The skinhead newspaper Agro in Kenneth Leech’s 1973 book, Keep The Faith Baby.
At the end of 1969 the pilot – and only! – issue of Agro tried to mobilize the skinhead opinion. The paper (‘printed by the Gutter Press’), bore the stamp of the Commune and most of it in fact consisted of an abridged version of ‘Project Free London’, a small booklet to which I shall refer again. The editorial claimed that Agro would be produced and distributed, not from an office, but through an informal network of ‘skinheads, greasers, heads; in pubs, caffs, clubs and on the streets’. The Commune was worried because skinheads and greasers had mobilized against each other instead of against straight society, and they saw Agro as a way of combining forces as a ‘single subcultural front’. Again, there were extravagant promises of articles, there was to be a skinhead section concerning a special report on the East End Scene, a greaser section with a discussion by teds, greasers and angels on changes in their scene, a heads section, a skoll section (the Free Underground Campaign for Kids), and so on. In fact, nothing happened.
The mighty Girlschool on Channel 4’s Play At Home from 1984 and presented by Caroline Quentin.
The Redskins first single reviewed in NME, 17 July, 1982.
Peter and the Test Tube Babies: Run Like Hell (No Future)
Redskins: The Peasant Army/Lev Bronstein (CNT)
The Outcasts: Angel Face (00)
Token punk reviews coming up. Like most No Future-label records, which all have letters “OI” before their serial numbers, Peter and his TTBs’ new one goes blah! blah! blah! (with the emphasis on the exclamation marks), and very quickly, and to no particular effect. Still, the Babies carry it all with some amount of humour, which is something, I guess. Worth a smirk. But worth a quid?
Next The Redskins, who are made of sterner stuff. The group feature an NME person (whom I shall simply refer to as ‘X’) which makes reviewing awkward but… they’re hard-edged and passionate, and un-dreary with it; but political commitment is a difficult thing to combine with spontaneous creativity. I just hope their minds are as open as their guitar tunings. And Northern Ireland’s Outcasts? Well, the ’60s was a great time for chart-pop, and the ’80s has had its moments too. But Bolan apart, the ’70s was the absolute pits, with all that Bell-label and Chinnichap trash. Who wants cover-versions (cover-versions, already) of The Glitter Band?
Paul Du Noyer
An anti-racist film reviewed in Spare Rib , 78, January, 1979.
Divide and Rule – Never
by the Newsreel Collective
(The Other Cinema)
A film about racism, aimed at young people and so hoping for a wide distribution in schools, colleges and youth clubs. It is built around interviews with young people (two Asian girls from Southall, a West Indian girl from Hackney, two ex-National Fronters, some Birmingham punks and others). Their comments are grouped under such headings as identity, school, work, the law, the NF. But Divide and Rule – Never also attempts a brief exploration of imperialism and of fascism, as well as showing flashes of fight-backs in Brick Lane, and Rock Against Racism carnivals. It is the kids’ own comments that are the most memorable though, for their passionate, angry power.
I saw the film with a group of West Indian girls who identified with it very strongly – with the comments about racism in school (“we were only wanted for the netball team”), with the pessimism about job prospects or fair treatment from the police. They were horrified by the shots of Nazi Germany,and by the descriptions of racist attacks on Asians in London’s East End, neither of which they knew much about.
Although much of the film, rightly, made them angry and upset (NF comments on blacks for instance), there was also real pleasure in seeing people like themselves out there, saying what has to be said.
Unlike other anti-racist material, the film isn’t distanced from the kids’ experience and it isn’t sexist. If you’re in a position to get it shown anywhere – use it!
16mm, 37min, colour, and available from TOC, 12/13 Little Newport St, London WC2, for £14.
Poem from Guttersnipe zine, number 2, 1978. There’s no name as to the author.
Friday morning, just got my cheque,
Had to see my solicitor to keep me outta nick.
Only four of us going down,
Rode in an M.G. breaking the limit in every town.
Arrived in Reading around about four,
Got in by paying a quid on the door.
So onto the stage to sing with the band,
Backstage had some beers with the lads outta Sham,
Then we seen Paul Weller of the Jam.
Don’t remember where I slept
But she shouldn’t worry her secrets kept.
Poems are from Whizzer and Chips comic 4 April, 1987.
Chips beats Whizzer, no mistake,
Anything’s better than Sid’s Snake.
Shiner’s black eyes are no fake,
For boxing he just takes the cake!
Slippy is a silly pest,
Eating cakes meant for a guest.
So if you put it to the test,
Chips is, without doubt, the best!
Sarah Beverley, Aldershot
Whizzer is the number one,
It really is the best,
And when I read the stories,
They really give me zest.
The partner to Whizzer is Chips,
And it’s really the worst of all,
‘Cos when i read the stories,
They drive me up the wall!
I hope you like my story,
or poem as you may call it,
I hope you think it’s funny
And full of lots of wit!
Graham Pennie, B.F.P.O, 44.
Siouxsie and the Banshees on Channel 4’s Play At Home from September, 1984.