Punk Police

Punk loving old bill in the Sounds letters page, 1 December, 1979.

X-Ray Inspector
Please help me avoid a major disaster! I am a police cadet of the Notts. Constabulary, and each year we put on a Christmas concert. In order to shock the Chief Constable (who is present at these functions), we, the Senior Cadets, intend to bring a little new wave into his mundane existence.
To be precise we want to do a version of ‘The Day The World Turned Dayglo’. The problem is nobody knows the words. This is where you come in. Please could you use your vast resources to beg, borrow or even steal a copy of the words for us. If this request is not carried out I shall discontinue my regular order of your fine rag. (Unless, of course, it contains photos of Penetration’s Pauline). Evenin’ all.
Cdt. 57, Geoff Dunn, Newark, Notts.

The Test

Poem by Caribbean poet Una Marson.
She was born in Jamaica in 1905. In 1928 she published her own magazine, The Cosmopolitan, which covered local, feminist and workers’ rights issues.
Her first book of poetry, Tropic Reveries, was published in 1930.She wrote further collections and also plays.
She travelled to London in 1932 and became the first black woman to be employed by the BBC during World War II. In 1942, she became producer of the programme Calling the West Indies, turning it into Caribbean Voices, which became an important forum for Caribbean literary work.

The Test

The test of a true culture
Is the ability
To move among men,
East or West,
North or South,
With ease and confidence,
Radiating the pure light
Of a kindly humanity.

Una Marson

Right On

Enoch Powell encouraged to listen to some soul, Black Echoes letters page, 30 January, 1976.

Why Doesn’t Old Enoch Listen To Some Good Soul Sounds?
When I see the rantings on TV of people like Enoch Powell, claiming all manner of iniquitous action from the Black community in this country, it makes me think he’s never heard a Soul record or been to a disco.
If he did, he’s see (in my area anyway) white kids and black kids enjoying themselves together with one common interest – Black music. Because it’s certain that white kids are buying the records in sufficient numbers to get them into the charts.
Per haps Mr Powell should go back t his old constituency of Wolverhampton and get someone to take him to a disco. He’d learn more about racial matters in one evening hotfooting it to some Motown or Philly sounds than he will in 10 years in Westminster.
Black music brings people together, and that’s what we need in this country, not the outbursts of Enoch – BETTY COLEMAN, Cannock.

Johnny Was

Blistering Bob Marley single reviewed in Sounds, 1 May, 1976 by Vivien Goldman.

Sounds Star Single
Scoop Goldman’s Single of the Week

Bob Marley And The Wailers:
‘Johnny Was (Woman Hold Her Head And Cry)’ (Island)

It must be boring for Bob Marley to keep on being voted single of the week every time he puts voice to a 45. Strange choice for the single – I’d be surprised if the radio would give airplay to such a savage and pointed political statement. “Woman hold her head and cry ‘cos her son’s been shot down in the streets and died, just because of the system …”
Trying to adjust to her son being felled by a stray bullet (oh irony), the woman can only say “Johnny was a good man …” As usual, Bob weaves a spiders-web of emotions with deceptively simple lyrics. The flip is the basic-sounding ‘Cry To Me’; it’s so easy to dance to … I would have thought that the incredible ‘Want More’ from the new album, ‘Rastaman Vibration’ (reviewed elsewhere in this ish) would have been a better single choice, but there you go.

Still Out Of Order

Infa-Riot’s album reviewed in Sounds, 26 June, 1982 by Attila the Stockbroker in his John Opposition form.

Infa-Riot
“Still Out Of Order”
(Secret pre-release)*****


A pleasure. A privilege. It had to happen, and now it has; this is the one. All you cynics and fainthearted bores, all you fashionable fops who continually sound the deathknell of punk and passion, listen to this album and KNOW that Infa-Riot have come up with the goods.
So you that that the seething mass of energy, rhythm, noise and protest labelled ‘new punk’ was one long tuneless, mindless thrash endlessly reliving the past? I say you’re the ones stuck in the past, and with ‘Still Out Of Order’ I rest my case.
This album is unstoppable all round. Songs, production, lyrics, energy – it has the lot. It’s well put together (scotching the old farts’ myth that punks can’t play), intelligent )proving that punks can THINK) and varied (more than you can say for the majority of the synthesiser set).
Twelve tracks, each one with its own distinctive character; no turkeys fly here, Marcus. There isn’t a low moment from start to finish but if I was to pick out the highest of the highs then I’d take the following:
-Power’ is an even more power-ful version of Infa-Riot’s contribution to the ‘Wargasm’ LP, a vintage singalong anthem, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ has absolutely nothing to do with Bachman Turner Overdrive and everything to do with the reality of life in Thatcher’s Britain ’82.
“Under the carpet they go, the young, the weak and the old/Under the carpet they’re swept, but YOU HAVEN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!” OK, so we won the war, but there’s still the three million. They haven’t gone away.
The last single. ‘The Winner’, is as strong and powerful as ever but to these ears it isn’t the best track on the album which just goes to show what a classic the whole thing is. That distinction goes to the incredible ‘Friday Oh Friday’, a real rival to ‘Smash The Discos’ in the anti-disco stakes. “We hate your soppy music, we love to sing some punk/So stuff you f***ing discos right where they belong.” Too right! Play it at Tiffany’s! Saturday night beneath the plastic palm trees – with Infa-Riot!
The whole album is BRILLIANT and if you think the 1982 punk scene is sterile and boring, I dare you to listen to this. Some people think 1982 is cocktail year. I KNOW it’s Infa-Riot’s year.
John Opposition

Another Close Shave

John Dowie’s single reviewed in the NME, 8 October, 1977.

British Loony is savage attack on Netherlands


Mr John Dowie
Another Close Shave (Virgin)

Magnum opus from Great British Loony, formerly of John Dowie’s Big Girl’s Blouse. This is just one of four cuts on a seven inch single, on which Dowie numbers that most innocuous of races, the Dutch – who even have the good taste to recognise the talents of Ry Cooder and Randy Newman.
Propelled along by monotone bass and rippling electronic keyboard the redoubtable Dowie intones: “The Dutch, the Dutch, I hate them worse than dogs/They live in windmills and mince around in clogs…The Dutch are mad, their fingers stuck in dykes/They use the wrong side of the road and ride around on bikes”. And that’s not all. In another song “Jim Callaghan” – doubtless released to coincide with the great leader’s week at Blackpool – he eulogises this giant among men. Great stuff!

Steve Clarke

Paul Poetry Weller

Angry Jam fan in Sounds letters page 19 January, 1980.

Rude Boys On The Radio
Well there I was with my cassette in taping the Jam at the Rainbow off Radio One when all of a sudden there was this bloody bleep. I thought there was something wrong with my radio but just as I was about to dove on the tuning knob I realised that it was just being used to obliterate the ‘fucks’ on ‘Modern World.’ Just what were the BBC playing at? It can’t be that they’re trying to prevent our ears being soiled by such language ‘cos we’d already had ‘shit’ and ‘bastard’ on ‘To Be Someone’. So why did the BBC ruin my recording with that beep?
Whilst I’m writing this letter I might as well get my money’s worth for the stamp and say what I think of the pillock who wrote in a few months back saying ‘Weller is a wimp’, the most pathetic example of alliteration yet. Poetry isn’t all golden daffodils tossing their heads in sprightly dance, like music isn’t just a form of expressing yourself which Paul does extremely well both in his music and poetry. – Ann Gree

Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson live from the NME, 5 April, 1986.

If It Ain’t A Nerd It Ain’t Funny
Rowan Atkinson
Birmingham Hippodrome

It is traditionally accepted that comics cut their teeth performing before rowdy drunken louts who have never heard of their entertainer before. The criteria is always the same – if you get out alive, they like you.
After a few years with your name in lights and a couple of dozen television appearances notched on the nation’s funnybone, a show in front of 2,000 pandering punters paying £7.50 a head is a doddle, and many mirth-makers will rely on their good track record to pull them through the bad jokes.
Not our Mr Atkinson; his new revue, cunningly entitled The New Revue, is just that. A month previous at this very theatre, his Not partners in comic crime, Smith and Jones, gave us a greatest hits show with some material stretching back at least five years – quite funny, but quite old.
Atkinson’s two-hour show is brimming with virgin sketches penned by Dick Curtis and that comedy regular Ben Elton, but it is our Rowan who makes it work. All of it. Honestly, there is not a dull moment.
Whether it’s totally-over-the-top caricature like the army officer instructing squaddies on peace camp patrol (“Unfortunately legislation has yet to be introduced which allows Americans to run over lesbians”) or the memoirs of a laconic Irish name-dropper (“Me and Mick go back a long way, in fact it was me who gave him the Mars Bar”), Atkinson combines a credible acting talent with the kind of timing some members of The Comic Strip can only read about.
Add to that his rubbery face and bendy body and you have the nearest thing to a complete comic performer we can expect to see for years.
I must confess to being one of those cynics who sits in shows like this with arms folded saying “go on, you’re a bloody comedian, make me laugh”. Well, I’m still sniggering.

Terry Staunton

 

Longkesh

Poem from the 1974 anthology Love Orange Love Green – Poetry of Living, Loving and Dying in Working-Class Ulster. The anthology collected work from across the divide.

Longkesh

The wind blows and whistles and rattles out its song
Amongst the cages of barbed wire all day and all night long
It blows in through draughty huts, it’s with you everywhere
It never stops exploring, relentless, monotonous, blustering.

Miles and miles of barbed wire, all around to see,
On top grill type caging keeping me here unfree
Someone said “It’s funny, it’s really like a zoo”
But it was made for the hippopotamus, and the seal and fishes too.

Eighty-five men around, twenty-four hours a day
No privacy, not a minute, to think, to write, to pray
And the chains that keep us imprisoned, are implanted on the mind
These endless miles of barbed wire, around our hearts they wind.

The wind blows and whistles, Winter and Summer long,
It brings the snow, the rain, the sun, each day the same old song,
The time that I’ll remember when I am grey and old
How we suffered for your freedom in the dampness and the cold.

Larry McCurry, Hut 86, Cage 10, Long Kesh