How significant/ important/ influential were The Mob?
The internet is like a time machine. Within the vast echoing vaults of cyber space the forgotten is remembered, recalled to life. It is a theatre of memory. A digital camp fire around which the scattered remnants of lost tribes gather. Here are shared fragments of forgotten histories, piece by piece assembled into accounts of alternative cultures nowhere else recorded. The story of The Mob is one of these tales from the wasteland…
It begins with punk. Written out, or rather never written in, of mainstream accounts of punk is the way the shock waves spread out from ground zero. Partly it was an effect of manufactured outrage, the tabloid fury generated by the infamous Bill Grundy interview with the Sex Pistols. In days a minor London movement unleashed anarchy across the UK. But for those who were a bit more sussed, who used the NME and listened to John Peel, punk went deeper and came on harder. It was not just an urban impact. By the summer of 1977, given an extra subversive edge by its anti-Jubilee imagery, punk grew rural roots. From Norfolk to Northumbria, from Cumbria to Cornwall, in village halls in Scottish glens and Welsh valleys, hordes of young punks disturbed the tranquil countryside with their out of tune and badly played music. Most of these rural punk groups flowered and faded as fast as they had formed, but a few flourished. The Mob were one. Formed in Somerset in 1977.…
Which as far as I have got. Right now I am listening quietly to a new/old cd of a 1971 gig by the Pink Fairies in Finland. Haven’t had a proper (I.e. loud) listen to it yet because have all the kids at home for their Easter hols. [Kids not like Pink Fairies] It has version of the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows on it (okish I guess) and 20 minutes of Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out + 13 minutes of Walk Don‘t Run …which would be sheer bliss if I could just turn the volume up to 11…
Back to The Mob. Bloody difficult to be objective. Already written 1000 words for ‘May Inspire Revolutionary Acts’ so need to take a different angle, maybe one inspired (as above) by the new KYPP and all the arguing and reminiscing that goes on here.
Uplifting – that was The Mob for me. Their gigs, their music, the atmosphere created – it was uplifting. There was, there still is, an eternal optimism…
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!–
Oh! times, In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
(Wordsworth on French revolution)
And keep coming back to the present. Back then was the beginning of an economic illusion which is now falling apart – as even the seemingly solid Northern Rock melts to air. Billions vanishing as all the assets turn to dust…
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
… somewhere in sands of the desert [Yeats]
That our ‘then’ (which was a ’now’) the moment of our excess, of KYPP and The Mob and everyone else was like the revolutionary moment of excess of the Diggers and Ranters and Levellers of the ‘English’ Civil War – an intense and incredible outburst of life-affirming creativity. It was then and was again in our time, forcibly suppressed… it was/ we were written out of history but as the veneer of democracy starts to fade (again) the other ways to be, to live, to make our lives meaningful return. Its nostalgia for an age soon to come.
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