps Mr. Hunter, the club’s manager. ‘If there’s any more glasses thrown,’ he yells, ‘you’ll all have to go home.’ The show starts again for ‘So Messed Up’, the last number. The band screams through it, black and moody, slamming out the last riffs before they make a dash to the dressing-room. Dave, whose girl-friend was one of the injured people, heads straight for the street in time to sit in the ambulance as it heads for hospital.

A glass lobbed at the stage, hit a pillar, shattered and sprayed the audience instead.

Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols’ manager, tries to buy a drink and is refused because the barman doesn’t want any more missiles flying through the air.

‘Why don’t you serve drinks in plastic cups,’ asked Malcolm.

‘Who do you think we are!’ is the reply. ‘We’re civilized down here.’

The Vibrators – and Chris Spedding. The show goes on. The first time the Vibrators, John Ellis (lead guitar), Knox (lead vocals) and Jon Edwards (drums) played at the 100 Club, their manager-cum-bassist, Pat Collins, told me, ‘We don’t really go along with the Punk Rock thing, but it’s the fashion isn’t it?’ Since then they’ve cut off their long hair. However, they still play very few original numbers. They’re a punchy little R&B outfit. And since Chris Spedding hasn’t managed to form a band they are the ideal bunch for him. He wants to play it safe. They know all the old classics.

Their first number (Spedding joins them later) is a bluesy carnage of ‘I Saw You Standing There’. Then they spew into ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

By this time, policemen, plain clothes and in uniform, are mingling with the audience. Everyone feels uncomfortable. People have been hurt quietly. There wasn’t a fight, and nobody knows exactly what happened.

Suddenly, with no more impact than a moving dark blue flash, five uniformed police surround a figure by the bar. He looks surprised. Blank. He’s guided to the exit and arrested. It’s Sid Vicious, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ drummer.

The Vibrators play on. Spedding joins them. He’s dressed in black from head to foot and his eyes are like coalholes in his white face. He humps into ‘Motorbikin’’. Ray Burns, who’s standing at the side of the stage, can resist no longer. Up to the mikes he leaps. They are turned off until he reaches the other side of the stage. Spedding’s cool. Ray sings the choruses and the audience seeing that Spedding is trying to slip away cheer him back again. They all mash into ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ and for good measure – with half the audience groaning ‘boring’, ‘old’, and the others leaping about – they wring life into ‘Let’s Twist Again’. Well, they did it! In the dressing room, dripping with sweat, Spedding is actually grinning. He enjoyed himself.

The Buzzcocks. This Manchester band was formed less than two months ago. The front line – Howard Devoto (vocals). Peter Shelley, who plays a chopped-in-half, second-hand ‘Starway’ and Steve Diggle (bass) are pint-sized. Howard, who doesn’t speak to the audience much – has just dyed his mousey hair orange. All the band’s energy implodes around John Maher’s drum kit. But like sparrows in a sand bath, they throw up a gritty cloud of sound. Through numbers like ‘Breakdown’, ‘Orgasm Addict’, ‘Boredom’ and ‘Oh Shit’, their sound is quaintly compact. But their approach, though very energetic is unnecessarily defensive and calculating. Devoto insists that he is only in a rock band ‘temporarily’ and his self-conscious lack of commitmentcomes across. He doesn’t laugh much and he hates being on stage.

The festival ends with the Buzzcocks fluttering into the audience and Peter Shelley’s guitar still on stage feeding back. It pounds out a gut-wrenching lub dub, lub dud like the no-feeling sound of a robot’s heartbeat.

It was a bitter-sweet two days. There was a fine display of inventive music, plenty of hope, a lot of fun, and revived spirits. The star bands gave their best, and the newcomers were very entertaining. But, echoing the black spots in almost all festivals this summer, someone was badly hurt by an alcohol container.

Thus the optimism of this otherwise milestone event was undercut with sadness. Nobody wants to see the fiery, aggressive energy in the music diminished. But, promoters, increasingly eager to book punk-rock bands, must take a few elementary precautions (like plastic mugs) to protect their very young audience. It’s the only sensible way to present their scene.

Caroline Coon – Melody Maker – 2 October 1976

SEXY HOOLIGANS CLOTHING

These are just six examples of a huge range of Sexy Hooligans clothing for men and women, all top quality material. Please go and check out the Sexy Hooligans website HERE.

Think I might get a ‘Vive Le Rock’ shirt for myself. The only ‘Seditionaries style’ shirt I owned as a teenager!

Alternative TV – Deptford Fun City Records – 1977 / 1978 / 1979 / 1980

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

For the last two or three days several kindly folks have reminded me of Alternative TV.

I have uploaded a fair chunk of Alternative TV material onto KYPP already over the years, as well as just about all the material that was released and available on both the vinyl and cassette formats that Mark Perry was involved with after he consigned the band name Alternative TV to the annals of punk history. Bands like The Good Missionaries, The Reflections, Door And The Window are all featured heavily on KYPP. Go and have a peek via the search function if you are interested in looking into and hearing those bands mentioned.

Five years ago in 2008, I placed up a post of the two versions of the debut 7″ single by Alternative TV. That original post may be viewed HERE

I have re-recorded (at 320 kBit/s) all four sides of those two versions of the classic debut single tonight so to improve the download and listening experience. As I was doing that I decided to record all the other singles that were released on Deptford Fun City records up to the debut ‘solo’ 7″ record, also released on Deptford Fun City records, credited to Mark Perry.

There is another reason why I thought of recording the whole catalogue of singles released on Deptford Fun City records. I came across today one of the most wonderful interviews that I have read via the internet or indeed on the old fashioned paper format!

The interview was taken off the punkygibbon.co.uk blog. It is light hearted, easy to read, a whole lot of fun and importantly goes beyond ‘Sniffin Glue’ and the summer of 1977 to reach as far as the free festival years with Here And Now, Street Level studios… Even The Astronauts are mentioned in Mark Perry’s wonderfully colourful reminisces!

Thank you in advance to the writer of the piece, whom I assume is the owner of the punkygibbon blog. Hope you do not mind the snatch.

This post on KYPP is all about those words on the punkygibbon blog, I wanted to celebrate those words with a half decent soundtrack. From ‘Love Lies Limp’ to ‘Lost In Room’ including everything in between.

How Much Longer

You Bastard

I bumped into Mark Perry whilst out in London on a shopping trip. I’d bought another aeroplane, and he was coming out of a gentleman’s outfitters with a new wig. I had a minidisc recorder on me, so I started hassling him for an interview. He looked at me, saw how piteous a creature I was, and agreed to do it. We chatted for several hours, had some coffee and a sarnie, threw a bun at Melvyn Bragg on the South Bank, and went to the Tate Modern and chatted about art like the brainy bastards we are. (Mark’s lawyers have asked me to point out that he doesn’t wear a wig. Anymore.) What follows is an edited transcription (i.e. I’ve ignored the salutations and done away with most of my comments). I’ve decided that some of the stuff was too personal to put into print, and some of it strays quite some considerable way from what most people would call “interesting” – we discussed the merits of our sandwiches at one point, a topic I should imagine won’t float many peoples’ boats. Mark was a great interviewee: animated and honest, no subject was taboo. He was writing his autobiography at the time and he thought it would help him with that, too. He looks and thinks just like he always has done, and talks in a strong Lahdndan accent, pronouncing “bus” as “bas”, “down” as “dahn”, “fuck” as “fack”, and “see ya” as “so are you gonna get me me bas fare ‘ome, then ya cunt?”. (He didn’t really say that.) When I asked if he’d like a transcript before publication, he said that wasn’t necessary, he stood by everything he said, and I could even make up stuff as well if his answers weren’t good enough! What a beezer bloke! I’ve tried to preserve as much of his vernacular as possible, yaknowhattimean, to give you an idea of the wonderful way he talks. And he likes to talk. He’s got a very busy, hyperactive brain, which is why his quotes often seem disjointed. He talks in very long sentences and goes off at tangents, but that’s part of what makes him so charming. Anyway, I begin by asking him how much longer will people wear Nazi armbands and dye their hair, and how he got into punk. His response is this:

I literally come out of school, at whatever time, yeah, get straight on the number one bus. The number one bus was great, was right outside our school and it would take us right to Charing Cross Road, right into Soho, basically. So you’d take the old school tie off, ya know, [and] within about three-quarters an hour after leaving school we were lookin’ at records. This is like in the week, ya know. It was like, ya know, that was our thing, we were into music, people like me, Danny Baker, and our other friend, Steve Micalef – who [as Steve Mick] ended up ‘elpin’ with Sniffin’ Glue as well. And there was this little gang of us, there was about four or five of us, yaknowhattimean, the ones that were into music. And that was great, yaknowhattimean?

I’ve always liked London for that. There’s no excuse in London, it’s when you hear this thing about, ya know, ya hear this over-sort-of-liberal type goin’ “Poor kids of today, haven’t got this and haven’t got that”. DO SUMMAT! All right, I mean, you can understand someone moaning if they live in some small town and they haven’t got anything BUT YER IN LONDON FOR GAWD’S SAKE! There’s no excuse, yaknowhattimean? Get on a bus, yaknowhattimean, ya know. We used to do that, yaknowhattimean?, during the holidays we used to do that, we used to get those Red Rovers, ya know, get a Red Rover all week, be all over the place. Me mam’d say, “Where you bin today”

I’d say “We went to West London”

“Where was it?”

“Oh Portobello Road”

Ya know, you go to Portabello Road when you’re about 12-13, an’ that, look around.

(He really does talk like this, I’m not making it up.)

One day I tried to find out where Eno lived. I was a big Roxy fan an’ it said, I dunno where, the NME or something, it said what street he lived in so I went up Portobello Road this particular Saturday and tried to find Eno’s house. I end up finding his house and waiting outside his door for about two hours, knocked at the door, and there was no sign of him, so then I got a Wimpy and went home, like, but, ha ha.

What I’m saying is when I was young I used London in that way an’ I guess I wouldn’t have found out about punk if it hadn’t been for that, really cos it was obviously it was being uptown a lot and knowing a few record shops uptown is when I first, y’know read about the Ramones and started meetin’ people like in, as I said they used a have a stall, Rock On, a stall in Soho, Newport Court. There was Roger [Carroll] and Ted [Armstrong] [who also ran Chiswick Records - Gibbon] and they used to have a shop, but they owned the whole thing. But the guys who run the stall in, er, Soho were Stan Brennan and a guy called Phil [Gaston]. Stan and Phil, they later on formed Soho Records that put out Nipple Erectors records. I knew Roger and Ted later but first of all I knew the guys from Soho. I didn’t go to Camden much in those days, I later on did, yaknowhattimean, but they were the guys, I said “Look, I’ve done this fanzine, y’know”. I sorta asked about a punk fanzine, they said there isn’t a punk fanzine and I said “I’ve done this fanzine” and they were the first ones who took it, yaknowhattimean, and put it on sale for me.

In conversation I said about, “Is there any magazine?” and they said “there’s no punk magazine, you’ll have to do one yourself” in general conversation, it wasn’t exactly “do one yourself”, “yes I will boss!”. But yeah they did, sort of, like, y’know, they probably said as a joke, y’know, “You’ll have do one yourself, then, won’t you, mate!?” Sniffin’ Glue. And that was it, they were really encouraging. I knew them cos I was a bit adventurous, yaknowhattimean, going up there and havin’ a look ’round London.

How Much Longer (Alternative Version)

You Bastard (Alternative Version)

So what records had you bought from them? If any.

I don’t think I got the first Ramones album from them. There was this other shop we used to go in that used to sell import records, and it was just around the corner from there, I forget where it is now, I used to buy all my import stuff in there. Like cos in those days, I don’t think it happens now, but an album would always come out a month in America before it did here. I got the Ramones album from there. I used to buy things like, y’know, the Count Bishops off them and things like that, y’know, the early indie stuff and that, y’know, early Stiff stuff and that type of thing. I used to come out with a lot of obscure stuff, they used to get, like “Who Put The Bomp!” Records, people like Flamin’ Groovies and that, bands like that y’know. They was just a general second hand record store, all sorts, not just punk, all sorts, old soul, reggae, blues, all sorts, sixties stuff, yaknowhattimean. A place to hang out and chat really, yaknowhattimean and just talk about music. Little stall more than a shop. They had a good little scene there, y’know? Later on, late in ’76, that’s when The Jam played a gig there, Soho Market, yeah, and they got the electricity from the stall, y’know. It was a cool little shop that, and I think later on those guys – Phil and Stan – they left Rock On they formed Rocks Off Records and they did the Soho Records label and bought out the first Nipple Erectors.

Did you have any involvement with that?

Let’s not get personal here! What you mean? Nips and that? What happened is that, I used to be a great – I mean it’s going back again – but what is the first person I met in the punk scene, who became a friend, is Shane MacGowan. I met him actually cos I went to the Ramones at the Roundhouse, that first, like, classic, legendary Ramones gig over here where they were supporting Flamin’ Groovies. I went there with my girlfriend, Louise, at the time and I met up with Shane there. I didn’t know him, we met him, he was this crazy bloke. We met him in a bar, said hello, started talking. I always knew what he was doing and that, yaknowhattimean, but by the time he was putting out records I think I had already done The Image Has Cracked and that. I remember there was this interview I saw him do once, it was with this Jammin’ fanzine – the great Jammin’ magazine, which was a great mag – and he said, “I saw Mark P the other day and he’d grown his hair, he looked like an hippie”, or something. And I probably said “Yeah, it’s about time you changed, you’re not still into this punk rock rubbish are you?” I probably said something like that to him.

Where in 1976 everyone was very tight, you know, cos it was like a very small scene, as people started signing up it just grew. I mean we were playing places like the Rainbow suddenly, and touring, and it was a bit…it had become the music scene; all of us gang of whatevers, gang of nutters, yaknowhattimean, into the Ramones, the new music scene, I mean a year and a bit later we were at all the ligs, there was no difference there, that’s where things like The Clash doesn’t sit in with me, to me The Clash thing was , like a separate thing. I mean by mid-’77 I had a gold card for the Speakeasy Club in the West End, and the Speakeasy Club was, like, the rock establishment club, and you’d be in the Speakeasy sitting there with Mick Jones, Frankie n Miller, Keith Moon, Robert Plant. We weren’t trying to spit at them, we liked being part of the rock scene, yaknowhattimean? Enjoyed it. It like was a lig, we didn’t refuse to go to ligs, if we’d been so fuckin’ against rock music we’d have gone “Oh no, we ain’t going to no lig, that’s wrong! Free drinks? That’s wrong with the music business!” We went “YEAH! Backstage, I’m coming, y’know!”

I mean, I used to take advantage of the Sniffin’ Glue thing. I remember the time I met Paul McCartney, I met a Beatle! and I was tellin’ people about it for weeks afterwards, yaknowhattimean, cos what happened with me, again in early ’77, cos of Sniffin’ Glue I used to get asked to write for the magazines cos I could have been!I guess if I worked at it I could have been a proper music biz writer, y’know, cos I got offers to write for Sounds and Melody Maker. I did one review for Melody Maker and I reviewed Iggy Pop, cos Iggy Pop was doin’ his tour at the time with David Bowie on keyboards, I think it was at ‘The Idiot’ tour, around that period. And I slagged him off. I mean I liked the gig but I thought Iggy was too poncey and out of touch so I said something like, they put it as a headline “Wake up Iggy, it’s 1977″. I did that, but the other one I did was for Sounds and they said they wanted me to review Wings at Wembley. I didn’t get it at the time, I must have been so stupid, cos what they wanted was me to slag it off, they wanted the “top punk writer” to have a go at the Beatles, y’know, have a go at Macca? Anyway, I go to this gig and it was fuckin’ brilliant! It was Wings and I love Wings, yaknowhattimean? And then they’d do a few Beatles songs – ‘Get Back’, ‘Hey Jude’ – it was great, a great evening, yeah? And afterwards we went backstage and got to meet Macca! A year earlier I’m, like, nobody, an’ a year later I’m meeting Paul McCartney. Anyway, I got ‘ome, wrote the review, I wrote a good review an’ Sounds wouldn’t print it! What was all that about? Cos they wanted me to slag ‘im off.

I think I’ve been a bit naive really, I’ve always expected more of people, yaknowhattimean, and when they just try to censor you basically, or they’re only trying to use ya. It’s like in 1977 you’d get asked to do TV shows, and all these cliches they try to come out with. It’s a bit like the Gundy thing, the Pistols, innit, they’re trying to prompt them to say something nasty about Beethoven or something really corny. And the interesting thing about that was that they did the same with the Beatles. There’s an old Beatles interview – I thought it was brilliant – and they said to Lennon, “What d’ya think of Beethoven?” People forget that The Beatles in ’63 were outrageous and they did the same sort of conversation. I mean, they didn’t swear. Trying to provoke some sort of naughty reaction, it’s pathetic.

Life After Life

Life After Dub

Someone wanted to interview you in a building site, didn’t they?

That was a show someone was doing, a Birmingham show, and they invited us up to this show and I forget who this fuckin’ prat was called – I ‘ated this woman who did it, she was like a journalist for The Evening Standard and she was puttin’ this show together – and I went up there with me, Danny [Baker] and this girl I was knockin’ around with at the time, I forget her name now, but anyway we went up there and there was other people up there, like Don Letts was up there, Ari Upp was up there, and, yeah, they was like, there’s this old house, and they’d rented this house for a couple of days for the show and it was like a dump, and they’d done it up like a squat, they’d thrown a mattress on the floor, and I was like, “We’re not sittin’ in ‘ere, we’ll go in the garden or something”. There was this lovely little rose garden and we sat in the rose garden. We refused to do it, it was nonsense. It’s cliches, straight away they’re trying to make the audience have an opinion about you before you’ve even opened your mouth, like so they can go, “Look at them, look at the place they’re in”. They’ll probably try an’ make out it’s your flat: “We interviewed Mark in his ‘ome, in his squat”. There’s me livin’ with me mum and dad in our nice cozy little council flat!

What about the pub rock thing, the Count Bishops?

It wasn’t that all rock bands had turned into dinosaurs, but with the pub rock thing it seem to bring rock back to basics. They were all quite exciting bands and we used to go down to clubs like the Nashville, Hope & Anchor, the Marquee, and it was a really small scene there. And I think without that I don’t think punk would have happened, yaknowhattimean? I think they were very limited in what they’d do cos they were R&B based there was only so far they could go and that was it, so they weren’t very adventurous musically, but I had some great nights, I mean particularly with Dr Feelgood, superb band live, Eddie & The Hot Rods ‘n that, really exciting bands, y’know. A lot of the first punk rock gigs were supporting the so-called pub rock bands, I mean, the Pistols supported Eddie & the Hot Rods, didn’t they?

The first time I saw The Damned they were supporting a band called Salt, one of these pub rock/R&B bands that everyone’s forgotten, and it was at the Nashville. Well it was quite weird because The Damned went on and did their thing and most people went, “Oh, what’s this bloody lot?” and then at the end old Rat Scabies smashed his drum kit up, and they had this big row of course, the blues band accused them of trying to upstage them. It wasn’t very difficult to upstage a band like “chuggy-chuggy”, “I woke up this morning” with an harmonica!.

There’s always been a rivalry, I mean, punk was like that. But without pub, punk wouldn’t have had anywhere to play. It was ready, it was primed, cos London at the time, 76, was primed for something to come along, yaknowhattimean? I mean, the venues were there, there were loads of gigs going on. That was a really good year for rock music, in London.

I’d been seeing the Feelgoods from 1975. I always say Dr Feelgood were a pub band, although they got quite big, I guess cos they were the first ‘n that, and signed to UA and put out some albums with them. And I used to be into a band called the Kursaal Flyers as well, used to love them. You know our album, Strange Kicks? Well Kursaal Flyers used to have a set like that, they used to have a reggae song, a blues song. And they’d do a rock song, they’d do theme songs. Y’know, for the reggae song Paul Shuttleworth, he used to put a rasta wig on, but it worked. Basically they were a really good band, they used to come on like the Barron Knights of the 70s or something, but it did work because they were such bloody great musicians. Will Birch, superb drummer, really good songwriters, I mean, Will used to write most of their stuff. Good band they were.

But their first LP was the pits.

But a lot of those bands made albums like that, I mean, like the Kilburns, in the studio they were crap, personally, I think they just didn’t work. I saw them live only once and I don’t remember much about it, I must admit. I’m a person – say it in hushed tones – I’ve never liked Ian Dury. I’ve sort of given him the odd nod but I’ve just found after a while it’s so corny, all that. I think New Boots And Panties!! sort of works. I had a row with him once. I said something stupid and he threatened to beat me up or something, in the Roxy.

But you put New Boots And Panties!! in you Top Ten in the Sniffin’ Glue book!

My girlfriend made me do it, ‘cos he’d just died that year, I think. It’s not that I ‘ate it, I just don’t like it that much.

Once The Stranglers had a go at me cos I went into the dressing room at the Nashville and I had a Gorillas badge on. They said, “What you wearing that for?” and took me badge and kicked me out. Jean-Jacques Burnel was always trying to start fights with people. I think Rattus Norvegicus is a superb album. We used to play that to death: when we were first touring we only had a couple of cassettes in the car, in 1977. The Stranglers hated me, I think, but I liked them. If you look at it it is probably better than the first Clash album, cos, I mean if you look at the first Clash album, it’s dreadfully under-produced, which you can understand at the time but [now I think] how can anyone like that album that didn’t see ‘em live at the time? If you saw The Clash live at the time then you could understand the album cos you can see it in the context of a live show. No wonder they didn’t, from CBS’ point of view, no wonder they didn’t release it in America first of all, cos it wouldn’t have made sense.

Life

Love Lies Limp

What was the Roxy like?

The Roxy was always pretty good. I never saw anybody get booed at the Roxy. If people didn’t like you they’d just stand around looking bored. None of those bands had massive audiences bouncing around; even ATV! We supported Wayne County down there a couple of times. People were just staring at us.

There was this good bill, with The Adverts, Wayne County, ATV, Johnny Moped, at the Roundhouse. And I got so drunk. These Japanese people turned up, like “We big ATV fans” – God knows how – and this was late 77 – and I got a bottle of whiskey and I think I only had about four swigs out of it but I was gone, yaknowhattimean, and I was all over the place, and Ray Stevenson was there taking some photographs. I picked up me scrapbooks the other day an’ I looked through and there’s a photo of me sitting there looking really drunk, and Wayne County’s on my lap. So funny. And it’s in NME and it’s got a caption with Wayne saying, shall we talk about the record deal Mark? and me saying, “No Wayne, let’s talk about the first thing that pops up”. I remember at the time I was like, oh my god, what have they done!?

Cos we used to tour with Wayne County quite a lot and we used to have a right laugh, and seeing Wayne, as he was then, in these Northern Bed & Breakfasts, coming down to breakfast with his fuckin’ curlers in, shriekin’ out like. He was tough, he could really look after himself, but he always to turn it on a bit, very loud and shrieky. I was in New York last year, funny enough, and she was supposed to be deejaying for us, and when the promoter said – cos apparently she was looking forward to seeing me cos she hadn’t seen us for years, and she was excited about deejaying for ATV – and when the promoter couldn’t find the fifty dollars she wanted she didn’t show up, so she couldn’t have been that interested in meeting me again, just cos he could only pay ‘er forty instead of fifty dollars.

You gave the Saints LP a bad review…

At least the Ramones were funny, they had a sense of humour. The Saints were a little bit dull. I think the first single was incredible, but, again, it’s like a lot of the punk stuff. I don’t think The Lurkers ever made a good album, I don’t think Eater ever made a good album, Buzzcocks I never thought made a good album, I hated all their albums. Badly produced, although they were probably the best singles band. Another Music In A Different Kitchen? That’s got a terrible production, I ‘ate it.

I love the production on that album, I think it’s great

But you’re fackin’ weird! I ‘ate it. I don’t like Never Mind The Bollocks, I think it’s awfully over-produced: too many guitars, sounds like Thin Lizzy, and do we really want Thin Lizzy? And when you think of the influence that had, particularly on America, you just think, on things like Metallica and Guns N Roses, you think, “Is that what we really wanted out of punk?”

Action Time Vision

Another Coke

What about the three labels, Faulty Products etc?

What happened was when Sniffin’ Glue by early ’77 had become the punk bible, if you like, main rag, I got introduced to Miles Copeland at a gig an’ he wanted to know about punk, he wanted some kind of way to work with punk. Before that he’d worked with some dreadful bands, and they were dreadful bands, people like the Climax Blues Band and Renaissance, and they were sort of prog and bluesy and pretty dull, yaknowhattimean, and he wanted to get into the new music. And obviously he spoke to me and he said to me, “Do you want to run a label?” and I was like, “Wow! Run a label?” “Do you wanna be A&R man for a record label? I make records and we wanna do some punk records”, and he admitted – he was very honest – “We don’t know anything about punk rock”. So that was it. I formed Step Forward. At the time he was managing Squeeze and the idea we’d had was that we’d have a group of labels. I came up with the name Step Forward, Deptford Fun City was thought of, I think, by Glen [Tilbrook] out of Squeeze, and the idea of Illegal Records was that it was going to be Stewart Copeland’s label. They were great. To me it was liking going up and up and up. Whereas to me Sniffin’ Glue had got into a certain point of influence and say and my personal career, what I was doing, this was another opportunity to get involved with more stuff, because Miles Copeland had great facilities. He had like an office in West End so he had, like, the phones we could use, he had the faxes we could use, we had the printer. We basically moved Sniffin’ Glue into there as well. He had a spare office. So it really changed the way we did Sniffin’ Glue an’ everything.

What happened with Deptford Fun City was they got bored with it. They did the first Squeeze record but they weren’t really interested in doing labels, they signed up to A&M almost straight away, and so Deptford Fun City was kind of floating about. Stewart was more into the Illegal Records thing; he was into dabbling about with different things, and Stewart was very encouraging with the punk thing, he was very into it. It was a great scene, that was, it was all under the [name] Faulty Products, that was the headline we had. And it was great fun, it was a great atmosphere, that office. It was just people doing stuff they loved doing. And just upstairs from us, for the first couple of months anyway, was Glitterbest, the Sex Pistols’ office, so we were always runnin’ up an’ down the stairs. Miles Copeland had the Pistols the gigs in Amsterdam. I remember when they got the test pressing of ‘No Future’, which later became ‘God Save The Queen’, I remember the lads saying, “Come up and hear our new single” and we all went upstairs and sat round listening to that. For me, personally, it was another way of me being creative. I wish I had done more with the label, really, but again it’s down to me changing all the time, wanting to move forward all the time.

So why was ATV on DFC not Step Forward?

I wanted to leave Step Forward as a label of bands that I liked rather than my own music. The reason we were on was because it was like available, and we were from Deptford. It fitted brilliant for us.

We had an office with like three rooms and there was this empty office next door, which was a right tip, it was just a shithole, y’know, and he asked the landlord if we could have the office next door, but could we ‘ave it on the cheap, like? And what we did is we run a cable outside the window, so we didn’t even have electricity in this office, we run a cable from the office next door and that became the Sniffin’ Glue offices. It was cool. We were doin’ loads of graffiti an’ that, we used to have some great times there cos when we did interviews we always did ‘em up there. We did a Blondie interview up there that never got printed, we used to have ‘em all up there, get a few beers in, right in the middle of Oxford Street.

We wanted to do The Adverts but then they got chatted up by Stiff and they did their first record with Stiff. Cos we were good friends with Tim and Gaye [we] really got on well with them. But of course then once I got my own band going I was spending so much time with that I had to stop doing Sniffin’ Glue cos I was doin’ the label and the band. It had lost the plot a bit, I think those last couple of issues ain’t so good. Sniffin’ Glue #11 was good cos we asked some other people to contribute to it, but Sniffin’ Glue #12, I just don’t think it was very good. It’s awful. I ‘ad the row with someone and I said what I said and they said, “Well put in your piece” so I did, and it was something that worked really well at the time. A few years ago Danny said, that piece you wrote was quite sad, it sounded like you were going to pieces, it sounded like you were having problems, yaknowhattimean. Danny described it as self-loathing. I think it was. With regards to Sniffin’ Glue, it was the end. It never sold out, it didn’t turn into a glossy magazine.

You never sold out, either!

No, but I tried a couple of times but they didn’t let me! We did a demo for EMI. If they’d had signed us up, I woulda done it. Because what had happened, like what happened to a lot of people, I’d done the demo, thought “Oh well, if we get a recording out of it!” and if I’d ‘ve actually seen that contract the Mick Jones part of my brain would have gone: EMI, tours, y’know, same label as the Beatles and Pistols, number one record. I think I woulda done it. And when they said we hated this I said, “We didn’t wanna sign anyway”. The lucky thing about me was that I knew that I could put records out, it wasn’t the end. To some band in the sticks who didn’t have the connections, they might have thought “Oh my God, that’s our only chance”. But with me I thought we’ll go and make the records ourselves. Who knows what would’ve happened then. We could have been like the Buzzcocks or something. Not a bad thing. But better. The Image Has Cracked would have still been The Image Has Cracked but the tracks might have been in a different order. There’s no way that they’d have let us start the album with ‘Alternatives’. It’s good the way that it divides people.

The Force Is Blind

Lost In Room

Can we talk about some specific ATV records? “Love Lies Limp”, how did they come about?

‘Love Lies Limp’ was one of the first lyrics I wrote, cos early on, when we first thought of the band!it was early ’77 and when I was gonna put together a band I wrote all these lyrics for Alex to put music to, and most of ‘em ended up on this thing called The Industrial Sessions we did. They were all the outtakes, all the stuff we didn’t end up recording properly. I used to have this thing at the time cos what happened is I knocked around with Caroline Coon, and I tell you what, she ate me an’ spat me out, honestly, she was so experienced and she was like my second girlfriend or something. Well actually It was like one of these things, when you’re young and going out with an older person, especially like Caroline, who was a very very determined woman, it’s like “Oh I think I love you, and are you my girlfriend?” and she goes, “Fuck off, I’m seeing three other people as well”, and you’re like, “no, no” So I was a bit like that, I was a bit infatuated with Caroline and I think that a lot of people were. She ended up going out with Paul Simonon for a while, just after me. I really looked up to her, she was really creative, and we worked together, an’ she really was encouraging on the Sniffin’ Glue thing, but anyway that was when the subject first come up about my sexuality.

I used to hate it at the time, I don’t know why cos I’m a lot more relaxed about it now, but I used to hate the emphasis put on sex all the time, yaknowhattimean, and it was one of the things wrong with rock music. I wanted to write a song about that sort of thing, that it didn’t really matter. You can’t get it up? You can’t get it up, it don’t make you any less of a person, not that I had any real problem with that, I just thought, if you don’t wanna do it, why should ya? So I just thought it was an antidote to all these, y’know, rock and roll let’s-have-sex sort of songs.

We didn’t actually record it as a single cos that was one of the songs we did for EMI as a demo. We did four songs, we did ‘Love Lies Limp’, ‘How Much Longer’, ‘You Bastard’ and ‘Life’ as as demo. We went in an’ did these songs, and ‘Love Lies Limp’ was about sex and had swearing in it, I think I swore in ‘How Much Longer’ at the end – “You all don’t fucking care” – ‘You Bastard’ – well, “You bastard”, right? – and ‘Life’ was the only one that was “acceptable”. EMI basically said “Look, very interesting, but we think it’s too political, it’s too controversial” – that’s what they said about our music, it was quite funny – but the good thing about the EMI demo was that it was like a free recording for us, so we had these tracks. I dunno I had the idea or someone else had the idea that when it came to the last issue of Sniffin’ Glue, cos by that time we’d recorded a different version of ‘How Much Longer’/’You Bastard’ for the first single but we hadn’t put it out yet, and just thought it’d be a nice introduction to the band. The concept idea that you end the fanzine so one thing ends of mine, and the band starts. So that’s why. But I don’t know why we chose that particular song for the flexidisc. It was good to do something different. Someone also mentioned that cos it was a flexi, cos it was on a floppy disc, y’know ‘Love Lies Limp’? I didn’t think of that, someone else come up with that. Someone said that in the NME, they said “This is not a conventional record, this is ‘Love Lies Limp’ on floppy, and they made that connection. I think it was a bit of an inspired idea doing that flexidisc.

I think we spent all our profits on it, which didn’t amount to much, but we had load of ‘em, cos what happened was we had got 20,000 made of the bloody things. In fact, Harry Murlowski, who was at the time he was doing more of the business side of the fanzine and that, he was at his mum’s the other day, well last year or something, and he was looking in the loft and he found a box of ‘LLL’ flexidiscs, about fifty of ‘em. I think we made more than we actually had fanzines to put ‘em on, y’know? But it was a good idea, I am proud of that, y’know. It’s weird, it’s like a real Deptford reggae, like it’s reggae, but it’s not quite reggae, it’s very quite jazzy, it’s a weird one that. We still play that in our set, it’s one of our most popular songs. It’s a funny song, a bit of a comedy song, havin’ a larf.

“Splitting In Two” is the song that’s lasted longest in our set, it’s about me and I’m still like that, I think, y’know, questioning stuff all the time.

So what about the second single, why two versions?

What happened was, we did the EMI demo, and we thought that was pretty cool, more rough and ready, and then we re-recorded it for the proper single but after living with the first single for a little bit, not long, I just thought it was over-produced, and I liked the old version better. What we did, when we did a re-press we just thought we’d put that other version out, the EMI session one, so that’s what we did. When we did The Image Has Cracked CD we put both versions on. They are quite different. The EMI version is much more what we sounded like live, there’s no overdubs, it’s just as it is, y’know.

My favourite record I’ve ever made is, my favourite one track I’ve ever made, or record even, A-Side and B-Side, is “The Force Is Blind”. I’m really proud of that, I don’t think we ever bettered that. You know what I’m saying of the poetry and jazz idea, I just think that’s where it really comes together on that, yaknowhattimean?

Who’s the woman on that?

Anno? She’s the singer in Here & Now, the Gong offshoot. She was a French girl. Later on I ended up, we got together; we got a son, me and Anno. Anno was the lead singer in Here & Now and we really hit it off, cos we toured with them, we toured with Here & Now, the What You See Is What You Are tour. Me and Anno really hit it off and later on we got together, we were together for quite a few years, really. We got a son, he’s sixteen years now, Sebastian, and he lives with his mum in France, cos she’s French. We split up, it didn’t work out, y’know. Great kid, like. I like that record cos that is, it’s one of those records you hear and you don’t know what era it comes from, it just happens, it’s just there, y’know? That’s to me what punk should be about, that type of thing, just experimental, yaknowhattimean, just being bold. And yet the other side is quite edgy, ‘Lost In Room’, more of a punky new wave thing, innit? I’m really proud of that release, it’s a really great record, that.

How was that recorded?

What we did with that was I didn’t tell the musicians at all what was gonna happen in the studio cos I used to play a lot of games, I used to play a hell of a lot of games with musicians in the band. I had the songs written. With ‘Force is Blind’ I had a bass line written and just the lyrics, and then ‘Lost in Room’ I had the chords and the lyrics, like. This sounds really pretentious but I used to say “Look Dennis, you know when you play” – I used to get them into the vibe of it – “You’re all light, this is a festival, there’s lots of free food about, y’know, it’s all cool, the kiddies are playing, it’s a beautiful day and then, like, someone comes in to spoil it and smashes it up, yaknowhattimean, like the police” or whatever, or it could be some other thing. Apart from the bass line everything’s improvised; they’d just do their thing. I was playing the drums on that, but I thought Anno did brilliantly on that, cos Anno had such a childlike voice and she did all these weird things, like she’d do a note and then she’d change it while she was singing it, she’d sort of bend it, yaknowhattimean?

Was Anno ever in Gong?

Gong became Planet Gong, by then it was Daevid Allen, and Here & Now were basically his backing band under this Planet Gong/Mother Gong thing. When David Allen left and Here & Now kept on going. She did a bit of work with me, she did some of Snappy Turns; she played violin on that. I’ll tell what she does sing on is ‘Boy Eats Girl’ for Peep Show, she was on that. But it was great, the Here & Now was really important for us. I mean, again, going back to ’78, where everything was getting a bit samey and a bit stereotyped, y’know, and The Clash were off on CBS and you had the Oi! thing was just starting, and the more sort of “working class” punk thing was just getting going, and y’know, I actually thought, “Where are we gonna go from here? What are we gonna do next, y’know?” And a couple of people from Here & Now actually approached me at a gig, it was Kif Kif who used to play drums and Anno turned up at a 100 Club gig and said “Look, we’re in this band, y’know, we do these free tours, we do like these free gigs”, and I was like “Free gigs?” and they said “Yeah, we just play around and we just get money from selling food and from havin’ whip-rounds and I just thought, like, fuckin’ you just can’t get more punk than that, really, and that’s why I got in there, and I got slagged off so much for that. “What are you playin’ with these hippies for?” “But they’re playing for nuthin’, that’s what WE should be doin’. We shouldn’t be playin’, y’know, shitty venues like the fuckin’ Rainbow an’ that”. Well it’s good to play ‘em once, y’know, so we could say we played the Rainbow – tick – but, y’know, c’mon, let’s do something different, that’s what punk’s about. Again, when they were actually given a chance, a lot of punk bands wouldn’t do things like that, yaknowhattimean? They wouldn’t just get out there and play to the people, yaknowhattimean, unless they had the right haircuts or something. It’s bollocks! That’s what I hated about it, I got to loathe punk; by ’79, I loathed it. It was just what it represented. To me it suddenly represented something I’d loved so much and freed me as a person, y’know, to become an artist and a creative person, it seemed to be wanting to put everything into a box and label everything suddenly. It was awful

And that Here & Now tour was a great eye-opener for me. I mean, they used to laugh at us, the Here & Now people cos we’d go to these places like the Stonehenge festival and turn up in our van and we’d go, “Right, where do we sleep?” And they’d go “Have you bought a tent?” “No. Ain’t we got B&B’s?” “No”. It was so funny, so that was when we ended up sleeping in the bus, like, they used to have this big bus, sort of hippie bus. Of course you’d get into it after a while. In the morning I’d get up and say to Anno, “Where’s the showers?” and she went, “Showers?!”, rolling around the floor laughing at me. “What ya mean?” “We go to the local pub and use their toilets”.

“What? To have a wash? What about the toilets, then?”

“No toilets, just go behind the bush and that”. I dreaded it. It really showed me how bloody, y’know, naive I was about the world cos people like Here & Now were out there doin’ if for nuthin’, yaknowhattimean. Everyone was huffin’ an’ puffin’ about changing’ things, an’ being anti-establishment and they were anti-establishment, yaknowhattimean, without even trying, y’know?

Mad it was, some of the gigs they did. I dunno what it’s like nowadays but it was still then, and which fueled a lot of the reasons why I think that the 70s was great in the UK, was that there was great gigs in colleges and Uni’s, weren’t there?, and everywhere you’d go you’d play the college or the Uni, and they were great gigs cos it wasn’t commercially driven. Y’know, a lot of the Here & Now stuff were at Uni’s, like Warwick, Stoke, we’d go to Canterbury, play on a day like today [sunny], outside, fantastic gigs they were, really, really good. You’d have a whip-around afterwards, and people’d put you up and that and bring food, and people would say “Bloody hippies”, but they were nice people.

[Later on that's what Crass did] they did the collective thing an’ all that, basically, that was seen as a hippie thing to do, wasn’t it, it was “noooo, we don’t like hippies”. We’ve been told we’re not supposed to like ‘ippies. Kill a hippie or something. Y’know, that’s brainwashing, punk seems to brainwash people, y’know. A shame, that is. I mean, after that tour, that’s when I went to make Vibing, cos I’d been talking to people with different ideas about how to make music, and all the opportunities were suddenly all there. Cos of that a lot of people probably thought , “Why’d he have to go on that bloody tour?” I mean, Miles Copeland – our manager – ‘ated it. He’s never been a breadhead, Miles, cos he comes from a rich family an’ that – his father was head of the CIA an’ all that, wasn’t he, big American, rich family – but he don’t like throwin’ money away, yaknowhattimean, so when we said, “Well, we’re doin’ this tour” he said, “Right, how much you getting, what’s the deal?”, we were going, “Oh, it’s free”.

“Yeah, but what’s the deal?”

“No, it’s free, Miles, there’s no!people come in for nuthin’”

“And how will we make money out of that?”

“It’s not about making money, Miles, we’re out there!”

“Hey, you guys, you tryin’ to freak me out or something?!!”

But it used to be funny with Miles, Miles liked it. When he went to the gigs he said, “It’s a good scene”

There was indie records before punk, of course there was, in the sense that there were records put out not by the big companies, but punk definitely! I mean what happened was that you had all these bands suddenly formed so people could get a bit of music and then it sort of died off a bit – the big labels had the bands they wanted, didn’t they? – and suddenly there was a lot of bands thought, “Oh we’d better start making records now”. I mean, was it the Desperate Bicycles were one of the first ones? I remember Scritti Politti doing an early thing, and my mate I ended up working with like Door & The Window at NB Records. Rough Trade had started up by this time. That was a good scene that was, worthwhile, but again nothing to do with real punk. Punk helped that come in but musically it was a lot more diverse than punk ever was.

Here & Now started Fuck Off Records. Kif Kif from Here & Now started that. People like the Astronauts an’ all that, The Door & The Window, who I was playing drums for, we were on that. Here & Now used to have a great scene over in, um, West London, that was their place – a place called Brownlea Road – and it was a great scene over there, a bit near where Rough Trade were based, off the Ladbroke Grove an’all that, and they had all these squats an’ that, y’know. A bit of an eye-opener for me cos although I was into punk I’d always had a very comfortable home life. I was an only child, very comfortable flat an’ that, y’know, I wasn’t like a rough guttersnipey type yobbo, I was a very quiet child. They had a load of rehearsal space an’ all that. Later on they started the Street Level studios. Grant Showbiz, he was the sound guy for Here & Now, an’ he went on to produce like The Fall and later on worked with Billy Bragg, produced the Smiths for a little while. He did the Dragnet album for The Fall. I think The Fall were one of the only other bands to play – on our level – that actually played with Here & Now. A lot of the other bands just didn’t wanna know.

Although Here & Now were interested in having punk bands play, let’s face it, I think if Sham 69 had played , then you’d have got all their audience along, and they’d have just duffed up the ‘ippies. It’s like when Sham 69 played Reading, innit, they took over the stage an’ all that. Just some fucking idiots.

By that time, late 78, the punk scene was just dead as far as I was concerned, cos you had all that lot going over that way, and the mob I was interested in, like Here & Now and the Pop Group – we toured with them quite a bit – people that actually thought about the music they were making, like the Fall. Rough Trade got a lot of bands like the Raincoats, we used to know them, Scritti Politti we used to play gigs with Scritti Politti. What was called by Record Collector once, “avant-punk”, which I quite like. Throbbing Gristle, people trying to do different stuff, Prag Vec, Essential Logic. I suppose people like Gang of Four, people like the Mekons.

He goes on about Kif Kif for a while, then his phone goes and we get hassled by yet another scrounger. I notice I’ve been taping over the interview (the player is on a loop). So what was “lost”? He moaned a bit about the panning the press gave the second ATV album, Vibing Up The Senile Man, and we talked about the third LP, Strange Kicks. ‘There Goes My Date With Doug’ was simply a song he’d written based on an episode of the Brady Bunch, believe it or not.

He could write a good pop song, could Alex Fergusson.

The Whole World Is Down On Me

I Live He Dies

Were Rough Trade trying to push their Socialist beliefs through records?

The way Rough Trade was run, in comparison to the other main two indie labels – Stiff and Chiswick – they were both run by people that were very rock & roll. Cos like Jake, he’d worked with various people as road manager an’ that, and Ted and Roger had been in the business a while as well. Geoff was just totally different, he wasn’t rock n roll definitely, he was a very quiet, very intelligent guy an’ all that, bit of a leftie. Just a very gentle sort of approach. And I think that was reflected in the way he went about his business, yaknowhattimean. I think he had to get real later on, cos that’s what brought Rough Trade down in the end, they were making too many records with too many bands, it was just ridiculous. When The Door & The Window made a record you used to be able to go up to Rough Trade and say “Look, I’ve made this album I wanna put out” and they’d pay for all the manufacturing and distribution, and they did that for loads of bands, hundreds of bands. So it wasn’t on their label, they’d do it for ya, but the money they must have spent on that, for records that really weren’t selling that much, yaknowhattimean?

People say to me, Mark, if you hadn’t have done Vibing straight away but done another The Image Has Cracked with those ideas, you’d have been big, you could have had big audiences for a longer time, toured America. But it didn’t happen. We could have been a Buzzcocks, on that level. We could have played big halls.

We were very sophisticated. Let’s face it, the sort of stuff ATV was doing on The Image Has Cracked, things like ‘Nasty Little Lonely’, I think that’d have gone down well if our album had been promoted in the States an’ we went out with that show we were doing then, in the States, I think we’d have gone down really well cos we had that musical angle that a lot of other bands didn’t have. We actually sounded like we could play, even though I couldn’t play very well. We sounded like we were trying new things. When you hear that song!I look back and think, “bloody hell, that was good, sounds great, the opening sounds like Pink Floyd – the piano bit – sounds like a real sophisticated bit of music, it’s not bad that, there weren’t many other bands doing that sort of thing at the time. On that we actually got accused of sounding like Black Sabbath – not a bad thing to sound like if you wanna be rich.

I suppose it [punk] was a lot more amateurish [in the early days], the naivety of the Ramones and the early Clash, the Pistols, without all that strutting around rock and roll, and then you had the art school influences with people like Wire and Subway Sect an’ Siouxsie & The Banshees when they did their brilliant performance at the 100 Club. So that to me was what was good about that early punk thing and later on, to me, that seemed to get lost yaknowhattimean?

[In the early days] we didn’t seem to care what happened because, on one level there wasn’t any money involved. Most of the people working in the early months of punk, I don’t think they were particularly thinking, “Ooh, we can make a good career out of this, right, let’s do this properly”. It was like, “Wow, this is really exciting, I can have a go”, and they’re having a go. It’s like the Subway Sect when they played at the first punk festival only knew four songs, didn’t they? And Vic Godard, you see ‘im on stage and he’s got like his key around his neck, he’s a latch-key kid, and he’s standing up there, “Do I look at the audience?”, he’s really nervous, he’s still at school. And to me that was the spirit of that, but of course a couple of months later when everyone’s getting signed up it suddenly becomes, there’s a bit of money in this, people talking about ten, twenty, thirty, forty grand on the table. The same bands that just were like, “We’re just doing it for a crack and for just like getting up there and having a go in the spirit of punk” are standing there thinking, “Oh right, there’s money in this”, and you start organizing things, you gotta hire vans and you gotta hire studios. And the natural thing what happens is that people don’t wanna take chances anymore cos they don’t wanna blow their deals. What happened to me was, because I was in like a unique position in that I had my own labels an’ that, that’s why I could take the chances I did. So I could do anything, literally, so I did Vibing. There was no other band, probably, in our position, that could have done Vibing. About the only band, ever, that come close to doing something like Vibing was Public Image Ltd.

I thought Vibing at the time was in the spirit of punk, and what I mean by that is those early punk years, because people didn’t have those pressures of like “We don’t wanna blow our deals”, people were just doing it for the right reasons, including the R&B bands, the pub rock bands.

Joe Strummer was the least commercial aspect of The Clash. Cos halfway through gigs he couldn’t sing. Urrggggghhhh cough! He’s a nutter, y’know? It was more Mick Jones going, “Keep it nice, Joe, don’t blow it”. I met Mick Jones backstage at an Ian Hunter gig cos he was signed to CBS then. An’ I got this ‘phone call from CBS. “We’re doing Ian Hunter at the moment and do you want to come along and interview Ian Hunter?”. And I was like, “No, why?” And they said, “Well, he wants to talk to a punk fanzine”. They were basically trying to sell Ian Hunter, which was cool, cos we were all into Mott the Hoople, but they wanted to sell him as some like, godfather of punk. So I said, “Yeah I’ll come and see Ian Hunter”.

Well backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon was Mick Jones; of course, Mick Jones was on the same label, and also supporting were Japan. This night was a good night, an interesting night. First of all, it was the first time I saw Mick Jones after I’d had a go at The Clash. I’d come out with my statement, “Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS”. He said, “You’d better be careful what you say, you might find yourself at the bottom of the river with concrete boots on”. I’m like, “Whaaaaat? What are you talkin’ about? What is this, the Mafia?” Nonsense! But also, in this same situation Japan were there, early Japan, and the bloke from Japan come over to Mick Jones and said “Oh Mick, can we have our photo taken with ya?” And Mick’s goin’, “Oh, all right then”, all miserable.

Me and Mick, we started talking so it cooled down a bit. But interestingly we went to the aftershow party and it was at this club in Fulham Road, and the money they spent on it, and we got to meet Ian Hunter together. And it was incredible because it really made an impression on me how important punk had become. Cos meeting Ian Hunter we were like, “We’re meeting Ian Hunter! Don’t panic! Don’t panic!” We were all excited, we were like kids. And Ian did this sort of speech, she said to us “You guys, people like me don’t matter anymore” And he was probably only 30 for God’s sake! “We’re just lucky to be around still”. It was bizarre, it was quite moving. Those older musicians guys – and they really weren’t all that old – they really felt that they were old news. [talks about how ELP were suddenly being pressured into doing short songs] That’s the effect punk had. Made everyone go mad, and they literally started questioning what they were doing. But it seemed to me like chucking the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, we wanted to destroy rock, but not everything that was interesting about rock. We didn’t wanna stop people being experimental for fuck’s sake.

Talking of The Clash, what did you think of Give ‘Em Enough Rope?

I was into the Blue Oyster Cult but I don’t want The Clash produced by the Blue Oyster Cult producer! I admire Sandy Pearlman, he made some great records, but not with The Clash. I ‘ated that album, it stinks! London Calling was superb. Punk’s over now, The Clash are a great rock band, they make a great rock album.

What about stuff like Crass?

(Rambles on a bit about Crass and Oi not being sexy, Rock Against Racism, art being impartial, spots Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle and looks blank for a moment while trying to pick up the thread).

The thing with me is that I’m a bit more of a Mick Jones than a Steve Ignorant. I wanted change an’ all that but I’ve always loved rock too much. Although the rhetoric in Sniffin’ Glue does sound politically motivated I’m, not sure it would be much use come the revolution yaknowhattimean?

Below are a few scans of early Sniffin Glue text that mentions Tony D when he had started Ripped And Torn fanzine many years prior to starting Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine.

From Sniffin Glue issue 5 November 1976

From Sniffin Glue issue 5.5 December 1976

From Sniffin Glue issue 6 January 1977

Ripped And Torn online which has all the copies of Ripped And Torn on the blogs archive may be viewed HERE

Wasted Youth – Bridgehouse Records – 1981

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Maybe We’ll Die / Housewife / Games / Pinned And Grinning / Wasted

I Wish I Was A Girl / If Tomorrow / Survivors Part 1 / Survivors Part 2

Wasted Youth were a popular post-punk band between 1979 – 1982, playing a dark psychedelic bohemian rock. Wearing all black clothes and some in shades and make-up but pre-dating goths, they embodied cool whilst paying homage to their numerous influences from the Velvet Underground to trash-garage bands. In that fertile early post-punk era, Wasted Youth threw down a marker with their unique approach.

Singer Ken Scott and drummer Andy Scott had been in East London punk band The Tickets, who appeared on the Live at the Roxy album, and released a single ‘I’ll Be Your Pin-Up’ on Bridge House records. They both teamed up with guitarist Rocco Barker, keyboards Nick Nicole and bassist Darren Murphy to form Wasted Youth, and evolved from their punk roots into a dark, decadent, androgynous style.

Their debut single ‘Jealousy’ released on Bridge House records had an instant impact. Simple and dramatic, it got them immediate attention from the music press and a number of national radio DJs gave it regular radio play. Seemingly coming from nowhere, suddenly they spent months in the indie charts. They capitalised on it with charismatic live gigs, and quickly showed it wasn’t a one-off. A second single ‘I’ll Remember You’ also released on Bridge House records, was produced by the Only One’s Peter Perrett and with the help of an Only Ones tour support; they built up a strong live following. The band certainly loved to tour and feed off audiences rather than just exist in the sterile environment of a studio. More tours, such as with Classix Nouveau followed, and soon the band were gigging full time on their own, not just in the UK but across Europe.

Wasted Youth often played the renowned Bridge House pub venue in Canning Town partly due to the owner, Terry Murphy, being the father of Darren, Wasted Youth’s bassist. Terry Murphy was also the owner of the Bridge House record label which released all of the bands material to the public.

A single ‘Rebecca’s Room’ was produced by Martin Hannett and issued jointly by Bridge House records and Fresh records. In France a 12” was released on Underdog of their first two singles. Playing festivals and getting movie offers, they issued the only studio album ‘Wild And Wandering’ which was recorded at Spaceward Studios in Cambridge and mixed at Southern Studios by John Loder. The album was followed by two more singles ‘Wildlife’ and ‘Reach Out’ both on Bridge House records.

Eventually Wasted Youth decided to go out with a bang – a big gig at the London Victoria Venue was their 1982 swan song. Rocco then went on to form Flesh For Lulu.

The album review below was ripped off the All Music site and the condensed history of the Bridge House pub venue was ungraciously cut off the Independent newspaper website and pasted with great care onto this website!

The stunning debut album by one of the most underrated U.K. bands of their age, ‘Wild and Wandering’ was released in the wake of three singles, each of which threatened to lift the band to new heights but all of which, ultimately, served as nothing more than a dress rehearsal for guitarist Rocco’s next band Flesh for Lulu. Darkly atmospheric, but lavished with pop hooks and imagery, its nine songs are a haunted, haunting melange of urban savagery and decadent decay, the passion of the Velvet Underground shot through the energies of punk in a way that more po-faced wanderers down that same path (Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division) could never have imagined. Hindsight may pinpoint the likes of the Cure and Bauhaus within its textures, but that is forgetting that Wasted Youth were feared contemporaries of both, so who really lifted that drum pattern…that vocal inflexion…that guitar riff…from whom?

Dave Thompson

From 1975 to 1982, the Bridge House, Canning Town, in the East End of London, was the place to be. Heavy metal fans rubbed shoulders with punks, mods, skinheads and goths to watch Iron Maiden, the Tom Robinson Band, Secret Affair, Cockney Rejects and Wasted Youth. The 560-capacity pub is where Dire Straits, U2 and the Stray Cats played their first UK dates, where The Blues Band and Chas & Dave recorded live albums, and where Depeche Mode got signed.

Ray Winstone was a regular, between appearances in Scum, Quadrophenia and even in a film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains alongside Paul Simonon of The Clash and Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols. He’d followed the advice of “Uncle Tel”– the landlord, Terence Murphy – and given up boxing in order to “get stuck into the acting”.

That’s one of many tales Murphy tells in The Bridge House, Canning Town: Memories of a Legendary Rock & Roll Hangout. Murphy himself was a light-heavyweight who lost a bout on ITV’s opening night in 1955 and quit boxing in 1957.

When we meet for a pint near where the Bridge House used to be, he admits it’s the venue, not his boxing, that people still talk about. “Every time I went out to dinner, boxing, football, someone would mention the Bridge House and the wonderful times they had there. I wrote the book for fun. I had all the paperwork: dates, bands, 1,500 tapes. I had a tape of The Executive, George Michael’s first band before Wham!, but we never gave them a gig.”

The Police also missed out. “I couldn’t book them, not in Canning Town. People would think there were coppers in the band,” Murphy says. “U2 played before they had a record deal. We had Paul Young with the Q-Tips, Alison Moyet with the Little Roosters, Annie Lennox. She seemed to have a new wig for every song,” says Murphy, who took over from his brother John at the Bridge House in 1975.

“I wanted to put my mark on it. The first band I got was Remus Down Boulevard. I paid £20 a gig.” Pub rock ruled at Dingwalls in Camden and the Hope and Anchor in Islington, but the Bridge House was way out in unfashionable East London, though that became a virtue. “Musicians like to hang out where they’re not going to be hassled,” Murphy says. “At the Bridge House, they could play a few bum notes, have a drink, relax. It became the place to have a jam. Paul Jones brought Tom McGuinness and Hughie Flint; that was the start of The Blues Band.”

Murphy’s policy of rotating styles and genres paid dividends. “We decided to try and keep people in the area, save them travelling to the West End. We had a couple of jam sessions, West Coast country rock with Clover [featuring Huey Lewis], heavy rock with Iron Maiden. Steve Harris [the bassist and leader] was a local boy. They always pulled a good crowd.

In 1980, Murphy told Mick Jagger not to dance. “He came with Keith Richards to see Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart and Alexis Korner play with Rocket 88. Jagger started dancing. I said, ‘Mick, you’re not allowed to dance. I’ve got a dancing licence but it’s only for the stage.’ He couldn’t believe it.”

By 1978, the Bridge House was established. “We were the first pub in the world with its own record label,” Murphy says. He hit on the scheme of having photos of regulars on the inside sleeve of the Live: a Week at The Bridge E16 album: “They all bought a copy.” The Mods Mayday album in 1979, featuring Squire and Secret Affair, made the charts. “Both bands signed to Arista. We never recorded to make hit records. We did it so bands would get their name about, do a few interviews, mention the pub and create a vibe.”

Oddly, the Bridge House didn’t capitalise on its place at the centre of the late-Seventies Oi! scene with an album. Garry Bushell, then a Sounds scribe, now a tabloid columnist, says: “The Cockney Rejects’ story is about to be made into a film, so we’ll have to recreate the look, sound and feel of the Bridge House. It’s going to be tough. The place was a one-off.”

The venue also spawned Wasted Youth, a post-punk, goth band who never quite reached the heights of Joy Division and Bauhaus, though their following included one Dave Gahan, later of Depeche Mode. “I introduced him to my son Darren who played bass in Wasted Youth,” Murphy says. “Depeche Mode couldn’t get a gig in London. They had the guts to give a tape with a drum machine to a rock pub. Depeche Mode played exactly the same as their tape, but only 20 people turned up. Then I thought I’d put Depeche on with Fad Gadget . Daniel Miller fell in love with them and signed them in 1980. In 1982, they heard we were struggling and they did a secret gig for us. They wanted us to keep the pub open.”

Murphy shows me the site where the Bridge House once stood. “The pub became a club, then a hotel. It got pulled down for a new flyover in 2002. I did try to get a plaque but there was nowhere to put it, until now.”

Murphy has given his blessing to the New Bridge House, a music venue run by Tony Nicholls and Tony Cook, a few hundred yards away. Remus Down Boulevard, featuring former Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton, played the grand opening yesterday.

‘The Bridge House, Canning Town’ by Terence Murphy is published by Pennant Books (£17.99) and is available from thebridgehousee16.com and bh2live.com

King Tubby Meets The Upsetter – Studio 16 Records – 1978

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Blood Of Africa / African Roots / Raw Roots / Wood Roots / Luke Lane Dub

People From The Grass Roots / Crime Wave / No Justice For The Poor / 300 Years At The Grass Roots / King Tubby And The Upsetter At Spanish Town

Uploaded tonight is a 1978 repress of a record that was originally released on the Fay Music record label in 1974.

This album is a classic in it’s genre and is London based Winston Edwards’ second released album after ‘Natty Locks In Dub’. ‘King Tubby Meets Upsetter At Grass Roots Of Dub’ is a set that introduced and helped to establish dub music in the UK and to an audience other than sound system followers. At the time of its release it was heavily marketed and put forward two of the best and most in-demand mixing engineers at the time. Supposedly all tracks on this album were mixed by Tubby after the rhythms were all recorded at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio and contrary to what the sleeve title alludes to, the two giants of Jamaican dub never ‘met’ during these actual recordings!

Whatever the true facts, Black Echoes paper placed it right at the top of the Dub album chart in an article written in the middle of 1977 (from the original 1974 Fay Music copy of the record). I have placed the whole Black Echoes article below.

The article was originally on the reggae-vibes.com website. Thanks to that website in advance.

The photograph above is by Dennis Morris and shows Count Shelley and his Sound System back in 1974 at the 4 Aces Club in Dalston, East London.

Black Echoes Top 20 Dub albums (July 1977)

1/ King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub (Fay Music)

2/ King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown (Clocktower)

3/ King Tubby Meets The Agrovators At Dub Station (Live & Love)

4/ Pick A Dub (Atra)

5/ King Of The Dub Rock (Safari)

6/ Dub From The Roots (Total Sounds)

7/ Blackboard Jungle (Upsetter)

8/ Satisfaction In Dub (Earthquake)

9/ Vital Dub (Virgin)

10/ Revolution Dub (Cactus)

11/ Dub Festival (Third World)

12/ Ras Claat Dub (Grounation)

13/ King Tubby’s Vengeance (Prophets)

14/ More Scrubbing The Dub (Crystal)

15/ Out Of One Man Comes Many Dubs (Ethnic Fight)

16/ King Tubby’s Prophecy Of Dub (Prestige)

17/ Randy’s Dub (Impact)

18/ Treasure Dub (Treasure Isle)

19/ Dub Serial (Joe Gibbs)

20/ Dub In Blood (Sunshot)

Research for this section of the articles was the most difficult. The amount of Dub albums (despite the lengthy research) is still virtually impossible to assess since mostly the large proportion of recorded work is only available in Jamaica. But through various reliable resources, the remote collection gradually increased and the result is a fairly comprehensive list of albums. Some vocal albums, which also contain dub tracks, have been included in the list as many of these albums often contain dreader dread sounds. It was decided that it would be best to list the albums in some order of merit; hence less esoteric Dub freaks would be able to consult the compilation for purchase reference.

The task of selecting the 20 best Dub albums was a long, carefully co-ordinated, complicated and often tedious job, but after some eight months of arranging, re-arranging, re-mixing and shuffling the end result is there for you to see. The choices are somewhat inevitable, with King Tubby featuring quite a bit in the list. And whilst capturing the essence of Dub music, and spotlighting its appeal, the Top 20 also includes a grand variety of good Reggae music, including such varied types as Pablodic Rockers, Rocksteady, Channel One, Instrudub, Agrovators Muzik, Mighty Two Soundwarps, Strictly Rockers Dub, and maniac Super Ape soundz. All are highly recommended as essential additions to your Reggae collection — the Top 10 at least — and will indisputably delight and please you. So for your edification…

Lee Perry — the sneaky Super Ape — has two of his many Dub albums in the Top 20. His use of mixing desk is positively unique in many aspects — he is certainly an original innovator of Dub music. His “Blackboard Jungle” LP was among the first Dub albums and although very hard to come by (buy) is well worth seeking. “Revolution Dub” is an enigmatic album, focusing upon the Upsetter’s masterful way with rhythm, and also highlighting his zany, inventive ideas and skilful mixing techniques. Play “Doctor On The Go” or “Woman’s Dub” at full blast when you’re feeling irie and it hit you like ah clappers!

Bunny Lee is another producer prominent in the chart. He has three of his better albums in the 20 — “King Tubby Meets The Agrovators At Dub Station” remaining his classic best. The whole album is an amalgamation of Tommy McCook’s jazzy horns, well wicked Agrovators rhythms, venomously transformed and interpreted by King Tubby’s console. Try “The Dub Station” (Goldfinger has a lot to answer for…) or the climactic “Height Of Dub” for dubwize size, and you’ll understand why it stands at No. 3 in the chart. Station to station dub — forward on the track. “Dub from The Roots — the infamous “Dubmaster” LP — ranks at No. 6 because it was a giant step for Tubby in experimentation dubwize, incorporating all manner of electronic sound effects and more, wild spontaneous mixing. “African Roots” is the most astonishing track which I heard Prince Melody play seven times on the trot at the 1976 Ladbroke Grove carnival / riot, if that’s anything to go by.

Lloydie Coxsone’s “King Of The Dub Rock” was initially heard by avid listeners of Capital Radio’s “TV on Reggae” high-rank programme. Various tracks, incredibly remixed for the programme, were sandwiched between the more familiar dubwize sounds, and the effect was phenomenal. When the LP was released the following week, the primary amount pressed completely sold out in two days. Such was the appeal of the album, absolutely special — not only because Lloydie Coxsone was/is regarded as King of the Dub Rock, but it also happened to be marvellous music. “Capital Radio Rock” is an astonishing example of the album’s speciality. Consisting of effervescent  melodica wildly blasting over a driving rhythm, the focal point was the reserved violins hectically echoed out of all proportion. An insane and excruciating concoction. The other stand out tracks, “Many Moods Of Coxsone” and “Tribute To Mohammed Ali”, were later released back to back on 45 by Shelly — straight to Safari’s head.

Keith Hudson “Pick A Dub” barely scraped the Top Three. It is hailed by all Roots lovers as not only a definable heavy Dub LP, but also a classic Reggae LP. Hudson is, in my mind’s eye, one of the most original and productive people in the music biz. His productions slant on the eccentric; his lyrical / musical creations are usually highly stylized. His few solo albums have mostly integrated dubwize tracks within their concept, and albums such as “Flesh Of My Skin”, “Entering The Dragon” and “Torch Of Freedom” shine as extremely listenable ones, with the additions of weighty instru-dubs acting as some heavenly mercy from Mr Hudson’s forever controversial “singing”. The latest LP “Brand” — dubwize — is spectacular 21st century music (ahead of its time?), but compared with the previous “Pick A Dub” is not as good. “Pick A Dub” was greeted with unanimous applause from Dub lovers everywhere — the adventurous mixing the focal point of the album. Featuring such talented musicians as Augustus Pablo, Peter Tosh, and showcasing the drumming of Carly Barrett and Family Man’s liquid bass, the Dubmuzik was aggressive, powerful and intensely rhythmic; and with the astonishing mix there to enhance its energy and motivate its appeal, the result was No. 1 high-rank Dub. Featured vocalists included Horace Andy, Keith Hudson (ugh…) and Big Youth — the music was fierce, the mix was mighty, the album was the perfect Dub construction. Check out cuts like the rude “Pick A Dub”, the chucky “Black Heart”, the devastating “Blood Brother”, the eerie “I’m All Right” or the ultimately beautiful “Depth Charge”, based loosely on the Four Tops’ equally impressive “Still Waters”.

Augustus Pablo is the originator of the “rockers” sound and probably Reggae’s most top-rank genius. His music is wholly unique, a sound all his own. His productions tend to be recognisable and eternally listenable efforts — and Pabs just doesn’t make bad records. Whether he is recording another artist or himself, the classic ‘genius’ element never fades. A small, smart man with extreme talent in music and imagination — yes, the Higher Ranking Rocker. His “King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown” LP is only available in the United States, it’s not even released in Jamaica. As far as import frequency goes, the score is virtually nil. But the album is as classic as an album can be, the near summit Dub LP — including such amazing tracks as “Braces Tower Dub”, the great “Each One Dub”, and the seductive “555 Dub Street”. Strictly Yard Music.

It would be Top of the Pops if it weren’t for wily Winston Edwards and his legendary LP entitled “King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub”. As soon as the LP hit the streets — via the pre-release market — it was hailed as a Dub LP with that extra-special something which most other albums of the ilk tended to lack. It had style, it had original ideas, it contained real rootsy rockin’ Reggae, and the mixture of these top-quality ingredients made it well-worthwhile. With the music put together by Winston Edwards with assistance from Lee Perry — and primary mixing by The Upsetter — the hard rhythms were dramatically realised in the form of dubwize mixes by the ubiquitous King Tubby. Using such superb musicians as Santa, Family Man, Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, etc., etc., etc., the alum was ideal for the Roots fans, with strictly Now Music. Tubby’s techniques were portrayed in all their glorious splendour, the Reggae music totally transformed and interpreted in Tubby’s unique fashion. He would curl, swirl, whirl, twirl, explode, corrode, erode, ignite, excite — upset and aggravate — slipping vibrant echo to shatter the instruments, and jamming reverberation to re-duplicate the melodies. Echo-delay was inserted to add to the confusion. DUB MASTER in session… creating such classics as “No Justice For The Poor”, “People From The Grass Roots”, “African Roots”, “Raw Roots”, “Luke Lane Rock”, “King Tubby & The Upsetter At Spanish Town”, and “Wood Roots”.

The prime openers to each side were symbolic successes: “People From The Grass Roots” was a total Titanic tormentor. Destruction in Dub — the whirring cymbals hysterically attacked by the crippling hiss in the mix; the bass heavily bouncing with steady, gushing gusto; the saxophone and trumpet frequently demolished by nerve-nibbling reverb; the erratic rhythm guitar whipped perversely echoic; the constantly rocking drums spattered and spliced with acute accuracy as they slip through the rhythmic loops and splash against the sides — a devastating dense, deafening Dub of Tubby’s creation. “Blood Of Africa” used roughly the same mixing magic — only with a more persistent rhythm and a lolloping, creamy trombone replacing the saxophone and trumpet. But the ultimate Dub satisfaction came with the superior “Crime Wave”, an ecstatic next version to “A Touch Of Roots”. The ocean-deep bass virtually orgasmic in its throbbing heaviness, deep and dark with freaky, low echo making it tremble, rumble and tumble. Capable of rattling your insides; seducing the most frigid whale to a frenzy of excitement; penetrating the sound-barrier; mesmerizing and hypnotizing all listeners — a bass-riff of Meditation. What a revelation! The drums rollin’, rockin’, tickin’, tockin’, snipped and tapped by the console in metronomic, calculable stops and starts. The sleazy, easy, wheezy trombone sweeping and weeping into the air in erotic, spitting slides, often hectically destructed by the wavering echo and spine-shock echo-delay and reverb. What a sensation! The punchy, chopping keyboards densely swelling and elevating as they are given the Kenwood treatment by Tubby — without anaesthetic — a furtive form of liquidation. “Crime Wave”: the criteria by which Tubby’s demonstrates his indestructible and effortless power. Violence in Dub — all manner of music torture and termination. War in Reggae. Dubwize riot — well wicked!!

If, for some absurd reason, you have yet to discover the wonders of Dub music, or have simply dismissed it as a noisy mess: investigate “King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub” and all will be revealed. Should you remain unimpressed, then I can only surmise that you are not a true Reggae fan. Not at all!

Rubbin’ The Dub by Snoopy (Black Echoes, July 1977)

Blyth Power – All The Madmen Records – 1987

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Goodbye General / Stand Into Danger / Bricklayers Arms / Smoke From Cromwells Time / John O Gaunt / Hurling Time

Probably Going To Rain / Caligula / It Probably Wont Be Easy / Marius Moves / Ixion / Some Of Shelleys Hang Ups

The debut album by Blyth Power was recorded between the 12th and 20th of December 1986. The last Blyth Power public performance with the line up (that recorded every Blyth Power record that was released on All The Madmen records) was a riotous affair at the Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park on the 18th December.

The set was around an hour and a half of good natured fun. The Sir George Robey was absolutely bursting with supporters and friends of the band that night. A gig that I will always remember with fondness, and also special to me personally as it was my ‘birthday’ gig and Josef made sure the crowd knew via the microphone half way through the set. A video of this last performance still exists. I still own it. I still own many other Blyth Power gigs that were filmed from 1985 to 1987.

Towards the end of 1986 there seemed to be some stirrings in the Blyth Power camp that something was just about to change. Myself, while only just a minion at All The Madmen records over the last year or so could feel something was in the air.

That ‘something’ ended up in tensions at the Brunel University gig in Uxbridge, where a drink fuelled Curtis was having a day off from driving the band around in his Commer truck for a change. J.C from Brougham Road in Hackney took all of the band, All The Madmen staff and a few others to the gig on his converted coach. I recall that Curtis was in a particularly weird mood even urinating out of J.C’s coach door when the traffic jam delay got too much. Hope the car next to the coach did not mind!

This gig in Uxbridge was on the 12th December, the first day of the sessions that created this debut album that is uploaded tonight. Curtis, Neil and Andy all knew that they would not be in the band two weeks later.

The gig itself was an end of term Christmas party with chart bands, Then Jericho and Men They Couldn’t Hang also on the bill. The crowd who were present for this students only party were clothed in all kinds of finery, top hats and tails for a few of the male students. Barbie doll outfits for the ladies. It cost £12 for the students to gain admission to there own party, an entrance price that was very expensive in 1986. This gig was certainly going to be a battle as the band, myself and others all turned up in all their Brougham Road Hackney and Latimer Road Freestonia finery clashing slightly with the seemingly strict dress code of the night. No one in attendance at the gig, save for the kindly folks that hitched a ride on J.C’s coach knew who Blyth Power were.

Blyth Power went on quite early at the Brunel University student ball. Curtis was for some of the band’s set leaning against the stage wall for support. What surprised me at the time was that he could still perform bass duties adequately. Not brilliantly but adequately which was good enough for this audience! Blyth Power were surprisingly well received, proving if nothing else that the Brunel University students were at the very least polite even if they knew nothing of Blyth Power, which of course they did not!

The dozen or so Blyth Power supporters that did sneak into this end of term ball which was, as stated above, for Brunel students only, all felt a slight dread on whether Curtis would be OK to get back on the coach after Men They Couldn’t Hang got halfway through their set. To be honest I was also a little worried. Thankfully I cannot recall any further drama that night on the way home while on J.C’s coach.

My cassette tape of this whole gig at Uxbridge which was recorded via the mixing desk can be listened to in  in the link below.

Stand Into Danger / Some Of Shelleys Hang Ups / Probably Going To Rain / Goodbye General To Lose / Coriolanus / Probably Wont Be Easy / Caligula / Hurling Time / Marious Moves / Ixion / John O Gaunt / Folsom Prison Blues

The members of Blyth Power obviously fulfilled their recording commitments for that week, heavy heads or not, or this album would not be in existence. It was recorded in what must have been a difficult time for the band and no doubt for Josef in particular, who had originally issued the three members of the band their marching orders for whatever reasons known to him and the individual band members.

The Sir George Robey performance, six days later on from Uxbridge which was to mark the end of this line up went without a hitch that I can recall, and all members of the band seemed a little more at ease. Several songs were performed twice, the encores went on for what seemed like half an hour. An absolutely magnificent bow out by the band on top of their game, to an absolutely full venue of ecstatic followers and friends of the band.

How could Josef follow that?

By enlisting the help of fellow Latimer Road, Freestonia soul Protag. Infamous soundman for Meanwhile Gardens and many other alternative venues including the Rosebery Avenue Peace Centre. Protag was a sometime member of Alternative TV and also performed with his own D.I.Y band, Instant Automatons. Steve Corr was an old Glover Walk Yeovil-ite who was known to Josef in the days of early Somerset scene. Steve was involved with Idiot Strength, and in fact still is. Sian Jefferies was an ex member of the Lost Cherries who backed up Josef on vocal duties, along with Sarah who was not culled from the old line up.

This new line up of Blyth Power were together in the new year of 1987 and performed the first gig on the 3rd March at the venue the old band bowed out of. The Sir George Robey, supported by Hysteria Ward. The next gig was at Stevenage Bowes Lyon House with Culture Shock on 28th March, the third gig was held on the 5th April in Brighton at The Richmond pub.

On the 6th April 1987 this debut Blyth Power album was released to the world. The album by the band that were no longer with us in physical form. But that earlier line up of Blyth Power was out there in the public domain never the less!

The album had a fair few live favourites amongst tracks already recorded by Protag at Brougham Road in Hackney that appeared on the ‘Little Touch Of Harry In The Night’ cassette. This cassette was released in 1985 on Rob Challice’s 96 Tapes and was the official start of Blyth Powers musical career on any format.

Two tracks on the album that had previously never been recorded or released officially were ‘Marius Moves’ and ‘Ixion’. Both tracks seemed, to me at least, to be songs that Josef had written to burn bridges with his old life of several years previously. The subject matter seem to be a canon shot to the ‘Stop The City’ demonstrations of 1983 and 1984 and also to Mark from The Mob respectively. Of course Josef’s lyrics are so rich with texture, mixing historical figures in a present day setting, and generally so hard to decipher that I might be completely wrong. So apologies if that is the case. Either way, by the time this second Blyth Power line up was up and running and picking up speed there seemed to be a lot less ‘Blyth Power ex Mob’ stamps and / or statements on gig posters and flyers which I think Josef would have felt more comfortable with.

Interestingly though, this debut album by Blyth Power was released on the same day as the birthday of Mark from The Mob! I am not sure if that was purely coincidence or whether it was planned as a snipe towards Mark from The Mob but there you go! One for the cultural conspiracy theorists to mull over. I will settle for coincidence!

The record was released to mainly positive press reviews and sold well. My main input to this album was quite small, stapling the booklets together for the first run of green sleeved albums. The second pressing of this Blyth Power album came in a blue sleeve and had the booklet in a poster form, much to the increasing thanks of my two hands! I also went up to Utopia studios in Chalk Farm with Sean ‘Gummidge’ and watched the first treatment and cutting of the metal plates that were then taking along to the pressing plant for mass production. Well 5000 copies of production! I packed an awful lot of copies into mailers to send to press and to customers of the mail order side of All The Madmen.

The record itself?

A decent attempt recorded in difficult circumstances with over half the band soon to be booted out to touch. I like the album. It served a purpose to get the current live set by a popular band (and Blyth Power were a very popular band in 1985 and 1986) onto a ‘grown up’ format, as opposed to the two 12″ singles put out on All The Madmen records prior to this release and the two tapes that were released cheaply on 96 Tapes and Sean’s 69 Tapes.

Blyth Power during the mid 1980′s were exceptionally good live, and because of this fact on record the band suffered to a certain degree. I still feel that the ‘Chevy Chase’ 12″ single is my favourite release by the band. Stating that though I played this album (and the cassette that featured four of the songs that was sent to press prior to the album being released) to death at the time so I obviously felt it was a fine piece of work back then. Listening again now I still get thrown back to those years in the mid 1980′s. In hindsight I would have left the harmonica off ‘Some Of Shelleys Hang Ups’ as it feels and sounds a little forced.

All The Madmen records went on to release one more record by Blyth Power. ‘Ixion’ was released on both a 12″ and a 7″ format around the same time that the album was released in 1987. This track, as well as the B side, Emmanuel and Folsom Prison Blues, were of course, recorded by the original line up during the December 1986 sessions.

The single version of ‘Ixion’ ended up being featured on Radio One which you can hear on this old KYPP post HERE

That was the end of Blyth Power’s All The Madmen days. Josef signed up with Midnight Music (a label that had Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians on it’s rooster so was used to quirky English bands) and all the recorded works from the second and subsequent Blyth Power line ups until 1991 were released on that record label.

All The Madmen records were disbanded in the spring of 1988, I went onto form King Penguin Distribution, Sean went onto form Rugger Bugger records and Rob Challice went onto work for Michelle Shocked and then became a promoter in his own right.

To listen to the other Blyth Power records on All The Madmen records please go to this old KYPP post HERE

I collected all the Blyth Power records up until the last Midnight Music release, the ‘Guns Of Castle Cary’ album. Blyth Power both live wise and studio wise were under my radar during the remainder of the 1990′s. This radar started to work again in the 2000′s where I have become reacquainted with the newer versions of Blyth Power. I have witnessed about a dozen performances throughout that period. Placing that in perspective though I witnessed Blyth Power over a hundred times throughout the mid 1980s’s!

Blyth Power are still working and next year in 2014 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the bands formation in 1984. There are plans afoot to release a special CD for the occasion of three decades of Blyth Power which promises to be a wonderful statement. One problem though is that Blyth Power are not as well off as say, Snoop Doggy Dogg, so the band have devised a way we can all help in the production of the eventual CD.

To help with the financing of Blyth Powers thirtieth year anniversary CD please go to this Kickstarter site HERE and pledge what you would like to offer. Thanks.

All photographs and assorted press releases and posters from Mickey Penguin’s collection.

Crass / No Defences / D & V – Bingo Hall – Islington – 04/03/84

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

No Defences / D & V Bingo Hall 1984

Crass Bingo Hall 1984

Uploaded today is some audio of a night at the squatted Bingo Hall in Islington in 1984. This venue for those who might not know is now called ‘The Garage’ and has been a mainstay on the London gigging circuit for decades. Prior to this transformation into an ‘A’ list venue for bands from all over the UK and the world, the Bingo Hall was a run down building which housed folk who had left the Peace Centre in Rosebery Avenue which was also based in Islington. The Bingo Hall and the Peace Centre were close enough but still required a sturdy walk from one end of Upper Street all the way down to the other end of that main Islington thoroughfare, and then some!

On this evening in March Crass performed with Flux Of Pink Indians, Annie Anxiety, D&V and No Defences. Only Crass, No Defences and D&V sets were recorded for this audio you may now download. If I ever get hold of audio for Flux Of Pink Indians and Annie Anxiety I will add it to this post sometime in the future. The audio itself is of a reasonable quality, with a small amount of chatter now and again, I assume between Al and Giles who were holding the cassette recorder on the night.

March 1984 also saw the second ‘Stop The City’ protest so in light of that event I have added the Freedom newspaper article from May 1984 reporting on that demonstration along with some remarkable and beautiful photographs from the previous ‘Stop The City’ protest held in September 1983. The photographer is known to me only as Camera Obscura (from the Flikr page). If the photographer ever see’s this post then please let me know who to properly credit for the use of these wonderful photographs.

Thanks to all the people who have contributed in some way to this KYPP post either by writing out snippets of their memories or supplying photographs, the guilty parties are named on the post below.

The Bingo Hall photographs are from Mick Lugworms collection, the Crass photographs taken at Bingo Hall are courtesy of Jim Wafford.

Thanks to Al who searched me out at a Mob gig so he could supply the audio to place up on this post without whom etc etc.

The chalk board advertising the gig standing outside the venue with the information:

Bar 1 – Adam And The Antz / X Ray Spexs

Bar 2 – Motorhead / Discharge

Bar 3 – Crass (in tiny letters)

…was partly fuelled by the frustration some of us felt at the fact that Crass were refusing to release any of the funds raised on record sales to finance another Autonomy centre.

Previous to this gig I had come into possession of a cornflakes box full of blues. Added to the rough cider that Jaffa and Chris ran up from Bristol on a weekly basis (served in milk bottles at the bar) I was in no state to concentrate on the bands.

I do remember the accidental dropping of a heavy table on Penny’s foot…twice!

Sean Eatshit

Crass, No Defences, D&V at the Bingo Hall, Islington March 1984 recorded on a shitty little handheld tape recorder by (Big) Giles who eventually moved to Bristol with Spikey Pete with me doing occasional tape recorder holding duties.

As I remember it Flux (wearing beachwear & sunglasses) and Annie Anxiety also played great sets that night but we only had one tape so we got what we got. Forty five minutes of No Defences and D&V, then forty five minutes of Crass.

This was a great night, where you come away from it energised and restored, with the complex atmosphere that permeated the whole culture. Genuinely violent, angry, aggressive, edgy, confrontational, chaotic, but in equal measure, friendly, warm, calm, peaceful and life affirming. Fuck yeah!

Al

Having got bored of the vegan versus vegetarian arguments and problems caused by around thirty people living together at the Peace Centre in Rosebery Avenue, as well as dealing with band members egos whilst putting on gigs there, we had a break of a few months before a few of us decided to get another anarchist squat centre together.

I can’t remember who spotted the Bingo Hall first but Andy Palmer from Crass was the first person to crack it via a basement tunnel from the back. Crass wanted to do a squat gig but didn’t have the time or inclination to get heavily involved with it.

I found out that Murphy Builders owned the building along with a lot of derelict buildings and land at the bottom of Holloway Road and on the west side of Highbury Fields. They must have had some big development plans for the area that never came to fruition.

When we actually squatted the place, we found ourselves under siege from gangs of burly builders for the first few days. Thankfully we had secured the building well and the scrotes didn’t manage to force their way in. The only access during this period was via a ladder from a first floor window, got some funny looks from people waiting at the bus stop outside when a ladder suddenly appeared next to them.

Having got a bit sick of dealing with bands, we mostly used the building as a bar with West Country scrumpy served in milk bottles. I didn’t have too much to do with the organising of the actual Crass gig apart from helping on the door and helping to write the piss-taking sign on the blackboard outside.

Most of my mates were upstairs getting pissed at the scrumpy bar there, rather than watching the gig.

The Bingo Hall eventually got evicted but not before the blokes from the Burn It Down Ballroom tatted it for useful stuff to use at their various squatted venues.

Mick Lugworm

The only real memory I have of that evening was the near-violent argument outside which developed between the vegetarians and the vegans. I don’t think I’d ever seen such a stupid expression of bigotry. Apart from that, I seem to remember that the carpet inside was greasy, dark and stinking of the sort of things one doesn’t want to be thinking of. Love, blessings and joy.

Penny Rimbaud

I also recorded Crass at the Bingo Hall along with Flux the tapes are somewhere in my loft but good quality recorded on a Sony pro tape recorder. The gig was in March if my memory serves me. There was quite a few Ipswich boys who went to that gig and we had all stayed in London and went to a Conflict gig at the Electric Ballroom the night before. We then slept at Liverpool Street train station before being moved on to sleep in the Bank tube station. The following day we went to the science museum to try and grab a few hours kip in the warmth! We only really got to know about the gig originally because our old drummer, from our band Conflict Of Nations, got a flyer about it from an Action Pact gig at the 100 Club and it had the Dial House phone number on it. The Crass answer machine message just said “we’re playing the Bingo Hall tomorrow” but no other details; this answer phone message was followed by some laughter which was odd!

There were loads of strange things that happened that weekend for example a guy at Liverpool Street woke Lee H up and got his cock out and said “do you want this”?

We got to the Bingo Hall early, paid a donation to get in and a smiley face was drawn on our hands to confirm the payment. Because we were there early we happened to notice Phil Free from Crass getting a tramp, who we assume was outside, no doubt nearby, into the venue and then witnessed members of Crass offering this man some fresh hot tea and some food which was nice.

Strange I can remember so much about that glorious weekend.

Rod Wolton

Flux Of Pink Indians were performing material from ‘Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks’ around the country, around this time and some people had the idea in their heads that we were rock stars. We decided to perform at the Bingo Hall squat in full beach wear, cheekily to add fuel to the Flux ‘rock star’ vibe that was evident around that time. I do not think the audience that night really got the joke though!

Unbelievably we were called on for an encore after our set. Flux decided to perform in only underpants for the encore. Lou who had previously been a member of D.I.R.T decided against this stance as she was uncomfortable with the idea, quite obviously really!

Martin Flux

My main memory is that I went with my girlfriend at the time who didn’t like Crass much (or at all for that matter to say the least…) I persuaded her to go by telling her that it was only a pound to get in, and that if Bob Dylan, who she was a big fan of, ever played in the UK, I would take her along and pay for the tickets. I thought it was pretty unlikely that he ever would, so thought I’d done alright with this deal. However a couple of months later he DID play at Wembley Stadium, and she held me to my word. I had to sit through the one of the most boring evenings of my life whilst Bob, Santana and UB40 performed their stuff and what’s more had to shell out about £40 quid (when that was a lot of money!) for the privilege. That will learn me.

I had witnessed Crass several times over the years and do not recall too much about the actual performances at the Bingo Hall sadly.

Graham Burnett

‘For your future, for our future, STOP NOW’ (Anon)

‘The City is the place where your money from taxes, savings and pension funds is invested, and you have no control over them’ (Islington Action Group)

‘We believe it’s time to put a stop to the suffering of millions of people around the world, suffering created by the same economic system that runs our lives. The City of London is at the heart of all this, it is the logical place for our protest’ (Leicester Green Affinity Group)

‘Women not only serve the boss at work, they also serve their husbands and children at home as cooks and cleaners. Not only do women work harder, we get no pay for half the work [housework]’ (Stop the City Women’s Group)

‘What we are trying to do is point out the grim reality that lies behind the mask of normal daily life’ (Grays Anarchist Group)

‘Ten ways to wreck the micro-computer in your office:- 1. Pour coffee ( with salt instead of sugar in it) into the keyboard to gum up the works…’ (Free London)

‘Dear fellow commuter,…on an average commuter train, about 20 people are directly involved with producing goods for military use’ (anon)

‘What’s going on? As you walk through the City area today you may see quite a few people involved in various forms of action aimed at exposing the nature of London’s financial district. Do not be afraid of these people, they could be your friends… As we listen to EMI records, people in foreign lands listen to EMI weapons guidance systems… People need each other, not money!’ (anon)

‘We are claimants, and as claimants we are forced to live in misery and poverty because of the decisions made behind the doors of these institutions. It’s not jobs we demand…but the right to a decent life for everyone.’ (Claimants Action Nottingham)

‘In countries where people used to grow their own food, they are now paid minimal wages to produce non-edible cash crops for western companies… if dissatisfaction with this system causes social unrest, the west sells the same countries arms with which to restore law and order. ’ (LSE CND)

‘I am here today because… I want everyone in the world to be happy… because they are stealing my life away and selling it back at a profit… because a terrified animal dies unnecessarily every 6 seconds… because everything has been appropriated and we want it back… because they are giving the children guns and violence and destroying their innocence… ’ (Mike, Brambles Farm Peace Camp)

‘Look at this fucking world, it’s not ours no more. It belongs to rich fascist scum who, unless they are stopped, are gonna blow it to shit. The time has come to stop holding back… No longer will we march ‘peacefully’ to Hyde Park. It’s banks what fund war, not parks!’ (Paul)

‘I, the Commissioner of Police for the City of London, by virtue of the powers conferred upon me by Section 22 of the City of London Police Act, 1839, as amended by Section 8 of the City of London (Various Powers) Act, 1956 for the purpose of keeping order order and preventing obstruction of the thoroughfares in the immediate neighbourhood of the Mansion House and Guildhall of the said City, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England, the General Post Office and other places of public resort within the said City and liberties on the 29th March, 1984… hereby direct Constables on the on the 29th March, 1984 in the said thoroughfares:

1. To prevent the gathering together of persons within a group

2. To disperse any group of persons which may gather together.

3. To direct any person found loitering to move.

4. To prevent any procession.

5. To prevent the deposit or any refuse, litter or other object.

6. To secure the removal of any refuse, litter or other object by the person the Constable has reason to believe is responsible for the deposit thereof.

7. To prevent the making of any unnecessary noise which the Constable has reason to believe causes, or contributes towards, disturbance of the peace.

Dated this 26th a day March 1984, The Commissioner of Police for the City of London’

‘You failed totally!’ (Stop The City)

Last September, after 6 months of discussions and preparations around the country growing out of the actions against military bases, about 1,500 people came to Stop the City of London in protest against wars and arms trade profits. The success of that day in terms of communicating to workers, disrupting business, and creating a determined and festive event encouraged many others to join in preparations for another protest — on the day profits for the whole year were symbolically to be counted up – March 29th 1984.

Having been in the City, seen how it works, how all companies and banks are interlinked, it was decided this time to make a general protest against the profit system. This would be a chance for everyone involved in trying to change things – opposing the exploitation of women, of nature, of animals, opposing wars, repression and poverty, and the power of money over us – to come together on this appropriate day and challenge the financial heart of the country.

As a network grew, everyone encouraged each other to create the kind of day they wished, to protest about the things they felt most strongly about and in the way they wanted. A truly decentralised yet well co-ordinated attempt to Stop the City and reclaim it for people.

The week before, on March 22nd, there were local protests in financial centres of 7 or 8 towns with pickets, occupations, leafleting, graffiti, processions and music.

On the 29th, up to 3,000 people took part together in London and this is an attempt to get down on paper some of the amazing and diverse activities…

Stopping the City

7 – 8am, First Aid, creche and assembly points set up. Police divert all lorries from City. 30 cyclists set off to do a very slow tour of the streets and stop the traffic. Balcony of arms trading company in Holborn occupied by London Peace Action, banners and balloons.

8 – 9am, Green CND protests at Electricity Board HQ all day. St Paul’s packed already, many go to Bank area. People try to block roads. March down Cannon Street, Threadneedle Street blocked. Radio reports. People at Stock Exchange forced to move on. Women’s action at Bank of England to protest about unpaid domestic exploitation foiled by police — continue to leaflet nearby. Many groups all over City, leafleting, dressed up, with placards, puppets, games, etc.

9 – 10am, 500 people at Royal Exchange. Police try to split people up. Leafleting and smoke flare in Bank tube station. 150 people disrupt Leadenhall meat market against animal exploitation. People continue to assemble at Bank – up to 1,000 – police try to block everyone in and keep traffic moving. Hundreds of cars begin to be quietly immobilised in car parks (all day). Free vegan food distributed for hours at St Paul’s. Many locks glued up throughout the day.

10 – 11 am, The crowd who’d taken over the front of the Royal Exchange resist police efforts to force people out, wooden barrier collapses. People then hemmed in, police using horses. Lots of noise. Everywhere workers look from windows. Group go to do Fleet Street action — too many police. Spirits still high everywhere despite police violence. Lots of graffiti. Anti-nuclear street theatre at Nat West Tower. People enter banks to open and close accounts. A couple of groups walk back and forth over zebra crossings.

11 – 12 am, American, Russian and British flags burned at Bank. 3-400 march around fur trade area. 100 people break out of police cordon at Royal Exchange and attack windows of financial institutions — Barclays, Navigation House, Nat West and 30 other places. Car overturned as barricade and constant moving means police unable to stop action. Smoke flares, paint thrown etc. Securicor van too heavy to turn over, Roll Royce which tries to run someone over is wrecked. Still hundreds at St Paul’s, and others running excitedly around (for fun!). Leafleting at Bank tube station continues.

12 – 1pm, Anti-apartheid picket of Barclays forced to move, so visit nearby branches. Jugglers, singers, puppeteers also threatened and police try to clear Bank again. Traffic blocked. Quiet for a while. A group take 2,000 leaflets to Greater London Council ‘democracy day’ march. Evening Standard quotes police as being ‘worried about possible link-up’. Creche going well (8 kids). Our own legal back-up people begin to get busy. 30 people ‘die-in’ on roads at St Paul’s. Cacophony of noise everywhere on the hour. Some of large crowd on steps of Mansion House resist mass arrests. Statues, especially military ones, ‘decorated’.

1 – 2 pm, Claimants group burn UB40 identity cards at Bank. 30 women visit Fleet Street, raid Boots the Chemist and throw tampons in the street to protest at their ‘luxury item’ VAT classification. Protest outside the Sun also. People again break free from police cordon at Bank, resist their violence and damage bank property – Norwich Union, Leeds Permanent and American International. Spikes to stop traffic thrown in road.

2- 3 pm, More rumpus on the hour! 20 cyclists again stop traffic. Mobile carnival stage, with live bands and people following almost reaches Bank from Tower Hill, but seized by police. Over 200 people held in police cells continue their protest and have fun by making noise and causing floods etc. Nat West Tower entered, files ripped up, fire alarms set off. Police bike knocked over. Groups of ‘nuns’ and Stockbrokers’ still leafleting. St Paul’s – face painting, and also ‘God is Dead!’ charge into cathedral. Musical and noisy processions round Royal Exchange. Orange smoke flare set off – thrown back by policewoman who hits another cop. 200 people go to Guildhall but driven back by police – court opened but no-one brought to appear so closes again (later we discover that Princess Alexandra was due to visit at 6pm)

3 – 4 pm, 200 people make human barricade across London Bridge. Traffic stop until police arrive. People begin to congregate at Bank again, spilling into streets all around. Lots of chanting, angry and good humoured at same time! Still many hemmed in. Still groups of singers and leafleters walking around.

4 – 5 pm, 1,500 at Bank. Surges into the street and back. London clearing bank window smashed as movement of crucial ‘City’ cheques is disrupted. Stockbrokers’ messages fouled up. Thousands of workers begin to go home, many watch with interest and amusement what is going on, as at lunchtime. 350 prisoners held in cells, and up to 200 in police vans. Incredibly, despite police violence people still good humoured, but gradually getting worn out.

5 – 6 pm, People hemmed in, but relax, and gradually everyone disperses. 3-400 go to block Whitehall and Ministry of Defence in Central London as protest against Cruise missile convoy movements during previous night and in solidarity with women of Greenham who had blocked its path on the motorway.

It’s impossible to do justice to everyone’s activities. Throughout the day many people were also hanging around, taking photos or watching. For some, this was the first experience of a self-organised protest and so they were unsure of what to do, the need, to come prepared, take initiatives, talk to others, etc. Also many were angry yet intimidated by police violence. But also loads of people wanted to join in and kept asking ‘what’s happening?’, ‘where’s the action?’, and so on. Some came for just an hour or two to show support. Everyone made a contribution in their own way.

What were the achievements?

Well, it was certainly a day people in the City will remember. The machinery of oppression thrives on appearing invincible, unquestioned and eternal, and our protests have begun slowly to break this spell. All day workers looked from windows, stood in doorways and on balconies, or walked unhurriedly about. No-one seemed threatened, some were prejudiced yet many more seemed excited, thoughtful, amused or provoked to think and discuss with colleagues what was happening and why. Some were surprised and angry at police violence which partly aimed to keep workers and protesters apart.

I collected leaflets being distributed by 31 different groups, a dazzling range of opinions and ideas —complemented by graffiti. But there were still many working there who didn’t understand or feel involved. Likewise, many of us benefited from trying to talk to and understand the people there, their attitudes to work, difficulty in challenging their roles and employers.

As for actually disrupting business — while we were there we certainly had some effect. We enticed people away from their jobs and towards the human community in their midst. Traffic, mostly on business, was often stopped or slowed up all day. The front doors of some buildings were closed, some were picketed and those around Bank disrupted for hours. And don’t forget that some phone lines were blocked by those contributing from home or work to the phone blockade.

On two or three occasions, largish groups of people managed to directly damage property of financial institutions, both as a statement of anger and also to make them pay a little for a change. And perhaps the most significant disruption was of the movement of cheques at the end of the day when millions of pounds physically circulates around the area. According to the Times, ‘The banking community struggled to keep money flows moving, despite the unrest. They succeeded – but only just’. ‘Bank balances were £11million below target overnight’.

The aim of creating a festive, human atmosphere was partially successful, despite everything the police did. There was lots of music and noise, clowning, puppets and banners, painted faces, joking and openly expressing our energy and humanity. There was a great deal of solidarity, warmth and respect amongst ourselves despite being strangers and of many differing ideas and groups. This is so important and is a strength which will attract others to think about what we’re saying and doing.

Likewise, the fact that there were no leaders or formal structures, just so many people with initiative, energy and determination to do their best. It is also encouraging to read the 17-page police briefing (which fell out of a back pocket on the day) now widely distributed, to see what their aims were for the 29th. They took the protest very seriously, cancelled all leave in the City force, and all coppers worked at least 12 hours continuously. With the miners strike and blockades, other large demonstrations and Greenham blocking of roads near London, they were at full stretch. London Transport police and even ‘special constabulary’ were brought in. Special powers (1839) for the City were enacted. They clearly understood the aims of the protest, and the range of events that had been planned and publicised. And they made all sorts of-preparations. However, despite their plans, 450 arrests and other violence, they failed.

We showed that we have the determination and the strength, initiative and imagination to make a telling protest, and that if people everywhere only realised their strength, the power of the state could be effectively challenged on a wide scale.

Involving more people

But if we are to learn from our struggles, we have also to look at and overcome our limitations. Most of the people who took part are active in anti-militarist, animal liberation or general libertarian groups, or a part of the large dissatisfied urban unemployed sub-culture…

Yet it was difficult to involve those who went on strike on the same day to defend public services and the GLC, and also striking miners. Likewise, the vast majority of people who feel strongly about some aspects of what’s wrong with the world, still think that joining an organisation (like CND, War on Want, RSPCA or whatever) or voting for the Labour party is the thing to do. Many others would also like a better world but don’t believe people can change things, or are afraid to express their feelings. lt is all these people who need to get together to begin to move against the system.

And there are yet millions more, billions world-wide, working class people who have to struggle where they live and work just to survive, to maintain self-respect. Many don’t relate to political parties or endless protests, yet we need everyone to begin to really stop the systematic industrial destruction and exploitation of our world.

The Stop the City demonstration is one small yet significant step in a developing process of awakening and of real opposition. We are learning as we take part. Many more people have become involved, not only in large scale protests but also in everyday activities, overcoming isolation and gaining confidence. Changing society is not only about collective opposition, it is also about people creating and extending mutual aid, solidarity and libertarian relationships amongst each other — neighbours, work-mates and wherever people meet. If the Stop the City idea contributes to that and to the creation of diverse local initiatives and resistance, it will be worthwhile.

What now?

On the 14th and 15th of April there was a follow-up weekend. On Saturday 60-70 people, many having been arrested, came to discuss court procedures, solidarity, films, look at photos, etc. Anyone who wishes to support those arrested can come to Guildhall Magistrates Court on Friday 11th and 25th May, 10:00am, or send donations to the Bust Fund Network, c/o Housmans, 5 Caledonian Road,London N1. Any other legal enquiries, phone Amanda 01-833 1633. An exciting unedited film was shown and is being turned into a film/video to be made available. Contact Mick 01-278 0075 if you have any additional material.

SEE MICK DUFFIELDS STOP THE CITY VIDEO HERE

The second day was a general discussion about stopping the City, what happened and the future. There was a very constructive and respectful atmosphere, and a general feeling that we had achieved a lot and there was so much more that was possible – not just in the City but everywhere. There will be a week of of protest against financial institutions, and the wars, exploitation and destruction they cause and profit from on September 22nd- 29th, with a general call to Stop the City, Thursday September 27th again. Everyone in the world is invited!

Likewise it was decided to Stop the City on Thursday May 31st also, while the enthusiasm and memories of March are alive. A totally self-organised protest – there won’t be any co-ordination meetings for May 31st, so everyone is encouraged to spread the word, come prepared and do what they think best.

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE OUR WORLD

‘Stop the City’ article – Freedom newspaper – May 1984

 

Zos Kia / Coil – Nekrophile Rekords – 1984

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Sicktone / Baptism Of Fire / Violation / Poisons / Truth

Sewn Open / Sicktone / Silence And Secrecy / Truth / Stealing The Words / On Balance

In 1984 Zos Kia had a 7″ single released on All The Madmen records entitled ‘Rape’.

Prior to 1984, Zos Kia and Coil were fluxed together as one group via John Balance, at that time he was also in Psychic TV alongside other Coil member Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson. John Balance and ‘Sleazy’ left Psychic TV in 1984 to concentrate fully on Coil.

John Gosling from Zos Kia joined Psychic TV for a year or so. Min left Hackney and followed the Peace Convoy across the country.

The cassette uploaded today was the first Zos Kia and Coil tracks to see the light of day.

The Zos Kia side is the recording of the performance at Berlin Atonal in December 1983.

Also performing at this concert were La Loora, Zev and Psychic TV (with John Balance and ‘Sleazy’ amongst Psychic TV personnel). The Coil side is a mixture of live and studio tracks.

The text below is an extract taken from an excellent book that came out in 1987 called ‘Tape Delay’ which also featured Psychic TV, Swans, Einsturzende Neubauten, Liabach, Lydia Lunch, Clint Ruin and Test Department amongst other notable industrial hipsters.

Coil was conceived by John Balance in 1982 as a concurrent project with Psychic TV, with whom he was working, playing bass guitar, vibes and various Tibetan instruments. In 1984 he began concentrating full time on Coil together with the co-founder of Psychic TV, Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson. In addition to his role in TG and Psychic TV, Christopherson was also a member of the Hipgnosis design group who executed covers for many ‘supergroups’ of the seventies, including Led Zeppelin, Yes and Pink Floyd. John Balance has previously worked with David Tibet and Fritz Haaman in Current 93. On the Coil album Scatology, they are variously joined by Clint Ruin and Gavin Friday of Virgin Prunes. Coil have also written the soundtrack to the feature film The Angelic Conversation, directed by Derek Jarman, while the video for their version of Tainted Love is on permanent display at The Museum Of Modern Art in New York. In 1986, Coil released a mini-LP with Boyd Rice, and in 1987 an LP entitled Horse Rotorvator.

What is Coil?

Sleazy: Loosely, it’s what we do musically. We do other things apart from music but it is the term for our musical experiments. Although it’s basically me and John, we do get other people to help as well. In that way, I suppose it’s like Psychic TV regarding the set-up and collaborative aspects. Coil is also a code. A hidden universal. A key for which the whole does not exist, a spell, a spiral. A serpents SHt around a female cycle. A whirlwind in a double helix. Electricity and elementals, atonal noise and brutal poetry. A vehicle for obsessions. Kabbulah and Khaus. Thanatos and Thelema. Archangels and Antichrists. Truth and Deliberation. Traps and disorientation. Infantile, inbuilt disobedience.

Where is the term Coil derived from?

J Balance: I chose it on instinct and since then I’ve found that it actually means a noise. And there are things like the spiral, the electrical coil and contraception. The spiral is a repeating micro/macrocosmic form. From DNA to spiral galaxies. A primal symbol. lt’s a nice little word. The Black Sun that we use is a surrealist symbol from Maldoror by Isadore Ducasse. It has 10 rays (2×5). Coil are essentially a duo and five is the number of the aeon of Horus – the present time. We have a private mythology completely in tune with symbols and signs of the present aeon. We don’t believe that it should become an important part of our public image – as misinterpretation, and unnecessary and incorrect replication would possibly occur. Silence and secrecy. After all, the image of Horus most appropriate to the new aeon is of a ‘conquering child’ with his finger to his lips – the sign of silence.

What is the significance behind the title of the album Scatology?

Sleazy: Scatology in the medical sense is an obsession with human shit, or as the old fashioned dictionaries used to say, “An obsession with animal lusts and base instincts”. So it’s a combination of those two.

Why do you feel that’s important to incorporate in the title?

Sleazy: In as much as Scatology is more to be listened to as entertainment the titles of those records normally try to attract people in a slightly outrageous way and at the same time, give some indication of the atmosphere of the record. I think it’s a good title, and a lot of the songs on the record refer, either in their lyric or in their moods, to the most base of man’s instincts. It seemed quite appropriate. It is what Dali in ‘The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali’ calls “The Humanism of the Arsehole”.

What do you see as the importance behind a ritual?

Sleazy: Most people’s lives are basically devoid of anything that adds meaning. That sounds so patronising to say, but I just think that the fulfilment I get from doing things that have no immediate everyday need while at the same time fulfilling other needs, certainly indicates to me that it would be interesting for other people to try them too. And you can only use yourself as an example for how you think other people should live – rather than saying in the way that religions do, “You must do this”, or whatever.

Is it important for the ritual to be designed by the person that practises it?

Sleazy: I don’t think so, millions of people benefit from catholic rituals.

J Balance: Or The Japanese Tea Rituals. It’s the Zen philosophy that every movement means something. I think that way of living is far richer and it gives them an awareness of what and where they are. But ritual in the West is monopolised by the church, especially in Europe and the United Kingdom. People carry out rituals all the time, the English parlour obsessions with table turning, clairvoyents and wishing wells. All these exist and are practiced, but people seem to be somehow ashamed of them and would rather be represented by the church. I suppose that’s because it’s a rich organisation with ostentatious shows of power and wealth.

How would something like the Japanese Tea Ritual differ from something that the church has organised?

Sleazy: They’re not at all different in what they achieve in the person. Where they differ is that the organised church has exploited its knowledge of ritual to control people and enhance their own political end. Certainly in this country in the last thousand years the church has been a political machine that has done what it has for profit and for the advancement of the people in control. And I think it’s a pity that the church leaders have exploited their position that way because it has fucked up a lot of people in Northern Ireland, the whole of South America, Spain and most of the Far East.

J Balance: To take a blatant example like the Aztecs, their whole society was controlled by priests who knew the language and knew the way to stop the sun from dying, and so they had complete control over every member of the population. If people didn’t do certain things, they believed they’d die. The system was highly developed, very brutal and based on human sacrifice. But they believed if the Gods didn’t get their blood, then the sun would not rise and the world would end. And it’s just the same here except it’s far more insidious and hidden.

Sleazy: All that you really need for your own rituals to be valid is a belief in their abilities. The only problem is that it’s easy to have self doubt about what you’re doing. And if you have a body of other people doing a ritual that somebody else has designed, then it’s more easy to believe that it might have some power.

Is it possible to use rituals for negative purposes, to bring out evil or destructive things?

J Balance: Oh yeah, but what’s the point really? The Tibetan Bon-Po shaman priests still do this. They’ve been called the most powerful and evil magickians that ever lived. I’ve got an LP of part of a malicious, destroying ritual. “The first low-keyed monk’s voice marks the beginning of the Mahakala prayer. The chant begins with an extended description of Mahakala as well as his different emanations. The chant continues, calling upon Mahakala in his various forms to come down to earth and receive the offerings of the participants and to devour marigpa”. `The Mahakala Prayer’ – Side 2 of Lyrichord Disc LLST 7270. They go on for days and cause plague in a whole village. The energy and powers exist to be able to do that sort of thing, but what’s the point?

Sleazy: The gutter press, National Enquirer sort of mentality, use basically the same argument when dealing with more or less anything, whether it’s a nuclear bomb or a ritual. Sexuality, for example, they frown on because it is a way of having a powerful experience. Not exploiting, but using the power of human nature to do something. And if it has a possible negative power, then they immediately say that the medium is at fault.

Does the energy of the ritual come from within the person or can it be drawn from other sources?

J Balance: It doesn’t really matter where it comes from. The point is it works, that power can be summoned, generated and you can harness, manipulate and channel it, so you never need to know where it comes from.

Why do most people view a ritual or magick as being evil?

Sleazy: It’s fear of the unknown. Basically it’s because the church saw other people who were doing rituals as a threat to their control.

J Balance: They try to keep a monopoly so anything else is bad or evil and you get thrown i to hell for it. It s Christian propaganda basically. England has strong pagan roots and the church has always attempted to stamp these out. Originally by neutralising pagan temple sites and then building churches on the same sites, then by burning witches and religious persecutions. If they couldn’t kill them, they used ridicule and fear tactics to deter people from the pagan heritage. The devil is only a Christian adaptation of a neutral nature deity; Pan, Cernos, the horned gods – which are phallic. The Christian church has never been very sexual, except where the pagan undercurrent has been allowed to emerge because it was too strong to suppress completely. The devil is a representation of pagan sexuality, which is why people are attracted to it even when seen as a Christian invention.

Sleazy: At the moment we’re sort of going through a right-wing backlash against the freedom of the sixties and seventies, certainly in terms of sex. And I wouldn’t be surprised if in ten years time there was a religious resurgence of interest in the church.

Were the angels symbolic of a larger concept on ‘How to Destroy Angels’?

Sleazy: All of what we do is symbolic on several different levels at once, so you can interpret angels as being a number of things, whether it’s the controlling influence of the church, or whether it’s an unnecessary desire to retain virginity.

J Balance: When I thought of the title, all these things went through me. It was a record to accumulate enough power to destroy theoretical angels – Christian gossamer angels don’t seem hard to destroy. It was a curious matter of fact title, almost like a manual a handbook you’d come across which could be the key to immense power and change.

Do you think that Coil will vary to a large extent from TG live?

Sleazy: Yeah, the trouble with playing live is that everything has to be done on the spot more or less. And nobody in TG was a particularly great musician. Basically that narrows down your options as to what you can do live. You can rely very heavily on backing tapes, you can just do your best or you can bring in other musicians. And none of those options are very acceptable to me. Just doing your best and trying to work out sounds that one could reproduce competently and that sounded interesting was really what TG were doing. It got to the point where we couldn’t go any further and that’s one of the reasons why we split up. And the Psychic TV dates that we did in the Summer and Autumn of 1983 didn’t really go any further than TG had. We had Alex playing, who is a good musician in that he can play proper guitar, but jams even with good musicians tend to sound like what their influences are. And so a lot of Psychic TV stuff ended up sounding like The Velvet Underground, which didn’t seem to me like it was advancing anything.

J Balance: Although the ideas were interesting live, it became more brutal and relied on the noise element while the ideas got swamped. I mean it’s alright for people who had heard the records before and knew what we were about and they got energy off it, but it wasn’t much more than a sort of controlled noise with a cause behind it. Which on reflection seems pretty reasonable, but something wasn’t right. Genesis would probably say it was our attitude.

Sleazy: Well that’s alright, but the reason why we haven’t really done any live dates is because we haven’t actually solved this problem of what to do. Certainly we could rely more on backing tapes in the way that a lot of groups do, but people really want that sort of dense atmosphere and rely on that adrenalin rush and I don’t know if you can get that from backing tapes.

What did you see as the function or purpose behind Throbbing Gristle?

Sleazy: To see if it was actually possible to get people to react physically. And also we were just trying to advance our intellectual and artistic aspirations in a new way, because prior to that we hadn’t been doing music at all. And also to have fun and attract young people who we could fuck. All the reasons people normally have groups. (laughs)

Is there such a thing as inaudible sound?

Sleazy: Pardon? (laughs) The theory of all that stuff is that if you actually play something at a lower level or backwards or in flashes on the screen it’s absorbed by the subconscious mind which acts upon it immediately. But I’ve never had any information or evidence that it works. People say The Rolling Stones album `Their Satanic Majesty’s Request’ has reverse masking and it says, “Come to Satan”, or something. I mean it’s all bullshit, it doesn’t work in my view.

J Balance: Records are very crude as far as recording and playback quality goes and there is no way that scientific experiments can be done in this medium. I think holophonics are far more interesting anyway. Stevo gets accused of doing a big hoax and so does Zuccarelli who developed the system. With holophonics we were able to get atmospheric subliminals and record a particular feeling including the spatial limits of a room or a cave and the movements of people in it. But I remain very dubious about back masking and inaudible sounds having profound but subtle effects.

Sleazy: Coil are interested in subliminals of another kind – delirium subliminals. Avatistic glimpses of a grand chaos – surfacing in flashes of black light – in darkest Dali, Jarry, the Moomintrolls, The Virgin Prunes, in the face of Edith Sitwell, Boyd Rice’s humour – emotional subliminals. Psychic information, partly deliberate, mostly instinctive.

Do you think that ghost images in a visual picture have an effect on people?

J Balance: I think they possibly have more effect. Apparently ‘The Exorcist’ originally had dead animals subliminally put in and they had to take them out. I mean there s,as a huge reaction about people being sick because it was the first high class splatter movie. It has more chance of having an effect if you see adverts many times – and they’re not subliminal. If you see adverts for ice cream, next time you’re in the shop, you go, “I’ll have one of them”, because you’ve seen it on telly. It just works on a crass level like that.

Sleazy: But there are lots of things that happen with films that could be exploited more, just things that you see in the background that you don’t notice but are actually there.

J Balance: All of these subjects – subliminals, back-masking, cut-ups, the Industrial group’s subjects – culled from Burroughs’ ‘The Job’ and ‘The Electronic Revolution’, have been done to death… And not very well. Sonic research is very hard to do properly on a Rough Trade advance or whatever. It maintains a pseudo-science, it has a wishy-washy quality that I don’t particularly want to be associated with. I’d rather been seen as a perverse noise unit with decidedly dubious musical leanings. I admire the intentions of all these groups, but the purity or scope of the possibilities are diminished by huge amounts in the translation to vinyl. Z’ev and NON seem to remain pure – as do Sonic Youth, but they’re coming from a different area as far as I can tell. In the end, the intentions alone can be appreciated – golden conceptualists and dull records type of situation.

Do you think that music is the best medium to get your ideas across to people?

Sleazy: No, I think film and television is by far the strongest because it’s a way of really affecting all of us. If you could affect the senses of smell and touch as well, it would be stronger still.

Is there a difference between chance and fate?

Sleazy: I don’t think there’s such a thing as fate really. I don’t think there’s such a thing as chance either, but that’s different. Fate implies that a certain thing is bound to happen, but I don’t think that’s the case. To rely on logic, then obviously whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. But at the same time, the implication that it’s out of your control is obviously rubbish. At any point you have a myriad of choices, whether it’s running and jumping out of the window or not Obviously things happen as a result of circumstances that one could not possible foresee and that is what one calls chance.

In the studio, does the recording process differ much with how you’ve worked previously?

J Balance: With Coil we lay down the backbone ourselves, and if we want to we collaborate with other people. With PTV it was more of a jam, things spontaneously arose out of rehearsals.

Sleazy: But all the PTV records that we were involved in were fundamentally done in the same way that we do now, which is to set down a rhythm and just lay things on top of it as they seem appropriate.

Do you think that you can change society through music?

Sleazy: No, I don’t think you can change anything with music particularly?

J Balance: But then again, a group like Crass might say it’s not necessarily their music, but the message that’s coupled with it. We’re very cautious about having one heavy message, but we do have a life style and I do want to change a lot of things. We’re obviously not like Ultravox where their album and the way they view life may be quite separate.

Sleazy: I actually don’t know any members of Ultravox personally, but my suspicion is that the content of their lyrics actually isn’t very deep and doesn’t concern very many of the things that I’m interested in. So that’s one of the reasons I don’t buy Ultravox records. Music is just an expression of the taste of the person that’s doing it, and that is ultimately why you buy a record – whether it’s Johnny Rotten or Captain Beefheart.

J Balance: If you hear a record you like and you suddenly find out that the people responsible do something that you’re really against, then you probably won’t listen to the record in the same light.

But shouldn’t music be judged on its own merit?

J Balance: I don’t think it should just by the song. They should have a sense of realisation that people do tie the two things together.

Sleazy: That’s a very difficult question because having been around the ‘business’ for a long while, I’ve met people whose music I’ve respected but whom I discovered 1 didn’t respect as people. And certainly that changed my perception of their music and their work.

Do you think that is elitist in some ways?

Sleazy: I think we are elitist. I know that I am a bit of a snob in some ways. I mean we’re talking about politics now and that is about how much self respect you have and whether you think your opinion is actually better than somebody else’s. And the important thing Go remember is that one’s own opinion is the best there is for you but not necessarily somebody else. It has got to do with whether you are big headed enough to think that -our own opinions are the ones other people should hold. And I think that’s very dangerous. I have certain very strong views about particular things that other people would certainly think were elitist, unusual or unacceptable. But I only hold those views for myself and I wouldn’t necessarily expect other people to enjoy the things that I enjoy. And likewise, I would expect them not to force me to live in the way that they do. Coincidentally we have touched upon a very common misconception – which is that elitism is a bad thing. It’s also an old misconception that it’s important to do a particular kind of music at a particular time. I mean you can look back on certain songs as being ‘classic’ or completely different from anything else at the time, but it’s all temporary. I think it’s worse in America where people tend to accept commercial dogmas more readily. In England, the eccentric is part of the history of the country. There has always been the village idiot.

J Balance: Does that make us the village idiots?

Sleazy: No, but there’s the whole tradition, Oscar Wilde or Quentin Crisp or whatever, as being acceptable as the local weirdo in a sense. And the people that do that in America are far more out on a limb until they get some commercial success. I mean New York is a cultural island relative to the midwest – where the people that do weird records have a difficult time. At least in England people are prepared to listen to something new with an open mind, so it’s that much easier. It may be crazy, but I still have an optimistic hope that free thinkers will be allowed to continue to do so because most of them are not threatening to society even though society might feel that they are. That is why we’re lucky in Britain in that we accept eccentrics and people that do things out of the ordinary as being a healthy and contributory part of society’s existence.

J Balance: But you make it sound like it’s idealistic and that all these things are allowed to happen. There are huge backlashes all the time against those who appear to deviate. But society needs the deviants in order to change. There’s this thing, “Let them grow up so far and perpetuate some sort of change and then beat them down again”. It’s as if society, like an organism, allows mutation in order to improve itself but keeps a tight rein on how much actually occurs.

Sword imagery creeps into several Coil tracks. Is that simply a phallic symbol?

J Balance: We didn’t mean it as a phallic symbol. If you get Freudian then it’s definitely a phallic symbol, but in magick it’s not. The sound of the swords on ‘How To Destroy Angels’ represents Mars, as in martial, the God of Spring and War, who cabalistically represents dynamic, positive change. The sword is a symbol of willpower.

Sleazy: Although I certainly wouldn’t describe us as militaristic, we recognise that man has an aggressive streak. I don’t think the peace movement, for example, has got any real hope of succeeding. You have to recognise the nature of man, accept it and use it.

J Balance: It’s the way things happen isn’t it? Its created force is what we’re aiming at, rather than militaristic, crass and obviously masculine, sexist type things. Rough Trade actually said that the cover notes to `How To Destroy Angels’ were misogynist, which I find ridiculous just because it dealt with masculine qualities.

Sleazy: They stocked the record and it sold out, but I don’t think they were too happy about it. And they didn’t put the poster up either because it was too extreme for them. In man – ways the people that are supposed to be spearheading the libertarian view are just as limited in their view as the gutter press and the more conservative elements.

J Balance: Their ideals often disagree with the practical way they work. They’ll say, “Oh yes, we support free thinking and things”, but when you actually bring a copy of it into the shop, they’ll smash it if it disagrees with their personal sensibilities.

Sleazy: You’re bound to come into contact with hypocrisy when you step out the door really. The only thing you can do is to try and make sure it doesn’t take place in your own home.

What inspired ‘The Sewage Workers Birthday Party’?

Sleazy: It came from a story of the same name in a magazine called Mr S&M, a Scandinavian publication which is basically fetishistic in its content. It’s an area I’m interested in anyway. We wanted to try and express it in musical form, and I’m personally quite pleased with the way it turned out. It’s an interesting piece of music even if you don’t know the original story and where it came from. I’d have liked to print it, but I don’t think the people doing the covers would have actually accepted it.

Does it seem strange doing dance music now?

J Balance: Are we doing dance music?

Sleazy: When Throbbing Gristle did ‘Twenty Jazz Funk Greats’, it was the intention to do something that was more conventional in that form, but it wasn’t totally successful because we didn’t really know how to do it. We still don’t know how to do it, it’s just that we wanted to make some of the music a little more up tempo, aggressive and rhythmic. But it’s certainly not a considered attempt to do a dance record, because I think if we tried to do that it would be a disaster. I can’t speak for the intentions of others, but I get the impression that The Art Of Noise were really a very considered attempt to do dance music in a way that would be artistic and fashionable. And it feels to me that the results are sterile and not very interesting.

J Balance: It all depends on what dance you’re going to do. I think that The Birthday Party were dance music, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that got played in discos very often.

Do you think that anybody has added a great deal of depth to a song which is also very entertaining and commercially accepted?

Sleazy: It’s very hard because you don’t know what people’s reasons for doing the records were. ‘Endless Sleep’ by The Poppy Family, `Tainted Love’ by Gloria Jones, ‘Seasons in the Sun’ by Terry Jacks, and ‘Emma’ by Hot Chocolate, to name a few, seem to work on lots of different levels, but I don’t know whether that was the intention of them in the first place. I mean from The Beatles onwards, some records have struck at exactly the right time for them to be amazingly successful and also interesting from some other philosophical or inspirational point of view. I think that’s true for films as well. That’s probably one of the most satisfying things for a creative person to do, because that spiritual or philosophical side stands or falls for what it is.

What do you think about cults that develop around certain bands, such as the mimicking of haircuts and dress that became noticeable with TG and PTV.

J Balance: Thoughtless and crass mimicking of anything is worthless.

Sleazy: It’s one thing to dress a particular way and to meet other people that have by their own route arrived at similar conclusions. But to wear things because one’s hero or idol happens to wear them is really weird and a bit unhealthy – and slightly distasteful. That whole thing of Marc Almond clones – even though Marc’s terrific. It’s the same with Bowie clones. It’s ironic as well because at the time we were in PTV, one of the messages of the group was free thinking and independence from that kind of thing. I can’t speak for what they’re doing now because they’re going their own way and I wish them well, but there’s no way that I personally could continue to be a part of that.

How important is image to Coil?

Sleazy: We haven’t established an image for Coil as such. Although we obviously have interests slightly apart from the norm, we haven’t particularly gone out of our way to create an image. In many ways it works against us because that means when we do occasionally give interviews, people don’t really know what to ask.

J Balance: We’ve got the added problem that we could easily rely on ex-PTV and play up all the same things, but we make a conscious effort to play down those things even though some of the aspects we’re still very much involved in. We’re making a conscious effort to be isolationists. I think it might become our image in a way. I suppose some people might try and pick up on the fact that we’re gay and associate us with that – like Bronski Beat who were only ever thought of in that context.

Sleazy: It’s a question of really not allowing ourselves to be reduced to two dimensional objects. Although sexuality is fairly important part of what we do, it’s by no means the only part and I don’t see it as a restriction.

Why are so many people scared away by some of the imagery that TG and PTV made use of, such as skulls etc.?

Sleazy: I think that it must be that we have a different threshold, a different interpretation upon imagery. I mean it’s a cliche to say this, but I’ve been at home and felt happier in fairly desolate and lonely sorts of places. And if people get scared by photos of the Berlin wall or something like that, then I just can’t perceive of the life they lead and how they could find it scary, because it just seems natural to me. A vast proportion of what we do and the way that we live our lives would probably freak out the majority of civilised people, simply because it’s out of the norm of their experience. It would certainly freak out my mum. We don’t have any wallpaper, we’ve got rat shit everywhere, it’s just a completely different way of living. But the reason that people get frightened is because of their interpretation of those things, not because of the reality of them. It’s easy for a person to interpret a photo of you holding a skull, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a devil worshipper or a necrophiliac. It’s their interpretation which is at fault. If my mum was living here, after a while she would probably think it completely normal and would have a much more realistic scale to determine whether I was a nice person or not. It’s a very dangerous thing that some of the newspapers and the media do because it’s so easy for them. And they’re going to sell newspapers for being outrageous and saying, “Naughty Vicar”, and “VD Hospital”, shift. But outrage has always been a commodity. I mean Boy George, The Sex Pistols and everything are all manufactured, totally. But none of us, even Gen, has ever done anything really to make mileage out of being outrageous, it just comes naturally. Which is quite different I think. Although you see people on the subway with whom you feel you have absolutely nothing in common with and possibly even dislike just because of the kind of people they are, I’d rather have nothing to do with them. I don’t think it’s even worth going to the effort of outraging them. I just wish they weren’t there.

Is there anything else that should be known about Coil?

Sleazy: We have talked quite a lot about ritual and I’m not sure if that gives a true picture of what we do. Because although it is part of our lives, it’s not something that we would particularly be interested in having a name for promoting amongst young people. The Temple Ov Psychic Youth was an attempt to bring ritual to other people. I wouldn’t really want to be seen doing that still, because I don’t feel it is my job to tell people how they should live. But if they want to ask me, that’s fine.

Charles Neal – Tape Delay 1987

The Astronauts – BBC Radio 6

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The Astronauts – Typically English Day – BBC Radio 6 broadcast

Steve Lamacq played ‘Typically English Day’ by The Astronauts on his radio show earlier this evening. Understandably I’m chuffed; not so much chuffed that my band got played on 6 Music but more that The Astronauts got played on 6 Music. I consider myself a fan of the band first and foremost, joining them years after many unforgettable nights seeing them as a teenager, throwing awkward shapes and singing every word back at the band. I’m often in disbelief that someone so revered by myself is so overlooked, not just by the mainstream but across the counterculture. Mark Astronaut has been going strong for over thirty five years and is showing no signs of stopping, and that’s something to be applauded. He’s a truly remarkable songwriter and he is so deserving of all the airtime and coverage he can get. Maybe in some parallel universe Mark is bigger than The Beatles, like Rodriguez was / is in ‘Searching For Sugar Man’. I hope so, anyway.

Joe Davin – The Astronauts

Living Legends – 1981

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Tory Funerals / Long Live Michael Roberts

Get The Picture / Trendy Lefty Drop Dead

Uploaded today is the self released cassette tape by Living Legends. Aptly a track on the cassette tape is entitled ‘Tory Funerals’. Aptly of course, as this is the day of the funeral of that lady ‘that was not for turning’. Thank you to Chris Low for the lend of this cassette tape some years ago. I have been waiting patiently for this moment to upload the cassette!

Chris went along to Trafalgar Square with Ian Bone (late of Living Legends and Class War) last Saturday as he was reporting on the event on behalf of Vice Magazine. You can read Chris Low’s report of that afternoon at the bottom of this post.

Thank you in advance to swanseapunk.co.uk for the informative text that I ripped off from the site.

Living Legends; a punk band fronted by Swansea anarchist activist and Class War founder Ian Bone,  once described by the News of the World as ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’. Performed alongside Crass in Swansea and released a debut single ‘The Pope is a Dope’ on Upright records in 1982. Gigs were always chaotic with Ian Bone being arrested after one particularly memorable gig at Abergavenny Town Hall in 1983.

By this time the band was Cardiff based and the moniker had changed to Class War. Class War’s single ‘Better Dead Than Wed’ was released on Mortarhate records  in 1985 and surprisingly topped the UK Indie charts for three weeks.

Circles nightclub; It was variously named Dirty Doras… Pandoras… The Pit… Marina Nightspot and was a fantabulous fleapit which had hosted the Sex Pistols, Slits, Buzzcocks and Sham 69 as well as spawning every legover in the town. It was all managed with massive indifference by Howard. It was the only venue in which Swansea home grown punkers -The Next Step, The Autonomes, Venom, the Urge and The End, plus Llanelli’s greatest ever export, the utterly brilliant Andy Pandemonium could get to play outside the usual Top Ranksville wankdom.

I’d put Crass and the Poison Girls on there. When Howard turned up, there was a queue of tiny ten year olds trying to get in with their Fight war, not war T-shirts. “They can’t come in, she only looks about eight,” said Howard to the door staff. Steve Ignorant hid the offending eight-year-old in the back of a speaker and carried her past the door gorillas. I was talking to Howard later when the eight-year-old walked between us swigging a pint like a veteran alkie. Howard shrugged and hid in his office.

But tonight was Page 3′s debut gig… much fucking hyped. Howard told me the Dutch band Focus – no, me neither mate – had pulled a record crowd of 900, but we were pushing it fucking close. We had strippers “fucking good-looking ones,” enthused Ray Jones, our singer. He was right. They were supposed to strip seductively when Ray burst into his Troggs cover version of Can’t Control Myself instead they just raced on stage naked and and danced about before rolling around on top of each other laughing hysterically. The surge from the back towards the stage was almost of Hadj-like proportions.

Page 3 had started in the Coach and Horses a month or so earlier. Beer talk – start a band. “Porno Rock” that’s what we’d be, songs all about sex, but political, funny, subversive like. Our strippers would subvert the idea of stripping, wouldn’t they? Well, yes… doubtlessly accounted for the Doras surge.

I wrote about ten songs all over one weekend, hummed the tunes to Ray and Stuart who worked out the music. “Every one a fucking winner Ian” enthused Ray moonlighting from his other band, the Dyfatty Flats. We recruited everyone else from the pub regardless of musical ability – punk as fuck or wot? Jock McVeigh (exotic dancer), Glenn, Hugh, Trevor, Jonathan, Carolynne, Gaggsy, me, Ray Jones, Rhian, Stuart, Sheralee, Sarah Bewara, Amanda Bewara. Three rehearsals up at Cockett Studios and we’re off. Our set included such classics as Sexist Twat, Bitches on Heat, Premature Ejaculations, Swallow it Down, Can’t Get It Up, One Of The Boys, Clap Clap I Wanna Get The Clap, Prostitutes World, John Bindon, plus the evergreen singalong God Bless You Queen Mum and a couple of Reg Presley covers. Ray was a bit dubious about singing the impotence song Can’t Get It Up but accompanied by Sarah on oboe, he did it proud.

The gig was a storming success – musically as well as sexually. I’m not sure our analysis of the com-modification of sex and the rectification of emotion in the society of the spectacle was appreciated, or understood by all, but Howard seemed to buy into it because he immediately re-booked us in a back office overflowing with cash.

I decided to help our notoriety a bit further. I phoned the Evening Post and told them that Jock “Negative” McVeigh had been tragically killed in a car accident in the south of France. The Post’s front page ran “Page 3 Exotic Dancer Killed In French Crash” which sounded both glam and tragic! Oh how we laughed. Jock had never been further than Brion Ferry in his life and to see this lovable, tattooed, gay proletarian Swansea ne’r do well described as an “exotic dancer” in print was mirth inducing. When up before the Swansea bench in the future, Jock would always give his occupation as “exotic dancer” then argue he was “dead” so couldn’t be charged, producing the crumpled Post front page as conclusive evidence. I followed up with a further call to the Post complaining the story was untrue – cue another front page “Band Victim Of Cruel Hoax” and giving full details of our next Circles’ gig naturally. Jock now describes himself as a ‘living legend’ in the town, a name the band was later to take on. After one gig, we were indeed living legends in the pretty shitty city.

We’d chosen the name Page 3 by sticking a pin in a book agreeing to be called whatever it stuck in. But now with the strippers, it became obvious there was a connection in some crazed Swansea minds between us and The Sun’s Page 3 girls. So I decided to exploit this as well:

Dear Editor,

I recently went along to see a concert at Circles nightclub in Swansea. Advertised as Page 3, I naturally thought it would be sponsored by The Sun and feature your delightful Page 3 glamour girls. Imagine my horror to see the crudest pornography, vile lyrics, live sex and a song wishing the Queen Mother would die of cancer etc etc

The hope behind the letter was that The Sun would run a sensational article on the band denying any connection and spreading our notoriety nationally, but it didn’t work out like that!

Our second gig was at the Highwayman Nite Spot in Ystalyfera – a ponderosa-style scampi-in-a-basket club but temporarily managed by Gwyn ‘Bomber’ Dawe, one of my Welsh Republican acquaintances anxious to spread the porno-rock message up the Lower Swansea Valley. The gig was a total fucking shambles on all counts. Our stripper had been chatted up by a camera-toting ‘merchant seaman’ by the bar and was posing for photos. Later, she breathlessly told us that the ‘merchant seaman’ was in fact a Sun journalist. The poor unfortunate, hoping that the journo line was more likely to get her into bed than than the merchant seaman ploy, had blurted out the truth.

Our two roadies – famed Townhill hardmen Ianto and Ado Craven – took his camera off him and threw it in the river. Ado then performed a perfectly executed head-butt on him which stretched him prone on the ponderosa floor as we headed home.”

IAN BONE 2006

‘What was your worst moment?

As student union social secretary I briefly became Wales’s number one reggae promoter and we had some brilliant nights. I once however had the choice of two unknown bands; one was to become the Eurythmics with Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. I chose the Yachts. This was eclipsed when I foolishly put on a punk band called ‘Page Three’ – in what was to be their last-ever gig – whose members were to become the anarchist agitation group Class War.

This band included a lady of ill repute involved in the so-called ‘sex for luncheon vouchers scandal’ in the ‘70’s. Their act included doing rude things with jelly babies and feeding them to the front row of the audience. It got worse: the night ended in chaos with police and fire brigade called out, the College Safety Officer beaten up, and my dear mate Bertie Mathews getting thumped. My abiding memory is when cleaning up the mess at the end of the night. This big Welsh guy stood in the hall with his posture indicating he was going to make some negative pronouncement but declaring, in his broad valley’s accent: “Smutty, but good!” I learned that you can at least please some of the people, some of the time!

ANDY GREEN (who put on Page 3 at Swansea University) – 2006

Following the injunction by “The Sun”, the band changed their name, first to Page 4 then the Jammy Tarts, and finally settling on The Living Legends. By then however, most of the original line up had moved on to other things . When the Living Legends supported Crass on September 24th, 1981, the line-up was Manda, Carolynne (Ca Tastrophe), Ian (as Dee Generate) on vocals, with Steve Hanney (Stan Doffish), ex of the Autonomes roped in as main vocalist and poet; Paul “Whizzy” Chiarenza on bass, Kevin Francis Jones from the Dyfatty Flats on drums and Chris Leek (aka Ron Note), who was recruited from local band Raymond and the Stingos on saxophone – all topped off with the incredible ballet dancing skills of Chris Anthemum !!

Despite an announced 7.30 pm start, at 9.00 last Thursday the doors of St Phillips were still firmly locked against the Crass fans waiting patiently outside in the teeming rain. (This, it must be added, was no fault of the bands or the organisers).

Luckily, this column was adjourn to licensed premises for shelter (unlike the many under-eighteens in the crowd), and finally got in just at the start of Living Legends’ opening set.

This, of course, is the latest descendent of Page Four, but with a broader range of targets – and a pared-down backline of just drums, bass and the former sax player with Raymond and the Stingos.

The theatrics are coming together more (apart from the Queen Mother hurling herself onstage halfway through the wrong song), but thanks to the hall’s awesomely wretched acoustics the all-important lyrics disappeared totally into a blur, a problem which bedeviled all three acts.

The second of these, D.I.R.T, were a London band with stage gear tailor-made for NME’s colour pages and a set firmly rooted in 1977. I was reminded of the UK Subs with a girl singer (who shrieked a lot). They seemed to go on forever.

By now, a blockhead idiot minority in the crowd was pretending it was at Ninian Park (wish they had been – they deserved to be bored to death).

Crass united the crowd, however, simply by getting onstage and playing – immediately all inter-faction rivalry vanished in a surge forward toward their common idols.

Practically the whole set was rooted in basic punk, and it was disappointing that they didn’t do “Reality Asylum”, totally different in style and one of the most pulverising singles of ’79. And therein lies one of Crass’s biggest stumbling blocks – their “Anarchy and Peace” ideology relies absolutely on the lyrics getting across, but on both occasions I’ve seen the band the sound has been so bad that lyrically that they might as well have been The Ramones.

Small wonder that their concept of anarchy is so widely misunderstood, small wonder that (because they deal with violent subjects like war) it’s often assumed that they are advocates of chaos, small wonder that many of their fans bracket them with Discharge and The Exploited as just another band to pogo to.

There’s more, much more. The stage show too is more ambitious, incorporating TV and film screens , there was one stunning moment in the anti-war sequence when band, visuals and music all messed brilliantly.

GRAHAM  LARKBEY – HERALD OF WALES PAPER – 1981

“Worse than the Sex Pistols…” complained the lady on Swansea Sound. “Disgusting …”screamed the Swansea Evening Post beneath its “KILL QUEEN SONG ANGER” front page banner headline. Swansea was slowly waking up to the fact that after such wholesome cherubs as Harry Secombe, Bonnie Tyler and Mary Hopkin, it had now produced a horrible, mutant musical offspring – The Living Legends.

Born from the ashes of porno-rockers Page 3 -who featured two of brothel madame Cynthia Payne’s luncheon voucher prostitutes – Living Legends are a violent, anarchist, republican band whose songs are so far over the top that even hardened fellow punks refuse to play with them.

After a short West Country tour with cult punk band Crass, the partnership came to a violent end in Swansea on September 24th. The Legends had insisted that the gig at the St Philips Community Centre be a benefit for the holiday home arson campaign.

Crass pacifist anarchists as opposed to the violent kind, were unhappy with this from the start. And as most of the audience of 300 or so Punk followers, some from as far afield as Liverpool came to hear them it was inevitable there would be trouble

As Living Legends swung into their “We’re Gonna Burn Down Your Holiday Homes” number Crass decided they’d had enough and unplugged the amplifiers. There followed 15 minutes of wildly flying boots and fists around the hall as Crass’s pacifism was put to the sword by Legends’ fans.

Afterwards Crass bitterly announced that they would never again play with The Legends and cancelled gigs they were due to play with them.

There was only time left that night for The Legends to perform their Assassination Trilogy, celebrating the year’s three assassination attempts: “The Pope Is A Dope” – three hundered punks and skins pogo furiously as the Pope is bloodily macheted to death on stage and the chant of “Kill the Pope” comes back from the floor. “Dum Dum bullets for a Dum Dum Dummy” (Ronald Reagan) when the floor again erupts; and “Who was the wank who fired the Blank”, a celebration of the attempted attack on the Queen, with the crazed voice of lead singer Ian Bone chanting…

“There wouldn’t have been no wedding at all

If Marcus Sergeant in the Mall

Had earned all our eternal thanks

And fired live bullets instead of blanks”

Unlike his audience whose ages range from 12 to mid-twenties, Bone is in his thirties and well educated. He is a sociology graduate from University College, Swansea

As lead singer and songwriter with The Legends, Bone has created for the first time a Nationalist band using the English language which has a massive following among working class kids in south Wales, it is a scene completely removed from the cosy world of Welsh language pop.

Living Legends would not be distinguished greatly from the hundreds of other Punk bands around if their bizarre line-up did not have musical talent as well. A Sounds reporter, following the Crass tour didn’t even mention Crass in his report, so far he had gone overboard for The Legends.

With a spartan back-line of drums, bass and sax, the four vocalists are given full reign. Ca Tastrophe and Just Manda, the female Legends, win complete silence from their audience as the sing “Bitches on Heat”. This, a celebration of menstrual blood, has an almost castrating effect on the predominantly male audience as they glimpse the girls (genuine) blood-soaked tampon earrings.

The silence is then completely shattered as Bone Idol follows up with his manic “Where The Hell’s Churchill”.

You won’t see The Legends gigs advertised: word spreads through South Wales by word of mouth. The band often appears under false names to avoid being banned from venues they have booked as their reputation advances ahead of them.

Rumour has it that they are playing at Grass Roots in Cardiff on November 6 but you have been warned … it won’t be pleasant.

ARCADE MAGAZINE – 1981

Read Chris Low’s piece on the Trafalgar Square gathering in Vice magazine HERE

Crisis – Peckham Action Group / Ardkor Records – 1979 / 1981

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

No Town Hall

Holocaust / PC One Nine Eight Four

UK 79

White Youth

Alienation

Bruckwood Hospital

Uploaded today is the complete set of Crisis 7″ singles, all originally recorded at the B.B.C studios in London’s Maida Vale.

The first 7″ single released on Peckham Action Group records have the recordings that made up the first John Peel session that was recorded in January 1978. The two 7″ singles released on Ardcor records have the recordings that made up the second John Peel session that was recorded in November 1978. All of these tracks are magnificent. All of these tracks stand up to the test of time.

The wonderful Crisis gig poster which is the property of Stewart ‘Jellyfish’ has been placed on this post with his full blessing.

The Stewart Home reminiscences are lifted from his book ‘Cranked Up Really High’ of which you can read chapters and order a copy off his website stewarthomesociety.org.

The Douglas Pearce interview below the ‘Cranked Up Really High’ text is ripped in part from occidentalcongress.com.

As a genre, PUNK ROCK is to a large degree shaped by the response of an international audience to what, perhaps, appears to be an unending stream of records. Nevertheless, live performance occupies a peculiarly important position among exponents of this style of music. Although in my teenage years I attended concerts by a good many of the bands who have been cited on previous pages, this is not of sufficient interest to warrant detailed description. Instead, I will restrict myself to a series of anecdotes concerning one particular group, in the hope that this will give a flavour of what it was like to follow any number of bands.

Although I’d run into Frazer Towman, the first Crisis singer, at various PUNK ROCK gigs in 1977, I missed the band’s first few public appearances out of sheer laziness. I finally caught them live at their fifth gig in January 1978. I can remember walking into Woking town centre and a couple of kids of fifteen, my age at the time, trying to pick a fight. The lippier of the two bastards attempted to come on all theatrical, slowly removing his leather gloves. He didn’t like Punks, although seeing as I was dressed in a sixties tonic jacket, shirt, Levis and boots, with very short hair, I’d located myself somewhere between Punk and the re-emerging Mod and Skinhead subcultures. Anyway, when I gave the more aggressive bozo a hard shove into the on-coming traffic, these two idiots realised that despite being alone, I wasn’t going to be pushed around, so they pissed off. In 1977, and at the beginning of ’78, most ‘PUNK violence’ occurred outside concert halls, but over the next couple of years things started getting a lot more fraught at ‘new wave’ gigs.

I got down to the Centre Halls and there was a real buzz because Menace and Sham 69 were top of the bill. I hadn’t been inside long when Crisis came on. I wasn’t too impressed by the drummer, Insect Robin Ledger aka the Cleaner, who looked like a twat thanks to his beard. However, once the band struck up, Frazer leapt on stage dressed in rubber trousers and a rapist’s mask and I was well impressed. The songs were basic PUNK ROCK thrash with polemical lyrics: ‘I am a militant / I am a picket / I fought at Lewisham / I fought at Grunwick / See, see the lies / See the lies civilise me / See, see the lies / See the lies can’t you see?’ or ‘Search and destroy / Search and destroy the Nazis / The National Front / Smash the National Front / Annihilate, annihilate, annihilate, annihilate, annihilate’. Of course, it turned out that the words were written by rhythm guitarist Doug Pearce (who was in the International Marxist Group) and bassist Tony Wakeford (who was a member of the Socialist Workers Party). The cream on the cake was lead guitarist Lester Jones, aka Lester Picket, who could not only play very well, he also did an excellent impression of Mick Jones taking off Keith Richards.

It didn’t take a ‘genius’ to work out Crisis had been inspired by the Clash, but what was interesting was that songwriters Doug and Tony took Strummer’s revolutionary rhetoric seriously. Although the dialectical evolution of Punk Rock was to progress in a diametrically opposed direction from that in which Crisis were attempting to push it, the group nevertheless had an intuitive grasp of what the genre was about. Before playing a key role in the promotion of the Oi! movement, future Sun hack Gary Bushell hyped Crisis as reminding him ‘of Sham a couple of months back, musically simple and muscular’ (Sounds 16 September 1978) and ‘a clenched fist rammed hard into the flabby belly of the just-for-fun music punk has become’ (‘Music To March To’, Sounds 18 November 1978). Bushell understood that the way forward for ideological Punk Rock was to rhetorically take to the streets. Crisis appeared to be doing just that, although the fact that at least some of the band took their ‘revolutionary communist’ image seriously prevented them emulating Sham 69′s chart success.

When I think of Crisis all sorts of images flash through my mind. I can remember a whole bunch of the band’s friends stealing crates of lager from behind the bar when the group played South Bank Polytechnic. Then there was the time in Brixton when Ken, the skinhead junkie, jumped on stage to wave a knife about and threaten to cut up the bastard who’d punched out his girlfriend. She’d actually passed out from alcoholic excess. Another time, Rockin’ Pete, a Teddy Boy, turned up at a Hackney gig to announce that he’d finally joined the Socialist Workers Party as though this was an act of some great significance! Then there was the performance on a side-stage at the second Anti-Nazi League Carnival when guitarist Doug P. was carted off to hospital after being electrocuted. But what I remember mainly were punch-ups, towards the end of the band’s brief life it seemed as though there were always fights at Crisis gigs.

The most famous Crisis ruck was rather inaccurately reported under the headline ‘Rudies Don’t Care’ (Sounds 7 July 1979 – BELOW). An equally distorted account of the night can be found in the pro-situ pamphlet Like A Summer With A Thousand Julys by ex-King Mob members Dave and Stuart Wise, whose even sillier text The End Of Music did a great deal to help promote the ludicrous notion that PUNK ROCK was somehow ‘musical Situationism’. The actual cause of this particular ‘punk riot’ was not, as the ‘Wise’ brothers falsely claim, various boot boys being refused entry to the Acklam Hall in Notting Hill, but a Ladbroke Grove Skin who’d been granted admission, attempting to feel up a girl who followed Crisis. Taking exception to this, the chick booted the bastard in the bollocks, severely crippling the cunt. The slime-bag was too embarrassed to admit to his mates that he’d been beaten up by a bird and so he pointed me out as the person who’d given him the kicking.

I was standing in front of the stage as Crisis played, surrounded by mates, but the Ladbroke Grove Skins wrongly assumed I was on my own. When four of these twats attempted to kick my head in, they quickly found the odds turning against them as not only the audience but also the band, who’d leapt off-stage, waded in on my side. The Ladbroke Grove Skins were lucky to escape from the hall without any particularly grievous injuries. Crisis finished their set and a reggae band was playing when the skins returned mob handed, they’d rounded up sixty mates who were tooled up with hammers and pick-axe handles. This crew attempted to charge the security on the door but quick thinking Crisis fans formed a defensive line and beat them back. Meanwhile, the reggae band had locked themselves and their gear in a back room. Simultaneously, the Crisis crew threw a barricade of tables and chairs against the door while piping was ripped from the walls for use as offensive weapons.

Never inclined to stick to defensive tactics and having secured the hall. assorted members of Crisis and their hardcore following stormed out into the street to lay into the mob besieging the venue. Among the more memorable of improvised weapons were motorcycle helmets that were brought cracking down onto cropped scalps. With numerous injuries on both sides, the Ladbroke Grove Skins were eventually beaten off by the superior fighting skills of Crisis and their friends. Although the band’s transit had been trashed, with all windows smashed, the motor started and the crew loaded up the gear before piling in. Everyone thought the first stop was going to be Brixton but just down the road we spotted two of the boot boys who’d started the trouble in the hall. The driver pulled up and a score of skinheads and punks leapt from the van.

The two Ladbroke Grove Skins ran into the very hospital where those injured during the ruck had been taken for treatment. One was caught and given a kicking in front of a night nurse; the bozo had landed in the right place to have his wounds stitched up, perhaps he knew that he’d never evade his pursuers as he legged it into casualty. The other skin disappeared down a maze of corridors and, as far as I’m concerned, has never been heard of again. It should be made clear that this wasn’t punk versus skinhead violence, which was very common at the time. Although the majority of people associated with Crisis could be loosely described as ‘punks’, bassist Tony Wakeford had adopted the skinhead look before this incident, as had some of those who followed the band. Likewise, a segment of the audience attending Crisis gigs were by this time geared up in rockabilly threads. The ability of this subculturally mixed crew to see off the Ladbroke Grove Skins contrasts very favourably with the next occasion on which these boot boys besieged the Acklam Hall. Incapable of fighting their way out, Oi! band the Last Resort and their fans, who at the time were being portrayed by the media as the ultimate violent hooligans, had to be rescued by the police!

Editor note: Some interesting anecdotes on Crisis, Ripped And Torn fanzine, Tony D, Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine, Crass, The Slits, The Clash and a host of other relevant subjects with connections in and around Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove in west London from 1978 and 1979 may be read in this Tom Vague (ex of the fine Vague fanzine) essay HERE

Other incidents I can relate about Crisis are much funnier. For example, having gone through a succession of stickmen, Crisis recruited Luke Rendall as their new drummer. Rendall was very nervous about his debut with the band, needlessly so because he was a great musician, as he demonstrated both that night and on many other occasions with Crisis and Theatre Of Hate. To psyche himself up, Luke gulped down a handful of blues and because he was speeding he played the songs far faster than usual. Two numbers into the set, rhythm guitarist Doug Pearce turned around and asked Rendall if he could slow down. The drummer shock his head and spat ‘no, mate, no,’ before launching into the next song at double speed.

One gig in Reading ran so late that after staying for the encores, the hardcore following missed the last train home. Crisis got about in a small bakery van but nevertheless felt obliged to provide transport for their mates. That night there were four people crammed onto a front seat that was designed for two passengers. So that everyone else could fit in the back, kids had to lie on top of both the equipment and each other. Coming out of Reading, the transit was stopped by some cops who’d observed that the vehicle was severely overloaded. The filth told everyone to get out and couldn’t believe their eyes when fifteen youths emerged from the rear of the van. ‘Jesus!’ a boneheaded constable exclaimed, ‘we’ve enough of ‘em ‘ere for an identification parade!’

A more typical anecdote about Crisis concerns their reputation as violent nutters. Certain members of the group and some of their followers liked fighting. Whenever the opportunity arose, they’d beat up neo-fascists, and if there weren’t any Nazis about to give a kicking, they’d pick on anyone, including each other. The group’s last gig was as support act to Magazine at Surrey University in May 1980. While the gear was being set up, a friend of the band called Aggy threw food over Dexter No-Name, who at that time handled vocals for Crisis. Dexter was less than pleased and proceeded to hospitalise his mate. The Student Entertainment Officer was totally freaked out, and ran off screaming: ‘the gig hasn’t even started and already you’re beating each other up!’

Crisis are at once typical and atypical of late seventies ideological Punk Rock at the cross-roads of dialectical change. The revolutionary commitment of Doug and Tony was at odds with the attitude of the rest of the band and their fans, most of whom weren’t interested in taking politics very seriously. The band issued two singles and a mini-album during their brief career, while one single appeared posthumously. They played something approaching a hundred gigs in Britain, mainly political benefits, and did a Rock Against Racism tour of Norway. While I went to a lot of gigs in the late seventies, I saw Crisis more times than any other band and so it is only natural for me to use them as a means of illustrating the type of activity that will reinforce the image of any given group as an ideological Punk Rock combo. Obviously, image cannot be reduced to behaviour but, alongside clothes and record sleeves, it plays a major role in how any given group is perceived by the public.

Crisis adopted a modus operandi that could be characterised as underground, after unfortunate experiences with a couple of independent labels they proceeded to put out their own product. This is a mark of their deviation from the rhetoric of Punk Rock and the beginnings of a tentative engagement with other forms of activity in which such ideals move out of the symbolic realm and take on a material reality. Some of these proclivities found a more conscious articulation in Death In June, the band founded by Doug Pearce and Tony Wakeford after Crisis split. However, this is not the place to deal with such issues. In all probability, theoretical work in this area will be left to less capable hands because I have no plans to compose a text about those tendencies whose activities were simultaneously related and opposed to the rhetoric of ‘ideological’ Punk Rock. The point to remember here is that Crisis were considerably more successful than the average band issuing their own records in 1979/80. If Crisis had been a typical Punk Rock band, they would have signed to an independent label who would have provided them with greater sales and a smaller percentage of revenue from their record releases.

STEWART HOME

In the late 1970s, Crisis marked your first appearance on the music scene, as one of the band’s two main songwriters. In the years since, your music has evolved drastically; your current project of the last two and a half decades, Death In June, is markedly dissimilar to your work with Crisis, musically, visually and politically. That said, why a retrospective “complete discography” Crisis CD now? 

First of all I don’t believe that in retrospect Crisis and Death In June were that dissimilar on any of those levels. Certainly not musically towards the end of Crisis in 1980 and, the yet to be, birth in 1981 of Death In June. Visually we also had from the very beginning a look that could have easily blended into latter day DIJ with camouflage and black clothing being ‘de rigeur’. We saw ourselves as ‘Music to March To’ and so did the British mainstream press and our followers – whatever side of the political spectrum they came from. And, despite being ‘obviously’ Left wing we had many far Right followers which gave birth to a whole gamut of interesting liaisons and conversations and mutual agreements and perhaps even respect. Nothing was ever straightforward, no matter how much we might have even liked it to be. If you were a punk or a skinhead – regardless of your colour, political stance or sexual orientation – in the UK in the late 1970s that was enough to blur all and every prejudice and boundary.

Whether I like it or not Crisis forms a very important part of my personal and musical contribution to history and after six years since the last readily available compilation I thought it was now time to issue another, better thought-out, retrospective. “Holocaust Hymns” effectively replaces the “We Are All Jews And Germans” compilation that was put out by the now defunct World Serpent Distribution. And, it’s a lot better than that one, after being remastered and with more accurate track information, exclusive photos et cetera. For the first time in years I actually am enjoying listening to this moment in time. And, going by the amount of requests I’ve had for this material over recent years, so will many other good folk. Basically, there was a demand and hopefully I’ve met it.

Crisis seems to have appeared fairly early on in the whole punk “movement” of the late 1970s; what initially drew you to punk rock, and what inspired you to form your own band?

Very simply everything on all levels was horrible in England in the mid-late 1970s. When I see newsreel footage of the UK during that period I can’t believe quite how dour it all looked – and was – especially if you were from white working class backgrounds like Tony and myself! Something had to happen and it did culturally, and had a continuing significant effect on youth culture and society as a whole. I had hair down to my waist until late 1975 when I realised that wasn’t for me – that was another time – cut all my hair off and wandered around being pissed off, looking like a runaway from Francois Truffaut’s “400 Blows”. Then one day on the Tube in London I noticed someone else looking like this and then I saw a poster for a Sex Pistols gig showing two cowboys greeting each other but whose cocks were also exposed and touching, and then I heard about The Clash, and then I saw in late 1976 The Sex Pistols on an English TV show called “So It Goes,” hosted by Tony Wilson (later of Factory Records fame), and then Tony Wakeford telephoned me and asked if I had heard of Punk Rock and if I wanted to form a group. I said “yes” to both those questions and the rest is hysterical. It was a series of events that led me to Punk early on, but in comparison to the trailblazers, we took our time. Crisis came in the wake of those events and people.

Many reviewers have compared Crisis to the far-left UK band Crass, due to the two bands’ heavy use of politics as lyrical and visual subject matter within the context of punk rock. One reviewer wrote, “[Crass and Crisis] both signaled the end of punk as fun, spontaneity, massiveness and anarchy (as a way of feeling). In this new ‘new wave’ of punk, punk was seen as a tool of protest… Crass, Crisis and the bands they bred became the new puritans. [The Crisis track] PC1984 might as well have stood for politically correct 1984 as they told us the truth about the world and what our part should be in it according to their rules. The truth was black and white…the enemy obvious…the police were the fascistic army to dominate the workers.” Do you think this is a fair criticism, and does is reflect your actual aims for the band at the time, or more of how the band was perceived by the press and fans? Do you look back on your time with Crisis as being “fun,” or was it something else, as the above quote alleges?

Crisis and my experience of Punk Rock in Britain/Europe was anything and everything but “fun” and this sort of idea comes from people who were either not there at the time, or were and have an axe of some kind or another to grind about their own experiences with Crisis. The years between 1977 and 1980 were some of the hardest of my Life and they certainly contributed to Tony and I wanting to destroy the group in 1980 and head for sunnier pastures artistically, culturally, and whatever else we could find. However, we couldn’t deny our cultural imperative at the time. We were in Crisis unashamedly left wing or, at least trying to be, and wanted to be taken seriously politically. Which we were! So seriously in fact that when celebrities found out we were part of the Anti-Nazi League or Rock Against Racism benefits they withdrew their support. Names like the author Keith Waterhouse, TV compare Michael Parkinson and Football coach Brian Clough immediately spring to mind. They publicly withdrew their support because of Crisis! Crisis were referred to as “Red Fascists” almost from the outset, which seemed to confuse and upset some folk and also endear us to others. They were “interesting times.”

And as regards any comparisons to Crass: They were not contemporaries of ours, I don’t remember any comparisons at the time and I think we only became aware of them after the demise of Crisis and at the beginning of Death In June in the early 1980s. Certainly to us then they seemed like the guys at free festivals dishing out lentils and orange juice to those on a bad trip when they realised they had been left behind, there was no one left at the festival anymore and in order to catch up with ‘the kids,’ cropped their hair, wore black and decided to form what was I think akin to the Hari Krishnas; a caricature of a punk group, and do their bit for those who weren’t there in the first place. I’m sure their hearts were in the right place and I love lentils and orange juice, and they did indeed invent their own particular version of Punk but,…. “Do they owe us a living?” Of course they fucking DON’T!

Following the dissolution of Crisis, members of the band went on to form or join acts such as Theatre of Hate, Sol Invictus, Sex Gang Children, and of course your own Death In June. Are you still in touch with any of these other ex-Crisis members, and if so, what is your perception of their post-Crisis work?

Even before the end Luke Rendall the last drummer in Crisis was basically headhunted by Kirk Brandon who was then in a group called The Pack. They went onto to form Theatre Of Hate which I quite liked and I saw a few of their early shows in the London area. I think my best memory was being backstage when Boy George was having a fit about some bloke giving Kirk the eye and how he was going to beat the shit out of him! This was before Culture Club and I have to say I think fame really became Boy George who seemed more like a transvestite psychopath that night than a Karma Kamelion. It also evidently made him lose interest in Kirk! I heard a few years ago that Luke had been murdered.

Lester, the lead guitarist of Crisis, went on to form a group called Car Crash International with members of the Sex Gang Children but I can’t recall what they were like and am only aware of one 12″ single that they put out.

Our two roadies Martin and Flea went on to work with The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite and Flea who designed some of the original Crisis record sleeves was even in several Big Audio Dynamite videos. I don’t know how much input he had in their creation but he was a very talented artist and all-round interesting guy.

Sol Invictus, of course, came out of Death In June not Crisis.

With the exception of Tony Wakeford I’m not in contact with anyone from those Punk days.

In the years since Crisis, you seem to have moved from the realm of politics to that of aesthetics. Conceptually, Crisis seems to have been a very direct, literal and “instructive” project in nature, in the sense that the songs were clearly about (and commenting upon), something specific, and urging the listener to think and feel about things in certain ways. Because of this, Crisis could really only be interpreted one way – literally and at face value – while your subsequent work with Death In June seems to me as being almost the opposite of that sort of approach; it’s rife with vague allusions, double meanings, and open-ended readings. In short, Crisis was a very matter-of-fact thing, while Death In June is a much more nebulous and poetic project. Assuming such an interpretation of your work is accurate, was this shift in approach a conscious decision on your part, or did it happen as a part of a gradual process?

Even though we might have thought what we were writing/singing about was “specific” and “straightforward” it was soon interpreted as anything but. The song ‘White Youth’ is a prime example. We performed several times on the back of a lorry on demonstrations throughout the South of England / London that were organized by The Right To Work campaign. Crisis would play for up to seven or eight hours, with a few breaks in between, entertaining the people who had been marching in protest to their unemployment which was then rife in the UK. It was our equivalent to The Beatles slogging their way through similar set lengths in some sleaze pit in Hamburg in the early 1960s. Whilst they had their happy memories of the Reeperbahn, I have happy memories of stopping traffic crossing Tower Bridge in London playing “UK 79″ and “Holocaust”. We wrote with that marching rhythm in mind the song “White Youth,” which we thought was about ‘unity and brotherhood’ [the song ends with the repeated verse, "We are black, we are white - together we are dynamite!"], but much to my surprise some smartarse in the New Musical Express was soon saying that it was a white supremacist anthem. There’s no pleasing some folk is there! That was key in realizing that no matter what you wrote if it was any good it could be interpreted anyway, anyhow, anywhere. A Death In June prime directive!


This blog is protected by Dave\'s Spam Karma 2: 95460 Spams eaten and counting...