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Anarchy At The BBC ? – A Pistol Goes Off…..

Public Image Un-Limited

“Good evening and welcome to Question Time tonight, live from Derby, with guests Ed Davey, Alan Johnson, Louise Mensch, Dominic Lawson and singer John Lydon.”

Johnny Rotten!

Yes, decades after scaring the establishment as singer in The Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten now had the nation’s political elite listening in as he told them where the country was going wrong. Looking rather dapper in a plunging cleavage and with a strange gold necklace to match, ‘our John’ engaged in verbal sparring with his Labour, Lib Dem and Tory counterparts.

At first I thought he was a bit nervous, as he kept on interrupting the others when they were making party political points – ironically to a question that asked how we can avoid political posturing over the banker’s greed enquiry. Good old John immediately fixed the panel with his famous steely stare and slagged off politicians “these argumentative chaps” in general.

I must say it was a tad ironic that old Johnny was calling for the bankers to be up before the judges, rather than panels of MPs – given his past anti-establishment life – but I take his point. When it came to the vexed subject of the bankers John had a simple solution, we should get a “shit stripper” to “remove it” (the bankers). Hmm – I guess that was the reason the BBC advised that bad language was going to be used on the programme – a legacy no doubt of the infamous Bill Grundy affair.

Wallowing in nostalgia, I found myself longing for Steve Jones to make a sudden appearance, as the faceless management drone of Ed Davey was certainly deserving of the ‘you dirty rotter’ moniker.

So John laid into the bankers, the politicians and the political system in general. He spoke up for the NHS and the paratroopers – an unlikely double act it has to be said – and proudly proclaimed his working-class roots “I come from Finsbury park, I’m a working class solid boy, me.”

I did disagree with him when he advocated our being allowed freedom to indulge in drug taking, as long as we had “correct information” about the toxic chemicals available on the streets. That said I laughed out loud at his put down of the Tory MP, Miss Mensch, when she recollected trying Class A drugs in her own youth, although she emphasised how much she regrets it now. Johnny sneered at her and sarcastically referred to her as “You are very coherent, Class A.” At this point he actually came over like a Dalek as he pleads for human beings to be allowed to “determine our own journey in life.”

What made me laugh more than anything else, however, was the panel’s genuine discomfort at being forced to engage with such a loose cannon. They really had no idea of how he was going to react and consequently were at his mercy. Even David Dimbleby, the normally masterful host of Question Time, was at a loss to stop John interrupting all the other panellists. In the end he just gave up and let him ramble on.

The audience, young and old, seemed very much on his side and it made me wonder if thirty-five years ago they were pogoing along to punk? I doubt it but seeing Johnny on Question Time made one realise how punk is now part of the establishment itself, a sobering thought indeed for punk rockers the world over.

Bobby Smith

Death Disc-ussion

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Venerable Venues – The Village, Newport, Shropshire

Sex Pistols in Shropshire – A Rare Sight

The Village was one of the more improbable venues to stage high profile gigs in the late seventies and early eighties as this unremarkable night club occupied a corner of Shropshire more renowned for its posh grammar schools and agricultural college.

All this changed in early December 1977 when to the utter bemusement of everyone the Sex Pistols announced they would be playing the venue as part of their short ‘Never Mind The Bans’ tour.  A year on from the notorious ‘Anarchy In The UK’ tour it caused something of a stir with tickets at a premium and fans travelling from all over the UK to try and get in. There was even a choir outside singing carols to greet them. I was lucky enough to be there and as the lights went down the familiar voice of Johnny Rotten leered ‘fancy coming to see a bunch of cunts like us’. For the next hour the club was shaken to its very foundations as the band romped through a familiar set and the crowd went delirious.

The first floor venue, split with a mezzanine balcony, started out life as a very different proposition catering for functions, cabaret and dances with chicken in the basket a popular item on the menu. Known then as the Vine it did host the occasional live rock band and it is rumoured Thin Lizzy played in 1973 and Judas Priest definitely did a year or two later. But with its name change to the Village the venue started putting more acts on in 1976, generally to attract mid week revenue to complement its weekend club nights. Free tickets and cut price drinks were all part of the attraction.

Smart Rockers Only Please

Even though the stage was tiny it seemed to accommodate Little Acre, 100 Highways and Supercharge all whose personnel could be counted in double digits. It was generally a  mixture of bands featuring funk, heavy rock and pop from the second division of the live touring circuit. Canadian virtuoso guitarist Pat Travers pulled in some numbers and glam rockers Suburban Studs raised an eyebrow or two. Not that the late night drinking crowd were particularly bothered especially Malcolm Allison (fedora and all) and his Crystal Palace squad taking a breather from training at the nearby National Sports Centre in Lilleshall.

The golden era was between 1978 and 1980. Due to an arrangement with its sister club, the Lafayette in Wolverhampton, the Village made gigs a key focus featuring a wealth of talent every Friday night. The Lurkers, Radiators from Space, the Damned, Leyton Buzzards, the Ruts and the Rich Kids were all featured and the pick were probably the Pretenders, the Cure and the Undertones.

Roy Williams a local journalist remembers interviewing Chrissy Hynde “I asked her a load of dumb questions as I recall, but she was very patient. The paper had strong links with the Village and boozy meetings with the manager John ‘Brush’ Broome were not uncommon. I still love my Supercharge stuff and the Radio Stars ‘Holiday’ album have a direct track back to the Village”.

As a fourteen year old school boy Oscar Harris, regularly helped bands by humping equipment up the stairs “Straight after school on Fridays I would be down there chatting to the bands and helping them set-up, it was a great education and I was able to sneak in to see the show”. It was an influence that would have a life changing effect – Oscar has since worked with and managed some of the top groups in the world.

One of the last gigs I went to at the Village was memorable. The Psychedelic Furs turned up with an articulated lorry and left most of their equipment in there. The club could not handle such heavy artillery. Even so the sound was pitch perfect and the Furs unbelievable. Loud yes, after all this is the band that deliberately made the opening bars on the first track (‘India’) on their first album so quiet that the listener would automatically turn up the volume before the main beat kicked in, but just like the album the live set was subtle too. The sight of Butler Rep in his wrap around shades scootering around the stage manically is still vivid.

Live bands petered out around this time and its policy reverted back to disco and boogie nights. Now called Main Street I don’t know anyone who has been there but Roy Williams ponders if “the carpet is still as squidgy and if there is chicken in the basket on the menu”.

The Pretenders


Jim Heath

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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.

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Bedford’s Burning!


The Clash in 1976

A new exhibition of punk era photographs is being hosted at the Rock City Gallery in Bedford over the next month featuring  the work of former Record Mirror photographer Steve Emberton.

Steve was the staff photographer at Record Mirror in the 1970’s and also shot for NME & Sounds magazines too.His photographic journey only spanned the short period from 1974 until 1979 and was fortunate enough to shoot the tale end of the Bolan/Queen/Rod Stewart Glam Era and right through the whole of the Punk explosion in England.

Rolling Stone magazine selected his famous portrait of Sid and Nancy for their 50th Anniversary of Rock,50 Greatest Portraits Issue (Sept 2004) alongside the work of Richard Avedon, AntonCorbijn, Herb Ritts, David Bailey & Annie Leibovitz.

The show will be featuring some never before seen images of The Sex Pistols, Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux to name but a few.

“I am really pleased to have this opportunity to share my collection of Punk images with lovers of the 70‘s Punk music scene. Hopefully it will re-kindle people’s memories to those of you who experienced it first hand and act as an introduction to a new generation of music fans.” said Steve.

A book to accompany Steve’s show at Rock City Art with a foreward written by Richard Jobson from The Skids is available from the gallery for £15. The book is limited to 100 copies only.  The show runs until 20th May.

The show is free to enter and is at  Rock City Art, 26, Castle Lane  Bedford            MK40 3US 

tel. 01234 910448

Billy Idol - Generation X

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Get Set for Record Store Day

David Bowie 'Starman' Picture Disc


This Saturday’s Record Store Day marks the biggest since its introduction in 2007. With 417 exclusive releases and over 230 stores particpating its going to be a busy day! One of the stores involved are People Independent Music from Guildford and the emphasis is definitely vinyl. 

Howard Smith owner of the shop has seen a big uptake of vinyl over the last twelve months “Its fantastic to see vinyl make such a revival and over 95% of the exclusive products available on Saturday are in this format. Its great holding the beautifully designed cardboard sleeves, the smell of the discs is something unique and of course the reproduction of the sound is so clear and definitive”.
There are some great picks as well. For us old punks there is a new picture disc pressing of the Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy in the UK’, the Dead Boys ‘Sonic Reducer’, a lime green vinyl 45 of Iggy Pop’s ‘I’m Bored’  and from the Clash ‘London Calling’ with a special digitally re-mastered new version by Mick Jones and Bill Price.
Classic artists like Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and the Beatles have all joined in the party with the Fab Four releasing four vinyl 45’s in a tin box with a poster. But its not just a retro thing with many contemporary artists represented. I know my daughter is thrilled to see Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling contributing – in the latters case a very exclusive 45! Ark faves Belle and Sebastian are there as well plus many , many more.  A full list is here. Happy hunting!
People Independent Music opens at 9am on Saturday and is based at 14a Chapel St,Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3UL
Follow on Twitter @recordshopbloke

Some of the booty!

RSD Disc 2012
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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


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Badge of the Week – Public Image Ltd

To mark the first major remaster campaign for 2012 the Ark proudly presents Public Image Ltd as Badge of the Week. The entire back catalogue of PiL has been made available – with the exception of ‘Metal Box’. When the Sex Pistols infamously imploded John Lydon got together with his mate Jah Wobble and former Clash guitarist Keith Levine to form PiL. The eponymously named first single, in its mock red top tabloid wrapper, was an absolute belter. Full of venom, booming bass and sneering Lydon vocals it hinted at greatness. If only they had kept in that vein.

As it was PiL became a vehicle for Lydon’s left-field experimentation in dub, electronic and dabbles in jazz. It caused some bemusement to the hordes of punk rockers who turned up to see the band unveiled at Leeds Futurama Festival in 1978. The reception was also mixed when the band embarked on its first nationwide tour with Lydon unable to shake off his Johnny Rotten persona.  But the band were critically acclaimed with Lydon receiving many plaudits for taking such a radical direction – fledgling Factory Records boss Tony Wilson infamously used to wear this very PiL badge while presenting his day job ‘Granada Reports’ on tea time ITV – even if a  lot of the output was a challenging listen.

Lydon and a rotating cast of characters carried the PiL name through the ’80s, with six Top 40 hits in their native country. Lydon put the band on hiatus in 1992, briefly reuniting with the Pistols in 1996 and several times in the 2000s, but began touring as PiL in 2009, with a new album reportedly due this year.

Now,  almost the entire PiL catalogue is coming back into print (the notable exception is 1979 release Metal Box and subsequent reissue Second Edition, remastered and released on CD by EMI in 2009 and 2011, respectively). Seven studio albums from 1978 to 1992, two live albums and 1990’s The Greatest Hits, So Far are included in the campaign, along with Lydon’s 1997 solo album Psycho’s Path. No bonus tracks are included – the albums match their original CD track listings exactly – but they are struck from remasters created for Japanese paper-sleeve reissues last year.

PiL are still going strong with a current line-up of Lydon, Lu Edmonds (ex Damned) gtr, Bruce Smith (ex Pop Group) drums and Scott Firth who once provided bass for the Spice Girls. They have just announced their first gig for 2012 when they headline the Rebellion Festival on 4th August at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.


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Picture This

Today sees the opening of Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 the first New York exhibition surveying the extraordinary diversity of Punk and Post-Punk graphic design. The exhibition hosted at the Steven Kasher Gallery showcases a wide range of American and British artists and features over 200 rare posters, along with fanzines, flyers, clothing, badges and stickers.

Rude and Reckless documents an era that produced a great burst of applied graphic-design creativity, one of the most subversive of the 20th Century. Vivid, violent and frequently acid tongued, the works in Rude and Reckless represent one of the truly authentic DIY youth culture movements of the Western World.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Punk Rock; both the release of the first Ramones album, and the mythical (and notorious) Anarchy in the UK Tour were seminal punk events in 1976. The exhibition is based on the collection of Andrew Krivine, who began collecting in 1977. Curated by Krivine and Steven Kasher, the selection comprises the rarest and finest examples culled from an archive of more than 1,000 punk/new wave/post-punk posters and ephemera.

The haul that fills Krivine’s Midtown apartment and a Bronx storage space was pretty much collected at the time as he explained in a recent interview with New York Press. “In ’77 I collected a few posters and handbills, flyers, which you’ll see in the show, but what happened is that I went back (to the UK) in the summer of ’78 and I was in London for two months, and that’s when I really was able to harvest,” he says. “I really built the collection up over several years, because the punk and new wave was really from ’77 to ’79. Then I did my junior year abroad in England, and would go to record stores there and collect materials. And that was really with the post-punk era—Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Gang of Four. There were so many great groups that were inspired by the punk groups. And I would also go down to London and go to Rough Trade, and I got several posters from Rough Trade in the 1980 to ’81 period”

Sex Pistols Anarchy Tour Poster 1976

The collection on display constitutes a comprehensive A to Z of both iconic and obscure groups, including: A Certain Ratio, the Adverts, Alternative TV, the B52s, Bauhaus, Blondie, the Buzzcocks, Chrome, the Circle Jerks, the Cramps, the Cure, the Damned, Devo, Eater, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Elvis Costello, the Fall, Fear, Fire Engines, the Flying Lizards, Gang of Four, GBH, Generation X, Gun Club, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Iggy Pop, the Jam, Jim Carroll Band, Johnny Thunders, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed, the Lurkers, Malcolm McLaren, the Misfits, New Order, Nick Lowe, Nina Hagen, the Only Ones, 999, Patti Smith, Penetration, PIL, the Police, the Pop Group, the Pork Dukes, Pylon, the Rings, Sham 69, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Snakefinger, the Slits, the Stranglers, Suicide, Talking Heads, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Television, Wayne County, X-Ray Spex and XTC.

The exhibition runs from 21 July to 19 August. A sister show Musicians featuring the photos of Laura Levine is on at the same time. More info here.

Debbie Harry on display in New York

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Classic Cover No 20

File:Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen.jpg

God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols 1977

As the country is gripped with Royal Wedding fever we at Junk Archive stifle a yawn and nail our Republican colours to the mast with a look back at punk’s anthem to the royals from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.

This record would define the punk movement in many ways. According to Paul Cook it was not written to coincide with the Queen’s celebrations or to shock at the time,  but was a lucky accident that they happened to come up with an anti-monarchist song as the country looked at 25 years of her rule. He claimed that they were unaware of the Jubilee but it seems unlikely that the marketing mastermind of Malcolm McLaren would have not taken the opportunity to tie the two events together. In his excellent autobiography ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs‘  John Lydon claims the song was written due to sympathy with the English working class and a general disregard for the establishment rather than any true Republican beliefs. As the song title was changed from ‘No Future’ to the National Anthem mocking ‘God Save the Queen’  Lydon would have been well aware of the controversy that would be stirred up, particularly using the line ‘fascist regime’ just over 30 years after the war.

The single was due to be released on A&M after the band signed to the label in front of Buckingham Palace. As the band were dropped within days, supposedly up to 25,000 copies were scrapped – some being saved to become sought after collectors items! Virgin took up the challenge but the problems began at the pressing plant, with workers refusing to work on the single pressing and then the platemakers taking offence to the cover. Many phone calls were made to placate the workers – god knows what was offered!

The cover was a punk classic. It was put together by Croydon boy Jamie Reid,  the creator of all the iconic Pistols covers, who was an associate of McLaren, and depicted the Queen’s head obscured by the song title and the band’s name in the classic cut-up ‘ransom-note’ style. It would become another defining image of the movement and would help build the tabloid-led outrage to the single. Q magazine would make it the best cover of all time.

The single was released on 27th May with Virgin’s biggest hype to date – barely a week and a half  before the official celebrations – and caused offence immediately. Thames Television refused to show an advert for the song – during the Bill Grundy show! Within four days the BBC said the single was ‘in gross bad taste’ and it was banned. The Independent Broadcasting Authority followed suit saying the single was possibly in breach of the Broadcasting Act, and even adverts were banned on the radio. Major chain stores, WH Smiths, Boots and Woolworths, who sold a large proportion of singles in the UK at that time, refused to stock the single. Yet as Jubilee day came closer, the Daily Mirror – always the most shocked of the tabloids and scourge of the punk scene, whilst giving the most publicity- predicted that God Save the Queen would be number one!

Banned from playing on land on Jubilee day, June 7th, a boat called Queen Elizabeth, was hired to cruise up and down the Thames, repeatedly playing the song to a large party including journalists and the band’s entourage.  A scuffle led to an injury to a cameraman and the police were eagerly waiting dockside to bring an end to the performance. As the band were smuggled away with Richard Branson, eleven arrests were made and the single received far more publicity than any banned ads on the Tube could have provided.

The country braced itself for the charts……….only to find that Rod Stewart had saved the nation’s tender sensibilities with ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It’ pipping the Pistols to the post. The rumours began that the Pistols had been kept off the top slot, with McLaren saying later that distributors, CBS, had told him that they had been outselling Rod 2 to 1. There was also supposedly evidence that the BPI- British Phonographic Industry who compiled the charts – had issued an extraordinary directive that for that week only that Record Company owned shops, eg Virgin, would not be included.

The band would be subject to physical attacks over the next few weeks with Lydon receiving a knife injury and causing a  Scandinavian tour to be delayed. The outrage was over and the establishment had kept the country safe!

Thirty Four years later and we’re braced for another occasion to watch the over-privileged spend a fortune of our money whilst we are being told that we will all benefit from the tourist dollars, euros and yen. In the meantime Lydon has admitted he thinks the Wedding is fine by him as the couple are in love and he actually admires William and Henry as servicemen! What would we give for a genuine alternative to this modern Royal shindig and wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear the refrain of ‘No Future’ as the happy couple emerge on Friday?


posted by Glen Baldwin in 70's Bands,Albums,Music and have Comments Off