Thursday, June 18, 2009


It's strange to think back on it in 2009, but, for years, I used to hump around certain records in multiple flat moves, from houseshare to houseshare, convinced they were forgotten relics, something from my teenage daze that nobody would ever be able to relate to in a historical context. How was I meant to know that music obsessives would take over the internet and revive all this stuff for the benefit of future generations?

When I see these 45s, they say more to me about John Peel than any of the naff 'tribute' compilations that flooded the market when he carked it. OK, OK, I'll give you Teenage Kicks and Mr Pharmacist. But, in all, they were such lazy selections - would it really have been too much hassle to defy the middlebrow bores by including Napalm Death or Extreme Noise Terror? Did we really need a frigging Blur track, when we could have something by one of the bloke's faves, like Prolapse? And where was the bleedin' ragga?

I'm also reminded that, in some ways, Riot Grrrl was a bit of a furtive thing for me. In '93, I was still hanging round with kids who saw homosexuality as verboten, songs about womens' issues to be a bit suspect for a straight male to be listening to - never mind going to see these people live. I wish I'd had a bit more money during this period, I could have caught way more bands than I did - but then, everyone kept saying that Riot Grrrl was just a flash in the pan, rubbish - pure media hype - wouldn't you rather check out Therapy? or RATM, or something?

Voodoo Queens and Huggy Bear are the only ones I saw live - Supermodel Superfical (b/w Melt in your Mouth) is a great, snarling diss of the '90s heroin chic fashion scene, which I've banged on about on this blog before, so I won't repeat the seminar. Huggy Bear preferred quasi-situationist manifestos to the VQs' tales of righteous binge eating, guitars being superior to handbags and boys being shallow, and the HB Rubbing the Impossible to Burst EP is one of my favorite releases of theirs, along with Her Jazz (I gave that one away to someone) - particularly for the dreamy closing track, Single Bullets and the gloriously sludgy, DIY punk crawl of High Street Jupiter Cone - ah, fuck, the whole artiness of it sends a shiver down my spine.

Blood Sausage had a crap name, a crap EP title (Touching You In Ways That Don't Feel Comfortable) and were derided by a lot of self-styled indie kids because their singer was fat and gay. But the A-side is sheer class: What Law Am I Breaking Now? is top notch, snotty garage rock riffing, with the singer simply repeating the title every 45 seconds, while Fuck You and Your Underground is - get this - a song with a shrill 70s-porn-flick-style flute riff that I actually love. I know - a flute!! The singer delivers a mocking sermon to the corrupt,counter-cultural ratbags who snivel and behave like Young Conservatives the moment nobody's looking. A really under-rated platter, IMO.

My memories of Voodoo Queens are mostly cider-sozzled, but they rocked when they played at the White Horse in '93. I caught Huggy Bear at the Water Rats in Kings Cross, I think it was £3, which was good value for 2 bands back in '94. It was just after the overblown "Word" scandal, when one of the group had sworn at Terry Christian on TV - but the audience was pretty sparse. I remember the support band being some hardcore act in ski masks, and little else. The social dynamic at that gig was turned upside down - a line of girls flanked the stage, some with arms crossed, in short skirts, hairclips and old tennis sneakers. No males went near that line, most of the blokes were hanging back in the shadows, sipping their pints and behaving themselves. I mean, nobody actually said boys weren't allowed to start jiving around like epileptics down the front, or striking up conversations with the chicks... but there was a silent implication, hanging in the air, that it wouldn't be a good idea. I found it really interesting, and haven't come across any atmosphere like it at a gig or club since.
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