30 minutes mix of digitally transferred phonograph records from the age of 78rpm, which changed the face of music forever and ushered in the age of rock n roll. Things would never be the same again with the exception that as then and as today the musician gets ripped off. Expect the odd crackle, pop and the unexpected. For those who went before and to those who stand on their shoulders. I salute you.
I recently re-discovered a box of old cassette tapes, which I either made or exchanged between my friends when I was around 16/17 years old in 1977-1979ish. Now digitalised and uploaded here they provide an insight into the late 1970’s DIY punk scene. The tracks here, I’m guessing have not surfaced for a long time and include several bands from my native north-east — most, if not all I had seen live. Where a better-known group is featured, I have chosen to add a less-known track. As you will imagine sound quality is a little ropey at times, but please enjoy 45 minutes of noise recorded at a time when the internet was far from a concept.
Vol.1: Leo’s Sunshipp, Pete El Conde Rodriguez, Johnny Hammond, Orchestra Harlow, Billy Stewart, Chuck Carbo, Robert Parker, Broadneck, Johnny Otis Show, The Gil Evans Orchestra.
Vol.2: Ofege, People’s Choice, Funkadelic, Edwin Star, Betty Davis, Lil Buck & The Top Cats, Skip Easterling, Cymande, Fabulous Emotions, Barry White.
Vol.3: Robert Belfour, Sly & The Revolutionaries, Charlie Louvin, Centers, The Lafayette Afro Rock Band, Afrissipi, The Selector.
Vol.4: Air, Mum, The Bees, 1 Giant Leap, Craig Armstrong, Moby, Badmarsh and Shri.
29.10.18: As I’ve said previously about Lensmen that they are one of the best bands on the independent music circuit at the moment. I finally got to see them perform live Monday evening. A fair collection of vagabonds, strays and inquisitive minds are here tonight to witness them perform which is surprising given its a bitterly cold Monday evening outside. Lensmen are providing the headline set under the SongSmith event, which promotes new and emerging Bristol talent. Its a really solid performance, brooding bass, synths and beats hovering below twisted storytelling that grows in confidence as the set progresses. For those who prefer their music with intelligence then cast your eyes and ears in the direction of Lensmen. You will not be disappointed in my honest and humble opinion. My previous write up with links to the Lensmen’s music, future dates and adventures can be found here.
24.10.18: Nostalgia is a bitch. It’s something I’ve tried to avoid through the years ever since witnessing the Sex Pistols reunion, Finsbury Park, 1996 and quickly realising that hard-fought reputations and credibility can be deconstructed at an alarming rate. So it has come to pass for much of the bands churned out towards the end of the 1970s under the threadbare banner of punk.
Its the winter of 1977, at 16-years old, I met a mate Ste Birmingham (sadly no longer with us), and we took a bus from our hometown of Stockton on tees to the neighbouring town of Middlesbrough Rock Garden to catch the Tom Robinson Band (TRB) live.
It was my first gig without parental guidance, involving a stop off at a pub (The North Eastern) where I managed to drink 2 pints of Double Dimond Beer, witness grown men being men with their racist and sexist banter, masculinity overdrive, play my first game of pub pool (lose…badly), select a record on a pub Juke Box for the first time (New Rose by the Damned) and then subsequently make a fake excuse go outside gasp fresh air and throw up in the adjacent alleyway.
Within an hour or two I’m standing in an exuberant crowd of young men, full of testosterone, mostly dressed in homemade punk regalia singing, “Glad to be Gay.”
Today, such are the changes in attitudes that this would hardly raise an eyebrow, even in some of the UK’s most conservative towns and villages. Back in 1977, it carried the risk of a life-threatening physical assault from a mainly hostile public and police where queer bashing and racist abuse seemed a norm and a routine way of life. Nowhere more did these attitudes manage to incubate than in the pubs and socials clubs of 1970s north-east working-class England. This may feel like a lazy indictment, but nonetheless a cultural acceptance I was brought up in, which had many a complicated reason.
I recall a nervous confidence in Tom Robinson’s voice that night as he introduced ‘Glad to be Gay.’ A nervousness which is equally shared by an audience, initially not sure what to do with the singalong anthem. Sweat-drenched men who have been bouncing relentlessly to the guitar-powered set are now looking at each other, fuck it by the second chorus, a unified audience is wholeheartedly singing. Its one of those small moments in time when things start to change for the better.
Tonight (41 years on) I find myself at the Fleece, Bristol to capture Tom Robinson performing his classic ‘Power in the Darkness’ album in full and in celebration of its 40th year since release. First and foremost it remains a great (I mean a really great) rock album. Lyrically it is not only a reflection on how far we have come. It is also a recognition as to how far we have allowed ourselves to regress back into the darkness.
This evening I raise a glass to my old mate Ste and Tom Robinson’s bravery, his art, the man and a band of young men who recorded an album that had a very significant contribution in shaping my politics.
PS: I’ve still got my vinyl copy and its accompanying spray can stencil remains in perfect condition, unused….until tonight.