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

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.)

Socialism For The Masses

I’ve come to realise that there are actually some benefits to be had by being part of this social network thing. So if you now take a look in the left sidebar, you’ll see an image that links to my facebook profile. For day-to-day tittle-tattle from yours truly, this is the place to go. I’ve also created pages for the Anarcho-Punk Pages and Iron Column Records. If you’re part of the fb crowd, pop by and say hello.

You can also grab a banner for your own website if you’re in to that kind of thing.

Connecting The Dots

Here’s a little bit of shameless self-promotion that fulfils both my need to do something during long nights of insomnia and my belief in mutual solidarity and support. Punks of the virtual world, I give you the Anarcho-Punk Pages.

It’s really not much to look at and, for a code hacker rather than a coder, the software’s not the easiest thing to work with, but it does exactly what it needs to in order to get the job done. A bit like punks themselves really.

Please use it and help spread the word to people who still go out to pubs n’ stuff.

Happy Tweeting Tweeting, Happy Tweet

Now here’s something I didn’t expect – Captain Sensible has just tweeted about this collection of random nonsense and given us the highest praise:

This is what the webs all about…. DIY punk, vegan recipes, politics, and even a Pogo Pope Compilation http://www.oldpunksneverdie.com/

Blimey! I met the Captain back in the mid ’80s, when he took part in an anti-vivisection demo I’d helped to organise in Southampton. He was a genuinely nice bloke, totally up for supporting what we were doing. And his connection with the CRASS punks is pretty well documented too.

To anyone who’s followed his tweet and landed up here, I hope you like what you find. If you don’t, that’s fine too. The back button is your friend.

Cheers Cap’n, thanks for the kind words. Here’s to growing old disgracefully!

Old Crust For New Bread

Oli of Civilisation Records is putting out a repress of Hellbastard’s classic first studio LP ‘Heading For Internal Darkness‘. Having bought stuff from him before I know and appreciate the time and effort he puts in to producing some really tasty bits of vinyl, and this looks to be no different.

Artwork printing and plastic pressing are in their final stages, but Oli’s still taking pre-orders (1000 are being pressed, 150 on clear vinyl). It’s €11 plus a few euros for postage depending on location and a bit more if you use PayPal. That’s only three and a bit pub pints, and this’ll give me more pleasure for much longer without any hint of a hangover (unless I drink a reasonable volume of cider while listening to it, so maybe a 1-in-3 chance).

Drop Oli a line for more info via civilisation-records [at] web.de

New Punk News Blog

Fellow punk Alex Distro-y has started a blog dedicated to listing all of the latest releases from the punk world, as well as other relevant news, events and so on. I don’t know exactly what Alex’s definition of punk for this particular site is but, from what I know of him, I’m guessing he’s on a similar wavelength to me (anarcho/radical covering all styles but maybe with a soft spot for d-beat judging from the title).

So go and check out D-Beat Beater and keep your ear close to the underground.



For the first time in many, many years, I’ve been left speechless. A few minutes ago, settling down with my first cuppa and fag of the day, I browsed to my email account for the site. There was one new message waiting. A quick click, a brief scan and my mouth dropped open. I still can’t shut it.

A ‘corporate’ group is offering to buy my web domain name. For $5000.

I can’t say who they are just yet, but it’s a familiar ‘brand’ in the mainstream ‘punk’ business. The sort of group I’d normally steer well clear of.

But it’s $5000, I don’t have a job and this place only cost me a few bucks in the first place. And, as long as I don’t use a similar-sounding replacement, I’m free to set up a new space elsewhere on the net.

It’s a no-brainer. There’s some paperwork to sort out first but, if all goes to plan, it looks like the new owners will be moving in on May 1st.

I’ll fill in a few more details later on, I’m a bit all over the shop right now, but this is some of the best and worst news I’ve ever had.

UPDATE: Things like this only work if you have any readers that are up before noon on April Fool’s Day, and who are daft enough to be taken in. I therefore declare Ernest the winner.

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