A different studio mix of some of the tracks off Flux Of Pink Indians second full length LP. In fact more than a ‘full length’ LP as it was originally a double vinyl set released on Spiderleg Records in 1984. The information that this is an earlier mix of some of the tracks off that LP mixed straight from the studio desk, came directly from Martin Flux who lent me this cassette to upload onto this site some time ago. Towards the end of the second side of this tape the listener can hear various members of Flux chatting during the remixing session with a pleasant interuption from John Loder via the Southern Studios intercom which was nice to hear…
The material on the original LP, along with the gatefold sleeve artwork, courtesy of B.A. Nana of Crass fame, and of course the lyrics printed within the package, make up one of the most stunning and angriest LP packages ever put together and released by any band, on any record label during that era. The material is still to this day quite hard and uncomfortable to listen to from what I heard from the tracks present on this tape. Very unsettling indeed…
I have not listened to the actual original double LP, sitting safely here at Penguin Towers since about 1985, so I have forgotten what it sounds like compared to the tracks on this tape uploaded onto this post tonight. I could not tell you exactly how much of a difference there is with this alternative mix without playing the vinyl and comparing the tracks, something I do not have time to do right now…I will give the LP a spin one day though, when I feel the urge.
Text below beautifully written by Smith3000 ripped from his smashing blog Expletive Undeleted
Thanks in advance to him.
I watch the postman wheel his cart down the other side of our road and wonder if eil.com can have got my order to me by today. I get a bit excited all of a sudden.
A few minutes later, he’s coming back down our side of the street. He’s a couple of houses away. I hold my breath. Come on lad, I think, you can do it.
The buzzer goes. “Package for you,” it says in a metallic Mancunian monotone.
Two seconds and three storeys later, I open the front door and take the 12-inch cardboard mailer from the unsuspecting postie. If only you knew what you‘re delivering, I think to myself, idiotically, as I thank him.
I make myself walk back up the stairs at a more sedate pace. It’s a big effort. When I get back in the flat I sit on the settee, open the package and slide the album out of its protective sleeve to reveal the savagely androgynous figures on the cover, still every bit as striking, ugly, perverse and compelling as the first day I saw them.
1984 comes back to me, disconcertingly, in a rush:
Stef, the miners strike, Thatcher, sixth form, Steve Bird’s alternative discos at the Baths, cider, fanzines, exams, Real-Eat vegeburgers, a veritable rainbow of red, green and brown lentils, Crass, Flux, the Chumbas, D&V, KUKL, CND, the bright lights of Hull, Nottingham, Sheffield, London, Darlington, Newcastle.
“Relax, don’t do it ..”
Some of us thought it would be some kind of Orwellian year zero, some weird historical nadir where everything went into meltdown and totalitarian crypto-fascists took total control of, y‘know, everything, everywhere – and at times it did seem like that might actually be happening – but really, in the end, it was just another year.
If you could somehow parachute into 1984 from now, in many ways it wouldn’t be so very different from today.
You’d find a government sitting on a sizeable parliamentary majority, and a British peacekeeping force trying to police a civil conflict which was effectively created by Britain in the first place. You’d see a domestic policy of divide and rule, with demonised, marginalised communities vilified as the enemy within, and ever greater extensions of police powers passed without comment.
Then again, nobody was yapping and tapping away on their mobiles all day long, there wasn’t a CCTV camera on every corner. Kids didn’t find themselves on a DNA database, just for being kids. Britain limited its military adventures to our little patch of north-western Europe.
Like many people in the area, my dad worked at the steelworks in Scunthorpe, and got laid off when the coke that powered the blast furnaces (supplied by the plant at Orgreave) began to run out during the strike. British Steel, at the behest of the Thatcher junta – I‘m sorry, I still get worked up about all this shit – eventually managed to break the strike by importing cheaper coal from apartheid South Africa.
Ungenerous souls might think this was partly the idea all along.
There were flying pickets at the gates of the steelworks, police roadblocks, helicopters, mad rightwing propaganda all over the media, it seemed like proper 1984 stuff.
And this was in largely rural North Lincolnshire. It was absolutely on-top in the neighbouring South Yorkshire coalfield – and it ended up getting even worse.
Twisted Yorkshire noir supremo Dave Peace summed up the fractured, bewildered edginess of the era perfectly in his novel about the strike, GB84. Read it and weep.
It’s not like the viciousness of the government’s response to the strike came as any real surprise. We’d seen exactly what Thatcher was capable of already, in the Falklands, when she kicked off the 1983 election campaign by murdering a thousand young Argentinian conscripts, and scores of British lads who may as well have been conscripts.
But life went on – despite the weight of the oppressive totalitarian machine bearing down on us blah blah blah. It was business as usual. Most people kept their heads down and tried to make the most of the scraps thrown to them from the free marketeers’ table.
Here I go again. Check me getting all militant and Class War. Listen, whatever I say now, I was never really any kind of activist and the extent of my experience with Class War was begrudgingly buying a copy of the paper off Morbid Mark down the Furnace every now and again.
Hospitalising coppers just didn’t seem like the answer to me.
And while we’re at it, I need to pick a metaphor and stick to it. Is it a machine I’m talking about ? A table? Or a mechanical table? A hostess trolley?
If it was a hostess trolley, I was drunkenly hanging ten on top of it, surfing the tsunami of sexual smugness and emotional self-satisfaction that comes with your first real, grown-up relationship.
Although I was right next door if you looked at a map, in reality I was half a world away from the frontline of the class war tearing the North apart at the time. The first half of 1984 was all about Stef and drinking and dancing and joyous, mind-blowing sex anywhere and everywhere. I barely noticed what was happening on my own doorstep, never mind the rest of the world.
We went to see Crass, Flux, D&V and Annie Anxiety at the Marcus Garvey Centre in Nottingham at the start of May**. Half a dozen of us crammed into Stef’s little black Ford GTi, bricking it all the way down that we’d get stopped at the police roadblocks which had been set up to prevent flying pickets from South Yorkshire getting to the less solid Nottinghamshire coalfield.
I remember being very struck by the fact that Derek Birkett was wandering around outside the venue, barefoot. Crikey, I thought, he’s even rejecting shoes.
Disappointed by the new material Flux played at a gig at the Marples in Sheffield the previous Christmas, I didn’t bother buying The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks. And Doug or Pete Lazerbeam or someone had bought it already, I’d heard it and I just didn’t get it. It just seemed like four sides of angry, incoherent feedback. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the new stuff we heard in Nottingham either.
Even so, it came as a pleasant surprise when my birthday came around and Stef presented me with a nicely wrapped 12-inch package containing a brand new copy of The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks. Who says romance is dead?
Buying me records was the quickest and easiest way to my heart even then. I was head over heels.
The problem was, Stef didn’t attach quite the same level of importance to the giving and receiving of vinyl as I did. She chucked me a few weeks later, in the middle of the precinct, just outside the market, on a Saturday afternoon. That evening, miserable and reckless, I went off with some sophisticated older girls and smoked my first spliff.
I inhaled. And then I exhaled. That first fluttery, mellow wave that passed down the length of my body from head to toe was the one highpoint in an otherwise shite day.
Maybe the fact that it was a present from Stef is the reason why I never really listened to the album that much, even before it went west (whenever and wherever that was). But I hope I wasn’t as sappy as that. There are plenty of better reasons not to listen to The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks.
Hearing it on a wet Wednesday morning 24 years later, the album sounds like a big blast of anger and frustration from an entirely different time and place. It’s often confused and incoherent, wilfully extreme and uncompromising.
There’s a bit at the start of Love Song, which is about domestic violence, where a woman screams over and over again, accompanied by a clipped, military drum beat. It’s genuinely distressing. I feel like Brian in Spaced, listening to his tapes of torture and despair. I turn the volume down a bit.
I heard that Derek Birkett was listening to a lot of avant-garde free-jazz face-painters the Art Ensemble of Chicago when Flux recorded the album. It makes sense, hearing it now. But there are also moments of messy rat-tat-tat-tat thrash that recall wobbly Bristol squat punks Disorder, shifts in the sound that remind you of the haphazard sonic genius of the Fall, even occasional snatches of proto-punk funk that bring to mind the sparse rhythms of Joy Division.
And, in amongst the squalls of shrieking, whistling feedback, yelling, shouting, and cut-ups of spanking flicks and Steve Wright In The Afternoon, the album’s multi-layered production reveals a quantum leap in the depth and spatial acuity of Flux’s sound. It sounds every bit as out there as it did when it was released.
But in places there’s a hectoring, badgering, slightly patronising tone I don’t remember so much from their first album Strive To Survive Causing The Least Suffering Possible (though I haven’t heard that for years either). It’s all a bit holier than thou. It’s not a lot of laughs.
It wasn’t meant to be, of course. Flux were trying to push back the boundaries of their art, and simultaneously trying to make it less about the medium and more about the message. And as it turns out, I now realise the album isn’t quite the impenetrable wall of noise I once thought it to be – but it doesn’t work for me, even after all these years.
It’s telling that 1984 found the two leading lights of the anarcho scene releasing albums – Flux and Crass with Yes Sir, I Will – which largely confused and even alienated their audiences. And still do.
Focused, impassioned and genuinely innovative though they were, both albums now seem like last desperate acts of impotent fury, almost like admissions of defeat. Both bands had never made as much noise before – and never with so little effect.
It’s a little bit sad.
The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks. Great title, not so great album.
Hold on. Wait a minute. Didn’t it used to have a gatefold sleeve? Wasn’t there a lyric and info sheet? eil.com didn’t mention anything about that.
The fucking cunts!
A while after the album was released, prompted by a complaint about a window display, Eastern Bloc in Affleck’s Palace was raided by Greater Manchester Police, at the time headed by the noted religious maniac James Anderton aka ‘God’s Cop’ .
A number of albums – including Penis Envy by Crass and Frankenchrist (complete with HR Geiger Penis Landscape poster insert) by the Dead Kennedys, as well as The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks – were seized.
Eastern Bloc’s owners were charged with displaying ‘Obscene articles for publication for gain’ – which is particularly ironic in the case of The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks, given that most of the album, even down to the OTT sweary punk rock title, was all about asking: What is more obscene? A little profanity or a society that is built on violence?
Happily, it never went to trial. I think. But I’m not sure. I’m trying to track down someone who worked in the shop at the time to get a bit more first-hand information but it’s proving to be a bit harder than you’d think.
I ended up going to see Flux, Chumbawamba, KUKL and D&V on a few dates of a tour they did in support of striking miners later in the summer of 1984, and interviewed everyone on the bill – except the Chumbas, who I‘d interviewed far too often already.
The D&V interview is a big blur, but I do remember being wedged in the back of a transit van outside the Leadmill trying to give Bjork, Einar and the other members of KUKL a hard time about not being vegetarians, and then sitting in the venue itself trying to give Flux a similarly hard time about The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks.
I must’ve seemed like a right irritating little twat…
** The Crass / D&V / Annie Anxiety / Flux gig mentioned in the text above is uploaded on this site HERE for anyone that may be interested.