The McTells – Bi Joopiter Records – 1988 / 1990 – Stevenage Bowes Lyon House 05/06/87

June 24th, 2012

4th Gear Shift / Spreading The Net / Funck / Bitter Eric / One Thousand Other Songs / Jackson Holly / Last Time

Angela / Round The World / Joe And Jim / Go Betweens / Teddy Bears / Virginia MC / Push

The McTells; three lads from Hertford who used to be four… Uploaded today is a live performance from 1987 taken my personal stash of cassette tapes, the second 7″ vinyl record released in 1988 and also the debut LP released in 1990. This LP was one of the musical highlights of that year for me personally alongside Mazzy Star’s masterpiece, the ‘She Hangs Brightly’ LP released on Rough Trade records.

Coming in at impressive thirty minutes of playing time and with a wonderful screen printed sleeve individual to each copy; this McTells release was the record collector connoisseurs release of the year!

Added to this, the LP with a fair bit of help from your humble scribe was distributed by Southern Record Distribution, the first release I managed to got into the company for UK distribution. The ‘Manasseh Meets The Equalizer’ LP (soon to be a future release on Riz records) would follow this personal milestone a year or so later on…

The McTells had been in existence since around 1985; consisting of various members of Rig Veda And The Twins (Paul) and Hectors House (Stuart and Bill) two bands that predate The McTells by several years. Mark Flunder; a Hertford ‘face’ who had been a member of The Television Personalities in 1983, as well as being in The Marine Girls ‘inner circle’, had just released the 14 Iced Bears 7″ single on his new record label ‘Frank’. Mark who wanting to bolster his catalogue for his new record label contacted The McTells to ask if the band was game for releasing some material. He found out that The McTells had just lost Andy the original drummer but instead of cancelling the idea, Mark decided to set up a couple of drums himself and join the band for the session to record in the studio. Somehow Mark forgot to vacate the band’s drum stall after the session and was a member throughout the life time of the band, even eventually sitting down to drum after starting off originally in The McTells all Mo Tuckerish!

Mark Flunder was instrumental in another record label; Complete Control records which released this classic 7″ single by the Hertford punk band Onslaught which is featured on a very special KYPP post HERE

I remember Mark as being a very nice chap and I remember being thrilled to get a ride on the back of his 1961 Vespa (sadly hand-painted in sky blue) across fields near Ball Park College one sunny Sunday afternoon.

During the summer of 1987 Mark Flunder finally released the ‘Jesse Man Rae’ 7″ EP single on his Frank label. Paul had managed to release the ‘Virginia MC’ flexidisc along with a C30 cassette release on his Bi Joopiter label in 1986. Bi Joopiter was mainly known for it’s cassette tape releases and the flexidisc was the first ‘record’ to be released on the label. Both these earlier record releases by The McTells can be listened to HERE

Bill, the original member of the band and second guitarist left Hertford to continue his further education in Brighton and therefore, not being able to concentrate on The McTells that easily, he formed a new band based in Brighton called The Big Paintings.

This left The McTells as a three piece of Paul, Stuart and Mark which remained the stable line up until the band’s split in 1993.

The McTells performed at many of the usual venues that were ‘busy’ in that era. The Camden Falcon, Kentish Town Bull And Gate, Kings Cross New Merlins Cave and the Fulham Greyhound. Some bands that ended up on the same bill as the McTells at some point or another have been The Pastels, The Television Personalities, The Astronauts, My Bloody Valentine, The Happy Mondays and The Vaselines. I went to a fair few gigs in the bands career and one of the most memorable was a gig at the Brixton White Horse in 1988 with Beat Happening. I went along with Sean ‘Gummidge’ early doors. We witnessed The McTells, Beat Happening and The Legend sound check. Jon Fat Beast was in charge of the sound that night. Sean and myself waited for the crowds to swarm the venue due to Beat Happening and specifically K records being a well reknowned independant record label of merit across the pond in America. The crowd that all the band members and the handful of people in the hall expected to show up never showed! There must have been only around thirty people in to witness Beat Happenings debut gig in London, and that total included the seven members of The McTells, The Legend and Beat Happening! Thankfully the vibe changed a few days later for the next gig at the Pioneer Hall in Hertford as The McTells, Beat Happening and The Legend all got rapturous reactions from plenty of paying punters. A great gig. Beat Happening created a bit of a buzz a couple of years later in the UK due to some gracious comments from Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana front man in the music press. A Saturday afternoon performance by The McTells in the basement of Rough Trade records in Talbot Road, west London was also top notch.

The band embarked on a tour in Holland with Buy Off The Bar, a dutch band that Bi Joopiter had a major hand in promoting in the UK; releasing Buy Of The Bar’s LP in 1989 to a fair bit of Peel play and decent reviews. Also a visit to France for The McTells occurred.

The McTells unbelievably performed some shows in America with Beat Happening and The Mummies in the early 1990′s.

Them / Secret Wish

This Afternoon / Take The Car / Uncle Joe’s Funeral

During 1988 the first ever Bi Joopiter 7″ vinyl single was released. This release by The McTells was a five track EP released when the band were still in the rough Swell Maps soundscape. Again the artwork on the foldout poster sleeve was screen printed so no one copy of the record sleeve is the same as another. I remember selling a fair few copies of this record in and around Hertford and taking them up to London venues and shifting a fair few there also. At this point I was working part time for Southern Record Distribution as well as keeping my King Penguin Distribution mail order company going; King Penguin Distribution was originally created by myself after the demise of All The Madmen records / WOT Distribution early on in 1988 when the company was based at ‘Crucial Corner’ in Kings Cross opposite Collier Street where Rough Trade Distribution was based.

That / Sweetly Breathing / Trash Can / Take The Car / This Afternoon / Uncle Joe’s Funeral / Them / Secret Wish / Jesse Man Rae / Expecting Joe / Snowy White

A gig was taking place in Stevenage at the Bowes Lyon House. I knew members of the headlining band, as well as the promoter for the night. For some reason now long forgotten (blocked out in my memory now due to trauma I would think) I suggested getting The McTells onto the bill with uber crustie punky reggae bands, Culture Shock and The Rhythmites! Not sure what I was thinking. Stuart from the McTells was aware of Dick the friendly and approachable Culture Shock vocalist and was specifically aware of Dick’s previous band The Subhumans. Stuart the bassist of The McTells would go to gigs by Crass, Poison Girls, Conflict and Subhumans with some regularity when he was growing up in the late 1970′s early 1980′s. I think it was Stuart who pushed the gig onto the other band members after I got the slot confirmed!

Stuart was the member of the band that I knew best as we both hung around together in his bedsit for hours on end playing his battered vinyls on his battered music system when he was not throwing stiffs into a freshly dug hole (he was a gravedigger by trade). The ‘Front Line’ reggae compilation LP was played a fair bit I seem to remember as was ‘Stations Of The Crass’. Stuart’s room was next to the other room with the other lodger placed within its dank and dark walls. This other lodger was some serious alcoholic who seemed to have been down on his luck for many years. This other lodger would forever be knocking at the door asking Stuart for spare change to refill the bottle of his alcohol choice of the day; as well as blagging cigarettes and even dog-ends from Stuart on an almost hourly basis.

Myself and Stuart had and held onto that Crass ‘upbringing’ as well as both holding a fondness for All The Madmen records in common. We specifically liked The Mob as well as having an admiration of The Astronauts (a band that Stuart was briefly a member).

It probably does not need stating that when The McTells performed on the stage of the smaller downstairs hall at this Stevenage gig (the larger main hall a floor up was not used on this particular Sunday night) they bombed audience wise.

A smattering of folk from The Blackbirds public house had turned up to support them but to no avail unfortunately. The bulk of the audience that turned up ignored the band, which I guess is probably better than heckling them or causing trouble. The band performed well. Packed up and run! I stayed and recorded the rest of the gig through the P.A. as I was a Culture Shock supporter! Worldwide appreciation for The McTells via my ‘promoting’? Another day maybe, yeah?

The Culture Shock performance may be listened to HERE

What else to write? Well after 1990 The McTells released a few more 7″ singles on other labels including one released in 1993 on K records of Olympia which was run by Calvin of Beat Happening. Returning the favour somewhat for those few gigs the Beat Happening and The McTells had shared a few years previously and for a Beat Happening 7″ single that Bi Joopiter had released a year or so previously.

I moved out of Hertford in January 1990 after I suffered a brain hemorrhage in the middle of December 1989. After spending a couple of months in the Royal Free hospital followed by a couple more months at my mothers house, I ended up living in Wood Green. I knocked King Penguin Distribution on the head due to trying to get better brain wise. I was already expected to be on prescribed downers for two years to come; and would have to be off any alcohol during that same period. I ended up playing safe, staying in a bit more while still in recovery. I decided to concentrate all my energies on my Southern Record Distribution position. I had gone onto a full time position from December 1989 two weeks before the brain hemorrhage. John Loder supported me during my absence, keeping my position safe and paying me in full for the three months I was recovering. Today, twenty three years on, I am still working at Southern Record Distribution as the warehouse manager . Sadly John Loder passed away in 2005.

I lost touch with all the members of The McTells (and a lot of other people from Hertford and surrounding areas) during my long recovery in Wood Green.

In the mid to late 1990′s I would see Mark Flunder perform with Cee Bee Beaumont or with Sportique at the odd gig in north London. But very rarely. Into the 2000′s I saw Stuart in his band the McKenzie Break about five or six years ago, as well as Bill’s band The Garden City around four to five years ago. I have not seen Paul in any music capacity since 1991 I would guess. Southern Record Distribution still had ties with Bi Joopiter records up until the mid 1990′s but I was not personally speaking to Paul about label matters as that was another department’s job.

The text below is an interview conducted between Paul Rixon of The McTells and Everett True AKA The Legend ripped D.I.Y style off the collapseboard.com site.

What inspired you to first start making music?

“Hard to remember, Buzzcocks were definitely a great eye opener, so were Young Marble Giants; the local band the Marine Girls showed me that anyone could have a go; it was their linkage to the tape label Inphaze that also got me excited, the idea that you could also put your music out there on cassette, you didn’t have to find some record label to ‘sign you up’ and all that sort of thing.”

Which singers did you particularly favour?

“Pete Shelley, I like his whiny voice, a little like mine (or so people have said). Stephen Pastel, as it sounds less like singing, in the traditional sense, and Dan Tracey, again he was very distinctive. I suppose I like voices that have character, that don’t sound as if they had been trained, that have feeling behind them. Ones that are often very ‘English’ in tone.”

How important was it to you to have control over what you were doing?

“Very. I suppose this was why we did what we did. By we, I mean those behind Bi-Joopiter, the label, and The McTells. For me making music is exactly that; it includes all the elements of creating something that, eventually, someone gets hold of and listens to; it is recording, writing, packaging and putting the songs out there. I think that is why we were all in to the DIY ethic, using our 4-track recorders to record, then cassette machines to run off our cassettes and then screen-printing our own covers. I know we moved into records eventually, but we were very hands on, we mostly recorded our own songs, designed and printed the covers. And, in the end of the day, marketed them and distributed them.”

What informed The McTells’ aesthetic?

“It was the DIY ethic I noted above. We looked to other bands that had come before which had a sound that fitted with this and our interests in music. Music that was raw, cut down and inspirational. We all liked the Swell Maps, The TVPs, The Pastels … later, bands like Beat Happening. It was the sounds of early Rough Trade, bands like The Raincoats, that sought to provide sounds and music that were not over produced, that felt like the sounds had only just emerged and had not been worked on for months; that still have energy to them. I also liked some of the cassette labels I came across in the early 1980s in Europe, that often played around with packaging, that had a more arty view of what they were trying to do.”

Which other bands or individuals did you feel a kinship with?

“I know when we first came about K Records that was a kinship there. We all loved the Marine Girls and that DIY ethic. Calvin was an inspirational and supportive person. It was nice to think there were people out there like that. Also, with Stephen Pastel one felt there was someone who you could talk to, that had a similar idea about what they liked and were trying to do. Another group I felt we had a similarity to was The Cannanes, from Australia, and The Clean, from New Zealand. They had a similar sound but also similar aesthetic.”

How did you measure success – ie: did you feel The McTells were successful?

“Commercially no, but that was never our aim. I think we managed to do what we wanted, to make music, to play in front of people and to create some wonderful artifacts which, to me, was a success. If a few people occasionally remember us great, that is a success of sorts.”

What were some of your most memorable concerts?

“Playing Netherstowy, a tiny village near Bristol. We played a small pub there and all the kids turned up. I doubt much ever happens there. We played in Olympia, in someone’s garden, with the Nation Of Ulysses, I remember the sun going down, the gentle heat and the lovely crowd. One that should be memorable was when we played with Happy Mondays at the Black Horse in Camden. I don’t remember watching them, more the shame, but they were lovely people. They let us borrow their equipment.”

What attracted you to the cassette format?

“Easy to copy, post while not being too expensive. The main thing was it gave us the freedom to copy and to then post the cassettes out. It was small enough to fit in a small envelope and was a world wide standard. If we had started now I wound fully endorse the web, down loads etc, there was nothing aesthetically beautiful about the cassette, just the freedoms it offered.”

Did you see the influence of The McTells on any of the bands that followed?

“Hard to say. I would like to think there are or were. I know of a few people who mentioned The McTells in interviews. If nothing I hope it encourages anyone to believe they can enjoy themselves, that they can do something, that they can pick up a guitar and perform.”

What drove you to write songs – what were your lyrical concerns?

“I suppose it was a mixture of things. A little politics, love, sadness … I suppose I would argue that, with a small ‘p’, everything is political. I liked making observations, from my own perspectives, that would offer some view on life. Often the lyrics were obscure, they were not obvious, with the view that you could make your own meanings from them.”

How important was environment?

“The McTells were a band of a certain time and place. We all grew up in a smallish town, Hertford, and shared similar small town outlooks. However, we were near enough to London to have that opening to us. We appeared around the mid Eighties and were around when the indie scenes was taking off. They were lots of venues and bands touring around our size. We were products of a conservative Britain, at times unemployed, looking for a way of expressing ourselves, of making comment – but not in an overly political way.”

How important was feedback?

“It is nice to have feedback, whether from letters, conversations with people at gigs, from fanzines etc. Some of this might influence us, then again we tended to just push on in the direction we wanted to go. But having a dialogue with the audience, with other bands, our peers, with critics, is important. It is this discourse that seeks to define how we judge music. We wanted to put the view that our DIY ethic was as respectable as any other.”

What was the most recognisably commercial The McTells ever got?

“I think, near the end, we signed a deal with Vinyl Japan. That was the first time we had signed a contract. We then split up a year or so later. Maybe this was the nearest we came to joining the ‘industry’. Otherwise, in terms of being out there for people to hear us, when we were most successful, it was when we were playing with the likes of The Pastels, TVPs, My Bloody Valentine; being played by John Peel, touring in Europe and America.”

Where did the name come from?

Different views, one argument is that it comes from the Blues singer, Blind Willie McTell, the other that it is from the children’s show, Tingle on my tum, hosted by Ralph McTell. I don’t think we really know. It was at a time we changed names ever so many weeks, then we recorded a record and we were stuck with that name.”

Everette True (The Legend)

Bi Joopiter records discography HERE

The McTells are back together again and are performing a gig at the Lexington in Islington on 5th August 2012. I am looking forward to that and will be there. Hopefully some browsers will be too.

The Astronauts – Sir George Robey Finsbury Park – 30/03/87

April 29th, 2012

Problems / Mountaineers Lament / Fiona / Nowadays / World Weary / Seedy Side Of Paul / Semaphore Man / Sonambulance / Indisputable Fact / Acumulas Nimbulas

Uploaded tonight is a set from The Astronauts recorded via the mixing desk at the infamous and much missed Sir George Robey pub in Finsbury Park. On this particular night the headliners were Blyth Power recently ‘reformed’ with Steve Corr on guitar, Protag on bass and Sian Jefferies on secondary vocals. Josef and Sarah were the only survivors from the first line up with the departure of Curtis, Neil and Andy to pastures new.

The first band to perform on this spring night were Hysteria Ward, a band that contained Puppy Collective member from a few years previously, Louise and who had just released a cassette only album via All The Madmen records. Blyth Power were still (just about) signed up to All The Madmen records as were The Astronauts who were going to be releasing the ‘Seedy Side Of The Astronauts’ album a little later on in 1987.

Blyth Power were shortly to sign to Midnight Music who started to release several decent albums and singles up to the early part of the 1990′s, ending that stint with Midnight Music with a secondary guitarist Jamie Hince in the band. The same Jamie Hince who would become Kate Moss’s husband in 2011.

This All The Madmen showcase gig went as far as I can remember went without incident and was an enjoyable affair with all bands doing well on the night.  Of course most, if not all of the crowd wanted to see Blyth Power’s debut performance with the new line up. From memory Blyth Power were as enjoyable as they were when the band last performed at the same venue in December 1986 with the previous line up and with other All The Madmen records bands, We Are Going To Eat You and Thatcher On Acid in tow. I did not take photographs of The Astronauts during this gig at the Sir George Robey but I did a few months later in August at the Meanwhile Gardens festival when The Astronauts performed with We Are Going To Eat You a band that also have their own post on KYPP (a few posts under this one). The photographs I took then was of the same line up that performed at the Sir George Robey back in the spring so I am adding some of them to this post.

This Astronauts set has many tracks that do not get heard that much anymore. My cassette tape is straight from the mixing desk, but only has forty five minutes of the performance. I assume (but can not actually remember) that the sound man on the night did not flip the cassette towards the end of the set, but forty five minutes of The Astronauts is better than no minutes so here you go.

Text below taken off Devotional Hooligan so thanks to him. All photographs and the flyer from my collection…

The Astronauts

Eternal long-haired losers. This semi-legendary band have only released seven albums in its long existence but each of them is a bonafide classic. The Astronauts second album ‘All Done By Mirrors’ judged by those who heard it as among the best albums of all time was a stunning collection of explosive pop songs and traditional folk ballads recorded at a time when all their gigs were with anarchist punk bands. Their fifth album ’In Defence Of Compassion’ experimented with ambient house music years before other conventional bands even thought of doing so. With so many excellent songs (many never recorded) it is probably The Astronauts enthusiasm for drugs and music over career and changing fashions which has stopped them becoming as well known as they should be.

Inspired by the UK punk explosion Mark Astronaut formed the band with a few friends in 1977 and began playing local gigs in their hometown of Welwyn Garden City. By 1979 The Astronauts were regularly appearing at free festivals and gigs in London organised by a hippy collective known as Fuck Off Records and from these began a close friendship with London punk bands Zounds and the Mob.

That year the first Astronauts EP was released on local label Bugle Records and musically it reflected the hippie drug culture combined with the energy of punk. ‘All Night Party’ still sounds like the paranoid nightmare it did back then. The record established the Astronauts on the local gig scene among the non mainstream hippie / punk / biker crowd.

Also in 1979 an EP was released under the assumed name of Restricted Hours on the Stevenage Rock Against Racism label. ‘Getting Things Done’ attacked the political apathy of small town life while ‘Still Living Out The Carcrash’ was musically a typically nightmarish theme.

By 1980 gigs throughout England with Zounds had won over an army of fans and the ‘Pranksters In Revolt’ EP sold all its copies within weeks. Musically the four songs were not as adventurous as the first EP although the lyrics were as incisive as ever. Like many great bands from the post-punk era The Astronauts were completely ignored by the UK music press which then as now was only interested in anything trendy, fashionable or middle class. Local fanzine Zero began to champion the band as did the local newspapers.

The debut album ‘Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs’ was released by Bugle / Genius Records in 1981 to widespread acclaim. Incredibly it received great reviews in virtually all the UK music press. The typical Astronauts audience at the time was largely punks attracted by the energetic gigs and a handful of hippies, so the album was something of a surprise. Full of heartfelt folk ballads and featuring legendary jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill, the album was not what fans had expected but appealed to a different audience.

The contradiction of heavy chaotic punk performances and structured melodic alternative pop / folk / ambient songs continues to this day.

Throughout 1982-1985 there were hundreds of gigs with the many anarcho punk bands of the era and the second album ‘All Done By Mirrors’ on All The Madmen Records was arguably the finest album to date. ‘Soon’ again on All The Madmen Records featured great songs but was let down by lifeless production, yet it still remains one of my favourite albums.

‘Seedy Side Of The Astronauts’ combined a scathing indictment of the 1980s attitudes of greed with some truly wonderful songs. By 1988 Mark was fed up with constant gigs and decided to slow down.

Devotional Hooligan

Pharaohs From The Grave – Live reviews 2010 / 2011 / 2012

April 18th, 2011

Higher <<< DOWNLOAD ONE TRACK

MORE TRACKS MAY BE LISTENED TO ON THE BANDS NEW MYSPACE SITE  – GIVE THE TRACKS A LISTEN  ON THAT SITE AND JOIN THE BANDS MYSPACE SITE IF YOU HAVE A MYSPACE ACCOUNT. FACEBOOK SITE IS HERE ALSO PLEASE CHECK OUT THE MAIN WEBSITE HERE

PHARAOHS OF THE GRAVE – 28 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, 22nd September 2010 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin / Additional Text – Andy Martin

Pharaohs From The Grave formally known as Coda featuring UNIT member UJ on bass and joined by Emily ‘Wolf’ on vocals, Kath on guitar and Par on drums and percussion. I witnessed what I think was the debut gig by this exciting young band at the Anti Design Festival, a performance (and non performance) art show in Shoreditch. Bumping into my old friend from the 1980′s Andy Martin ex of The Apostles, now performing in UNIT, was also a pleasant bonus.

A great gig in a marvelous venue, Emily originally entered stage right with some kind of Tina Turner Mad Max 3 home made costume on which soon got ripped off  by herself to reveal a black and white dress which complimented the full-on strobe effects very nicely. The whole room seemed to be full of young left-field arty folk and edgy fashion designers who seemed to appreciate Pharaohs From The Grave very much…I wish and hope for big things in the future for this band and will look forward to checking them live again in the future.

The arty black and white photographs taken with a mobile phone (believe it or not) mostly in strobe effect lighting courtesy of my own steady flipper. Colour photographs courtesy of Emily ‘Wolf’.

The text below in burgundy courtesy of Andy Martin. Thanks to him for writing that out…A photograph of Andy (with the white training shoes on) witnessing the performance is also below if you look closely enough.

On Wednesday 22nd September, I attended my first pop concert since the late 1980s. In general, I simply don’t go to such events. UNIT performs our own concerts with sufficient frequency to mollify any desire I may have to be entertained by the rock and roll circus. However…instead of our usual Tuesday evening rehearsal, UJ called an hour earlier to inform me that his other band were due to play a gig the following evening. The group is called Pharaohs Of The Grave (what a truly dreadful name for a band – sounds far too Goth, all backs to the audience and pass us the hair dye, wack – which as a description of the group is as inaccurate as to describe a New Labour politician as decent and honourable) and they play pop music in a pared down, simplified style without being boring or repetitive (there’s nothing punk rock about these chaps – if there was then I’d have stayed at home and listened to the remaining two hours of the fifth One Day International between England and Pakistan).

Demographics ought not to be so intriguing but they are and let’s not avoid the fact. Alien Kulture were the first racially mixed British group to play white indie pop music: three Pakistanis and one Caucasian, all red stars and agit-prop, playing on the backs of lorries – well, it was 1980 when socialism was still taken (almost) seriously by people who really should have known better. 23 Skidoo followed with their two brothers of Chinese origin – musically a far more interesting and adventurous outfit. Now we have to move forward all the way to 2000 and the formation of UNIT with its three Chinese lads and two Caucasians of which I am one – these days it’s just one white chap and three British born Chinese lads but that’s grand…now move onto 2010 – Pharaohs Of The Grave feature two women and two men – an advantage for various reasons: decent role models for other women in an industry still thoroughly male dominated etc, you know the rest. The singer is of West African origin; the guitarist is of West Indian descent – now onto the men. UJ was born here but his parents are from Hong Kong. The drummer is Indian, commutes all the way from Newcastle to attends rehearsals which must be a bloody pain. So, we have two black women and two Asian men on stage playing what (if you close your eyes) sounds like a more interesting form of white indie pop.

Open your eyes again and before you is a vision of how a teenage Diana Ross would have looked had she been influenced by punk rock. You have a space age member of The Vandellas on guitar. You have two tall, slim men with very long straight black hair on bass guitar and drums, like two Native American brothers. Visually the group were stunning and highly photogenic. I used up a whole roll of film on the band when I’d originally intended to take only a couple of snaps for my album. Mickey ‘Penguin’ of Southern Record Distribution and the KYPP website was also there – an expected and welcome face in an audience who included an unusually high number of non-white people (a pleasant change from the norm).

The Admission: yes I admit it – I would not have attended this event had UJ not been one of the performers. Look, my CD collection overflows with progressive rock, contemporary Japanese rock, a plethora of the more adventurous post-punk gear like The Lemon Kittens and Five Or Six plus a healthy batch of avant garde classical works. Why the hell would I normally go to see an indie pop group for crying out loud? Reputation to uphold and all. However, since UJ had travelled all the way to my place in Isle Of Dogs the previous night, prior to his rehearsal which was miles away in Action, simply to tell me about the gig, I believed it was my duty to show my support. Well, I’m glad I did. I went to the concert fully expecting to be bored witless so imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed myself thoroughly.

My initial fears were exacerbated when I witnessed the first and second outfits on the stage that night: they were so absolutely abysmal that I was only able to tolerate five or six minutes of each group before I was compelled to leave the hall, if only to return to the current century. Groups like that weren’t even particularly interesting to me even during their halcyon period of the 1980s when such bands were popular – now they’re just irrelevant. Time, musical evolution, ideas and styles have moved on. Oh they were technically competent and highly adept at their chosen idioms and, to be fair, most of the audience enjoyed what they had to offer but I don’t do nostalgia.

So to be honest, after that aural assault, I anticipated the third group with considerable trepidation. Emily the singer managed to maintain her role as the focal point in a group full of focal points – it was impossible to separate their appearance from the sound they made. (How that translates itself onto CD is another matter, of course.) With her frequent forays into engagement with the audience it was virtually impossible not to like the band – they played as if they really wanted everyone to have a damned good time and I generally have almost Benedictine patience for a group with that kind of attitude.

Kath the guitarist stood facing her amplifier for the whole concert to concentrate on her playing – no fake posing or empty gestures here. UJ faced the audience but again wasted no energy on looking cool, he was too concerned to ensure he played the right notes at the right time (he did) – remember that he is a flute player first, a guitarist second and a bass guitarist third – although I bet nobody else in the audience would have realised that from his solid performance.

Par Mahn, the drummer achieved a rare feat: I noticed what he was playing. I have little interest in drums or drumming and generally I ignore what the drummer of any group does since I’m too busy paying attention to the proper instruments. However, his curiously fractured, slightly tribal style was too unusual to ignore – oh it was all in time and added lustre to the general sound but, even though virtually the whole set was in 4/4, what he did with the rhythms was often highly inventive. Because for much of the time the guitar and bass guitar frequently played single note melody lines an octave apart, he used his drum kit to fill out any gaps in the sound over which Emily’s’ voice soared in avian fashion, a falcon surveying her sonic primordial forest. (I can do reams of this pretentious muso journo stuff, just watch me.)

Question: why was I the only person in the entire audience who danced, jumped, leaped about and moshed? This was a group whose music MOVED – it had ENERGY and it vibrated with LIFE. It’s 2010 – we don’t have to stand around and look cool anymore, honestly, that kind of behaviour is SO 1980s – come on, folks, enjoy yourselves, we’re here to party and Pharaohs Of The Grave were the kind of outfit to make that possible – no, more than that, they made it virtually obligatory.

Right – when do we hear their first recording then?

Andy Martin 23rd September 2010 http://www.unit-united.co.uk/

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at The Shoreditch pub, Shoreditch, 14th April 2011 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin / Additional Text – Andy Martin


The second performance myself and Andy Martin have witnessed by this absolutely brilliant unsigned band. The band have only performed three times but the first time they were called Coda. This was the second performance by Pharaohs From The Grave, and this performance was every bit as exciting and special as the previous performance had been. This time the band had hooked up with the Fresh Meat promotions and the occasion was a regular gig (as opposed to the first performance set within an art event).

I thought this fact might have dampened the spirit somewhat. As it happens I was happily incorrect. Even without art on the walls and above one’s head. Even without strobe lights and performance artists wandering around. Even with just a set list and a sound man…This band and this event were immensely satisfying on the night underneath the Shoreditch bar.

Emily appeared from back stage in her home made custom costume, a tradition from the first show. Is it a bit too soon for it to become a tradition? Probably, but it shows exactly how much the band put into each rare performance!

This time she was covered in what looked like one dollar notes. She elaborated during a break (and the ripping off and destruction of the costume) that it was her small dedication to Elizabeth Taylor who had recently passed on. I assume the face on the notes would have been this famous old actress. Emily had a red velvet looking dress underneath the now destroyed and torn ‘dollar bill’ top layer lying on the stage floor.

The rhythm section was even more powerful than the previous show and the guitarist over dosed the crowd with some wonderful noise. Emily rolled, UJ swayed, Par did not miss a beat and Kath stood almost motionless dragging the chords out of her Les Paul…

Batteries powering the many cameras pointing at the band went low with the constant use. Two large film cameras were also adding to this gigs carbon footprint by archiving this whole performance.

The crowd yelped for an encore heartedly, the band performed ‘Higher’ for the second time in the night, a track with some drumming patterns to kill for.

This band (if they stay together long enough) will certainly make waves on the gigging circuit and no doubt the festival circuit as well. Some recordings may well help, but for now I still have these two live experiences to remember with fondness.

Pharaohs From The Grave are, in my opinion, one of the most interesting bands I have witnessed in over three decades of attending gigs, the band are well worth checking out if you get the chance to.

The arty black and whites from my own camera shutter and the text below in burgundy from the man on the door for the night, Mr Andy Martin…

Pharaohs From The Grave were the main band again even though it was only their third concert, as I sat there by the door and heard their barbarously (yet oddly appealing) simplistic songs evidently enjoyed by an appreciative audience, I experienced a pre-sent future vision of UJ remaining with them while I sat alone in the studio as UNIT churning out strange pop songs that nobody wants to hear!

I didn’t take any photographs this time around – I was employed to sit at the door and help Marie collect entrance fees from the bright young things who flocked into the venue (she did most of the work, actually – I just sat there looking morose and miserable).

As for the music – gone were the mildly irritating errors of the previous concert – gone were the hesitant uncertainties – the group were now sufficiently familiar with the songs to blast them out with confidence and this ebullience transmitted itself like a virus to the gathered throng – this time they danced, jived and gyrated to the tribal turmoil over which Emily soared, a sonic sparrow hawk whose radiant sound defied depression – even I was  cheered by it – without looking at her, I could hear the smile in her glorious voice – the audience response was not so much an example of hedonistic abandon as a respectful tribute to a group who knew how to entertain a small crowd of young people with neither pretention nor pomposity.

Once again it was refreshing to see a healthy plethora of non-Caucasian faces in the audience and none at all on the stage. Cue the folk who occasionally try to infest this site with their creed: indie pop music is longer the domain of wealthy brats who are white, white, white as far as the eye can see. Before the punk police commence another rant about how I shouldn’t draw attention to the racial and ethnic mix of the group because it’s irrelevant, consider this: it IS relevant to all those non-white people in Britain who seek to engage with a culture that previously was reserved only for whitey. We now live in a racially diverse nation personally, I prefer to celebrate it.

The Pharaohs have finally, at long last, recorded a few of their songs but only on a home studio set-up so the recording quality may not be ideal but perhaps the possible absence of professional gloss will work in their favour: bands who perform splendidly vibrant live concerts can often mutate into neutered, pale imitations of their former selves once their power and energy have been emasculated by the sterility of studio production jobs.

Andy Martin 18th April 2011 http://www.unit-united.co.uk/

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at The Pinder Of Wakefield Water Rats, Kings Cross, 18th May 2011 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin


Well after several months apart from the band performing their debut gig and the second gig, suddenly Pharaohs From The Grave perform two shows in one week!

The first performance at the well loved Pinder Of Wakefield pub in Grays Inn Road, home decades ago to early Pogue Mahone gigs and also one early venue for the ‘Living Room’, the Creation Records club before any Creation Records existed. The June Brides, Television Personalities and Primal Scream all performed in this traditional pub / venue.

Now it was Pharaohs From The Grave’s turn.

Emily appeared in her (now well loved by the crowd of Pharaohs From The Grave followers) secret home made costume for the night. A superhero bent was on offer tonight complete with cape which by the end of the first couple of songs was discarded somewhere in the crowd.

A particularly large crowd had turned up for this show, not just for Pharaohs From The Grave, but mainly for Rotten Hill Gang, a decent Victorian oik style hip hop outfit featuring Hollie Cook, the daughter of Sex Pistol Paul Cook and an ex Slits member to boot, on vocals along with various Clash City Rockers from the old days when The Clash were on top of their game. One member of Rotten Hill Gang was in Big Audio Dynamite and the great Mick Jones is generally in or around this bunch of lovable urchins.

In front of plenty of music biz agents, freeloaders and punters alike Pharaohs From The Grave performed an almost perfect set, full of energy, solid riffs and excellent stage presence.

The thirty odd Pharaohs From The Grave followers that were in attendance at this gig, and recognisable to me from the previous two shows, showed how much they supported the band as did the seventy or so other gig goers in the hall.

Going on after the Rotten Hill Gang certainly worked in the band’s favour on this night.

I had to skip after Pharaohs From The Grave had departed the stage without seeing the other bands on the bill, to pick up my little Aaron from his grandmothers so an early night for me gig wise.

Witnessing both Rotten Hill Gang and Pharaohs From The Grave was an immense pleasure and I felt privileged to have been a part of the night in this old ramshackle venue in Kings Cross that I had not been to for at least twenty five years!

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at The Bull And Gate, Kentish Town, 22nd May 2011 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin

I arrived at the venue very early as I went straight there from White Hart Lane where I witnessed Tottenham Hotspur put Birmingham City to the sword in the guise of a 2-1 win. Happy enough with that and the lovely weather so made my way up to Kentish Town.

Yet another night of memories for me to contend with, The Bull And Gate in Kentish Town, home of the legendary Jon ‘Fat’ Beast’s ‘Timebox’ nights in the mid 1980′s as well as dozens upon dozens of other gigs I attended there around that time.  Just like The Pinder Of Wakefield venue in Kings Cross, time just seems to have stood still for this venue in Kentish Town. Nothing has changed, nothing…not even a new paint job by the look of the inside of the place…

Apart from the lack of punk squatters with dog’s on string begging for beer and change it could be 1985 again.

As normal with these reviews, I seem to focus in on Emily’s chosen garment of the day…This fourth gig she wandered on in a U.S.A. printed swim / gym suit perhaps in celebration of the U.S. president visiting Ireland and England that week. I could not figure however exactly what part of this costume would be ripped off her body and thrown in the crowd as has been the norm early on during the previous three gigs.

As a forty something man I did have my thoughts, my thoughts would have to remain in my head whilst I slap my wrist for thinking those thoughts…

In complete contrast to the gig in Kings Cross where the band performed around nine thirty after the main act Rotten Hill Gang, tonight the band had to suffer the indignities of the early performance on the Sunday night.  Hardly anyone was in the venue at the kick off, but towards the middle of the set some of the recognisable faces from gigs passed arrived. By the end of the set around thirty people were in the hall. The lack of people at this venue at the time the band went on was in no way a reason for Pharaohs From The Grave to give a shoddy performance.

The band dealt with the small but appreciative crowd as well as they did a few days previously. This attitude to perform as well as possible even to five or ten people in the crowd (at the very start of the performance) and that crowd seeing that the collective band members heads have not gone down shows a maturity which is welcomed. The band have been lucky so far in not having to perform to a very nearly empty venue. They did on this Sunday and it should be an experience that all young bands will have to suffer during the lifespan of the band. Another performance from this band to treasure, and from what I understand one of the last gigs for a little while.

Alas my friend from the ‘old days’ Andy Martin was not  in attendance at these two gigs in north London, so that was a shame. I am sure he will be there or thereabouts at some point soon.

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at Cargo, Shoreditch,  November 25th 2011 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin

It seems an eternity since I last witnessed Pharaohs From The Grave last May. It is now late November and I am at Cargo in Shoreditch for the debut performance of the band’s new drummer and this night also celebrates the band’s debut studio EP that would be released in three more days time… Just three days, just three days…

A new drummer? This should be good as the last drummer the band had on stage was immensely talented. Would this drummer cut the mustard? Hang on I have been in a coma for the last few months! The band had already changed drummers after the Bull And Gate performance which is reviewed above. I did not know this would be the drummers last performance at the time of writing. He returned up north and is still in touch with the band.

This reporter (and fan) has missed several gigs by this fabulous band throughout the summer months, all for various reasons. Moving house, management changeover at work, toddler needing more attention and so forth. The band had already had a replacement drummer lined up for these summer gigs and he has now left leaving the position open for the new, new, replacement.

I feel like I have missed a whole chapter in this bands history… When the coffee table book is written about them in a couple of years time applauding them as the biggest rock act since Nirvana I would gaze at someone else photographs and description and wonder where was I?

No time to ponder on that question right now.

OK then, I am in Cargo with what seems to be all the great and all the beautiful people out for Friday night jollies in Shoreditch…

I go to the desk to state my name on the guest list.

Bouncer hovering over me menacingly… “Who is this older fellow gatecrashing all the great and all the beautiful people’s night out in this club”? he wonders… “Is he bent? Is he grooming some of the teenagers who are out for the night in Shoreditch? Has he the money or the stamina to stay in the club for more than an hour”? he wonders still.

UJ and Emily were already in the hall having a chat whilst I entered, greetings and small talk was entered into and snippets of news throughout the summer discussed. It was nice to see them both again. The band that were on the stage were a reasonable force, but for me the night just meant Pharaohs From The Grave. I went to the bar. I ordered a cider, it cost me £5 for a can of Bulmers. I made a mental note. No more drinks for me tonight! It was almost time for Pharoahs From The Grave to come on at any rate so this concept did not bother me especially as the band’s set normally only last for thirty minutes. I wondered off to use the toilet and the bouncer hovered around me once more no doubt checking if I was going to spend time in the cubicle doing gear, I choose the urinal. This was going to be an almost tea total night, the one can of cider ruining the straight edge vibe for me…

The band arrived onto the stage, the room was filling out a little bit by this time which was nice to see. The band explode into the first track… The new drummer keeps time and then some.  Oh no a problem! UJ’s bass keeps cutting out of the mix. UJ fumbles with the leads a little. This helps and then it doesn’t. UJ fumbles with the leads a second time, this time it seems to cure the problem. The other band members are performing the track as normal as UJ’s  bass sound is rectified on the stage by the performer himself. Not the best start to a performance, and this shows the importance of getting a sound check rather than a line check. The band had not got to the venue early enough for a sound check. Hopefully the members all took mental notes to do so in the future!

The gig continues and no one seemed to have noticed the lack of bass in some parts of the previous track.  What was noticed but not reported by this scribe until now was that for this show Emily had a costume accessory in the form of a large hand of playing cards attached to her slim wrist. This accessory lasted until the end of the next track as the cards were plucked off and handed to the audience. The band performed well for the remainder of the show, the new drummer was competent and could work the kit as well as the previous drummer that I had witnessed during the first four Pharaohs From The Grave gigs late in 2010 and up to May 2011.

There was time for celebration as the band sung happy birthday to a couple of  friends that Emily had dragged onto the stage. This was followed by Emily dragging two or three further friends up onto the stage so before my eyes the band’s first mini stage invasion was taking place, recorded by the many cameras pointing towards the stage. This proud moment in all young bands history will no doubt be written in great length and detail in the coffee table book which will be in a store near you whenever the band have reached Nivana status (or will settle for Jane’s Addiction or Soundgarden).

Glad I was there to witness it!!! The gig was coming to an end and the enthusiastic audience was supportive all the way through the set. Was there any time for an encore? I can’t remember! I think so… A great gig at any rate.

I gave my regards to UJ and to Emily backstage and explained that I was driving and needed to go further nowadays after my families move to the new improved Penguin Towers out on the furthest reaches of north London in the countryside. I gave them both a hug and wandered off past the bouncer who followed me out and eyeballed me until I turned the corner out of sight no doubt thinking;

“Is he bent”? No is my answer for the record.

“Is he grooming some of the teenagers who are out for the night in Shoreditch”? No is my answer for the record.

“Has he the money or the stamina to stay in the club for more than an hour”? No on both counts is my answer for the record.

For the record I had just witnessed another great performance by one of the best unsigned bands on the London circuit and that Mr Bouncer is good enough for me…

Pharaohs From The Grave’s new studio EP is now available from today 28th November 2011 from this download site HERE and cost much less than a can of Bulmers cider does at Cargo Shoreditch…

Support this release, go and see the band performing live, read the coffee table book on the band when released in 2014 or thereabouts…Fingers crossed!

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at Dublin Castle, Camden, July 5th 2012 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin

On a relatively warm and dry Thursday evening, rare enough in the context of the summer London has seen recently, I took the stroll from Camden tube station onto the Parkway and up the hill towards the Dublin Castle public house and music venue.

A nice distraction for me when going to Pharaohs From The Grave performances is the fact that they seem to perform in venues that I have not stepped in for decades! Of the six times I have now witnessed the band, I have been to the old ‘Pinder Of Wakefield’ pub in Kings Cross, now re-branded as ‘Water Rats’ which is a name worse than many others I could have thought of! The Kentish town ‘Bull And Gate’, and now my pilgrimage tonight to Camden and to another old venue that I would have been seen stomping around in some decades ago ‘The Dublin Castle’…

Ironically all the other times I have witnessed Pharaohs From The Grave, the band have performed at three separate venues in Shoreditch, all of which were previously unknown to me!

I enter the familiar door way of the Dublin Castle, walk through and notice the same Madness paraphernalia on the walls that would have been up there last time I would have visited.

I order a pint of cider. At the same time I order the drink ‘Police And Thieves’ by The Clash starts up on the pub stereo, this is going to be a good night.

Decisions, decisions. Should I go out front and watch random folk wondering up and down Parkway in the sun or stay in to listen to the Clash?

The Clash won that particular bout, as did The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers afterwards.

When I did venture towards the sunny side out on the street, I was pleased to see UJ had turned up with a couple of people.

We spoke for a few minutes and I was introduced to another new drummer for Pharaohs From The Grave…

The first four times I witnessed Pharaohs From The Grave was with the original skin basher Par Mahn performing some technically amazing and sonically satisfying beats. From those first early gigs the band has got through another two drummers and they are now onto the third! Spinal tap vibes notwithstanding the new drummer DeMc was an approachable and pleasant chap who politely listened to my ramblings whilst UJ was trying to find out where Emily and Katherine were holed up. The local Wetherspoons it turned out!

I wondered into the venue hall, trying to avoid the drunken gaze of a pretty psychotic looking eastern European skinhead wobbling around the pub on my way through. Plenty of memories came forth as I stood in the dark hall, dodgy looking wobbly skinheads being just one of them.

I spent a little time watching the other performers and bands on the bill that night, in between going to the bar and toilet.

Nothing really caught my ears or eyes throughout the night and the weird paradox of placing a clutch of completely different acts on the same bill is that once one band has departed the stage, one crowd leaves and a completely separate crowd enjoys the next band on. This meant that all the acts only performed to around thirty appreciative people at a time before the next batch turned up to duly applaud the band that they had paid to see, and then leave the venue in time for the next band setting up. Most of the people. Not all, but most.

A mighty shame really, but that’s the way some gigs go. Value for money and diversity in performers and music although a very pure and gracious idea does not necessary mean a decent vibe is installed throughout the whole of the night as the separate crowds move away.

Pharaohs From The Grave were getting themselves ready to go on as headliners.

The band clambered up onto the small corner stage and plugged in.

Emily had some old PlayStation controls surgically implanted onto her head… Coloured yellow to match the yellow and black spandex costume she was wearing for the night. These were not really surgically implanted. I made that bit up.

The band started off the set to around thirty people. This was a shame, but the band duly performed to the crowd with good grace and humour. The first two tracks were blighted a little from the odd bum note and mistimed drum beat, but nothing too serious. Soon enough all was settled and the band performed well for the rest of the half hour set.

DeMc the new drummer although being fresh in the band done his bit for the presentation of the band’s performance. Jumping up several times every other song to thump the drums forcefully in a way a seated drummer would not be able to compete with. It was great to watch and although Keith Moon used to do the same thing from time to time (normally for cymbal work it must be stated) the action still stands up as an original idea in the context of a Thursday night at the Dublin Castle.

The band got better as the night went on, performing a cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’ for the first time to these ears. A great choice considering Elvis Costello had many links to the Dublin Castle as a performer there and also to 2Tone music having produced The Specials debut LP and having a single released, and then pulled on 2Tone (I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down). Madness remember were also on 2Tone and the Dublin Castle was their pub!

Katherine’s guitar grated away through some major distortion effects. This is not a bad thing. Just slightly different to the other times I have witnessed the band live. This outing the band sounded proper ‘garage’ (as in Nuggets compilation LP’s garage). Again, certainly not a bad thing.

UJ also seemed to be using some distortion effects so quite a wonderful noise indeed was forthcoming.

The appreciative crowd gave a decent showing of hands to the band throughout the night, and the band managed to get in an encore for them before unplugging and coming off the small stage.

The band members talked to the audience for a little while and then anybody left in the venue hall drifted towards the bar.

I declined to get another drink and after saying my goodbyes and wishing the members of the band a safe journey home, I went out to the Parkway and wondered back to the tube to get myself home after a nice evening in good old Camden town.

PHARAOHS FROM THE GRAVE at the 100 Club, London W1, August 17th 2012 – Text and photos – Mickey Penguin

A short review tonight as I got to the 100 Club only several minutes before Pharaohs From The Grave were billed to go on stage, and left the club a few minutes after the band finished their set!

I alluded in one (or possibly more) of the reviews above that one of the great things about seeing Pharaohs From The Grave is revisiting old venues that I have not entered for decades… This night I entered the famous 100 Club for the very first time since witnessing Into A Circle (ex Getting The Fear) performing at the club way back in 1986. The 100 Club was a venue I visited many times in the early 1980′s and it was nice to walk down those steps again for this special night for Pharaohs From The Grave.

I got to the venue around 8.20 pm. I walked down to the girl on the door and gave her my name, my name was all present and correct so I managed to pay a reduced amount. After entering I saw Emily who was by a cake stand near the bar. I said hello and wished her a great performance and a happy belated birthday. Emily was celebrating her birthday at this gig, hence the cakes and other sugary delights on show. Her actual birthday was over a week before but by the look of it a lot of her friends had shown up for this gig in celebration.

A band was performing on the stage as I got in so I went to the bar for my one cider of the night. Emily wandered off to get stage ready back stage.

I noticed UJ lurking around the downstairs door of the club and gave him my regards. I then went stage left to witness the end of the band on the stage’s set. A very polished band for sure, not my cup of tea but a completely shit hot bassist that stood out amongst the other performers. A wonderful vision of man and instrument performing with such fluidity. The band were not a bad band just not my thing. A little bit Senseless Things-ish but less shambolic which was half the fun with the Senseless Things!

I did not have to wait long before Pharaohs From The Grave clambered up on stage. UJ crouching  tuning his bass, DeMc I was relieved to see was still the band’s drummer! If you have read the previous reviews you will know that the band have gone through several drummers since I first witnessed the debut performance in September 2010.

UJ stood up and decided to perform in some kind of Chinese mask from the start (to finish…) Kat was stage right getting a riff going. The band went into the first track but where was Emily?

Emily appeared in her costume for the nights performance slipping past Kat a minute after the first track had started to rapturous applause from the very healthy crowd that had turned out for the night. Dressed like a circus ring master holding onto a tube of what looked like wrapping paper, top hat on head Emily eased the lyrics out to the backing track that had already been simmering for over a minute now. A marvelous entrance captured on many expensive looking cameras (and even more smart phone cameras) pointed toward the stage.

The performance in front of this larger crowd and on the stage of this legendary London venue was immensely enjoyable. There were times throughout the performance when the odd drum to bass rhythm was slightly out of time. Not drastically so though.

Emily through the heat of the lights and of the club decided to ditch the top hat and ringmasters coat to a fair amount of interest from the male folk in the audience I would expect. One twenty something lady came up to me while I was taking some photographs for this review to state that the fellow she was with “also wanted to get a nearer and better look at the band” wink wink!

DeMc the drummer went onto ditch his Napoleonic era replica jacket for no doubt the same reasons Emily had discarded hers and performed the rest of the gig topless, doing that standing up drumming thing he seems to do so well. Thumping those drum skins hard enough to have me worried for the safety of the little stretched things throughout the gig!

The band received an extremely pleasant reception throughout the whole night and hopefully the members of the audience in attendance (aside from Emily’s friends who had come out to support her on this ‘birthday bash’) will be seen at the next gigs by the band whenever or where ever that may be.

Pharaohs From The Grave did not perform quite as well as I have seen them before as there were several minor musical errors, but this performance was special. The clothing, the audience. Emily reminding the audience late on in the performance of the cakes that could be scoffed afterwards which was a nice part of the night. The venue is special and seeping with alternative music history, a history which the band do know about which is wonderful for such a young band. A little after 9.15 pm as the band were leaving the stage I said my goodbyes nice and early. I decided against running off with a cake as I am unfit enough all ready. I walked up to street level and onto Oxford Street managing to get the trains back home to Penguin Towers before 10.30 pm.

Happy Birthday to you Emily, take a bow. A great night. I hope the rest of your birthday celebration night was enjoyable.

Hopefully one day Pharaohs From The Grave are going to be massive. They really should be. One of the most striking and original unsigned bands in London for near on two years now… Someone ought to give the band a helping hand. Now who should I ring up…?

Seldiy Bate And Nigel Bourne – Pagan Easter – Temple Records – 1987

March 20th, 2011

Ritual Music For The Spring Equinox

THE SABBAT: The First Point Of Aries / The Awakening / The Wheel Of The Seasons / The Witches Rune / Eko Eko / Hymn To Ostara

THE AGAPE: The Handfasting / To Please You / Spring Is Sprung / The Equinox Of The Gods / Moon / Benedictus / The Second Hymn

Temple Records run by Genesis P-Orridge was an active record label from 1984, Unclean 12″ by Psychic TV was the first release. Because of Psychic TV, the media tended to prejudge the other releases coming out on the label. The media would normally slag off Psychic TV releases and ignore the rest of the label output altogether.

Before I stopped collecting all releases on this label in 1988, the output was incredibly varied. In amongst the industrial ‘noise’ of Psychic TV and Zos Kia, some artists released some incredible, and very nice, listenable records. Artists like Turning Shrines and Tiny Lights from the U.S.A., Kenny Morris (ex Banshee), Ram Ram Kino from Manchester and the artists featured in this post, who were pretty high up in ‘The Craft’ in Occult circles.

I know next to nothing about these people. I did meet them once in Beck Road, Hackney, E8, a year or so before this release. They seemed pleasant enough for a couple of middle aged witches!

Where Throbbing Gristle were described as ‘marching music for Psychic Youth’, I guess you could call this outfit ‘morris dancing for Psychic Youth’! Text below explaining the spring equinox courtesy of sacredtexts.com

Interview

Now comes the Vernal Equinox, and the season of Spring reaches its apex, halfway through its journey from Candlemas to Beltane. Once again, night and day stand in perfect balance, with the powers of light on the ascendancy. The god of light now wins a victory over his twin, the god of darkness. In the Mabinogion myth reconstruction which I have proposed, this is the day on which the restored Llew takes his vengeance on Goronwy by piercing him with the sunlight spear. For Llew was restored/reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now well/old enough to vanquish his rival/twin and mate with his lover/mother. And the great Mother Goddess, who has returned to her Virgin aspect at Candlemas, welcomes the young sun god’s embraces and conceives a child. The child will be born nine months from now, at the next Winter Solstice. And so the cycle closes at last.

We think that the customs surrounding the celebration of the spring equinox were imported from Mediterranean lands, although there can be no doubt that the first inhabitants of the British Isles observed it, as evidence from megalithic sites shows. But it was certainly more popular to the south, where people celebrated the holiday as New Year’s Day, and claimed it as the first day of the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. However you look at it, it is certainly a time of new beginnings, as a simple glance at Nature will prove.

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are two holidays which get mixed up with the Vernal Equinox. The first, occurring on the fixed calendar day of March 25th in the old liturgical calendar, is called the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or B.V.M., as she was typically abbreviated in Catholic Missals). ‘Annunciation’ means an announcement. This is the day that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was ‘in the family way’. Naturally, this had to be announced since Mary, being still a virgin, would have no other means of knowing it. (Quit scoffing, O ye of little faith!) Why did the Church pick the Vernal Equinox for the commemoration of this event? Because it was necessary to have Mary conceive the child Jesus a full nine months before his birth at the Winter Solstice (i.e., Christmas, celebrated on the fixed calendar date of December 25). Mary’s pregnancy would take the natural nine months to complete, even if the conception was a bit unorthodox.

As mentioned before, the older Pagan equivalent of this scene focuses on the joyous process of natural conception, when the young virgin Goddess (in this case, ‘virgin’ in the original sense of meaning ‘unmarried’) mates with the young solar God, who has just displaced his rival. This is probably not their first mating, however. In the mythical sense, the couple may have been lovers since Candlemas, when the young God reached puberty. But the young Goddess was recently a mother (at the Winter Solstice) and is probably still nursing her new child. Therefore, conception is naturally delayed for six weeks or so and, despite earlier matings with the God, She does not conceive until (surprise!) the Vernal Equinox. This may also be their Hand-fasting, a sacred marriage between God and Goddess called a Hierogamy, the ultimate Great Rite. Probably the nicest study of this theme occurs in M. Esther Harding’s book, ‘Woman’s Mysteries’. Probably the nicest description of it occurs in M.Z. Bradley’s ‘Mists of Avalon’, in the scene where Morgana and Arthur assume the sacred roles. (Bradley follows the British custom of transferring the episode to Beltane, when the climate is more suited to its outdoor celebration.)

The other Christian holiday which gets mixed up in this is Easter. Easter, too, celebrates the victory of a god of light (Jesus) over darkness (death), so it makes sense to place it at this season. Ironically, the name ‘Easter’ was taken from the name of a Teutonic lunar Goddess, Eostre (from whence we also get the name of the female hormone, estrogen). Her chief symbols were the bunny (both for fertility and because her worshipers saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg (symbolic of the cosmic egg of creation), images which Christians have been hard-pressed to explain. Her holiday, the Eostara, was held on the Vernal Equinox Full Moon. Of course, the Church doesn’t celebrate full moons, even if they do calculate by them, so they planted their Easter on the following Sunday. Thus, Easter is always the first Sunday, after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. If you’ve ever wondered why Easter moved all around the calendar, now you know. (By the way, the Catholic Church was so adamant about not incorporating Lunar Goddess symbolism that they added a further calculation: if Easter Sunday were to fall on the Full Moon itself, then Easter was postponed to the following Sunday instead.)

Incidentally, this raises another point: recently, some Pagan traditions began referring to the Vernal Equinox as Eostara. Historically, this is incorrect. Eostara is a lunar holiday, honoring a lunar Goddess, at the Vernal Full Moon. Hence, the name ‘Eostara’ is best reserved to the nearest Esbat, rather than the Sabbat itself. How this happened is difficult to say. However, it is notable that some of the same groups misappropriated the term ‘Lady Day’ for Beltane, which left no good folk name for the Equinox. Thus, Eostara was misappropriated for it, completing a chain-reaction of displacement. Needless to say, the old and accepted folk name for the Vernal Equinox is ‘Lady Day’. Christians sometimes insist that the title is in honor of Mary and her Annunciation, but Pagans will smile knowingly.

Another mythological motif which must surely arrest our attention at this time of year is that of the descent of the God or Goddess into the Underworld. Perhaps we see this most clearly in the Christian tradition. Beginning with his death on the cross on Good Friday, it is said that Jesus ‘descended into Hell’ for the three days that his body lay entombed. But on the third day (that is, Easter Sunday), his body and soul rejoined, he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven. By a strange ‘coincidence’, most ancient Pagan religions speak of the Goddess descending into the Underworld, also for a period of three days.

Why three days? If we remember that we are here dealing with the lunar aspect of the Goddess, the reason should be obvious. As the text of one Book of Shadows gives it, ‘…as the moon waxes and wanes, and walks three nights in darkness, so the Goddess once spent three nights in the Kingdom of Death.’ In our modern world, alienated as it is from nature, we tend to mark the time of the New Moon (when no moon is visible) as a single date on a calendar. We tend to forget that the moon is also hidden from our view on the day before and the day after our calendar date. But this did not go unnoticed by our ancestors, who always speak of the Goddess’s sojourn into the land of Death as lasting for three days. Is it any wonder then, that we celebrate the next Full Moon (the Eostara) as the return of the Goddess from chthonic regions?

Naturally, this is the season to celebrate the victory of life over death, as any nature-lover will affirm. And the Christian religion was not misguided by celebrating Christ’s victory over death at this same season. Nor is Christ the only solar hero to journey into the underworld. King Arthur, for example, does the same thing when he sets sail in his magical ship, Prydwen, to bring back precious gifts (i.e. the gifts of life) from the Land of the Dead, as we are told in the ‘Mabinogi’. Welsh triads allude to Gwydion and Amaethon doing much the same thing. In fact, this theme is so universal that mythologists refer to it by a common phrase, ‘The Harrowing of Hell’.

However, one might conjecture that the descent into hell, or the land of the dead, was originally accomplished, not by a solar male deity, but by a lunar female deity. It is Nature Herself who, in Spring, returns from the Underworld with her gift of abundant life. Solar heroes may have laid claim to this theme much later. The very fact that we are dealing with a three-day period of absence should tell us we are dealing with a lunar, not solar, theme. (Although one must make exception for those occasional male lunar deities, such as the Assyrian god, Sin.) At any rate, one of the nicest modern renditions of the harrowing of hell appears in many Books of Shadows as ‘The Descent of the Goddess’. Lady Day may be especially appropriate for the celebration of this theme, whether by storytelling, reading, or dramatic re-enactment.

For modern Witches, Lady Day is one of the Lesser Sabbats or Low Holidays of the year, one of the four quarter-days. And what date will Witches choose to celebrate? They may choose the traditional folk ‘fixed’ date of March 25th, starting on its Eve. Or they may choose the actual equinox point, when the Sun crosses the Equator and enters the astrological sign of Aries.

Tackhead Sound System – Edinburgh Venue – 27/08/88

February 6th, 2011

Tackhead Sound System tape side 1

Tackhead Sound System tape side 2

Tackhead Sound System tape side 3

Tackhead Sound System tape side 4

Tackhead Sound System tape side 5

Tackhead Sound System tape side 6

In debt to Chris Low for the lend of these three C90 tapes recorded on the floor at this performance, decent quality audience tape of a little under 270 minutes of the whole night. There was a time when turning up at a Tackhead Sound System / Maffia performance was the best night out by a country mile. I witnessed the explosive Tackhead Sound System nights in London a fair few times from 1986 until 1991 or thereabouts. A real mix of folk on the floor, big heavy sounds eminating from the speakers. All in all a massivly good crack. Some of the night would be spent up near the control / mixing desk station at the venue to witness Gary Clail on the mic or a very sweaty Adrian Sherwood dubbing up the mix like a man possessed.

Thanks again to Chris for the tapes and the ticket. Text below courtesy of tackhead.com, and the Gee Voucher artwork that heads this post is all mine mine mine.

The Tackhead saga goes back to the mid-70′s, when Wimbish and McDonald, teamed up in the ‘disco’ boom, when they attained cult success with Wood, Brass & Steel and with such tracks as Push push in the bush from Musique. They first met up with Keith LeBlanc in 1979 on the newly-formed Sugar Hill Records.

They soon became the label’s house band, providing backing, both live and on disc, for the ground-breaking Sugar Hill Gang (Rapper’s Delight), Grandmaster Flash (The Message) and Melle Mel (White Lines), helping to launch the onslaught of 80′s rap. After the demise of Sugar Hill and drawn out legal wrangling, the three musicians continued to work on various projects. Described by The New York Times as, ‘one of todays most extraordinary rhythm sections’, they included recordings for the Tommy Boy label.

Moving on from the early 80′s rap explosion, drummer Keith LeBlanc already released some solo work on Tommyboy Records (Maneuvers, Uh, on the sampler Masters of the Beat); mixing the (now legendary) DMX drumbeats with his own special drum sound. His release No Sell Out featured the cut-up raps of civil rights activist Malcolm X pitched against the infamous DMX drumbeat to acknowledged as the first ever ‘sampling record’.

Ahead of the time and timeless. LeBlanc’s No Sell Out, brought him to the attention of London’s dub-master extraordinaire and On-U Sound label owner Adrian Sherwood. A foremost producer of reggae in the early 80′s, Sherwood began to take his dub methodology to the limit, creating a unique form-distorted media and environmental collages of ‘mind’ sounds. Michael Williams (a.k.a. Prince Far I) was the spiritual teacher of Adrian Sherwood’s art of dub.

In 1984, while working on a remix of On-U Sound act Akabu’s Watch yourself for Tommy Boy records, he met Keith LeBlanc. After a productive meeting between Sherwood and LeBlanc, McDonald and Wimbish later joined them in London to begin work on a new project which they christened, Fats Comet. LeBlanc’s beat, pitched with Sherwood’s dub methodology, taken it to the limit (and far beyond…), creating unique form distorted media where the heavily distorted sound of McDonald’s guitar and Wimbish’s funky bass art made things complete.

As LeBlanc sums it up, “We started Fats Comet as a studio experiment. The stuff we considered being ‘non-commercial’ got stuck on Adrian Sherwood’s label and Doug Wimbish came up with the name Tackhead; which is New Jersey slang for homeboy.” After releasing a couple of 12″, like the vast underground club and science fiction dancehall classics Mind at the End of the Tether and What’s my Mission Now? Tackhead already gained a lot of credits and popularity, especially among those who tied up to the industrial virus. An album was inevitable and Gary Clail’s Tackhead Sound System’s Tackhead Tape Time was bound to be a classic from the very day of its release.

In the meantime, they also found the time to back former Pop Group main man Mark Stewart as The Maffia; a collaboration which resulted in probably some of the most deranged hip-mutant-funk-metal-dub-hop records ever to be made. ‘Tackhead in the area!’ became the common chant after the 12″ The Game, which featured TV commentator Brian Moore alongside Jerry & The Pacemakers’ You’ll never walk alone, a legendary Liverpool football evergreen. The band also started touring live, which resulted in the initial release of the live album En Concert, quickly withdrawn after release because the band never wanted it to be released.

Friendly as a Hand Grenade, the band’s debut album as Tackhead, marked a new direction. They had now been joined by fellow American and ex-Peech Boys vocalist Bernard Fowler, giving a soulful edge to their beats an making them more accessible to a wider audience. Bernard Fowler’s introduction to the band came through the Mick Jagger-connection. Jagger is a big Tackhead-fan. Bernard Fowler still is background vocalist with The Rolling Stones.

In 1990 Tackhead released the album Strange Things which, despite some good tracks, turned out to be the band’s major malfunction! They were dropped by record company EMI and until now, we hardly heard anything from Tackhead as a band apart from some ‘live’ gigs and compilation releases on Blanc Records, Keith LeBlanc’s label. The German label Echobeach re-issued Strange Things in 1999, with additional mixes ass bonus tracks. 

But the Tackhead-members have never stopped recording. They have worked together under various names such as Interference, Strange Parcels and of course Skip McDonald’s solo project Little Axe.

Adrian Sherwood is a renowned producer (Primal Scream, Sinead O’Connor, Air, Asian Dub Foundation, to name but a few), and finally released his first solo album in 2003, called Never Trust a Hippy?, assisted by the usual suspects, and is recording for the follow-up to ‘NTAH?’.

Keith LeBlanc remixed tracks by The Cure, Nine Inch Nails and Godfathers, delivered many sample CD’s and is working ‘solo’ with the help of the other three Tackheads…

Skip McDonald is concentrating on Little Axe (album Champagne & Grits due September 2004!).

Doug Wimbish released his first solo album, Trippy Notes for Bass, in 1999, apart from projects such as Jungle Funk and Black Jack Johnson, that involve Living Colour mate Will Calhoun. Wimbish and Calhoun are Head>>Fake and are of course part of the Living Colour reunion.

Besides the previously mentioned activities we should not forget to mention that the Tackhead members played, produced and remixed as guest musicians for high class quality productions: James Brown, Africa Bambaataa, George Clinton, Seal, BB King, Robbie Robertson, Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger, R.E.M., Tina Turner, Charlie Watts, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, Sly & Robbie, Depeche Mode, Bomb The Bass, Robert Palmer, Neneh Cherry, Malcolm McLaren, ABC, Jalal, Madonna, Brooklyn Funk Essentials…

…and then we’re not even mentioning the +100 releases and formidable productions by the whole On-U Sound posse; Dub Syndicate, African Head Charge, Gary Clail, Mark Stewart, Bim Sherman, Ghetto Priest, Jesse Rae…!

Many happy returns to Mr John Travis who is celebrating his birthday today…All the best from all of us here at KYPP online.

Sound Iration – W.A.U. Mr Modo Records – 1989

August 9th, 2009

 

Iration Time / New Style / Satta Light / Revelation Dub

C.T.U.F.B. / Free 1 / Holshe’s Dub / Dub Seal Part 3

Marvellous debut LP from Sound Iration (A.K.A. Nick Raphael from Manasseh Sound System) on the W.A.U. Mr Modo imprint that also brought the world the first Orb releases*. Manasseh Sound System nights were always good fun and the KISS FM slot on Sunday mornings was the perfect comedown after a good night out.

* Search for the debut Orb release which is uploaded on this post 86 section.

The informative text below was written in 2002 by Nick Raphael from the Manasseh Sound System.

MANASSEH SOUND SYSTEM EARLY DAYS Manasseh first played out at Notting Hill Carnival 1985. The sound was literally finished that Sunday and we found someone with a vehicle pass (all you needed in those days) and blagged some power off somebody in McGregor Rd and we played all that day, and in a basement flat across the road, all that night. Although this was the beginning of a Sound System, it was also the culmination of a good few years of planning and hoping. The speakers were all hand made and the amps and pre-amp were custom built by the veteran amp builder ‘Jah Tubbys’. Right from the start our sound has specialized in Roots Reggae Music. Although we play all types of reggae and always have done, the roots is where we’re coming from and is the reason why we started the sound, (especially in the middle eighties when Roots music was not being heard). The original crew consisted of Nick as the Selector and Operator, Eddie as the box designer / Tech, and Billy T as the overseer and voice of reason. Based in West London, Shepherds Bush, it wasn’t long before we were playing all kinds of parties and blues around the place.

 

It was when we hooked up with Femi (later with the Young Disciples) and the brothers Joey and Norman Jay that we started to provide reggae music at some big warehouse parties in the middle to late 80s. Apart from playing at some great nights and finally making a bit of money, this association had one big consequence: Joey and Norman got us a late night show on the pirate station Kiss FM.

 

MANASSEH ON KISS FM began in February 1987 after Nick and Jeremy Armstrong returned from a trip to Jamaica loaded up with rare oldies, brand new music and some dubplates from King Tubbys. The new show ran from 3am to 7am or whenever somebody else turned up! Along with Joey Jay’s Sunday evening show these were the first hardcore roots shows on the radio and their popularity revolutionized Manasseh as a sound system. Manasseh was now playing to the people who wanted to hear and we started to do some big roots dances. In 1988 we clashed with the mighty Jah Shaka which was a big dance and a memorable night in Hackney (we did pretty good!). We also played three dances with Jah Warrior (won the first two, last one debatable!), sessions with Coxsone, Observer, Jah Tubbys, Fatman, Abbashanti and again with Shaka (where he dropped us with two tracks from our first album) and even Soul 2 Soul inna dubwise style.

Kiss FM finally went legal and on air in September 1990 and until early 99 we did the late Saturday night 3 till 6 slot. With various changes of personnel the final Manasseh Djs on Kiss in 1999 were Nick Manasseh, Eddie Rocksteady, Oxman and Jeremy “Equalizer” Armstrong. Our and Joey Jay’s shows helped to create the climate for today’s Roots Scene with new artists like Luciano, Sizzla and (the late great) Garnet Silk becoming massively popular; as well as huge interest being generated in revival roots music, there now being an important re-issue 45 industry based in Jamaica and several labels in the UK re-issuing hard to get LPs and compilations (Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds etc). We hear of Manasseh radio tapes from all over the world and know of vast collections going back years; it’s quite common to meet somebody of 25 who has listened to the show since they were 13 or 14!

 

NICK MANASSEH PRODUCTION I began producing music for sound system exclusives around 1986 and after hooking up with Scruff Guilder in 1987 started to concentrate on a particular project, which eventually became Sound Iration in Dub. The first single “Seventh Seal” was cut on the 8/8/88 and was big on the roots scene (and Shaka’s sound!), and was widely credited with being the first new wave UK dub track. The album was released in March 1989 on W.A.U. Mr. Modo records, a label which was the brainchild of Alex Patterson (The Orb) and Youth (Killing Joke). The album sold well and the label went on to release some other notable roots/dub albums produced by me and Scruff such as Tena Stelin’s first LP “Wicked Invention” (a vocal set to S.I. in Dub); Lidj Incorporated: Black Liberation and the Dub album to it as well as various singles.

 

In the early 90s I set up Riz Label along with Gil Cang (music and production with me), Eddie Rocksteady and Mak Gilchrist (who ran the label) . The first releases were Orville Smith’s Leaving Rome, Bob Skeng’s Education and Earl 16′s Natural Roots. 16′s track went very well and the label quickly established itself as one of the leading UK roots labels. Other big things on Riz were Admiral Tibet “Permission”, Marcella French “Be Still” (on a funky vibe) and Manasseh meets the Equalizer “Soul Jah” from the album Dub The Millennium. Riz is still occasionally active, more recently releasing 45s with Johnny Osbourne (Rise Up) and Devon Russell (Underground), although the momentum and vibe were dampened due to unrelated personal issues.

When Riz released the Manasseh meets the Equalizer LP (the Equalizer being Jeremy Armstrong – my writing partner on this and the other M meets E albums) on vinyl a lot of interest was generated and the album was soon licensed to Acid Jazz records who were getting into putting out some roots music and tuned into the slightly jazzy flavour of the record. This began a period of major label interest in Manasseh productions with Columbia/Sony releasing Danny Red’s album “Riddimwise” in 1994 (co-produced with Pepe Acunzo and Martin Madhatter). B.M.G became involved when I met up with the Stereo Mcs and their manager Keith Cooper to sign a deal for a more leftfield dub record for their new label Natural Response which was in itself signed to B.M.G. This project became “Spectre : The Missing Two Weeks” and was recorded solo by me with James Style as the vibemaster and overseer. This was recently re-issued by Echo Beach records based in Hamburg. Another Manasseh meets the Equalizer album for Acid Jazz came out in late 96 called “Shining” and although a great piece of work it suffered a lot from the problems which troubled that label and led to its (temporary?) demise. Both the Manasseh meets the Equalizer LPs were released in America on Hollywood records and are still available. Me and Jeremy Equalizer have recently finished a new album and have just lined up a deal for it . The last record out was the Skenga EP, which features some music from the new album, and which mashed up the place in the summer of 99 . I also work as a producer and remixer and recently produced an album for one of Portugal’s top bands (musica exotica para filmes, radio e televisao: Cool Hipnoise) and I played on the Dido album “No Angel” on the track “Honestly OK” (melodica and additional production). Remixes are too numerous to list but labels worked with recently include: Guidance (Chicago), Interchill (Canada), Soundtrees (London) and Butterfly / Dubtrees (London). A full (ish) discography is available. SPRING 2002 – 10″ on Impact / Jammyland from New York “Forward the Bass “, and a 10″ on P.I.A.S. records Super Discount – “Prix Choc- Manasseh real cloudy mix”

 

MANASSEH NOW We stopped playing on our actual sound system a few years ago , partly because of losing some equipment but really because most of our work did not involve using our own sound and if we need one now, we often use RDK sound from Brixton (due to the kindness of my good friend Markie Lyrics) . When we play now , it’s me (Nick) selecting with, usually, Brother Culture on the mic .

We now play all over Europe and the UK. Having played at Rodigan’s Reggae as resident for a year and a half (99-2001), we now play this night at Subterrania occasionally and play in Edinburgh, Dublin, Derry, Brighton and Manchester all 1, 2 or 3 times a year. We also do one off nights in Paris with the Dub Action crew and toured Germany and Austria through September and October 2001 alongside the Blood and Fire sound. There are occasional Social Centre gigs in Italy (Rome, Milan) and Portugal: Lisbon, Porto (Boom festival 2002 coming up end August 2002 in Portugal), and we are regulars at the Essential Festivals and at the Glastonbury Festival. There are too many underground gigs to mention but those who went to the Junction in Brixton on Thursdays last year to check Manasseh at Jerry Dammers’s Weird Science nights will remember them well … We are also regulars at 100% Dynamite; a night run by Soul Jazz records and related to that great series of compilations of the same name. Through the spring of 2002 we also played at a great series of nights for Earl Gateshead at Plastic People in London, Dj-ing as well as selecting the tracks for some heavyweight P.A.s by Big Youth, Little Roy and Junior Delgado. At the Souljazz B’day bash in 2001, I selected for Horace Andy and then did the same show with 100% Dynamite in Dundee. Going back to the early 90s, Manasseh played the first ever night at London’s Dub Club and has continued to play there since. I’m mentioning here the gigs that I do regularly, sorry if anyone who we’ve played for feels left out!

 

 

This post is dedicated to Jah Pork Pie whose birthday it is today. Many happy returns to him from all at Kill Your Pet Puppy and from his friends that browse this site.

We Are Going To Eat You – All The Madmen / Big Cat Records – 1987 / 1988

February 15th, 2009

I Wish I Knew / Let’s Fly

Fine Day / Let’s Fly Greedy Mix

Heart In Hand / Just Another One

What Have Flowers Got To Do With It? / Cut

Pure pop lives in the luscious textures of this north London quartet. Despite the silly name which is ripped off from a 1980 kung fu movie, We Are Going to Eat You did have a magic formula, blending Julie Sorrel’s cool, heavenly voice, Paul Harding’s bracing guitar chords and catchy, other-worldly tunes. Veg keeps it together with some bouncy bass parts. Most of the songs were largely written by drummer Chris Knowles, later to be known as Chris Liberator from Liberator Sound System and Stay Up Forever Records.

All the members of WAGTEY were in one of the last line ups of Hagar the Womb (Chris and Paul had been members of Hagar the longest, they joined up in 1983 when leaving the Hornchurch band Cold War). When they both called time on that Hagar The Womb in 1986, pinching recent Hagar members; Julie and Veg the four ex members just changed the name of the band and went head first into a poppier direction.

While the first 12-inch EP on All The Madmen Records is decent enough, the second EP on Abbo’s (UK Decay) Big Cat Records is the superior of the two. The band managed to record a third 12″ single and an excellant LP entitled ‘Everywhen’ for Big Cat Records, then the band morphed again into the band Melt. Then they simply disappeared…as far as I know.

Chris and Paul started DJ’ing and mixing techno tracks shortly after Melt and they are now both successful artists in the studio and at sound systems.

Text below from Chris Liberator

When I was a teenager I devoted most of my time to punk (inspired as I was by bands like Sex Pistols, Stranglers, Wire and the like). I was in a few bands and we never had the chance to play out, until the squat party scene took off and we played these mad free gigs in illegal venues. Such as West London’s Centro Iberico Anarchy Centre and the original Anarchist Centre in Wapping (set up by money from a Crass and Poison Girls record). I was having a great time, meeting really interesting people and learning a whole new political agenda. The sheer attitude that dripped from anarcho-punk bands like Sub-Humans, Poison Girls, Apostles, Crass, etc really challenged the way I thought, whilst the burgeoning independent label scene spearheaded originally by labels like Rough Trade, Fast Records and Fuck Off Records showed that there was a very real alternative to the major label music stranglehold. It opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t normally see. Over the next few years my life changed. Somehow I managed to start and finish a degree in humanities (English and Philosophy) at Hatfield Poly (now Hertfordshire University) in between playing in bands including the infamous Hagar The Womb. After and during my degree I devoted me time to music, holding down shit warehouse jobs, signing on, living in dodgy rented accomodation or squatting and surviving on my wits.

Music always came first for me, and also a realisation that I didn’t want to work for the corporate machine in the usual way. When Hagar the Womb split and the whole punk thing started to become a parody of itself, I started another band called ‘We Are Going To Eat You’, which later became ‘Melt’. We started to write songs and flex our musical muscles. In retrospect, some of the records we made sounded ‘indie’ and dated, but it’s the one and only time we tried to enter the music industry game by courting big record companies and trying to get a deal. We got fucked; caught between an indie label and various majors we got caught in a legal tangle that really killed the band off just as we were starting to get good. It taught me the one thing that I should have learnt already. Never sell out – and never lose control of what you do. During the band’s demise I started to get into electronic music a lot more, and inevitably dance music via Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Tackhead, Revolting Cocks and suchlike. I eventually ended up at techno around 89/90. It was at this time that I met Julian, and later Aaron, who were both into the same stuff and squatting in the same part of north-east London as me. Our mates and our scene was still very punk/squat/traveller orientated and dance music hadn’t really made that much of an impact on it. Whilst me and Julian expanded our record collections and went out to raves every weekend, we still felt that this music and the new lifestyle politics of ‘rave’ could impact on our scene without the commercial bullshit angle that was beginning to permeate it. It was at this time that some of my friends put together a mini sound system and asked me to come down to a party in a squatted pub in Islington. It wasn’t a commercial event, and it was set up like a punk squat party, but they had DJs that played techno. They called themselves The Shrape Collective, (later ‘Urge’). At the same time Julian was throwing similar parties in his big squatted house in Stoke Newington with bands on one floor, and techno on the other. There weren’t any DJs though; just tapes. That all changed when Aaron showed his face one night; he had decks and suggested that at the next party the three of us should play together. We did, and Liberator was born.

We threw several urban parties through the autumn and winter of 1991 into 1992 whilst we became involved with many of the fledgling free party sound systems which had started up prior to and during this era, the most famous of which is probably Spiral Tribe.

Spiral Tribe was the essence of the outdoor rave scene; lots of people didn’t want to pay £30 to get into parties so they went and did it in fields, warehouses; wherever. The Bedlam crew were doing stuff around this time. We met them through Conspiracy, a party crew who we worked with during the winter of 1991, and continued to do stuff with them over the next couple of years. That period was fantastic, because the authorities were unsure of how to respond to it all until 1992 when it all exploded, culminating in the legendary Castlemorton party – and the subsequent Criminal Justice Act.

UNIT – D.N.A. Recordings LTD – 1995 – 2007

December 23rd, 2008

There follows a selection of tracks chosen by the band members of UNIT from most of the CDs that are available to purchase. Details to follow on how and where to purchase them from. Also there are some texts written by the recent members of UNIT which will also make this a very large and informative post, which you may prefer to print out rather than reading via a computer screen!

I have witnessed UNIT several times now and they are worth supporting, photographs (above) taken from a relaxed performance at Housmans Bookshop in December 2007 taken by myself. Let’s get started…enjoy.

KAMPFBEREIT – NO SLEEVE ARTWORK
The Loch And The Glen

High Rise Weans

Kings Cross ETC

SONS OF THE DRAGON: 

 

Chinese Youth

The Boy From Hanoi

Cambodian Kim
 
FIRE AND ICE:

Good Morning / Fractured

Sick Man Of Asia

New Order

UNTIED AND UNITED VOL 1:

For Sarah Strange

Johnny Todd

Ode To Johnny Kepler

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT:

Orders Of The General

Make The Bastard Cry

Asian Avenue

ROCK IN OPPOSITION VOL 1:

Ngye Gue

Resonance Rocks Out

Hungary 1956 / 3 Fingers

ROCK IN OPPOSITION VOL 2:

Ogune

From This Day On

Come September

ROCK IN OPPOSITION VOL 3:

The Leg Irons

The Buddist Response To Western Aggression

Little Severin

ROCK IN OPPOSITION VOL 4:

Daze Of The Weak

Trung Goes To Germany

1.1 x 10

Discography / Bibliography

The Apostles

7″ singles

01) Blow It Up, Burn It Down, Kick It Till It Breaks. 1983

02) Rising From The Ashes. 1984

03) The Curse Of The Creature. 1984

04) The Giving Of Love Costs Nothing. 1985

05) Smash The Spectacle! 1985

06) Death To Wacky Pop! 1986

07) Anathema (unreleased). 1987

08) No Faith, No Fear. 1988

12″ albums

01) Punk Obituary. 1985

02) The Lives & Times Of The Apostles. 1986

03) The Acts Of The Apostles. 1986

04) How Much Longer? 1987

05) Equinox Screams. 1987

06) The Other Operation. 1988

07) Manifesto (unreleased). 1988

08) Hymn To Pan. 1989

Most of this material is available in digital format from BBP, BOX 45404, LONDON SE26 6WJ.

Between the end of The Apostles and the start of UNIT, I devoted most of the decade to creating and producing the magazine SMILE. This ran for 27 issues from 1991 to 2002. Initially inspired by the art and Dada magazine of the same name founded by Stewart Home, it soon found its own identity thanks to the hard work contributed by the Smile Collective: Lucy Williams, Keith Mallinson and Rob Colson. Most of these issues are now available on-line as internet downloads – somewhere.

UNIT

7″ singles

01) Cameo For Earth. 1995

02) Paradigm. 1996

03) Love Song. 1997

04) Richard Dawkins Is Together With Us! 1998

05) Giai Phong. 2000

12″ albums

01) Relationships. 1994

02) All New Pugilistic Styles. 1997

Compact Discs

01) Kampfbereit. 1996

02) We Are Your Gods. 1999 (includes 2nd 7″, 3rd 7″ and 2nd 12″)

03) Sons Of The Dragon. 2001 (includes 5th 7″)

04) Fire & Ice. 2002

05) Untied & United: Volume 1. 2002 (includes 4th 7″)

06) Dare To Be Different. 2003

07) School Farm Bungalow. 2004

08) Rock In Opposition: Phase 1. 2005

09) Rock In Opposition: Phase 2 (Double CD). 2006

10) Untied & United: Volume 2. 2007

11) Rock In Opposition: Phase 3. 2007

12) Rock In Opposition: Phase 4. 2008

13) Class War (Double CD). 2008

14) Untied & United: Volume 3. 2009

15) Untied & United: Volume 4. 2009 (includes 1st 7″ and 1st 12″)

Most of the CDs are available from UJ at www.unit-united.co.uk.

UNIT – A BRIEF HISTORY

UNIT is currently a trio of musicians, artists and film makers who consist of Luc Tran (that’s me), UJ and Andy Martin. We’ve just released our 13th CD but the spine on it says it’s our 10th album. No, I haven’t quite sussed that out yet either. I don’t like all the music we’ve done – but I can’t think of a single track that isn’t interesting or unusual.

The first phase of our career saw Lawrence Burton, Nathan Coles and Peter Williams join forces with Andy Martin and Dave Fanning, both of whom had previously been in an unsuccessful performance art group called The Apostles in the 1980s. The intention was not only to venture into the avant garde territory that Andy and Dave had investigated during the early years of the 1990s but also to record again, properly and with professional production values, nearly all the works previously committed to old fashioned vinyl by The Apostles. However, much of the decade was spent producing Smile magazine with music definitely taking a subservient role at this time.

From 1994 to 1997, UNIT released their records under the name Academy 23 to avoid confusion with a fairly successful German avant garde group who were also called UNIT. This outfit disbanded early in 1997 so we reverted to our original name with the 7″ EP Richard Dawkins Is Together With Us. After 2000, we elected to concentrate mainly on writing, performing and recording new music in as many different styles and genres as we could manage, given the technical limitations of certain group members. Our only tenuous link with the previous format of the group (and The Apostles before that) was our deliberate hostility toward capitalism and the commercial music industry and our support for Class War, the paper and the idea.

Most people understandably think of UNIT as ‘that group with all the Chinese lads in it’ but this only applies to the second phase of our career which commenced in 1999 when Ngo Achoi, Lang Kin Tung and Gieng San Man joined Andy Martin and Dave Fanning to form what was really a new group. It is this group with which most people are familiar, thanks to the tireless promotion and distribution of our work undertaken first by Achoi and then by UJ, who set up our e-mail account and website. When ‘Sons Of The Dragon’ was released it heralded our intention to put Chinese people on the independent music map. We wanted to prove to the world there was more to us than cooking and kung fu. Rap music had Jin Au Yeung in America and LMF in Hong Kong but in the sphere of pop music, the avant garde and punk rock, the demographic remained resolutely white…so we decided to change all that, despite the open hostility directed at us by certain people in the UK such as Fracture, Idwal Fissure and Head Wound who clearly didn’t want a bunch of Chinkies spoiling their scene.

Two other group members deserve a shout out: Chinese guitarist and vocalist Garlen Lo and Vietnamese saxophonist Thanh Trung Nguyen. Garlen stayed for just over a year but left the group because he wanted to play only twee little pop songs – nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s not what we’re about. Trung, like Garlen, comes from a wealthy background and so, also like Garlen, found our struggle to save up enough money to pay for studio time and release CDs, inexplicable and strange. His musical origins are in jazz, especially the big band jazz of the 1930s – very odd for a 16 year old! He managed to stay with us long enough to appear on all four Rock In Opposition albums and he played at most of our prestigious concerts in 2006 and 2007 but his parents objected to him being in a pop group and they most definitely objected to Andy (many people do) so by the end of 2007 we became a trio.

If it had not been for Hackney Chinese Youth Club in Ellingfort Road (which, sadly, closed in 2006), UNIT would not exist, at least not in its present state. That was where I met UJ and Andy and that was how I came to join UNIT as a drummer and keyboard player. Garlen Lo is in fact the only member of UNIT who doesn’t originate from HCYC. The famous Birmingham poet Andy Nunn introduced us to the Kill Your Pet Puppy chat room. Through that I discovered the history behind the UK punk scene and I learned about the whole Crass / Class War divide, the miners strike, Margaret Thatcher, Greenham Common, the Poll Tax riots and all the rest of it. To think there was a time when people my age used to go on demonstrations and start riots when the government gave us shabby treatment. Now we just turn on our laptops, plug in our I-pods and download another programme to keep us amused.

Mick Penguin has kindly made some of our tracks available free for all you lucky people. The albums from Sons Of The Dragon onwards are all available from us for around £5 each. All the earlier stuff that’s currently deleted is soon going to be reissued on CD. Meanwhile, you can check out much of this gear thanks to the work Mick has contributed. A friend of mine, Linda Hong, also calls me ‘Penguin’. This is probably significant.

Luc 2008

INSPIRATION

When a boring pop group is interviewed by an equally boring music journalist, one of the most boring questions that can be asked is ‘What groups have influenced you?’ The real purpose served by this question is to persuade the outfit to mention to list a few (preferably trendy) names that can provide cultural signifiers by which the readers may identify the musicians. For example, The Creeping Nobodies cite The Velvet Underground (yawn), the Jesus & Mary Chain (yawn) and Blur (yawn) as being among their three major influences. For me, I would make damned sure I avoided such a group like the plague. The trouble is, for all I know, such a group may actually perform and record music that is both original and interesting, despite their wretched taste in music.

UNIT are a typical example here. If someone asked Luc, UJ and I to each name our 3 favourite groups or artists then the names you’d arrive at would be (perhaps) Shocking Lemon (Japanese power pop), LMF (Chinese gangsta rap) and Tze Ting Fung (Chinese pop singer) – Luc; Rage Against The Machine (American alternative rock) Opeth (Swedish heavy metal) and Dream Theatre (American progressive rock) – UJ; Manowar (American heavy metal), Shocking Lemon, Peter Brötzmann (German free jazz) – me. But we also listen to Henry Cow, Graham Bond, AMM, Egg, Skrewdriver, Jethro Tull, Sun Ra and Hellbastard. Anyone who purchased an album by UNIT in the hope that the music and lyrics would reveal any similarities to any of the people listed above would be bitterly disappointed. There are three reasons why our music sounds so unlike that of any other group.

1 Myself and Luc don’t listen to music very often so we never find ourselves unduly burdened by a head full of tunes written by someone else.

2 Most of the music to which UJ listens is so alien to what we could or would write and play ourselves that the possibility of a direct influence is negligible.

3 The primary influences on us originate from the disciplines of cinema and literature rather than music.

4 Every member of UNIT has always agreed, without exception, to adopt one of my perennial mottos: “you will never achieve creative fulfilment by emulating the work of others.” This means we deliberately inhibit, whenever possible, the invasion of external musical influences into our group.

I was once in a rather wretched little pop group with pretensions vastly in excess of its abilities but since we were all young teenagers at the time I shall pretend that is a valid excuse and hope anyway that most people have forgiven us our trespasses against the good name of music. I left that silly little band in 1989 and entered the rave scene with a level of enthusiasm that was inversely proportional to the amount of intelligence required to pursue such an activity. The music business – especially the punk music business – had left a sour taste in my mouth and the brazen hedonism of the rave scene was a welcome relief from all the pompous bollocks that so many third rate punk bands spewed out during the previous decade.

Throughout the 1990s I continued to write music and essays but the desire not to surrender, the belief in my own ability and the motivation to continue upon my own difficult creative route originated from a literary source, not a musical one. The poetry and prose of Andy Nunn, the Birmingham Bard, may not be familiar to all readers of this essay if you are reading this in Britain. However, if you live in France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Finland, you will probably have heard of and probably read at least some of the works of this notoriously difficult but ultimately rewarding writer.

The French avant garde arts magazine Nouvelles Parade (now sadly defunct) was the first professional publication to feature reviews of our music and literature in its pages. It also featured the work of Andy Nunn, printed always in English with excellent translations into French (by Jean Pierre Duval) next to each poem or prose piece. By the late 1990s nobody wanted to know UNIT. Our music was highly unfashionable and our work was regarded with contempt by the establishment. It did occur to me – briefly – to pack it all in and do something different. Then I read the revised version of Cosmography (part one of The Silent Colossus) by Andy Nunn. This in turn inspired me to revisit what I used to regard as the bleak, grim, relentless despair of Second Desert (part two of The Silent Colossus). Upon this second study I realised that what I was reading was a work of monumental profundity, a universe captured in two pages. I knew then that everything mattered because nothing matters.

I realise that last sentence sounds like something written by a teenage philosophy student who’s been at the crème de menthe. Well, I stand by it. I even defend it, because that is precisely what occurred to me after I’d read this superlative work a second time. I knew that if I stopped writing music and essays then I would be guilty of cowardice in the face of the enemy. I would also deny myself the right to self expression in media that had always proved satisfactory and convincing in the past. Both Andy Nunn and I are from poor, working class families. People of our social status are not supposed to like avant garde classical music and the poetry of T S Eliot and Ezra Pound. We’re supposed to listen to Oasis and read The Sun. Had Andy been born in, say, Bedfordshire – had his father been a local councillor or management consultant – had he gone to Ampleforth School instead of some secondary modern hell hole – his poems would already have been anthologised by Faber & Faber and be discussed on Radio 3.

Where is the Eden we lost in God,

the great utopia damned by ideology?

Walk away from this grand charade,

this craven unconscious collective,

this mesmerising spectacle,

and I will show you a graveyard of megalomania;

I will show you the desert in the heart of humanity.

This extract from The Covered Room (part three of The Silent Colossus) is a pithy summation of the futility in the search by mankind for any kind of deity, idol or saviour. After World War 1 we lost our belief in the God of Christianity and not before time; it is just wretched that so many millions of innocent young men had to die horribly in order for us all too see sense and logic. After World War 2 we lost our belief in the god of national socialism although again a further 6 million innocent people had to die horribly. (Is that not a tautology? Can we death ever not be horrible? Perhaps, if you suffer in agony from an incurable disease.) After 1968 we lost our belief in the god of peace and love acquired through psychedelic drugs. After 1977 we should have lost our belief in the god of punk rock as means to achieve social change except that for many teenagers, the truth was too unpleasant to tolerate so, heaven help us, they found Crass and the ‘anarcho-punk’ scene. They worshipped at a new altar, shrouded by black rags, spellbound by empty gestures and the rhetoric of crisis, where any suspicion of deviance

from the holy tenets was vilified with just the same obsessive fanatical zeal as that displayed by any contemporary mad mullah of Islamic fundamentalism. When (for example) Pigs For Slaughter and Kill Your Pet Puppy dared to add class anger, humour and colour to the proposed revolution, their creators were ostracised and treated with foam flecked rage by people who simply had to convince themselves that they were RIGHT and everyone else was WRONG. That is how it must always be when you worship any god.

Most other people, whose creativity was greeted with 2 decades of being ignored and ostracised, would have long since given up and grown old before their time in some dreadful marriage and mortgage routine in a dead end job they despised. That would have been the easy way out. Andy chose the difficult route, the turbulent route, the triumphant route – victory in obscurity! This is no mere antimony for surely it is better to be victorious in obscurity than defeated in eminence. In other words, any arse hole can be an empty headed celebrity but only a rare individual can be a genius, especially a genius forced to work in a wasteland.

It is far easier to make a name for yourself in music than in literature – even a third rate composer can usually write at least one memorable tune that people will remember, especially if it is recorded by a pop group. A third rate writer has no such refuge – he / she must cultivate their craft and strive toward excellence yet even then there is no guarantee of a reward. You can’t hum the latest poem or novel by a writer while you’re stacking shelves in Tesco. This is also partly why there are very many more pop groups than poets. I can still remember (despite my strident attempts to forget) many of those abysmal punk fanzines of the 1980s with their soul searching ‘poems’ – God help me, rarely was so much drivel printed by so many in the name of self expression. Most of the ‘music’ churned out by the related bands was equally dire but, with a powerful studio production and an impressive record cover, this wasn’t so immediately apparent – you could tap your foot, pogo or wallow in a drug addled haze to it so its true lack of merit was not so immediately apparent. In literature you have nowhere to hide.

There is a series of live music and poetry events in the West Midlands called ‘Open Mic’ which allows anyone and everyone the opportunity to make their music and read their literary works to audiences throughout the north west. For reasons that still remain unknown, Andy Nunn has been denied access to this forum. His work is evidently not acceptable to the politically correct chattering wretches who run this concern, even though you’ll never find swear words, sexual filth or racially offensive material in any of his poems. No, what you will find is an ability to stare unblinking straight into the gaping maw of the abyss – perhaps there is too much reality in his work and the organisers consider it too frightening and disturbing for the delicate sensibilities of the average Friday night audience?

En passant, if the poetry of Andy Nunn is so excellent, why have we never set any of his texts to music? Because, unlike mere lyrics, all his poems and prose provide their own sound-tracks; they would be trivialised or spoiled if they were set to the music of other people, even people as empathetic to his words as ourselves. I once attempted (in 2002) to set Second Desert to music – I failed – of course – how could I ever succeed? That I even tried to set this magnificent text to music proves that at the time I still had not completely understood the poem. If I had then I would never have attempted such a futile exercise.

In UNIT we recently released our 10th official album (or 12th if you include 2 collections of compilation tracks and unreleased pieces from earlier studio sessions). It is arguable that most of this would never have been achieved had not the poetry and prose of Andy Nunn provided us with the impetus to strive toward excellence and use as our motto: no surrender!

Andy Martin, December 2008.

MORAL PANIC

In 1984, a music group called The Apostles (in which I played a minor role) was interviewed by Garry Bushell, a journalist for a sordid little fashion magazine called Sounds. I had earlier made a wager with one of the other band members that I could have us interviewed by one of their journalists before the end of the year. I wrote letters to their letters page; I sent them a copy of one of our records with a letter designed to appeal what I believed to be the main obsessions of the main journalists who contributed to the paper. To cut a long story short, I won the wager, collected my £5 and we made complete fools of ourselves on page 7 of this paltry publication. After that, I realised I had committed one of the few major errors of my career and I promised myself that never again would I be interviewed by any commercial newspaper or media channel. If this seems an extreme, if not monastic attitude, consider how the press and media actually operate.

Older readers – those of my age – may remember that infamous photograph of Leah Betts on a hospital bed with plastic tubes up her nose in various newspapers during the early 1990s, small pictures of her parents underneath looking understandably distraught. Ms Betts was a teenage girl who allegedly died in hospital as a result of taking an ecstasy tablet at a rave party. The press vengefully fulminated against these drug peddling thugs who epitomised the rave scene. In reality, ‘these drug peddling thugs’ were usually other teenagers who were simply fortunate enough to obtain a decent supply of E’s on a certain night.

Your parents or grandparents may remember shock horror stories of a similar nature with regard to mods versus rockers, hippies versus skinheads and punks versus just about everyone. In each case various youth subcultures are subjected to a media campaign that virtually amounts to persecution, an attitude the media bag justifies by its alleged defence of the decency of the general public. (Note: this is the same decent general public who voted in Thatcher and then Blair for no less than three terms each with the result that in just 29 years, Great Britain has now become a virtual police state.) All this adheres to an organised and quite deliberate formula constructed by the media as a means by which to increase newspaper sales and maintain television viewer ratings. This disgusting apparatus of cynicism devoted purely to profit and prestige originated in the 1950s.

The 1950s – Teddy Boys

During the decade that followed the end of world war two, Great Britain endured many turbulent changes to its character, its industry and its people. Food rationing ended, petrol rationing ended and televisions became sufficiently affordable that most people could possess them by 1960. In fact it was the royal coronation in 1953 that consolidated the advent of television as a nationally accepted adjunct to the wireless and the cinema. (By the end of the next decade, it would reign with such supremacy that it would supplant both the radio and the cinema in importance, but that’s a later story.) Then in 1958 the Windrush travelled from the West Indies to dock in Liverpool and unload the first major wave of immigrants into the country.

Two further changes are important here. The abolition of conscription was supported by many military leaders since it implied that only those young men who really wanted to join the armed forces would apply and therefore the strength, quality and integrity of the army, navy and air force would be significantly improved as a result. As the nation gradually but steadfastly rebuilt its infrastructure after the devastating bomber raids of the war, there were plenty of jobs in the construction industry. A consequence of both these factors was that the nation witnessed teenagers with money to spend and time to fill. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and most of all Coventry were pockmarked by bomb craters and wrecked buildings – an appropriately prescient landscape on which the first real youth subculture could display its rituals. Teddy Boys (the name derived from the long Edwardian coats favoured by the young men) swiftly made a reputation for themselves as violent louts who loitered around cafes, carried flick knives and ripped up the seats in cinemas. Their music was rock and roll, a harmless, insipid dilution of rhythm and blues, neutered and sanitised for the white market since the kind of music created by those black boys in Yankee-land was still too raw and strange for most British youths to comprehend. That said, they did accept the more popular elements like Little Richard, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry.

To the newspapers, the radio and the television editors and executives, this new youth trend was a marvel. Reports of the phenomenon, when printed accurately, provided a slight increase in sales and viewer ratings but when their behaviour was exaggerated and embellished, profits went through the roof. The media machine thus enjoyed its very first venture into the creation of a moral panic. Their methods were clumsy and naïve but since the population was still recovering from the war and trying to keep pace with all the other changes happening in the country, nobody realised this at the time. As the cold war between Russia and America developed and the commencement of the space age was heralded on October 14th 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1, the Teddy Boy phenomenon became old fashioned and irrelevant.

The 1960s – Mods & Rockers

The early 1960s witnessed an increase in financial security, a decrease in unemployment and a greater sophistication among the teenagers of Britain as they soaked up the latest trends and fashions imported from America, in particular the beatnik movement and the less commercial form of black rhythm and blues. After the initial excitement of the Liverpool beat music scene, heralded by The Beatles, British teenagers graduated to the London R&B scene epitomised by The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Small Faces, The Kinks, Manfred Man and The Graham Bond Organisation. The term ‘mod’ was derived from a fashion magazine of the period in which new trendy clothes were modelled by Cathy McGowan – and a new youth subculture was born. The emphasis was upon looking sharp and taking pride in your appearance. If Mods worshipped a character from Greek mythology, it would be Narcissus. In short, it was a movement with nothing to say but it looked well smart while doing so.

This period also marked the advent of another media invented term: the generation gap. Newspaper writers were encouraged to propagate the idea that teenagers and parents were inevitably alienated from each other by the generation gap, portrayed as an abyss over which no bridge could be built. Anyone who sat and used their brain for more than 3 minutes soon realised that the notion was quite preposterous, of course, but for a while the notion convinced many people among the lower orders that this mysterious generation gap did indeed exist and was another ‘sign of the times’ (another media concoction), like drugs, long hair and a lack of respect for authority.

The Rockers were motorcycle enthusiasts who can be regarded as the prototypes for what became the Hells Angels by the end of the decade. Their uniform was primarily black leather and their music harked back to the old days of rock and roll. They rode BSA and Triumph motorcycles, generally of well over 100cc engine capacity. The Mods disdained such brute power – they preferred Italian made Vespas and Lambrettas adorned with many badges and mirrors so that these 50cc scooters puttered along like so many metallic peacocks. Some of the more adventurous young men even took to wearing eye make-up. The response from the rockers was predictable: utter disdain and contempt. I can empathise entirely – had I been born 15 years earlier, I would definitely have been a rocker!

The 1970s – Hippies & Skinheads

The cold war appeared to grow decidedly hot as the war monger John Kennedy was assassinated, American troops invaded Vietnam and Mao Tse Tung declared a cultural revolution in 1966. There were riots in France in 1968. Violent demonstrations against the invasion of Vietnam spread across Europe. (As a poignant digression, we should note that virtually every demonstration against the invasion of Vietnam held in Europe voiced a protest in defence of the Vietnamese against the incursion of American militarism, such that rarely was any direct sympathy expressed for the American soldiers themselves; the mass rallies in America were held to demand the return of the American troops, not because they wished an end to the slaughter of innocent Vietnamese people but because they believed it was grossly unjust that so many American soldiers should be maimed and killed in a futile war.) Militant black rights activist Malcolm X had already been murdered at a public meeting in 1965; the pacifist Christian civil rights activist Martin Luther King was then assassinated in 1968. A group of militant socialist students called The Red Army Faction in Germany kidnapped and executed war criminal Aldo Moro. A similar group called The Angry Brigade set of bombs and machine gun attacks on the streets of Britain, their targets (in which nobody was ever killed) being police chiefs, the police computer, fashion boutiques and the Miss World competition, among others. Suddenly the world was no longer a safe place in which to live.

The advent of skinheads toward the end of the decade represents one of the more curious phenomena in British youth subculture. Unlike the teddy boys and hippies, the skinheads were not only of British invention but they could hardly have originated from any other country. The uniform – savagely short hair, union shirts, ill fitting trousers held up with braces and big boots – was such a dramatic change from the prevailing freak mode of dress that many parents initially welcomed its adherents. In fact, hippies and skinheads both owe their genesis to the evolution of mods. The more cerebral and generally middle class mods mutated into hippies while their intellectually challenged and primarily working class brethren devolved into skinheads. Note: that is a profoundly sweeping generalisation and there were plenty of exceptions. We must avoid the cliché that working class = dim, middle class = bright, after all.

The media were initially uncertain how to tackle skinheads. That they were a new youth subculture indicated a probable source of sales revenue for the newspapers but here were young people (mainly men) who were clean, smart, sported short hair, generally refused illicit drugs, claimed to be patriotic and they despised hippies. If you omit the words ‘clean’ and ‘smart’, what you have there is an accurate description of the majority of British men, then and now. The Daily Express and the Daily Mail (predictably) greeted skinheads with considerable approbation, primarily as a means to pursue further attacks against hippies.

Ben Sherman shirts, narrow cut two-tone suits and Chelsea boots were common appurtenances to mod attire. These clothes were always expensive and one advantage of the stripped down skinhead uniform is that it doesn’t demand such an excessive slice taken out of the wage packet at the end of the week. The hair was generally kept fairly short for mods until the mid sixties when everyone and their father started to acquire sideburns, moustaches and ears covered by hair. (Even some politicians, attempting to be trendy and fashionable, would grow their hair a little longer than was previously acceptable – although typically they only latched onto this idea during the early seventies, i.e. 5 years late.) In 1969 when the first skinheads appeared, Ben Sherman shirts were in evidence but the ‘smart skinhead’ look, complete with sheepskin coat, was not common until the end of the year, no doubt prompted by the girls who became impatient with their boys looking too much like escaped psychiatric patients for their tastes.

The adoption of music performed almost exclusively by black musicians remains a curious aspect of the cult. Mods were passionate about American soul, true, but only a small number of them had much time for blue beat, ska and its more famous progeny, reggae. For two or three years, reggae became the musical standard for skinheads, some of whom sported razor cuts (thin lines shaved along the scalp where a parting would normally be), a fashion directly stolen from West Indian youths known as rude boys. This is the prime difference between the first wave of skinheads (1969-1971) and the revival (1980-1985). In 1982 the band Skrewdriver released a 12″ single called Back With A Bang, an anthem written to celebrate the skinhead revival in all its dubious glory. At this time, perhaps in response to the increasingly arcane sentiments expressed by punks, skinheads adopted their own form of fashion and music, known as ‘Oi’. This was ‘their’ cult – only, it wasn’t. The term ‘Oi’ was invented by a third rate, middle class music journalist called Garry Bushell who wrote for a second rate pop music magazine called Sounds which was to music magazines what The Sun is to national newspapers. By 1983 there was an impressive stable of white nationalist bands to provide the soundtrack to the skinhead pantomime: Brutal Attack, The Afflicted, Combat 84 and Skrewdriver being the most obvious examples. For the record, The 4 Skins and The Last Resort were never ‘white nationalist’ groups per se although most of the band members of both groups would express sympathy with such sentiments.

The mods’ use of the union flag (erroneously called the union jack by the press – actually our national flag is only called this when flying from a ship) was quickly discarded by the hippies who generally regarded any symbol of national pride with contempt. This decidedly unpatriotic attitude was completely logical for a nation of young people who lived in a country run by a government who regarded America as its older brother and that older brother was busy terrorising innocent farmers and peasants in Vietnam. However, the skinheads (also known as ‘bovver boys’ at this time) adopted the symbol in a more strident manner. For some, it was merely a shroud behind which stood a swastika. That said, it was not until the second wave of skinheads appeared during the early 1980s that the astringently fascist elements of the cult became de rigeuer. When I was at school, we were shown a recording of a BBC television ‘play for today’ starring Michael Robbins as the father of a teenager who becomes a skinhead. There is an excellent verbal exchange in which the father, after close scrutiny of his son dressed in his regalia for the first time, remarks ‘Look at the state of you. How much did all that clobber cost? Anyway, I don’t know why you bothered – you should’ve joined the army, son, they’d give you all that for free.’

This was a most perceptive statement by the writer since every aspect of the uniform is indicative of the old fashioned working class combined with signs of servitude: the shaved hair equates with prisoners, with mental asylums and the armed forces. The union shirt with its lack of a collar and the ill fitting trousers held up by braces are straight out of so many paintings by Lowry – when you went to work for your master in the fields or the factories, you didn’t wear your collar; that was reserved for your Sunday best when you went to church and offered prayers to God that you were still alive and able to eke out a wretched existence on whatever pittance you were paid for your labour each week. The steel toe capped boots were a further necessity for men who worked in fields and factories where heavy gear was shifted and damage to the feet was best avoided by such protective footwear. So to summarise, skinheads were a parody of the old fashioned British working class and further they were the epitome of right wing reactionary values advocated by people frightened of change and progress. For this reason, skinheads were far more acceptable to many ordinary people in Britain than hippies with their left wing, revolutionary beliefs and outlandish attire.

The hippies derive their name from a beatnik slang word – hip – as in ‘being hip to what’s going on’. However, the people the press called ‘hippies’ never used the term to describe themselves. Their chosen epithet was ‘freaks’. During the latter days of the mods, experimentation with drugs had become frequent. Their enthusiasm for amphetamines (such as blues and purple hearts) had gradually been supplanted by a new appreciation of hallucinogenic substances imported from America, the most ubiquitous being LSD. As this crazy substance acquired ever more consumers, mods began to mutate into freaks – the hair became longer, the trousers more flared, the clothes more colourful, the music more bizarre. However, LSD alone was only a contributor, not a prime mover. The treatment of Irish nationalists by the British state and the brutal horror inflicted on innocent Vietnamese people by the American military were regarded by students around the world as typical symptoms of capitalism. Capitalists were conservative, grey suited middle class middle aged supporters of military regimes and the oppression of minority groups – indeed these properties were essential in order for vast profits to be accrued by their exponents. You don’t become wealthy by being decent.

The second half of the decade witnessed the oil crisis and the collapse of the nation as a result of a weak government that allowed itself to be bullied by Marxist rat-bags who infested the unions. With a dramatic increase in both unemployment and homelessness, coupled with power cuts and the three-day working week, the star struck mysticism of the hippies quickly became not only irrelevant to the majority of working class youth but also actually rather offensive. The sudden eruption of punk rock in 1976 was inevitable since it was a vituperative response to a subculture that had long ceased to represent the issues that affected working class young people. The irony is that the hippie movement gradually evolved from the beatniks who were disaffected middle class intellectuals from bourgeois families; the culture was therefore organic and derived largely from the people it represented. However, punk rock was completely fabricated by fashion designers like Vivian Westwood and art school philistines like Malcolm McLaren whose cynical manipulation of public malcontent was clever but callous and utterly self serving. Such people had far more in common with Tories than terrorists. Therefore, punk could never seriously represent ordinary working class youth despite its pretence at doing just that – a pretence that was alarmingly successful for a couple of years.

The 1980s – Punks

For the media, the 1980s could have been very tedious if youth subcultures were their only source of horror stories. This is because there were no genuinely new subcultures available for them to create a foundation upon which to construct a new moral panic. Punks still existed but they had become serious, grim and boring; the skinhead revival offered nothing of much interest apart from their allegiance to neo-nazi political groups but even that was hardly new. An early newspaper editorial (from the Daily Express) spent three paragraphs fulminating against punks with a stream of sarcasm, verbal vitriol and outright bigotry; it then concluded that a small gang of football hooligans could ‘see off’ these punks any day of the week. The implication here was that football hooligans were more socially acceptable (at least to the editors of the Daily Express) than punks – a bizarre conceit when we read how the same newspaper called for every public sanction possible from conscription to permanent incarceration for these same football hooligans. When confronted with the media we soon learn that this years foes are next years friends and vice versa.

For anyone over 30 years of age, the 1980s will be associated indelibly with riots, civil disorder, the promotion of war, the protection of privilege and the brutal oppression of homeless people by draconian laws against the use of empty property. The unions were finally crushed. The miners were robbed of their right to protect their livelihood and the true face of parliament was revealed as the false veneer of democracy melted under the medusa glare of the tin pot lady. Since newspaper editors and media moguls accrued profits from the system of government that prevailed in Britain at this time, it was evidently in their interest to support it and therefore to attack any individual or group who voiced protest or criticism. Certain intelligent elements within the punk scene (despite the apparent contradiction in terms implied by that choice of words) combined with articulate representatives of the protest movement (such as Class War) offered a cogent critique to the bellicose warmongering of the Thatcher regime and increasing numbers of the public began to take notice. This was quite unacceptable to the government so where ever police truncheons failed, the printed word and the moving image were invoked – with considerable success.

This was achieved not by attacking the punks directly but by suggesting that whenever ordinary people instigated or participated in civil rebellion against the more disgusting examples of state violence, in reality the true instigators were anarchists and punks, that it was the participation of these criminal elements that were actually responsible for the burnt, smoking vehicles, looted chain stores and injured policemen. Before the end of the decade, the words ‘punk’, ‘anarchist’ and ‘criminal’ had become as interchangeable as ‘robber’, ‘thief’ and ‘bailiff’. Through newspapers, television and radio, the population were told that the ordinary British public would never riot and behave so dreadfully, that these incidents were merely provoked by punks, anarchists and other criminal elements. So the ‘problem’ was defined as anarchist punks set on causing trouble purely for the hell of it with people like Ian Bone as their spokesperson. Ian Bone was chastised in a banner headline by the Daily Mail as ‘the most evil man in Britain’.

This is interesting since a decade earlier, Tom O’Carroll (the leader of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a perfectly legal body set up to represent and provide a discussion forum for paedophiles) was greeted one morning with his photograph in the News Of The World over a banner headline that read ‘the most evil man in Britain’. I am unusually fortunate to have met both these gentlemen. Mr O’Carroll was neither a child molester nor an active paedophile – but those facts did not induce people to purchase newspapers so the News Of The World opted for a more engaging epithet with which to entice public interest. Mr Bone certainly hates inherited wealth and unbridled privilege, especially when people endowed with those qualities use their position to maintain the poverty of ordinary people – but then so do plenty of honest clergymen (and such people do exist, difficult though that be to believe).

The cause was simplified as greed and selfishness on behalf of these ‘criminal elements’ – this coming from people (newspaper editors and media moguls) who are themselves the epitome of greed and selfishness. Once again the key participants (Crass, Ian Bone, Class War, Ronan Bennett, Iris Mills and so on) were stigmatised. By this time many of the leader writers began to believe their own fairy tales and their calls for government action became perfectly hysterical. A response from the authorities was ultimately provoked when in the infamous ‘battle of the bean field’ near Stonehenge a large crowd of unarmed and peaceful freaks, punks and travellers were physically assaulted by heavily armed police thugs which resulted in dozens of innocent people being hospitalised while not one policeman was ever indicted. The socialists predictably blamed the government for this outrage – we blamed the true guilty party, namely the newspapers and the media.

The 1990s – Ravers

By the 1990s the media bag pattern had become so familiar that we, with the advent of the Internet to assist us, had become rather too knowledgeable and too sophisticated for the process to function quite so smoothly. Since the ravers did not seek enemies or confrontation with other subcults, the media were not able to fabricate the youth wars of previous decades. However, being bad losers, they resorted to another tried and tested means of assault upon our culture: fear and the family with drugs as the pivot upon which this ridiculous edifice teetered. The press and the police were often initially supportive or at least articulated mild commendation in their reports of early raves. They expressed an appreciation of the scarcity of alcohol, the absence of violence and the significant number of different ethnic minorities included among the clubbers. However, reports of this nature do not sell many newspapers or increase television viewer ratings. So, rather than tell the truth, the media searched for a scapegoat – and, thanks to our perennial desire to alter our state of consciousness, they found one and it was a beauty: ecstasy.

When Leah Betts took an ecstasy pill at a private party in the early 1990s, the media machine enjoyed a field day; they loved every moment of it. There was never any genuine sympathy for the poor parents. Each tear shed by her mother was another tick in a profit margin box for a newspaper and the newscasters of each channel drooled over the luxury of being able to express their meticulously contrived outrage. Richard Branson, the pathetic loser and failed human being who has relentlessly tried, without success, to convince us all that money is all you need in order to have a decent life, went public with his call for a ban on ‘acid parties’, not because he cared one iota about what young people actually did at raves but because he sought to identify himself as a respectable pillar of the establishment in order to encourage confidence among shareholders for Virgin Airlines and Virgin Railways, the two ailing, failing companies he desperately wished to save from extinction.

Would this media campaign have been so successful had Leah Betts not been female, young, pretty and white? Of course not – the media machine has always thrived upon the depiction of innocent pretty young white women as victims in its pages. This is not merely editorial laziness; it is an expression of the lurid perversion exhibited by typical editors and producers who tend to be white, male, fat, middle class, middle aged and unhappily married. Strong, independent women who refuse to be victims are not the kind of people the media machine ever finds particularly interesting unless there is a drug scandal or lesbian angle they can exploit. Meanwhile, the problem remained: the media machine has always found it expedient to nurture perceived differences between youth subcultures and actually invent differences should none originally exist. Thus the ravers, bereft of an opposing gang, were subjected to the only other means by which the media could attack it: direct assaults upon every aspect of their lifestyles, complete with fallacious ‘facts’ quite blatantly fabricated in order to incite public consternation and resentment.

The Public Order Act of 1994 presented us with the very first utterly blatant example of social control in the manner of national socialism, that is where no attempt was made to disguise the fact. This was a law that deliberately tried to prevent people from holding their own parties on their own premises with their own money. Even more impertinently, it actually tried to define a musical form in order then to criminalize it. Thus we had foisted upon us these strange Daily Mail definitions of rave music concocted by the State that were designed to provide boundaries beyond which our cultural expression was not allowed to stray. In Germany in the 1930s, jazz was outlawed as degenerate Negro music and banned; the 1990s British government of John Major tried to outlaw rave music in precisely the same manner. That it failed is a credit to our ability not only to merely break the law but to disregard it entirely. Besides, there was too much money to be made from it in the new clubs where diluted electronic sonic doodles often replaced the genuine article but by that time (i.e. the late 1990s) most younger clubbers either couldn’t tell the difference or no longer cared anyway.

So exactly how does this ‘disgusting apparatus’ function? It operates in accordance with 5 distinct stages.

1) Identify A Problem. With mods and rockers, the problem was the extreme violence of inter-gang fights at seaside resorts. That this was vastly exaggerated (and occasionally even invented) was ignored at the time so it was able to became normal practise for all newspapers, radio and television news programmes. With skinheads the problem was defined as physical assaults on innocent spectators at football matches. With hippies the problems were drug abuse, unacceptable political activity and laziness. With ravers, the problem was almost exclusively drugs with occasional emphasis on noise and antisocial behaviour.

2) Simplify The Causes. The media machine generally seeks to hide or at least disguise the real reasons behind antisocial behaviour, especially if these reasons provide any justification for it or are likely to induce public sympathy for the recipients of the media scrutiny. Therefore, any cause that may motivate a form of behaviour will be reduced to its most basic component, even if this process results in an account that is so inaccurate and unfair as to verge on fiction. This even applies to miscreants outside youth subcultures. For example in the recent industrial action taken by postmen, most newspapers reduced the cause of their strike to mere greed: they claimed the postal union demanded more money, when virtually every complaint by the postmen was actually based on gross ill treatment of ordinary workers by supervisors and managers with unfair work practises and draconian restrictions on what should be basic employee rights.

3) Stigmatise The Key Participants. In any youth subculture a spokesperson is identified, even if that spokesman actually has only a tenuous connection with the tribe concerned. For example, when the Daily Mail (and other papers) chose to identify Ian Bone as the prime exponent of the riots and civil disorder that spread throughout Britain, he was portrayed as leading the punks who, being younger and gullible, followed him with blind obedience. Anyone who has ever met Mr Bone will soon realise that he has never been a punk, has never been directly involved in the punk movement and certainly has never set himself up as a leader of anything. Indeed, on the few occasions when people have attempted to follow him as an icon of anarchism, he has been rigorous in dissuading erstwhile fans from such behaviour – he is an anarchist, after all, and a highly intelligent and articulate one. The media soon dropped their interest in him once they realised he was too decent and sensible a person to serve their purpose. The American media managed to use Charles Manson as the epitome of the hippie movement in order to discredit it, even though Manson had never been a hippie – in Britain the press tried (ultimately in vain) to find a similar character with which to discredit the punk scene and the anarchist movement.

4) Organise A Media Campaign For ‘Action’. Whether it be mods and rockers battling on the beaches, hippies and police trading truncheons and flowers on the streets or Class War punks hurling bricks at boaters in the Henley Regatta, the media never fails to find an excuse to call for government action on a problem that usually does not even exist except inside the imaginations of newspaper editors and television producers. Many media moguls entertain the notion that they possess sufficient power to persuade members of parliament to act on their behalf, irrespective of whether or not such an action would be beneficial to the general public. Occasionally, governments do indeed act, but we can be certain such actions are always for the benefit of the parliamentary members involved rather than to appease any mere media monkey.

5) Provoke A Response From The Authorities. In the early 1990s the nation witnessed how it was possible for the media to induce the government to respond to a problem that did not actually exist – and the result was a crowd of hospitalised men, women and children whose only ‘crime’ was to travel around the country in caravans rather than live in tower blocks. For the newspapers, television and radio this was marvellous, of course, because after calling for action against these ‘ravers’ (who were also called ‘punks’, ‘hippies’ or ‘travellers’, depending on the mood or age of the writer), they could then claim the police had acted like nazi thugs and encourage public sympathy for these poor freaks etc.

The lesson here is simple: the media can never, ever be your ally. They cannot even be trusted to be loyal to their own supporters. This is the primary reason why we have always, but always, resisted any offer to be interviewed by the establishment press or media.

Andy Martin © 2008.

The Apostles – From Analogue To Digital In 5 Days Flat.

After nearly 12 years of being pestered, cajoled and badgered by what now amounts to literally dozens of disparate demented souls, I have finally (with extreme reluctance and considerable foreboding) agreed to the release of works by The Apostles on CD. Chris Low (formerly of The Apostles, Oi Polloi and The Parkinsons) was the first character to succeed in breaking the embargo. I sanctioned his release of the 1st and 5th singles, plus selections from the 2nd and 3rd singles, primarily because, since he plays on most of these tracks, he can submit a justifiable claim to them and at least a larger and younger public can hear these pieces for the first time. Then, buoyed by this unexpected success, Stephen Parsons of BBP managed to persuade me to allow the rest of the back catalogue to be transferred into the digital domain.

To this day, myself and Chris Low disagree vehemently on the value of The Apostles. I expressed personal doubts about the artistic validity of the group even when I was a member but after I left the group and had the time to review their recorded oeuvre, I realised that I had spent nearly 8 years in a band writing often finely crafted pop songs, rock anthems and avant garde works only to have them performed with utter ineptitude, ruined by a total lack of any studio production and then finally crushed into oblivion by trying to cram twice as much music on each record as was technically possible. The result: 7 singles and 7 albums of noisome garbage that was a waste of the vinyl and paper used to produce them. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have heard these records will find it impossible to disagree with what I have stated.

The Apostles were a crap band and that’s all there is to it. Chris said in an e-mail to me that for me to make such a statement is the same as saying ‘you are an idiot’ to anyone who likes any of those recordings. This is simply not true. There are a few people who actually enjoy some of these recordings besides Chris himself but why do they enjoy them? I suggest it is due to their memories of what was happening in their lives and in the country at the time those records were made. When we performed live concerts, we were frequently far superior in both sound and technical prowess to what we produced on record so perhaps these people harbour fond memories of such concerts and therefore listen to the records with minds influenced by such memories. I submit that if I played any track from any of these records to any teenager, they would either laugh with bewilderment or cringe with embarrassment that anyone could have had the sheer audacity to commit such atrocious sonic nonsense to vinyl.

So why do I find it necessary to make such a strident (if not savage) critique of the recorded oeuvre of The Apostles? There is a simple but important reason: many of you reading this (actually, most of you reading this) will never even have heard of The Apostles, let alone encountered any of their music. If you are familiar with our music in UNIT it will be plainly evident that we are careful to ensure our works are performed to the best of ability and given the most professional production we can afford. If you enjoy much of our music, you might want to investigate the work of The Apostles to find out what some of the UNIT members were involved in prior to their work in the current group. Other people may be fans of Hellbastard and want to discover what Scruff was doing while he was in The Apostles. You could therefore be forgiven to expect The Apostles to sound similar to Hellbastard or UNIT or at least exhibit an equivalent degree of performance and production standards. Some of you may decide to spend your money on purchasing some of these CDs. Fair enough – but it is absolutely essential that you are not cheated or conned. I resent it when I purchase a DVD or a CD and find the contents to be of less quality than I was led to expect. Also, out of respect to Chris Low and Stephen Parsons (the two brave souls responsible for these CD re-issues) and also to all previous members of The Apostles, I owe it to all potential purchasers to offer the following five disclaimers so you can be aware in advance precisely what you are buying.

1) None of the original master tapes exist for these records so they have been transferred onto CD from mint condition copies of the original vinyl records. For certain tracks that were never issued on vinyl, tracks have been transferred from the best quality audio cassettes available. All these recordings have been loaded into our computer and had as many of the pops, clicks and crackles removed as possible. (No matter how excellent the quality of an original record may be, there will always be surface noise because vinyl records are horrible, cumbersome, noisy things that should no longer exist in a world that has penicillin.) Tape hiss has been either omitted entirely or at least reduced to an acceptable level. The sound envelope (bass, middle and treble) has been improved to compensate for the limitations inherent in the vinyl and cassette mediums – these were all that were available to musicians during the 1980s before digital technology evolved to liberate us from the tyranny of vinyl and tape. So while every attempt has been made by myself and Luc Tran to bring these old recordings up to an acceptable standard, these recordings will not be comparable in quality to that which you have come to expect from UNIT.

2) Because we were all young teenagers when The Apostles started to release records and because many of us were impatient to record our music, many of these records were made before we had attained any degree of proficiency on our instruments. In our naïveté we were simply not aware how inept and clumsy were our attempts to perform music that was often beyond our limited abilities. Despite the evidence that may appear to be to the contrary, I can vouch for the fact that we really did try our hardest to sing and play these works to the very best of our abilities. However, that said, the results are often unintentionally humorous and frequently embarrassing. This is all the more irritating because so many of these records contain fine pieces of music with often incisive, witty lyrics. Fortunately most of these works have since been recorded properly by UNIT with the performances and production they deserve.

3) As the main vocalist in the group I must accept 100% of the blame for the truly abysmal singing. It is therefore fortunate that we encouraged other band members to sing on some tracks (Dave Fanning and Malcolm Lewty in particular) while at other times we wrote a fair number of purely instrumental works. I was under the impression (erroneously) that my cultured accent with its slight Scots burr would be unacceptable to our audience so I adopted a thoroughly contrived and utterly ludicrous south London accent for most of the pieces on which I appear. That this was actually dishonest – lying to our audience – never even occurred to me at the time. The result is a collection of records that would only be slightly more absurd had they been sung by Peter Sellers in his Inspector Clousseau voice. Actually, they’d probably sound better!

4) When most people attend our concerts and purchase our CDs, as far as they are aware UNIT is a group with people of equal status – with UJ nominally regarded as a band leader since he is responsible for setting up our e-mail account, website, my space page and addressing most of the correspondence. Once people become aware of my earlier career, this a danger that UNIT will be seen as ‘my latest project’ whereupon UJ and Luc are immediately relegated to secondary status. For this reason, more than any of the others stated above, I have stringently resisted all attempts at persuading me to sanction digital releases of Apostles recordings.

5) We did not want anyone to assume that we were trying to capitalise on the reputation of a group I was in 2 decades ago in order to generate interest in UNIT; any esteem we accrued from our work must be due entirely to UNIT on its own merits. However, because both UJ and Luc have expressed an interest in these old recordings themselves and because, after 13 CDs, over 50 concerts and numerous plays on 3 different radio stations, UNIT has established itself as a group that warrants attention for its own work, I have finally relented and grudgingly allowed people to make available again these dreadful old recordings.

So, by all means investigate these old recordings if any of you are genuinely interested in what Dave and I were doing in our musical careers when we were 16 or if you want to discover what was happening in the avant garde and post-punk scene of the 1980s. However, bear in mind these 3 disclaimers before you make any purchase – never let it be said that we tried to cash in by promoting the sale of rubbish.

The definitive version of Apostles contained just 4 people: myself (vocals), Malcolm Lewty (guitar, vocals), Dave Fanning (bass guitar, guitar, vocals) and Chris Wiltshire (drums). This is the group that stayed together the longest, released the most records and played the most concerts. It is this format of the group most people remember. However, this is unfortunate because it means that Chris Low, the drummer prior to Mr Wiltshire, rarely receives the credit for his work that he deserves. Worse still, nearly all the music recorded by the final version of the group (with Sean Stokes and Colin Murrell) remained unreleased and therefore unheard by the public even though much of this was actually far superior to anything previously recorded by the group. This is another reason I finally relented and sanctioned the CD re-issues.

In spite of all I have written above, there are some genuinely high calibre tracks (usually those on which I do not appear as a performer), especially those written by Dave Fanning, which alone justify the purchase of any of these CDs. The singles are generally dreadful but there are a few pieces which just about manage to deserve digital resurrection. The 1st, 2nd and 5th singles are absolutely wretched and deserve to be locked in Room 101 for eternity and a day. On Blind Discrimination Chris Low makes his vocal debut with his first lyric for the group; Stumped and The Creature, both by Dave are still enjoyable now, despite the clumsy production. All 3 tracks are from the 3rd single.

From the infamous 4th single Rock Against Communism deserves merit simply because it is one of the few Apostles tracks given a decent performance and even the production is not quite as dreadful as usual. For the 6th single we were joined by 3 members of a pop group called The Joy Of Living and one track, The Wasteland, does not make me wince with shame when I hear it. The final single is unique in that both tracks are worth saving. Pork Pies is a cracker, an instrumental by Dave on which he makes his debut on violin while In The Name Of Science, despite my wretched singing, still sounds exciting with a production that sounds almost acceptable.

The 1st LP contains Breaking Barriers (my now famous poem here set to the original music written by Dave Fanning), Thrive Alive Jive (one of the very rare occasions when a piece contained music written by myself and Dave) and 62 Brougham Road, which despite my atrocious singing still manages to survive the test of time. The 2nd LP features Run For It and House Of Horror, two of the finest rock anthems Dave has ever written, as well as his slightly ponderous but generally excellent 15 minute opus The Voyage.

The 3rd LP features the vocal debut of Malcolm ‘Scruff’ Lewty (later of Hellbastard fame) on Social Scum and Heavy Metal, two fine examples of the heavy rock style favoured by both Scruff and Dave, with interesting lyrics. The 4th LP contains some bizarre but memorable moments. Faith is my own homage to 1980s pop duo Eyeless In Gaza and is still enjoyable now. Fragments remains a highly atmospheric adventure despite my histrionic vocal delivery. Our versions of two Alternative TV numbers, Release The Natives and Fellow Sufferer, complete the collection of tracks from this album that don’t deserve to languish in oblivion. There are also some serviceable items that were rejected from the 3rd and 4th albums (for reasons known only to God) that appeared later on a split album with Statement on one side and The Apostles on the other. We covered another Alternative TV work, an instrumental called Red, on which Dave and Scruff actually improve on the original. The pure unadulterated pop of A Love That’s Died, a Tony McPhee song, features some excellent drumming from Chris Wiltshire while A World We Never Made, a 4 part 11 minute epic written mainly by myself (Dave wrote part 2) still moves me now, despite the poor playing and amateur production.

It is ironic (yet somehow typical for The Apostles) that much of our best work was never released to the general public. When Scruff left the group to join Hellbastard on a full time basis and Chris Wiltshire left to take up full time higher education, we were joined for the fag end of our career by Sean Stokes and Colin Murrell, who previously had spent 2 years recording and touring as The Demolition Company. We recorded what was intended to be a double album but by this time nobody wanted anything to do with us; this was not due to our music but because we had been totally ostracised by a scene whose exponents sought to remain safe, secure and satisfied with their cliché ridden indulgences. Here we ventured into territory we had begun to explore on the 4th album, i.e. avant garde and non-rock music. Stephen Parsons of BBP bravely stood by the group and released most of these recordings on audio cassette but they were generally ignored. Well over half the works recorded at these sessions in 1987 are worthy of issue to the public and I am therefore pleased that these pieces are finally being made available in digital format.

Undaunted by the hate mail we received and the abuse we encountered from punks at our concerts, we recorded a further album, primarily of lyrics and music by early 1970s group Third World War, in an attempt to justify our return to rock music as a genre. The exercise was fun, the playing was of a higher standard than previously and the production wasn’t too bad either. On most of these tracks I even began to sing in my own accent but this was because I had already decided to leave the group (unknown to the others) and frankly I didn’t care anymore. Again, this album was never released; again, Stephen Parsons released it on audio cassette and again, nobody bought it! When I finally left the group in February 1989 it was like being released from prison…and I thought being in a pop group was supposed to be fun.

So, the CDs have been released in this fashion:

The Singles (Volume 1) – this is released by Chris Low and contains the 1st single, most of the 2nd single, some the 3rd single, all of the 5th single plus most of the extra tracks recorded during the sessions for these records. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes.

The Singles (Volume 2) – released by BBP, this contains the 3rd single, the 4th single, the 6th single, the 7th single, all the tracks from an unreleased single…basically all the tracks released as singles that have been omitted from the previous CD. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes and from mint condition original vinyl records.

Punk Obituary – the 1st LP, released by BBP. This album was nearly an hour long which meant that, even though many of the tracks are quiet, gentle pieces, it still sounded like a transistor radio even when played on music reproduction systems designed by NASA. It has been professionally re-mastered from mint condition original vinyl records.

The Lives & Times Of The Apostles – the 2nd LP, released by BBP. This album was also nearly an hour long but since nearly all the tracks were loud and heavy, the sound quality was truly wretched. It has been professionally re-mastered from mint condition original vinyl records.

The Acts Of The Apostles – the 3rd LP, released as BBP. This contains the album plus 4 extra tracks recorded for inclusion on it but omitted because even we realised that trying to squeeze 36 minutes per side of an album really wasn’t going to work. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes and from mint condition original vinyl records.

How Much Longer – the 4th LP, released by BBP. This contains the original album plus 4 extra tracks recorded for inclusion on it but omitted for the same reason as before. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes and from mint condition original vinyl records.

Eine Antwort / Une Réponse – the unreleased double album, released by BBP. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes.

Manifesto – the unreleased album from 1988, released by BBP. It has been professionally re-mastered from chrome cassettes taken from the original tapes and contains additional tracks from these sessions previously believed lost.

Sleeve notes, where appropriate, have been provided either by myself or by Luc Tran (who, not even born when most of this music was recorded, is able to offer an objective response to the contents) together with reproductions of the original albums covers and other artwork that has withstood the ravages of time.

The CDs will be available from BBP, BOX 45404, LONDON SE26 6WJ.

Of the various temporary musicians who stepped in at short notice to help us out while full time band members were indisposed, I have no idea what became of Simon Parrish, Martin Ryan, Patrick Poole, Sharon Joy, Julie Joy, Yvette Joy and Iain Archibald. Dan MacKintyre, Julian Portinari and Pete Bynghall were the original members of The Apostles before Dave and I joined. I have no idea where they are now. Chris Low became a highly successful rave / techno DJ for a while before he joined 3 Portuguese musicians in order to inflict The Parkinsons on us all, for better or worse! Chris Wiltshire obtained his degree at university then we lost contact with him. Colin Murrell became a music teacher and music therapist (I think). God knows what happened to Sean Stokes – I hope he achieved success and happiness because he deserves it. Dave Fanning stayed with me to form UNIT and remained in the group up until 2006 when we had yet another of our frequent fights and finally parted company in less than amicable terms. That said, it remains an inalienable fact that without me, The Apostles would have continued to exist regardless but without Dave, that group would have collapsed within a matter of weeks. Anyway, he is now a fully qualified martial arts teacher and has a beautiful daughter, Harriet. Malcolm Lewty (a.k.a. Scruff) remains the one really successful lad ever to have been in The Apostles – he made a significant impact with Hellbastard, formed a succession of equally impressive groups afterwards (Nero Circus, King Fuel, Sidewinder, Heavy Water and Moodhoover) before forming a new version of Hellbastard who released a superb album in 2008 to prove none of the old magic has been lost. We have remained in regular contact with Chris Low and Scruff. Indeed, Scruff actually sings and plays as a guest performer on many of the tracks of our album ‘Class War’ that was recorded and released in 2008.

Andy Martin © 2008

The Apostles – Big Banana Products – 1987

December 22nd, 2008

The End / The Beginning / The Agenda / Tomorrows Children / A Folk Song / Number 23 / Eric’s Detachables / Strange Fruit / A Sniper And A Scarecrow / The Survivors 

Lyrics written by Jon Barraclough in memory of Sgt Heresy and Scarecrow who just barely ‘existed’ at the Derby Lodge, St Monicas Hospital and Campbell Buildings squats in the late 1970′s.

Presenting the 10th Apostles demo tape this time originally released on B.B.P. tapes, recorded in 1986 at Brougham Road, Hackney with a line up of Andy Martin, Dave Fanning. Patrick Poole AKA Rat and the mysterious Gary Cooke from Active Sounds Distribution performing on one track ‘Survivors’.

A mix of 1986 material and old 1979 – 1981 tracks, originally composed by The Apostles, Black Cross and Primal Chaos with new lyrics. Tracks entitled Tomorrow’s Children, A Folk Song,  Erics Detachables (instrumental),  A Sniper And A Scarecrow and The Survivors are all old compositions.

A very good tape this, with a whole mixture of genres highlighted by this adaptable band.

The picture above is part of a set that Andy Martin drew of me and the way I looked during the mid 1980′s, I am quite fond of them and never thought of chucking them away!

Academy 23 – Thinking Time Records – 1992

November 8th, 2008

Scots Wae Hae / Show No Pity / The Outsider / Conspiracy / Hardcorps / Monastery / Simon: Sleep / For Imogen Boorman

Relationships Death To Perspectives / Hate / Doubt / Forbidden Love / Crammond Island / Lee / Ceartas Air Sgaith Albannach   

The debut (and only) Academy 23 vinyl LP was released on the Thinking Time Record label from Somerset via a printing and pressing agreement with Black Plastic Records in the U.S. The records that were returned to the U.K rather selfishly had the contact address and logo of Black Plastic Records printed on the sleeve rather than the address of the Somerset label. Futhermore, Black Plastic Records did not send the agreed amount to be sold in the U.K by Thinking Time Records, which was a rather unpleasant way to conduct business due to Thinking Time Records putting the cash and effort into the project from the beginning.

Thinking Time Records owner and future Acadamy 23 member Pete Williams, had collaborated with Andy Martin in 1991 when they both performed in the band Time To Think who released one EP ‘Where The Hell Is Andrew?’ which was the debut release on Pete Williams small label. 

The line up of Academy 23 consisted, on this LP of Nathan Coles, Pete Williams, Grant Munro, Lee Simpson as well as Dave Fanning and Andy Martin. All the tracks on this LP are of a decent quality, a decent Pack riff on the track ‘Show No Pity’ to listen out for. On some of the tracks on this LP Andy Martin adopts a Scottish vocal style, in respect to his Scottish ancestry (on his mothers side I seem to remember).  

A wonderfully overlooked LP and a treasure to any ears that have not heard it before, also came with a 7″ single (upload below) and a nice booklet…

Double standards

Winning The Struggle

Andy Martin and Dave Fanning now record and perform every now and again as UNIT.

The Apostles – Acid Stings Records – 1987

October 4th, 2008

Faith / How Much Longer? / Motorway Madness / One Saturday Night / The Island / Poor Martha She Meant Well / A Rebel Without A Conscience / Release The Natives / Burn The Witch / Pale Blue Eyes

Punk Squatters / The Witness / Pete The Plectrum / Fellow Sufferer / Fragments / The Stoke Newington Eight

Straight out of Welwyn Garden City via Robin Basak’s Zero fanzine empire comes the first vinyl release on Robin Basak’s Acid Stings Records.

Recorded in 1986 but released in 1987, this LP was meant to be the forth long playing release, alas the 3rd LP was held up by problems with Rot or Syndicate or Flow Motion Records, Lord (or possibly Andy Martin) knows who was actually going to release the ’3rd’ LP. None of those labels actually did!

The 3rd LP was released eventually by Acid Stings Records themselves, but after this uploaded 4th LP ‘How Much Longer’…confused yet?

Mostly Andy Martin and Dave Fanning perform on this LP with help on  a couple of tracks by Chris Widni and Scruff (from Hellbastard).

It is a decent LP with some delicate moments amongst the Alternative TV cover versions and general punk thumpers.

Lots more material on this site by The Apostles if you care to search for the posts.

Blyth Power – Demo Tape – 1987

August 22nd, 2008

McArther / The Rookery / Tale Of Cock And Bull / The Barman / Boys In The Bag / Up From The Country / Bishop At The Gate / Hard Summer Long / To Be A Pilgrim / Goodbye To All That 

First demo tape recorded by the second Blyth Power line up in September 1987. Josef, Sarah from the first line up joined by Protag, Steve Corr and the lovely Sian Jeffreys making up the five.

By this time in the band’s history All The Madmen Records, now based in Caledonian Road, Kings Cross was almost dead and buried, and the good ship Blyth (or rather Josef) had signed up to Midnight Music. That record label was interested in Josef specifically and in the contract it was written that it did not matter what ‘backing musicians’ were helping Josef at the time, just as long as Josef delivered. This he did with three LP’s and three 12″ singles released on that label that I know of from 1987 to 1991. Out of those six releases, there are no less than three Blyth Power line ups including the one that recorded this demo tape.

Blyth Power are still playing now and again, and were very enjoyable when I last saw them in 2007 (almost two decades since I last saw them perform with extra guitarist James Hince (of The Kills nowadays) added to the ranks forming a six piece Blyth Power.

Sian’s book well worth getting hold of…ISBN141202681-4

Wat Tyler – Rugger Bugger Records – 1989

July 29th, 2008

No I.D. / Hops And Barley / Heavy Metal Vivisector

We Pledge Our Alliegance To Satan / Coming Home

Wat Tyler’s and Rugger Bugger Records debut release.

Masterminded by Sean ‘Gummidge’ Forbes, this band grew out of Aylesbury area as Four Minute Warning turning at some point into Wat Tyler where they performed many songs in many genres on any subject, as long as it wound up the uptight, right on, Anti this and that lobby. Many a time ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ was heard in amongst the anarcho bands at the George Robey and other similer hovels to the dismay of the anarcho populus watching!

Only Sean could pull this off, because of his utter, non fake, obsession with all genres of music, and his sincere gentleness and good natured vibe that always was around him.

The band played hundreds of gigs over many years, a lot of times with Dan, Snuff, Thatcher On Acid and Blyth Power. The band could easily chop and change genres of music at a drop of a hat, and were generally quite amusing on the stage during a performance.

Sean was working at All The Madmen Records, and gave a younger Penguin a break with some unpaid employment there.

Indebted to him for that, Rugger Bugger released several LP’s, 12′s and plastic bag 7″s, all worth checking out. He has been at various Rough Trade shops for many many years now, and continues to release records on his DEMO TAPES label.

The photos above from a performance in Brighton April 1st 1986, a good three years before any records were released!

The Apostles – Hymn To Pan LP – No Masters Voice Records – 1988

June 6th, 2008

 

Three Times Seven / The Curse / Summer 83, Winter 85 / Vinegar Hill Blues / Hellbastard 1 / Hellbastard 2 / Crime / Step To The Universe 1 / Mistaken Identity / Step To The Universe 2

The Soft Machine / The Window / A World We Never Made / The Iron Brotherhood Trio: My Favorite Things: I Hate To See You Cry: For You / Valhalla  

The very last LP by The Apostles recorded in five days in April 1988 through a four track mixer at 108 Brougham Road, Hackney. Released by No Masters Voice in California.

This was the eighth LP to be released during a time span of two years! The first two LP’s from 1986 are already uploaded in the main links / downloads section. Use the search function to find them.

More Apostles to be found on cassette format also on that section. Many more uploads to be completed by this eclectic band when I can find the time.

Official Apostles Site

Filler – Fourth Dimension Records – 1988

April 28th, 2008

M.Y.H.C. / Nowhere

Better Learn / Hurt To Say 

From a small  Nottinghamshire village, Filler had a great sound that was reminiscent of the 1985 D.C. scene, Rites Of Spring, Embrace and Marginal Man. Those band’s and that scene were close to the vocalist and bassist’s, Jabb’s heart, so much so that he licensed several LP’s from D.C. Olive Tree Records to be released on his on Wetspots Record Label to sell in the European territories.

This band only completed two 7″ records and one German re-release (of this record) on Limited Edition Records.

The second 7″ record was released on Vinyl Solution Records. Both these 7″s are very good indeed.

Live they were OK, but the vinyl shows some vulnerability in Fillers music which I find irresistible. My favorite 7″ record of 1988 at the time!

Heresy – Limited Edition Records 1987

April 28th, 2008

Make The Connection / Trapped In A Scene / Network Of Friends

Acceptance

1986 was a good year for cranking up the speed for punk bands over the U.K.

The U.K. Hardcore scene following on from Discharge and Disorder in the very early 1980′s, getting inspired further by ‘newly discovered’ Thrash music from the U.S. Japan and Scandinavia via tape trading circles etc.

This new breed of band with a new sound appeared to shake the punk scene up a bit. This is not to say that all the bands started off sounding this fast! The Instigators from Leeds for example started off as a respected ‘Anarcho’ band, increasing the speed and the pairs of converse trainers as the years went on.

Bands like Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, Electro Hippies and Heresy led the way, and got great reactions where ever they appeared. Even countless John Peel sessions were aired with these bands, to the immense enjoyment of Peely himself.

One point to note was not many of these bands on the first wave of the U.K. Hardcore scene were from London, which made a slight change. Cities all over the country had little scenes going on, which would create a fine network of fanzines, gig venues etc. Just what the Anarcho scene used to have, but had died down a little by the mid 1980′s, this new scene started to keep it alive quite successfully for several more years.

I saw these band’s countless times and out of the bands mentioned above I enjoyed the music and adrenalin filled live performances of Heresy the most. The vocalist was jumping about all over the place, the bassist with his dreadlocks risked whiplash every time the band performed. The drummer and guitarist were well tight, keeping it all together.

This record on a German label was limited to 500 copies only and is on beautiful blue vinyl and was released when Heresy were at their most popular in 1987.

Paul ‘Pavlik’ Wilson – Some random Rave mix tapes from the early 1990′s

March 22nd, 2008

Paul and Essex Road Squatters at Stonehenge

An example of how music and free thinkers evolve through time. Starting off with the attitude of punk, free festival’s and squatting, Paul Wilson came into the late 1980′s rave culture nice and easily. The younger brother to Mark Wilson of The Mob, Paul was there at the beginning of this iconic band’s formation all the way through to the glorious sunshine of the bands last Meanwhile Gardens performances and positive press from music weeklies and fanzines.

Paul, his older brother Mark from The Mob, and Val Puppy

The Mob’s, and some other band’s, most notably Zounds, early interest in free festivals, squatting and the traveller’s lifestyle really affected them and the individuals they met along the road (sometimes literally) in a way, that continued further into the decade and beyond.

Starting up with this the Free Festival scene, specifically at the time of Here And Now and Alternative TV gigs, we can trace a linage to Meanwhile Gardens and Frestonia Free State in West London, to the setting up of various Anarchy Centres, onto the Peace Convoy, then onto the Mutoid Waste parties in Kings Cross and Club Dog nights elsewhere in North London, eventually onto Sound Systems like Bedlam and Spiral Tribe, and bands like J.A.M.M.s, The Orb and K.L.F.

I was lucky enough to DJ alongside the Spiral Tribe and Bedlam Sound Systems, with Kevin Webb RIP ex of the anarchist punk band Conflict. Working at Southern Studios / Southern Record Distributors since the dawn of 1989, I could get my hands on all the upfront white labels from all the independent record labels pushing the new music which was obviously a plus when it came to dropping tunes! We both performed our sets on a load of occasions in North London squats and various ‘stolen for the night’ woodland areas. The biggest event we were involved in was some stolen land near an Industrial Estate in Tunbridge Wells. 

Paul sent me some old tapes to transfer onto CD for him, which I was happy to do. I felt, with Paul’s permission that some kind of late 1980′s / early 1990′s Rave Culture should be included onto the KYPP site. These tapes seemed perfect, mixed by a guy who has grown up with similar attitudes to 90% of the people browsing on this site. He had been in all the same clubs and fields, and witnessed Plod’s oppression, regarding squats and free festivals. I certainly would not like to have uploaded K-Tels latest ‘That’s What I Call Rave volume 23′ kind of compilations for an introduction to this period. These tapes are the real thing, mixed by someone that really dug the vibes of the squatted parties and festivals through this new music and also the drugs that existed at this time.

Paul early 1990′s

Paul recorded these mix tapes in his bedroom in the early 1990′s, and the results are uploaded here. They are not meant to be totally professional, so please do not comment that some beats were ‘dropped’ incorrectly or there was a mistake here or there. As they were only meant for personal use. Paul did perform at some of the local Yeovil parties and venues, also stretching over to perform in France on a few occasions. 

He went onto to travel around India, Goa, and other areas observing the culture from other societies. He now resides in glorious Glastonbury.

Rave mix 1

Rave mix 2

Rave mix 3

Rave mix 4

Rave mix 5

Rave mix 6

Spiral Tribe, Camelford, North Cornwall

West Country Free Festival

Avon Free Festival

Culture Shock – Bowes Lyon House, Stevenage – 05/06/87

March 3rd, 2008

Intro / Circles / Punks On Postcards / United / Upside Down / Civilisation Street / Did You See? / Fast Forward / Mr X / Messed Up / The Fightings Over / Six Foot Rooms / Four Minutes / Stonehenge (part)

A great night out were Culture Shock at their peak in 1986 and 1987. This band’s vocalist and lyrical guru was Dick Lucas, late of the Subhumans, and later on in the decade vocalist of Citizen Fish. Culture Shock lasted only three years or so but in that time played hundreds of gigs all over the place, mainly benefits, lots of festivals, and especially Stonehenge (which by the time of Culture Shock’s lifespan was basically a police state the weeks leading up to and after the summer solstice). Competing only with Blyth Power, at this time, in the “How many van miles can we possibly squeeze in, with this vehicle?” stakes…The band always seemed to get great receptions, at least all the times I saw them, which was a hefty amount. This gig at my old stomping ground, sunday night punk gigs at Stevenage Bowes Lyon House. Went to this venue as a nipper, and grew  up with it a little bit through the years. This is a mixing desk quality gig that I got off the engineer on the night, it was my blank tape though!

Catchy punkyreggae tunes (this genre soon to become bigger with U.S. bands like Operation Ivy and Rancid towards the tail end of the 1980′s and early 1990′s). A bassist who performed in a seriously laid back manner, the rest of the band were well tight in comparison. The guitarist Nige died in 1993 well after Culture Shock had split up, which was sad. Culture Shock left us with a couple of tapes, some tracks on compilation singles and three LP’s which is not a bad output for a band that performed almost all year round solidly for three years!

Think all the studio stuff is still available on Bluurg Records.

The Orb – Wau! Mr Modo 1989

February 27th, 2008

Loving You (Orbital Mix)

Bucket And Spade Mix / Why Is Six Scared Of Seven?

First 12″ released by The Orb on Sheffield’s Wau! Mr Modo Records. A record label home to Sound Iration, Lidj Incorporated and other digital dub-wise artists. This release by Alex Patterson and Jim Caulty was well received by indie kids and ravers. Jim Caulty went onto work with Bill Drummond and KLF. Alex started work with old Killing Joke buddy, Youth for Orb material after this single.

Adam Morris from Wau! Mr Modo was and still is a very nice guy to a younger Penguin. Adam had done his stint with the punks in 1976 and 1977. He knew all the major players in the scene including The Pistols and The Clash. He went on to manage Killing Joke in their formative years until a little after the ‘Revelations’ LP in 1982. He also got me into loads of gigs, including my finest blag to date, The Orb at Hatfield Polytechnic 1991 or there abouts. Penguin + 8, the people on the door were waiting to see who Penguin was “cos he seemed so important!”

I was lucky to see The Orb live shows loads of times all over the place, until about 1993, always with a handful of  ‘Doves’, with the help of Adam Morris (not the pills, the guest-lists!). Cheers Adam!

The Orb seemed to me a progression of the Club Dog club vibe, with artists like Another Green World and Webcore. The Spiral Tribe and Bedlam Sound Systems, who I have DJ’ed with. Also the Whirl-y-Gig set up, continued this spirit for me personally later on in the 1990′s.

I often wonder if Kill Your Pet Puppy was written in 1989 instead of 1979 what would the front cover have written on it?

In 1979 the cover stated ‘Ants/Tuinol/Crass’. I would guess that the cover for 1989 would probably have read ‘The Orb/Ecstasy/Spiral Tribe’!

The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu – Blank Label 1987

February 14th, 2008

All You Need Is Love

Great release, money ripped off of Alan McGee from Creation Records, some illegal sampling of The Beatles, MC5, Hall And Oats and the mighty Samantha Fox. Lyrics concerning the real threat of AIDS in society, a disease that even in the mid to late 1980′s was largely ignored and opinions held by the great British public that ‘we are OK, only gingers get that disease’…A great poster campaign, second only to God Told Me To Do It campaigns. The posters on all the photographs for the press (inc above) were put up in Caledonian Road, London, N1 a few doors down from Housmans Bookshop, the Malt And Hops pub and Rough Trade Distribution. Further up the road was crucial corner where All The Madmen Records ended there days. Also Better Badges and FO Tapes were in the same building…This release came out in incredibly limited quantities (although I had two copies!) until the official release (not included on the official release were some of the samples that JAMM had got away with on this pre release). JAMM was basically Bill Drummond under the name King Boy D, ex manager of Teardrop Explodes and Echo and The Bunnymen. Ex owner of Zoo Records in Liverpool. Artist for Creation Records, the money McGee gave him originally was to produce a new Bill Drummond LP for Creation, not to turn into King Boy D and JAMM’s.

JAMM’s metamorphised into KLF a little later on in the decade and became pretty huge in the alternative and rave market, they even appeared on the Brits Showcase with my old mates, and Peel favorites, Extreme Noise Terror from Ipswich…KLF also famously set fire to £1,000000 which according to James Drummond, Bill’s son and fellow THFC supporter, was real money but actually money that was out of circulation. KLF got it for a very small transfer fee from the Bank of England just to destroy…So now you know!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY…All you need is love!!!