The Roundhouse. From Sounds, Feb 5th, 1983
In a rival comic, John Cooper Clarke once said of SWells and Attila: “Don’t give up the paper round, lads. Leave it to the experts.” That was a smug mistake and he’s paying for it in full tonight.
“What’s black and white and drips gravy?” enquires Seething Wells, forever rubbing that five o’clock shadow dome. “John Cooper Clarke on a spit.”
I’m starting to feel sorry for the Mancunian anorexic – until he comes on. The boy looked at Johnny and wondered what the hell the Salford bard had been doing for the past year: One new poem, that’s uncivil service productivity. But we’re jumping ahead . . .
What a delight to find SWells lacerating lug-holes when I get inside. First time I’ve tasted his fire in the flesh; stunning, a rucking revelation. Vinyl faves like ‘Godzilla vs The Tetley Bittermen’, ‘Ha Ha Ha’, ‘Aggro Britain’, ‘He/She’s Perfect’ vie with an abundance of new material.
An ode about Charles and Di’s sprog, ‘Oh Joy It’s A Boy’ (“And here it is, the little swine. Tell the truth, is it a corgi, does it have hooves?”) and a rightful blast against the pitiful Steve Wright in the form of ‘I Was A Teenage Zombie DJ’.
But the highlight has to be SWells’ vision of post-holocaust Bradford, ‘I Was A Teenage Zombie Bitterman’, in which he reveals: “Nothing’s changed in Bradford. Nothing’s changed at all. Cos the difference between a live and dead Tetley Bitterman is very, very small.”
Moustache imitating a thin blackbird in flying on sulphate, Attila the Stockbroker mentally raps a host of new (to me) works to begin with:
‘Hands Off Our Halibuts’ shows a lot of fishy references in the Stockbroker’s portfolio (“Skate off Captain Kirk. You’re out of plaice. You’re talking pollocks”. Groan!); a rib-bending piece of alien cack, ‘ET Laxative’; ‘Andropov’s Gland Dropped Off’ (the title’s enough) plus many others.
Mandolin to the fore and aided by the Midnight Stockbrokers, Attila follows his assault through with the somewhat serious ‘5th Dead Kennedys’ ‘California Uber Alles’ until his jack-plug goes astray, and comes to the rescue with the flaccid fun of ‘Willie Whitelaw’s Willy’. Great!
So to JCC. Red jacket, leather trousers, white shoes, he performed solo and to backing tapes all those poems we all love so well. He told the odd good joke. But so what? At the moment he’s living on his reputation (just). And I never thought I’d say that.