Monthly Archives: April 2022

Method For Optimism

Yiannis Ritsos (1909-1990) was a Greek poet. His work was burnt by the Metaxas dictatorship and he spent many years in several prison camps.

Method for Optimism

Vindictive—all the dark rumors dredged up—he gave them emphasis,
generalized them, somehow making them both arbitrary and conclusive at the same time—a method
deep, obscure, no doubt carefully thought out. Everything dark, nearly black—
the furniture, faces, windows, time. And yet his appearance
remained bright, splashed with some secret happiness—perhaps from his talent
to see in the dark, to make out the darkness itself, to see far down
to the four brass shell casings glowing on the large bed
where two beautiful corpses lay as though making love.

Yiannis Ritsos
May 26, 1968
Partheni concentration camp

Television Personalities

TV Personalities 2nd album reviewed in Sounds, 29 May, 1982.

Television Personalities
‘Mummy You’re Not Watching Me’
(Whaam Big 1) ****

I once met this bloke called Dan who was an OK geezer, and he loved pop music so much that he wanted to make a record. So he did. It was called ‘Part-time Punks’ and it was brilliant! Then after a couple of years, he decided to make some more pop and he released the dazzling and neglected ‘And Don’t The Kids Just Love It’ LP last year. Now there’s a new LP and Dan is still OK by me.
It’s a gawky, charming collection of great little pop tunes, clever bits and embarrassing bits, superb songs and ones you think you’ve heard before (as well as a couple you never want to hear again!), annoying mistakes, incisive insights, delightful vignettes … it’s a bit personal at times, bordering on the twee, it’s like the Swell Maps doing their favourite Paul Weller and Ray Davies songs.
Although maybe there aren’t as many stand-out tracks as on ‘And Don’t…’, there are still some absolute gems, tough little diamonds lurking undiscovered, just waiting to be polished and made into sparkling hit singles.
The insistent claustrophobia of ‘Scream Silently’ (“or the neighbours will hear” it continues with chilling double-tracked vocals) and tense petulance of ‘Mummy You’re Not Watching Me’ (the song) is finely balanced against the haunting other-worldness of ‘A Day In Heaven’ and ‘David Hockney’s Diaries’ (that Sixties’ trivia fascination again!), while ‘Magnificent Dreams’ is just – magnificent, a thrilling delusion of grandeur.
Really, this is all too much. Someone should drag Dan out of his (self-imposed?) isolationary obscurity and put him in the charts, where his revealing eye for detail might run rampant, with the aid of a good producer and a 24-track studio.
After all, ‘Part-time Punks’ was years ago. Let’s go full-time!

Johnny Waller

Bertrand Russell

Poem from the 1968 anthology It’s World That Makes The Love Go Round. This was made up of poems from Breakthru poetry magazine.

Sociological Study 1: After Russell

God came down to Trafalgar Square,
Preached peace to the multitude gathered there;
While quoting his sermon on the mountain
Four cops kicked him into the fountain,
Saying, as they ducked his head:
‘This guy’s a medieval beatnik red!’

Alec Cornwall

Pat Kelly

The great reggae singer live in Sounds, 12 October, 1978.
The Bouncing Ball was a West Indian club in Peckham. Admiral Ken was the resident sound.

Pat Kelly
Bouncing Ball
The passion, innovation, dexterity and freshness of Culture’s music (Rainbow Theatre, early session) expressed the most gratifying face of contemporary reggae, but Pat Kelly (Bouncing Ball, late session) moves the soul with a simplicity and directness from the roots of rock steady that cuts so much deeper.
A central figure in Jamaican music more than 10 years ago with The Techniques, Pat Kelly has enjoyed a great current rejuvenation through 12-inch release updates of his best songs.
Kushites provided the necessary rhythmic backdrop, opening the show with a version of ‘Baby I’ve Been Missing You’ on the appropriate note of sentimentality before switching to a vigorous rendition of ‘Talk About Love’ during which ‘Mr Slick, Mr Personality’ took the stage, replete with suit and bow tie. Technical aggravation with microphones marred the consequent performances of the tender ‘If It Don’t Work Out’ and ‘How Long’, but once overcome the singer dispensed with his band altogether for purely vocal treatments of ‘Try To Remember’ and ‘I Love You For Sentimental Reasons’, demonstrating the cool, restrained style that hallmarks the best of his performance.
Much applause then marked the opening bars of ‘I’m In Love With You’, currently number one in the 12-inch chart and the most heartbreaking song in circulation –‘What am I to say, what am I to do, when you love someone and I know it isn’t me, I can’t believe you took my heart, and tore it all apart’ – music it’s best not to listen to unless in the happiest of moods. The show closed with the inevitable ‘Queen Of The Minstrels’, an Eternals song versioned to death by countless performers, the greatest compliment to the sweetness of the tune.
He might not have played for very long, but in a couple of songs he made me feel more than any other artists I chase every week. A woah!

Eric Fuller

Suspect Device

X Moore reviews Stiff Little Fingers in the NME, 10 April, 1982.

Mouldy Ol’ Fungus
Stiff Little Fingers

The Revolution Betrayed

Last time I saw Stiff Little Fingers was down the front at the Electric ballroom at the end of their first British tour. Four or five years ago they were supported by Essential Logic and Robert Rental and The Normal – a storming gig of harsh extremes where SLF were a desperate clash of guitars, where Essential Logic were a smart break from X Ray Spex and Rental and Miller were canned or ignored.

Now Daniel Miller plays confident host to Depeche Mode, Lora Logic’s charming the jazzateers and SLF are still here: a Solidarnosc Benefit in Barking, out in the wilds of Essex, and if Swells is supporting this must be the sharp end.
SLF start with a PA pumping a military signature (I think it’s the theme from ‘Dambusters’ but I lost me Geoff Love ‘Movie Themes’ album four or five years ago) and drift onstage with the spotlights playing flashing sweeps above the audience’s heads. Enter the heroes, ‘Clash ’81 Tour’ stylee: “We’re Stuff Liddle Fungus!” I hang around at the back and stomp and drink to ‘Tin Soldiers’ while the Fungus gang throw V-signs.
Those were the highlights. No, I lie: seeing one of the backline roadies herald the return of the silly encore with a gold lame performance of ‘I Love You Love Me’, hairy jacket, glitter chest and all that jazz, taking over the stage to throw Gaz Glitter stares and bunches of daffodils at the audience on his last night with the band.
This wasn’t a gig at the sharp end, this was a great band softening up, four winners playing losers, a night when the setful of castrated rock songs, with just the briefest interruptions to mention that this was a benefit, only made the appearance of a half-hearted ‘Alternative Ulster’ (if it wasn’t in your top twenty, you won’t be on mine, mate), slotted in at the end after the roadie’s final fling, seem all the sadder.
‘Fly The Flag’ and ‘Gotta Getaway’ got me headbutting pogoers down the front but SLF used to make me crash and slam all night. ‘Tin Soldiers’ and ‘Listen To Your Heart’ shook me a bit, for a while, the short buzz of weak blues, but only cos they sounded like old days. Fingers on the TRB tour. Me and them should junk nostalgia and remember the reasons not the legend. The reasons SLF are worth remembering line up this way: noise that shook, vocals that hurt your throat, lyrics that (not content with warbling “It’s gonna happen”) were specific and cut.
SLF can pull back: ‘Silver Lining’ pinched some sense into daytime radio, Dolphin’s put some hammer back into the rhythm and they’ve still got Jake’s voice, still a power, still the business, a protest in itself.
But as they are, SLF have played it wrong, to end up here, tonight, the beaten heroes playing a benefit for Solidarity, the beaten heroes. Jeez, only jerks want to end up magnificent in defeat – that’s two revolutions lost: Punk, which was always hopeless, and Poland, which seemed to have everything and got sod all. Winning means taking risks and SLF don’t take enough, they get beat and seem happy with complacent music, no spark, no punk, no dissent. And like Warren Beatty said for Jack Reed: “Cut our dissent and you cut out the revolution. The revolution is dissent.”

Fingers didn’t lose cos they got stamped on, stamped out, betrayed – but because they ballsed up, toned down, forgot dissent … because they no longer have the strength. This gig was soft – it sure wasn’t ‘Suspect Device’ at Carnival 2, when SLF let rip and won and after that who gave a toss if Sham had bottled out. This gig was a long way from the sharp end. Don’t kid yerself.

The Revolution Failed.

X. Moore

Protest Group

From Manchester zine, Sense, 1980.

Protest Group

A brand new movement to replace the old
(That dies a lonely death
when the excitement had gone
and nobody cared anymore)
Springs up and is alive
With brand new ideas
Formed from the reconstituted
Remains of the old worn ideals.
People listen for a while,
Are filled again by the old excitement
But lose their zeal,
Are drawn away
By the attraction
By the security
Of not thinking.

Richard Evans

Clash v Students

A pressure drop in Sounds, 6 January, 1979.

Clash v Students
The other week Clash persons Strummer and Headon found themselves shut out of a Wilko Johnson gig at a polytechnic in London town. They were actually PROHIBITED from paying their money and seeing the band because the students union considered the band “anti-student”.
A spokesman for the band angrily told Sounds that the band were not in any way “anti-student”, but were rather anti-elitist in their reluctance to play the college and universities of our fair country.

Punk Girl

A punk girl writes in to Sounds, 16 April, 1977.

My generation
Thank God punk rock is here – I for one an just about sick of all the meaningless commercial shit that’s chucked out by the music business. Records such as ‘Anarchy In The UK’ actually mean something to my age group (16-18) so if you lot out there don’t like punk, leave off and quit buggin’ us who do.
The lads are only trying to express something so why not bleedin’ let them. Anyway, what has it gotta do with you? They ain’t playing for you to knock the shit out of.
Punkette, Ashford Branch

I Don’t Believe A Thing Today…

Boris Slutsky poem from 1960.

I don’t believe a thing today…

I don’t believe a thing today —
I don’t believe my eyes.
I don’t believe my ears.
But let me touch it, then I’ll believe it’s true, — maybe.

I remember sullen Germans,
The sad prisoners of nineteen-hundred-forty-five,
Standing — during interrogation — with their hands on their seams.
I asked: — They answered: —

‘You believe Hitler?’ — ‘No, I don’t.’
‘You believe Goering?’ — ‘No, I don’t.’
‘You believe Goebbels?’ — ‘O, propaganda!’
‘And what of me?’ — (A brief silence.)
‘Mr. Commissar, I don’t believe you.
All propaganda. The whole world — propaganda.’

Four syllables: pro — pa — gan — da
Still resound in my ears today:
All propaganda. The whole world — propaganda.
If I were changed to a child once more,
Learning a game in a primary school,
And they told me this:
The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea!
I would believe it, of course,
But, first, I would find that Volga,
Would go down that stream to the sea,
Would wash in its turbid water,
And only then would I believe.

Horses eat oats and hay!
It’s a lie. In the winter of forty-eight
I lived in the Ukraine which was thin as a rail.
Horses at first ate straw,
Next — the skimpy straw-roofs,
And then they were herded to Kharkov to the city dump.
I saw them with my own eyes:
Austere, serious, almost important-looking.
Silently, unhurriedly, walking in the dump,
They used to walk, then they used to stand…
After which they fell and lay a long time.
And the horses took a while to die…
Horses eat oats and hay!
No! It’s not true. It’s a lie. Propaganda.
All propaganda. The whole world — propaganda.

Boris Slutsky