Handbags in the NME letters page, 14 September, 1985.
Poor old Susan/Seething/Stupid/Steven Wells/Williams/Wanker. The ugliest man since George Orwell/Phil Collins. Obviously something is gnawing at him which he can’t contain, so he’s decided to use dingy, space-filling corners of the review pages to issue snide attacks on The Smiths. Ooh, and such viciousness: we learn that The Smiths are mediocre!? A Killing Joke Fan, Liverpool. Dear Killing Joke Fan. Bog off. PS The Smiths are crap. – SW
In 1971 BBC children’s programme Blue Peter held a limerick competition and there were 8299 entries.
In 1972 a book of them, complete with Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves, and John Noakes are on the cover along with Jason the cat, Petra, and the much missed Shep, then still a puppy.
There once was a show called ‘Blue Peter’,
Whose compères tried out a three-seater.
Val fell in a hole,
John climbed up a pole,
Then up came a wind and blew Peter.
Age: 8 1/2
There was a young man called Pete,
Whose hair hung down to his feet.
Said Val to John,
‘It’s getting too long,
We can’t let him out on the street.’
Tony Parsons in in Zigzag, No. 76, September 1977.
N.F. = No Future
HEY, KID! You looking for a riot, a riot of your own? You got it and it’s for REAL and if you wanna know howcum politico-prose in a ROCK PAPER then suffice to say that the National Front retards clearly state that when (got that?) they take over the UK they intend to ban all music with black origins from the airwaves and replacing the “jungle music”, as they put it, with some Great British military marching music… With the radio off, therefore, would be ALL rock, reggae, soul, blues, R & B and disco soundtracks. And you ain’t heard NOTHING yet… The NF regard racial minorities as sub-humans; they honestly believe blacks, Jews, browns, name it, to be on the level of animals. They carry Union Jacks and Klu Klux Clutz banners and, their favourite of all, swastikas… John Tyndall, NF leader, Sunday Telegraph; “The main idea of wearing the uniform is that some of us felt we needed to capture the imagination of youth. We wanted glamour and excitement. Later Jordan (Colin Jordan is the leader of the openly Nazi British Movement) went one step further and decided the symbol in it should be a swastika. I was against that. I was against anything foreign. But his mind was made up. I said let it be a red, white and blue swastika not a black one…” Starting to get the picture or is all this just another TV News Horrorshow? If the latter, then go play with your pimples and I hope they get worse. If the former, how can you sit on your lard-arse being force-fed F. Street pratitudes without DOING SOMETHING to crush a rapidly multiplying national sickness that polled 44% (that’s forty-four per cent) of all the last Lewisham electoral voting? “Do what?” you sneer, bullshitting yourself this ain’t your fight…Over to the NF’s stunted eunoch avatar for reply; “Only one thing could have stopped our movement – if our adversaries had understood its principles, and, from the first day, had smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement…” That was Hitler in 1933 and the NF are the same vermin and there is only one way to deal with them…and in Lewisham the bastards got the hammering of their lousy lives. The four thousand cops on show were on the NF’s side, make no mistake of that. They said it would be their “largest march ever” but the Fascist Mentality is essentially a Coward’s Mentality and the knowledge that thousands of blacks, Jews, Socialists and kids like you and me and Julie Burchill and Charles Shaar Murray and Angus Mckinnon were there to stop them – riot shields or not – meant that a measly thousand at the most turned up to parade their police protected racial prejudice sickness through the streets of London… There were four thousand cops there, a quarter of the Metropolitan Police Force, and it wasn’t enough. Despite the riot shields that were not pulled out until AFTER the NF parade had been broken up, the riot shields pulled out for revenge. Despite permitting the Nazis to brandish weapons while the Anti-Nazi demonstrators were pulled in at random and subjected to Treatment behind locked doors while NF members were immediately released if they were accidently pulled in. Despite the horses. The F. Street bullshit mongers. The apathy of the majority of the rock world, all you radical, hip, aware, chemical-consuming hypocrites and your lip-service liberalism. Despite all this, the NF march was stopped. Because the NF are growing, the NF are the lowest scum imaginable and we – the youth, the workers, the people – ain’t gonna fuckin’ take it. And if you don’t fight it in the streets now then one day it could be controlling the lives of yourself and everyone you love and, if Socialist Workers’ Party passion amuses you, then when that day comes you will not be smiling, you will be praying, and it will do you no fuckin’ good whatsoever. And you’ll deserve every obscenity they ram down your throat. And there won’t be no more dancing when you get home coz…no records the day the music dies. And no more off-white skin pigmentation, no more free speech, no more of anything that ain’t straight from the cess-pit. And if both you and me avoid getting nicked or hospitalized the next time a Red Riot trashes marching Nazis then I’ll get you a double as soon as they open, awright? Because we will win, our generation, there will be no bland-out. Will there, kid?
The Sham album reviewed in Canadian anarchist paper Vacant Lot, number 1, Jan-Feb 1979.
That’s Life – Sham 69 If you enjoyed their first album you’ll probably like this one as well. Over all, it’s quite good, except two songs. The worst one, Everybody’s Right Everybody’s Wrong, is really hokey, and sounds like a shitty folk song. Is This Me Or Is This You – I found to be slightly repetitious. The two best songs are Who Gives A Damn which has, amongst other things, excellent vocals, and Sunday Morning Nightmare, is very powerful, and right on tune. As well as good music, throughout the album there are also bits of dialogue which serve as platforms for each song and are generally humorous. All things considered, it’s probably worth buying, definitely worth stealing and available at the usual places.
The Last Poets reviewed live by Danny Kelly in the NME, 23 February, 1985.
First, Last & Everything
The Last Poets London Shaw Theatre
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO STRUGGLE. A full and hushed theatre. On the stage bathed in a circular pool of light are a pair of congas, a bass guitar amp and two spindly mikestands. Into this oasis of semi-brightness step four men. One carries a bass guitar and sits himself on the amp, one settles behind the drums, and two slouch quietly to the mikes. These, after eight years of “industry imposed Siberian exile” performing live, for the first time, for three years , are …
The Last Poets – the final echoes of the age of poems and essays, the age preceding the time of bombs and bullets. The Last Poets – the group that harnessed the ancient African traditions that survived the galleys and pumped into them the heat and rhythm and jive of America’s streets. The Last Poets – the link between those black radicals of the ’60s, King, Jackson, Seale and the men that threatened to seize time, and Heron and the rap pack. The Last Poets – unique and here.
IT’S A TRIP. Large hands patter on the tautness of drums. The bass whispers a steady, insinuating, pulse. Two voices begin to chant, at first in trance-like unison, then branching off into separate, though intertwined, paths, One repeats again and again the mantra of “cash, notes and credit cards. Stocks, bonds and Mastercharge”, (Prince Charles was hip, but the Poets were first) like a warning signal beeping away in your brain. The other rants and rails, admonishes, spits and cajoles, a wheeling and diving bird of prey. Together the four noises mesh like the hidden rustles of an awakening forest. This is ‘E Pluribus Unum’. This is The Last Poets doing it.
They’re like some Pentagon nightmare, Islam cracked and transported to the streets of Watts or Harlem. Suliman El Hadi is avuncular, stoic, Middle-Aged. In his waistcoats and whiskers he could be a provincial mullah. He is the quiet, humble dignity of the Poets. Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin (Lightening Rod) is their beating heart, their acid tongue. Cool enough to sweat icicles, sharp enough to sell you the clothes you stand in, a crazy philosopher hooked on Mahomet, acupuncture, Luddism and bodily functions. Jalal addresses the audience throughout as a prophet, a harbinger, a huckster, a comic and a friend. It’s an eccentric, high voltage, cascade of language. Most of the mud Jalal throws sticks.
ALL THIS SHIT WILL KILL YOU FAST. Towards the end of ‘mean Machine’, their classic diatribe against the hip chip and the electronic tomorrow, the only piece of transistorised business on the stage, Jamal Abdul Sabur’s amp, splutters to a dead silence. The mind flitted to Paul Daniels. Either way, it was a marvellous moment of vindication, a giggle too.
And the bass loss hardly mattered. For all the agrressive, hectoring, content and revolutionary zeal of this fundamental funk, it remains a quiet, almost unexciting music. The Last Poets could play in the corner of your living room without disturbing your dinner or Dallas. It’s a communication rather than a broadcast, a two way process. You have to listen actively, to enter into a hypnotic pact with the language and the rhythm, to take it on board.
THIS IS MADNESS. That done, this mixture of jazz from prehistory and poetry from tomorrow showers you with info, sooths, prayers, puns, dogma, opinion, jokes, judgements and a smattering of common or garden bullshit. Jalal treats life as “slavery with fringe benefits”, berates almost every extant power system, lampoons the Pope (“I’m not anti-Christian, just fond of the truth”) and stilettoes herds of holy cows with the adroitness of a Tijuana punk. All the while, Suliman apologises for his rusty voice with a humility that makes you feel hangable-guilty for even noticing it.
Their set was short, an agonisingly fleeting glimpse of a huge heritage, and the problems with the voice and bass prevented ecstatic overload. But still they made you feel chastised, uplifted, simultaneously proud and ashamed, an active part of history rather than an innocent or helpless spectator. Old records – currently fetching £20 in Babylonian collectors emporia – are soon to be reissued while a new set is also on the blocks. We are fortunate that The Last Poets existed, privileged to have them back. Yea verily BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO STRUGGLE.
Stalwarts of UK reggae get a feature in Ital Rockers, issue 4, Winter 78-9. The zine was edited by Dougie Thomson from Edinburgh.
Cimarons So far in “IR1-4” we’ve featured most of Britain’s most popular and established bands (the ones who actually play in Scotland), and obviously we couldn’t leave out the Cimarons who are still going strong after fourteen years. The Cimarons were Britain’s first ever home grown JA band and formed around 1965, and it is a tribute to their resilience and conviction that they are still together today, and, they will tell you, still in the front line for reggae. The history of the group is pretty well known – session band backing all Trojan’s JA stars on their British tours in the sixties, recording occasionally and touring often in their own right (remember the reggae evening at the Empire Ballroom back in 1973 filmed by “OGWT” with the Cims, Nicky Thomas, Judge Dread and Dennis Alcapone?), cutting two LPs, “In Time” for Trojan and “On The Rock” for the now defunct Vulcan label in ’73 and ’75, but above all staying on the road, spreading the reggae message, from the cabaret stage to black and white audiences, and to listeners all over the world, playing in Spain, Ireland, Thailand and Japan over the years. Nowadays they’re with Polydor, and still touring as much as ever – in the last year they played Edinburgh three times, a superb set at the Astoria in April, a delayed but worth the wait Freshers’ Ball at the Assembly rooms, and most recently as support to the appalling Sham 69 at the Odeon in November. There have also been two more albums – “Live At The Roundhouse”, and an exciting set dating from 1977, released last year and reviewed in “IR3”, and the interesting, worthwhile “Maka” studio set, that is listenable, if somewhat flawed. The record (pressed on green vinyl!) is divided into two concepts, the first dealing in broader, more African cultural terms, with Earth, while the second side is more loose yet narrow, a celebration of reggae. It’s not an album that I play very often, but it has good moments., such as the single “Mother earth” or “Civilisation” on the first side, “Willin’ (Rock Against Racism)”, another single on the second side, and numbers such as “Truly” and “Give Thanks And Praise”. For all they have done for UK reggae over the years I am very grateful to carl Levy, Franklyn Dunn, Locksley Gichie, Maurice Ellis and Winston Reid. The Cimarons – harder than the rock.
Staring. It’s there The black on the white, The white on the black. Letters make words and words make sentences, But they’re mixed up, jumbled up, shook up. WOBBLY WORDS Silly sentences No sense, nonsense WOBBLY WORDS and silly sentences But we all believe in the black and white.
Glaring. It’s there The black on the white, The white on the black. Pictures make photographs and photographs make images, But they’re mixed up, jumbled up, shook up. Fidgety photographs Insane images No sense, nonsense Fidgety photographs and insane images But we all believe in the black and white.
One of the best of the punk singles gets a review from Tony Stewart in the NME, 14 May, 1977.
The Users: Sick Of You (Raw)
Finally . . . in my personal search for the new wave band that would definitely be the future of rock ‘n’ roll I’ve encountered all sorts of problems. Even The Adverts weren’t bad ‘n’ nasty enough for the accolade, and the most likely candidates of all, a group called XTC who claimed to be led by a guy described as “a nuclear-powered Syd Barrett”, just weren’t talentless enough. But today I discovered The Users. Remember the name, because they’re wild and crazy and made this single with dreadful sneering lyrics and a backing that sounds like an even-more-deranged Black Sabbath. Raw sent us a second copy of this record because they claimed the first was badly pressed, but I had a hard job telling the difference. So don’t forget who told you about The Users first … me!
Ges Ashby poem from Aquarius, No. 6, 1973. One of the things I like best about the better small poetry magazines are the voices of poets we don’t know about today. Especially when they’re regional, this particular issue was a Scottish one. Alongside some of the big names of Scottish poetry are some arse kicking poems from poets I’ve been unable to find anything about. This poem in particular says a lot about poetry, then as now. Open mikers, I’m looking at you.
Almost a Hero
I once knew a Rhodesian; Mick Osborne. He had a woman four times in one hour, on a cruise, when I was studying for my ‘O’ levels. She was thirty-six and attractive. He died on a motorbike in Wales. Suntanned and seventeen and going too fast.
There was another guy with him who returned to tell the story, like a veteran. He wrote a song about the incident and sang it at the local folk club and was almost a hero.