Junk Archive

Liberate Your Loft and Leave A Legacy

Make Mine Cider!

It’s Summer – Time For A Pint

Over the years I have suffered much ridicule over my choice of pre-Wolves match tipple. To start with, back in 1987, I opted for vodka and lemonade, which made proud men of the West Midlands spit into their pints of beer and mild in disgust. I was deemed effeminate for my drinking shorts and not a real man in any way, shape or form. A slander that my choice of clothes also failed to put right.

Desperate to gain acceptance I switched drink to another short – Southern Comfort. Again, my choice was sneered at, despite its advantages – as it was a short I never missed a live Wolves goal at the match due to constant piss breaks. Despite this, the muttering about my sexuality continued.

So, fed up at the comments I was receiving from my peers, I rebelled and went through a short phase of guzzling down peach schnapps; I guess because it fitted in well with my love of German punk. However, after a humiliating trip to a Swindon boozer, where long-term mate, Neil Kirk, asked the bartender for “six pints of lager and a peach schnapps for the lady,” I knew I had to make a stand.

I duly switched to cider.

And Look After Dogs On A String!

At long last I had found my natural life partner; it was fruity, it was strong, it was joy from the earth for an old punk like me. At first I was conservative, drinking only well-known brands such as Strongbow and Dry Blackthorn, swallowing 6 or 7 pints of the sweet drink before matches – and a couple after the final whistle. However, the taste I was developing for the original and best Alco-pop was luring me into the behind the counter stuff – the cloudy, paint stripper cider kept in keg barrels and only brought out for Wurzel type regulars.

I remember a night match in Plymouth and a dingy boozer after the game. Thirsty for a cider after a disappointing 1-0 defeat I asked for a pint “from the black keg over the back there.” The bartender, a man with a large beard and disapproving expression said “I don’t think so sir, that is strong, cloudy cider. You stick to the simple stuff.” Put out by this rejection, and eager to impress my mates, I answered “No thank you, I will try a pint of it please.” The bartender sighed to himself and whispered back “As you wish sir,” and duly pulled me a pint.

The next day I woke up with the memory of the trip home a complete blur and a mouth that tasted like pig sweat.

I was hooked for life.

Wolverhampton used to have a great range of pubs, where spit and sawdust genuinely mixed on the floor with the residue of mouldy pork scratchings – the mess invariably sticking to ones’ shoe. It also had some killer ciders. I always remember the Hogs Head and a cider called Farmhouse, a lovely drink that was somewhat off-putting as it was bright orange – leading to some serious bowel movements the next day in the Smith household. A couple of pints of this and I was seriously gone.

Mind you, it had its southern counterpart: Old Rosie, a 7.5% cloudy cider that took no prisoners. I used to end up in the Weatherspoons whenever we played Palace away drinking this macho drink. Unfortunately it had the tendency to make me incoherent and dribble down my chin, so eventually I had to knock it on the head when out and about. I still have the odd one these days out of respect to its memory but I normally stop after one or two – although our forthcoming trip to Palace this season may see me revert to type.

I don’t know what it is with me, but whenever I see a new cider on the supermarket shelves or in the pub, I just have to try it. I reckon I must have had at least 150 different ciders over the years with some leaving a lasting impression both on my memory and my toilet bowl.

Every Man Needs A Hobby!

In case anyone is interested, my favourite cider has to be Red Rock Cider. This was much publicised over here in England by a series of Leslie Nielsen adverts, back in the 1980s. A truly lovely drink, I used to buy 8 cans of this from Budgens every time I walked home to my house from Enfield after a Wolves match.


Fast Tube by Casper

On the flip side, the worst cider has to be Woodpecker. I once had to endure 4 pints of this at a Rotherham social club, when at a Wolves away game, as it was the only apple based drink at the bar. To this day I get upset when I see stacks of this sweet, sugary cider at the local supermarket. Avoid like the plague unless you are 13 and trying cider for the first time.*

Nowadays my mates still drink the mild and beer they have always done, only now I can look them in the eye and say that I too am a man. And I have the cider belly to prove it.

Bobby Smith

*Junk Archive is not advocating under-age drinking. This is just a word of advice to the kids of today to try something a bit stronger if they get the urge – like lemonade.

 

posted by Glen Baldwin in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Punk Britannia – God Save Our Memories

Punk Britannia – Still Available on BBC iPlayer

After attaching the Britannia epithet to numerous genres, including Synth, Prog rock and Heavy metal, the BBC finally got round to adding Punk to the list and they did justice to the movement with a three part documentary series and several additional films and radio shows. So how well was the memory of Punk served?

The three documentaries were set out in a logical fashion with Part 1 being Pre-Punk, Part 2 the Punk Years and the final part moving to Post-Punk. The first part started with a surprise nomination for the band that started the punk revolution – introducing us to a MOR/Country band from the States called ‘Eggs Over Easy’. It’s hard to see these hippies as the godfathers of punk, but the argument was that their residency as a pub band at the Tally Ho pub in kentish Town. Starting in 1971 this move away from Jazz music in pubs paved the way for the Pub-Rock scene leading to the rise of iconic venues such as the Hope & Anchor and the Dublin Castle in London. As mainstream music gave a singles chart of glam rock and a rock’n'roll revival so major selling albums from Prog Rock dinosaurs dominated the album charts. Seemingly the only let-out for an alternative scene was the pubs around London and Punk Britannia focussed on the rise of this Pub-Rock scene with brief glimpses of the some of the influential bands such as the old musos of Bees Make Honey and Ducks Deluxe followed by the music developing into a faster RnB style,and scene stalwarts Dr Feelgood and Eddie & the Hot Rods as well as Joe Strummer’s 101ers came to the fore. This was an interesting angle for the first programme to take as this influential scene is often airbrushed from musical history, with punk being attributed to a combination Of New York Dolls influence, Malcolm McLaren’s eye for making a buck and the Pistols’ youthful attitude and lack of charm! That’s not to say these factors were ignored, McLaren’s switch of youth trend from selling revival teddy-boy gear to setting up his “sex’ boutique was covered and the impression made by his relationship with the Dolls, but it with contributions from Adam Ant, Billy Idol, the always entertaining Wilko Johnson and other contemporaries, the message was clearly without Pub-Rock there would have been no Punk – a phrase coined by Caroline Coon, also sharing her memories.

Eggs Over Easy – Punk Pioneers

Part one’s parting shot was the importance of Stiff records, set up from a £400 loan from Dr Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux, their signing of many of the Pub-Rock luminaries saw the release of the first recognised punk single with ‘New Rose’ by the Damned in November 1976. This paved the way for the second part of the series: Punk 1976-1978, this was the considerable meat in the sandwich. We’re treated to a lot of familiar ground here, the background of a dark, decrepit country filled with dark and disaffected youth leads to the young searching for an outlet. The Sex Pistols calling an old TV institution a ‘dirty fucker’ at teatime seemed to be the spark needed and the incendiary movement spread across the country, burning out from it’s London roots set in the Roxy club, through to the Buzzcocks in Manchester, the Au-Pairs in Birmingham, the Adverts from Torquay and so on. the clear message from this part of the documentary was the DIY ethos that prompted the untalented to pick up their instruments and have a go – get some cash together to release a record – set up a fanzine to spread the word – the choice was yours. A clear definition was made between the angry youth of the Pistols compared to the more considered anti-establishment stance of The Clash, proudly wearing their reggae influences on their sleeves. Contributions from Rat Scabies, Mick Jones, Siouxsie Sioux, Paul Weller (?) Pete Shelley and John Lydon set the scene amongst others and it was truly possible to get a sense of the feeling of musical revolution that was taking place in 1977, causing ripples that were taken as genuine threats to government and monarchy. The Pistols anti-jubilee boat stunt (Oh where were you a couple of Sundays ago Johnny?), the Notting Hill riots and Lewisham anti-fascist clash set the background as other bands began to breakthrough for their 15 minutes in the spotlight.

Mick Jones Shares His Memories

Equally it was easy to see why punk lived so fast and died so young – when it became apparent that you could buy your punk-kit from a catalogue, that do it yourself vibe had been lost. Pioneers of the scene despaired as suburban kids around the country became ‘part-time punks’, a parody of the early spirit and in two years the major bands had either fallen out or sold out! It’s easy to forget that the Pistols’ bookending of the punk movement only resulted in one album and four singles – and although the follow-up bands such as Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers receive coverage – both Jimmy Pursey and Jake Burns are always able to be mouthpieces, they are seen as more of an afterthought despite taking up the cudgel on behalf of working-class youth. It was also notable that there was a distinct lack of camaraderie within the scene – bands would prefer to sneer at others success and rejoice at their downfall like local football rivalries.

Magazine – the First Post-Punk Band

So moving on we came to what was possibly the most interesting part of the series – the Post Punk era. I say interesting because this splayed off on all sorts of tangents and had something for everyone. There was the intelligent attempt to take punk to another level by Howard Devoto’s Magazine and Wire – dismissed as middle class intellectuals by Lydon. There was the first dabbling in synthesiser music, pioneered and championed by Daniel Miller, who felt that fiddling with a few knobs on a keyboard was the logical next step on the DIY ladder for those who couldn’t even master three chords. The growth of ska and two-tone was described by Jerry Dammers looking vastly different from his toothless days on the Specials’ keyboards. John Lydon continued his rant against the musical world but showed an often well hidden human side by explaining the lyric of Death Disco relating to the death of his mother – remember he was only 23 at the time, – footage of the track was backed by the marvellous Jah Wobble describing his use of BBC make-up to blacken his front teeth!

The Post punk era encompassed genuine descendants and mavericks, Mark E Smith discussed The Fall sat on a sofa, looking for all the world like a man dodgy uncle recalling his salad days, whilst Mark Stewart of the Pop Group put everything in context by stating ‘Punk was about experimenting, not listening to some fat old bloke on fucking BBC 4!’ Whilst the influence on Joy Division is plain to see, stretching the point to include the Human League, Billy Mackenzie and Martin Fry through to Orange Juice was perhaps labouring it too much, especially when the Police were glossed over because they became too big. It is always sobering to think that for every Adverts or Undertones we were also left with Sting or the Style Council!

Surprisingly little coverage was given to the real bastard children of the punk movement, those that still churned out the same style as early pioneers. The nihilistic anarcho-punk of Crass was summed up by Penny Rimbaud regaling a tale of a fight between Vegetarians and Vegans, whilst Garry Bushell hit the warpath on behalf of Oi, insisting that the Cockney Rejects et al were the working class taking punk back from the art school, a point that dimmed as he slipped into a paranoid rant against the middle-class music media not giving Oi the coverage it deserved as a result. It wouldn’t be there was a lack of coverage as the press believed that these bands were poor shadows of what had gone before and not as interesting as Gang of Four, who were targeted as an example of a press favourite?

No coverage at all was given to the alternative bands that followed in the 80s such as New Model Army, Killing Joke or any of the Goth bands like the Sisters of Mercy or Southern Death Cult who must be able to trace their roots back to post punk.

The Specials – Last of the Punks?

Although ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials was singled out as the first punk record to take up the legacy of the Pistols social commentary, it was Lydon who shone through the programme, understanding the time to move on in forming PiL. The band provided the highlight with Jah Wobble & Keith Levene playing parts of ‘Poptones’ acoustically and fittingly Lydon had the last word, playing a track from PiL’s new album, whilst describing the band as ‘a working class university.

John Lydon in Punk Britannia

As with many of the talking head retro shows each part of the documentary was a memory jogger, but it gave merely a taste of the music and this is where the other programmes satisfied the urge. The excellent film on TV Smith and the Adverts, gave maybe a little too much kudos to one band and the contemporary Poly Styrene film seemed to just address a gender balance. Punk Britannia at the BBC trawled the archives for performances on Top of the Pops, Old Grey Whistle Test, Something Else and Nationwide amongst others. It was great to see performances from most of the bands featured in the documentary, but for me the most interesting programme was Top of the Pops years 1977. It showed just how bad most of the music of the period was. The charts were full of awful MOR bands, poorly made British disco, and previous icons trashing their past. The flagship music programme was deliberately set as a variety programme aimed for family viewing and it was this shallow party that the punk bands were able to crash right through. It’s hard to recall the effect that these bands had in living rooms up and down the country, as cosy family groups were outraged by these noisy upstarts who had kicked some of these icons aside.

So thanks BBC for a superb series taking us back to that teenage excitement that really did change the music scene in this country. Danny Baker, a journalist at the time, seems keen to deny the importance of punk and the need to combat the pomp of Prog rock, but then again he couldn’t understand why punks jeered him when he announced the death of Elvis! When you look at the legacy highlighted in the third documentary and the many different genres that Punk influenced, you have to acknowledge just how vital that short, two year period was.

posted by Glen Baldwin in 70's Bands,Music and have Comments (3)

Blitz – Punk’s Bomber Boys

The Blitz Kids

One of the best second generation punk bands has to be Manchester’s Blitz, the Oi! punk band formed in 1980. A mixture of two skinheads and two punks they were a great example of how the two sometimes fractious subcultures could mix together, as at the time gigs were frequently disrupted by violence – most notably in the case of Sham 69 at the Rainbow.

Blitz had a powerful sound, despite the limitations caused by a standard one guitar, bass and drums line-up. Nidge’s shimmering guitar really made them stand out from the crowd, as much as singer Carl’s aggressive vocals. Early material came to light in the All Out Attack EP in 1981 – including terrace bootboy anthem Someones Gonna Die – a great start for the band with their trademark sound impacting heavily on the independent chart. I remember Sounds newspaper also heavily promoting the band, no doubt helped by the hand of Bushell – an early fan of the band.

A couple more singles saw the light of day in 1982, the hardcore sounding Never Surrender and Warriors – the later single displaying a more varied sound to the band.

Building on their independent chart successes their debut album, Voice Of A Generation (1982), actually made the national album charts – in at number 27 – and I will never forget DJ Peter Powell announcing that they did not have the album to play a track from, when broadcasting the chart run down. I can still hear him saying “here’s a band I don’t know anything about but they must have a lot of fans for the record to enter the charts in such a high position”. To my mind Voice Of A Generation is one of the top five all-time punk records, as it has such a great selection of songs, from the speedy Propaganda to the slower Nation On Fire.

At this moment Blitz really should have gone global, they had the momentum, the talent and also the material. Sadly, like so many bands I like, the chance slipped out of their hands like a Monty Panesar fielding attempt. So what doomed them in the eyes of the media? Two things; punk was not as fashionable as it once had been and secondly, the Tube TV show. Back in 1983 they ran a piece on the band, showing a few live clips and also an interview with the band. It is fair to say that the band did not come over too well, their general attitude is defensive and bordering on intimidatory – although it did make for great telly. However, looking at it again in 2012, I am amazed at the nerve of the interviewer, as he seems to have an agenda right from the start – something along the lines of “punk is dead boys, it’s all been done before by bands like The Clash.”


Fast Tube by Casper

For old time punks, such an attitude is annoying to say the least. And, of course, I have long had the slogan “punk’s not dead” on my own leather jacket, so his comments are obviously stupid! Anyway, the interviewer is a typical college boy trendy, with Trevor Horn glasses to boot!

What was so annoying is that one of the bands best ever song, the dead catchy New Age, was aired in the piece – a song that really should have been a top 40 smash hit.

After this media debacle the band went their separate ways, with singer Carl continuing the Blitz name in a new line-up. However, and to the general amazement of long-term fans, the new Blitz had turned into a Depeche Mode/Blancmange type band – full of plinky plonky keyboards and with guitars removed from the mix. I was horrified; in a flash one of the best UK punk bands had been neutered and dismembered before an expectant public. I was not alone in feeling this way, as the new Blitz album, Second Empire Justice (1983) bombed big time.

Luckily Nidge, the old guitarist managed to reform a more traditional Blitz in 1989 and the resulting album, The Killing Dream (1989) saw the return of guitars. In truth this is a mixed bag of an album, with some superb songs like Overdrive but also quite a lot of fillers.

Tragically Nidge was killed just a couple of years ago, in February 2007, knocked down by a car after a gig in Texas.

For me it makes listening to their music even more poignant, the fact that the best guitar player of English second division punk is no more. Still at least we have the songs to remember him by.

Nice one Nidge.

Bobby Smith


Fast Tube by Casper

 

posted by Glen Baldwin in 80's Bands,Music and have No Comments

Venerable Venues – Barbarellas, Birmingham

Some thirty years since its demise it’s easy to underestimate the importance of Barbarellas to the West Midland music scene in the late seventies. Everybody played there. From AC/DC to the Sex Pistols and loads in between – it was a vibrant, busy nightspot  fulfilling dreams and inspiring many young rockers from every hue.

I certainly had some great nights there even if it was a bit of trek in those pre-M54 days from Telford.  But it was well worth the journey as the atmosphere was terrific , always full of like minded souls and great sounds.  Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’  was its very apt anthem and rallying call.  A proper night club too, with headlining bands not coming on until after eleven and the DJ (quite often Ranking Roger) continuing well into the early hours with a mixture of dance, dub, punk and ska.  So using British Rail was not an option. On more than one occasion we would do a gig beforehand, perhaps at the Raglan or Civic Hall, before driving over.

It was incredible seeing the Clash there in 1978, even more so as on one occasion it was only fifty pence to get in (apparently on a previous visit the band were not happy with what the venue had charged fans  and came back to do a freebie!). The second time was the day after the massive ‘Rock Against Racism’ carnival in Hackney – I had seen them there with about 80,000 others and then to be up close and personal at Barbarellas was something else. Some fantastic live footage for the movie ‘Rude Boy’ was shot at this show.

Blondie, also in 1978, was a real milestone, the place was absolutely rammed. The venue was split over several layers, with a sunken dance floor in front of the stage. Beyond this were tables and chairs  overlooking the stage which went back quite away on a shallow incline. The bar was on the left hand side of the stage. On this occasion I couldn’t even get on the dance floor let alone a drink!  But it was an unbelievable night with Debbie Harry hopping and bopping around like a dervish vamp.

Barbarellas advert from 1978

The only trouble I witnessed was at a Sham 69 gig (shock, horror!). The band had only completed maybe two numbers when some nutter ran on stage and attempted to bottle Jimmy Pursey. A few others tried to get on stage too but were repelled as a couple of Sham’s security waded in. Jimmy Pursey  tried reasoning with the agitators and after twice attempting to re-start the set had to give up as trouble continued. Even the appearance of  local legend Steve Gibbons as a peacemaker failed. Generally the in-house bouncers were very low-key and friendly even when the Angelic Upstarts played at the beginning of 1979 with the club packed full with skinheads. The evening ended this time  with a joyous stage invasion and mass sing-a-long to ‘Who Killed Liddle?’

It was all a far cry from when the club opened in the early seventies as a discotheque come chicken in the basket cabaret venue. Owned by the self-proclaimed King of Clubs  Eddie Fewtrell,  a colourful character with a portfolio of other establishments including the Cedar Club. This later hosted gigs after Barbarellas changed its music policy in late 1979 as it reverted back to a run of the mill disco.

This was lamented by the Photos in the song Barbarellas which became a hit in 1980. Birmingham based band the Prefects and Stephen ‘Tin-Tin’ Duffy also penned songs in homage to the club. In terms of other legacy, Dire Straits first live bootleg of any note was recorded at the club and a punk festival was held during August Bank Holiday 1977. Featuring the Verdicts, Drones, Killjoys, Model Mania, Eater amongst others the whole twelve hour shindig was recorded by record label Phonogram for a live album which was going to be called “Punk 77”. It is still to see the light of day. Recently though some rare Sex Pistols material has emerged from their visit in 1976 and is captured in the you tube clip at the end of this feature.   Barbarellas no longer exists  and was demolished as the area underwent substantial redevelopment during the last couple of decades, but for those interested it used to stand on the site now occupied by RBS in Brindley Place.

Jim Heath


Fast Tube by Casper

posted by admin in 70's Bands,Gigs,Music,Venues and have Comments (3)

Perkele – The Best Kept Secret?

I dare say that most Junk Archive readers have never heard of the band I am going to write about, despite their having been going since 1993. Why?

Because Perkele are a Swedish Oi! band, a musical genre that has had more than its fair share of critics over the years – with most people writing it off as bonehead drones talking about working-class pride and of sticking the boot in. Perkele, however, are different, as they mix the trademark working-class aggression of Oi! with garage, rock, psychedelia and just a hint of 60s soul. Trust me, in the world of Oi! this marks them out as truly ground-breaking. Their lyrics (mostly sung in English)also show intelligence and wit, whilst at the same time showing pride in their roots and of punk in general.

The current line-up of the band consists of Ronnie (vocals and guitar) Chris (bass) and Jonsson (drums).

Based on the German label, Bandworm, they have released numerous albums that consistently stretch their sound. Indeed, their latest release, Perkele Forever, is a glorious mix of choppy guitar, driving bass and rock steady drums, topped off by Ron’s fake cockney vocals. Ron has a great lead guitar sound – his solos really deserve to be copyrighted, as they are so original and catchy. In addition to all of this, their choruses are simply amazing, real terrace anthems that buzz around your head for days, full of melody and verve.

I could wax lyrically about them for thousands of words but, in this case, it sounds better from the horse’s mouth, as it were. My thanks to Ronnie for answering the following questions:   

Reader tip: imagine a Sven Goran Eriksson accent as you read Ronnie’s reply for that authentic Swedish touch!

Junk Archive (JA) You are often labelled as an Oi! or streetpunk band, do you think this restricts your appeal to new audiences?

Ronnie – No, I don’t really think so, I guess that many times the new audience finds us through channels like Youtube, Pirate bay, Itune or simillar. I think that the labels are not that important on the internet, many times punk is punk. Sometimes people send songs around on their mobile phones, often even without the band’s name. I also think that the Oi! and Street punk reputation is much better today, much has happened since the 80’s.

(JA) You have a very distinctive guitar style, who are the guitarists that influenced you?

Ronnie – They are a few, I guess I make a mix of, Paul Weller, Adrian Smith, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards, Mike Oldfield and Francis Rossi. As a said, a few, I guess I could find many more.

(JA) Perkele have a large fan base in Germany, why is this?

Ronnie – I thought everyone had a big fan base in Germany, ha ha. I think Sweden has always been a bit exciting for the Germans, I also think the sound is a bit different from the German style of punk. Maybe the melodies, I don’t really know, ask the damn Germans!

(JA) What is the punk scene like in Sweden?

Ronnie – I guess ok, many bands, here are only some small problems. The first: we once had a band (I guess the “first Oi! band” in Sweden, Agent Bulldogg) and most of the bands are small copies of this band, like Agent Bulldogg teens. The second: No gigs, no audience, they sit in front of their computers instead, drinking beer and Sms Oi! to each other! Some bands try something different and sing in English, then there is a chance they get gigs outside of Sweden.

The Prague Branch of the Perkele Massive

(JA) To me, I feel your sound is totally original – a bit like a unique blend of The Small Faces/4 Skins – so what bands influenced your sound?

Ronnie – In the beginning, some Swedish bands like Asta Kask, Charta 77 and Strebers were very important. Then later Oi! bands like 4 skins, Templars, Last Resort but mostly bands like early Rolling Stones, The Who, early Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Kinks, Toots & the Maytals, Madness, Ac/Dc, Danzig, Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Saints and here as well you can see that I listen to very much stuff that makes prints in my music writing. At the moment I listen to John Coltrane, The Smokes, Montanas, Bach, Beethoven, The Jam, System of a Down, maybe some of these will make prints in the future.

(JA) Is there a temptation to stop writing such original music and just become a boring ‘rock’ band?

Ronnie – Ha ha, hell No! Perkele will always be the same (boring punk band), but with some new influences all the time, all albums have something unique, some new influences or a dedication to a special band or two. For instance, our album No Shame has Status Quo and Rolling Stones, Confront, has Ac/Dc and Danzig whilst Perkele Forever has The Who for an example.

(JA) Your lyrics are very much based on people uniting to fight oppression, racism and of ‘being yourself’ – do you feel this message is becoming more important, given the arguments over multiculturalism in Europe? 

Ronnie – I think it is always important to fight (unarmed) for a better world, it makes me really sad when I look at our world, greed, racism, war, selfishness, to mention a few problems. When are we going to open our eyes, see what is really important for us, who talks about love today or solidarity, if you do, you are Hippie or a Commie. I don’t care at all, I promote love. I’m sure everyone needs to be loved and needs someone who cares, they can call me what they want, sad that they don’t know that love feels way better than hate. This is also about being ourselves, to stand for what we believe in.

(JA) Seeing as how you largely sing in English, do you ever plan on coming to England to play some gigs, perhaps at festivals like Rebellion?

Ronnie – I wish, I really do, but the offers we got has been very bad in the past and the Rebellion festival don’t seem to respect “new” bands like us, we come directly (to England) when we get an offer we are happy with.

(JA) Cheers Ronnie for the interview. All their records are available via Bandworm record label (Paypal accepted) – see link. Click on the English flag on the bottom right of page to find English translation for their mail order shop. In my opinion anyone who ever liked punk should have at least one Perkele album in their collection. 

Bobby Smith  


Fast Tube by Casper

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posted by admin in 2000's Bands,90's Bands,Gigs,Music and have No Comments

The Beautiful and the Damned

The Damned at North Staffs Polytechnic - March 1977

One of the so called Big Three – along with the Sex Pistols and The Clash – The Damned were at the forefront of the punk rock revolution. Bursting onto the punk scene in 1976, it was obvious right from the start that they were a bit different to the punk norm – one only had to look at their appearance to confirm this, especially the true English eccentric figure of Captain Sensible. Based around the theatrical vocals of Dave Vanian, the manic drumming of Rat Scabies, the simple bass of the good Captain and the sub New York Dolls guitar of Brian James, the Damned made you sit up and take notice.

To this day I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find themselves uplifted by the opening chords of New Rose – the first ever English punk single that starts with Vanian asking “Is she really going out with him?” one of the best intros to a song ever. Building on from its success, another single was released, the nagging Neat Neat Neat – and they were up and running. Their first LP Damned Damned Damned (1977) was a superb mixture of ironic vocals, dirty fuzzed up guitar and manic in your face drums and bass, expertly produced by Nick Lowe and put out by Stiff records. They may not have had the lip curling cynicism of the Pistols, or the political posturing of The Clash, but The Damned certainly deserved their place in the youth movement sweeping the country back in those halcyon days of 1976. Kids up and down the land lapped up their eccentricity and pogoed along to Damned classics like Smash it Up and I Just Can’t Be Happy Today.

As ever with The Damned, no two album releases sounded the same and so it was with Music for Pleasure, their second 1977 stab at recorded immortality. In many ways a more subdued affair, it still had their trademark eccentricity and eye for a tune, most notably on the song Don’t Cry Wolf. Most fans think of this as their weakest album but I tend to disagree, as only the production stops it from being up there with the rest of their early material. In 1978 the Damned split up and re-emerged temporarily as the Doomed with Brian James replaced on guitar by Captain Sensible, with his bass duties being taken up by Algy Ward.

Guitarist Brian James

If some punks failed to rate Music for Pleasure, however, most are in agreement over their third and arguably best long player ; Machine Gun Etiquette – and I can see why. Songs like Love Song and Anti-Pope have not dated one little bit and can still be relied upon to get old punks up and pogoing. The other thing with this album was the amazing sleeve, featuring Captain Sensible sporting a Rod Hull and emu type pink and yellow costume, no less, with the other band members looking suitably embarrassed to be sharing a road with him.

Next up was The Black album (1980), a true blast of fresh air on what was becoming a stale UK punk scene. The Black album was truly diverse, mixing psychedelia with punk  producing some exceptional songs, such as Wait for the Blackout and Therapy. Some fans accused the band of selling-out which I thought was unfair, as The Damned had now moved on from the three-chord thrash scene.

So if The Black album irritated some of their fans their next album, Strawberries (1982) sent them over the edge. And yet, for me, Strawberries remains their best ever album, effortlessly mixing pop sensibility with the hard edge of punk. I loved this album at school and started seeing them live at this point, albeit with a warning from mum not to go around spitting at people!   She needn’t have worried; I was more interested in slamming my body round to classics like Stranger on the Town and Dozen Girls.      

Just after Strawberries came the ‘60s pastiche of Give Daddy The Knife, Cindy – an album released under the name Naz Nomad and The Nightmares – basically The Damned minus Captain Sensible, who at this point was too busy having Happy Talk with the mainstream.  The Damned obtained a new audience, acquiring fans from the underground club scene based around Alice in Wonderland in Dean Street, the club of the good Doctor (from Doctor and the Medics fame). This led to joint tours and I remember with a smile a series of gigs featuring The Damned, Dr & The Medics and The Fuzztones, which probably tells you the way their sound was going.

But not for long…

Then came the smash hit cover version of Eloise and genuine commercial acclaim, as the pop world took The Damned to its heart, helped by the vampirish appearance of Vanian and the smooth production that was the Phantasmagoria album (1985). I must confess that I started to lose interest in them at this stage, being bored at being surrounded by kids at gigs. Still, in later years I would rekindle my interest in the band, especially when they started  putting out new records – the patchy Grave Disorder (2001) and the polished So, Who’s Paranoid (2008).

The band still exists, still with Vanian on vocals and The Captain on guitar and they can always be relied upon to turn up at festivals, such as Rebellion. In many ways they have turned into the punk version of Status Quo and I bet they never thought that back in 1976.

Bobby Smith           

The Captain Entertains - Swastika Badges Were Apparently 'Cool' in Early 1977

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UXB – A Bigger Bang!

UXB at the Star, Shifnal

UXB were a fine band and came to define the soul and spirit of the Star in Shifnal during the early eighties – playing there five times between 1980 and 1981. Brimming with energy, UXB always delivered a great set and developed a healthy Shropshire following with their great attitude and friendly disposition. Col Bennett from the band recently got in touch with the Ark and tells us the story of the Black Country band.

UXB formed in 1978, and used to meet up at Furzebank Community School in Willenhall every week for a jam.  Our first gig was in February ’79 as a trio comprising of  Mick Tuner  (drums and lead vocals), Mark Read (guitar) and Col Bennett (guitar and lead vocals). Later in 1979 Tony Clamp arrived on bass, but left in early 1980 to join Bescot Sidings. The following week Dom Roche arrived on vocals, and Col Bennett switched to bass. By now we were rehearsing in a room at The Tiger pub in Willenhall. A few local punks and skins used to come and hang out. They would all turn up at our local gigs and support us. One lad Colin Squire was quite a character and his nickname was ‘Squirrel’ hence the dedication to him on the front of our single ‘Crazy Today’ I wonder where he is now?

Col and Dom

Influenced by such bands as The Clash, The Jam and ska/dub reggae, the band’s sound was perhaps most similar to The Ruts, our live set was a juxtaposition of punk-inspired rockers some with a reggae groove. Little Winston – local DJ and record label owner – came to see us in rehearsal just as Dom had settled into our line up, we had also written some original songs.

Our first single Crazy Today/Mr. Fixit (Crazy Plane Records SP002) was produced by Little Winston/UXB, engineered by Phil Dawson and 1000 copies were released on 20th June 1980. It was played by BBC Radio 1 DJs John Peel, Mike Read, Peter Powell and also by the local radio stations. The single was invaluable in enabling the band to play better local gigs, such as Club Laffayette, JB’s and Colleges around the West Midlands.

Due to the band leaving Crazy Plane records, the follow-up single ‘2 Steps/In The Q/48 Hours’ was never released commercially, the only copies pressed were some white label acetates which were distributed to the usual DJs and radio stations. 2 Steps was aired by John Peel on BBC Radio 1. UXB then signed to Knott Management of Birmingham who got the band recording time with Dennis Bovell from the reggae band Matumbi. Dennis is highly respected songwriter/musician/producer and three tracks were recorded at his studio in South London.

Dom Roche left the band in mid-1981 and Pete Higton came in on vocals. We carried on gigging and recording with Pete for rest of the year. The final UXB gig was planned to be a farewell show at JB’s Dudley the following February, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to a heavy snowfall. So we played our final gig in December 1981 at our favourite venue- the Star Hotel in Shifnal.

The band then split up. Dom Roche founded Balaam And The Angel, whilst Col Bennett and Mick Turner formed Fire In Cairo with guitarist/vocalist Paul Brindley. In September 1999  UXB were featured on a compilation of obscure bands from 1977-82 entitled Bored Teenagers Volume 2. My self and Dom are pictured on the album cover! We then discovered that copies of the Crazy Today single were fetching £150 on auction sites, and was especially in demand in Japan.

In October 2001, two 7” vinyl singles were released in Japan on 1977 Records - Crazy Today/Mr Fixit and 2 Steps/In The Q/48 Hours. So finally, 20 years later our second single got pressed and released.

Due to this interest we discussed reforming. And in May 2001 the four original members rehearsed together and in March 2002 UXB played their first gig in over 20 years at The Garage in London. We followed this with appearances at the Rebellion Punk Festivals at Wolverhampton (2005), Blackpool and Morecambe (2006). It was great to be back and we’ve just heard that Detour Records have decided to release an album of UXB original songs later this year.

Col Bennett

UXB website here

 



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Badge of the Week – Skids

Skids were certainly a fun punk band when they emerged on the scene with their debut single ‘Charles’ on the independent Dunfermline label No Bad Records in 1977. Fronted by the enigmatic pairing of teenagers Stuart Adamson (gtr) and Richard Jobson (vocals) they cut a fine chaotic sight with their energetic stage presence and canon of catchy sing-a-long singles. These have now been packaged up and recently released in an attractive box set which includes a career spanning thirty three songs.

In many respects the collection starkly and concisely chronicles the rise and fall of the Skids and their relatively short career is laid bare as they move from searing guitar driven anthems to pretentious explorations into celtic mythology and more. Inevitably there were disagreements and Adamson fell out with producers and eventually Jobson before quitting to form his own band, the highly successful Big Country.

Their peak was unquestionably in 1979/1980 with the brilliant ‘Into The Valley’ becoming a major top ten hit for the band. The badge featured here predates this and was produced to promote the EP ‘Wide Open’ which included ‘The Saints Are Coming’. Now signed to Virgin the Skids embraced a number of marketing initiatives with singles coming in coloured vinyl and double packs – i.e. two singles for the price of one. ‘Working for the Yankee Dollar’ and ‘Masquerade’ were released in these formats, which meant great value for the punter even if the quality was at times a bit ropey including one of the worst remixes I have ever heard in the form of ‘Aftermath Dub’.

The Skids like a good leap

During their heyday the band employed Bill Nelson (Be-Bop Deluxe) as their main producer and he oversaw the impressive long player ‘Days In Europa’ and its more successful follow-up ‘The Absolute Game’, their one and only top ten album. After this things started to disintegrate with personnel changes which saw Rusty Egan from the Rich Kids join the band.  As the Skids released their final album ‘Joy’ basically a solo Jobson project, Adamson had already set the wheels in motion for his new band Big Country which he formed with schoolboy friend Bruce Watson. To finalise the line-up he recruited Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler the rhythm section from Simon Townsend’s London based band On The Air who had supported the Skids on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile the Skids as a name ceased to be as ‘Joy’ was critically slated. Jobson had one more foray with the Armoury Show, an impressive line-up including John McGeoch (Magazine / Siouxsie and the Banshees) which failed to deliver before focusing on his male modelling career. He has recently been involved in film making. As a footnote in 2006 U2 and Green Day recorded and released a cover version of ‘The Saints Are Coming’ to raise funds for the victims of the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina disaster. It reached number two in the USA.

Skids – The Singles Collection 1978-1981 is out now

Jim Heath

 

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Classic Cover No 21

 

Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedys 1980

We’re all concerned at Archive Towers, just where are the Royal couple going to spend their honeymoon? Helpful to the last we searched our record collection for this suggestion from San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys.

Dead Kennedys were formed back in 1978 following an advert by wannabe guitarist East Bay Ray which attracted Jello Biafra as vocalist as well as a drummer, 6025 and bassist, Karl Flouride. Early demos were recorded and local gigs were played often under the pseudonyms, ‘The Pink Twinkies’  The Sharks’ or ‘The Creamsicles’ as the deliberately controversial Dead Kennedys name unsurprisingly attracted threats and bans. Not deliberately intended as a slur against America’s ‘first family’ , it nonetheless was intended to shock and stunts such as playing on the anniversary of JFK’s shooting were never going to endear the band to the right of the political spectrum. This suited the band perfectly, however, as their songs were thought out attacks on authority, Ronald Reagan’s administration, the Klu Klux Klan and corporate business interests and wealth.

Biafra in particular was a political activist and recognised the gains to made through promoting his messages with music and humour. With few major companies interested, Dead Kennedys set up their own label, Alternative Tentacles,  in a similar way to fellow politico-punks Crass in the UK, and released their first single ‘California Uber Alles’ in 1979. This was a satirical side-swipe at California governor, Jerry Brown, imagining a USA merging the hippy cool of 70s California with a Fascist police state. Lyrics such as ‘You will jog for the master race’  ensured that the band’s notoriety was increased! Taking his chance Biafra used this to stand for election as San Franciso mayor and was remembered for policies including forcing businessmen to dress in clown suits and for stunts such as wearing his opponents previous campaign T-shirts. With the madness was also method and legitimate polices such as the legalisation of squats in derelict buildings and forcing Police Officers to seek re-election to their jobs were lost in the overall message. Biafra came third out of ten candidates!

The second single brought us to ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ – a strange song in many ways. In a time where this ‘subversive’ music would not be heard by means of a broadcast, Dead Kennedys were a mystery to be unlocked. The covers stood out in independent record shops usually from behind the counter – the actual photo is from a 1976 student massacre in Thailand by right wing militarist government supporters and shows a government supporter attacking the corpse of a student- and with the outrageous name and title seemed to offer a rebellion within it’s 7″ sleeve. But on listening there is the surprise of the actual music, a blend of psychedelic guitar, foreboding upbeat bass and a driving drum with a catchy chorus to follow. The lyrics contain another barbed, sarcastic dig at the American Dream – comparing snotty preppy middle class American kids, and their insincere concerns about a world they do not understand with Pol Pot’s methods in the Eastern totalitarian state that were responsible for the massacre of an estimated number of his countrymen in excess of 2 million. As these atrocities were becoming publicised, Biafra had again managed to shock.

The band’s first album ‘Dead Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’, was a moderate success, particularly in the UK,  but they never went on to bigger things, Biafra sticking to his principles when major label Polydor came sniffing around - although the label lost interest when they realised the next release was to be ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’ a direct snub to any mainstream broadcaster beginning to think that Dead Kennedys needed an audience! The remainder of the band’s career would continue with the attacks on the establishment, but the establishment was also capable of biting back. When ‘Frankenchrist’ was released in 1985, utilising part of a painting by HR Giger called ‘penis landscape’ in a poster included with the album, this lead to an obscenity trial in which Biafra was finally acquitted by a hung jury after a drawn out legal process.  Disillusioned by a music scene where they received no credit and were beginning to attract a following of the type of macho, skinhead Nazi punks they were always against, the band decided to quit in 1986, with Biafra continuing to run the record label.

The memory of the band was further soured in the late nineties with former members of the band realising that they were not receiving the same level of royalties from Alternative Tentacles as other signings and indeed Biafra himself! They sued and in return Biafra claimed that the band were upset that he had refused to let ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ to be used in a lucrative deal as a Levis commercial as he did not want to sell out like them, advertising a company that was known to use sweatshops. A jury ignored the commercial issue, denied by the band, and found against Biafra to the tune of $220,000 including damages, as well as losing the sole songwriting credits he had enjoyed. The time since has been filled by  a reformation by the other three members and a new vocalist and undignified spats between them and Biafra about commercial interests and selling out!

Years after the release, holidays in Cambodia are no longer likely to be a tortuous ordeal and it has become a favourite destination for the backpack set – in reality I can’t see Wills ‘n’ Kate heading out East with their rucksacks on their honeymoon sponsored by we citizens of the UK. Maybe ‘Too drunk to Fuck’ was more appropriate for the wedding after all!


Fast Tube by Casper

 

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Poly Styrene 1957-2011

Poly Styrene and X Ray Spex live at the Hope and Anchor 1977

As lead vocalist with X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene cut one of the most iconic and flamboyant figures of the punk scene and their debut single “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” became one of the punk anthems. Without question Poly Styrene embodied the punk ethos briliantly with her individualistic style, colourful clothing, barbed lyrics and fluorescent singles.

Read more in our obituaries section

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