There is no hesitation, this is your situation

OBVIOUSLY, I was a bit dubious about Punk n Disorderly, a shop selling punk rock clothing in bohemian Chorlton, south Manchester.

Taking its name from the Abstract Records punk compilations of the early eighties (featuring Vice Squad, Disorder, the Insane and the like), Punk n Disorderly specialises in the kind of mail order punk attire you could find in the back of the music papers in the days of yore.

You see, we made our own studded biker jackets when I were a lad. But miserable no-fun puritans have been boring on about boil-in-the-bag rebellion ever since Viv and Malc set up shop on Kings Road. It’s getting a bit old.

Either way, the woman behind the shop was lovely, and if it’s choice between kids buying T-shirts of bands they know nothing about from Punk n Disorderly or buying them from Top Shop, I’ll keep it local, thanks very much.

I was never big on band T-shirts in any case. But I made an exception for an excellent Cravats T-shirt, featuring the front of the Cravats’ single for Crass Records, Rub Me Out.

Now I’m not going to tell you that I still have my original copy of this record, that I know all the words, or that I could probably even have a decent crack at naming all the members of the Cravats – even though all those things are true.

There are the rules for buying a band T-shirt, right? Everyone knows that. It’s a given.

Unfortunately, the shop’s lease ran out and the owner decided not to renew – they’re still online. I guess there are only so many old punk rockers who want to buy Cravats T-shirts out there. I didn’t spend enough money in there, clearly.

The only other thing I ever bought was a little A5 comic which, in its own way, is every bit as excellent as my Cravats T.

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Snacks

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OKAY, let’s cut to the chase. Who has the biggest record collection in Snacks?

“Aljoscha, definitely, without a doubt,” says Rene Corbett, the New Zealand half of the Berlin-based DJing/production duo. “He’s been buying up large of late. I don’t know how many he’s got now. Every week he’s definitely adding to it. He’s such a good digger.

“He has a thirst for new music. He’s also got a good ear for what people are playing. It’s helped us develop a really cool set, the Snacks kind of sound, so I’m constantly learning a lot from him.”

Who is the best dancer in Snacks?

“Rene,” says the German half of Snacks, Aljoscha Babel. “He used to do ballet. But we both wouldn’t win any prizes”.

“I have to say Aljoscha,” says Rene. “If I get to a certain point, if I’ve had enough to drink, I sort of get better. As most of us do.”

Who can drink the most and still maintain?

“We both drink a bit,” admits Rene. “When you’re playing all night you lose track. I always get to a certain point and think, okay, I’ve had enough. You get passed shots and I’ll say cheers with everyone and just take a little sip and put my shot down. Aljoscha just keeps going. Right through to the early hours of the morning.”

Who is the best cook in Snacks?

“Cock?” asks Aljoscha, with a nervous laugh.

“That’s definitely, Aljoscha,” says Rene, who does not mishear my question. Skype lolz. Although the pair do share a flat in Kreuzberg, so …

Let’s not go there.

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Jah Shaka Presents Dub Masters Volume 1 by Various Artists (Island Records)

EVERYONE seems to regard the Eighties as a very fragmented decade, where the nation’s youth were divided up into a series of distinct tribes – football fans, indie kids, skins, punks, skaters, whatever – with, the odd bit of casual ultra-violence aside, very little interaction between each. That wasn’t really the case.

We were coming to the end of the time when you had to be ‘something’. Or maybe it was just me feeling like that, having finally reached some kind of level of maturity.

I don’t think I ever self identified as ‘a raver’, in the same way I never really thought of myself as ‘a punk’, as such. I just used to like wearing stupid clothes, having a bad haircut and listening to poorly produced music on a cheap record player. And, at least as far as the people I hung about with were concerned, everyone seemed to be into everything.

Either way, whatever the fuck you call the kind of people who listened to the Fall, the Buttholes, Sonic Youth and Big Black in 1989, I was one of them. Ditto Public Enemy, KRS-1, the Cabs, Renegade Soundwave and the Shamen. And the Stone Roses and the Mondays. And Ofra Haza. And On-U Sound – Tackhead, Dub Syndicate – and lots more dub.

Meanwhile, the musical landscape of Britain was shifting and, just like everyone else, I was getting more and more into house music.

I was all about the music. You may have noticed.

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Five (plus one) x Agua de Beber

AGUA DE BEBER is a song from the very earliest days of bossa nova written by the two men who defined the genre, with music by pianist and composer Tom Jobim and lyrics by musician playwright poet diplomat Vinícius de Moraes.

The story goes that the duo were invited to the then under-construction capital of Brasilia by the president to get the inspiration for music they were composing for the city’s opening ceremony.

Their tune didn’t make the cut but, while they were there, they kept hearing the sound of running water around the building they were staying in. A site security guard told them that it was an unfinished potable water pipeline. Aqua de Beber was the result.

It was first released as a single by de Moraes in 1961 and has become something of a standard, with anyone and everyone with any leanings towards bossa nova having a crack at it since then. If you buy a lot of bossa nova albums, you’ll end up with lots of versions of Agua de Beber. I’ve got about a dozen, all told.


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Flex Your Head by Various Artists (Dischord)

SOMETIMES this shit seems so important that it eclipses everything, and then when you finally get it together after years of trying and failing, it turns out it means absolutely nothing at all.

There’s a picture of me, Paul, John and Doug from about five years ago, at a house party in leafy Headingley. We’re all beaming. I’m well and truly trollied, having a right laugh with some of my dearest friends, as happy as Larry.

After a tough couple of years, things were happening. I was secure in an exciting new job, confident, cohabiting, committed, and happy with my lot. Full of optimism for the future, I was ready for anything and everything life could throw at me.

At least some of my exuberance on that particular night stemmed from Paul’s admission that he’d found the copy of the seminal Washington DC hardcore compilation, Flex Your Head, that he’d somehow appropriated from me back in the day. Like 30 years ago back in the day.

“I ended up with the record because you gave it me during one of your youthful ‘I’ve had it with that shit, I’m moving on’ moments,” says Paul. “You gave me Let Them Eat Jellybeans too”.

It does sound like something I’d do.

Getting Flex Your Head back seemed like a really big deal. I was proper excited to hear it again – even though, we should remember, I cared so little for this very expensive import that I gave it away within a year or so of buying it.

I was eager to revisit that bit of my ever-more-distant youth, and to recall old times and people and places, and probably make some hokey, convoluted point that while the good old days were pretty great at the time they were actually pretty shitty when you look back on them, yeah? Or maybe it would have been the other way around.

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Two hundred years of Paper Recordings

MANCHESTER-based Paper Recordings released some magical and beautiful house music from the mid-Nineties onwards. The label continues to release great music to this day.

This is the story of Paper Recordings, in the words of people who made it happen.

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Morrissey

WHAT did Morrissey do that was so bad?

For the tabloids it was his undisguised loathing for the Royal Family, his rampant vegetarianism, his refusal to play Live Aid, and his audacity, as a mere pop star, in discussing the crimes of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

The music press, his initial champions, never forgave him for the split of The Smiths in 1987. He’s too intellectual, they say. He can’t cut the mustard as a solo artist without Johnny Marr, they claim. And worst of all, he has been tainted with accusations of nationalism and racism since he wrapped the Union Jack around himself at a Finsbury Park gig in 1992.

Two weeks ago, the NME listed his crimes in anticipation of his British tour this week, and advised its readers to ‘brick’ the singer offstage. It’s the martyrdom of Saint Stephen all over again.

So it’s not altogether surprising that this most English of entertainers has gone into self-imposed exile. The quintessential Mancunian miserabilist now resides in the shiniest happiest city in the world: Los Angeles, renting Carole Lombard’s bachellorette pad at 7953 Hollywood Boulevard no less.

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