Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Apostles - Blow It Up, Burn It Down, Kick It Till It Breaks

THE APOSTLES -
BLOW IT UP, BURN IT DOWN,
KICK IT TILL IT BREAKS

Ensconced within the same east London squatter community that The Mob inhabited were The Apostles who, whilst being one of the most annoyingly untalented of bands were also one of the most interesting. Since the summer of 1981, The Apostles had released a number of demo tapes of varying degrees of musical ineptitude, all distributed through the DIY network thrown up in the wake of Crass. The creative force behind the band was one Andy Martin, responsible also for a provocatively entertaining fanzine called Scum. Andy Martin and his fellow band members had been key players behind aspects not only of the Crass/Poison Girls-sponsored Anarchy Centre but also the Centro Iberico, before moving musical operations to the LMC venue in north London. They had also been instrumental in the success of the Zig Zag squat gig at which they had also performed.
From the very start of and throughout their activities and participation in the Anarcho Punk scene, however, they had never once declared themselves to be anarchists; whilst the very idea of pacifism was an anathema to them. In fact, going totally against the grain of Anarcho Punk, The Apostles openly advocated violent direct action and armed insurrection, proffering solidarity and support for Britain's very own home-grown urban guerrilla gang of the 1970s, the Angry Brigade. Underlining this respect they had for them, one of the Angry Brigade's most well-known slogans was adopted by The Apostles for the title of their début EP, released in the Spring of 1983.


Blow It Up, Burn It Down, Kick It Till It Breaks contained five tracks of ramshackle, muddy, lo-fi Punk that left little doubt that for The Apostles it was the sentiment rather than the medium that was the message. Wrapped in a Crass-influenced fold-out cover, the sleeve comprised a variety of essays under such titles as 'Why Punk is a total failure', criticisms of 'hypocritical hippy tramps', and instructions on how to break into a house for the purpose of squatting it and even how to construct an incendiary device.
Amongst songs entitled Proletarian Autonomy, and Fucking Queer, the stand-out track by far was Pigs For Slaughter, named after a militant, agitational, London-based Punk zine of the same name. This particular song was to prove highly significant, acting as a prophetic sign that things were soon to change.

Under the cloud of imminent nuclear armageddon it seemed that for some, wealth and the accumulation of it was all that mattered, giving rise to the young urban professional - otherwise known as the 'yuppies'. Brash, arrogant, self-centred high-flyers with no regard for anything apart from making money and flaunting it, these were the true Thatcherites. Prostrating themselves before the altar of laissez-faire capitalism and basking in the perversity of conservative politics, they were representatives of an almighty insult to all those living in poverty.
Dressed in their designer suits and armed with Filofaxes, their shallowness was reflected in their dubious taste in music: Phil Collins, Dire Straits, Level 42, even Lady Di's favourites Duran Duran. If ever they were to have heard a band like The Apostles, particularly a song of theirs such as Pigs For Slaughter, they would certainly have been perplexed, dumbfounded and mightily confused:
"Glue the locks of all the banks and butchers or kick them in. Spray a message of hate across a Bentley or smash it up. Go to Kensington and mug a rich bastard against a wall. Sabotage the meat in supermarkets, poison them all. We're taking no more, we're smashing down the door for this is class war."
If yuppies were the apostles of Thatcher, embodying Conservative policies on the rampage then The Apostles were the harbingers of a fresh attitude to combat that. Rather than being always on the defensive and simply reacting to Thatcher all the time, The Apostles were advocating that people be proactive and actually go on the attack:
"Put sugar in the petrol tank, deflate the tyres with six-inch nails. That's the way to wreck a Rolls, so get stuck in, it never fails. Blow it up! Burn it down! Kick it till it breaks!"


The Apostles had obviously been inspired by Punk and in particular by the whole DIY ethic of it. Their criticism of Punk therefore was not so much toward the idea but toward the way it was being interpreted and executed. The Apostles lived with, associated and collaborated with Punks but instead of allowing themselves to be boxed-in and restricted in their behaviour by so-called codes of Punk conduct regarding dress sense, musical style and politics, they were more interested in pushing the envelope and using Punk as a stepping stone towards an even greater freedom of expression. Punk dogma was not for them.
In the same light, this was how they viewed the so-called radical politics of Anarcho Punk and subsequently explained somewhat their respect for the Angry Brigade.

Emerging from the hippy/liberation/student protest movements of the late 1960s (the same milieu, of course, that members of Crass had come from), the Angry Brigade had embarked on a technically brilliant bombing campaign that called into question the effectiveness of 'acceptable' and more peaceful methods of protest as defined by the State and practised by the organized Left.
As well as exposing the inhibitions and limited desires of other radicals operating within the framework of legality, the Angry Brigade's bombing campaign exposed the vulnerability of the State, sending a shudder of fear and confusion through the upper echelons of the Establishment. If they had so wished, the Angry Brigade could so very easily have killed the people to whom they had delivered their bombs but the fact that they didn't kill anyone spoke volumes.
Compared to the Red Brigade in Italy, the Baader Meinhoff Group in Germany and certainly to any government, the Angry Brigade displayed a morality that was almost humbling. This didn't save them, however, from the intense criticism and condemnation they received from many of their supposed comrades - even from within the anarchist movement - who accused them of being provocateurs, vanguardists, adventurists and even 'a threat to the growth of the mass movement'.


Criticism, accusations and slander would also forever dog The Apostles so little wonder that apart from empathising with the Angry Brigade's tactics they might also feel a certain kinship with them on other levels. When Joe Strummer sported a home-made Red Brigade t-shirt at the Rock Against Racism carnival of 1978, he too was criticised and in his case accused of 'romanticising terrorist violence'. It was a pity Joe didn't choose instead to wear the symbol of the Angry Brigade (who he would surely have known about) for he could then at least have countered any criticism by stating that the Angry Brigade never killed anyone - unlike any British government. If only Joe had penned a song about the Angry Brigade, even? But alas he never did, leaving it instead for The Apostles to step up to the mark.

But for lack of musical prowess, the track Pigs For Slaughter could easily have been a classic song in the vein of Holiday In Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys or Babylon's Burning by The Ruts though it must be said that being poorly performed did nothing to diminish its significance. Rather than being a powerful declaration of intent, however, Pigs For Slaughter was instead a nod, a hint, a suggestion that there were other Anarcho Punk visions to be had besides the pacifist one.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Mob - Let The Tribe Increase

THE MOB - LET THE TRIBE INCREASE

Taking its name from the sleevenotes of Patti Smith's Easter album, Let The Tribe Increase by The Mob stood proudly out from the pack by virtue of its uncompromising individuality. By choosing their own path, The Mob had found their own voice which was now ringing out loud and clear for all to hear. Whilst many of their Anarcho Punk peer group had so obviously sprung from the well of Crass, The Mob were coming from somewhere altogether different. Theirs was a natural, earthy sound born from the Somerset countryside and transplanted to the inner city estates of London. Having travelled with hippy stalwarts Here And Now playing various free festivals and benefit or donation-only gigs, they had picked up and acquired a certain vibe where the important thing was not the music or the money but the audience - the actual community. The Mob were a genuine people's band. Driven by prominent bass and perfect, practical drumming augmented by rudimentary guitar and soaring backing vocals, the voice of lead singer Mark Mob - clear, precise and sure - called out to the world at large.
Inscriptions on the run-out grooves of the album - 'Take a trip down' and 'Electric turkeyland' - alluded to the band's penchant for drugs, particularly of the hallucinogenic variety though within the songs themselves there was absolutely nothing illusory or escapist in the slightest. In fact, living on the breadline in squats in the East End of London placed The Mob and their friends firmly at the bottom - if not actually outside - of society where they would face on a daily basis the hardships and dangers of inner city life.
In such a position there was nothing the politics of Thatcherism of all things could possibly offer them apart from a prejudice and selfishness based on cold economics. Indeed, The Mob and their friends were a good example of the Lumpenproletariat that Bakunin had cited as being the true revolutionaries within society. The desperately poor. Those with no stake in society and therefore nothing to lose.


Laying out a distinct world view immediately and to mightily good effect, the opening track of the album found Mark Mob waking up to Another Day Another Death: "I wake up screaming from the nightmare that's begun again, cold tears of sweat trickling down my face..." For Mark there is no escape and no hiatus from "the cold and frigid wind that blows through every crack." In the jaws of bleakness - like Bakunin's potential for revolution - any hint of hope or beauty is grabbed at and held fast: "I'm reaching out again clutching flowers thrown in the breeze, they are quite meaningless and yet they mean so much to me." All too aware of the pain of everyday living, his voice shaking, all Mark really wants is the answer to one very simple question: "Why?"

In Cry Of The Morning, Mark describes the looming presence of an authoritarian 'other', signalled by "the wail of the siren." The omnipotence of this unnamed power offers no chance of escape, redemption or mercy as like an animal caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, Mark's fate is no longer in his hands. There is simply no time for anything. Not love, not hate, not tears, fear, running away or goodbyes. Nor "if they come in the morning" is there even any time to fight back. Resistance is futile.

In Dance On (You Fool), the bass groove of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes is pre-empted, as the subject of violence found "in the pubs and streets" is equated with "impotent lovers." Inadequacy and hate "bred from the cradle and reared in the schools" begets aggressive masculinity. "Above all a man or above all a fool, which are you?" Mark asks "Above all a man or above all you, which are you?"

Raised In A Prison relaxes the pace to a contemplative stroll as a captive life is described in sad detail: "Raised in a prison with iron bars and walls too high to be climbed. Raised in a four-cornered corridor, always kept silent and blind." Conformity, obedience and good manners are taught from a young age before being thrown into the world of work and then entering the sanctimony of marriage. Sterility, boredom and repetition are the rewards with possibly "a garden and wonderful view of kids playing war in the streets after school." Living prescribed roles of home-maker wife and breadwinner husband, the happy couple are trapped in a thankless existence, one of the few 'benefits' being that they are at least safe from harm: "Watching the TV til hubby comes home, unable to stand on his feet. Black and white pictures of policemen with sticks smacking fuck out of kids on the street."

The unacknowledged quirkiness of The Mob is shown to good effect in the track Slayed, where a Mark E Smith of The Fall influence is suggested in the way the ends of words are accentuated. To a driving bass and chopping guitar, the song finds Mark Mob searching through what he refers to as 'the desert of his soul'. Surveying an outer landscape of bureaucratic piles of waste, putrid smell and concrete towers he sees hope only in the children who are playfully "destroying all your sacred cows." He sees that adults are a lost cause and the hope of a better world might only lie in the hands of children: "In these wars that you have made, through the shit you now must wade. You were the slayer - you're now the slayed." The juxtaposition of Mark's baritone and the softer backing vocal is put to beautiful effect in the final refrain of "You were the slayer," with Mark declaring it as a statement of fact whilst the backing vocal almost whispering it as an accusation.

Side one of the album ends with a mini-epic in the form of the track Our Life Our World, in which Mark paints a primitive picture of the world as he sees it: "Our life, our world mapped out in stars, carved in wrists and back of arms which paint in blood on sheets of white. Our children never quite at home." It seems that once again the world of adults holds nothing for its children who turn their pain upon themselves in acts of self harm. In the prime of their infancy - their "golden age" - no-one cares to listen to their cries of rage.
Midway through, the song lurches into a slow, three-chord soliloquy and Mark's voice turns fragile and terribly tender: "This is my love now and this is my war, do not suffer my children... This is my nightmare built from your hell on earth, do not damage my children."
Unlike most other Anarcho Crass bands, The Mob weren't offering any real solutions or any calls for action but instead were simply describing the way they felt and the way things were. Whilst Crass et al were inspiring through anger and by putting forward pacifism and direct action as answers, The Mob were inspiring through simply being very truthful. The Mob were a lesson in love and tenderness born from anger: "Leave my world for my children, they didn't ask to be born. Leave my love for my children, and let them be warm."


Gates Of Hell kicks off side two of the album and without any delay is a despairing leap into the void where Mark is found, his body "a bombed-out shell." To a chiming bass line he once again describes the world in which he has found himself where "the sun is blacked out by the rain that keeps on falling as the blood keeps flowing," and where "the only sound is the toll of your death bells." There in the most miserable of places, even though there are "no peace flags flying in the breeze of illusion," such things to him are still "the lights at the end of the tunnel," even if they are but "a mirage in the desert."

Could the world ever be more sad and more wretched? Of course it could. Within the realm of popular (and not so popular) music there has always been a tradition of morose or troubled artists exploring the darker depths of the human condition. From Leonard Cohen and his tragically sad love songs to Lou Reed and his Berlin-era meditations, from the elegiac musings of suicidal Nick Drake to the 1980s world weariness of Joy Division and The Smiths. Criticised for being 'depressing' their songs were in actual fact beautifully uplifting, more often than not serving as a genuine antidote to melancholia.
Joining this select canon was The Mob whose songs, whilst projecting a profound sense of sadness, inspired not only hope but a real sense of closeness. A fine example of this being the track I Wish, in which a broken and tired-sounding Mark ponders to himself: "I wish I could love, it must be fun to love cos so many people do it, it must be fun to love." This same line is then repeated over again, each time changing the word 'love' to either 'hate', 'fight', and 'kill' before ending with "I wish I could die, it must be fun to die cos so many people do it, it must be fun to die."
From an admission of feeling isolated from the crowd or 'the many', it's at first dubious that Mark wishes he could love as this is clearly an emotion he already feels as evidenced in previous songs. Or perhaps he sees the love that "must be fun" that "so many people do" is somewhat different to the love he himself feels? If his love is not 'fun' then is it somehow inadequate or less real or less worthy than the love of others? The answer is given over the next lines of the song where Mark wishes he could hate, fight and kill "cos so many people do it, it must be fun".
This is Mark playing Devil's advocate as clearly he has no wish to hate, fight or kill at all; and it follows that to not want to do these things - and in fact to wish for the complete opposite - is perfectly fine even if it does mean isolation from the many. In turn, Mark's wish to die really means the complete opposite also: Mark actually wishes to live.
Taken at face value, I Wish appears to be a thoroughly depressing song but is in actual fact clever and very life-affirming. Not withstanding this will to live, however, there is still the horror of the world to suffer. "I wanna know why?" Mark declares at the start of the album in Another Day Another Death but there is no answer, no reason and no explanation on offer.


In the track Never Understood, Mark comes face-to-face not only with the inevitability of the death of others but of his own mortality too: "And as I fight to find an empty place, the yawning gap amongst the bodies fits my face. I gave my life for something never understood." Over and over and over again he repeats the song's title and with no pause for breath the words obliterate everything else until the song finally bursts like a bubble leaving only... oblivion.
The next track, entitled Roger, drifts slowly into being as a lilting nursery rhyme turns round and round: "Phantom, oh phantom, come out, come out and I will kiss thee upon thy snout." Evoking memories of ancient daydreams, voices emerge, cross-over and submerge; exclaiming, whispering and pronouncing odd phrases such as "I touched it!", "These are the dreams of children, they are the children of dreams," and "It's normal! It's normal!"
Roger conveys the similarity between a possibly drug-fuelled altered state of mind and the surrealistic senselessness of formal, regulated society. Appearing at first to be an experimental, abstract diversion from the main thrust of the album, the song actually fits in perfectly; adding another peculiar twist to The Mob's profile.

The album ends on a massive high with a re-recorded version of Witch Hunt, The Mob's most powerful of songs. As a stand-alone single release, Witch Hunt was profound, provocative, uniquely fascinating and utterly brilliant. Placed within a whole album of Mob songs, however, the words and their meaning are underscored and puts everything about The Mob into context, leaving no question over the album's classic status: "Stubbing out progress where seeds are sown, killing off anything that's not quite known. Sitting around in a nice, safe home - waiting for the witch hunt. Idle plans for the idle rich, knitting the economy not dropping a stitch. Destroying anything that doesn't quite fit - waiting for the witch hunt. Still living with the English fear - waiting for the witch hunt, dear."


On first hearing, Let The Tribe Increase was an unexpected experience. Though the music being played by The Mob was relatively simple, the sound they were producing was very big and translated well from small, squatted premises to larger, commercial venues; and from playing to small groups of friends to playing to much larger festival audiences. Equally important, the sound translated well to each individual listener alone in their bedroom. Let The Tribe Increase not only demanded repeat listenings but welcomed them.
There was a warmth about Let The Tribe Increase, an intimacy that drew the listener in close that appeared to come quite naturally, as though it wasn't even being considered. In all likelihood The Mob were not even aware of it themselves and had no idea of just how close they were to their audience.

A few years earlier, Mark Perry of Alternative TV had recognised that the trail blazed by the like of Here And Now in their promotion and support of free gigs and festivals was the way for Punk to go. His own band had gone for this with varying degrees of success, gaining much respect but losing the interest of many fans along the way due in no small part to the somewhat difficult avant-jazz Punk records released by them. In Crass, Mark Perry saw the way that a Punk band should be though through no fault of their own Crass's position was changing from being as one with their Punk audience to being leaders of the Anarcho Punk movement. An oxymoron if ever there was one.
Because they appeared to be ahead of everyone else in their analysis, their power and their actions, Crass were finding themselves in an isolated position not helped by the fact that they were living out in the Essex countryside as opposed to being based in the city wrestling with all the problems which that entailed. Not that Crass were out of touch at all, it was just that they weren't having to face the grind and hostility of city life in the same way as for example, The Mob and their friends had to whilst living in squats and housing co-ops.
Crass and The Mob were both very much 'people's bands' but with differences between them. Crass may have had an open-house policy at their countryside home and they may have been both working and living together communally as people but The Mob were actually living alongside their audience. There was no separation. The Mob and their audience were one and the same.


This was the tribe to which The Mob's album title referred, the tribe The Mob wished to see increase. Adam And The Ants in their early days had touched upon a similar idea also with their 'Ant music for Ant people / Sex music for Sex people' totems as had in their own way Killing Joke and Theatre Of Hate. It soon became apparent, however, that it was commercial success that these groups were after whilst for The Mob this particular aspiration held no appeal whatsoever. There was the potential for The Mob to be huge but their concern was obviously for other things, not least of which was for simply getting on and living their lives. The music business held no attraction for them in the slightest and commercial success was clearly not on their agenda. If they even had any agenda at all?

There was an intangible air of consciousness about The Mob, captured in as much as could be possible by their album and to recognise this consciousness demanded an awareness that reflected well upon their audience. Let The Tribe Increase suggested an understanding of true meaning. An understanding of what was important and of what was not, of what was good and right and of what was bad and wrong.
The Mob were the living embodiment of the spirit glimpsed at the Stonehenge free festival and their album was a representation of that spirit. Radical, free and wild; full of potential yet assailed on all sides by forces of ignorance. Awareness in a world that not only discouraged awareness but actively sought to destroy it. The Mob were one of the most beautifully brilliant bands of the whole 1980s Anarcho Punk Rock era and Let The Tribe Increase was one of the greatest albums.
What made it all so doubly remarkable was that whilst their audience recognised how special The Mob were, The Mob themselves seemed not to know it. All that was happening was that they were simply being and doing what came quite naturally to them. In essence, The Mob were simply being themselves but this was what was ultimately giving them their edge and making them so very special.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Hit Parade - Bad News

HIT PARADE - BAD NEWS

It wouldn't be until three years after the release of Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers that the subject of the Troubles in Northern Ireland would once again be fully addressed, this time from a band called Hit Parade on a record released as might well have been expected on that most politically radical of labels - Crass Records.
Hit Parade was in actual fact primarily the work of just one man by the name of Dave Hyndman, an Irish libertarian involved in a variety of projects including a Belfast-based radical bookshop called Just Books, an anarchist newspaper called Outta Control, and a Belfast-based anarchist social centre.
Entitled Bad News, the record contained four songs dealing exclusively with the Irish political situation. Assisted by Eve Libertine, Penny Rimbaud and Phil Free; Hit Parade, however, were absolutely nothing like Stiff Little Fingers. Instead of raw Punk Rock, the music played was a genuinely interesting mix of Sparks and electro dance, laced with samples of dialogue including - naturally - the utterances of Thatcher. And instead of caustic Punk vocals, the songs were half-spoken, half-shouted in a broad, uncompromising Irish accent.


Hyndman crafted his songs in the style of lists, much in the same way as how Ian Dury - the master of the 'list song' - wrote many of his. In the track Here's What You Find In Any Prison, for example, he starts off by asking "What do you find in Her Majesty's prison?" before going on to cite "Those who can't accept the system. Those who won't co-operate with the forces of the British State... People who call the police shits, people who challenge the Brits... People framed through Diplock Courts, others jailed by police-paid touts... Grown people with childlike minds, people who can't pay their fines... Those who stand against oppression, people beaten to sign confessions... The working class fill it to the door. No rich, no Brits, just the poor..." and so on.

In the track H-Block, the song's title is repeated over and over, interspersed with snap responses: "British game. British shame. Orange State. To perpetuate. RUC. Brutality. Guilty surely. With no jury. Always lose. To bastard screws. Five demands. On Thatcher's hands. Bitter fight. Hunger strike. Blanket men. Bitter end," and so on before ending with a Crass-style chant of "1 2 3 4 - open up the H-Block door. 5 6 7 8 - open up the Armagh Gate. 9 10 11 12 - Margaret Thatcher go to hell."

In the title track of the EP, Hyndman describes how life as represented in the media, particularly in the news, bears little relation to life as experienced by the majority of people: "We watch the TV every night. Jesus! What a load of shite!" he begins "What we see and what we hear, nowhere in the newspapers... Our lives, hopes, fears, dreams, nowhere on your TV screens."
According to Hyndman, even when depicting the harsh realities of the wider world, the resultant images serve only as entertainment: "Images of death and famine, people starving, Ronald Reagan. Third World Wars, TV riots, anything to keep us quiet."
Television, then, was an opiate for the people. An elaborate trick of smoke and mirrors "designed to keep us impotent". Reinforcing State control and ensuring the 'national interest' would always prevail: "Propaganda for your class, disguised with a song and a laugh."
Though viewed from the perspective of the streets of Belfast, Hyndman's observations are easily recognizable and readily transferable to most other areas of the UK and so too his final, indignant rejection of all the manipulation and 'bad news': "We don't want your TV, we don't want your lies. We don't want to sit and stare at other people's lives."


The Bad News EP by Hit Parade was an innovative and highly politicised record, standing as a fine example of what Crass Records excelled at though due to its musical style, many pure Punk Rock fans found it initially difficult to connect with and digest. In time, however, it would be seen as a masterly amalgamation of a variety of Crass elements: Penny Rimbaud's (very apt) military drumming, the use of sampling, the localised accent of the lead vocals, the hardline attitude, the expounding upon the subject matters of the songs in type on the fold-out sleeve (in this instance a full account of the H-Block hunger strikes), the donation of any profit from the sell of the record to a worthy cause (in this instance a Prisoners Book Scheme), and of course, the anarchist nature and intent.

Interestingly, in a bid to avoid appropriation by either Republican or Loyalist forces, Crass took the unusual step of issuing a disclaimer regarding the contents of Bad News in the form of a note enclosed within the record's sleeve:
'Crass would like to make it clear that we no more support the Republican IRA and its related splinter paramilitary groups than we do the Unionist UDR or RUC and its related splinter terrorist groups. Nor do we support the presence in Northern Ireland of the British army or of British 'interests'. All of these organisations are concerned with the seizure, or maintenance, of power and the control and manipulation of the Unionist, Republican and non-sectarian population. We do not support the IRA's 'nationalist' ideas of a united Socialist Ireland any more any more than the racist ideas expressed by the RUC, UDR and supported by Westminster.
Our concern for the H-Block prisoners is humanitarian and not sectarian and is the same concern that we feel for all those who suffer the direct effects of violent oppression, be it by the State, political groups, or the individual.
As long as populations are unable to take a united stand against all forms of oppression, they will remain subservient to it.'


Serious problems in such serious times demanded serious responses and Crass were nothing but serious. As individuals they remained as charming and approachable as ever but united under the banner of 'Crass' their stance was hardening whilst their anger grew ever more fierce and acute. They had always fully been aware of the significance of what was going on in Northern Ireland and its relationship and effect upon the British State. From songs such as Banned From The Roxy, to Fun Going On, to Big A Little A, Crass recognised Belfast as being the perfect training ground for British troops in an urban environment where extreme methods of social control could be practised: "Palaces for kings and queens, mansions for the rich, protection for the wealthy, defence of privilege. They've learnt the ropes in Ireland, engaged in civil war, fighting for the ruling classes in their battle against the poor. So Ireland's just an island? It's an island of the mind. Great Britain? Future? Bollocks! You'd better look behind."
Belfast was the British State war machine on manoeuvres whilst the Falklands war had underlined how that same war machine could very easily be mobilised for party political reasons. It didn't end there, however. Those holding the reins of power - the ruling class, for want of a better term - were at perpetual war with the general population be it through the barrel of a gun, the control and manipulation of information, or through the implementation of specific socio-economic policies. Through fear, coercion, intimidation and normalization the desired world for them was a subservient, conformist, dumbed-down, preoccupied one, ripe for exploitation and nothing more.

"Are you serious or are you just trying to make me laugh?" asked Bill Grundy of the Sex Pistols during his infamous television interview with them. It was a good question. Better, actually, than the question on the front page of the Daily Mirror newspaper the next day where it was asked 'Were the Pistols loaded?' So, were the Sex Pistols serious? Not in the same way as Crass but yes, of course they were. Was it not they who were facing the rebuke, the hostility, the condemnation and the physical attacks? At times it must have felt as though the whole world was against them. Why would anyone put themselves through such a thing? Why would anyone put up with such grief if their intent was not serious and their motivation not heartfelt? As Johnny Rotten would later say: "You don't write a song like God Save The Queen because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them and you're fed up with them being mistreated."

For their troubles, the Sex Pistols kick-started a cultural revolution that in turn inspired others to pick up and run with many of the ideas thrown up in the wake. Like, for example, Crass, who in turn had kick-started a social revolution of their own, again inspiring others to pick up and run with many of the ideas thrown up in that wake.
Their heads buzzing with Anarcho politics, drug cocktails, the spirit of free festivals and the freedom in poverty - fermented with a heavy brew of Crass, Pistols, Alternative TV, and yes, Adam And The Ants - the bastard children of Punk Rock surged forth into the world, congregating around squats, housing co-ops, run-down venues and dirty pubs and clubs in all the major inner-cities of Britain and mainland Europe.
Aware that the world was wrong but unsure of how to actually change it, they were instead creating their own worlds by using their sense of freedom to build alternatives to just about everything on offer from the mainstream. Many, of course, seeking solace in drink and drugs to the exclusion of anything else but many others seeking fulfilment in creativity and expressing themselves through music, art, writing and protest.
And above and beyond any other band, capturing and representing the pure essence of these lives now being led was The Mob, whose début album Let The Tribe Increase would resonate deeply with a significant number of this apparently enlightened new breed...

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Stiff Little Fingers

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS

So, the war being waged in Nicaragua between the Sandanistas and the Contras was very much a politically straightforward one. If only the same could have been said of the war in Northern Ireland, if indeed what was going on there in that emerald isle could even be called a war?
According to the IRA, the answer to that question was a definite and unequivocal 'Yes'. It was their conviction that they were soldiers - paramilitaries - fighting for independence against the British occupation of Northern Ireland. They were the Irish Republican Army - it was all in the name - and they were at war with the British State.
According to the Thatcher government, however, the answer was 'No', there was no war going on in Northern Ireland in the slightest. Rather, the IRA were simply criminals committing outrageous acts of violence, intimidation and murder. Nothing more and nothing less. To some, the IRA were freedom fighters but to others they were terrorists.
In England, there were many sympathetic to the Irish republican cause but when it came to seeing innocent people being blown apart by IRA bombs planted in British pubs it somewhat clouded the issue, to put it lightly. And even if a significant proportion of British people were against the British military presence in Northern Ireland, it didn't exempt them from being potential IRA targets themselves. Confusing matters further, to the consternation of the Conservative government in particular, the IRA were being part-funded by donations from supporters in America - Britain's allied partner in the battle against all things communist and all things terrorist.


So, the Irish problem was a problem. Unlike Nicaragua, nothing was clear cut and very little was politically straightforward about it. Indeed, since Bloody Sunday in 1972 when unarmed civilians were gunned down in cold blood by soldiers of the British Parachute Regiment, the idea of 'normal' politics in Northern Ireland had completely ended. The H-Block hunger strikes of 1981 and the mass rioting in Belfast following the death of Bobby Sands and his comrades had caused the ante to be upped even further with the British State launching an unofficial 'shoot-to-kill' policy.
'The Troubles' were getting worse and the situation ever more desperate, all taking place in Britain's very own backyard. One of the consequences of all this - significant to some, irrelevant to others - being that one of the best Punk bands ever had been born from it all.

When The Clash first went over to Belfast in October of '77 to play a concert there, due to supposed insurance problems the gig was cancelled at the last minute leaving both band and fans bitterly disappointed. Being Belfast, almost by default a mini-riot ensued whereby the fans vented their frustration by smashing windows and throwing stones at the RUC. This time, however, there was a difference. Where as normally it would be Protestant and Catholic kids attacking each other, the two factions were now united under the banner of Punk and attacking a common enemy - the police.
The Clash, meanwhile, took a stroll down the Falls Road and posed for photographs alongside army blockades, barricades, checkpoints and British soldiers toting guns. Though accused of self-serving opportunism for posing against such a backdrop after failing to even play there, the resulting pictures of The Clash in their street Punk gear standing in the middle of what was essentially a war zone lent them and subsequently Punk a politicised, urban credibility that was somewhat lacking in any other musical genre.


The Clash at that time were prime motivators for the embryonic Punk movement, inspiring many a fledgling Punk Rocker up and down the land to start thinking about the world around them and to start expressing themselves accordingly. From a young Thomas Mensworth in Newcastle, for example, to a William Bragg in London, to a certain Steven Williams in Bristol. The Clash were inspiring them all to form bands, becoming respectively Mensi of the Angelic Upstarts, a Big-Nosed Bastard From Barking, and Steve Ignorant of Crass.
In Ireland too, having managed by the end of 1977 to play successful gigs in both Dublin and Belfast, The Clash were inspiring not only future members of U2, The Undertones, and the Virgin Prunes but also members of an inconsequential covers band called Highway Star, soon - after a quick name change - to be better known as Stiff Little Fingers.

If the economic, social and political situation of England during the late 1970s could spawn a band such as The Clash, it was almost inevitable that the far more intense situation in Northern Ireland during that same period might spawn a much more intense band. It made sense. If the social realism of London could be reflected by The Clash, then the urban realism of Belfast could also be reflected. Taking on that task was Stiff Little Fingers but just as it took manager Bernie Rhodes to urge The Clash to sing about what was 'important', so it took journalist Ian Ogilvie to urge Stiff Little Fingers to sing about their immediate surroundings.
By way of example, Ogilvie offered the band two sets of lyrics that after being put to music became the songs Suspect Device and Wasted Life. Not that Ogilvie was some kind of svengali moulding a band to his own vision in the way Bernie Rhodes and Malcolm McLaren had tried to do. Alone, Ogilvie's words were but scribbles - albeit interesting scribbles - on a page but when charged with harsh, metallic, twin guitar Punk Rock and delivered by raw, sore throat vocals the result was simply stunning.


Suspect Device became Stiff Little Fingers début single, bringing them instantly to the attention of a mass of Punk Rockers looking for something slightly more dangerous than the by that time increasingly America-fixated Clash. The sound they produced was a retreat into hard Punk, imbued with a spiky aggression born from lives in crisis.
Apart from the obvious meaning of 'potential bomb' - a relevant subject in a city like Belfast where such packages were the cause of constant chaos and disruption - the term "suspect device" could also be taken as a description of angry youth who at any moment might explode with frustration. A neat echo of Johnny Rotten's "potential H-bomb" of God Save The Queen.
Advocating a bomb as being more of a question than an answer, Stiff Little Fingers declaration of "We're gonna blow up in their face" left the very clear impression that something powerful and special was occurring in Belfast. Confirmation of this came with the release of their second single, Alternative Ulster, which with the assistance of John Peel and almost nightly airplay on his show, elevated the band into a position of major importance within the Punk world, underlining the fact that Punk at its best was political by nature.


After gaining further credibility points by signing to the independent Rough Trade record label, Stiff Little Fingers released their début album to widespread acclaim, receiving high praise from critics holding normally opposing musical tastes such as Paul Morley at the NME and Garry Bushell at Sounds. Entitled Inflammable Material - the name having been taken from the opening line of Suspect Device - it was immediately recognised as being on a par with the début albums of The Clash, the Sex Pistols, and the Ramones.
Whilst the music was pure and sublime caustic Punk Rock, it was the vocals of Jake Burns that elevated it to an entirely new level. Bespectacled, long(ish) of hair and dressed in plain jeans and leather jacket, to look at him it could never be imagined that his voice would be so torn, so jagged and so spectacular. His was the voice of coruscating Punk passion.


Practically every song on the album concerned itself with life as experienced in Northern Ireland, with even their version of Bob Marley's Johnny Was being turned into a Belfast tale. Like The Clash, it was obvious that Stiff Little Fingers were aligned with the Left although they were cleverly managing to avoid being pigeon-holed as either Republican or Loyalist. Instead, they were sitting somewhere in the middle - shot by both sides - crying out that they had simply had enough of the whole sorry situation.
"The solution to Northern Ireland's problems is 10,000 Punk bands," said Jake Burns, by this meaning not Punk bands as forces of political power but as individual and collective acts of creativity. Through their own creative endeavours, Stiff Little Fingers were breaking free from the restriction and repression of everyday life in Ulster. The beauty of Punk, of course, was in its advocacy of the idea that 'anyone can do it' so that even those who felt unable to articulate themselves might actually be able to do so through the expression of sheer rage.
"Anything you do creative is worthwhile," Crass would later say, recognising the importance of free expression in a world geared toward the eroding of individuality and the moulding of people into compliant consumers.

Stiff Little Fingers saw their opportunity and went for it, upping sticks and heading over to England just as soon as they could so as to follow their rock'n'roll dreams. In the process signing to major label Chrysalis and to cries of 'sell-out!' becoming a better than average Punk band but no longer the politically-charged force they once were.
To give them their due, they remained true to their word in only singing about their immediate surroundings but as their surroundings changed, subsequently so did the subject matter of their songs and soon they were no longer the conduit for the frustration born of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The significance of Stiff Little Fingers as a stepping stone towards the social awareness of a generation of Punk Rockers, however, cannot be overstated.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Sleeping Dogs - Beware

SLEEPING DOGS - BEWARE

On their début album, Conflict took an unusual direction for a so-called 'street Punk band' and veered off at one point with the track Vietnam Serenade, touching upon the subject of American foreign policy in Latin America: "They say it's in the name of the law, will Vietnam be the forerunner to El Salvador? Another nine years of killings, injuries and rapes?"
To the stereotypical Vicious Sidney Punk fan, Vietnam and El Salvador probably meant at best Apocalypse Now and something to do with The Clash's Sandanista album. To those taking a keener interest in the wider world, however, it meant American imperialism and US military aid to an extreme Right-wing dictatorship.

America in the early Eighties was (and probably had always been and always will be) a vast, bubbling cauldron of gigantic contradictions. An immense patchwork quilt of staggering beauty, brilliance, ugliness and despair headed much like in Britain by an Establishment easily capable of cold and calculating wickedness.
If an intensifying stand-off against Russian communism in Europe via the stationing of Cruise missiles wasn't bad enough, perhaps soon to be superseded by the escalation of the arms race into space via the Strategic Defence Initiative, America was also at surreptitious war in its own backyard against the forces of communism in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Not wishing these countries to go the way of Cuba and become fully-fledged Marxist states bankrolled by Moscow, the US government was happy to channel millions of dollars in economic and military aid into propping up their corrupt but pro-American dictatorships. Turning a blind eye to human-rights abuses and (in Guatemala in particular) what amounted to genocide, America justified its support and its actions by perceiving it as front-line defence of its borders against the communist threat.


This whole subject was dealt with far more thoroughly than Conflict's acknowledgement of it in the next release on Crass Records. Beware was a 5-track EP by Sleeping Dogs, a three-piece band from San Francisco previously featured on Bullshit Detector 2 under the name of American Arsenal. Aided and abetted by Penny Rimbaud and Pete Wright on drums and bass respectively, most interestingly the band included as one of its two vocalists a certain Dave King, the artist responsible for designing the now iconic Crass logo.

In regard to all of the Crass personnel, nothing much was known about them as individual personalities. The work was all. From the start, this had apparently been the intention with the black clothes, the pseudonyms, and the collective voice in interviews all adding to the anonymity. An outcome of this, however, was a shrouding of Crass in a mystique and an arousing of possibly even greater curiosity. So successful was this 'wall of Crass' that not only did it eliminate each member's personal identity and personal history but it enforced, strengthened and accentuated the 'invented' selves - the personalities representing Crass via pseudonyms such as 'Eve Libertine' and 'Steve Ignorant'. It was an odd and wholly unexpected occurrence.
The person behind the design of the Crass logo was even more of a mystery. As Gee was the Crass member who designed all the posters and record sleeves it was presumed that it was her (or could 'Gee' have been a 'he'?) who designed the logo. It wasn't. Now, years later, the real culprit - Dave King - was emerging as a member of a band called Sleeping Dogs, though as might be expected, emerging under a pseudonym: 'BB' or 'Bad Boy'.

To angular, disjointed, industrial dance grooves, Sleeping Dogs sang of the passing on of fear and guilt from generation to generation, fucked-up relationships, the meaning of war, urbanization, and El Salvador. This being the first American band to appear on Crass Records, it made sense that they should focus on American current affairs as well as more universal themes, so in the track (I Got My Tan In) El Salvador a picture is painted of the situation in the banana republic of the song's title: "Death squads in the street, they do what they want... The military is suffering from paranoia, anyone not in uniform is suspect. They rape, they torture and then they kill. Unspeakable violence, unimaginable suffering. Too many bodies, too little land, decades of oppression by military governments - supported by America." It's not too unfair to say that Sleeping Dogs weren't the easiest nor the most happiest of bands to dance to.
Expounding further upon the same subject, newspaper clippings referring to the goings-on in South America crammed the record sleeve's cover that as per normal with Crass Records releases, folded out into a photo-montage poster, this time depicting the vast continent of America - the land of the free - mastered by industry.


Acting as confirmation of America's fears regarding a communist invasion, a few years earlier a popular uprising had taken place in Nicaragua that had overthrown the debauched dictatorship that had been ruling the country for over forty years and replaced it with a new, Leftist government. The Somoza dictatorship had been toppled but much of its old guard had not gone away and it was these counter-revolutionaries called the 'Contras' that the Reagan administration continued to support both financially and militarily. What with America then enforcing a trade embargo and mining the Nicaraguan ports, the new Sandanista government was under siege.
In response to this, thousands of Leftists from around the world flocked to the Sandanistas aid, offering support and solidarity in whatever way was needed. Whilst the Clash named their fourth album after the Sandanistas, hundreds of British volunteers made their way to Nicaragua to help the besieged economy by working on construction sites and on the coffee plantations. One of those volunteers being Rab Herman, one time acquaintance of Dave King, Phil (Wally Hope) Russell and Penny Rimbaud - and original guitarist in Crass before being replaced by Phil Free.

The Sandanista revolution was a beacon of rebellious hope against the forces of conservative power and control as represented by Reagan and Thatcher. On the surface at least, the issues were all very clear and easily understood: the Sandanistas were the good guys - heroic, brave, dignified campesinos committed to the redistribution of land and wealth; whilst the Contras were the bad guys - sadistic, CIA-sponsored thugs committing atrocities against their own people for the sake of the US dollar. If ever there was a black-and-white, politically straightforward war of ideologies then this was it...

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Conflict - It's Time To See Who's Who

CONFLICT - IT'S TIME TO SEE WHO'S WHO

The intention of spreading awareness was an honourable one shared by a good many bands at that time of which Conflict would happily have included themselves. Garry Bushell had from the very start spotted the potential of Conflict to be a bridge between the Crass camp and the Oi! brigade and from there spreading their Anarcho message to an even wider audience.
'We want to further people's consciousness. And we want to use whatever means are possible,' as Conflict stated in a pamphlet included with their Live At Centro Iberico EP 'We want to reach people by whatever means we can - papers, television, radio, music, the lot.'
Their ambition was evident as was their energy and passion as witnessed during their live performances, along with their commitment as shown by their solidarity with the DIY Punk scene. Conflict readily offered their support to anyone aligning themselves with Anarcho Punk and in turn the Anarcho Punk elders such as Poison Girls, Crass and Southern Studios owners John and Sue Loder offered their support to Conflict.

The obvious next step in maintaining their momentum was for Conflict to release their début LP which they duly did in April of 1983 on the Corpus Christi label. Affiliated to Crass, Corpus Christi had been set up to allow bands total artistic freedom regarding their records. In particular, this meant they were free from Crass label design 'restrictions' and that John Loder instead of Penny Rimbaud would decide on who and what to release.
For Conflict at that time, artistic control meant releasing their LP in a full-colour gate-fold sleeve, the artwork and lettering beautifully designed by one Bernard Chandler, future bassist of Poison Girls. Entitled It's Time To See Who's Who, the LP was essentially the live set that Conflict had been touring around with, finally rendered coherently audible by Crass bassist Pete Wright on production duties.


When playing live, Conflict would create a blistering vortex of noise with vocalist Colin Jerwood - eyes popping, veins bulging - shouting for all his worth at the centre. On initial hearing of the LP, what surprised was how tuneful a lot of the songs actually were and what with the lyrics transcribed onto the sleeve, what exactly Conflict were raging about.
One subject known to be very close to Conflict's heart was animal liberation, represented most powerfully on the track Meat Means Murder. Flux Of Pink Indians were the only other band who had ever really focussed on vegetarianism and animal abuse, and even then had still not quite managed to disassociate the subjects from hippy and middle class connotations. Being solidly working class and thoroughly unpretentious hard bastards, Conflict were endorsing vegetarianism with a credibility it had never had before: "Can't you see that juice is blood? From new born throats red rivers flood. Blood from young hearts, blood from veins. Your blood, their blood, serves the same."
This was a subject that Conflict would never abandon, encouraging many of their listeners to not only give up eating meat but to become militantly active against the perpetrators and beneficiaries of animal abuse, animal experimentation and animal exploitation.

Conflict's natural-born inclination towards anti-authoritarianism manifested itself in them shouting down officialdom and power in all its forms, whether it be the government, the police, the law, the Bomb, the music business, the media or whatever. Conflict were natural-born anarchists, with nothing studied about their anarchism, nothing scholarly or gleaned from text books just an instinctive, gut-level understanding of right and wrong.
Equally important, unlike a significant proportion of the Punk fraternity as represented by The Exploited, for example, Conflict weren't at all interested in numbing themselves to the world through drugs and noise. Instead, Conflict were very much Punks of a positive inclination, offering much needed inspirational attitude: "The Left-wing manifesto, the Right-wing sham, tell us we can't but I know we can. They tell us we can't but I tell you we can. Stuff your lies, I know we can. We can!"

In the track Exploitation, The Exploited and their fine but amusing appearance on Top Of The Pops with their song Dead Cities is referred to as an example of how unrepresentative such bands were of their actual audiences, serving in the end to be of service only to the music business: "Yeah, we live in dead cities and the streets are grey, but I don't need Top Of The Pops to make me think that way. I can see this rebellion on my tv screen, but no sign of a future for you and me."
Conflict’s intention was to set themselves apart and to actively oppose the machinations of the music business through both word and deed, taking the same stance toward politics and social justice. In this respect, demonstrating in protest marches and involvement in direct action was just as important as playing a gig or releasing a record - if not more so.


There were high expectations of Conflict's début album but when it came to it, the album acted more than anything else as a way of cementing their presence as a band. Conflict needed to forge their own essentially anarchist identity not only within the realm of Anarcho Punk but within a wider social context. So, not only were they rejecting both Left and Right-wing politics as any good anarchist might but rejecting also all ideas of historical English identity: "Great Britain thinks it leads the world so civilised, pure and free. Great Britain doesn't lead fuck all, Great Britain shit, you don't fool me. Smashing Argies, Falklands ours. Falklands ours, what a con. We ain't even got a place to stick our arses on."

Many of the songs on It's Time To See Who's Who seemed to be more about dealing with specific subjects so as to get them dealt with and out of the way, so as to enable the band to move on to other territory. Along the way a veritable storm of bluster and fury was being whipped up and this in turn was becoming Conflict's most prominent feature. Like all the other Anarcho Punk bands, Conflict were saying 'No' but in their own unequivocal and unerring manner: "Fuck you! Fuck off!" they were roaring "Fuck you fucking fuck off!"

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Omega Tribe - Angry Songs

OMEGA TRIBE - ANGRY SONGS

Having previously graced Bullshit Detector 2 with the outstanding Nature Wonder track, Omega Tribe had been steadily raising their profile by playing support to bands such as Conflict and Poison Girls, providing a more melodious and approachable counterbalance to Conflict's Punk barrage and Poison Girls' brilliant oddness.
The Angry Songs EP, released on Crass Records, revealed a maturity beyond Omega Tribe's years, not only musically but in their grasp of protest politics where their desire for "a peaceful, happy, equal earth" was tempered by an unblinkered perspective. The opening track, Another Bloody Day, kicked off in healthy Punk mode but then almost immediately cast off its thrash cocoon to reveal the butterfly within. As an elegant piano motif took over, the sudden change of gear gave pause for reflection as vocalist Hugh in dulcet tones asked: "Angry songs and bitter words, have you heard it all before?"


When the Sex Pistols appeared on the Bill Grundy-hosted Today programme in December of 1976, television history was made as they and the idea of 'Punk' was propelled into mainstream public consciousness. Just as important though less acknowledged, however, was their very first appearance on television a few months earlier on the Tony Wilson-hosted So It Goes programme. This was the seminal moment when a combination of factors were joined together to define Punk as inherently a force of absolute relevance and uncontrollable energy. Moreover, it was the moment when utter anger became an integral part of Punk.
"Woodstock!" shouted Johnny Rotten by way of introducing his band, "Coming to get you!" Seemingly aimed not just at Tony Wilson in his soft denim and clogs attire but at the whole smugly satisfied, grim, burnt-out culture of early-Seventies post-hippiedom; it was a taunt brimful of contempt.
"Get off your arse!" Rotten roared, the hostility in his voice and the incandescent fury in his eyes warranting a sense of danger before unleashing a savage version of Anarchy In The UK, soon to become, of course, one of the greatest urban folk songs of the modern age.
As the song screeched to a halt in a blaze of feedback, the band along with leading uber-Punkette Rocker Jordan had already started kicking over mic stands and throwing chairs around the set as the camera zoomed in on Rotten, looking intensely into the distance as though surveying the battlefield of future wars to come.


"Bakunin would have loved it," said Tony Wilson in his summing up and indeed he might well have done; intrigued by the rage, the urge to destruction, the indignation and, of course, the anger. The die was cast. Anger and the feeling and expressing of it would forever more be an important facet of Punk, acting as an engine for action. "'A' equals action, 'T' equals time, 'V' equals vision," as Mark Perry put it, perceptive as ever.
Anger was a weapon for use in defence and attack, a motivating force and a wholly justified response to injustice. Without anger Punk could still be dangerous of a sort though far less potent as would be evidenced by the number of Punk bands over the ensuing years choosing Punk style over Punk substance. The arrival of Crass and (in the words of Garry Bushell) their 'full-frontal, screaming banshee attack' imbuing this Punk anger with an intelligence even fiercer than Rotten's, cementing it as an irrefutable virtue that would inspire legions of new Punks, Omega Tribe being among them.

"Angry songs and bitter words, it's all the same old stuff," advised Omega Tribe, and indeed they had a point. As Anarcho Punk flourished, it was apparent that a plateau had been reached and even though rage was being vented in a variety of ways from Disorder screaming blue murder to Conflict shouting the odds to Crass getting near-hysterical, it was crucial to remember that the medium was not the message, or as Omega Tribe put it: "Angry songs and bitter words, but words are not enough."


Another Bloody Day was a nod toward the same production values as exhibited on No Doves Fly Here by The Mob although a more typical example of where Omega Tribe were at musically was the song Profiteer, which served also as probably the best track on the EP.
If capitalism is cannibalism as Anthrax had pointed out, the engine driving capitalism to devour itself and everything else was the eternal quest for profit. As Conservative government policies prepared the ground for deregulation and privatisation, profitability was becoming the singular method of measuring the worth of anything and everything.
This was a hard and unforgiving ethic of Thatcherism that made a mockery of core human values such as empathy and charity. The profit motive bypassed all notions of collectivism and mutual aid, appealing directly instead to conservative individualism and selfishness. Not that this was any kind of new phenomenon for in one way or another it had always been in place but only now was it being magnified ten-fold. "Implanted from your childhood in your mind is to profit, not to love, to care, be kind," sang Omega Tribe.

Thatcher's advocacy of the free-market supposedly meant the democratization of capitalism and the birth of the stake-holder society but it also meant the social acceptance of exploitation and the sense that greed was a good thing. Thatcher was giving the green light to economics based on the survival of the fittest and then letting that idea bleed into civil society where it would manifest itself as neglect and basic dehumanization of less able people.
Omega Tribe's initial aim was to simply make people aware of aspects of the world such as this, sugaring their message in a tuneful, Anarcho Pop Punk style: "You are exploited from the very day you are born. You are paying them for the privilege of living. You are giving them their profit."
Coming from the same stable as Crass, their suggested solutions were familiar ones: "Why must we suffer to fulfil their positions of power and greed? If you stand out you are a start towards a change. Say 'No!'"
Omega Tribe's special talent was in conveying these ideas in a highly approachable manner, their Angry Songs EP being fine evidence of this, making it to be one of the most respected and loved records of that whole era.