KUKL performing with Flux of Pink Indians, D & V and Chumbawumba at Conway Hall. Review originally published in SOUNDS 3 Sept. 1984.
Such stuff as legends are made of – REALLY. A concert that put a final nail in the coffin of plastic-pose-punk-piss, featuring four of the five best anarcho-punk (sorry about the label!) bands in the world. A shame that Crass weren’t there as well to complete the power …
Kukl are an Icelandic group, which immediately puts them into a fairly select family: even if there were other Icelandic groups to make comparisons with (well-known journalist’s pastime), it would be impossible. Venomous and humorous by turns, they possess a peculiarly charismatic frontsperson; if you don’t manage to see them before they depart on an European tour, buy their indispensable LP ‘The Eye’ on Crass records and bemoan what you’ve missed. Fascinating!”
Same issue of Sounds, 3 September 1984, had a rave review of KUKL’s album “The Eye”, by David Tibet … so looks very much as if Dave T. invented (apologetically) anarcho-punk in 1984.
At the same time, here is Mike Clarke ex Youth in Asia – and allegedly – the punk behind the UK’s long running Inflammable Material distro, record Label, Defiant Pose fanzine and guitarist in numerous punk outfits spanning the last 25 years( unapologetically ) de-inventing it…
“when it all became too much, the poor dears became hippies in trucks,’ dropping out’ or turning to smack in their Hackney squats!”.
The whole Crass scene was another result of Punk splintering off into various diverse little factions; the first time I saw them was in 1979 at Conway Hall in Holborn and it was pretty stunning, the backdrop/wall of noise/ movies/ black clothing. Together with The Epileptics, Poison Girls and Rubella Ballet they were beginning to take Punk back from the commercialised mainstream and into the gutter where it belonged, small clubs/ pubs/ hired halls in the middle of nowhere etc.
Looking back, I think there was a lot of diversity and imagination within Anarcho Punk, as opposed to the whole Exploited/Anti Pasti/Vice Squad scene, but once the holier-than-thou dogma set in then it became equally boring. Crass opened up a Pandora’s box for lots of people to create and thrive who didn’t feel comfortable with the same old pub rock as purveyed by the likes of the Anti-Nowhere League and co. Nowadays a lot of people, especially outside the UK, seem to draw on the 80’s Punk for inspiration whilst the ’77 era is fossilised in Myth, discussed in hushed or pompous tones depending on who’s doing the blathering(and there’s plenty of them).
The Exploited/ANWL are simple and easy to digest, back to good old rock’n’roll dressed up in a standard `Punk’ uniform, whereas the whole Crass thing has been harder for the professional Media ex-punks to write coffee-table books on or wax nostalgic about, yet culturally it probably had as much impact as The Sex Pistols. In the end inspiration became imitation and the sloganeering rang distinctly hollow by 1985-don’t eat meat/ vivisection is bad/war is horrible on one hand, don’t join the Army/police harassment/ Maggie is a bitch on the other , and all repeated ad nauseum.
Crass put their money where their mouths were with an Anarchy Centre in Wapping, E.London, but it ended up full of books by dead Russians and endless and dismal debates, something to berate yer stockbroker dad with over the nut roast, infuriating when you looked outside to see Maggie Thatcher dismantling half the country/ Miners’ Strike etc and here was a potential and vociferous opposition that was too busy bickering whether it was Bakunin or Bertie Bassett who stated(categorically, mind)that `the urban proletariat will not be liberated until..’, fiddling while Rome burns, squabbling over semantics, charging headlong down a cul-de-sac and so on.
Then, when it all became too much, the poor dears became hippies in trucks, ‘dropping out’ or turning to smack in their Hackney squats!