Tag Archives: Swift Nick

Swift Nick – Blaze

From Blaze No.3, 1984, edited by Janine Booth

Swift Nick is the Hull poet who you might have seen ranting on a corporation bus on The Tube towards the end of last year. The rant he performed then, ‘Cults and Fads’ was typical of his style. Full of humour and wit, it still puts over the important point that youth is fighting itself, while we’re all being shitted on by the Powers That Be. Senseless.
Our conversation soon found common ground – our joint admiration for, and belief in Paul Weller. This provided a good base for the story of Nick’s rise to the hallowed status or ‘Ranting poet’.
“I was into punk in ’77 – like everybody – and I grew out of it with The Jam. I just found myself agreeing with everything they were saying. I was in lots of small punk groups, but I’ve never been musically talented, so I got nothing good off the ground. I began writing song lyrics, influenced by Paul Weller, Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), John Lennon, SLF, Clash, and, to a lesser extent, Dexy’s. I also liked John Cooper Clarke. When no band materialised, I decided to put my stuff over as poetry. My first gig was in early/mid ’82, with The Czechs (later to become The Red Guitars) at a CND benefit in Hull, as an ‘angry’ poet (ha ha). I heard about Swells, Attila etc in mad/late ’82, and I admired the attitude of ‘Smash old-fashioned poetry, bring it down to street level’ (like punk did with music): I decided to become a ‘ranter’.
Since then, things have really taken off, with gigs flowing freely, the Tube appearance, and a live tape recorded.
His poems aren’t his only mouthpiece, though. New Youth is his fanzine, containing bits about Hull, nationally known groups, sick humour, ranting verse and total lunacy. Despite the appalling typing and layout, it’s a fantastic mag – full of comment on anything and everything: from the demise of punk and the true meaning of Anarchy, to Hull’s local clubs and this year’s scooter runs. Buy it.
He describes himself as a ‘socialist’, but he points out that “The Labour Party is not socialism. I grew up thinking I’d vote Labour, but I saw through that. If the Labour Party got in, it’d just be capitalism with a nicer face. I don’t agree with the parliamentary road to socialism.”
So, what is ‘socialism’, as defined by Swift Nick? Nick’s socialism seems to contain the same views as mine. Not surprising, really, considering we both believe so strongly in Paul Weller’s lyrics.
He’s a passionate opponent of racism, other forms of discrimination, war, vivisection …and intensely dislikes the conditioning he sees being carried out by the gutter press and the government. The main idea, put over in both the poems and the zine, is for unity and a new youth explosion, because he knows that, with A Solid Bond In Our Hearts, we can succeed.
I’ll end the interview with Swift Nick’s comment about himself: “Remember that I’m not important as a personality, it’s the things that I say that are important.”


swift nick 85

The Oi of Sex

Review from New Youth ‘zine, issue 5, 1984

What can I say about this that Swells hasn’t already said in the NME. There again most of New Youths readers probably aren’t “NME people” which is largely read by middle class – trying to be young and hip lefties – called Trendy Wendy & Right on John. Anyway I like the NME (!) and as Swells outlined the idiosyncrasies’ of Oi are still apparent .. torn between their working class ISM and the sick, stupid, dense Sun-reading patriotism of some of their Neo-Nazi followers. Oi continues to appear mixed up. Especially when you read the ridiculous list on the cover entitled “Oi is..”
It’s sad that the thick Neolithic type skinheads latch onto Oi as there are so many intelligent skins around (see this fanzine) not least the ones on the album, Burial, from Scarborough, are excellent and don’t have shits for brains. These lads are sussed and the album’s worth buying for their two tracks alone. Prole’s ‘Never say Die’ also stands out as true socialism in music. As is usual of Nick Toczek, the Bradford poet, his contribution is hard-hitting, thoughtful and easy to understand. ‘Stiff With a Quiff’ is a portrait of the stereotypical slobbish husband, ruining the life of a woman, who he keeps chained to household chores by a label of “wife” while he pisses his own life against a wall.
probably the most important piece on this album (that’s why we reviewed it!) is by Hull’s very own ranter Swift Nick. How he had the audacity to contribute such a caustic, hard-hitting, honest rant as ‘The Sun’ on an Oi album invariably listened to by the very people he is attacking is both admirable and amusing. He completely rips the piss out of blinkered, macho, nationalism of some young thugs, tears into the “royal” family and in general ridicules the whole mentality of the Sun newspaper type population.
These tracks mentioned are the only reasons valid to buy this album (you may like some of the other tracks) but better still write to New Youth for a live recording of a Swift Nick performance, only £1 – good quality and great thought-provoking entertainment, EXCELLENT RANTS!
The accepted idea of right-wing, racist, thuggish Skins is being smashed by the excellent Skins with sense all over the country (like Burial) but Oi doesn’t do its best to help the cause, especially when the disgusting band named A.B.H. are given vinyl space.

New Youth was written by Swift Nick and was a popular ‘zine of the time. I didn’t think the album was that bad, and there are plenty of ranters on it: Little Dave as well as Jimmy Mack. Teething Wells, no less, co-wrote Jimmy Mack’s rant. There are some good songs from Cock Sparrer, who also attacked The Sun, and Dogsbody. All the Oi albums had a good showing from ranters on them. It’s funny now to see how such a vilified music subculture had so much poetry.
ABH were a band associated with the National Front. It pissed off a lot of people that they were on the album.

Ranters Cup Final

from Out On The Floor, issue 3, 1985

Ranters Revenge. Cup Final. Challenge Football Match.
The afternoons challenge of a sporting contest on a football pitch was thrown down to Jamming magazine, by the meanest, toughest, ugly looking ranting poets gathered from coast-coast, a last hour switch from Hyde Park to the dark, dingy Hackney Marshes was the agreed venue. The conditions were unquestionably a dis-comfort to all, the meagre spectatorship of 6 were ‘slippin ana slidin’ on the touchline, and the players ? balanced themselves from the quagmire-pitch.
Kool Knotes ‘scabbed’ for Jamming, and was attacked at the end of the game, the result of a rather beer filled stout gutted ranters side, blitzed by a rather more serious minded Jamming/Alarm side 8-0.
Swift Nick, played as he writes, full of enthusiasm and verbally attacking his opponents, and would be ‘star’ ranter, supported by Attila, who did a stout job in the middle of the park and along with Nick, were unlucky not to score after a rather spirited come back in the second half, but the ranters had their revenge later that night.
ranters revenge

Though working on a stall selling the current crop of crazed collect- of fanzines nearly 20 different choices, each the ideal guide to creativity itself there was time on a rota basis to catch parts of the travelling extravaganza.
A box, provided by the Theatre was the vantage point to view the sight of extreme scruffiness (with exceptions) shabbily assembled group of much travelled personage.
The stoutly suited Porky the Poet, sponsored by Man at C&A, an outstanding performance with sparkling amusing repartee.
Susan Wells, tonight was extremely funny changing his somewhat “Alarming”, egoistic self indulgent spew to quite funny material.
Suffering from flu (which the bastard passed on to me) Swift Nick, put on a brave face, and stunned his audience, with his pull no punches type humour.
Little Brother, crisp, Northern, Coolness, was unmatchable, oozes with a style of his own, neat & tidied up phrases, polished set.
Finally the dribbling, rather clumsy Kool Knotes, never short of energy brilliantly funny, enthusiasm, second to nobody, dressed and answering, in favour of Casuals against the bomb, Breakdancers supporting 4th division football clubs, less his Ghetto blaster, he staggers cheekily, through his set, forgetting the odd line or two, but can only improve. Finally well done Attila, a thoroughly organised show, and to the Neurotics for a half-time floor show…
Out On the Floor
From Porky the Poet – The ticket pictured above was from The Ranters Revenge, at b2 studios in Wapping in 1983 when I met the utterly delightful Swift Nick at Wapping tube, when he gave me a copy of New Youth. The football match was on Hackney Marshes before the gig Theatre Royal, Stratford East, The Ranters Cup Final.

What Is Ranting?

This is from So What! ‘zine, their 4th issue, 1984.
This was one of the funnier bits I’ve turned up in my research as I’m actually in this ‘zine but had forgotten all about it. There’s also my mate Leigh (who plays guitar with the Ruts), Attila, Steve Winter and Kool Knotes. This page by Attila is good insight into what ranting poetry was.
so what 84

I phoned Attila and asked him to write something for the fanzine because I used to enjoy the articles he wrote for Sounds, under the name John Opposition. If you read Sounds you may have noticed that his features have virtually stopped now and one of the reasons for this is that he wrote a 3000 word article on fanzines (which took ages to write) and they couldn’t even be bothered to print it. If Sounds is supposed to be a ‘street-paper’ then surely fanzines should be reviewed regularly, or perhaps they’re frightened of the competition?
The Ranters
Ranting verse – a name coined by Seething Wells and Molotov Comics in the early 1980s to describe a new form of poetry which has as its main objective entertainment, information and humour, usually in an oral rather than printed setting. Ranter – a poet who rhymes ‘comet’ with ‘vomit’, who is generally well left of centre and prepared to brave hostile and uninterested audiences to put across his ideas, and wins those audiences over. If you can’t win over a negative audience you’re not going at it the right way. Ranting is about communication, being funny, being political, taking the unaccompanied spoken word to places it has never gone before and showing people who have never trusted words before that they can be a great source of pleasure, enjoyment and information.
Ranting verse – a label, all labels are bad, pigeonholes stink, all positive, articulate, caring and humourous poets are good, whatever they call themselves. ‘Poet’ – a weird definition, someone who uses rhyme + metre: there are many self-indulgent wimps around who have given the term such a bad reputation that if I say I’m a poet to people who don’t know me they expect me to fall over when they poke me with their finger!
Ranters, poets, writers to check out: Porky, Peter Campbell, Swift Nick, Kool Knotes, Dino, Little Dave, Seething Wells, Little Brother, Benjamin Zephaniah, Tony Stowers, Ginger John and more. Many other people write good stuff but I don’t know about them.
We aim above all, to make POETRY a decent thing to write. Poets are, rightly maybe, regarded as weird and psychedelic beings by the majority o0f people – and that’s at best because most people don’t even think about poetry. We aim to change all that by making poetry accessible, by demystifying it and making it available. By showing the way for ANYONE to write and perform punk broke down the barriers in music, so we hope to in poetry. ‘Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people’ (Adrian Mitchell) This is what we’ve got to change. Any ideas, poems, contributions-for my fanzine TIRANE THRASH, the rantzine with the special Albanian bias-to me at 161 Spencers Croft, Essex, CH186JR.
Attila the Stockbroker