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.)

Burnt Cross – Break The Law Not The Poor 7″

The brothers Marriot show no let up in their output as yet another explosive blast of full-blooded anarcho-punk is committed to vinyl. This time round, they’re busy calling out murdering bastard cops for the scum they are and suggesting a suitable riposte with their stripped-down and powered-up reworking of The Apostles’ ‘Mob Violence’, a venom-filled verbal assault on the rich and their lackey police (and which, along with Conflict’s ‘The Ungovernable Force’, rates as my all-time joint-favourite punk rock song). Rob combines metal-edged fuck-off guitar and bare-knuckle bass with a cleverly-programmed drum machine to produce music that’s steeped in the legacy of the Crass bands without sounding in the least bit hackneyed, while Paul spits out the vocals with a ferocity that’s well-matched to the lyrics.

Burnt Cross labelIt’s all wrapped up in a heavy card sleeve sporting a suitably combative red ‘n’ black (with a bit of white) graphic on the front, a lyric sheet inside, and a label that’s one of the smartest I’ve seen in quite a while.

The record is a co-operative release by ten different labels (Tadpole Records, Lukket Avdeling Records, Loud Punk Records, Opiate Records, Rawby Records, Active Rebellion, Arripurri Records, Schizo, Höhnie Records, Rusty Knife Records), so extra @-punk points to everyone for do-it-together style.

OP’s opinion: Four half

Download sample track – Mob Violence (FLAC)
Burnt Cross Facebook
Buy from Iron Column Records

The Mob, Bristol 08.04.11


Click to enlarge

For the first time in nearly 30 years, one of the most intense bands from the first wave of @-punk took to the stage and blew 400 minds. The Mob are back. And this time round, they’ve got the kit to really do their sound justice. Mark even smiled! Sure, there were a couple of hiccups, and the guitar wasn’t always 100% in tune with itself or anything else (hey, it’s punk) but, married with the strength of the voice, the pounding rhythms and the intense basslines, the synergy produced from every element created one of the most awesome atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at a gig, punk or otherwise. I have no idea if they’re going to do any more gigs (rumours of a London show were heard) – if they do, get there by any means available.

Here are a few of the pics (click to enlarge) I was able to grab in between regressing to that 16-year-old optimistic human being that still lurks somewhere inside me.

Rubella Ballet
Rubella Ballet 1

Rubella Ballet 2

Zounds 1

Zounds 2

Zounds 3 - Mark Astronaut

The Mob
The Mob 1

The Mob 2

The Mob 3

The Mob 4

VA – Bullshit Detector Two 2xLP

Artist: Various
Title: Bullshit Detector Two
Source: Vinyl 12″ 2xLP
Bitrate: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 01:17:45
Size (mb): 457
Label: CRASS Records
Cat. No: 221984/3
Year: 1982

A1 Waiting For Bardot – Voice Of U.K.
A2 Omega Tribe – Nature Wonder
A3 Suspects – Random Relations
A4 Your Funeral – Think About It
A5 Kronstadt Uprising – Receiver Deceiver
A6 Deformed – Freedom
A7 No Label – Let’s Get It Right
A8 Rejected, The – Same Old Songs
B1 Boffo – Garageland
B2 XS – Fuck The System
B3 Polemic Attack – Manipulated Youth
B4 A. Gardener – A. Gardener’s Song
B5 Toxic – Tradition Of Slaughter
B6 1984 – Breakup
B7 Unknown Artist – Insert
B8 Toxik Ephex – Police Brutality
B9 Sic – Low
B10 Molitov Cocktail – Ain’t Got A Clue
B11 Naked – Mid 1930’s (Pre-War Germany)
C1 Capital Punishment – We’ve Realised The Truth Now
C2 Anthrax – All The Wars
C3 Unknown Artist – Slaughter Of The Innocent (Curiosity Kills)
C4 Pseudo Sadists – War Games
C5 Total Chaos – Psycho Analysis
C6 Dougie – War Without Winners
C7 St. Vitus Dancers – The Survivor
C8 Stegz – Christus Erection
C9 Metro Youth – Brutalised
D1 Normality Complex – Black Market Shadow
D2 Youth In Asia – Power & The Glory
D3 Riot Squad – Security System
D4 Destructors – Agent Orange
D5 Pits, The – U.K. In Dreamland
D6 Bored, The – Riot Style
D7 Toby Kettle – Theatre Comment
D8 Chumbawamba – Three Years Later
D9 Passion Killers – Start Again
D10 Amerikan Arsenal – Get Off Yr Ass

The ‘Bullshit Detector’ series of three releases offered the chance for any @-punk with a tape recorder and something to say to get heard. Whether that was always a good thing or not, at least in technical or musical terms, can be (and has been) debated. What is undeniable is that these records offer a unique insight into @-punk culture in its heyday. Even the ‘bad’ tracks seem to fit in with the overall sense and purpose of the album and are certainly worth hearing at least once.

I must admit that it’s been quite a while since I last played this, so thanks to a certain individual who wanted it ripped for making me dig it out again. You’ve reminded me of just how cutting edge and inclusive the whole CRASS approach to music and politics was, and just how creative and interesting the outcomes from that mindset can be.

Click here to request the download link.

If you are the copyright owner and want us to take down your music, just click here and let us know. We’re really not trying to piss anyone off, we just want to share rare and out-of-print music with people who want to hear it.

CRASS – Stations Of The Crass CD (Remastered)

Stations... coverThe same general observations I made about the previous remastered CD release apply equally here too, with one exception. This time round, the bonus tracks are fucking amazing!

They were recorded live in BBC studios for one of the world-renowned Peel Sessions in March 1979, where sadly-missed DJ and nation’s favourite uncle John Peel would champion bands he appreciated by giving them airtime during one of his shows. Previously only available on an outrageously priced bootleg that nowhere near matches the clarity and power on show here (taken as they are from the studio masters), it’s about time this incredible piece of broadcasting and musical history got the polish and audience it deserves.

On a related note, can anyone imagine the Beeb having a DJ with either the underground awareness or straight-up audacity of Uncle John these days? Me neither.

More info on the Southern website (and available from their shop).

CRASS – The Feeding Of The Five Thousand CD (Remastered)

Feeding Of The 5000CRASS. The point where it really all began as far as I’m concerned. The band that gave punk the direction it needed to go if it was to really mean anything, and who called it a day when they felt they’d said everything they could as a collective unit. And, although they’ve been almost completely ignored in the deluge of ‘punk’ history books that have been spawned over the years, their influence cannot be overstated.

Having come to the conclusion that the early digital versions of their output really didn’t do justice to how they should’ve looked or sounded, some members of the band (primarily Penny and Gee from what I can tell) decided that they would put in the time and effort required to rework the whole lot. But it didn’t pan out quite so smoothly. Pete had unresolved personal issues with Penny from back in the day and decided to use the planned re-issues as a weapon in that dispute. He refused to give permission for the remasters to be released. The last I heard, it was on the verge of court but it seems like Penny et al have adopted the ‘published and be damned’ approach, much like they’ve always done.

So on to the end product. There’s no remixing here, just clever use of the latest tools and technologies that’s allowed them to bring out the full power and energy of the recording. It’s definitely the next-best-thing if you don’t have the vinyl version, and I’d recommend it even if you do. I’ve read some criticism that the remastering just added a dose of compression to make everything more equally loud, but it definitely sounds a lot more subtle than that to my (admittedly well-used) ears. There’s a presence about the bass that really emphasises just how good the riffs were, while the work on the guitars has created a subtle separation that allows both to stand proud while still combining precisely for that classic jittering, jarring sound. Vox and drums find a comfortable home among them and the overall balance definitely hits the sweet spot.

Along with the studio tracks, there are an additional 16 tracks resurrected from some ultra-scarce demos recorded in the very early days. They’re historically interesting, if slightly more challenging to listen to more than once.

Gee’s also been no slouch with creating a completely fresh approach to the package as a whole. The accompanying 64-page lyric booklet is a pleasure to hold and read. Not only are there snippets of images that any CRASS afficionado will know intimately, there are also new photos, clever background textures, beautiful type-setting and intros from Steve Igs and Gandalf Rimbaud himself. The original poster sleeve has been reduced to CD size and opens up just like its big brother. Everything is boxed in a cardboard slipcase which has a photo of part of the CRASS logo on Penny’s bass drum skin (the six planned remasters will make up the whole image when put together). Needless to say, the materials used are all top-notch and do the artwork and creator full credit.

‘Stations…’ is next up and I’m seriously excited about it. Hell, they may even be able to tempt me to part with my hard-earned to get ‘Ten Notes…’ just for the non-musical content. OK, so none of these releases are really essential any more, but for anyone whose life has been influenced in any way by these angry songs and bitter words, they’re more than a justifiable indulgence.

OP’s opinion: Four half

Download sample track – So What?
CRASS pages on the Southern website
Buy from Southern Records