A Year In My Ears 2011

Although I don’t think I’ve spent so much on new music this year when compared to last, what I have bought has been immensely satisfying. These ten releases have ended up doing multiple revolutions on various stereophonic devices around my house, and have definitely earned their keep.

Amebix – Sonic Mass LP (Easy Action Records). An album that was more than two decades in the making, and one that surpassed every expectation. There were some who didn’t ‘get’ this release, but I wasn’t one of them. Awesome on every level.

The Rebel Spell – It’s A Beautiful Future CD* (Rebel Time Records). Rebel Time have turned me on to some mighty fine noise coming out from the land of lumberjacks, and The Rebel Spell have continued that trend. Brilliantly tuneful and full of energy.

The Astronauts – Survivors LP (La Vida Es Un Mus). While the tracks on this release (a collection of their first 2 EPs and their side of a rare split) may be thirty years old, Paco at LVEUM has given them a new lease of life on this album. Off-the-wall kinda-folk-flavoured tunes for those willing to go on a punk rock adventure.

Burnt Cross – Break The Law, Not The Poor EP* (various labels). Two brothers with a mic, a guitar and a portastudio give Conflict a run for their money. When you want your punk rock old-school, no-nonsense and full-on, the Marriott boys should be near the top of your list. Like here.

Spanner – Crisis LP* (Iron Column Records / various labels). Disclaimer 1 – I have a financial and emotional interest in this. Disclaimer 2 – I can’t be held responsible for any outbreaks of crazy dancing and/or revolutionary activity that may result from hearing it.

ATU / Oi Polloi split EP* (Profane Existence / Nikt Nic Nie Wie). The 7″ single has never been so dangerous! A handful of blitzkreig attack tracks from two of the hardest-working and most genuine bands in the scene, ripping into a range of very legitimate targets. Saw both bands this year and they rocked!

Defcon Zero – Music For Gluesniffers, Terrorists And The Mentally Ill CD* (Pumpkin Records). This would get a place for the title alone. As it happens, it’s also a cracking disc. No-frills rapidfire punk rock delivered with just the right balance of venom and humour.

Misery – From Where The Sun Never Shines DL (self-released on Bandcamp). This took almost 6 years to put together in a punk’s basement, in true DIY style. It was worth the time, for this is a mighty beast that sums up the band perfectly. Soon-to-be available on double-LP vinyl from Inimical Records (limited pressing on grey wax for mail order).

The Freebooters – Ordinary Level Oi! CD* (Distro-y Records). Every time I play this, I end up singing along at the top of my voice and smiling like a loon. Grade 1 Oi! for grade 1 haircuts.

VA – Prisoner Of War Benefit CD (no label). Released initially to raise funds for JJ (Active Slaughter’s guitarist who did time for animal lib activities), this CD is now carrying on the good work for anti-fascist prisoners. A great punk pick ‘n’ mix of tunes by a load of bands who haven’t forgotten what it’s really all about.

Not bad at all, eh?

* available to buy from Iron Column Records

Mixing It Up For The Indonesian Punks!

As mentioned a couple of days ago, I’ve put together a mix for my punk friends in Indonesia. It’s not much, but I hope that someone who’s had a bit of a shit time at the rough end of this theocratic fascism ends up with a smile on their face after listening to it. Same goes for you lot too.

1. Blaggers ITA – Emergency
2. Extinction Of Mankind – Fourth Reich Religion
3. Rudimentary Peni – Teenage Time Killer
4. Inner Terrestrials – 1066
5. Burnt Cross – Mob Violence*
6. PAIN – Propaganda And Information Network
7. Appalachian Terror Unit – Judgemental, Ignorant, Stupid And Blind*
8. Doom – Reasonable Force
9. Bender – People’s Army
10. Oi Polloi – Bash The Fash
11. Restarts, The – Bolloxology
12. Warprayer – White Over Red
13. Jesus Bruiser – Oh Really
14. Propagandhi – Technocracy
15. Autonomads, The – Cloud Song
16. Hellbastard – Massacre
17. SubHumAns – This Year’s War
18. Division’s Ruin – Resist And Occupy
19. Spanner – Quiet Life*

*these are available from Iron Column Records

All in FLAC format. Once you’ve unzipped them, you’ll find that it’ll all fit perfectly onto a CD-R. There are a couple of skips, a few pops and the occasional bit of background noise in places. This is because some of the vinyl is old, not all of it was particularly well-treated in the past, and / or I didn’t have time to give it a deep clean before ripping. Nor could I be arsed with cleaning up the rips afterwards. Keeps it real though, eh?

Some notes about each song (and a bit of showing off):

1. Taken from the ‘Blaggamuffin’ mini-LP, Words Of Warning WOWLP19, 1991
2. Taken from the ‘Northern Scum’ LP, Profane Existence Vinyl Retentive Series VR001, limited edition of 200, split red / black wax, 2007
3. Taken from ‘Rudimentary Peni’ 7″ EP, Outer Mongolian Records BOOBOO1, 1981
4. Taken from the ‘Enter The Dragon’ 10″ EP, Maloka MAL017, 2001
5. Taken from the ‘Break The Law, Not The Poor’ 7″ EP, Tadpole Records tadpole030, Lukket Avdeling Records LAR-014, Loud Punk Records LOUD23, Opiate Records Opiate15, Rawby Records RAWBY008, Active Rebellion ACT021, Arripurri Records (none), Schizo Zine (none), Höhnie Records (none), Rusty Knife Records (none), 2011
6. Taken from the ‘Our Universe Commences Here’ LP, Iron Man Records IMB6003, 2001
7. Taken from the untitled split 7″ EP with Oi Polloi, Profane Existence Exist120, 2011
8. Taken from the untitled 2011 US tour EP, marbled wax, Black Cloud Records (none), 2011
9. Taken from the ‘People’s Army’ 7″ EP, Words Of Warning WOW39, limited edition of 500, clear red wax, 1994
10. Taken from the ‘Guilty 7″ EP, Ruptured Ambitions RA01, 1994
11. Taken from the ‘Outsider LP’, Rodent Popsicle Records RPR105, limited edition of 500, split red / white wax, 2007
12. Taken from the untitled split LP with Morne, Alerta Antifascista AA53, limited edition of 400, white wax, 2009
13. Taken from the ‘A Political Treatise In Six Parts’ 10″ EP, La Société Pue Prod, limited edition of 300, 2009
14. Taken from the untitled split 7″ EP with Sacrifice, War On Music WOM017, 1st pressing of 1000 copies, 2010
15. Taken from the ‘No Mans Land’ LP, Ruin Nation Records BOLLOX024, Mass Productions MASS124, Pumpkin Records PUM022, 2010
16. Taken from the untitled split 7″ EP with Dissent, Torture Garden Picture Company TG-39.0, limited edition of 500, purple splatter, 2010
17. Taken from the ‘Internal Riot’ LP, Bluurg Records FISH50, 2007
18. Taken from the untitled split LP with Easpa Measa, Contraszt! Records #18, Suburban Mayhem 003, Holy Shit Records (none), Distro-Y Records DY05, 2010
19. Taken from the ‘Crisis’ LP, Iron Column Records ICR1, limited edition of 100, split red / black wax, 2011

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Never Surrender, Never Give In!

In recent days, punks in Aceh, Indonesia, who were attending a benefit gig to raise money for orphans, were arrested en masse, humiliated, and put into 10-day religious fundamentalist ‘re-education’ programmes. Their crime? Being punks.

The Aceh state government implements a form of sharia law. Having a weird haircut, wearing black clothes, and hanging out with people of the opposite sex, apparently breaks that law. Never mind the fact that these kids, who generally don’t have much of their own to start with, were raising cash for those with even less. Or that, on the whole, punks tend to respect human dignity, embrace equality and show compassion to the wider world around them. No, the only thing that matters to these religious nuts is blind obedience to their own fucked-up ‘morality’.

In response, punks from around the world (including yours truly) are getting their shit together and doing whatever we can to show solidarity with our Indonesian brothers and sisters.

First off, protest. Most countries will have an Indonesian embassy or consulate that can be contacted. Check out this list for yours. Send them a polite email or letter protesting against the actions of the Aceh authorities. Here’s the one I sent if you need a starting point:

Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to you to express my concern at this report on the BBC website:


I find this action by the police in Aceh to be totally unacceptable, an affront to human rights that paints your country in a very poor light. I would suggest that the problem is not with the young people, it is with the intolerant people that they have to live among.

I was once a young punk, complete with the haircut and fashion. I am now a 46-year-old adult and would still call myself a punk, even if I no longer look like one (it’s not just about the clothes and hairstyles). As a punk, I have been to university and I am now a youth worker supporting homeless young people. I still love punk rock and go to many punk rock concerts, and I have met punks from all over the world (including from Indonesia). The young punks I meet are, without exception, kind and compassionate people. They are involved in human rights campaigns, many of them are vegetarians, they stand up against fascism and racism and believe in equality and dignity for all. Surely these are values that we all desire to see encouraged in our young people?

I would ask you to use whatever influence you have to persuade your government to intervene in the situation in Aceh, and ensure that the police service allows these young people to enjoy their punk culture and grow into happy and compassionate adults. Instead of imprisoning and humiliating them, I would suggest that people just take some time to talk to them.

Yours faithfully

People are also starting to organise protests at Indonesian embassies / consulates, such as this one planned for the UK next week. Keep an eye on the social networks, or organise one yourself and get spreading the word.

Depending on where you are, other options could be available. The important thing is to make sure that the Indonesian authorities know that we’re watching them while we watch each other’s backs.

Secondly, put a solidarity mixtape / CD-R together and pass it on to the folks at Aborted Society Records. They’re collecting as many as they can, ready to be packed up and shipped out. At some point early in the New Year, they should be off on their journey to punks who could do with a bit of moral support right now.

Making mixtapes for each other is something of a punk tradition, one that I’m proud to have maintained (albeit with more modern media), and I’m putting a vinyl selection together as I type. Once it’s done, I’ll post it up here too.

For an absolutely brilliant insight into the positivity some of these misfits generate, with not much more than a bunch of ukeleles, watch this:
Marjinal Punks doc

Smog UK – Misfit Songs 7″ EP

Artist: Smog UK
Title: Misfit Songs
Source: Vinyl 7″ EP
Bitrate: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 00:09:52
Size (mb): 70.1
Label: Smog Records
Cat. No: SUK 002
Year: 1995

Smog UK live at The Joiners, Southampton

Smog UK live at The Joiners many, many years ago

For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t avoid seeing Smog play if you were at any punky-related gig in and around Southampton in the ’90s. And that was a very good thing.

These boys knew how to knock up and belt out some mighty fine ska-tinted punk rock, reminiscent of early SLF with an ‘ampshire ‘og accent and a splash of Motorhead sauce. It’s no wonder I became mates with ’em (and still am to this day).

Life has since given the band members other commitments and Smog UK is no more. It’s a shame they only got around to putting out this EP and a split with Shutdown (which will be next up) in all their years together, as an album would’ve been far more fitting. Still, I’m happy they left any legacy at all.

OP’s opinion: Four

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Potato & Watercress Soup

Another quick, cheap and easy recipe for a nice lunch or as part of a hearty winter banquet.

Serves one as a lunch (well, it does if you’re like me and can happily devour a pint of soup) or two as a starter.

  • Knob of marg / 1-2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed (optional)
  • 1 medium potato (around 200g), diced into 1cm pieces
  • A good large, loose handful of watercress, stalks and all, roughly chopped
  • 500ml hot light stock / water
  • 1 tsp fresh herb of choice, chopped (parsley and basil are both good)(optional)
  • A few tbs milk / vegan cream / stock / water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the marg / oil in a pot over a medium heat for a minute then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the spuds (and garlic if using) along with a grind of pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.

Pour on the stock / water, bring to a soft boil then cover. Cook until the potatoes are just about soft enough to eat then add the watercress, cover again, and cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove from heat, add the herbs then liquidise everything. It’ll probably be slighly too thick, so add your choice of liquid to get it nice and creamy – you should end up with around 500ml of soup. If you can do it in a proper liquidiser, you’ll end up with a silky smooth and slightly frothy liquid that’s a joy to shove in your gob.

Pour back into the pan and reheat briefly while stirring gently until just starting to bubble. Give it a quick taste and season some more if needed. Pour into bowl then pour into self.

Pasta With Walnuts And Mushrooms

This one’s dead simple, dead quick and dead-free.

Recipe for 1 hearty appetite, scale down / up as needed.

  • 100g pasta of your choice (I like conchiglie)
  • Knob of margarine or 1/2 – 1 tbs veg oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced (use chestnut mushies if possible)
  • 60g shelled walnuts (pieces are fine)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 125ml vegan cream (or 1 tsp cornflour mixed in with 125ml soya milk)
  • Fresh shredded basil (optional), salt and pepper to taste

Get a pan of water on the boil and cook pasta according to instructions. If you’ve got the rest of the ingredients ready(ish), you should be able to get it together in around 10 mins easily. If the pasta finishes before the rest of the recipe, just drain it then leave it covered until you’re ready.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, shaking or stirring often, until starting to darken, then pulse them in a food processor for a few seconds so they’re chopped into small bits and set aside.

Add the marg / oil to the pan and melt / heat for 30 seconds or so, then add the onion and fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to fry for a few more minutes, again stirring regularly, until the mushies are cooked to how you like ’em. Add a good grind of black pepper, throw in the walnuts and stir through for 30 seconds, then add the lemon juice and give it another 10 seconds of mixing.

Add the cream and stir through for a minute until it’s hot. If you use the milk / cornflour combo, pour in slowly while continually stirring to avoid lumps.

Finally, throw the pasta in the pan along with the basil and mix until everything’s coated with everything else. Give it a taste and add any extra salt and pepper if you need it. Slop into a big bowl and eat. Make sure you’ve got some salad on hand too. And a nice glass of wine.

Walnut & mushroom pasta

Misery – From Where The Sun Never Shines DL

Misery - FWTSNS coverBack with a bang after too many years, heavy crusters Misery return to show the young pups how it’s done.

Embracing the new audio world order, this is a download-only release. But that doesn’t mean getting lumbered with crappy bitrate mp3s. No, this one’s available in full studio glory FLAC. Burn it to CD and you’ve got exactly the same thing the boys heard at the mixdown.

And this really needs to be heard uncompressed. It’s a monster of a recording, made even more impressive by the fact that “the whole lot was recorded in the HOM [House Of Misery – OP] basement over a five year period by some pissheaded bastard that is far from a pro producer” (in the words of Jon Misery, who does himself a massive disservice). IMHO, it sets a new milestone in DIY and delivers an album that nicely expresses what the band are about and how they want to say it.

As you’d expect, there’s a clear Amebix influence on many of the tracks. But it’s no clone. Misery have taken the sound and then mutated it into their own creature. There are also clear nods to the early UK anarcho scene throughout, some gothy touches, and even a flavour of Blitz-style Oi! (albeit with added gravel) in parts.

Bass riffs are hammered home while the chugging and riffage are all-encompassing. The strings are fleshed out with some smart use of effects. For the most part, the drumming is pleasingly heavy, although I found the cymbals and hats to be a little too crashy and dominant at times. But that’s just me, I know that many others love that crasher percussion. Overall, the end result is a cavernously big sound that embraces the senses.

The apocalyptic lyrics are well-written and stand out from the over-simplified ‘war/oil/man bad, nature good’ style that’s overly common in this scene. They ask heavy questions and pose challenges to us all, but there are glimmers of hope within them, a recognition that we can take the power away from the fools and find it within ourselves too. The shared vocal delivery leaves no room to hide and makes sure the message is received loud and clear.

It’s nice to see them have a bit of fun too, with their own takes on New Model Army’s ‘The Hunt’ and Amebix’s ‘ICBM’. They do a top job on ’em.

This is a quality piece of work and, for only five quid ($8), should definitely find its way on to your hard drive at some point.

For people who also like: Bolt Thrower, Aus-Rotten, Instinct Of Survival

OP’s opinion: Four and a half

Download sample track – Autonomy (FLAC)
Misery website
Buy from the band

Remember The Time…? (Part 1, Maybe)

On a certain forum that I hang around on, someone asked folks to write about their three most memorable gigs. Seeing as I’ve still got a memory, I put it to good use. And, being the generous soul I am, I’m reposting what I remembered here for me, you and generations to come.

Wow, tough. But I’ll give it a go.

Top of the list has to be Conflict at the Brixton Academy in April 1987. A van-load of us travelled up to London after a day spent hunt sabbing, parked up and went for a couple of pints. We headed off, joined the queue, chatted to various friends, and soon found ourselves inside. We spent a decent amount of time chatting to more mates and looking over stalls, where I picked up a copy of The Apostles’ ‘Mob Violence’ EP (still got it, still regularly played) and a map of places to target if (hah!) it kicked off afterwards. We headed into the hall, and I was blown away by the scale of the whole thing. I’d never experienced an indoor gig on this magnitude! It was called the Gathering Of The 5000 for a good reason (or at least not far off). I mingled for a bit, caught up with more people, then the gig started.

First up, Thatcher On Acid, a brilliant start. Upbeat, dancey punk rock was just what was needed to get the evening going. Then it was poetry time with Benjamin Zephaniah, delivering blistering rhymes and sharp humour taking aim at the monarchy, the politicians, the cops, mixed in with uplifting verses about what a vegan eats. He certainly knew how to fire up a crowd!

Finally, after a full-on 20 minute build-up of videos and audio clips (like an extended version of the beginning of ‘The Ungovernable Force’ with added riot film!), Conflict hit the stage. The place went mental! It was the band at their absolute best, and the presence of Steve Ignorant on the stage simply added to the immensity of it all. I’ve never been so exhausted and exhilarated, physically and mentally, before or since.

Like most Conflict gigs, it ended pretty chaotically. Punks were getting on stage and diving off of ridiculously high speaker stacks, brawls were breaking out in the crowd and the venue sent security on stage, complete with Rottweilers. Outside, lines of riots cops, many with dogs, were waiting. We left the venue sharp and, because we’d dressed fairly straight (like many others), made it through the cops with no problems. It didn’t take long for the rowdier elements to make it out on the street and start giving it to the cops, who were only too pleased to reciprocate. What they hadn’t realised is that loads of us who’d got through had hung around. The cops were pretty surprised when they suddenly got hit from the back too. And I think they’d misjudged just how combative us punks had become as they were battered fairly heavily once a decent crowd had gathered.

Before long a mini-riot had spread to Brixton high street, made worse by the cops’ stupid decision to close the Tube station. While a few punks got a bit of a kicking off of the cops, they didn’t have it completely their own way and a few were hospitalised with broken bones. Quite a few corporate targets were hit too, while local shops were left well alone.

Eventually we made our way back to the van and home, everyone buzzing and wearing shit-eating grins. Best day ever.

Second up would have to be Crass in Reading, May 1982. I’d seen ’em a couple of times elsewhere before then, but this was my favourite because of the support – Annie Anxiety, The System, DIRT and Flux Of Pink Indians. I’d hitched to the venue with a mate and, although it was only 50 miles, it took us about 9 hours to hitch it. A lorry driver who had seen us walking out of town that morning picked us up late in the afternoon on his way back after we’d walked bloody miles! Luckily, he was going right past the venue so we made it in plenty of time.

As expected, it was a great night, even the weird Annie Anxiety bit (especially the weird Annie Anxiety bit, just for the reactions she caused among some so-called open-minded people), and all the bands were in top form. I got to jump and sing along to just about all of my favourite @-punk tunes of the day. Also, as expected, trouble broke out when around 40 nazi boneheads stormed in, started fighting anyone in sight and tried to rush the stage. They were still expecting the majority of the crowd to be pacifists. But things had changed and the punks stood their ground, aided by quite a few lefty Oi! skins who, like many, had @-punk mates. The boneheads got battered out of the building, and a couple who’d made it to the stage were soon seen off by Igs and Gary Dirt with a couple of well-aimed boots to the face. We got back to enjoying the rest of the gig, spent the night sleeping on Reading train station with a few others (back in the days when waiting rooms were left open and had heat), then bunked the first train back home.

My third choice is Crucifix in my home town, Southampton, in March 1984. I helped arrange this gig. It was supposed to be with MDC, but they’d been refused entry to the country. DIRT headlined and local band Polemic were also on the bill. I’d seen Crucifix a couple of months before in Brighton, along with Antisect (it’s the gig that ended up on the ‘Live In The Darkness‘ / ‘Hallo There’ How’s Life?’ LPs), and was massively impressed by ’em. They didn’t disappoint at this one either and, although there were only around a hundred people there, they gave it their all.

Crucifix were staying at my mum’s house afterwards, what we hadn’t planned for were the seven other guests who were staying too! We spent a couple of hours chatting away, sharing stories with people form all over the world (the guests included an Australian and a Kiwi, a Dutch couple and a lass from South America), before crashing out. Fortunately, my mum’s a star and was completely unfazed by waking up and finding 11 punks sleeping on every available bit of floor in the house. She made beans on toast and tea for everyone, and even offered to make sandwiches for the journey to Brighton for another gig at The Richmond. DIRT turned up in the rusty transit (hence Drunks In Rusty Transits) to collect everyone and I jumped in with ’em, off for another night of punk shenanigans. And that’s another story…

I love punk rock, it’s given (and continues to give) me some of my greatest times. It’s also allowed me to find some of the finest people on this planet. May it always be so.

(I’m thinking maybe I should do a bit more of this before the grey matter finally fails to keep up with my punk rock life. We’ll see.)

Book ‘Em, Danno!

Book flyerFollowing on from yesterday’s little exercise in improving police-community relations, I’ve branched out into literature. This flyer can be downloaded in a convenient 4-to-an-A4-sheet format ready for printing, then cut up and surreptitiously inserted into all manner of inflammatory material. These seditious publications can be found in your local library, bookshop or children’s school.

Remember, in the wrong hands, words can be deadly to the current social order, and have even been known to cause uncontrollable urges for liberty, equality, and solidarity. If we must allow people to have access to words, then we also have a responsibility to point out the perils of using them recklessly.

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