The movement of the second wave.

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All things considered, it can be difficult to explain a love for music that hits you like a sledgehammer falling at great speed from an even greater height. What pushes those of us toward sonic extremism. Everyone out there has their beginning point; their year zero. For me, three great acts really began to push the envelope and opened up the possibility of deafening their audience on the first song: Black Sabbath (dark, brooding and weight), The MC5 (blues, manic and full of possibility) and of course The Stooges (nuts). All three really get in there and fuck about with sound. Sabbath were just weighty and it was no wonder that people thought they were satanists. The MC5 grabbed rock n’ roll by nuts and could riff for the ages and The Stooges well, they just ripped the heart out of the sixties and danced on the corpse. Search and Destroy paved the way for every refusenik and noise merchant that came ever. They reminded us that the guitar was an animal; untameable and brimming with sexual energy. Of course, all three groups dealt with dark themes; political realities, apathy and the encroaching isolation of the 1970s. Out there in sad-sack suburbia the loners and freaks were listening and ready to take it all on board.

You know the first wave story: the boy looks at Johnny and creates a thousand bands. Somewhere among all that comes a group of hippy anarchists that challenge both the mythology of the moment and also Christ, Buddha, Marx, Thatcher, Reagan etc etc. We know them as Crass. God they really can’t play but it is a glorious racket. No chords and the truth. You see some of us like it discordant. The second wave comes and washes over: Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Bad Brains, Minor Threat from the US drive the music on: faster and faster, harder and heavier. Discharge, GBH, The Exploited, Poison Girls, Subhumans from the UK give Cold War Europe its soundtrack. This is street punk, music made is garages, played at house parties, quasi-anarchist, anti-religion, pro-vegan distorted rage. Metal looks on helpless for a moment until the big four of Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer mix the darkness of Sabbath with the adrenaline rush of punk to create thrash metal. You know I’m leaving out loads like Pentagram, Motörhead, Big Black Ministry, Mastodon oh the list goes on.

So why heavy? Why hard? I suppose at the end of the day I like when extremes are in play. I like the drive. I like the way some of it is simple and then I like the way some of it is complex. Above all I like the energy. Rock n’roll is a simple game: you give guitars to teenagers and let them create a movement that is vain and arrogant and then you watch it eat itself. You know for that to happen you can’t really do it unplugged.

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It’s a swindle…

imageFor a band that changed so much in our music and culture the Sex Pistols have, by and large, been ill-served on the movie front. Shortly after the band split The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle (directed by Julien Temple) was released. In many ways it is a fun film and offers some great footage of the band. There are classic scenes of the chaotic US tour including such highlights as Sid whacking a guy over the head with a bass and, of course, Lydon’s parting shot on the San Francisco stage where he looks out and says: ‘Ha ha ha, ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’ Steve Jones plays a Philip Marlowe like character, albeit a foul-mouthed version as he fucks and blinds his away around England and Brazil. There are oddities aplenty, Ronnie Biggs (a train robber, then on the run and living in Brazil) is shoe-horned in for no apparent reason and an most bizarrely mentions of ‘who killed Bambi?’ which is never explained (it comes from an earlier script). However, it is wrapped in a narrative which creates the impression that Malcolm McLaren (their manager) was some great puppet master that pulled the strings behind the scenes. The band are reduced to a play-thing for the machinations of their malevolent manager. It becomes little more than an ego-stroking exercise. What is rather ironic is that in the fictitious telling of the story whereby McLaren wants to make the band out to be anti rock n’ roll his story makes them the most boring rock n’roll cliche. He destroys the bands power; he reduces them to a cheap carry-on farce and robs them of any real potency. All that is left is the cartoon version of the band, the one that can’t play, the one that pukes all over the place and the one that was essentially a boy band created to sell clothes for Malcom’s infamous shop, Sex.

Sid and Nancy was directed by Alex Cox and was released in 1986. Gary Oldman stars as the doomed Sid Vicious but just like the aforementioned Swindle the characters are reduced to caricatures. Oldman does a great job with the material as does Chloe Webb in her role as Nancy Spungeon alas, the rest is shocking. Lydon is portrayed as a bean-eating joke,one that is is jealous of Nancy. Steve Jones and Paul Cook are just in the background but criminally when Cook is shown he is an idiot that for some reason the band don’t like. Verisimilitude is absent from the gig scenes, punks with day-glo Mohawks are pogoing about despite the fact Mohawks weren’t to arrive on the scene until the 1980s, Poly Styrene, half Somalian lead singer of X-Ray Spex is transformed into a white woman and it all just seems off. Again, the potency of the band is neutered.

In the end maybe a fictitious telling of the Pistols story is impossible. If you are interested in their story read Lydon’s No Irish, No Blacks,No Dogs and Anger is an Energy, Glen Matlock’s I was a teenage Sex Pistol and Steve Jones’ Lonely Boy. Three films I would recommend are Don Letts The Punk Rock Movie, DOA by Lech Kowalski and The Filth and Fury by Julien Temple. Get off your arse.

She Speaks

image…boop,boop.Metronomic time, ceaseless and unforgiving.Under her watch fingers freeze, throats tighten and pulses race. In the moment four fight from going under the sonic waves they have created. Outside there is the alley. The artery. Rain falls in giant globs running from Pearse Street to Lombard finally coming to rest at the side streets end.

Some months before and the half whistled shapeless melody is given form by the guitar player’s hands.Lucid dreams given substance. Consonants and vowels drift from the larynx and the word is made flesh. Bass flitters between the gaps, wild and old. This new ship is anchored by the drum. Happiness fills the space.How easy it can be to make worlds.

Joyce’s Liffey everflows to the sea. The eastlanders follow on to Westland. Time passes.The metronome is tamed. Beginnings give way to ends. Parents to our children (all eight of them and those we lost) we coo at them, play peek-a-boo with them. Afraid to let them go but let them go we must.

I think of them now and then. I wonder where they are and what they are doing? Our children. Out of nowhere She Speaks. I hear the lady clearly and remember our moments, frozen now in my mind. Silently, I thank her and all the minutes we shared. All the seconds. Bip, bip….

Never end.

It is wise not to force a dream
I believe that now, I found your smile.
Let us call down the stars
and make eternity seem but a while.
For all things melt away and we two need not pretend
but your eyes have lit a fire deep in my soul that I never want to end.

Train

We rode out and watched the world pass by.
Trees weeping gently in a summer rain.
It always rained in Ireland no matter the season.
There is an honesty in love, a simplicity much missing from today’s world.
But we were harder then more open to the knocks and falls
so unlike those that came after.
We found our own ballast, our own strength.
Ma, Da, my brother and me, on a train
before the fall.
It is only now I realise that love is more important than all,
than all the pain you build up in your heart,
so today I’m going to worship at her altar
I’m going to go ride that train and find myself at the start.

We lived in dreams always.

There was something in the night
it seemed alive, you could almost feel it breathe
the animal mind of my age, afraid to rest, to sleep
for in stopping it might miss, moments that may never be.
A deep hurt ran through the dark
silent eyes watching for a movement, waiting
ready to pounce upon the weak.
All is lust, blood, venality and the stink of corruption
it seems that nothing can break out.
Where are the words that lift the soul?
Where are the songs to make a hand a fist?
Where can the restless run?
Why are the ignorant content to wallow in the filth
and the piss of all that is profane?
Oh it seems that hope can flounder in the debris that remains.
And yet….and yet…a spark can make a flame
and love can grow in the light her fire creates
and in that way nothing has ever changed
and in strange ways we lived in dreams…always.

The Fear

 

https://shespeaksmusic.bandcamp.com

imagehttps://shespeaksmusic.bandcamp.com

 

Hey all, just a quick plug for our debut single ‘The Fear’ we would be most grateful if you could give it a listen. Just click the link above. We are all very proud of it, hope you like.