1980s

RUBELLA BALLET: Ballet Bag This demo cassette was a brilliant reflection of Rubella Ballet’s early performances. It still bristles with the anger and challenge of the anarcho-punk scene but driven by pulsating rhythms, the music was often as colourful as their live shows.

THE FALL: Perverted By Language Still my favourite Fall album after all these years. The recent addition of Brix on bass led to a tighter album than before – but one that retained the edginess of the earlier albums – and edginess that would be lost for the rest of the decade (with perhaps the exception of Bend Sinister) as they drifted into more indie-pop territory. I might say they never really returned. For me this is a high water mark with every track a hypnotic and acerbic take on British culture.

ANTI-SECT: In Darkness There Is No Choice An intense and articulate anarcho-punk album that is both well thought out and thought-provoking. The tracks on this album are certainly not of the 4 lines and a chorus mentality. Long and involved songs considering the nature of society, the individual, consumerism and conformity carried on a visceral wave of metal-tinged thrash punk. Anti-Sect show that, contrary to popular opinion, in the right hands thrash punk could offer considerable variety and imagination. This is an angry and intelligent album that is as good as any the genre ever produced. Through a number of personnel changes, they also produced the excellent and influential single Out From The Void single and some excellent live performances.

OMEGA TRIBE: No Love Lost Another anarcho-punk album. Still angry and passionate but more melodic than most, with more than a hint of The Beatles.

BLYTH POWER: A Little Touch Of Harry In The Night Past and present fused through tales of anarchy, cricket and trainspotting in the debut offering from the inimitable purveyors of folk-punk. Blyth Power were another of those bands in the anarcho-punk movement who defied the narrow stereotypes that the media (and some within the movement) would have forced us into. This lo-fi demo reflects their early fun-filled live performances and is more to my liking that the more slickly produced albums that followed. The subject matter is hardly unfamiliar to those who spent any time in the anarcho-punk movement – but it looks at them through tales of the arrival of Christianity, the peasants revolt and the industrial revolution – and of course the cricket and trainspotting for which the band became renowned. This remains a work of mischievous imagination and highly recommended. Separate link to side 2.

AMEBIX: No Sanctuary While many prefer the more metal-tinged Arise! I prefer the rawness of this album from 1984. I never really noticed the influence of Killing Joke until the band pointed it out in an interview but the heavy rhythmical base and uncompromising and scathing assessment of the state of humanity in 1984 are ploughing similar ground – although at this time Killing Joke were entering their most commercial phase while The Amebix were committing the dystopian vision of that symbolic year to vinyl in a howl of anguish and anger.

CHUMBAWAMBA: Pictures Of Starving Children Sell Records In the orgy of self-congratulation that was Live Aid (and continues to shape our attitudes to poverty and charity today) there were a few nay-sayers. Most notable amongst them were Chumbawamba, who for some years had been touring their agit-prop anarcho-punk cabaret. This album looks at the charity single and telethon and explores the relationship between culture, colonialism, capitalism and exploitation.

THE SHAMEN: In Gorbachev We Trust Rather unfairly The Shamen are remembered for the jolly Eberneezer knees-up. As well as ignoring the trojan horse mischief of that track it also ignores the rest of their recorded output which featured the exploration of psychedelic states, personal and world politics. Terrence McKenna and Christopher Mayhew are fairly robust counter-weights to Mr C’s perceived laddish excesses – too working class to be exploring altered states perhaps? This album reflects the cultural melting pot of the mid to late eighties. This is a transitional album; from the psychedelic indie-pop of Drop to the full on techno of En-tact. There are elements of both here. Transcendental and Raptyouare at one end and Jesus Loves Amerika and Adam Strange at the other. MDMAzing!

 

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