Tag Archives: babylon

Old punks don't die, they just go online

STUFF that has been floating my boat this week:

Although it’s new to the Expletive Undeleted blogroll Kill Your Pet Puppy has been online for just over a year. It’s a blog by the same people – Tony D, Al, Penguin – who put together the legendary punk rock fanzine in the late Seventies/early Eighties. They’re adding old fanzine reprints, downloads of vintage punk vinyl and obscure demo and live cassette tapes and the like, all the time.

One of my favourite bits of KYPP is Josef Porter’s ongoing serialised autobiography, Genesis to Revolutions, with tales of squats, trains, chillums and his time in bands like Zounds and the Mob. Pathetically, I was hoping for a mention when he gets to Blyth Power – I think I might have done the historic first interview with the band – but I’ve probably scuppered my chances of that now.

Another thing I really like about KYPP is the fact that people really respond to it and, in common with all the best blogs, each entry is accompanied by lively and informed comments from readers – which are often every bit as interesting and illuminating as the original post. We seem to have arrived back in fanzineland without even realising it. Highly recommended.

jesus-use-meLP Cover Lover specialises in sharing cover art from the time when albums had two sides and came in flat cardboard packaging 12 inches square.

I’m gagging to hear the music on the records themselves but there are no downloads, which is a pity. Even so, LP Cover Lover is one of my favourite things in the whole wide world of web at the moment.

Insights from the Engine Room is a new blog written by former Manchester radio DJ, record plugger and man about town Tony ‘the Greek’ Michaelides, relocated to sunny Florida. The blog finds Tony musing on his years in the old-school music business most amusingly, although I do wish he would name names in the more scurrilous entries. Dish the dirt Tony, you know you want to.

Ali Catterall has written a fascinating piece for the Channel 4 film website called The Story Of Babylon By The People Who Made It, with quotes and insights from the cast and crew of the seminal British reggae flick (which is just about to be released on DVD). Ali tells me that just three journalists turned up for the recent Babylon interview junket at the NFT recently, so this could be as good as it gets.

And have you seen that TV programme where celebrities force themselves through holes in moving walls? I like that too.

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Doublethink Babylon and Ten Inches Of Fear

SEVENTY years ago to the day, the tall, gangly figure of Eric Arthur Blair – retired colonial cop, one-time down-and-out, Paris plongeur, Spanish Civil War veteran and the author and journalist known as George Orwell – was loping around the gardens of the sanatorium in Kent where he was recovering from a near-fatal lung haemorrhage.

How do I know this? Well, the Orwell Trust, which administers the writer’s estate, had the clever idea of publishing Orwell’s diary for the period from August 1938 to October 1942 as a blog in real-time, seven decades after it was written.

Although Orwell wrote another much more overtly political diary (which starts going online next month) in this pre-war period, he’d been shot in the throat in Tarragona a year before and was probably not at his best, what with the lung problems and all. Most of the entries posted so far have found him musing on the weather, blackberries and killing snakes. But then, Orwell had a deep and abiding love of the English countryside – just read Coming Up For Air.

For an Orwell nerd like myself, it’s absolutely fascinating stuff and I look forward to reading more. But besides the spare, concise elegance of his writing, his astounding political and social insight and his willingness to get stuck in, to get involved rather than just talking about it, one of the things that I like most about Orwell is that he was a bit of a word-whore, endlessly rewriting and recycling his stuff for different audiences.

But when Eric wrote these diaries, he never intended that they be published. What would he think of the comments on the blog, I wonder.

If the past is another country, it’s one we visit more and more.

Laden down by an ever-expanding knapsack full of maps, phrase books, audio-guides and boutique hotel recommendations, eager to explore every single dusty nook and cranny, we also leave no stone unturned in our quest to get a real feel for the place, away from the tourist trail, off the beaten track. ‘Undiscovered’ territory.

Of course, there’s a lot of stuff about old records and times past on Expletive Undeleted. Is there any difference between what I’m doing and what some numpty punk traitor does on 100 Greatest Punk Rock Sell-Outs? It’s probably not for me to say, but I hope so.

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Babylon Original Soundtrack by Various Artists (EMI)

IT WAS Barry Norman, smug doyen of the comfy press junket and arch purveyor of bitter, misanthropic and slightly rightwing movie reviews, who first brought Babylon to my attention – though I’ve no recollection what drivel the miserable old sod spouted about Franco Rosso’s gritty tale of disaffected Sarf London youth when he reviewed the film on Film 80.

I was more than likely on the lookout for some idiotic new sci-fi movie but in the end it was the clip which accompanied Norman’s no-doubt nonsensical views on Babylon which transported me to another world entirely; a world every bit as strange, exotic and alien as Altair, Vulcan or Tattooine – and it seemed, as a chubby, unfashionable 14-year-old with a bad haircut, sitting in the familial living room in a Dark Ages village miles from anywhere, one I would be as likely to ever visit.

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