Tag Archives: Garry Bushell

Tug O’ War

Michael Horovitz in Sounds, 13 March 1982, puts in a watercolour of a letter after an article on that years Poetry Olympics.
Comrade Paul Butterfield gets a mention, who was often at the Orient with his dad.

Bushell’s rampage with Attila the Stockbroker (Sounds February 27) sabotages the credibility of its promotion of Attila by being so scornful of everything and everyone else spat on in passing. Just seven examples for the record:-
1: To kill a few myths before rumour becomes ‘fact’: by Attila’s own definition of the ‘gig-crash’ – “jumping on stage uninvited and having a go, invariably half-cut”, he and Seething Wells most certainly did not “crash the Poetry Olympics at the Young Vic ‘for a crack'”.
If you ask Attila I’m sure, being an honest lad, he’ll confirm that the two of them (hitherto completely unknown to me) came up and asked if they could do a short spot. As this would be cutting into the advertised poets’ time, but not wishing to reject two apparently serious young contenders out of hand, I in turn asked McGough, Paul Weller & the rest, each of whom was gracious enough to agree.
2: It wasn’t “the blubber mountain Nuttall” over whom comrade Butterfield hurled his booze, but me. Since this anorexic seizure of the stage was merely prolonging the delay before my introduction of Bushell’s hero & mine, Attila (else why would I be presenting him at prime-time on my show?), it’s hard to see how Butterfield’s veritable gig-crash can be blown up to the stature of “the prole v-sign to the whole farcical event” Bushell’s account suggests.
And the yells of “Shame! Stinker! Lout! Off! Off!” he correctly reports came from “the offended portion of the crowd” who disliked the look of Butterfield or felt his contribution to be a crashing bore much as Bushell himself did most of the others. I found Pierre’s little vision of the Thames full of shit quite a laugh myself. But the argument against unscheduled additions is they rob the punters of their due from the performers they’ve actually come to hear.
3: Attila’s notion of busting “the gates of the Poetry Establishment with a pen in one hand and an axe in the other” is unworthy of him, and the last thing that’s going to fan “the smouldering embers of a working class poetry explosion” in Britain. The image of embers implies there’s been something of a conflagration – which there has. But if the pen is to prove mightier than Maggie’s iron-thatched farm, let alone the international capitalist military-industrial complex, it’ll be because the entrenched bully-boy Divide-&-Rule policies of the guvnors and owners are overwhelmed by the enduring power of the living ideas & voices of its opponents.
You can bet your life if it comes down to a clash of brawn, the axes that prevail will be those ground by yer ruling classes & swung by their hirelings, the brainwashed mercenaries worldwide. if the giant steps taken against that continuing direction by the likes of Joan Littlewood (Mother Courage of Stratford East), Tom Pickard, McGough, Patten, Weller & the rest are themselves assailed as The Enemy or The Establishment by would-be new wavers, the net result is surely that all true poetry & revolutionary aspiration gets that much more easily wiped out by the Tory Philistinism & economic demoralisation virtually all the oral poets are continuing to fight.
4: I chose the Young Vic & Stratford theatres for these Poetry Olympics shows exactly because they’re two of the most working class & multiracial (& least sectarian or class-ridden) venues in London. So far from representing a “bourgeois, snobby, out of touch… alien world of dirty looks” the Theatre Royal’s a deliberately community orientated anti-racist youth centre, built up over the years with the bare hands & heads of Littlewood, Brendan Behan, Shelagh Delaney, Frank Norman & loads more. This tradition of a people’s theatre was extended the night your reporter looked in & left again with his Bushell of prejudices intact – extended by Attila, but also by the black/alternative/racial/rock communicators James Berry, Jeff Nuttall, Adrian Mitchell, Pete Brown, Patrik Fitzgerald & several others.
5: OK, none of us is getting any younger, but for Bushell to assume that because a few of the above may be around their middle years, we’re necessarily also “middle-class, smug, self-satisfied, & stiflingly self-congratulatory” when he admits he only started to listen the fourth time he left the bar for the auditorium, to Butterfield and Attila, leaves him hoist by his own petard his presumed ‘radicalism’ too is gonna be ’emasculated’ if he pays attention to no-one but his mates. At risk to their self-approbation, he & his might pause to consider the possibility that to be a poet or revolutionary at 20 is to be 20, to be them at 40 is to be a poet & revolutionary – as Mitchell, Nuttall, Heathcote Williams (who didn’t get a hearing at Stratford cos of the time waste of all the aggro & interruptions) still turn out to be.
6: Bushell applauds Attila for standing at the mike “in leather jacket, football scarf & DMs, spouting forth about there here and now. If he’d been in the theatre for the others, as distinct from reacting against their clothes, he’d have been able to tell your paper what each of them read & sang about present day realities too. Why should a conformist of one kind mean more than any other – more than that it’s wearer’s mentality or desired public might be uniform – propaganda for proper geese? I wear cords cos they cost £2 on Portobello Road, whereas leather gear’s pricey these days, being chic, I’ve also written quite a lot of soccer poetry, but that doesn’t mean I wear soccer clothes to perform it in, or want to spout it to soccer fans only.
7: The Stockbroker’s claim that JCC made his forerunners “redundant in ’77” by showing that “poetry should be for the people and could be put across to anyone” is unhistorical to say the least. Coops drew on the spadework of the Beats & Dylan & Henri & all of us concerned (like Attila) with “making the audience part of it” – just as we ourselves had benefited from the pathfinding inroads of blues shouters & Dylan Thomas & the Russian revolutionary bards. No real poet is ever made redundant by any other – it’s what makes poetry more like music than say, machine-part assembly. Lennon’s Working Class Hero didn’t replace Ginsberg’s Howl any more than Elvis Costello does Presley. What’s real in art is always contemporary – though the mass of what’s contemporary is not, alas, always real.

Michael Horovitz, Poetry Olympics, Piedmont, Bisley, Stroud, Glos.

Honey Bane On The Run

Following on from the release of the excellent Fatal Microbes single Violence Grows, singer Honey bane legged it from her child care centre and a shock horror probe ensued in the papers. Sounds, August 11, 1979 talks to the girl herself.

Honey Bane

This March a 12″ single came out on the Small Wonder label called ‘Violence Grows’ written and performed by the Fatal Microbes. The single was slow, powerful and bewitchingly sinister, with the band’s vocalist Honey Bane intoning the violent reality of the lyrics in a haunting fairy-tale-innocent voice.
Our man Big Al Lewis (the Rip Van Winkle of Rock) naturally appreciated its value and slipped it in the hallowed Single Of The Week slot. It duely sold out its first 5,000 copies and has now been repressed as a 7 inch.
But there was a ‘hot press angle’ to the single too, as the East End’s most infamous hippy Small Wonder supremo Pete Stennet was quick to point out. 15 year old Honey was holed up in a child care centre, the St Charles Youth Treatment Centre in Essex where she had been placed for her violence and underage drinking.
Thankfully most papers resisted the shock-horror-sensationalism approach until, that is, about two months ago when Honey (real name Donna Tracy) ran away from the home and the Sunday populars had a short ‘punk-juvenile on the run’ spree.
Soon after Honey phoned to say that she was in hiding, trying to form a new band, and that ‘when the time was right’ she’d get in touch again. The time was right last week and Monday brought another breathless phone call arranging a rendez-vous in a punk celebrity’s Peckham flt (Note to Social Services, she is no longer there).
There in a poorly lit room over triple bacardis and coke Donna spilt the beans. An attractive, well-developed girl she spoke with a maturity which belied her youth, spacing her words in the slow, practised precision of her hero, John Lydon.
Technically she is still in hiding. She doesn’t know when she’ll be crossed off the S.S’s books but is taking no chances of getting picked up before she’s certain she’s clear. Of her life before the home she says little except she never knew her father, her mother was a model, and the list of places they lived makes the Central Line look like the Romney-Hythe-Dymchurch miniature railway.

Why’d you run away, Honey?
“I just got fed up with it. They pissed me about too much saying I needed to be locked up and I don’t. I couldn’t be in a band and in there. It was like they were doing me a favour by letting me out for gigs and rehearsals.

So is your new band gonna be called the Fatal Microbes?
“No, I couldn’t get on with them. I didn’t like the stuff we was doing. Apart from ‘Violence Grows’ it was rubbish. I had ideas but they wouldn’t listen to me. They just wanted to do fast buzzsaw stuff which I didn’t like. So I’ve got a new band – I saw an advert and auditioned with this band and they liked me.
“But we’re not going to be called that. We’ve got a new name and the Social Services won’t even know what band I’m in ‘cos I’m going under a different name too.
“At the moment we’ve got some of their songs and some of mine in the set.”

Gigging?
“Well we would have been ‘cept the guitarist came off his motorbike 3 nights ago and fractured his skull. But I’m organising gigs for about a month’s time. We’re recording a new single on an independent label on August 26 and hope to get a saxophone in soon.”

Not a straight three chord thrash then?
“No, we’ll have a vary varied sound. Not straight-forward punk – that’s a load of rubbish. It’s sort of come out of that but it’s better. We do some reggae stuff as well, and some of the songs are a bit jammy. I AM NOT A PUNK. Put that down. Punks nowadays are wankers. It’s not achieved anything! I’m an individual and people who have written about me are cunts. Max Bell’s a bastard. So’s Chris Westwood. So’s Jock McDonald. Dave McCullough’s a wanker.”

Aren’t you worried that companies will try and sell the group on your looks? Y’know make you into a Blondie figure?
“I’m better than Blondie. She looks OLD . . . I don’t ‘spose I’d mind. I’d just get on as well as I could and then go on my own way. I’m different than the rest. Different in my head and I know I won’t change. I’m gonna come out on top and no Security unit’s gonna stop me.”

The next day Paul Slattery showed Alan Lewis Donna’s pictures and the poor sod still ain’t recovered.

Garry Bushell

Mods Mods Mods

It’s forgotten these days how mod East Londons original Oi bands and fans were, several of them are mentioned in this gig review from Sounds, 11 August, 1979. many Glory Boys went from following Secret Affair to the Cockney Rejects.

Six More Prophets/Barney And His Rubbles
Wellington
Postmen
Canning Town

Every week the music press subjects us to this or that pretentious fart spouting some tedious, unintelligible guff about ‘challenging rock ‘n’ roll practices’ and ‘redefining the limits’. Generally all these achieve are huge black print marks on the pinkies of those follish enough to dig out a dictionary and wade through ’em.
What these people are oblivious to to is that the real ‘redefining’ goes on in places they’d never dream of going to. Like the Wellington last week, where Barney Rubble led a makeshift group recruited on the spot on to the stage: a right rowdy mob clutching drum sticks and recorders. It certainly seemed like a real racket was painfully imminenet.
But they’d managed to blag some gear and, with Hoxton Tom on bass, John on guitar, Rory on drums, Kev on harmonica, Shaun on recorder and Tone on tambourine, a semblance of otder was introduced into the chaos.
In fact, it sounded pretty good when the band – looking like the Fred Perry Five – struck up the likes of ‘Al Capone’ and various reggae/souly backing tracks for some indecipherable taoasting from Mr Rubble on the alleged superiority of West Ham United FC; like ‘Look out listen can you hear it/Panic in the CBL/Look out listen can you hear it/Millwall up against the wall…’
The Postmen are similar. They work by word of mouth. An audience is assembled in minutes. Teenage gangs ‘doing their own thing’. They choose a stage, empty houses, back gardens, parks and with makeshift instruments run a gauntlet of strangely unmusical songs held together by raucous singing and enthusiasm.
They’ve got no frameworks as such, they do it for a laugh and it is a real crack too. Democracy run wild. Pogo and screw the pre-defined concepts of how groups work!
Back in the Wellington, Barney has led his mob off-stage and five minutes later Six More Prophets are on. An Oxford six-piece making a rare London appearance. And, well it has to be said, the earth did not catch fire.
For the first few numbers I was particularly disappointed as the sound, though nicely driving and poppy, all seemed a bit gutless and identikit. There was something missing. In truth, the most interesting thing about the visual presentation was trying to figure out the point of having three guitarists. The band explained it as “None of us are powerful guitarists – we don’t use power chords for example – but together the effect is powerful”. True, but all the visual/musical mismatch lead to is another Daily Mirror overmanning scandal in the near future.
Until, that is, the fourth and fifth numbers, ‘Not That Young’ and ‘crime’ when suddenly a rather ordinary band were transformed into a forceful punchy pop outfit with some fine guitar interplay. Now if all their set was like this…
sadly it ain’t. Their version of ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ was appaling while the slower ‘Now I Know’ was positively drippy. They didn’t get an encore.

Garry Bushell

Jellied Eels To Record Deals

An album that I played a lot reviewed in Sounds, 10 November 1979.

The Buzzards
‘Jellied Eels To Record Deals’
(Chrysalis CHR1213) *****

There’s nothing quite as nifty as a last minute winner,the 33-1 outsider who comes from nowhere in the last two furlongs to steam past the post a head and a half in front of the favourite and furnish you with beer money for a week.
Most people had the Buzzards marked down as no-hope outsiders, one hit wonders with a one way ticket on the tube back to Leyton, and I’ve gotta admit I wouldn’t have bet the rent money on ’em either. Neither, obviously, have Chrysalis ‘cos ‘Jellied Eels’ has got ‘cut-price’ stamped all over it.
It comes in cheapo packaging, consists of their singles, some Peel session stuff and some demos, and retails at four quid … but screw me with a rag man’s trumpet if that ain’t more to do with punk than 98 days with some flash yank producer in a posh recording studio.
And all packaging and rhetoric aside the album is a guaranteed, last minute winner diamiind in the rough, the Buzzards’ story so far told in 18 trumpeting tracks of noisy pop and sod the niceties.
Now you don’t need to be Bamber Gascoigne to work out where the Buzzards are coming from. All the influences of Mott, Clash, even Slade, are here for all to hear in a happy-go-lucky collection which probably explains why the band have found recognition so elusive. They were inspired by punk but fell by the popular wayside by refusing to toe any strict tribal stance.
The brace of excellent 45s included here illustrates their diversity well, from the hardcore punk anthem of ’19 And Mad’ (“won’t reach 20 and I don’t want to”) thru the slow credibility Kate ironies of ‘Art School’, the magnificent lightly-reggaed nostalgic toast to growing up to reggae of the ’69 kind in ‘Saturday Night’, the poppy ‘Hanging Around’, and the raucous New Wave Slade manifesto ‘We Make A Noise’.
Elsewhere we get shar young pop of ‘Land Of The Free’ and ‘Sharp Young Men’ (an obvious next single with Harley and Hunter vocal throwbacks); a stabbing reggae singalong in ‘British Justice’; silly covers like ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’, a Status Quo pisstake on ‘People On The Street’ and riproaring punkouts like ‘Mixed Marriages’ and ‘No Dry Ice And Flying Pigs’ – another catchy tongue-in-cheek manifesto.
Like Mott, the band write about themselves a lot, and possess a nice line in strory-telling as exemplified by the excellent ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ which is a sort of biblical account of punk’s rise and demise (“right before my eyes I see my dreams destroyed with fire and brimstone”)
But if you wanna know what the Buzzards are about check out the lyrics to the great should-have-been-a-hit single ‘We Make A Noise: “The music climate’s turned against us so it seems/We’re full of East End promise but we’ve lost our dreams/Now everybody says we’re a noisy band/We’ve got a one-way ticket back to Garageland”.
My only niggle about the Buzzards is that I’ve come across them so late. But then again as that bloated Tory twat Winnie says in their ad: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Garry Bushell