Monthly Archives: December 2020

Studs, Black Leather, Hair That’s Green

Poem from Punk Lives, number 9, 1983.

Standing lonely, feeling down
Feeling like a silly clown
My ideas came and sunk
I just wanted to be punk.
Changed my image, changed my gear
Got my guts and lost my fear
I don’t dress just to be seen
Studs, black leather, hair that’s green.
Meet a gang we hang about
Brilliant colours without a doubt.
People call us names we know
They just think we come and go.
I know that this is for real
It just brings out the way we feel
We wear the clothes we like to wear
You whisper things but we don’t care.
But just remember when you speak
We’re not just any kind of freak
To look at us you needn’t pay
Cos we’re punks and here to stay.


Clothes Do But Cheat And Cozen Us

Robert Herrick (baptised 24 August 1591–buried 15 October 1674) was a 17th-century English lyric poet and cleric.

Clothes Do But Cheat and Cozen Us

Away with silks, away with lawn,
I’ll have no scenes, or curtains drawn:
Give me my mistress, as she is,
Dressed in her nak’d simplicities:
For as my heart, e’er so mine eye
Is won with flesh, not drapery.

Robert Herrick

Tiers For Fears

Topical lockdown poem from Chip Hamer.

Tiers For Fears

Don’t go relying on hope to get you through it.
Learning how to cope with adversity
would be your best bet.

Set your sights on something achievable.
World peace? Try to make it believable.
I’d be happy with the absence of grief.

Chip Hamer

Long standing (as well as ducking and weaving) poet from London, Chip has a book of his poems, A Class Act, available here.

True Mod

A mod writes in to Sounds, 26 December, 1981.

Rather than agree with the narrow-minded evaluation of the ‘True Mod’, I have decided to ‘bury’ Sounds with just one letter expressing my astonishment at his inept view of what mod is all about. There are several facts that must be stated. Firstly, that ‘glamour’ bands like Secret Affair and the Lambrettas did more damage to the ’79 revival than even the music press because of their mindless portrayal of mods as being ‘beach-fighters’ and ‘rogues with style’.
This encouraged thousands of failed ex-punks to jump on the bandwagon before the music press quite rightly exposed the deficiencies of Page and Co.
Bands like the Chords and Hearts were part of the real revival but were crucified by the press who grouped them in the same vein as prats like Ian Page.
Since then, scores of new bands like The Variations, Dolly Mixture and The Questions have put across the real modernist ideals to the public. Nine Below Zero, Q-Tips and other bands are re-creating the intense form of soul and r’n’b which the faces of Carnaby Street once danced to in ’64 (including Messrs. Townshend and Meaden). More and more clubs like the Whiskey A GoGo in London and Top rank in Birmingham are allowing mods an insight into what it was really like in the Sixties. Surely someone who has been a mod since as long ago as ’74 would have discovered that by now and should also remember the very essence of that fashionable, fast moving way of life – that mod was directed from within and needed no justification from without.

Brian Gunn, Belfast Mod.

Black Market Clash

The big 10 inch reviewed in the NME, 15 November, 1980.

The Clash
Black Market Clash
(Epic Nu-Disk Import)

A ten-inch budget-price collection for and from America: approximately 35 minutes worth of Clash oddments from the UK version of the first album, assorted B-sides and the outtakes file.
So you get ‘Capital Radio One’ (the NME freebie version, not the ‘Cost Of Living’ remake), ‘The Prisoner’ (B-side of ‘Hammersmith Palais), a remixed ‘Pressure Drop’ (B-side of ‘English Civil War’), ‘Cheat’ (one of four tracks from the first album that got lost between Shepherds Bush and Manhattan), ‘City Of The Dead’ (B-side of ‘Complete Control’), Booker T’s ‘Time Is Tight’ (previously unreleased) and a full side of ‘Bank Robber’, ‘Armagideon Time’ and their respective dubs.
Apart from ‘Capital Radio’ in its disgustingly rare form and the rather undistinguished Booker T cover, there’s nothing here for people who’ve been buying Clash singles as they come out.
Still, as a tidy-up budget package for American Clash fans who haven’t been able to dazzle their friends with the British import singles, ‘Black Market Clash’ more than serves its purpose (at four bucks a throw). At the £3.15 currently being charged at the Virgin Megastore, it may not seem such a prize for Brit consumers (excluding – mea culpa! – the more virulent breed of Clashbore).
The second side – The Clash in their reggae bag (sic) – probably repays the most listening. I still wince at the lyrics of ‘Bank Robber’ (not all villains are heroes) but as far as ‘white reggae’ goes, The Clash play Jah Music in a way that transcends the whole excruciating can-blue-men-play-the-whites dilemma.
The Clash get the sharp end of an awful lot of different sticks: they’re a thoroughly reactionary rock and roll boys-together fantasy, they sell fake politics, they blanded out for the States, they sold out punk blah blah blah. Well, shove all that. I trust Strummer’s instinct for knowing when to have the courage to change and when to have the courage to stand firm, and hearing ‘Black Market Clash’ makes me want some new Clashmusic.
The Clash are not dead, and we want some proof. Where’s the blues?

Charles Shaar Murray

He Could Take His Ale

From Adventuring Into Basketry zine, first issue, 1981.

Standing in front of the mirror,
He smoothed back his hair,
Arranged the small tache,
That he was cultivating,
And departed for college.

Thumbs hooked behind beltstraps,
Chewing imaginary gum,
He strutted up to his mates.
“Hey up youths”, he enunciated,
“Pulled an ace bird last night.”

Outside, having his fifth fag,
He noticed an onlooker:
“What are you starin’ at, pal?”
He inquired, raising his fist.
“You want smashin’ or what?”

Just past opening time,
He strolled into the pub:
“Thirteen pints, darlin'”, he drawled,
Sticking out his chest.
He could take his ale.

Jonathan Tait, 21.7. 1981

Reggae Roots 1978

In 1978 the BBC schools programme Scene looked at the history of reggae. Dennis Bovell explains the reggae rhythm. The film was edited by Franco Rosso who’d already worked on the Mangrove Nine documentary and went on to do the Dread Beat an Blood documentary about Linton Kwesi Johnson for Omnibus.
In 1980 he directed Babylon.



I met a Santa from an antique land
Who said: A vast trunk of snow
Stands in the garden… Near that, on the grass
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose smile,
And wrinkled scarf, and nose of cold, cold carrot,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read.
Which yet survive, footprints round these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the radio these words appear:
‘My name is Noddy Holder, it’s Kerrrrrrrissssstmas:
Look on my works, Dua Lipa and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Christmas hit, boundless and bare
The lone and level snows stretch far away.

Tim Bysshe Wells

Power In Silence

Victorian aunt and niece, and lovers, Katharine Harris Bradley (27 October 1846 – 26 September 1914) and Edith Emma Cooper (12 January 1862 – 13 December 1913) used the pseudonym Michael Field for their poetry.

Power In Silence


Though I sing high, and chaunt above her,
Praising my girl,
It were not right
To reckon her the poorer lover;
She does not love me less
For her royal, jewelled speechlessness,
She is the sapphire, she the light,
The music in the pearl.


Not from pert birds we learn the spring-tide
From open sky.
What speaks to us
Closer than far distances that hide
In woods, what is more dear
Than a cherry-bough, bees feeding near
In the soft, proffered blooms? Lo, I
Am fed and honoured thus.


She has the star’s own pulse; its throbbing
Is a quick light.
She is a dove
My soul draws to its breast; her sobbing
Is for the warm dark there!
In the heat of her wings I would not care
My close-housed bird should take her flight
To magnify our love.

Michael Field