Monthly Archives: March 2022

Motorhead

Their first single reviewed in the NME, 25 June, 1977, by Patrick Humphries. He has them down as a New Wave band.

Motorhead: Motorhead
(Chiswick)

Hey, wait a minute guys. I know it’s the first time I’ve done this but even I know the difference between a seven-inch single and a 12″ album, and this is … Oh. I see, a 12″ single. Almost had me fooled there. Sounds like it was recorded on a cassette underwater, but the energy cuts through and even makes old farts like me think that maybe the New Wave thing might catch on. Almost single of the week, but I couldn’t fit it on the juke-box.

Abuses And Awards

Andrei Voznesensky was a 60s Soviet poet who was at times both in and out of favour with the regime. In 1963, his fame blossomed and he became “as popular as the Beatles” after Khruschev publicly and falsely branded him a pervert. He toured the world, read to huge audiences. He read several times in London. We liked his suedehead style.

Abuses and Awards

A poet can’t be in disfavour,
needs no awards, no fame.
A star has no setting whatever,
no black nor golden frame.

A star cannot be killed with a stone, or
award, nor that kind of stuff.
He’ll bear the blow of a fawner
lamenting he’s not big enough.

What matters is music and fervour,
not fame, nor abuse, anyway.
World powers are out of favour
when poets turn them away.

Andrei Voznesensky

Who Killed Blair Peach?

Poem about the killing of Blair Peach from the 1989 anthology of poems for young people One For Blair edited by Chris Searle.

Whodunnit?

Who held the sticks that stole Blair’s breath?
Who was responsible for this man’s death?

A secret policeman cracked his head
and by next morning Blair was dead.
His killer escaped completely free.
It could happen to you next, or me.

Ask me whodunnit. It’s no mystery.
The same ideas passed through history.
What killed Biko killed Blair Peach.
Racism caused the death of each.

It didn’t matter that his skin was white.
He cared enough to be part of the fight.
When you have to choose between right and wrong
will you be so brave? Will you be as strong?

Could you feel lashes on another’s skin
as if it were yours? Or could you begin?
Do you believe that everyone’s equal?
Blair’s life was a story, could you be its sequel?

Who held the sticks that stole Blair’s breath?
Who was responsible for this man’s death?

How much did he care?
Enough to die.
Who did they murder?
One of us.
Whodunnit?
And why?

Steve Garner, Norwich.



The Fridge

Poem by the Ukrainian born Soviet poet Boris Slutsky (1919 – 1986).

The Fridge

What a sturdy square block of a thing you are!
Such a fine, white, self-satisfied creature!

Sometimes you stand dumb as a boulder
or drop off into a cold sleep, or
Sometimes your metal belly rumbles, but there’s
no point in working out your meaning.

Of all machines the fridge must be the
most good-natured; hog-fat and
roomy as a snow-drift, it
must be said to hold the purest heart.

Firmly under human domination
even the cold that creeps out from it
is only a small cold blast, too small
to threaten any freeze-up of our future.

If ever robots rise in revolution,
if ever they attack the human race,
at least you refrigerators won’t be
amongst the ones to break the peace.

For you are the house-dog of machinery
a faithful and contented animal;
so give your door a docile wag for Man,
your living friend, and show him how you smile.

Boris Slutsky

Static

The NF on Radio One as reported in the NME, 6 October, 1979.

NF On Radio One
Last Thursday’s ‘Talkabout’ show on Radio One discussed the proposition “Pop And Politics Don’t Mix”. Listeners were introduced to guest speakers Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers and Robin Denselow, The Guardian’s rock critic; and to a panel of apparently ‘ordinary’ teenagers Chris, Gil, Tim and Joe. What they weren’t told, was that ‘Joe’ was Joe Pearce, Youth Organiser of The National Front and promoter of the recent Rock Against Communism fiasco.
“Jesus Christ! I wish I’d known that,” was Robin Denselow’s reaction to the news; and Jake Burns said he was “a bit miffed” that no-one at the BBC had told them who ‘Joe’ was. Denselow also made the point that “leaders of a black group or RAR should’ve been on” to redress the balance.
‘Talkabout’s’ producer Sue Davis claimed that one of the other panellists, Chris, was a member of RAR. When asked if she did not think there was a discrepancy between ‘balancing’ a random member of RAR with an official spokesman from a racist organisation, she replied “the reason Joe Pearce was on was that I thought both Jake and Robin and the RAR person would be taking one line and it was necessary to have somebody who would take a different line.”
Ms Davis denied knowing that Pearce was Youth Organiser of The National Front. He was invited onto the show, she said, “because of his involvement with the Rock Against Communism gig” and she “had no intention of giving publicity to The National Front”. When asked if she wasn’t aware that the NF actually ran RAC she replied “er … yes … but then the Anti-Nazi League spawned Rock Against Racism, Rock Against Sexism and all those things.”
Challenged about this (it’s totally untrue), she said, “well, that’s what I understood, that’s according to our research.” She then said she wanted more time to think about what to say and promised to phone back later.
When she did, she expressed “surprise” that neither Burns nor Denselow had been told of Pearce’s political connections and thought “there must have been some sort of misunderstanding”.
Ms Davis maintained that it was not relevant to tell listeners who Joe Pearce was – “I’m interested in views, not labels” – and that she considered “his was an opinion worth hearing.”
Apart from the implication that RAC “balances” RAR, there remains the disturbing suspicion that the public was deliberately deceived by Pearce with the connivance of the BBC. For example, Pearce talked about the RAC gig on the air, complaining that the press had slagged it off whereas a friend of his thought it one of the best concerts in human history, etc. Not once during the programme was there any mention of the fact that Pearce had organised the gig. (Connoisseurs of the ridiculous might also like to know that Pearce thinks the music press “manipulates the minds of the young” and that they conspire with the record companies to conform to “the one (sic!) political line of liberalism and Marxism”).
John Dennis of RAR, who first unearthed ‘Joe’s’ real identity, claims that when he spoke to a production assistant at ‘Talkabout’, he was told that the producers did know that Pearce was Youth Organiser of The National Front and that they used him because he had “good, er, strong views.”
Dennis though the show “very misleading” and “outside the bounds of balance”. A friend of mine, when I described what had happened, put it more succinctly, “That stinks.”
Graham Lock

Song Of A Baker

Danny Baker reviews mod and ska singles in the NME, 6 October, 1979, and fails to find the groove.

SQUIRE: Walking Down The Kings Road (I Spy)
SELECTER: On My Radio (Two Tone)
ROLAND ALPHONSO: Phoenix City (Trojan)

The other day I was talking to my very good friend Ian “I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing jeans” Page as we sat holding balloons on the boot seat of his dolly girl’s MG – we were off to yet another of Zoe Faversham’s little kitsch-ins – when he told me of this group he was producing, Squire. Their single is a guided tour to a couple of London’s most warn-hearted and fashionable spots – Kings Road and Carnaby St – and the 45 does its best to capture the atmosphere of discs made over ten years ago. “Oh no man,” they say, “we’re just applying the best of Mod to today’s life.” Well if the crop of Mod singles are to be a yardstick as to ‘all the best of Mod’ it must be hell in there. OK, live the lifestyle by all means chaps, but f’Christ’s sake don’t make an argument for these pathetic records.
The Selecter – who did so well on the reverse of the exception-to-the-rule Specials 45 – release a track of devastating banality. Honestly, I bear no undue venom for the fashion. But ‘On My Radio’ is as sappy a song as ever entered the Eurovision Song Contest. I bunged Alphonso in here because he is, presumably, the sound of the hour but it still sounds its age: creaky. However the originals get by because of our rosy-eyed nostalgic warmth for one music’s fresh unspoiled attack. The outfits that would take ’60s music into the ’80s must be tried on their records and as such are gutless, the sound of cash registers giving thanks to their fathers which Art in Odeon. Finally, I might add, that before you mods start wagging fingers at me in Gasbag, in the true punk tradition, I don’t give a toss what you do, so stay happy, OK!

Dungarees

Poem from the fourth Hackney Writers’ Workshop anthology, Where There’s Smoke, 1983.

A Fashionable Colour

She bought them off the Holloway Road
The green dungarees
Cheaper because last year’s model
Sensible, yet stylish, she liked the effect
Good for work, yet fun to wear
In city streets or trendy pubs
Not on faraway beaches
In dug-out trenches
Looks good with the gold belt and white jacket
Not caked with mud
Or soaked with blood
Colour of blind obedience
Which makes men believe
That it is good to put on uniforms
A fashionable colour
They’re all at it
In it up to their necks
Sinking and drowning and sick
I’m sick of that obscene green
So much in demand today.

Maggie Hewitt