Monthly Archives: March 2019

Roger McGough

The Liverpool poet has his album reviewed in the NME, 14 October, 1978.

Roger McGough
Summer With Monica
(Island)

Almost entirely a rare pearl this, a record I love completely by a poet I admire hugely.
Roger McGough commits “Summer With Monica” to vintl: a tale of youth and love and growing older and the jealousies in between told simply, with love and wry black humour who could only have come from Liverpool.
In the main the music stays where it belongs, in the backgroud, and only occasionally does it ever threaten to intrude and then only fleetingly. A word or two of congratulations must also be spared for Peter Blake – the illustrator of the book from which this record evolved – for the superb cover art, without doubt the best I’ve seen this year.
Much could be said about Roger McGough and his poetry, and undoubtedly will be elsewhere. But when all is said and done, the only sane way to approach this kind of poetry is to put it on, listen, turn it off, sit back and wait to see if you get a hit off it.
I did.

John Hamblett

Dear Debbie

The London Gay Teengae Group published a booklet called Talking About Young Lesbians in 1984. The introduction stated: ‘This is a collection of experiences, thoughts and feelings of a number of young women who have been through a variety of experiences, perhaps some will be similar to your own. It doesn’t have the answers, just some of the routes young women have taken to feeling positive about being lesbians (or bi-sexual).’
In the section Talking About Themselves, one young women wrote a poem.

Dear Debbie

I started to write
It’s been a cold and lonely night
I put the pen down.
My mind’s in turmoil
My face is a permanent frown.

I’ve known you for so long
3 years now – or maybe I’m wrong
But it seems like just the other day
You ‘came out’ and told me you were gay.

This strengthened the bond between us,
I loved and understood you more.
My mother asked if i was.
I told her I wasn’t sure.

I met a girl with a delicate nature
She turned that frown into a smile.
I’m hoping I’ll never hurt her
And it will last a while.

But does this mean I’m gay?
Do I know the meaning of the word?
Maybe it’s too early to say
Is it an echo I’ve heard.

Then there was Mike
People try not to stare
His painted face so feminine
Framed with a black cascade of hair

I found the reason.
Classification if you like.
I’m bi-sexual.
Not straight or a dyke.

Emma, 17

Librarian Julie Cheung-Inhin with several small press chapbooks from the 70s and 80s, and with Talking About Young Lesbians in hand.

The Beat’s ‘Zine

In May 1981 The Beat’s fan club put out a ‘zine, The Noise In This World.

The-Beat-The-Noise-In-This-567114

The Noise In This World (taken from the name of the song on I Just Can’t Stop It) was produced, edited and neatly handwritten by a close friend of the band named Marilyn Hebrides, and her editorial perspective, punk rock cut and paste design style, comments and insights about her friends who had suddenly become pop stars makes for some very entertaining reading

Read the whole issue here

Hebrides had shared a cottage with the band’s guitarists Dave Wakeling and Andy Cox on the Isle of Wight in 1978, where the three of them worked to build solar panels. When they weren’t busy working, Wakeling and Cox played their guitars and wrote songs. As such Hebrides was privy to the very early days of the band as the duo of Wakeling and Cox began writing songs that would be recorded for their first album. One of those songs was a nascent version of “Best Friend” which caught Hebrides attention. She urged them to start a band. When they did and quickly became a success, they in turn asked her to be in charge of their fan club. It is from this unique vantage point that this edition of the newsletter, issued just before the band’s second album Whappen was released, includes much of the band’s back story and beginnings, as well as first person accounts written by the band members of their experiences touring in Ireland and the U.S.

Flowers And Bullets

This poem is dedicated to Allison Krause, one of the four slain on May 4th, 1970 at Kent State University. She had reportedly placed a flower in the barrel of a National Guardsman’s rifle on the previous day and said, “Flowers are better than bullets.”
Bullets and Flowers was originally published in May, 1970 in the Soviet Pravda newspaper.
In December, 1970, Yevgeny Yevtushenko donated the manuscript of this poem to the Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections & Archives. This translation of the poem by Anthony Kahn was published by City Lights Books in 1970.

Flowers & Bullets

Of course:
Bullets don’t like people
who love flowers,
They’re jealous ladies, bullets,
short on kindness.
Allison Krause, nineteen years old,
you’re dead
for loving flowers.

When, thin and open as the pulse
of conscience,
you put a flower in a rifle’s mouth
and said,
“Flowers are better than bullets,”
that
was pure hope speaking.

Give no flowers to a state
that outlaws truth;
such states reciprocate
with cynical, cruel gifts,
and your gift, Allison Krause,
was the bullet
that blasted the flower.

Let every apple orchard blossom black,
black in mourning.
Ah, how the lilac smells!
You’re without feeling.
Nothing, Nixon said it:
“You’re a bum.”
All the dead are bums.
It’s not their crime.
You lie in the grass,
a melting candy in your mouth,
done with dressing in new clothes,
done with books.

You used to be a student.
You studied fine arts.
But other arts exist,
of blood and terror,
and headsmen with a genuius for the axe.

Who was Hitler?
A cubist of gas chambers.
In the name of all flowers
I curse your works,
you architect of lies,
maestros of murder!
Mothers of the world whisper
“O God, God!”
and seers are afraid
to look ahead.
Death dances rock-and-roll upon the bones
of Vietnam, Cambodia –
On what stage is it booked to dance tomorrow?

Rise up, Tokyo girls,
Roman boys,
take up your flowers
against the common foe.
Blow the world’s dandelions up
into a blizzard!
Flowers, to war!
Punish the punishers!
Tulip after tulip,
carnation after carnation
rip out of your tidy beds in anger,
choke every lying throat
with earth and root!
You, jasmine, clog
the spinning blades of mine-layers.

Boldy,
block the cross-hair sights,
drive your sting into the lenses,
nettles!
Rise up, lily of the Ganges,
lotus of the Nile,
stop the roaring props
of planes pregnant
with the death of chidren!
Roses, don’t be proud
to find yourselves sold
at higher prices.
Nice as it is to touch a tender cheek,
thrust a sharper thorn a little deeper
into the fuel tanks of bombers.

Of course:
Bullets are stronger than flowers.
Flowers aren’t enough to overwhelm them.
Stems are too fragile,
petals are poor armor.
But a Vietnam girl of Allison’s age,
taking a gun in her hands
is the armed flower
of the people’s wrath!
If even flowers rise,
then we’ve had enough
of playing games with history.

Young America,
tie up the killer’s hands.
Let there be an escalation of truth
to overwhelm the escalating lie
crushing people’s lives!
Flowers, make war!
Defend what’s beautiful!
Drown the city streets and country roads
like the flood of an army advancing
and in the ranks of people and flowers
arise, murdered Allison Krause,
Immortal of the age,
Thorn – Flower of protest!

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Bobby Moore Was Innocent

The majestic Serious Drinking reviewed live in Soundmaker, 4 June, 1983.

The Higsons, The Farmer Boys, Serious Drinking

The Electric Ballroom, London

It’s the Farmer Boys’ evening judging by the number of quiffs ‘n’ check shirts in the audience. They’ve presumably been drawn by the band’s clutch of very catchy singles and their certain naive and self-effacing charm. For instance, after, ‘A Promise You Can’t Keep’, Baz says, “you’re too kind, I’d have gon home by now.”
So what’s the problem? For me at least, it’s that The Farmer Boys’ music is rather like their anthemical ‘Soft Drink’, not a heady brew to take away and savour, but a pleasure enjoyed briefly and forgotten, a sort of Orange Juice without the soul. I like the older songs but already the newer ones are sounding weaker and though a real drummer would be an improvement, I can’tsee thm making the big league with their current fun band brand of pop.
Serious Drinking, my band of the evening, preceded them with a good short set, genuine classics such as ‘Countdown To Bilko’ and ‘Bobby Moore Was Innocent’ rubbing shoulders with only slightly less immediate new songs. Their ‘Heavy Brew’ – shall we say five pints? – with its humourous roots in punk and ska, was not ideal for this audience but the band’s rabble-rousing songs got a good few dancing, and even more grinning.
I was prepared to be bored by The Higsons’ energetic funk and duly was by much of the set. Their enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment spread though, and they got the most positive response of the whole evening with half the Ballroom dancing b the end. For the last song, about fifty punters invaded the stage for a song-and-dance to the exhilarating ‘One World’. I was not alone in being won over and the band were called back despite the ‘curfew’ to do a blistering ‘I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys/Put The Punk Back In The Funk’ encore.
Maybe the Higsons haven’t missed their boat after all.

Peter Stockton

Still Life #2

Another Still Life from Cheryl B’s 2000 collection, New York Girl.

Still Life #2

Another ex-girlfriend was using bulk force to keep me at home, her rather massive body lying on top of mine in such a way that I could not get off the bed, couch, floor or wherever she wanted to kep me. She weighed over one hundred pounds more than me. One time after we broke up but were still living together, she followed me through Tomkins Square Park and sat on me on one of the benches, saying, “So, you wanna leave, huh? You think you can leave?”
It was a nice early Saturday evening in the Spring and people in general were beginning to get drunk and happy. She finally got off me when I yelled for help and a cop started heading our way.
She went off in the opposite direction as the officer approached us. I looked back and forth between the two, an absurd kaleidescope of movement passing before my eyes.
“Miss, are you all right? Do you want to get a restraining order?” He said to me. His voice sounded distant. I watched my ex-girlfriend move down the pathway, back towards our building.
“Miss,” he said again, agitated and trying to see if I was listening.
“Yes. No.” I answered, “I don’t want to get a restraining order.” He shook his head and walked away.
I barreled down Avenue A trying to figure out the best way to forget.

Cheryl B

Wake Up

The Redskins, Neurotics, Attila, Billy Bragg, and Kevin Seisay on this 1987 miner’s benefit 12″ from Dave Womble’s Wake Up zine.

the Redskins – levi stubbs’ tears
Billy Bragg – a change is gonna come
the Neurotics – this fragile life
Attila the Stockbroker – 40 years
Kevin Seisay – all smiles
Billy Bragg with Wiggy, the Neurotics and Attila the Stockbroker – garageland

Blue Jean Blues

From Sam Greenlee’s 1975 collection Ammunition – Poetry and Other Raps.

Blue Jean Blues

They used to be the
uniform of the working man.
Stained with the dirt and oil
of honest toil,
softened by countless washings,
bleached blue/white by the sun.
Now they hang, hand-tailored
from the pampered asses
of the privileged few
no longer just blue. But
violet, pink, green, and
pastel shades in between.
Which is cool, cause
when we takeover, we can
put them to work for the
first time in their lives in
their sequined, rhinestoned,
high-fashion jeans …

Sam Greenlee