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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Anarcho -punk to acid house


Chris Liberator

My girlfriend shouts at me. Here's why. Sometimes I come back from a gig with no money. She goes mad, and I'm like "I couldn't take any money off them! They were such nice people!!"

I've lived in North London all my life - well actually, I was born in an East London suburb (Hornchurch, Essex but we won't go into that!)

When I was a teenager I devoted most of my time to punk (inspired as I was by bands like Sex Pistols, Stranglers, Wire and the like). I was in a few bands and we never had the chance to play out, until the squat party scene took off and we played these mad free gigs in illegal venues. Such as West London's Centro Iberico Anarchy Centre and the original Anarchist Centre in Wapping (set up by money from a Crass and Poison Girls record). I was having a great time, meeting really interesting people and learning a whole new political agenda. The sheer attitude that dripped from anarcho-punk bands like Sub-Humans, Poison Girls, Apostles, Crass, etc really challenged the way I thought, whilst the burgeoning independent label scene spearheaded originally by labels like Rough Trade, Fast Records and Fuck Off Records showed that there was a very real alternative to the major label music stranglehold. It opened my eyes to things I wouldn't normally see.

Over the next few years my life changed. Somehow I managed to start and finish a degree in humanities (English and Philosophy) at Hatfield Poly (now Hertfordshire University) in between playing in bands including the infamous Hagar The Womb. After and during my degree I devoted me time to music, holding down shit warehouse jobs, signing on, living in dodgy rented accomodation or squatting and surviving on my wits.

Music always came first for me, and also a realisation that I didn't want to work for the corporate machine in the usual way. When Hagar the Womb split and the whole punk thing started to become a parody of itself, I started another band called "We Are Going To Eat You", which later became "Melt". We started to write songs and flex our musical muscles. In retrospect, some of the records we made sounded "indie" and dated, but it's the one and only time we tried to enter the music industry game by courting big record companies and trying to get a deal. We got fucked; caught between an indie label and various majors we got caught in a legal tangle that really killed the band off just as we were starting to get good. It taught me the one thing that I should have learnt already. Never sell out - and never lose control of what you do.

During the band's demise I started to get into electronic music a lot more, and inevitably dance music via Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Tackhead, Revolting Cocks and suchlike. I eventually ended up at techno around 89/90. It was at this time that I met Julian, and later Aaron, who were both into the same stuff and squatting in the same part of north-east London as me. Our mates and our scene was still very punk/squat/traveller orientated and dance music hadn't really made that much of an impact on it. Whilst me and Julian expanded our record collections and went out to raves every weekend, we still felt that this music and the new lifestyle politics of "rave" could impact on our scene without the commercial bullshit angle that was beginning to permeate it.

It was at this time that some of my friends put together a mini sound system and asked me to come down to a party in a squatted pub in Islington. It wasn't a commercial event, and it was set up like a punk squat party, but they had DJs that played techno. They called themselves The Shrape Collective, (later "Urge"). At the same time Julian was throwing similar parties in his big squatted house in Stoke Newington with bands on one floor, and techno on the other. There weren't any DJs though; just tapes. That all changed when Aaron showed his face one night; he had decks and suggested that at the next party the three of us should play together. We did, and Liberator was born.

We threw several urban parties through the autumn and winter of 1991 into 1992 whilst we became involved with many of the fledgling free party sound systems which had started up prior to and during this era, the most famous of which is probably Spiral Tribe.
Spiral Tribe was the essence of the outdoor rave scene; lots of people didn't want to pay ?30 to get into parties so they went and did it in fields, warehouses; wherever. The Bedlam crew were doing stuff around this time. We met them through Conspiracy, a party crew who we worked with during the winter of 1991, and continued to do stuff with them over the next couple of years. That period was fantastic, because the authorities were unsure of how to respond to it all until 1992 when it all exploded, culminating in the legendary Castlemorton party - and the subsequent Criminal Justice Act.

If you've never been to a free party then you're missing out. It's a shame that as a social phenomenon at least, the impact of this truly underground scene hasn't been more universally felt. It's different to club culture; more race and class divides are broken within it than anywhere else. No-one's really studied it as a social thing, maybe because it seems intimidating at first glace; I remember in the middle of the 1980s before the E explosion, the whole youth culture thing was pretty dangerous! You'd get punks fighting mods and god knows who else getting involved. E was saviour of all that, and E grew out of free parties. It turned a lot of people on to other things and made them do things a bit more meaningful than fighting rival factions. The free party scene took this a stage further and politicised it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

KYPP - lotsa pics on myspace

With some help from Val and Joan and Mickey P, Tony has filled up his Kill Your Pet Puppy myspace space with 120 pics of mostly colourful punks


also has nearly all of my punk pics - all in one place, so easier to find than scattered around here. Even some of my younger self. My kids had hysterics... "What's that on your head, dad? Looks like a dead fish... looks like a ...mullet...." ha ha hah for about half an hour.

Although Elizabeth has promised to design a KYPP website for Tony so he can post more photos (run out of room on myspace) and has been inspired to do her own e-zine on today's issues today.

Promises, promises. But watch this space in case she does immantatize a new punk eschaton.

meanwhile - see above - here is a pic of her mum (aged 16 with pink tights ) from 1978. Or was it 1979?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Black Sheep Housing Co-op archive docs.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Anarchy in the UK: 4th May 2007?

4th May 2007 - Anarchy in the UK, coming some time - maybe? [Note image of actual record, bought in Castle Douglas branch of Woolworths as a 'unsold remainder' for 37p. Easter 1977. But same Woolies refused to sell Pistols 'God Save the Queen ' that summer and also as re-released in 1997. ]

Following written more for 'straight' http://westlandwhig.blogspot.com blog than more dodgy readers of greengalloway. But I would appreciate any comments. The more critical the better.

It is spring - new green leaves exploding out of the tips of branches and the sun (today at least) blazing forth. The surge of springish energy can easily lead to over enthusiasm , especially when there is an election on the go. So many promises of a brave new world just a few votes away ! Suddenly the politicians are out on the streets talking about a revolution , oh what bliss to be alive and to be young must be heaven! [Wordsworth/ Prelude]

Upon our side, we who were strong in love;
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven; 0 times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute took at once
The attraction of a Country in Romance;
When Reason seem'd the most to assert her rights
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchanter to assist the work,
Which then was going forwards in her name,
Not favour'd spots alone, but the whole earth
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets,
To take an image which was felt, no doubt,
Among the bowers of paradise itself…

… and then? Its back to politics as usual, excitement over and the same dull round of ‘today in parliament’.

Could it be different this time? Maybe. There are some interesting possibilities emerging. We could be heading for ‘anarchy in the UK’. By this I don’t mean hordes of middle aged punks rushing out into the streets waving scratched copies of records by the Sex Pistols in the air. Rather that a very slow process of structural change could be about to trigger a constitutional earthquake. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland could be about to fall apart. The centre cannot hold … more poetry, Yeats this time:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand…?

All a bit clichéd? I suppose so. But what I have found from reading through almost every newspaper article (and comments) and every political blog (and comments) is that there is an increasing level of ‘English nationalism’ entering the equation. A sensible and mainstream consensus newspaper article about the constitutional future of the UK ‘if the SNP become the biggest party in the Scottish Parliament’ which in the past would have only attracted comments from a few hard core Scot Nats arguing with a few hard core Unionists now seems to provoke as many, or even more, comments from advocates of an ‘English parliament’.

The Conservatives in particular seem to be splitting along national lines. Scottish Tories may still be trying to prop up the Union of 1707, but many English Tories seem happy to dump their Scottish cousins in order to have a clear field of fire against - as they assume- Prime Minister Gordon Brown ahead of the 2009/ 2010 UK general election. It is all being done on a ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ basis at official level, but get down to English Tory activist level and the picture gets clearer. These Conservatives are no longer Unionists [which in any case = the Union of 1801 between Ireland and GB not that of 1707, and the 1886 split in the Liberal Party over Irish Home Rule which created the Liberal Unionists who merged with the Conservatives in Scotland in 1912... I think. All a bit confusing, since also a National Liberal faction].

The English Tories reckon they can win in 2009/2010 - but only by denying New Labour’s ‘Scottish as British’ unionist credentials. Which effectively means dumping the Union of 1707 and breaking up the UK. So the Tories really want as many Scots as possible to vote SNP to create maximum chaos post 3rd May.

But to further confuse the situation, there are arguments going on about ‘federalism’. Should there be several regional English assemblies with real powers? Or should there be one English parliament as part of a federal union including Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland ? If there is one English parliament, dominated by the Tories, where does that leave north England which is as strongly pro-Labour as Scotland and Wales? Should the Cornish have their own regional assembly? How will the Welsh and Northern Irish react if Scotland goes her own way? What about the European Union? Is ‘devolution’ part of an EU plot (from the UKIP/ BNP end of Tory spectrum) to break up UK regions which the EU can then absorb into their evil plans?

Confused? I am. Do I believe any of this? Or is it all spectacular hype designed to confuse and bewilder innocent voters on May 3rd? Am I an innocent or a cynic? If voting could change the system, it would be illegal, as the more radical politicos say. But from where I am here and now, it looks like the way myself and other Scotch folk vote on May 3rd might just undo 300 years of history.

If (and only if?) the SNP emerge as the biggest political party in the Scottish Parliament on May 4th will there be ‘Constitutional anarchy in the UK’?

To be boring, I don’t think anyone really knows. We will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Critique of Situ critique of anarchopunk

If I wasn't feeling a bit tired (school holidays and an election going on) I would try and follow up this very pertinent comment on the Situationist critique of anarcho (radical) punk blogged here recently. But not sure if I can get my brain gear tonight. So for now here is the comment:

a silent punk said...

Hohoho. All the criticism in this article could just as easily have been about situationist texts.

"It is precisely in the commodity form where the absence of participation can be located. The commodified radical band is the pseudo-fulfilment of both the need and desire for revolt: it is the representation of rebellion, a non-living image that reflects, but does not act upon, the basis of revolt. By its continual pseudo-satisfaction of those needs and desires it sublimates the possibilities for real activities that could fundamentally change lives."

The assumption is that the energy sublimated into punk is energy that would otherwise be put into use for the satisfaction of real needs and desires, or revolutionary praxis. But in all likelihood that energy just would have been chanelled into blocks and armouring. With dancing as the most obvious example, participation in a music event loosens armour and can reinforce the impulses for real satisfaction of needs and desires even if that participation is still 'spectacular' to some extent. Even just listening to music can reinforce these impulses which might otherwise vanish from memory. It functions similarly to text. Is all text alienating? In a sense yes but it can also function as a mnemonic device rescuing the reader from alienation.

" The radical band does not participate in rebellion, but reduces it to a frozen frame of passively absorbed images."

The metaphor of freezing is a good one. It's also in the 'everything turns into its opposite' text which was a good one, very accurate in its language and simultaneously vivid and living, thanks for that one.

Comment ends.

Black Sheep / Meanwhile Gardens/ CND March

There area couple of photos of Nicky (one plus Mick) at 103 Grosvenor Avenue, a couple of a Meanwhile Gardens gig and one of a CND march - to Brockwell Park I think, which has a glimpse of Mark in it.

Puppy Mansions/ Westebere Road pics

Here are some pics taken at Puppy Mansions (Westbere Road) circa 1981

Pics are :

1. Julien, Wog, Brett, Iggy and Val in back garden

2. Val next to the Midland railway line near Cricklewood

3. Tony' s French girlfriend in kitchen

4. Min with orange on Westbere Road

5. Text - click to enlarge- from same period, partly inspired by a psychogeographical derive down Westebere Road towards Cricklewood - see pic 2.

Centro Iberico- William Orbit was there

Further to an old post, which questioned a mention of the Centro Iberico in a biog of William Orbit, had this comment :

Rosie X said...

it's definitely true
William and Laurie lived in the caretakers' cottage at the edge of the playground of the disused school for several years. It ws at 421a Harrow Road. William had first moved there in about 1978 after he had returned from living in Amsterdam. The school has been demolished to make way for flats now but the cottage is still there, boarded up.

Thanks Rosie

Pics are of Centro circa 1982

Monday, April 02, 2007

KYPP 3 Flyer

Kill Your Pet Puppy Commuique 1980

I will have to check with Tony, but I think parts of this are from various Surrealist manifestos.

Click to enlarge images.

Black Sheep in Punk Lives

Click on pic to read. Photos of Val and Mick.

Black Sheep Housing Co-op photos

Just found some old (1983) photos of 103 Grosvenor Avenue plus one of Mark Wilson/ Mob's first vehicle. The people in the photos are : Josef of the Mob, now Blyth Power up a ladder, Mick and Fod fixing a window and ( left to right) Tod, Val, Mark and Mick in what was to become the back garden.