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

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Compleat Ripped and Torn 1976-79

The Compleat Ripped and Torn

Reading through the whole set of R & T what jumps out are the pages on punk as a revolutionary movement- sexual as well as political.

Punk is often presented as the antithesis of the counterculture but through the London squatting scene, which the counterculture revived, its influence endured to become synthesised as part of punk.

Ripped and Torn was a key part of that process. As Tony Drayton says

I moved to London with Skid Kid in the spring of 1977, and begun writing Ripped & Torn issue five, which was mainly written in a bed-sit in Willesden Green. Then later that year, from issue seven, the fanzines were written at number 2 Bramley Road, which was a squatted pub called the Trafalgar situated within a squatted community known as Frestonia. At the same time I was having a cultural explosion in my head, being exposed to a vast array of underground literature [OZ, International Times] both in the Frestonia squat, where R&T was produced from 1977-1979, and from shops like Compendium

The UK counterculture is often said to have started at the Albert Hall New Moon Carnival of Poetry event in 1966

Rowdyism, bad language and the breaking of glasses and bottles marked an ad lib ‘poetry event’ at the Albert Hall on Saturday night. The Albert Hall management made strong complaints to the organisers of the three hour ‘New Moon Carnival of Poetry’. According to an Albert Hall spokesman, the event later deteriorated into ‘chaos and obscenity.’ The Daily Telegraph, 20 June 1966

and ended with the OZ (Schoolkids) obscenity trial in 1971 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schoolkids_OZ
or the suppression of the Windsor Park free festival in 1974.

The counterculture then vanishes only to re-emerge at the end of the seventies as the Stonehenge free festival/ traveller culture which was to be brutally crushed at the Battle of The Beanfield in June 1985...

Punk itself is seen as being apolitical, a blank generation which both left and right tried to recruit. Then came the election of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, soon after the release of Crass' first album in March 1979. The combination of these events is alleged to have given rise to a politicised form of punk called 'anarcho-punk'.

Ripped and Torn were the first to interview Crass, in January 1979, but as the selection of pages pasted below from Ripped and Torn show, punk was already politically conscious before then.

It is important to remember that after Sniffin Glue's last issue in August 1977, Ripped and Torn became the leading/ best known UK fanzine - it was in the mainstream of punk. It was widely distributed and widely read across the punk community.

These pages from Ripped and Torn therefore helped to shape and influence the politics of punk before the election of Margaret Thatcher and before Crass became influential.


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