Monthly Archives: October 2022

Ring The Alarm

Tenor Saw singles reviewed in the NME 9 November, 1985 by Sean O’Hagan.

Tenor Saw: Ring The Alarm (Techniques)
Tenor Saw: Golden Hen (Uptempo)

The finest new reggae voice of the year with a pair that have rested in the reggae charts for weeks. ‘Ring The Alarm’ is the Saw in full flight on a dancehall scorcher fractured by the fierce studio trickery of producer Winston Riley. ‘Golden Hen’ pits bruising horns against the vocalist’s crowing, sing-song vocals and prove that the earlier ‘Roll Is Called’ outing wasn’t another reggae flash in the pan. This Saw is the sharpest!

The Bath House

Poem from 1960 by the Ukrainian born Soviet poet Boris Slutsky (1919 – 1986). 

The Bath House

You’ve not been to the local bathhouse
In a small provincial town!
Tubs bulk like boars, and the splashing
Is like a summer days river outing.

Medals are handed in.
While into the soap room are borne
The weals and the scars — all those things
I trust a good deal more.

There, two one-armed men cheerfully
Rub each other’s backs.
Scrawled over each one’s body,
The marks of war and hard work.

There, on Tuesdays, I construe
From the pattern of each injury
Novels without falsification.
Plays without fraud or flattery.

There, the sailor back on dry land
From an ocean-going cruise
Has brought his broad chest covered
With purple tattoos.

Bursting with pride and excitement there,
And forgetting the boiling water,
I read: “We’ll not leave you, mother,”
On the arm of a Partisan.

You hear screams and female laughter there,
Behind the wooden partition.
And a feeling of utter euphoria
Sweeps over you in the steamroom.

There, they discuss the games of soccer,
And with lifted head.
The tailor suffers his callouses,
The furnace worker his scalds.

But the years of disaster and battle
Have not been able to bend
This big-boned race of men,
These sons of my great land.

You’ve not been to the local paradise,
Between the cinema and sports stadium?
You’ve not sweated in the bathhouse?
Two roubles it costs to get in.

Boris Slutsky

Childish Brutes

More love for punk in the Record Mirror letters page, 15 January, 1977.

Now hear this, Rotten
I don’t think Johnny Rotten has heard of baths or combs. Give him a comb and he wouldn’t know what to do with it. He is really terrible. The Pistols are not grown up teenagers, they are just childish brutes who don’t know what they’re doing. Punk rock is not music, it’s just a big din. There is only one place for the Sex Pistols and that’s behind bars.
G. Karmowski, Coventry.

It Was Cold

Hugo Burnham, from Gang of Four, laments the Ruts’ Malcom Owen in the NME letters page, 2 August, 1980.

For one reason or another it seems that we will not be allowed to forget about Ian Curtis for some time. Just as important, however, is that Malcom Owen’s death is not forgotten after a couple of weeks. He may not have been the supposed ‘shining light or the salvation of rock’n’roll’ as we are led to believe about Ian Curtis – but he was worth every bit as much, if not more, But comparisons are irrelevant and unfair, as I did not know Ian Curtis.
Malcom’s death should be used to show (again) how really dangerous heroin is. His demise must not be exploited in the same way as that of the cretinous, pathetic Sid Vicious – who sought only to glamourise the shit. I’m sure he had a big influence in the growing number of kids experimenting with the comparatively cheap, easy to get drug. “Sid did it his way, so should I …”
This foul business has enough of a preoccupation with the glamourisation of heroin without it growing. Malcom didn’t advertise or exploit his problem for profit, so he’ll probably be forgotten by most people in a couple of weeks.
I don’t miss Sid Vicious, but I will miss Malcom Owen a lot. I just wish more people had seen the final camera rehearsal for that edition of Top Of The Pops. Jon had disappeared so Dave, Andy and I played ‘At Home He’s A Tourist’ with Malcom belting out his own version of the lyrics in his own unique way to a somewhat bemused gathering of musicians, dancers and pissed-off cameramen. The real reason we walked out was they they wouldn’t let us do it on the programme with him . . .
Hugo Burnham, Gang Of One, Leeds

Dream Of Dying

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) is known for an obsession with death which aligned him with the Decadents. He was born in Bristol. Educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Oxford, then went to the Continent to study medicine. He committed suicide at the age of 45.

Dream of Dying

Shivering in fever, weak, and parched to sand,
My ears, those entrances of word-dressed thoughts,
My pictured eyes, and my assuring touch,
Fell from me, and my body turned me forth
From its beloved abode: then I was dead;
And in my grave beside my corpse I sat,
In vain attempting to return: meantime
There came the untimely spectres of two babes,
And played in my abandoned body’s ruins;
They went away; and, one by one, by snakes
My limbs were swallowed; and, at last, I sat
With only one, blue-eyed, curled round my ribs,
Eating the last remainder of my heart,
And hissing to himself. O sleep, thou fiend!
Thou blackness of the night! how sad and frightful
Are these thy dreams!

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Kick Back

After an earlier Skins Against Nazis feature there’s kick back in the letters page of Sounds, 30 September, 1978. Eddy Morrison was a well know Leeds fascist and punk fan.

I read with both interest and amusement the full page blurb you did on ‘The Skins against the Nazis’. Obviously this new organisation with its hundreds of thousands of followers deserves a full precious page of your equally precious news print. It is a pity you could not have used four pages or even six pages, or perhaps a whole issue on the subject of ‘Skins against the Nazis’. It is obviously the most important development of the 20th Century, nay, since civilization first dawned.
I was glad to see that some skins are not going to be used anymore by the evil National Front and that they have been saved from this by the SWP, who will of course, not use them either!
Next week I suggest a lead article on ‘Men with Bushy Beards against the Nazis’. It is all great fun isn’t it? Since everybody is against the Nazis who are the Nazis?

E. Morrison, 36 Richardson Road, Leeds 9

Nazis Against Fascism

Etonian poet Heathcote Williams wrote the lyrics to this 1979 punk single. The music is played by Ben Brierley, who’d played bass in the Vibrators. It’s one of several Sid Vicious songs that came out at the time including The Surgeons, Militant Barry and Cash Pussies.
Williams also penned Why D’Ya Do It?, a sexually explicit exploration of carnal jealousy, for Marianne Faithfull’s 1979 album Broken English, the words to which were enough to cause a walk-out by the female workers on EMI’s production line. Ben Brierley was Marianne Faithfull’s husband.

Jutland Avenue

Poem from Jamming!, number 19, 1984.

Jutland Avenue

Winter in Jutland Avenue,
Doorstep-scrubbing mothers
Wait for kinder summers;
Summers that could bring respite
From children and husbands;
Husbands that drank all and have fuck-all;
That conspired in pool halls
And fought and shouted after eleven o’clock;
When the lamp-posts lay baited
With whip-lash, razor youths,
Whose fag-ends revelled like fire-flys
Come devilry and girls
And police car lights
That prodded shadows
And accused and caught and scolded
And played over trembling lovers
In stolen cars;
Lovers whose fumbling hands
Stirred denimed legs
And missed all the catches;
Catches that snared with pleasure
And kept the Avenue full.

Eugene McCaffrey