Thursday, October 12, 2006


One thing that was great about being a teenager back in the 90s was the po-faced attitude 'the man' took towards drug abuse. These days, you get some patronising advert stating Need help with drugs? Talk to Frank. Back then, school libraries used to dole out proper hardcore anti-drug books and pamphlets. My favourite one was SOLVENTS, which was a sort of subcultural fashion bible - I got loads of ideas for haircuts while flicking through the endless pics of Crass fans sitting round in bedrooms or down the park, sticking gluebags to their snouts. The front cover also had a wicked pic of a teenage skinhead with a load of Maori-style tattoos down one side of his face, defiantly taking a hit of Evostik from a crumpled plastic bag. It would have made an ideal Oi! LP cover. Sadly, I never stole it from Luton Library, so I can't reproduce it here.

Another 'pulp factual' classic that I'd heartily recommend is Satan's Snare by Peter Anderson, a ranting preacher's incredible warning to early 80s youth about the proliferation of evil in popular culture. Look it up on Amazon if you don't believe me (it's currently being sold for 1p on the UK site). Just as well, as you won't believe any of this ; Anderson's expose' reveals that Michael Jackson is in fact a Satanist (his habit of wearing one glove denoting an interest in the occult), the Eagles' Hotel California is actually about the Church of Satan, and playing Dungeons & Dragons leads to mental disorder and demonic possession (in Anderson's defence, this part's probably true). Black Oak Arkansas, the appalling 'no really, how can anyone listen to this wank while Thin Lizzy LPs are still in stock' Led Zep and some group called Nazareth also get a critical pasting for leading young Christians astray through their deviant backwards lyrics and sneaky subliminal sleeve symbols! - the also get an eye witness account of a 'black mass', which is about as dreary as JK Huysmans' take on the subject. But for me, the jewel in Satan's Snare's fez is the bit about ouija boards, which manages to drag Kenny Everett into proceedings ((again, I know you think I'm making this up, but it's only 1p and postage to find out...)) (((by the way, I'm not the guy on there selling it)))

My mum, being a loopy Catholic fruitcake, used to think it was well 'cool' to play with ouija boards. You used to be able to buy them in Woolworths back in the late 70s. Whereas, in the ouija-related case studies described in Satan's Snare anyone who dabbles with them comes to some sticky end or goes insane ((cue Kenny Everett mopping the sweat from his brow and urging readers to stay well clear)), the biggest misdemeanour that befell my mum was that she actually believed she'd contacted the ghosts of two foul-mouthed airmen from the Second World War, and she even had a mass said for their wandering souls. She still tells this story as if it was irrefutable proof of the Otherworld, even years after my brother revealed he was pushing the board around and had made it all up.

If Anderson's choice of musical targets seem a bit lame, we should bear in mind that Satan's Snare was written before the unholy dawn of the 1983 EUROPEAN BLACK METAL REFORMATION. We can only wonder what he would have made of records like Sodom's In The Sign of Evil and Bathory's Under The Sign of the Black Mark. I used to have a friend at school who liked heavy metal, and I became quite fond of the Sodom LP, if only because it sounded like an inept pub-punk Motorhead rip-off, with some of the funniest lyrics ever snarled, particularly on the track Blasphemer, which contains the line I come to life at midnight twelve / Masturbate to kill myself!.

Admittedly, that's not as funny as my all-time favourite badly translated 80s European thrash metal tune, Stagedive to Hell, which can be found on Kazjurol's Messengers of Death EP from 1987 ; I broke my fucking, fucking neck / I broken all my bones / When I dive, dive to Hell / To the metal's a stagedive....stagedive to Hell! (KA-BOOM). Pure brilliance, and very clever for 7 inches of unlistenable shit. There was an explosion each time the singer shouted the title in the chorus (which sounded exactly like the verses).

Bathory, meanwhile, I was never that keen on, but some parts of the Hammer-Horror-Meets-Throat-Cancer gravyfest that's Under the Sign of the Black Mark are suitably pleasing, especially the bits with the church bells and the wind. I just wish they'd laid off the guitar solos every once in a while.

There's a school of thought that Black Metal represented the first truly rebellious youth cult. Anarcho-punk was, in essence, a Roman Catholic movement. Its adherents sought disarmament and peace, an end to animal exploitation and crass (sorry) commercialism, and redistribution of wealth - while maintaining an unswerving belief in 'anarchy' as a sacred and mystical force that would bind mankind together and transform the world, without recourse to violent revolutionary tactics. Oi!, meanwhile, represented the Protestant backlash, with its emphases on THE WORK ETHIC and stoney-faced, down-to-earth realism. Black Metal sought to invoke the Devil from the pits of Hades, in order to do away with both of these pseudo-subcultural religious strands and to hasten the coming of the Mayhemic Storms of TOTAL APOCALYPSE! Unfortunately for the Goat of Mendes, however, when my mate got to 16 he realised it was easier to get laid by liking Nirvana and House of Pain (I mean, really!), and so his love affair with this darkest of genres came to a grinding halt.

Remember those old pictures of Jesus holding a lamb and extending outstretched arm to a golden-haired Aryan infant? Well, they should have knocked one up of Jesus shaking his head, bleeding palms pushed outwards in a GET BACK gesture to a queue of baby-eyed Bathory fans. Nowadays, of course, Black Metal is perfectly acceptable and has gone through the whole post-ironic wringer, and your average suburban dad's into Carniverous Erection and Bathtub Shitter, and...ZZZZ....

Another book worth tracking down is How To Be A Disc Jockey by the mighty David See. I've mentioned this manual before, but I doubt that idiots like Seb Fontaine and DJ Hell took any notice. It's the best thing ever written on the subject of launching a career as a mobile DJ and becoming a W-List celebrity in your own shitty one-horse provincial town. Excellent front cover as well - the yang to SOLVENTS' ultra-hard yin. Personally, I don't trust DJs if they don't have beards and silk shirts. As for laptop sets, get out of here! - David See would have rather slit his wrists than attempt to mix Carniverous Erection and Napalm Death on Ableton Live. Last time I looked this book was on, the US site, priced at five bucks. Americans might get a lot out of it, and that's no word of a lie.
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