Scouse poet Mick Turpin, various punk bands, 2 Tone, and a couple of reggae choons from songs played at Ken Dodd’s birthday bash, as reported in Sounds, 4 July, 1981.
To start with Oi was quite an entertaining mix, before it went heavy metal.
The majestic Serious Drinking reviewed live in Soundmaker, 4 June, 1983.
The Higsons, The Farmer Boys, Serious Drinking
The Electric Ballroom, London
It’s the Farmer Boys’ evening judging by the number of quiffs ‘n’ check shirts in the audience. They’ve presumably been drawn by the band’s clutch of very catchy singles and their certain naive and self-effacing charm. For instance, after, ‘A Promise You Can’t Keep’, Baz says, “you’re too kind, I’d have gon home by now.”
So what’s the problem? For me at least, it’s that The Farmer Boys’ music is rather like their anthemical ‘Soft Drink’, not a heady brew to take away and savour, but a pleasure enjoyed briefly and forgotten, a sort of Orange Juice without the soul. I like the older songs but already the newer ones are sounding weaker and though a real drummer would be an improvement, I can’tsee thm making the big league with their current fun band brand of pop.
Serious Drinking, my band of the evening, preceded them with a good short set, genuine classics such as ‘Countdown To Bilko’ and ‘Bobby Moore Was Innocent’ rubbing shoulders with only slightly less immediate new songs. Their ‘Heavy Brew’ – shall we say five pints? – with its humourous roots in punk and ska, was not ideal for this audience but the band’s rabble-rousing songs got a good few dancing, and even more grinning.
I was prepared to be bored by The Higsons’ energetic funk and duly was by much of the set. Their enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment spread though, and they got the most positive response of the whole evening with half the Ballroom dancing b the end. For the last song, about fifty punters invaded the stage for a song-and-dance to the exhilarating ‘One World’. I was not alone in being won over and the band were called back despite the ‘curfew’ to do a blistering ‘I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys/Put The Punk Back In The Funk’ encore.
Maybe the Higsons haven’t missed their boat after all.
Steve Kent from The Business and Nick Austin, previously of Chelsea, were members of this band reviewed by Susan ‘Seething Wells’ Williams in the NME, 25 February, 1984. The lad was spot on about The Smiths.
Bandits At 4 O’Clock
Leeds The Bierkeller
YOU WIMP! So the manky Manc misery merchants – purveyors of itty-bitty dribble-chinned gumby rhumba-toons got your vote for this year’s Great White Hope, eh? Hey Man, You still into Combat 84? God how passé! Don’tcha know it’s ‘BünkerFunk’ this time around?
You spineless filth. You jellyfish. You make me ill.
There are bands out there comprised of eager boys still screaming their bollocks off over such hackneyed motifs as ENERGY! (groan) HONESTY! (yawn) and, of course, AGGRESSION! (simper) from whom we barely hear a whisper such is your obsession with transvestism, fringes, sexually transmitted diseases and plastic fascism.
Such a band are the Bandits. Four chaps who probably have the word PASSION tattooed in black and red across their tightly clenched buttocks. They have style, they have guitars held at cock height, they are devilishly spunky, they have tons of tunes and as such they are doomed to shatter on the thick woolly hide of your miserable parochialism. You should be ashamed!
If I could write bad ennuff I would defect to Sounds, knowing that there I’d find a readership hip to the latest in pig-ignorant machismo, a foible infinitely more attractive than your drooling over grey cerebral pap.
It’s a matter of taste, Pal.
I’ve got it. You haven’t.
The first issue of Cardiff’s sussed skinhead ‘zine Backs Against the Wall, from 1986, has this poem in it. Cardiff skinhead/punk pub the Pig and Whistle, also known as The Gill, gets a mention.
A single guy, against the crowd,
So you beat him up, do you feel proud,
He must think you’re insane,
If it happens to you, you soon complain.
You fight in a pub, you fight in the station,
Is it any suprise you’ve a bad reputation,
Is it a laugh, when no band plays this town,
Cause then who’s the dickhead, who’s the clown?
There’s no need of violence, no one’s gonna gain,
Do you really get pleasure, by giving someone pain?
Just be a mellow guy, and drink in the Gill,
Make sure you watch Auf Wiedersain,
And be sure to watch Grange Hill!!
Boner, the poet laureate of Cardiff
Paul Morley sucked the fun out of punk long before he became ‘the cultural commentator Paul Morley’ sucking the fun out of nostalgia TV. He reviewed Killing Joke’s first album along with the Cockney Rejects second in the NME, 25 October, 1980.
Killing Joke (Malicious Damage/EG Records)
Greatest Hits Vol II (EMI)
Here are some young boys sneezing, wheezing, excreting. Where have they been? Where do they come from? The Cockney Rejects tap the baddest taste of their punk mentors (Sham, the Friggin’ Sex Pistols) and exhaust it with breathtaking short-sightedness. Killing Joke are trapped inside a diseased John Lydon/Hugh Cornwell nightmare, doing their cross-eyed best to affect malevolence and translate the bane and dread of PiL into something scrumptiously decomposed and very much their own.
Neither group engages my sympathy. Early-morning emptiness makes me see a point or two in Killing Joke’s conventionally barren music-scape. Nothing lets me in to the secret of how to teeter into the bog with Cockney Rejects.
Two ways of seeing ‘punk’; as dogma or a sense of adventure, Rejects are strangled by dogma: Killing Joke baffled by the possibilities of experiment. The two LPs give credence to the theory that ‘punk’ was just a moderate bump in the history of American rock music, a soft jab in the music industry’s face.
For the Rejects, punk is a licence to scatologically bare their priceless backsides on their glossy album cover, take soiled chants from the terraces into the expensive recording studios, let loose defective egos on the ‘world’. Killing Joke have sluggishly exploited the opportunities post-punk endeavour has offered them to fiddle about with sound and form, to wallow in horror pools of corruption and degeneration.
Like the next person, I have a certain taste for stupidity, but neither of these records stimulate that in the way I want it stimulated. Cockney Rejects are sprightly loony-teen pop prats, Killing Joke are fusty champions of the new underground – well in with the moderns, this lot, but not me chum – and both go through the motions: they’re well-mannered for all their cover of revolt or subversion.
We live in sick times: Cockney Rejects and Killing Joke seem to be part of the problem rather than sceptics or cynics.
Killing Joke’s peaky, broken-winded, meandering songs would actually form a better Ballardian soundtrack than Numan of Foxx, but ultimately the songs lack fierce introverted intensity or harrowing lust just as much as the synth-kids. They ladenly, sub-statically dribble along sounding more blank than terror-filled, forming a sullen, spasmodically wildish soundtrack for impending catastrophe that lacks a necessary sense of calm or disorientating inner tension.
Killing Joke are parasites sucking all the goodness out of important musics. Graceless. A poor joke.
Killing Joke song titles: ‘Requiem’, ‘War Dance’, ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘Complication’ (Foreigner playing Stranglers) ‘Primitive’. To another blotchy mix of comedy and tragedy. Cockney Rejects song titles: ‘War On The Terraces’, ‘Hate Of The City’, ‘Urban Guerilla’, ‘The Greatest Cockney Rip Off’, even ‘The Rocker’.
They even do Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’ – this group don’t try as hard as Killing Joke not to be nostalgic. In fact they don’t try at all to be anything but vacantly, even cheekily, wild.
They come on like scolded Just Williams and sound like scalded dogs. Fourteen songs are spewed out that will abuse the souls and desires of their listeners with as much hypocritical crudeness and puritanical, jingoistic zeal as the Daily Star abuses its readers. If the Daily Star broke through its ludicrous cover of righteousness and owned up to the exploitative forces that drive it on, it would adopt Cockney Rejects as its pets and use them in its TV adverts along side Arthur Mullard.
These LPs emphasise that rock languages are repressive; they do nothing to indicate that music can also open up.
The Exploited reviewed live in Sounds, October 25, 1980.
I came to bury The Exploited, not to praise them, and yet I cannot ignore the facts. Despite all my prejudices and cynical hopes, they took the foreboding cavernous Playhouse Theatre by the scruff of its staid neck and shook the bugger until it screamed for respite.
Of course, they were helped by bthe 400-strong Exploited Barmy Army (soon to be dubiously immortalised in 45 form), a ragged but dedicated following of dead-end punks and skins. These are the real nowhere kids – those on the dole, those still at school and hating it, those too lazy to investigate more stimulating music, those too young to know any better and those who feel the Exploited are their own golden representatives. Hell, it may not be much, but what else have kids like this got?
A third-on-the-bill slot supporting the mechanically trashy Ramones and the limp 60s posturing of the Spectres (it was so ironic that Glen Matlock’s chirpy “Ello Edinburgh” was greeted by total silence from the hordes who probably became punks immediately after the Grundy TV debacle) hardly seemed the ideal setting for such roustabout ‘ready to ruck’ rabble-rousing, but the Exploited admirably overcame the traditional problems of transition from small club to large concert hall – no problem!
Indeed, such overly enthusiastic and physical reaction featuring mass pogoing and riotous applause hasn’t been generated by a local band since the heyday of the Skids as fledgling punk heroes. But Wattie Buchan on vocals and swearing is very much a man of the people – he understands their motivations, their expectations, their aspirations; and he uses it all to his own advantage.
He charges about the stage like some lunatic caged animal, snarling and spitting, whirling the mike around his head in some bizarre distortion of Daltrey on speed, as he strips to the waist, his Mohican hair-style glowing danger, and harangues the mob below to further outrage.
The addition of the energetic Gary on bass and the behemoth ‘Little John’ cradling his guitar like a weeping infant as he throttles it to death, has galvanised the Exploited into a dynamic adrenalin-rush attack of screeching frenzied rage. Subtlety and versatility are virtually non-existent as they thrash through ten or so numbers barely distinguishable from each other.
“Army Life”, that alternative chart fave, is still really the only song they have (though that won’t stop them from having hit singles) – the rest of the set is a garbled charging incitement to violence and hypocrisy. It must be faced – the Exploited are senseless bigots. Their pathetic tribal hatred, as encapsulated by ‘Fuck The Mods’ and ‘I Still Believe In Anarchy’ (at three quid a ticket?) is childish – but more than that, it is dangerous.
Aw hell – I’m confused. I went to the gig to do a hatchet job and came away dancing. But what happens when the twinkling toes are inside jackboots?