Sunday, June 28, 2009


Well, on the subject of animal rights...after the Coil 45, this is the rudest 7" sleeve I own. Maybe Dr IT can add it to her JPEG menagerie of porcine curios.

I paid all of £2 for this at Roger's Records in Dunstable Market, alongside Army Life by The Exploited and some other 7" that turned out to be crap, I'm guessing this was around Xmas '91? Ah, the halcyon days before UK punk records started costing loads of money online... The market was basically a small plaza round the side of Queensway Hall, a building that sort of served as a cultural epicentre for the one-horse town. It held Melas, tattoo expos, council-run tenant and dole claimant grievance hearings, arts and craft fairs, Salvation Army concerts for deformed children, the 'Chiltern Radio Roadshow' (imagine 100 girls running riot and abusing the DJs to the sounds of Chesney Hawkes and Snap), etc. In the late '90s, it got knocked down and was replaced by an Asda supermarket. Maybe someone who was there can correct me, but I'm not sure if it's a great loss. I mostly only went there to pose in the photobooth.

Dunstable Market...a far cry from Kensington Market. Stalls were dedicated to: terylene socks; discount bog roll (fell off the back of a lorry?); bones and dog biscuits; bootleg football T-shirts (just the team name, printed on a shirt, and the same generic pic of a man with a 70s haircut kicking a ball - with the colours changed per team); flags of the world (how did they keep going? Their only trade was in Union Jacks); thrash metal patches, studded wristbands (not the punk type - big fucking falconer jobs with a zillion studs - this was METAL, remember)and badges with slogans like BLOOD GUTS AND BEER, ROCK AND ROLL WILL NEVER DIE, DEATH OR GLORY, BORN TO KILL, FUCK OFF, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT?, etc. Oh, and one stall did cheap baby clothes and broken alarm clocks.

Roger's Records occupied a pitch in this maze of wood, steel and tarpaulin. Roger was a fat bloke with a greasy mullet and Coke bottle glasses. He had this uncanny knack of memorising whatever you bought and then returning, the next Saturday morning, with a box of seemingly everything the group had ever recorded - marked up a few quid more, of course. He wasn't my favourite bloke on Earth.

Anyway, the Pork Dukes! At that time I was mainly buying 7"s based on how 'mental', 'shocking' or 'funny' the covers looked. Admittedly, this strategy backfired a few times, but this proved to be...different. Bend and Flush b/w Throbbing Gristle is more powerpop than punk, with complete smut for lyrics. For instance, Throbbing Gristle has the singer regaling his unrequited love for Margaret Thatcher: Pulsating meat between my hands / Masturbate when I see you on the telly / You know baby how to work my glans / I've got a gallon of spermy jelly. OK, it's probably not what Dick Hebdige had in mind when he wrote that rambling book about the politics of youth subcultures (Hebdige is a cigarette scrounger, anyway - Stuart Hall told me that) but I swear, when the old witch croaks it, I'll be flinging that track down.

The A-side's basically the 'Louie Louie' riff sped up with a jumble of lyrics linking industrial unrest, powercuts and police departments to explosive diarrhoea and STDs. Completely mindless, energetic bollocks. Not bad for a band someone threw together just because they advertised the cartoon sleeve as a 'real record' for a joke, and then realised they were onto something when loads of orders started to flood in. Their Telephone Masturbator b/w Melody Maker, You're Just A Bunch of Wankers 7" is also really good, but I don't have it.

I'm not sure whether Roger was just a mercenary merchant or politically dodgy. I asked him once if he ever sold any reggae - figuring a box full of marked-up Greensleeves or Trojan product would materialise the next week. Instead, he just smirked and said, "No - I only sell MUSIC." When you hit 'S' in his Punk/New Wave section, you also happened to come across a lot of releases by Skrewdriver. Oh, and all of Ian Stuart's side projects too.

This would attract Dunstable's BNP skins to the stall occasionally. Not the sharpest tools in the box. Roger would then whip out some record by White Diamond, saying, "There's members of Skrewdriver on this," and the Diamond White-heads would just go, "Uggh, I'll have that," and hand over £12 without question. After a while, all sorts of nationalist skinhead stock would roll in. I once brought this up with Roger and his answer was (not entirely convincingly): "I sell Frank Sinatra LPs as well, doesn't mean I'm in the Mafia."

Dunstable was so predominantly white back then that it always struck me as a double waste of time being a BNP supporter there. It's a bit like me setting up a Beyond the Implode Blog fan club and holding a convention in my flat, this very second. As a result, most of the boneheads just kind of drifted around imagining they were Aryan warriors. They were a fairly dour bunch, lurking around a completely deserted town centre at 1am just to stick up another official "HONG KONG, CHINESE? NO ROOM HERE" or "REPATRIATE THE MUGGERS" poster. Though I do remember one homemade effort that read "MICHAEL JACKSON SAYS IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU'RE BLACK OR WHITE BUT HE WOULD RATHER BE WHITE." Roll forward to 2009, and their level of political analysis remains as erudite and astute as ever.

Haven't I got any dance 7"s? Oh yeah, hang on...


In 1989, I was really fed up. My dad had had to quit work due to arthritis, my brother was on heroin and missing presumed dead and I had a load of sticky brown discharge flooding out of my left ear. It fucking stank, and other kids at school wouldn't hesitate to remind me of this fact, every, what, 10 seconds? Eventually they all just gave me a wide berth. They were just lucky they didn't have to smell it 24/7.

Then, my parents decided to move to Luton. I became a recluse, the hearing starting to fade in my afflicted lug. The teachers complained about me drifting off in class, but I actually couldn't hear them properly. I didn't really get bullied about it - the odd 'deaf-o' remark, but I think the filth dripping off my earlobe and onto my collar freaked people out more than anything.

By the way, my dad was SEETHING about having to leave London (money reasons aside, he always blamed my mum for this) - he refused to take me to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital, figuring they were "useless cunts", and drove me down to the old clinic back in Burnt Oak. Anyway, it was Dr Patricia Ryan, the Irish, chain-smoking, mini-skirted NHS ultravixen who sussed out I had a perforated eardrum. Apparently, a load of water from the swimming pool had flooded through the split some time beforehand, and had basically sloshed about behind my eardrum, becoming stagnant. I was told to come down to London and check in at the Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in the West End, for a week or so of having pus sucked out of my ear with a mini hoover, strong antibiotics and a simple operation under local that'd sort me out.

My dad dropped me off at the ENT on the evening of Friday 30th March, 1990. I had a walkman, a copy of 1984, a change of clothes, some sweets, 20p and nothing else. The nurses asked me if I wanted to go on the childrens' or adults' ward. Being 13, there was no contest, it had to be the latter. I didn't want to be surrounded by a load of snot-nosed fuckers and their parents.

Right, so here I was - a week off school, a week away from my parents, free drugs - and a load of nurses aged between 19 and 26. Was this a result, or what? The bloke next to me had a splint in his nose and loads of tattoos. I was there all of 20 minutes, just lying on my bed, thinking, what's the deal?, when he had a massive sneezing fit and drenched his bedsheets in blood. Everyone in the ward looked fed up, bored to death - sitting in T-shirts and jeans on their beds, watching the communal TV. The ward really complemented the grim vibe of 1984 - with some fit nurses thrown in.

Saturday, I went exploring around the hospital. There was a way of getting onto the roof and I spent a while up there, surveying the West End, the sound of drums drifting across the skyline. Fuck Luton, I had to come back here as soon as possible. There was something electric in the air, and not just the whirring laundry vents.

Later that afternoon, I went back and reported to the nurses for some more drugs. Going back to sit on my bed, the TV was broadcasting a newsflash about rioting in Trafalagar Square, promising an update later. I was so bored I used 10p to ring my sister. Then, footage of the riot erupted on TV. It was immense: cop car windows being taken out, police charging forward and then retreating under a hail of masonry. Everyone in the ward was now sitting up and watching. As the evening dragged on, a loud clanging noise began to build up outside, like dustbin carts having a fight. Rioting and looting had spread to our end of town! Everyone was at the window, trying to get a glimpse of what was going on. I went up on the roof for a better look, but still couldn't see F.A. But you could hear it - noise, sirens, turmoil.

Everybody seemed to open up - the whole ward was chatting away to each other, the nurses were laughing, one saying she was going to bring in her "Stuff the Poll Tax" T-shirt tomorrow, others going to the kids' ward to check their colleagues had the TV on. The next day, my sister turned up to take me out. The streets were shimmering with broken glass, it was something else. The bloke next to me turned out to be an ex-squaddie, and he'd been summonsed twice to appear in court for non-payment, until he'd given in and coughed up (bad pun). I sat around telling him and his girlfriend about the state the West End was in.

A week later, I left the place, my ear patched up and volume gradually restored. But fuck it, something had changed. I didn't want to go back home. I was sick of my mum invoking Jesus and telling me my brother was a no-good junkie and I should forget him, and I didn't want to go back to a load of 14-year old kids bragging about getting blow jobs off girls they'd never talked to. It was a pretty fucking big comedown from hanging out with foxy Thatcher-hating nurses and feeling the magnetic throb of the Smoke.

When in hospital, my sister had taken me up to Camden and given me a fiver to buy any album I wanted. I went for something I knew had a vague connection with my brother - at this time, I didn't know quite how, I was formulating a plan to find him, and I wanted to hear something he might have been listening to before he disappeared. Getting into his head, if that makes any sense? I ended up buying a 7" and an LP by a band I knew he'd been into and had gone to see. I left both platters out on my bedside table - well, it was something to look at, hospital wards are pretty boring. Back home, I waited til my parents had gone out, plonked the LP on the JVC turntable and was blown away. Then I played this -

Conflict are still one of the angriest, most passionate bands I've ever come across and (though they'd no doubt disagree) the most important band to come out of the anarcho-punk scene. They were banned from playing in the UK, under surveillance by Special Branch, despised by the press (both music and tabloid) and probably the first band to get the Animal Liberation Front's message over to an international audience. If you wanted polemic about Jesus digging the graves of Auschwitz, or 4th rate Bakuninite musings on the nature of human freedom, it was pretty thin on the ground with this mob: they were too busy providing physical back-up to Hunt Saboteurs or knocking together any bouncers who dared intimidate their audiences at gigs.

There's plenty of Conflict stories, the funniest of which involves sad nazi arse-scratchers Condemned 84, who once tried to attack the punks at a motorway service station, figuring the 'commie veggie scum' would crumble like a lentil bake. It's funny checking out C84's 'hard man' LP covers, knowing the cowards and their assorted bonehead mates had barely clambered out of the van before they were wearing the windscreen - and, rather than 'Face the Aggression', the master race (Ipswich branch) fled back down the M1 instead.

1980s Conflict records all have a sense of urgency that, years on, still make them utterly essential to me. Sure, some of the lyrics grate with age, but in terms of attitude and atmosphere, they've never lost that spark. "IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HELP - FUCK OFF" ran the scratched-in run-out message on one of their platters - to Conflict, involvement in the 'anarcho-punk' scene was pointless unless participants were willing to work together to take direct action of some sort. Then again, the group were basically a bunch of mates from South East London, who dismissed hero worship or Crass-style purity of intent. It was a tense position, one that seemed to backfire on them. I don't know of any other band that came in from such a venomous assault from their 'own movement'. Some of the criticisms aimed at them border on the loopy, with the band accused of being sell-outs after the singer bought a car (er, wasn't exactly a major consideration on the Conflict agenda...and anyway, how do you think the ALF make their getaways from laboratories? Balancing liberated cats, dogs and mice on the fucking handlebars?) and wore a white shirt - with a collar! - at one gig (thus transgressing the Anarcho - Pacifist code of dressing like a vampire that's just deserted the French Foreign Legion).

They had a massive scene of people to work with in the 1980s; in 1990, living in Bedfordshire, how did I get to meet the seething, anarcho-hordes? What happened after the Poll Tax Riot?

Maybe cos of the pressure and demands, bans and accusations of 'selling out' (pretty ridiculous, considering you can now hear Black Flag and The Fall on TV ads - and, as for Iggy Pop, don't go there) Conflict were already on hiatus when I first heard them. In 1994, they released an excrutiatingly awful, lacklustre album and promptly vanished again until what seemed like 2000. Their releases this decade have been much better, though I still think little compares to their '83-'87 period. To A Nation of Animal Lovers is definitely one of the strongest attacks from that era. This disc will never be played at a dinner party. It will never make you look unspeakably hip and retro. I have a feeling the harrowing pics of laboratory cruelty won't be making it into any 'classic punk 7"' sleeve design compendiums either. It's a ferocious statement of intent, created as part of a campaign that still rages on to this day.

Sadly, ALF founder Ronnie Lee went on to make a complete tit of himself, claiming that Hunt Sabs groups should accept the (few) openly neo-nazi members who drifted into that movement - as, allegedly, everyone's welcome to play a part in the struggle for animal liberation, regardless of their politics. Saving foxes by day, planning attacks on non-whites by night - er, hello? While Lee's obviously gaga, there's unfortunately some AR supporters who do give the impression they'd be happy living in a fascist state as long as it's meat-free, or that it's perfectly justifiable to drop a firebomb through a lorry driver's letterbox, regardless of the fact that lorry drivers don't exactly get much of an opportunity to debate the ethics of the companies behind the goods they're hauling, especially when someone else'll do the job in an instant.

At the same time, I do sympathise with vegetarians and vegans - having been friends with some, I'm aware of the shit they have to put up when meat-gobbling tosspots decide to raise the subject in a confrontational manner. It got to the point that one person I knew eventually said he'd given up meat for health reasons, rather than endure another smug, time-wasting lecture on what'd we do with the cows if everyone gave up beef, and mmm, those fluffy bunnies look so much nicer stewing in a pot. I did try to go to vegetarian once, but it was a half-hearted attempt, partly cos a) I was doing it for ulterior motives b) I couldn't cook for shit back then. I've since perfected a tomato / pasta / garlic / peanut / Thai chilli / pesto mash-up that makes me wonder if I couldn't have held in there a bit longer. Baked beans and the odd packet of cheese and onion didn't really have the same appeal.

As for razor blades in Mars Bars? Urban myth. I'll put money on it.

Conflict never did help me find my brother - rather, he ran into me years later - but it did lead me down some interesting avenues over the coming years. That's probably not a bad pay-off for having to suffer gloops of brown gunk in my earhole. But after the Poll Tax Riot, things were happening across the spectrum, from Riot Grrrl and raves to a resurgence in anti-fascism. Never have seen Conflict live, though - on both occasions I made it to the venue, the gigs had been cancelled!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Monday, June 22, 2009


OK, time for a quick breather from 7"s. Have a cup of tea before we flip for the next seven instalments. Or take some drugs - whatever turns you on. I don't know if you've been keeping up with the fanzine gossip, but there's been a fair amount of argy bargy occurring over at Woofah Towers recently. Firstly, one of the staff writers, Admiral Banton, was given the boot for thieving sellotape and stamps. Then, another hack, George Davis (referred to the zine by some youth training scheme) fled in tears after being subjected to Paul Meme's sarcasm. For godknowswot reason, I got the blame for both incidents and had my rate cut to 1p per 1,000 words.

Anyway, some time after Xmas, I made my way to Woofah HQ in Stoke Newington for the contents planning meeting - only to find John Eden painting his new fence. He beamed and waved at me. Wow - I'd actually caught him in a good mood! Maybe he'd give me something nice to review, I briefly pondered. Like that All-Japan Reggae Dancers DVD - at last!

"Nice to see you!" he grinned. "Have you come to help me with the creosote?"

"Er..." I gawped, "I'm here for the Woofah 4 contents meeting. What do you want me to review this time round?"

He threw his head back and cackled, waving his paintbrush in my face. "Well...looks like you've had a wasted journey!" he chortled. "There's no contents meeting here - Woofah HQ's relocated! Oh!" he sniggered, "Did I forget to send you the text?"

"Great!" I enthused. "Does this mean we actually get a decent office? Somewhere in the shadow of IPC Tower, perhaps, so we can extend our music hack careers?"

Eden threw down his paintpot and snarled: "The only thing you'll be extending is your air miles! The new office is in Dublin! Droid's just bought the mag - so get over there and help keep it together, blast you! I've booked you a flight on Ryanair - it leaves from Luton at 10.50 tonight - don't DARE miss it!"

Anyway, I can finally provide readers with an exclusive shot of the new Woofah office. It's a bit of a step-up from the last joint, but only just:

L-R: Droid, Doppelganger, Paul Meme, Melissa Bradshaw, Gabriel Heatwave, Matt Woebot, Matt B, Paul STN. Some bird who laid out a few pages in the window. I was inside at the time, writing something about Jammer

Things weren't helped by the fact there was nothing to eat all week except baked beans (which Droid charged us 5 Euros for), nor that the portable gas stove hadn't worked since 1989. As for catching a decent night's kip, it was pretty difficult with Droid riding around on a tractor at 4am, blaring out Dead Dred from a 100W speaker. Lesser journalists would have cracked under the pressure and lack of hot water - we just wrapped our sleeping bags round ourselves and got on with it.

Anyway, latest on Issue 4 - it's close to being published like you wouldn't believe, and the cover's been signed off...though nobody on the team's allowed me to see it. Typical! Seriously, I'm not keeping you in suspense, I really don't know who's on it. Maybe it's the All-Japan Reggae Dancers? You'll just have to keep googling 'Woofah' to find out, 'til it hits the streets.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


"Put your hand in my back pocket."

"No - I'll grab your shoulder instead."

"Brian, trust us, it won't work. You'll never make it through. Just do it."

"I'm not touching your arse. Fuck off."

"OK, OK. Grab onto my shoulder."

So we slithered through the Westway human wave attack, like a three-man eel, my hand in the back pocket of Andy's jeans - an old and proven tactic for getting through tight spots as a unit. Minutes later, me and Andy found a few vacant molecules of space and paused for breath. Unsurprisingly, Brian was nowhere in sight. Vanished without trace, swallowed up by the multitudes. I hadn't even felt his hand leave my shoulder. We didn't see him for the rest of the day.

Difficult as it is to pick a favourite trip to Carnival, one year really sticks out - the Sunday in 2001 when I went with a workmate, Chris, and it poured down. You know that bit in Bladerunner where Roy Batty's dying and asking Deckard if he can possibly imagine the things he's seen with his replicant eyes? I'd have to reply, "Yeah, attack ships on fire, whatever - you ever seen Trellick Tower under a purple-orange sky, through curtains of rain, with a gang of Brazilian drummers shaking your joints through the pavement? Ever heard Spiderman juggling at Jah Observer and groaned with disbelief when he plays YET another crucial tune you'll probably never know the name of, or hear again? Eh, Roy? EH?" - before he bows his head and dies, bird in hand.

The worst thing about Carnival is, once you've been surrounded by soundsystems for the best part of 24 hours, your own home equipment sounds so unbelievably lame, you might as well as be using a couple of beans cans and a piece of string. Anyway, here's Morgan Heritage and Bounty Killer's Gunz in the Ghetto 45 - I think this came out in 2000? Regardless, it actually soundtracked my summer of 2002, a very good time for this cat. It was the last piece of vinyl I bought for a long time (ordered from Mr Happy, aka Keith Stone, at Daddy Kool in Berwick Street, fact fans) as my turntable gave up the ghost in early 2003 (weirdly enough, around the exact same time that a long-term, 'she's the one' etc relationship flew into a brick wall*). Luckily, the track was reissued on the so-so Soul Jazz comp 500% Dynamite so, when I saw that going cheap, I snapped it up - far more affordable than shelling out for a new turntable. Unluckily, Gunz in the Ghetto was the only song I liked on the CD. Gah....

Anyway, immeasurable thanks are due to John Eden for sorting me out on the turntable front. See, all this online scribbling pays dividends in the end! I strongly recommend this tune, which has sumptuous (can't believe I just used that word, sorry) bass and a rock solid production. Like a hundred sunny, work-free afternoons going off at once (or rainy Sunday evening Carnivals, whatever does it for you).

If you must, get it on 500% Dynamite, but do skip the Red Rat track. Oh, can I just say how much I hate the Jacob Miller song, Healing of the Nation? Admittedly, this is mostly because some left wing agitator called Richard spent the evening of Mayday 2002 shouting bits of it into my face, before trying to impress some female comrades with bad renditions of old Irish rebel songs. Some advice, kids: it's not the best way to attract attention to yourself. It has a habit of making some London drinkers want to kill you.

This one's a bit of a cheat, as I only managed to find a copy last year - but it took me long enough to do so. Like, try 15 years? For 10 of which I didn't even know who'd recorded it; I just had the tune on a battered cassette packed with stuff I'd taped off one of the pirates after first washing up in South East London (I'm guessing it was Genesis FM). For me, Jah Youth's Little Natty Dread is up there with the likes of Two Sevens Clash, Man Ah Warrior and Marcus Garvey as a bona fide 70s roots classic. Something about the bassline that gets me every time...where did that little natty dread go? "Nobody know, nobody know", Jah Youth informs us, gearing up in anticipation of 1977. If you can't skank to this...forget it.

It's odd when you go back to the source and rediscover something you fell in love with all those years ago - an age devoid of constantly crashing Firefox servers and internet forums packed with angry people telling each other they don't know jack. When I was first asked if I'd like to contribute to Woofah zine, I felt like an imposter - I'm nowhere near to tapping the wave of wax that's gushed forth from JA, and there must still be about gazillion undisputed classics I haven't heard. But I can't describe what it was like hearing Culture or Ninjaman for the first time, or watching The Harder they Come and Rockers. There's a scene in Rockers where a couple of rastas attend a disco night run by some music mafioso who's been ripping them off, lock the DJ out of his booth and horrify the dancers by slapping on a heavy roots 45. As security attempts to remonstrate with them, one of the dudes picks up the mic and hollers back, cool as a cucumber, "REMOVE YUH". Discovering reggae was pretty much that scene going off in my head. A musical takeover.

Though, DJs will be disgusted to know, it's long been an ambition of mine to re-enact that scene from the film. 'Guilty Pleasures' would be a good place to kick it off, if that club hasn't died a well deserved death yet. Call it a tribute act.

Oh wow, an ultra-rare original copy of Screechie Across the Border by Courtney Melody!!! Oh, OK, not really. Still, a fantastic 80s classic, all the same. And, on a raggacore tip, this here copy of Junglist b/w Murderer by FFF is one of my faves . It's like being clobbered around the bonce by a volley of amen breaks, with dirty, radioactive basslines sizzling underneath. FFF also did a pretty awesome split 12" with LFO Demon - apologies to the German bloke, but FFF kills it, as far as my ears can determine. I think the 7" format really suits raggacore - a whole elpee's worth, and it does start to drag a bit, unless you're fried off your box at some DIY rave in a squatted Woolworths store.

By the way, you know those little plastic things you have to insert on these 45s to fit the disc onto the spindle (see top pic)? I haven't removed them for effect - I'm running seriously low on these! I end up having to swap them around as I go - by the time you read this, the one in Gunz in the Ghetto will probably be nestling in that red vinyl Stooges bootleg. Yeah, I know I can probably pick up a large bag of them on eBay for about 30p, but...

(* - You know that time I asked you to come along, said you might really enjoy it? And I might have understood if you'd said that loud hip hop, reggae and jungle soundsystems weren't your thing, or even that you hated the thought of having to queue for the toilet, or loathed the idea of being caught in the scrum, or were scared of being mugged or food-poisoned by a plate of half-cooked jerk chicken...but you didn't want to go that year, or any year, cos your brother told you Notting Hill Carnival's "sad"??? How the hell did we last so long?)

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Meet the fabulous, ultra-obscure Strip Kings, and the five jaw-dropping minutes of sonic turbulence that's Lightning Breed b/w Slow Panic. I don't have a clue who was behind this - the cover notes say it was recorded in London, but it's on a California-based label, with a big, reggae 7"-style hole in the centre. All I know is John Peel played it in 1996 and I was straight on the train to Rough Trade to bag a copy.

We're in garage revival territory - this is one seriously amped up disc, seemingly mastered at maximum volume, and the perfect soundtrack to jumping on a Honda CBX750 and chasing gaggles of screaming mods across the seafront. Last time I played it on headphones, the high-end treble of the guitar gave me temporary tinnitus. It's truly fucking brilliant, only tempered by the fact that I've never met anyone who's even heard of it. Observe how snooze-inducing drama students Jon Spencer Blues Explosion became rich and fat off their 3rd rate riffing, while the Strip Kings seemingly imploded in the nails-on-blackboard spike of feedback that rounds off side B. Should tell you everything you need to know about harsh luck.

Trends and scenes come and go but, as with the goths, the garage rock kids carry on slogging away. They'll always be there, like mice on the Underground. I kind of admire their resilience, and they have my sympathies for the Hives hijacking their scene with a pile of old pony (seriously, first time I heard White Stripes, I thought it was Smashing Pumpkins or something). How can you even equate 'garage' with recordings so Wimpy Bar pristine?? Don't be fooled - beg, borrow or steal a copy of this 45 and hear how should it be done. Just don't touch mine, swine. I think this eludes even Discogs.

I used to really love Camden; an ankle-deep sea of discarded paper plates from that £1 pizza shack, where they used to sell punters napalm disguised as 'chilli sauce'; days wasted round the stables, looking for weird books and records; the grumpy Scotsman in Compendium Books and the racks of zines and tomes about anarchism. You always used to get these idiot tourists jumping into the Lock in summer. They'd emerge from the filthy water green-faced, stinking of dead dog, shit and factory waste. They didn't even have ticket barriers in the station back then.

But then the developers rolled in, bags clinking with snakeoil, and converted Camden into Planet Bore. Make it neat and shiny - grading: mint condition. Somewhere in the grooves of Slow Panic, in the loud crackle and whirr of the run-out, I can still smell the trash.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Oh, fuck me - a wewwy ware power electronics EP! Wow, I guess I could get £60 for this on Discogs. Or rather, I could if I'd kept it in Mint, or even Excellent, condition. As it happens, I played it a lot, about 10 years ago.

You might have deduced from some of these pics that 'scuffed-up' is a recurring theme. It's not like a deliberate ploy to devalue records - but, let's be honest, who gives a fuck about 'devaluation' anyway? I'm not a record collector, I'm not gonna bother buying stuff that I don't want to listen to more than 20 times. This isn't some anal investment scheme; it's playing records I like!

It's a bit like Star Wars figures - I mean, yeah, if you'd kept them in their boxes, they'd be worth £50 or whatever now. But what's the fucking point? I didn't know anyone at junior school who didn't have a C3PO figure without the limbs totally borked, cos they'd been twisted, removed and reapplied so many times. At least the brats got some use out of them. Better than just keeping them sealed in some vacuum-packed purgatory, so you can sell them to losers on eBay in 20 years' time.

So, yeah...a rare record that's got one too many crackles to please yer average Austrian power electronics hoarder (don't mean to be racist, but there's a bloody lot of them on eBay, aren't there? And they're always quite rude on email). As BTi Blog pointed out previously, the bottom's fallen out of the industrial music market, and prices are spiralling down the toilet at an unprecedented rate. I doubt an Extra Virgin Mint copy of The Hand of Glory would realistically go for more than £25 these days, so fucks my chances of retiring off the back of such a 'rare' item.

If you haven't heard it, Side B sounds like a lunatic howling down an asylum air vent. It's pretty good actually, even if it's heavily Whitehouse-influenced. Well, you know as far as these things go. Scab a copy of this and you can easily dismiss 99% of the rest of the genre, at least Ramleh did it with a hint of menacing class. Then again, apparently it's been reissued recently on 12" - so, in terms of devaluation, how's it faring now? Can I get £8 for this already?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Masturbating demons spurting molten sperm and felching zitty-arsed, worthless, human scum - just HAS to be a Coil 7", no? Do bear in mind I grew up a Catholic and this sort of shit was incendiary. If my mum had ever seen this, she'd have smashed it and attempted to assault me. PURE FILTH. Anyway, this is Wrong Eye b/w Scope, and I'm pretty sure it came out just before their amazing Love's Secret Domain LP, though I got my mitts on it afterwards.

The A-side is trancey electro with a funky bassline and plenty of varispeed fuckery, with Rose McDowall moaning like a Hindu goddess over the top. The B-side's more like a slowed down demonic voice gurgling over what sounds like a dub version of a Ramleh instrumental being played backwards. Very nice it is too. Fire up a couple of black candles, plonk this on the deck and you're sorted for the best sacrificial soak in the bath since Marat decided to 'give it another 10 minutes'.

Still, for records least likely to amuse your Catholic parents, few beat this:

Just look at the state of it! The Coil 7" cover's actually yellow, Reality Asylum b/w Shaved Women - the record that calls Jesus all sorts of vile names - was pressed with a black and white sleeve! My sister bought both of these at the time they came out, and I can only presume this is one of the original covers, reportedly folded by hand in the Crass commune, as the paper's completely flimsy. The cover is literally disintegrating; if I open it up to reveal the poster of Christ crucified above the prostrate peasants and the bloke with the gun, it feels like it's going to crumble into little flakes.

Nagasaki Nightmare b/w Big A Little A is faring slightly better, but it's got a very pungent smell - a bit like a cross between corroded metal and dry rot. I suppose their decrepit conditions add to the overall feeling of desolation and annihilation the band were always attempting to conjure up. I haven't heard Crass on CD, I find it a bit difficult to imagine a version of Nagasaki Nightmare without a loud constant popping during the spoken intro. I once played this to K***** (yeah, her) at 4am and the intro alone really freaked her out, I had to take it off. I hadn't heard anything by Yoko Ono or Nurse With Wound back then, this was the closest I'd got to having an 'avant garde' record at the time.

When I was 8, my brother and his mate decided to break into the Barbican to catch a Stockhausen performance one Saturday night, thinking it was going to be a riot. So the story goes, he took some acid, got thrown out of a bar for laughing, and rang my mum, demanding she tape the simultaneous live broadcast off Radio 3. In the meantime, he and his friend snuck into the auditorium through a fire door and fell asleep in the seats.

What freaked him out, he later told me, was that when he woke up an hour later, he was surrounded by outraged old blokes in dickie-bows and their fur coat-clad, pinched-faced wives, glaring at the couple of dishevelled punks spread out across the seats. He'd thought the place would fill up with beatniks and weirdos - not the Hampstead set, eager to gobble up culture. When the performance of Stimmung began, my brother and his mate necked some more acid and began laughing hysterically. When one of the performers in the group Sing Circle chanted, "I LIKE TO PEE - PEE ON A TREE", security were called to eject the two punks, who were now howling their heads off and knocking against rich old biddies' haircuts.

Anyway, oblivious to all this, I went into the kitchen to nick some food from the fridge, and heard this...noise coming out of the radio. I seriously thought I'd gone insane, just couldn't believe that a radio station was actually broadcasting a load of psychobabble by a bunch of atonal ghosts. This was my first real brush with the 'avant garde', and I wanted to hear more, even though I didn't understand what the hell was going on. The thought of being able to buy records that sounded like that was baffling, but very appealing. To me, Stockhausen's quite entertaining - sorry to sound like a philistine, but I've never read anything more serious into his pranks. Conducting a symphony in four helicopters sounds like a fun way to blow an arts grant to me.

So, anyway, Nagasaki Nightmare was my second brush, and I'll always be quite fond of it for that reason. Not sure about the B-side anymore, though. Actually, I haven't been sure about it since my 20th birthday.

The Flux of Pink Indians 7" was my brother's, and is in good condition, considering - not a tear or split in sight. Tube Disaster is great, and pretty much the only track on the EP I listen to anymore. As for DIRT, I love this EP, especially the Democracy / Dolls of Destruction side, which I bought for £3 in the sadly defunct High St Kensington Market, think I was 17? I'd managed to coax a friend into coming down to London to check out this venue. It was a superb place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, provided you didn't mind a lungful of heavy joss-stick fumes and weren't claustrophobic. For a start, there were loads of punk and goth girls, just hanging around, pretending to be bored and eating katsu curry. The place sold interesting clobber and obscure records by bands you all know now, Mr and Mrs Connoisseur, but which we'd never heard of before.

Then there was the barber shack, where the hairdressers were all on drugs and turning crops into a violent art form. If you had a spare £100, they'd literally dye a snarling panther's face into the back of your head. Fucking hell, we both wanted one of those. The hairdressers would be wasted, playing Nutbush City Limits at full blast, and pouring toxic blue bleach over customers' barnets. The customers were allowed to smoke too. We couldn't afford tattoos either, so had to make do with haggling with the Asian storekeepers over £1.50 studded wristbands and shit like that.

High St Ken is a prosperous zone, packed with overpriced fashion boutiques and houses with windows that cost more than your entire year's rent, but the market was a beacon of hope in the mire. I bought my first ever copies of 'Vague' magazine there, stole a pile of unattended 7"s from the basement one day (all of which were rubbish and which I flogged down MVE - for a pittance of what the adrenaline rush cost me) and built up my immune resistance to joss sticks. Goa Trancers can't phase me.

In '94-'95, the place was shifting load of jungle 12"s - I liked the way it kept adapting to whatever I was seemingly into. Then, a few years later, it closed down to make way for some development, and I've never felt the need to go back. High St Ken is actually a hellish, boring craphole without streams of punks or raggamuffins lolling around at the zebra crossings. The day I bought the DIRT 7", we walked into Kensington College, just roaming the corridors, undisturbed, and checking out random rooms.

Anyway, what does the DIRT EP sound like? Try 'Sham 69 meets Crass with very high-pitched female vocals'. I love it - I'm getting a joss stick rush just glancing at the cover. Though, if I'd bought it in Crewe and had spent the day hanging round Platform 3, waiting for a train back to London, I probably wouldn't have kept it.


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.


Uh...a fellow 'blogger' sent me this, discreetly, by post - you know who you are! I'm actually quite grateful, even though I hardly listen to it - I just love the cover, though! I mean, who wants to look at a pic of some sombre indie dicks sitting on a sofa, when you can do it in style like this bunch? Yep, another freebie I won't be disposing of any time soon. I didn't have a clue who Gadaffi's Warriors were, or even that they existed, until I set eyes on this EP.

You're probably thinking it's some shouty anarcho-punk platter, or demented gabbacore with political lyrics. You'd be about half-right; it's from 1990, and sounds more like minimalist, slightly trippy indie, with some very silly vocals - you'll have to drag me into the outhouse and shoot me like a capitalist pig if I'm wrong on this score, but it comes across like a honky trying to do a Middle Eastern accent. The A-side, Third World, Third Way is arguably the best piece on here, and has some top, right-on lyrics - though Shit House on the flip just seems to be a juvenile dig at the house music scene and meanders along lamely. I couldn't be bothered to take a pic of the back cover, but it's mostly press clippings promoting their gigs - apparently they used to perform a cover of Springsteen's Born in the USA, retitled Bomb the USA. Now, if anyone chances across THIS 45 in a 2nd hand market in NYC...


Incredible as it may sound, and apart from a large splodge of DNA, the 45 on the left is the only thing of any real value I managed to inherit from my dad when he died in December 2001. "Issued by the Andersonstown Civil Resistance Committee" in 1971, Barleycorn's Men Behind the Wire b/w Freedom Walk had the official pleasure of being banned in Britain - a fact the old man would gleefully recount, warning us, as kids, not to touch the vinyl (so hot it hurt!)... before opening the windows and playing it at full whack. The neighbours might have been a "SHOWER OF NOSEY BASTARDS!", but they weren't police informants, evidently. Apparently, this was viewed as an IRA recruitment record, a fact hardly obscured by the lyrics. It's also one of the earliest records I remember hearing.

The A-side starts off with a spoken statement on behalf of the 'civil resistance campaign', dedicated to the Irishmen interred in H-Block ("Long Kesh concentration camp") that year. Barleycorn went on to become one of the biggest Irish rebel groups on the circuit and re-recorded this song 'officially' with slightly changed lyrics- this appears to be an original version, with gruffer voices in the chorus and no flute at the start. Freedom Walk is genuinely beautiful, a real tear-jerker with a spooky undercurrent.

Another mystery - on the run-out to side B, there's the inscription - FREEDOM TO YOU ALL - and then the Jimmy Page ZOSO sigil. It'd be fun to speculate whether the hairy axeman had a hand in releasing this, but I doubt it - more like a Led Zep fanboy at the pressing plant.

I don't miss my dad. Don't get me wrong, I loved him to death (not literally, natch...), though it took me a while to realise it. But I'd never want to drag him back to life for 5 minutes, and I don't think he'd thank me if I could. Unless, of course, he was going to do his anti-Terry Wogan rant - I'd raise him from his ashes if I could hear that cracker one more time. We never really went for parent-son chats. His attitude was, get out of the house, go and sort it out for yourself, accept help but don't expect it, and don't be a lazy, whiney ponce. Once, when I was very young, we were driving past a cemetery, and he hollered, "AH, BOY! WE'RE ALL HEADIN' THERE, ONE DAY!" Maybe you find that morbid, I found it hysterical. Anyway, if I could only save one record featured in this self-indulgent, nostalgia-ridden series of hot 7" platters, it would have to be Men Behind the Wire. You could offer me £10m for it right now, and I'd still not plonk it in your grubby paw.

Meanwhile, Dermot Hegarty's Nineteen Men b/w Old Dungannon Road 7" from 1974 SHOULD have been banned - just dreadful, dreadful stuff, with a really annoying 'jaunty' tin whistle and a chorus that still makes me piss myself with laughter (but not entirely in a good way...). Basically, I did a swoop on all my dad's records after the funeral, figuring my mum would probably throw them out (she was about to 'n' all, I later discovered) and, fuck my luck, this happened to be in the batch. It's in pretty mint condition, near enough, which isn't suprising - it seems like the old man had a modicum of taste after all!! Seriously, I can't emphasise how bad this is. Altogether now, to the tune of 'Rising of the Moon' - Well, there's 19 men a-missin' and they didn't use the door / Just blew a little hole where there wasn't one before / now the army and the gardai* are searching high and low / For the men from Port Laoise Prison, who have vanished like the snow...

(* - he actually sings that. Garda are the Irish police, for anyone who doesn't know, but I'm not sure if it's really pronounced 'Gard-ee', or if Hegarty just threw that in so it rhymed with 'army'. Anyone care to elaborate?)


Two more from the old man's vaults - it cheers me to think of him coming back from The Crown in Cricklewood in the 1960s and changing my siblings' nappies while bellowing about something or other, with these spinning in the background. If you came from Irish stock in London, your folks usually had something, somewhere by the Dubliners. In my dad's case, about 5 LPs and these two beauties: Paddy on the Railway (later covered by the Pogues) b/w Seven Drunken Nights and Black Velvet Band b/w Maloney Wants A Drink. I always thought it'd be great to hear a punk / powerpop version of Black Velvet Band...but hey, I think it'd be great to hear loads of things that have as much chance of materialising as an Elvis Patelvis triple box set...


NB - I know it didn't happen in June, but here it is anyway. Click to enlarge

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Policing grime events, the main thing you're looking out for is women. You've just sorted some beef and got two sets of lads to calm down, and then some dumb cunt swishes over with her mates, whining about nothing, and sparks it all off again. No, I'm not ashamed to say I've smashed them in the face. These slags know what they're doing. It doesn't take Einstein to suss that they're behind the majority of problems. You've got a load of sweaty blokes thinking with their cocks, and these bitches just amplify everything out of proportion. Drop a group of birds into a club on Friday night and you might as well dish out loaded guns around the bar.

It's important to take out one of the cunts early on. When the lads see we're prepared to punch some bird and split her nose, or kick her up the arse, and they know we don't give a flying fuck, they get the message, sharp-ish. We were all hyper and up for it anyway, and it was better than all the 'war is awful' demos, they'd never hit back at those

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