IF EVER there was an archetypal ‘John Peel band’, whatever that actually means, then the Cravats are probably it. It seemed like they were doing sessions for Peelie’s legendary late-night Radio One every couple of weeks at one point but I only really began paying attention when they released their seminal single Rub Me Out on Crass Records in 1982.
Although they largely conformed to the Crass ‘format’ in the single’s packaging, with the front cover featuring the title picked out in the Crass label’s trademark circular stencil, the image in the centre wasn’t some convoluted hybrid CND/anarchy A logo or whatever, but actually featured a member of the band.
I imagined Crass fans all over the UK asking: are these blokes on some kind of ego trip or what? Maybe it was just me being as daft as a brush.
FLIES ON YOU lumber onto the stage, and contain not one, but two of my very oldest and dearest friends, while the crowd contains lots of other old and not-so-old friends from far and wide. It is very much a family affair, and all the more wonderful for it.
I even run into the lovely Maureen, who used to sell me pot back in the day. It’s like some kind of obscure DIY band, fanzine writer, drug dealer convention.
Having missed the debut gig of the Extricated in Manchester a couple of months ago, due to circumstances beyond our control, going to see them at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds was the next best thing, particularly when I found out my old friend Doug’s band, Flies on You, were supporting.
The gruesome twosome of Doug and Paul (who is standing in for studio bass monster Andy Watkins), plus a couple of guys I don’t know, play short, spiky, angular rock tunes with great titles like Can You Smell That Burning Noise? and You’re the Anaesthetist, John.
“WE WALKED around for a while before we could find someone to tell us where the gig was. We went up these endless dark steps up to a massive hall with lots of people with funny hairstyles, selling ace fanzines called Kill Your Pet Puppy, while other people with green and red dreadlocks smoked sweet-smelling ciggies. We sat in front of the stage and read some fanzines.
The Passion Killers came on and did a lot of songs and I liked them all. There were three of them and the drummer was very good. They went off and I went to the toilet.
When I came back, D&V were on and by now the hall was filling up with girls with fluffy pink hair and studded leather jackets with ‘The Destructors’ painted on the back. There were lots of other people as well but I didn’t really notice them. Anyway, D&V were ace. They did the stuff off their Crass record and most people seemed to like them.
Zillions of people came onstage and started to put a washing line up on stage. A bloke started sweeping up in the middle of the audience. Chumbawamba’s set was very theatrical, with people swapping instruments, chalking stuff on the floor, and splashing red paint over Action Men and themselves. Some of the songs were slow, gentle ballads, I suppose, and others were like wall of noise aaaaargh-type things. I liked it…”
ULTIMATELY, I don’t actually give a shit whether you like Rudimentary Peni or not – come to think of it, I’d probably prefer it if you didn’t – but if you’re coming to this cold, but you can find out everything you need to know about them here.
Essentially, in the words of a very wise man, Peni “took the basic thrash blueprint, wiped their arses with it and screwed it up into a tight little ball before exploding all over you like a bad medieval disease.”
If you’re already a fan, and you’re looking for catalogue numbers and release dates, you’d be better off elsewhere.
TWENTY years ago, Britain was beset by riots, right-wing extremism, simmering racial tension, mass redundancies and a crumbling social infrastructure. Its Tory government, buttressed by a seemingly unassailable parliamentary majority, appeared to be hell bent on cementing the ‘special relationship’ with the United States, no matter what the cost.
Meanwhile, a largely indifferent population shrugged its collective shoulders and got on with checking its bingo numbers.
Britain then was, of course, a very different place to the land of milk and honey we live in today. Times have changed. We’ve all moved on. Haven’t we?
“I THINK a lot of people might come expecting something like the Mob.”
“The thing is, a lot of people come to see us in London who I never saw at a Mob gig. And nobody came to see Zounds in any case.”
“Out of London, it’s still very strange to people. In London we’ve had whole places dancing. People are even getting special dances together to cope with the slow ones ..”
It’s not like Blyth Power avoid talking about the past. They’re quite ready to talk about the past, even if you ask them direct questions like, how much is your popularity to do with the Mob? They’re not afraid of it. They just think that what they’re doing now is a lot more important and interesting. I’m inclined to agree with them.
Josef: “At Adam & Eve’s in Leeds, they put ‘ex-Mob’ on the posters and a lot of people walked out when we didn’t play Mob songs.”
Andy: “That happened in Doncaster as well. There was about 10 people and the hall was massive. There was a skinhead sitting at the front who obviously loved the Mob and he sat there through the set and halfway through he just got up and walked out. That was the past walking out.”
I STARTED writing this piece about three years ago. This displays a shockingly shit work ethic, so apologies to everyone I talked to. I am such a lazy arse.
What did John Lennon say? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Then again, he also said, Yes Yoko, we will give over an entire floor of the Dakota building to refrigerating your fur coats, laa – so maybe we shouldn’t hold him up as some kind of arbiter of good taste and time-management.
Where was I?
Around the time the 10 Inches Of Fear package came out, I tried to sell a feature to a few of the glossy music-numpty monthlies but they weren’t having any of it – perhaps not so surprising given that it’s all about a collision between two musical big ideas for which they have no great liking in the shape of anarcho-punk and acid house. Their loss.
But I thought I’d do it anyway. Why deprive readers of this blog just because those miserable cunts in London don’t know their arses from their elbows? I set about interviewing as many of the people involved in the project as I could.
Unfortunately, after I’d talked to everyone else, the interview I did over the phone with Mark Wilson from the Mob was blotted out by the dull throb from a lousy landline and I kind of lost all enthusiasm for it. It just began to seem too much like hard work.
I didn’t so much put it on the backburner as wrap it up in a couple of carriers, stick it in a bin bag and bury it at the bottom of the garden.
I eventually got around to giving it another go, though I still couldn’t make out half of what Mark Wilson said. It’s a bit of an epic one, so I’d make a cup of tea and put your feet up.
Grumpy old punx should also note that I talked to Donna / Honey for quite some time and have plenty more material which didn’t really fit into this piece. I’ll get it together and write all that up at some point in the future.
See you in 2013.