Monthly Archives: October 2019

Philthy Animal Taylor

Everyone’s seen the pics of Motorhead’s drummer, Phil Taylor, as a young skinhead. Here’s a bit more about the lad from Sally ‘Tiswas’ James’ 1981 book, Almost Legendary Pop Interviews, as she’s interviewing Motorhead.

Sally: Are there bands that you particularly admire?

Eddie: The majority of the music we listen to is like Quo, ACDC, ZZ Top and all the old favourites, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Deep Purple.

Phil: Girlschool at the moment, and when I’m at home on my own I really like reggae. That was the first music I was ever into.


This is from Burning Our Bridges which is a booklet put out in 1979 by two Adult Literacy classes at Brighton Polytechnic.


I work for Bowthorpe. I might get redundant.
I might have to get another job. I do
de-greasing and paint-spraying, and soldering
tumblers. I can’t see why they closed it
down. But it goes through directors and I
cannot do anything about it. Fifty people
are threatened. That’s a lot of people.

They gave me a mask because of the fumes.
It’s silly isn’t it, when I am just about to
get redundant.

Dave Knight

144 Piccadilly

Kenneth Leech writes in his 1973 book, Keep The Faith Baby, about the ‘hippy stronghold’, Hells Angels, and skinheads.

My first involvement with 144 was on 3 September 1969, when three members of the Commune, Bernard, Bennett and Pete, called to see me at St Anne’s House, and said they had occupied 144 Piccadilly in the name of the ‘London Arts Commune’. They asked me if I would visit the house and write a letter verifying that they were in possession. This I did on the same date. A few days later the occupation hit the national press. About fifty people had moved in initially on a Sunday evening, getting in through the basement, and they rigged up a kind of moat, a gap between the house and the street. A security group kept out invaders. One of the Commune described what happened next.

Next morning we put out banners saying we were squatting and the next thing we knew we were in the papers. Then a crowd started gathering and a load of anarchists and the usual power freaks came down hoping to start the revolution of something, you know. So we thought we’d better decide what to do, but there were so many people that nobody could agree on anything. One thing that was decided, however, was that a defence force should be formed. Somebody had invited a load of Hell’s Angels down from the South Coast and Windsor Chapter, and they acted as the defence force against the police and the skinheads who had turned up for the agro. As the week went by more and more straight people were gathering outside, along with the reporters and so on. We had to vet people as they came in, to check they weren’t plain-clothes policemen or the Press. Everything was in a bit of a turmoil, what with people trying to become leaders and trying to organize food and so on. Then things like batches of cigarettes started appearing from somewhere and Apple Records gave us some Beatles’ records and a record player appeared and there was quite a lot of money there. By this time there were abot 5-600 people there.

After a few days, large numbers of skinheads appeared, as well as police. Plastic balls filled with water were used to throw at both skinheads and police. I still have two of these balls which were brought to me after the events. Eventually, however, the police managed to get into the house, and Phil Cohen (‘Dr John’) was taken to West End Central Police Station. While the 144 events were happening, the school in Endell Street was still occupied, but soon afterweards the police invaded these premises also and took away about sixty people. Most of them were given conditional discharges or suspended sentences.
The reaction of the straight press to the occupations was fairly uniformly hostile. The Church Times was horrified, and exclaimed, in its issue of 26 September:

Sympathy with these young anarchists is misplaced … Most of them seem to be simply idlers who expect to live at the expense of other people, who batten on the very society which they condemn and attack, and who are only too eager to follow the lead of a handful of ruthless men with the avowed aim of destroying the whole fabric of society.

With these sentiments the beats of Piccadilly agreed. As the writer quoted above said:

Looking back on it, I think a lot of people got the wrong idea about the Street Commune. It wasn’t for squatting homeless families – in fact the whole thing was supposed to be against the family. The commune was for kids on the Dilly, on the road, coming into London. Some people did have political reasons for doing it, but most of the so-called politicos who came in to 144 and afterwards were too straight, they didn’t understand the scene, they couldn’t relate to the kids and people resented them. I think as far as most of the kids were concerned, the main reason for squatting was to get a place to stay and get a real scene together.

What Life Serves

What Life Serves

It’s cold out, and warm in. The caff windows are steamed up,
this claustrophobia pulls close. Opposite, Amar has seen off
a full English. No bacon, extra sausage. There’re lines we cross,
but only so far. He takes out his phone and photos his empty
plate, still swirled with sauce. I look on, puzzled. Amar looks
up and smiles: “It’s just not right to send a picture of a full plate
of food to my mum. She’s still a refugee. But an empty one,
well, she knows I’m okay.”

Tim Wells

Time For Action

Secret Affair live in Sounds, 26 June, 1982

Time for reaction
Secret Affair

And so I’m here at the Venue on a Saturday night, four years on from the Mod maydaze, for another one-night Affair and an up-to-date assessment of the state of the relationship.
The afmosphere. clothes and pose are much the same as ever; the dance area in front of the stage is still a mass of Sixties outfits, mods and their ladies dancing to Sixties classics in a scene straight out of ‘Quadrophenia’. The difference is the numbers.
Three years ago, the Venue would have been packed, now there’s three hundred people here of which at least a quarter are regular back-of-the-hall Venue liggers without much interest in what’s happening on stage.
As the curtains open and the Affair launch into ‘Shake and Shout’, I feel almost outraged: what a waste of a great band. The diehards down the front are going as mad as ever but the cavernous spaces behind bear witness to the hard fact that, in this business, the image and fashion potential of a band are often far more important in determining their success than the strength of the songs they write.
And that’s a pity because songs are the Affair’s strength. Tonight’s set is mostly taken from their last album ‘Business As Usual’.
‘Lost In The Night’ (the excellent last single), ‘Somewhere In The City’, ‘Dancemaster’, ‘One Day In Your Life’ and ‘She’s On Fire’ interspersed with classics like ‘My World’, ‘Let’s All Dance’ and an excellent cover of ‘Get Ready’.
Ian Page is still the showman, powerful and impressive on stage. The audience may have diminished but the performance has not.
On the last number, ‘I’m Not Free But I’m Cheap’, Dave Cairns goes completely OUT OF ORDER on guitar – a stunning display – and Page and Dave Winthrop exchange some tasty licks on trumpet and sax. By this time the audience, always enthusiastic, has gone absolutely bananas.
Encores are demanded vociferously and delivered passionately – ‘New Dance’ ‘Glory Boys’ and, after loud shouted requests, ‘Time For Action’.
The last two numbers are particularly poignant. At one time they were anthems, now they’re cult songs. But such is life; for the hundred or so nattily dressed diehards down the front, who’ve obviously followed the band through thick and thin, a rip-roaring version of ‘Glory Boys’ is the least they deserve.
It’s good to see that Secret Affair still have a loyal following, despite the ‘unfashionable’ tag they have acquired.
It is, however, absolutely tragic that they haven’t, on the whole, got through to a wider audience, since they manifestly deserve to. There’s still time, so how about giving them a chance?
Footnote: Having seen that the mod scene, though diminished, is still alive and well, I’m interested in information from all over the UK which could contribute to a possible Sounds feature. Send any letters, tapes, fanzines, photos etc to me at the Sounds office.

John Opposition

Ben Elton

The NME, 5 December, 1987, reviews a Ben Elton gig.

You’ve Been A Lovely Audience
Ben Elton

Sheffield City Hall

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name’s Ben Elton and I’ve made a conscious decision not to analyse my humour and I never do sick jokes or Benny Hill type smut because I think willies are funnier than tits, you see smut is OK so long as you direct it at yourself. That said, I don’t want to get too self-effacing, like wearing the flashy suits, know wha’ I mean? And yeah you gotta have a bit of poloticseven if it does make ya cringe when the audience cheer ya for saying, ‘Now I’m gonna give my opinions about Mrs Thatch’. We all know they’ll be in the bar at the interval to brag about how rebellious they are for not doing their economics homework. In fact this audience is so bloody comfortable I have to create a dialogue with my own trendy-wendy critics who don’t approve of my toilet humour. You see if I don’t create some imaginary tension with my audience I’ll lose my self-respect – this audience is about as challenging as a game of Trivial Pursuit with the Wild man of Borneo. Sure I’m worried about what people think, I’m a normal middle-class educated bloke, nothin’ wrong with that, I work hard, make people laugh, bit of politics – what’s that Captain Paranoia? You think I’m funny but my shows are too cosy? You think I should play to a disco-mating audience and see how many laughs I get there? You think that way I could really help challenge people’s prejudices… look I’m an alternative comedian not Tony f—ing Benn.”

Philip B Watson


Complaints about yobs and boots from the 17th Century. C.V. Wedgwood’s history The King’s Peace 1637-1641 has this passage about England before the civil war under Charles I.

A petition had only recently been presented to the King praying him to prohibit the wearing of boots to the lower orders while there was yet time, for “divers inferior persons, both tradesmen and others … wear boots as familiarly as any nobleman or gentleman, the which abuse doth not only consume much leather vainly but doth much hurt unto divers poor people which would have much employment by … knitting of hose.”


From Jamming, number 13, June 1982.


“It’s a feeling I can’t describe”
“I just wan to express myself,
Lack of formal and proper education,
feeling inferior at Woody Allen’s intellect
Virginia Woolf and Jack London only hinder things
Work on Monday,
time accelerates towards it.
If I don’t like it, change it.
Tonight straight from the film,
I walk around and feel the influence of
Nicholson, Mitchum and Brando.
They can take over while I soak in
Leaves falling
Veins pulsating
Skin tingling
Warm wind blowing
Strong currents
Extra terrestial forces
Feeling relaxed but excited
So very excited –
Hope for the future
And a lack of awareness of the
drudgery that the future holds….

S. Wills

Mod Poetry

Jamming, number 13, June 1982 has this anonymous poem looking back to the mod revival.

Days of Fun

Walking, talking, sat in the sun
Perrys, parkas, ‘I Am One’
Friendship, mates, laugh and sing
Girls, music, clubs and dancing.
Loafers, shermans, button-downs,
All dressed up to go to town
Hanging out if cafs and shops,
The action then would never stop
The endless days at the beach
The beer you drunk, the food you ate
The people looked on and laughed
Just a craze to fade and pass
But then you didn’t really care
Just let the wind flow through your hair
Doing then what you wanted to do
With a sense of freedom to pull you through
A time when new friends were met
A time that you will never forget.

To all the late seventies and eighties mods