The magnificent Gymslips talk ‘women in rock’ from Soundmaker, 21 May, 1983.
The Bad Brains did a blistering tour of Britain in 1983. Soundmaker, 21 May, 1983 reviews one of the gigs.
Sometimes being original, nay unique, can work against you. A black New York Rastafarian hardcore punk reggae band? You’ve got to be kidding me! Terrible memories of Pure Hell remain as a warning against facile cross-cultural fertilization of cultures, an insult to both Punk and black music.
On of the great things about the Sex Pistols was the bravado with which they mashed up their audience with the heaviest in dub before they went and played some of the most wonderful rockist white trash music to be played for years. Punk and reggae always went together, even if they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. It took 2-Tone to play music that truly stood midway between Punk and Reggae, but it did that by going BACK. Two steps forward, three steps back – great music.
It’s still possible to experience music that proves that all of these so-called “opposing” styles are merely marketing ploys, aids to help people who don’t have ears to choos the music they consume. That experience is THE BAD BRAINS. (Or is it Bad Brains – everything is in flux round here). What do you get?
You gt four black New Yorkers who know what they’re about, who play their instruments, who actually (in these jaded times) like what they play. They play punk songs, surreally short, which introduce instant chaos in front of the stage. Through these thrashes whines a guitar that screams, moans, cries, lush wild and heavy.
Is this the Small Faces circa 1966 or is this Jimi Hendrix? Is this Garageland thrash or Psychedelia? Are these obviously skillful musicians parodying the excesses of incompetent white tributes to R ‘n’ B or have they heard something in that – something they want to make themselves? I would argue the latter. The punk they play is too sharp, the explosions too lovingly honed and directed for this to be lazy satire. The singers gestures are magnificent, this is a man who has learnt from the source: anyone remember Iggy Pop?
The reggae they play – welcome respite from the adrenalin surges that surround it – is clipped, modern, militant. What Misty would sound like if they lost their woolliness, their community-centre safeness. The singer raps about the revolution (“You have to go to it – it will not come to you“) and racism, transfixing moral lessons that hark back to the revivalism of Jerry Lee Lewis, the apocalyptical poetry of Aretha’s dad (the Reverend CL Franklin), the challenge of the MC5.
The audience was stunned. So was I.
sweet, and sticky.
Three floors up
no nearer to G-d
closer to heaven.
The off season,
long discomix days
Looking out the
at a rusting
It was going nowhere,
neither were we.
but a black t-shirt,
Across her chest
bold in a circle:
Who killed Liddle
The magnificent Gymslips’ second Peel session, recorded 1 September, 1982 and broadcast on the 16th of that month. The session includes two of their best; Pie and Mash and Drink Problem.
From Sounds, 10 November, 1979.
Two new grass roots rock films are being made by a bunch of Paddington teenagers who claim to be very appealing – very appealing for money that is, or they won’t be able to finish the project.
The first is a 25 minute documentary called Knuckles which is about gig violence and bouncers, including film of Stiff Little Fingers‘ riotous Brixton carnival appearance and interviews with Jake Burns, the UK Subs and the Cockney Rejects.
But even more ambitious is a 90 minute film on “alternative music and commercialism”, which they describe as a collage of interviews, live performances and “general messing about”. This one features more of the Stiffs, the Subs, Rejects and Purple Hearts, Barracudas, Johnny G, Baby Patrol, Charles Shaar-Murray (boo!) and Garry Bushell (ray!) – at least.
Forum Youth Films, as they call themselves, won’t get it done though without an infusion of ackers to the tune of £1,300 (they’ll hum it, you pick it up). These ten people have so far put in £700 out of money they’ve earned in their day jobs as shop assistants, waitresses, part-time actors and school students.
You might calculate that the record companies whose bands will be featured would have to ante up about £200 each to supply all Forum’s needs, which might not break the bank of such as Chrysalis, EMI and Beggars Banquet even in these dire times.
If you’d like further details contact Dom Shaw, 12 All Souls Avenue, NW10 (965 9368) or ‘Tubby’ Hasan Shah, 153 Burnham Towers, Adelaide Road, NW3 (722 2419).
On 7 September, 1979 Crass did a gig at the Conway Hall as a benefit for the Persons Unknown trial. The gig was attacked by a heavy BM mob and the call went out from some people present to the anti-fascist squads who turned up and dealt with them.
Crass were not happy and blamed the violence on the politicisation of punk by Rock Against Racism. Really!
Even weirder, given Crass’ much touted pacifism (seen by many as an avoidance of class politics) those involved in the trial were up for causing explosions.
The Leveller, October 1979 reports on the gig.