Monthly Archives: April 2019

Dub Me Crazy

The first of the Mad Professor’s Dub Me Crazy albums, and the first Ariwa album, reviewed in Black Echoes, 11 September, 1982.

Mad Professor: ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ (Ariwa ARI 001LP)

Your Rights/My Rights; Freedom Chant; Ankoko; Dub Power; Zion/Tumble Down; Bucket Brigade; Psychologically Yours; South African Crossfire; Sweet Sweet Victory

The eccentric Mad Professor, better known as Neil Fraser, has completed his new studio in south east London and with the assembled talents of his Ariwa stable, and with the addition of other guest musicians from Battersea to Jamdown, has recorded a collage. ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ is a bizarre, often uncontrolled journey through the Fraser concept of adventurous dub reggae.
It’s appeal depends largely upon how much dance and introspection people demand from their reggae. Do people want to rock all night to the heavy, heavy sounds or drop a sugar cube and rot in a mire of feedback, reverb, echo, tape-loops, discordant harmonies chaffing with misshapen and distorted guitars and keyboards? ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ does possess the ability to move both mind and body although it is unquestionably aimed at the brain more than the feet.
You have to listen very carefully to Neil Fraser music, lest the little throwaway effects are missed, and to miss them would be a shame as this record’s strength is the sheer weight of effects the Mad Professor has crammed into it.
I doubt the talents performing herein had any concept of the bare-faced audacious wrecking spree Fraser would have with their performances.
Those so potentially offended are bassists Bernard and Deuce (of I&I), drummers Horsemouth, The General and Barrington Levin, keyboards Tony Benjamin and Junior Ebanks. Vocals, if they can be called so, come from the wonderful Ranking Ann and label chanteuse, Davina Stone.
If I had to choose I could be happy with ‘Your Rights/My Rights’, the mysterious ‘Freedom Chant’ and rusty cut and thrust of ‘Bucket Brigade’ that rolls into the soulful ‘Psychologically Yours’.
The sense of ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ is no sense at all. Pass me a Phensic and check the turntable hasn’t given up the ghost.

Jon Futrell

The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter’s book reviewed in Spare Rib, number 85, August, 1979.

The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter
(Gollancz £4.95)

Recognition of the importance of fairy tales has led feminists to devise alternatives for children: to provide energetic princesses to take the place of those passive heroines who were always the prey whether they were savaged or not. In The Bloody Chamber Angela Carter has recreated a series of fairy stories for adults: Bluebeard; Beauty and the Beast; Puss in Boots … In precise and sensuous writing she puts a mirror to familiar tales which reflect their dark sexual meanings and she uses the dialogues between humans and animals, commonplace in folklore, to explore the otherness of sexual experience.
But as you read through the stories in their sequence you can see in the mirror a new manipulation and control of the images which begins to create its own powerful mythology: Little Red Riding Hood leaves the safety of her home in her red shawl that “today has the ominous if brilliant look of blood on snow.” At last the wolf, carnivore incarnate, says his words: “‘All the better to eat you with.’ The girl burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s meat.” And the spell is broken: “See! sweet and sound she sleeps in granny’s bed, between the paws of the tender wolf.”
In that and other stories Carter examines themes apparent in her novels and in The Sadeian Woman: the curious relation between living flesh and dead meat; the corruption of the oppressed. However the taut structure of the traditional fairy story provides an excellent constraint on Carter’s super-abundance of ideas and images. It is a wonderful book, both erotic and optimistic. Powerful bedtime reading.
Katherine Gieve

Hovis Presley

Northern poet Hovis Presley started gigging in 1989. His real name was Richard McFarlane. He was a popular turn and made several TV appearances, including Mad For It and Gas in the 90s, and Whine Gums in the early 2000s. He was also on the radio.
He died in 2005.

This clip is from Mad For It.

Hannah Szenes

Hannah Szenes was Hungarian poet. She moved to Palestine in 1939 aged 17. When the British recruited Jewish fighters in Palestine for the Special Operations Executive, she joined up. She was one of 37 Jews from Mandatory Palestine parachuted by the British Army into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to Auschwitz.
She was captured on in Hungary. She was tortured and executed by firing squad on 7 November, 1944. She was 23.

This poem was written in 1944 in her cell, not long after being captured in Hungary.

One, Two, Three

One – two – three… eight feet long
Two strides across, the rest is dark…
Life is a fleeting question mark
One – two – three… maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel is very near.
I could have been 23 next July
I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.

Hannah Szenes

Sweet Little Death

This poem comes from the November 1981 collection of prisoners’ poetry Hidden Voices put out by East London Women Against Prison.

Sweet Little Death

Tossing and turning on my bed,
Sleep evading me like an unpaid debt;
I search for love amidst my fantasies;
There is none, only lust.
I know the painted gods of the night
Still sell their flesh at the Albert Clock.
I have observed the victims.
Lying between sheets with my two lovers,
My hands, I bring forth life
Into a Kleenex tissue.
This was such a sweet little death.

Desi Blain
H. Block, Long Kesh
Northern Ireland

The Handmaid’s Tale

Spare Rib, number 180, July, 1987, reviews Margaret Atwood’s novel.

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood, Virago Press, £3.95 paperback.

The Handmaid’s Tale
is Margaret Atwood’s sixth novel, currently being produced as a feature film with a script by Harold Pinter. The novel is a satiric dystopia about America taken over by totalitarian religious fundamentalists. It is narrated by the handmaid, a sort of captive surrogate breeder, kept by big sister ‘Aunts’ in the reproductive service of sterile ‘Commanders’ Wives’ in a world where women are defined by their procreative capacity, or lack of it. Futuristic though the Tale may be, it has all the recognizable warning signs of life in the late 1980’s, true to the quote from Swift’s A Modest Proposal which prefaces the novel.
Speaking recently at the ICA in London, Margaret Atwood described her fiction in terms of rewriting stories, myths and genres from the point of view of the voiceless women represented in them. The Handmaid’s Tale clearly bears the mark of this technique of rewrite-cum-reversal, echoing the fairy Tale (Grimm’s, not Disney’s), the book of Revelations, Plato’s Republic, 1984 and Brave New World. The novel also echoes strongly the narratives of concentration camp survivors, and reflects, no doubt, Margaret Atwood’s longstanding political affiliation with Amnesty International.
Readers familiar with Margaret Atwood’s fiction will recognize in The Handmaid’s Tale the skilled use of satire, irony and sarcasm which charecterises much of her work and is honed to an even keener edge in this her most explicitly critical novel to date. Perhaps I felt this aspect of the novel bordered on the relentless because it is the only form of resistance or escape offered in the novel. There is something slightly disturbing about having used the voice of an anonymous woman caught in the reproductive horrors of fascism, and having taken away everything from her, only to return her to silence and anonymity in a fictional afterworld which reconstructs the Tale as an obscure, even ‘mute’, historical artifact. Is there something about this relentless, very 1980’s, cynicism that accounts for this book’s otherwise quite suprising popularity (over 1 million copies sold in America, nominated for the Booker Prize, destined for a feature film)? I wonder.

Sarah Franklin

The People’s Co-Op

Another poem from the 1974 anthology Love Orange Love Green – Poems of Living, Loving and Dying in Working-Class Ulster. The poems are from both sides of the divide.

The People’s Co-Op

When the cashier hands you your docket
You take your money from your pocket
It does not matter, Mace or Spar
Your money doesn’t go too far
When you see how much your pound can buy
You can sit and have a damn good cry
For while you fought the English soldier
You forgot the rogue who was far more bolder
He needs no tank or armoured car
He owns the Mace or else the Spar
An Army strength is in divisions
This rogue has strength in his provisions
If we work together we can make him stop
Our strength is in the PEOPLE’S CO-OP….

Liam Malloy

Hurry Up Harry

Julie Birchill reviews Sham 69 in the NME, 14 October, 1978.

NEVILLE WANKER AND THE PUNTERS: (Sing A Little Song For) The Boys On The Dole (Lightning)
SHAM 69: Hurry Up Harry (Polydor)

Sham 69 have come on no end in two years, from wearing swastikas and supporting The Count Bishops in front of an audience of six to fooling most of the people all of the time, and, in one fell swoop with this latest single, becoming the undisputed Kings Of Gumble Rock. “Hurry Up, Harry” is surely the most atrocious record yet from a ‘name’ punk band. Everyone knows that Jimmy Pursey loses sleep over not being Joe Strummer and never being taken seriously by anyone other than skinheads, debutantes, the SWP and other morons. This is why he approximates The Clash’s warped vision of prole life as endless riots in tower blocks with his own more acceptable, simplistic, simple-minded version – going down the pub with the united kids with dirty faces. At 24, he’s still trying to kid the world he’s an under-age drinker smoking behind the bike sheds.
Never has a recorded voice sounded so cretinous, intoning a chorus of – “Come on! Come on!/Hurry up, Harry, come on/Come on! Come on!/Hurry up, Harry, come on/WE’RE GOING DOWN THE PUB!!!/WE’RE GOING DOWN THE PUB!!!” Never before has a man expressed such “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” joy about going down the pub with his mate. Jimmy, you may come from Surrey, but this is no excuse for your gross misrepresentation of the way the drinking-classes go about their business; you seem to have culled your impressions from Carry On films and the Monty Modlyn Show. Really, Jimmy, some of us even have inside lavatories these days.
Neville Wanker’s punk parody is massively less off-target than Pursey’s serious effort, catchy and endearing in the manner of peace-time Vera Lynn meeting Menace; its words make sad fun of a movement that deserves everything it gets if it makes Jimmy Pursey one of its figureheads.