Monthly Archives: November 2022

Redskins Revue

The Redskins did a month of Sundays ay the Mean Fiddler in 1986 with a great mix of turns. Great gigs they were too. This review is from the NME, 12 July, 1986. The Housemartins sneak in as Fish City Five.

Redskins Revue
Harlesden Mean Fiddler

Young, girted and bald was the aim. On the revue’s second night the result was a combination of two, but never all three. Buster Bloodvessel came close. That rotund rascal of drollery, with a little help from his friends, rip-roared his immense proportions through ‘Monster Mash’. ‘My Boy Lollipop’ and more. The Troubleshooters, perverse in the presence of dogma, saw Debbie (Dolly Mixture) don a monstrous wig for their camped-up journeys through the Abba and Madonna songbooks. Seething Wells spouted furiously in a scathing attack on the life and times of Laura Ashley. Why her you may ask. Why indeed? A true contender if only he’d had a haircut.
Wendy May’s sizzling Locomotion sounds kept all alive and kicking, in striking contrast to Lol Coxhill, whose 15 minute homage to Jnr Walker rated as a wonder-cure for insomnia!
Not forgetting the mighty mouth on the loudhailer who led the Redskins through their stomping favourites, ‘Kick Over The Statues’ et al. And a well splendid night was rounded off with some accapella combo by the name of Fish City Five. In fact there was only four of them. , but their harmonies weren’t half bad, especially on some ditty called ‘Happy Hour’ which sounded sort of familiar. One of them launched himself into a ranting preach about Jesus, Karl Marx and himself in the same bed (with clean sheets, of course)! What a strange bunch. Perhaps they’ll be famous one day.
Maybe it was the rumour that Paul Weller was to appear, or perhaps Tom Watt (chump Lofty from East Enders), that drove the hordes on mass to Harlesden for this Artists Against Apartheid benefit on the fourth night. With its Brechtian overtones, the climax of the Redskins revue proved a resounding success.
Angus and Toby from Test Dept. swapped their metal objects for bagpipes and calmed a packed frustrated crowd, unable to move to Stuart Cosgrove’s and Steve Caesar’s fast and furious vinyl funk. The Redskins began their set of covers with ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’, and were closely followed by the man Bragg himself. He soon had the audience whipped up a storm with ‘Chile Your Waters’, and ‘A13’, for which he was accompanied by stalwart Wiggy.
And the grand finale, ‘Winds Of Change’, as performed by the Redskins, Dammers, Bragg and others, baldly established the common bond.

Jane Wilkes

Ant Poetry

Poem for Adam and the Ants on the Sounds letters page, 22 November, 1980.

By E.J. Thribb

The invasion of ants walked on shady waters
To the forgotten land
Kissed by the Sun Gods,
Gilding Skys,
Pelting yellow raindrops on the white mountain.
Out of the water,
Across the earth where man once walked
A shadow of ants
Like young warriors
March to their master.
Blankets of night shield their every step
Nothing dare block their path.
Standing inside the clouds
He awaits the coming of the ant,
With war paint and still brow.

John, London


I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher

Top drawer punk single by the Notsensibles reviewed in Sounds, 10 November, 1979, by Giovanni Dadomo.

The Notsensibles: ‘I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher (Redball)

Very silly record of which Mr. Peel is very fond. A bit over-daffy for continual enjoyment on my part, but who am I to argue with such keen tastemakers as Peely and young Bushell. The latter’s commemorated on one of two lunatic flights the flip by the way. Buy this for ‘Gary Bushell’s Band Of The Week’ GB fans.

Dubious Rock Against Sexism

This letter was published in Spare Rib, number 83, June, 1979.

Dubious Rock Against Sexism

Dear Spare Rib,
On Tuesday 24 April, we went to a Rock Against Sexism (RAS) gig at the Tramshed in Woolwich, featuring Belt and Braces, and Tour de Force.
250 to 300 people each paid £1 entrance to what we hoped would be an enjoyable evening but we were upset by a number of things. 1. As far as we could make out the concert was being run by a man that we know to only organise events if he is going to personally profit from them. 2. Why was a venue chose that has a management that is openly hostile to any left-wing political groups, but is not adverse to the money the bar makes at such events? 3. Belt and Braces were excellent. Tour de Force are certainly musically competent but their stage presentation was the classical provocative ‘women as sex objects’ act which we did not expect to see at such a gig, though the men in the audience seemed impressed. 4. At the end Belt and Braces sang ‘Reclaim the Night’ which everyone joined in and sang and danced to. We noticed some men enjoying themselves singing and dancing near the stage. Five minutes later these same men assaulted us while we were standing outside, forcibly kissing one of us. Had they any idea of what they had been singing about? 5. We would like to know where the money raised that night went. We are rather concerned that RAS is merely a way for some people to make a few bob for themselves.
Yours in sisterhood,
Pat Stone, Lin Sammons, Pauline Rendell,
London SE10

Poetry Voice Needs An Accent On Class

Article published in the Morning Star, 17 March, 2017.

Poetry Needs An Accent On Class

“ENJOYABLE as she is in performance, Louise Bennett’s range is often restricted to topicality and journalism,” a West Indian schools anthology from 1971 notes on Louise Bennett’s poetry.

It sees as a weakness the very strength of her work. She wrote, and performed, in dialect and this put a crick in the neck of the starched collars.

Bennett wrote in an authentic voice, a witty and at times subversive one, and she inspired poets such as Michael Smith and Linton Kwesi Johnson who continue to influence poetry, particularly political poetry, in Britain and the Caribbean today.

The hundreds of reggae singles in my flat are the closest I’ve got to Jamaica but what excited me about these poets in the 1970s was that they wrote in their own voice.

Not my accent, sure, but if they could expound their reality then, me cyaan believe it, so could we.

Sharing news and responding to events is as old to poetry as beer is to pubs. But, like a badly kept beer, it can be dreadful.

The “poetry voice” continues to haunt, not just the simpering, worthy, ascending one that sends us to the bar sharpish.

There’s also the asthmatic rapper beloved of the Kate Tempest copyists, fluttering hands and all. Since Lemonade, there’re also the quieter, measured Warsan Shire copyists.

No fault of either poet, but do slam poets talk like that to their mothers? Listing a run of facts in a poetry voice does not a poem make, no matter how pertinent the subject.

Accent is a place and accent is a weapon. It’s one used against us. When I’m labelled as a “performance” poet — a label I always reject — I know full well it’s because I’m to be kept with the pies and beer away from the “pwopah” poets with the cheese and wine.

The tired cliche of some poets dropping into a “fick” cockernee accent to portray the ignorant still lingers. Lazy writing, like the poor, is always with us.

Lass warrior Kate Fox, who runs the Campaign for Northern Voices, says: “Since the days of Wordsworth, via Hughes, Harrison and Armitage, northern poets get reviewed as ‘defiantly northern’ or ‘unrepentantly northern,’ implying that we should actually be repenting our flat vowels in order to worship in the church of proper poetry.

“I’ve never heard of an ‘uncompromisingly southern’ poet.

“If you dare to have flat vowels and are not a northern working-class bloke poet then you’ll either be made into one, or simply exist as some sort of anomaly in the space-time continuum.

“Unextraordinarily, northern Dr Who Christopher Ecclestone said: ‘Lots of planets have a north.’ But the one on planet poetry is still portrayed as if it was about 1955.”

The poetry voice is a pretension in every way, whether it’s the young poet writing for acceptance or the posh one posing for the street. It’s hollow. Our background, dropped aitches, slang, and flat vowels needn’t hold us down. Being ashamed of them and forcing ourselves to fit the hegemony of the Oxbridge cuckoos does.

In my poem How to Kill the Young Poets, I get laughs saying that I always read from paper at gigs because I’ve “an accent and without seeing said paper the BBC won’t think it’s literature.”

But it’s no joke.

Writing in our own voices validates our lives and experiences. It demonstrates who our audience is, we talk directly to them in shared experience.

The toffs take everything from us and we have very little left aside from our culture.

Let’s not hand it to them on a platter.

Tim Wells

Night In The Subway

Tasty poem by Joan Clifford from Evergreen Review, Vol 2, No. 8, Spring 1959.

Night in the Subway

“Get him.”
Humdrum doggerel wearing tights
and oh insufferable balls
softly in the sense of the tiger
drown the yellow myth eye
with flashing lights
of abeyance and a citys
insatiable entity of life
of mother mortar mine
in glances at the turnstiles
fantasy in heels
sound it taps of desperation
the train arrives
of each doomed docile little man
each angry agile young woman
the riders
coherent in their acceptance
songs and knifings on the street above
four blocks five blocks
“Get him.” “Get him.”

File smooth the surface burn the prints
and squint your face contorted pleasure-pain
an hour of the second
plastic rhythm
corrupt with caution
blind moles won’t upset this rumble
“Here he comes.” “Did’ya get him?”

Joan Clifford