Archive for August, 2011

The Second Sex

Punks not dead

Right: two things to spell out, firstly, everyone should read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex it is the urtext on Feminism and secondly, I am a punk rock aficionado (which is just a grown up way of saying nerd). What do these two ideologies have in common? I hear you ask. Well, besides both being blamed for the downfall of western civilisation both are proponents of the idea that women have a powerful voice, have something to say and have been treated like shite for some time. Look, there are too many air brushed vacuous manufactured images of women in the media so here’s to difference. The top ten women in Punk (in no particular order):

Patti Smith: living legend, poet and owner of a gravelly set of pipes. Stand out album has to be Horses and not just for the cover. She once fell off the stage and fucked herself up  and she gave out to Bono after he started fawning over her.

Debbie Harry: chanteuse, Sex-Bomb and seriously one of the best frontwomen that ever walked on stage just listen to Heart of Glass and Call Me. (Forget about French Kissing in the USA-actually I never mentioned it).

Tina Weymouth: I’m a bass player, so is she and she has the chops (and she was a founding member of Talking Heads). Listen to Psycho Killer and Once in a lifetime.

Siouxsie Sioux: A member of the infamous Bromley Contingent she was also the ‘reason’ that the Sex Pistols caused a four letter word storm on British TV.  However, it is all about the music. She mixed dark gothic imagery with some of the best music committed to vinyl to create a beautiful dark oeuvre. Listen to The Scream, Swimming Horses, Spellbound etc.

Ari- Up (Arianne Foster): Lead singer of the all female band The Slits a band that covered Heard it through the Grapevine and made it into some crazy dub fuelled groove. Typical Girls is a skanky little gem and their album Cut, bridges the gap from the Pistols to PIL. She died in 2010 more is the pity.

Poly Styrene: lead singer of X-Ray Spex she laid into the bondage clothing/idea of Oxford St. punk in the single ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’ one of the few punk tunes to feature a sax solo. Little girls should be seen and not heard? She didn’t think so. Alas, she passed on in 2011. (We really need to find a cure for cancer!!)

Jordan: No, not the one with the silicone enhanced boobs this Jordan worked in the boutique known as Sex. It was once said that McLaren thought that she was more of a Sex Pistol then any of the actual Pistols. You can see her dancing to Anarchy in the UK during the Pistols first TV performance and she would later manage Adam and the Ants.

Eve Libertine: Singer with Crass, vocals on Asylum and also on the seminal Penis Envy album. Archetypical Anarcha- Feminist.

Joy De Vivre:  as above writer of Women on Feeding of the 5000.

Kira Roessler: Bass player with hardcore legends Black Flag played on Slip It In, Loose Nut and In My Head. For anyone that has read Get in the Van you know she had to be as hard as nails to be in this band.


Albums you never really find on greatest album lists.

So, I Iike to read music mags and every now and then they do top 50/100 albums. Now there are certain genres that usually get ignored in these lists i.e. heavy metal/hardcore punk and psychedelic five string banjo albums. ‘Yes, but that is because the albums are shite’ I hear you say, well that maybe true but  I have a few that I like and I’m starting with a review of this: Crass: The Feeding of the 5000.

This is a dark album Crass don’t really do humour indeed they don’t really do light. Yet it is in many ways an album of hope, a scream for those to affect change in their society asking the listener to view the world in a different way. The playing is weird: Crass aren’t musicians in the conventional sense i.e. they can’t really play their instruments yet I would hazard a guess that they have influenced more than their fair share to pick up instruments and become musicians. It is a dark and gritty debut wrapped up in that beautiful gatefold sleeves that they did so well. Crass covers were like manifestos. Random thoughts asking you to consider the world around you with images out of a surrealists nightmare all done by the wonderful Gee Vaucher.  Printed on the label was Pay No More than £2.00 just to make sure you weren’t ripped off. This was, as mentioned above, their debut album released in 1978 and 5000 was the originally pressing. It kicks off with Asylum, less a song and more a spoken word poem backed by a soundscape. I remember the first time I heard this and it is a blasphemous blast denouncing the Christian religion. Spoken by Eve Libertine she calls Christ ‘a suicide reveller’ and this is the mild stuff. It starts with a young child praying and when I listen to it now (and that isn’t too often as this isn’t a song you put on before you head out for a jar) I can’t help but think of the child sex abuse scandals of the RCC (look I never promised this would be light hearted). This is followed by the anthem that is ‘Do they owe us a living?’  A bona fide punk classic, the male vocalist Steve Ignorant enters the fray with the memorable lyric ‘Fuck the politically minded there is something I want to say…’ you just have to listen. Penny Rimbaud rattles the snare and guitar and bass cacophonously move forward an aural assault that rattles the heart and gets the brain in gear.  The opening two songs tell you that you are in a different league of punk. This ain’t the Clash or the Pistols and just in case you haven’t figured it out they make sure that you get the message in ‘Banned from the Roxy’ (the famous London punk venue) where they say that the punk scene just wants ‘well behaved boys, who think guitars and microphones are just fucking toys’.  ‘Punk is dead’ follows in the same vein and basically the ‘70s scene is called out and told that it was nothing but a sham.  Northern Ireland, Nuclear War, Buddha, Marx, Charlie’s Angels and even Securicor all get it in the neck.  This album was a look at what was to come. Thatcher, Regan and the Falklands War were all going to be attacked. Feminism, Anarchy, Peace, 1984 and the futility of the capitalist system were all part of what they believed and they wanted to spread the word. Look, they had ideas were these ideas sometimes flawed? Yes. Did a heap of people take it and start a rigid scene? Yes. But by God did they make you think and it was better than the Grease soundtrack and ABBA and at the end of the day they did say ‘ Fight War, Not Wars’ and that is never a bad idea is it?