Five ranters from the early 80s: Seething Wells, Nick Toczek, Wild Willi Beckett, Joolz, and Little Brother.
The Seething Wells/Little Brother split EP reviewed in Sounds, 11 December, 1983.
Seething Wells and Little Brother: ‘The Rising Son Of Ranting Verse’
Swells is very funny and very frustrating. Here his biting attack on ‘machismo’ is doubtless the only way he can avoid getting thrown out of SWP cheese and wine evenings for his own ‘macho’ skinhead image.
The Left have got some peculiar double standards. It’s okay to be ‘macho’ if you’re a Yorkshire miner or a Viet Cong guerrilla, but Joe Bloggs next door is a closet rapist and a potential stormtrooper ‘cos he likes a pint and the odd football match.
Yet Swells seems to at least partially appreciate the contradiction, and in ‘He/She’ he launches an equally scathing attack on trendy lefties ‘He’s ashamed of being male/She’s sorry she’s not black… He/she thinks Benny Hill’s a right wing plot/ Thinks baby boys should be shot’.
Little Brother is less caustic, just as funny, and ultimately more satisfying. Indeed, the whole EP would be worth buying simply for his ‘Letter to K – nave’ and his rib-tickling revelations about the new Cadbury’s chocolate phallic bar which, we’re reliably informed, ‘Comes off in your mouth and not in your hand’ and ‘actually does taste like chocolate never tasted before.’
Seething Wells, Mark Miwurdz, and Little Brother get a gig preview in the Sheffield Star, 27 March, 1982.
Back in 1985 several ranting poets toured Holland. In proper form they toured with punk bands.
Cheers to Nick Toczek for digging this out. Nick writes: “Me and Swells over in Holland same time as Instigators. I’d been in touch with Rob Berends at Paperclip Agency to set this up. He’d previously got me to put together a ranting package for a huge international poetry festival in Amsterdam – six of us did it – me, Swells, Attila, Little Brother, Belinda Blanchard and Dave Reeves – last two then went home, rest of us did more gigs and loads of press and radio stuff.”
Dead Kennedys live at the Brixton Ace, 2 December, 1982. The Redskins supported and a bloody good gig it was too. This is the full Kennedys set, and starts with Little Brother doing a rant. Attila also storms the stage.
Red hot writer at the NME interviewed in the NME, 15 October, 1983.
Recently a series of ill-typed reviews have thrown Carnaby Street into a state of bafflement. Printed under the name ‘Susan Williams’ these mishmashes of doggerel, gratuitous expletives and sub- Burchillisms have prompted much speculation as to the real hand behind the NME‘s latest toxic pen. Working on a mere handful of clues – the Bradford postmark, multipe canine references and scented typing paper – I was despatched northwards to point the finger and stir the worms.
Despite much ill-concealed hostility, many frozen stares and several pieces of deliberate misinformation I managed to track the elusive stranger down to a large off-white caravan parked outside a decidedly seedy gable and terrace. Although obviously forwarned of my arrival she declined the offer of a drink.
“I fucking hate the pubs around here. They’re all full of Rad Fems swigging pints of Tetleys – so butch! Fer chrissakes, who wants to look like a man?”
Amongst other less worthy achievements Williams claims to have invented ‘Ranting Poetry’: “The original Bradford poets – Shy Ted, Little Bother, Dave the Dog, Wild Willy Beckett and SWells – were all kids I met when I worked as a Youth Leader. I gave them all ten poems to learn and started ringing up press and promoters. It was just an idea to see how easily I could get the Biz to swallow something really awesomely bad. Of course when workers like Attila started jumping the bandwagon I knew I’d succeeded. Some of them even make a living out of it now – I should have put out a patent.”
Other claimed hypes incude the Mod revival and Southern Death Cult. “I met Ian at an Ants gig in Keighley. I think it was the cheekbones that did it. Anyway I bought him home and fed him, gave him some Tolkein and a LadyBird book on Red Indians to look at, got him kitted out at X-clothes in Leeds and forced him on a local punk band. Bingo!Too bloody easy by half.”
So why the writing?
“I just got sick of all the bog fodder wimpery being pushed as radical. I mean – ‘Herbert’! What’s that all about eh? You can’t sledgehammer a hype – you’ve got to be subtle. Keep ’em guessing.”
What’s your real name Susan?
A grinning silence. I leave with a bellyful of gingernuts and hospitable abuse clutching a xeroxed media release sheet promising to “rip to shreds that which others merely maul poorly”. I know but I’m not telling.
This nautical pub was just off the Haymarket. As well as Apples and Snakes gigs, Billy Bragg also ran a night before he made it big. I was his keyboard stand on a few occasions.
There were some great line ups at Apples and Snakes in the early days, this flier from 1985 has Seething Wells, Levi Tafari, Little Brother, Porky the Poet, Nick Toczek, Surfin Dave, the Mad Kiwi Ranter and more.