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:
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