Lydia Lunch’s first band’s first single reviewed in the NME, 8 July, 1978 by Charles Shaar Murray.
Teenage Jesus And The Jerks: Orphan (Migraine). From the depths of CBGBs and courtesy of producer Bob Quine – presumably on loan from Richard Hell’s Voidoids while Sick Dick attempts to find a replacement drummer for Mark Bell, who’s joined The Ramones in place of Tommy who’s …. sorry about that, but Thuh Big Apple is just so-o-o-o-o-o-o incestuous man, ya k’now – come Teenage Jesus And The Jerks fronted by singer/guitarist Lydia Lunch. This lady makes some of the most horrible noises ever recorded. Her voice: if Poly Styrene makes you flinch, if Patti Smith makes you wince, Lydia Lunch’ll make blood run out of your nostrils, eardrums and eyesockets. Her guitar: if Mark Perry playing “Red” makes you laugh and Patti Smith makes you vomit, then Lydia Lunch will make you want to invent a time machine and wipe Lee Fender out before he reached puberty. Her songwriting: don’t ask. I wish this record was on every jukebox in the world so that wherever I went I would be guaranteed the opportunity to offend everybody in the room with it. You must buy this record: turn it up L-O-U-D (first having taken the precaution of inserting earplugs into your shell-likes) and play it to someone you hate.
Homophobia in the music press challenged in the Sounds letter page, 7 June, 1980.
With Gay Abandon
I am a faggot and am writing to you on behalf of myself and all the other perverts like me who might read your paper. I am constantly pissed off by derogatory labels and references to us made by such representatives as John Lydon and Surf Punks. Every week there is at least one nasty comment from ‘pop stars’ in one of the music papers concerning ‘pooftahs, faggots or queens’. If the same comments were made about blacks that pop star would be slagged off immediately by socially concerned writers, Didn’t this happen in the Eric Clapton affair? It seems even in post TRB days it’s quite OK for a kids’ hero to talk about ‘faggots’, then the interviewer coolly moves onto the next question. THESE LABELS HURT. We get enough shit thrown on us by parents, classmates and the rest of straight society – give us a break. People read what heroes have to say and if their language supports labelling, stereotyping and oppression people will be influenced by this. Do you know what a faggot is? It’s a name given to the gay guys that they would like to use to start off the fire when they were burning witches in the Middle Ages. Next time one of your interviewers comes across such blatantly offensive language about gays, women or blacks I hope he or she won’t let the interviewee assume it’s OK to be so smugly offensive to a large group of people. This leads to pink triangles on the forehead. Deviantly yours – Nick Roberts, Muswell Hill.
This poem was in Spare Rib, Number 80, March, 1979.
Can You Hear Me Knocking?
Did anyone ever tell you
You make a wonderful wife?
You stand in your apron chopping
Garlic and onions and life
Into neat little chunks of flavour
Which you fry up to pop in the stew,
And you’d do anyone a favour,
Even though they can’t do one for you.
Did anyone ever tell you
You’ve a marvellous talent for caring?
You cut up your love into pieces
(Kids must learn the value of sharing).
They all want a different breakfast,
And you worry about bacon prices;
The butter’s been left in the freezer
And has to be laid on in slices.
Did anyone ever tell you
Love is its own reward?
Giving out apples and kisses
Is better than being ignored.
But when your own hunger’s screaming
And your own need cries “What about me?”
Find a nice piece of liverwurst, chop it up neatly,
And have it on toast for tea.
This poem is by Terry Brindley. He founded Minotaur, a magazine of poetry and prose. He was a student in the Department of English Literature, in 1959. It appears to have mainly published creative work by undergraduates at Leeds University.
A dirty wart weighed down
her crusted eye
which watered like a sore:
her mouth was welded, a harelip
clawed at her words
which yelped like vermin.
Shde knew all this. She wrote,
‘I was born in a zoo.
When they seed me they all screamed.’
I gave six out of ten.
She looked through her watery screen
at my impertinence.
Sharon Dunham grew up in care and was a teenage punk. “Late in 1976 I heard a record which knocked me sideawys. It was “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols. I began to check out the scene which was emerging in London. By the enlightened it was called a ‘revolutionary youth culture’. The sensationalist daily papers coined the phrase ‘Punk Rock’. Mark P., an ordinary lad from Deptford had been writing his own fanzine for some time. It was a creative and useful alternative to the national, capitalist ‘Rock Press’. “Sniffin’ Glue” became my bible till I got myself together enough to start my fanzine ‘Apathy in Ilford’. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to write and put forward my ideas. I also wrote articles for ‘Rock Against Racism’ which I became involved with. After just six months, the scene became a parody of itself. Bands sold out to big business, people began to buy their clothes instead of making them. “Punk” became tame and respectable. Those of us who believed in the original ideas and meanings left, disillusioned, saddened and worst of all, beaten.’ She qualified as a nurse and wrote the poems in her Sub Animal Yells pamphlet during 1982/83. This was published by Centerprise in 1984. ‘In 1983 I approached Centerprise with a view to publication. They mean a lot to me and I hope will be understood by those who read them. I hope it gives encouragement to other working class writers who have been led to believe that the ability to write and create is a middle class privilege. Go home and create something entirelynew!’
Sitting on a tube train, Armed with my ghetto blaster, The revolutionary sounds, Getting louder, getting faster. An art rat shakes his trendy head, A tired punk shakes his leg, A black kid starts to bodypop, A city gent starts to see red, Makes for the door in a wild frenzy The power I hold in my batteries, Makes me feel strong, Bringing music to the streets, Is that what Malcom McLaren said?
Poem from the 1976 Centrprise anthology Talking Blues. Denis Watson was a musician born in London, 1960.
Walking drowsily, feeling dead, Last night’s music still playing in my head. Foot-rhythm getting slower. Yesterday’s clothes clinging to me. Backache from this morning’s cardboard bed. people staring at me, giving dirty looks. Heavy traffic – Car horns pumping into my head. The pain from last night’s comforts Runs through me, But I’ve got to keep on walking. Ah, three girls! Must look trim – look flash. Start bouncing. One hand in pocket – must look good . . . They didn’t even look. They’ve got no taste – cho! Feel drowsy. Feel dead. Must keep walking. Walking, Walking, Walking to nowhere.
John Betjeman Writes… A poem (a.k.a. a piece of noo wave illiteracy) I love the Pistols Anarchy, But after the various disasters I thought, they’re finished, so I went and bought,
Damned, Damned, Damned by the Damned, Which was bloody fantastic, Then Spiral Scratch by the Buzzcocks, Which stretched all expectations like knicker elastic
Then I got the Clash by the Clash, (still haven’t that free EP), that was breathtaking should have seen what it did to me But then I heard ‘God Save The Queen’, Christ, my ears they blew The Pistols have had it bad, but haven’t fallen through I luv’s the Pistols, they really make you think They’re going to blow everything apart, But right now I’m going to POGO
– by A. Punkette, Herts
P.S. So Pogo don’t rhyme with think but it’s a good effort seeing as my English teacher says I’m illiterate.
Jello Biafra’s spoken word album I Blow Minds For a Living reviewed in Wake Up , number 9, November 1991.
Jello Biafra – I Blow Minds For A Living (Alternative Tentacles)
The Dead Kennedys spearheaded the same cultural explosion in America that the Sex Pistols inspired in Britain – but Biafra was always more intelligent, articulate and committed than any of his contemporaries. This, this third spoken word LP, is the best yet. Censorship, drugs, sex, Bush’s New World Order – the machine-gun fire of his deranged Mickey Mouse vocals never lags for a second. These are not words to clap complacently to; Biafra incites the audience to burn the flag and rise up in revolution; he provokes thought and awareness, and from that action. His heroes are not celebrities or people who brag about what they have done, but ordinary anonymous people who fight the system day by day. There is nothing preachy or humourless about his rants = he is possibly the most genuine, stimulating, challenging, inflammatory, informative, inspiring and important American solo performer of the decade – and THIS is possibly the most important album of the year.
The Sunday Times magazine, 3 August, 1980 had 3 poems selected by Michael Rosen.
Rosen’s Choice Michael Rosen picks some of your poems about feeling small
Thanks for your small talk about feeling small. Sorry, David Paske, your feeling small poem was too big! To be fair to everyone, Start Here poems should never be longer than postcard size. I liked these very much:
Saturday! It was Market Day. Everybody was crowding around. The market was just opening and we were two of the first to get in. The lace was silky black and all the colours of the rainbow. We couldn’t resist touching it because it was silk. There were five people around us. Suddenly the man told us off for touching. Everybody was laughing and we felt very small. “Leave that lace alone!”