The Height Of Bad Manners reviewed by Chris Dean in the NME, 4 June, 1983.
Me, I’d be the last to trade excuses with you, but make a mental, it takes time to review a Bad Manners album – not a few days extra to scrape up a sociological State Of The Art analysis to hang on this Greatest Hits package, but several weeks to floor-test this record in its element at parties, and then scrape up a sociological State Of The Art analysis to hang thereon.
Last party I tested this out at was back in York, when I came home home to find my mum throwing a pre-Election knees-up. A sort of ‘Labour Paaaaarty’, with all the ingredients for sound rave-up – two thirds of the General Management Committee, a couple of councillors and a few entryists keeping their heads down in the corner.
Only problem was the Branch Secretary was caught short for records (‘Andy Williams Sings The Red Flag’ permitting) and, sheer chance, I had this album, the perfect complement to a front room full of bopping reformists. And what a complement More popular than King Arthur, Buster went down a storm. Our Tony put his back out of joint dancing to the ‘Can Can’, Shirl got ribbed for ‘My Girl Lollipop’ and ‘Buena Sera’ got Ray singing “Tain’t no sin to throw off your skin and daqnce around in your bones”…Hit me with those naughty-type radical lyrics!
Bad Manners’ Greatest Hits means an album of party favourites, and can Buster and the boys party! Some people would give their philosophy degree for the ability to make really party music; some people ony have to grin and flaunt it, and who better to get teenies and grannies grinning hopelessly than Fatty Buster hisself.
You remember Buster – the only pop star from ’79’s ska explosion who looked like he’d been poured into his Sta-Prest and forgotten to say “When!”. Bad Manners took themselves a slice of 2-Tone’s essential party spirit and built a whole group around Buster’s tongue – Manners live were chaos incorporated. Buster looning while the rest of the band went on groove manoeuvres, rough(ly) R&B and neat ska steals set off by Winston Bazoomies’ harp.
‘The Height Of Bad Manners’ is everything you’ve already heard, all the chartbreakers plus extras like ‘Inner London Violence’ and ‘Elizabethan Reggae’. But if ‘Lip Up Fatty’ sounds dead similar to Clancy Eccles and ‘Buena Sera’ sounds nothing like Toto Puente, who gives a monkey’s gone midnight?
With upful music in a downtrodden state, Bad Manners still grin and flaunt it in spite of the times – and, tearsferfears, what times! These days angst isn’t an adolescent condition, it’s a friggin’ movement. Sure thang, whining’s back in fashion.
The message in this glorious moozic is don’t whine too loudly, angst-ridden ones. Better must come. Remember, even people have ears.
As we enter 2017 with the buffoon Donald Trump taking the reigns in the US, Putin in Russia and a Brexiting Britain that’s increasingly tearing between rich and poor this poem from Sidney Bernard seems timely once again.
Back in 1967 a poetry anthology called Where Is Vietnam? American Poets Respond came out in the US. There were many big names in it including Robert Creeley, Galway Kinnell, William Wantling, and more. William Wantling had served in Vietnam.
Paraders for the Bomb
Full of nitty-gritty anxiety,
I walk the plank of possible doom around me.
An unruly gust cuts the corner of
Lexington and 60th Street, loosing
a wayward placard around my feet.
The mustard-colored message reads,
“Bomb Hanoi.” Three blond toughs, Rover Boys
for the hour, slice in and out of the
Bloomingdale’s crowd. On one lapel are
“Drop It” buttons, on the other
“Buckley For Mayor.” They made the marching
team, these three parts of the river
of patriotism that swamped Fifth Avenue,
in a tempest of cheers for war in Vietnam.
Darting into the subway, they exhale
a vapor of belligerent righteousness,
as they head back to the neighborhood
of their fears. The shoppers (O dreamers
of the ultimate bargain!) hardly notice
the boutonniered boys. Too busy
with the map of purchasing, they miss
the territory of violence around them.
Attila’s original handwritten draft of I Don’t Talk To Popstars.
From Youth Anthem, 4, 1984
Norman Tebbit was a right-wing Tory membe of Mrs Thatcher’s government. In 1884 he was Trade and Industry Secretary. He was well known for being anti-trade union.
In 1981 his response to the Young Conservatives chairman Iain Picton suggesting that rioting in Handsworth and Brixton was a natural reaction to unemployment was: “I grew up in the ’30s with an unemployed father. He didn’t riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it.”
The Extra Tebbitestrial (E.T.) (Norman Tebbit)
The dole queue figures reach an all time peak
E.T. says “get on your bikes” to ride and seek
The non-existant jobs that he claims are there
But we know he’s bluffing and it’s so unfair
‘Cause the bikes we once owned are in the pawnbrokers
A sad consequence of the tory jokers
The Extra Tebbitestrial can’t be human
He’s gotta be related to gary Numan
‘Cause just like him he’s cold with a hard exterior
With his brains situated in his bald posterior
Extra Tebbitestrial doesn’t come from earth
He doesn’t come at all for what that’s worth
Extra Tebbitestrial certainly makes the little kids cry
‘Cause their old man is out of work and he can’t explain why
The Extra Tebbitestrial is the cause of our pains
The power he’s got can drive us insane
The Extra Tebbitestrial is part of Thatcher’s attack
He grew like a manitou out of her back
Extra Tebbitestrial wants to phone home
But all I can say is Extra Tebbitestrial “Fuck off home”
Jeff Nuttall’s poetry ‘zine My Own Mag ran from 1963 to 1966 for 17 issues. Many good names were included, amongst them: William Burroughs, Alan Brownjohn, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg (a big name rather than a good one!), Michael McClure, Brian Patten, Charles Plymell, Alexander Trocchi, William Wantling and Tonk.
During it’s run it sold for the bargain price of a penny.
His 1968 book Bomb Culture was desribed by Peter Fryer in New Society as an ‘anarchist manifesto’ and ‘the Underground’s epitaph by one who was in at its birth’. Indeed the book was discussed in Parliament during a debate about youth culture in 1970.
The cover of the first issue, November 1963. This issue was just 4 pages.
The cover of the third issue, February 1964
The cover of the sixth issue, July 1964
The cover of the seventeenth and final issue.
A write up from The Leveller, October 1979. about the ‘Persons Unknown’ trial. Despite heavy pressure from the State the trial resulted in not guilty verdicts.
The Poison Girls song ‘Persons Unknown’ is based on the case.