ONCE upon a time, Crass had been all but erased from history.
They were at the epicentre of a genuine nationwide cultural phenomenon that changed thousands of lives profoundly and yet, a few years after they had ceased working as a band, where anyone took any notice of them at all, they were reduced to a mere footnote in the tawdry tale of corporate rock n roll.
That wasn’t good enough. Erase Crass and you also erase the experience of thousands of people like me, as if what we experienced had no value or validity.
It offended my sense of decency. I wasn’t having it. There are plenty of things in the world to get upset about, but righting this particular wrong was part of the reason why I started writing this blog in the first place.
And now? Everyone seems to be going on about Crass these days. Coincidence?
IT’S DIFFICULT to know where to start with Sergio Mendes.
The veteran Brazilian pianist and arranger has released around 50 albums since he made his name freestyling bossa nova tunes with the cream of Copacabana’s jazz and samba players in tiny after-hours dives in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
As John Peel once said:
“A lot of people write to me and say: ‘I heard Sergio Mendes, which record should I get?’ And I never have any hesitation in telling them, you must get them all. Apart from the one he did with will.i.am.”
BELIEVE it or not, I’ve never actually been on tour with a band before, not officially. I’ve cadged plenty of lifts between shows, blagged x amount of guesties and even provided DJ support services at odd gigs over the years, but nobody has ever been daft enough to invite me on tour.
Not until Gad Whip came along, anyway.
The tour, to promote Gad Whip’s debut long player, Post Internet Blues, has been organised by Armin who runs X-Mist, the label releasing the album. There are eight gigs in 10 days at the start of November, mostly in Germany, plus a couple of dates in Switzerland and France.
Pete doesn’t have to ask me twice.
“THERE is no time for sentimental nostalgia .. we might not make tomorrow,” say Girls in Synthesis on their last single, and you can’t help thinking that they might have a point.
This is a band who sincerely believe in just battering the shit out of their instruments and, by extension, any audience lucky enough to be in their vicinity at the time. In many ways, this is the only rational response to a world that currently seems to be on as long, extended, slow-mo nosedive into a cesspit of lies, hatred and bullshit of its own making.
IT’S a couple of days before I embark on a week of gigs as the actual tour DJ for my very good friends Gad Whip, promoting their Post-Internet Blues long playing-record around Germany and Switzerland, and I’m so excited I could spit.
THE SHOP ASSISTANTS tend to get lumped in with all the jingly-jangly stuff that made up most of the NME’s C86 cassette, but they just sound very punk rock to me. All of my Shop Assistants records went west a long time ago but we do have this short Q&A from 1986. Singer Alex answered the questions.
EVERYONE was on tour in the States and I was staying at Southview House on my own. Alice and Dan were playing stadiums for MTV with Aerosmith and I was working in Belle Isle. But at least I got to hang out with Derek the dog.
One morning, hungover as hell, I stumble out of my basement bedroom and head upstairs.
I discover the Ex cheerfully bouncing around the kitchen with what I have come to understand is their customary enthusiasm and vigour, laughing and joking with each other in high-volume Dutch while frying cheese and mushrooms with abandon.
The people in Chumbawamba and the Ex had been friends for years – in fact Coby did the live sound for the Ex before she moved to Leeds and began working with the Chumbas – and they’d let themselves in after playing a local gig somewhere the night before. It was that kind of house.