A review of an Electric Ballroom gig, 30 April, 1980, that featured three of the best punk bands of the day: Cockney Rejects, Crisis, and Slaughter and the Dogs. This is from Grinding Halt, number 5.
The same gig was reviewed in Trees and Flowers.
This was one hell of a gig. Dead Kennedys had a kick and sense of humour that punk had lost, and the Redskins were bringing some soulful fire to a despondent Britain. The excitement leading up to this gig was for this little skinhead (then) intense. The venue was packed and both bands had plenty to say, and the tunes to say it with.
It’s a shame the NME got Miss Prissy to review the gig. The reviewer went on to join dire punk band Brigandage.
This is from 11 December, 1982.
Succumb To The Beat Attack!
Ace Cinema, Brixton
First onto the soapbox are The Redskins who are the meekest bunch of skinheads I’ve seen for a long time, although still macho enough to put me off, and inherit the earth they shall not. It’s a close thing though ’cause their music is an exciting and joyous form of rock/pop that has the crowd bouncing along throughout the set.
Their sound is an extremely well crafted concoction of The Jam, The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers – if you’re a traditionalist and you like tunes then this lot will be enough to make you purr. Everything is fine until leader X. Moore opens his mouth and begins his tough guy socialist tirades. “Kick over the statues” he raves, presumably so that he can replace them with other, ultimately similar, icons.
What The Redskins want to do for architecture, the Dead Kennedys do for your mind. They go for the throat of the power that is behind the statues, cutting across socialist dogma with pure, visionary common sense. X. Moore wants to be a politician, Jello Biafra is content to be a true man of the people, but of a people who think for themselves. This is his and the Kennedy’s basic message: think!
And, unlike all other punk groups, when Jello has something to say then you can hear him say it. The music comes right down, and over a bass backing Biafra will spout his piece. As dubious and dull as this sounds, it actually comes across very well – the man is a born orator and his from-the-heart pleas are very effective. He is a powerful and likeable figure, it’s just a shame that everything he said tonight will be taken as gospel by some of the audience because, as he says. “think for yourselves!”
The Dead Kennedys are an all-round experience. They are lucky enough to have an extraordinary lead singer with an equally special feel in their music to back him up. Only superficially could their noise be compared to the Oi/HM thing – it has a powerful, searing quality that transcends such slurs. Whereas HM/Oi hits you in the guts (making you feel sick), this music affects the head and heart. it’s a mighty and provocative nois that, when mixed with Biafra’s words, is capable of sweeping you away. The Kennedys came, saw and left people feeling happier and hopefully more suss than before.
Despite all the froth that’s oft times whisked into them, poetry slams are nothing new. The Greek playwright Aristophanes has one in his play The Frogs that was first performed in 405BC. Euripides and Aeschylus compete to see who is the best tragic poet, with Dionysis as the judge.
The Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula was also fond of poetry. In The Twelve Caesars the historian Suetonius (born 69AD) relates this incident (translated by Robert Graves) from the life of Caligula:
20. Caligula gave several shows abroad – Athenian Games at Syracuse, and miscellaneous games at Lyons, where he also held a competition in Greek and Latin oratory. The loser, it appears, had to present the winners with prizes and make speeches praising them; while those who failed miserably were forced to erase their entries with either sponges or their own tongues – at the threat of being thrashed and flung into the Rhône.
Bring on George The Poet.
Who Wants It?
Who wants it?
Who wants to know?
Tactical ability is secondary to heart
there’s a thing that Governments and Generals rely on,
when soldiers fight
they fight for each other,
there’s a code that comes with friendship;
casuals know it in a single word:
Me and Jasper were stood at the end of the bridge,
they opened the gates at the ground,
the other end of the bridge began to swarm,
there was nowhere to go,
we don’t run.
They had a bounty on Jasper from the 80s
we stood next to each other,
an empty Budweiser bottle each
and faith, faith in loyalty,
we each knew the other wouldn’t run,
that we would Stand,
that we were Stoke,
that was the deal
when you enter a situation
knowing the extremes of its consequence,
you make a pact.
If you tell your friend that you will stand by them
then as long as they are true
As they circled us
it became surreal,
the fear began to ebb,
I felt a kind of calm.
I looked into their faces
there was a lot of young lads,
mebbe carrying Stanley’s,
there were fucking hundreds of them.
One of them gobbed at me.
I smiled and wiped my face
with the sleeve of me Stone Island jumper.
“Where are your boys Jasper?”
“Where do you think they are?
They’re still in there.”
After a minute they smiled
nodded and left,
we walked to the ground and started giggling.
“Fucking hell Gedi, that was close.”
We’d got away with it,
another tale to tell,
and tell again.
When the stand off is over
what happened matters little,
but the deal was kept.
In a fight it’s easy,
without the fighting,
the deal is the same,
Typical girls they, thankfully, never were.
The Slits in the NME, 2 January, 1882.
He could be so good for you, well he is for the NME, 5 June, 1982.