Vague 6

Vague #7
 
September 1980 The Pop Group – The Slits – Crass – Devo – Gary Glitter
The Jam – Mo-Dettes – Martian Dance – UK Subs – Cosmetics
Swindle book – Ants – Program – The Squad
Anarchy in Shaftesbury

 

Vague 6 featured the Pop Group and the Slits at Alexandra Palace centrespead, the Crass mini-riots at the first Vague gig in Southampton, the cancelled Bournemouth Town Hall gig and Stonehenge, Devo interviewed by Chris, Gary Glitter, the Jam, the Vapors, UK Subs, the Mo-dettes, Martian Dance at the Moonlight, the Cosmetics, Silent Guests, Blaue Reiter, rave reviews of Michael Moorcock’s The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle book and the Ants’ ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ single, a slag off of Breaking Glass, fanzines A-Z, and the next Vague gig at Shaftesbury Town Hall (at the top of Gold Hill, of Hovis advert fame) featuring Program and the Squad from Southampton reviewed by Jane. The Crass gig at Ashby Hall, Southampton put on by Martin, Paul and Mike’s MPM Productions was meant to be a Vague benefit.

The Pop Group: How Much Longer…

Apologies time again, this must be getting really boring, but due to certain incompetent journalists we have failed to get the Pop Group interview yet again. What do you mean you don’t care we’ve got the Subs and Gary Glitter? But we’ve been promising to do it for so long – and Perry designed the arty Pop Groupie front cover, and we had this rather nice set of photos that Ben Denning took at the Ally Pally festival – so we decided to do a feature on Ally Pally along with the centre page spread of Ben’s pictures. This will have to do. Some time in the future somebody might get round to doing the interview. Anyway, here’s Iggy’s review:

June 15 Morning Star 50th anniversary festival at Alexandra Palace, featuring the Slits, the Pop Group, the Raincoats, Essential Logic, the Au-Pairs and John Cooper-Clarke: Alexandra Palace is full of communist propaganda. The punters are a mixture of Rastas, biker types, punks and old age pensioners. I spent 4 hours walking round the stalls, which was fairly interesting because there were stalls selling souvenirs from Russia, Greece, etc. I won’t go into details though because even the Pop Group aren’t into politics like this. Whether left or right it amounts to the same thing, an authoritarian state that subjugates the weak, poor and minorities. The only way they can achieve this is by ramming as much propaganda as possible down our throats. Vague isn’t going to have anything to do with that. Vague is and always will be a soapbox for any individual who wishes to use it… (that bit might have been by Tom?).

Anyway most people came to hear the music and this particular music says a lot more than we ever could. The gig was behind the palace and started at 3pm. The Au-pairs came on first and did a very exciting set which got some of the crowd going. The Raincoats came on next and all the crowd were dancing and being friendly with each other. Half way through their set an announcement was made: “Somebody got bottled. So if you want this gig to go on, report anyone who looks as if they might get violent.” Big Brother is watching you. Where have you heard remarks like that before? Even this didn’t do it, after that announcement 2 more people got bottled. John Cooper-Clarke was on next, minus musicians, which I think is much better, because that guy has so much stage presence…

The Pop Group were on next and Mark came on stage with a picture of Brezhnev, shouted “We don’t want communism!” and stamped on the picture. They did all the stuff off the second album which got the crowd shouting and Gareth was doing some brilliant disco-dancing… Apparently the Pop Group stole the show and Iggy didn’t have much (anything?) to say about the Slits, which is a shame, but this is the Pop Group’s piece, feeble as it is. The Pop Group have a highly original style of their own, if you didn’t like them at Ally Pally give them a second chance, they deserve it. They also deserve a better article than this. Their lyrics make Crass seem like failed Cockney Rejects (they are aren’t they?) and their funky dance beat is better than the Crusaders. Sorry we couldn’t do them more justice.

The Pop Group: We Are All Prostitutes

It took nearly 20 years but we got the Pop Group interview in the end – and it’s the definitive one – when Mark Stewart got me to do the press release blurb for the ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ 20th anniversary Radar re-release. I interviewed him for Zigzag in the mid-80s at the time of Mark Stewart and the Maffia, his collaboration with the Sugarhill Gang, and the Bristol Wild Bunch. Then he turned up in Ladbroke Grove, at the time of Notting Hill the movie, and dragged me round various studios and pubs cutting up his radical random reminiscence with my 1979/80 pop Situationist speed history timeline.

The Pop Group ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ Radar 1999 The Pop Group consist of: John Waddington – guitar, Mark Stewart – vocals, Gareth Sagar – guitar, Dan Catsis – bass and Bruce Smith – drums. 1 ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ – Rough Trade/Y single November 17 1979: As the RT 023 sleeve proclaims: ‘At this moment despair ends and tactics begin.’ The Pop Group at their most uncompromisingly political – Subway Sect nihilism to a Fatback Band beat produced by Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell. Nick Kent described them as dangerous as but not as conventional as the Sex Pistols – Situationist pop as the post-punk pop scene was getting into the yuppy 80s before the end of the radical 70s – working for the Yankee dollar – sonic attitude adjustment. ‘Everyone has their price – and you too will learn to live the lie – aggression – competition – ambition – consumer fascism – capitalism is the most barbaric of all religions – department stores are our new cathedrals – our cars are martyrs to the cause – we – are – all – prostitutes.’

2 ‘Blind Faith’ – ‘How Much Longer’ March 21 1980: Obedience to the law is freedom. ‘Prophets are hunted and imprisoned while uniformed mass murderers becomes heroes.’ Fairly self-explanatory anti-leaders/religion/politicians/rock stars/work ethic Pop Group therapy rant from the ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder’ album of the anti-Vietnam war slogan. ‘These tactics will be condemned to theoretical hibernation if they cannot by other means attract collectively individuals whom isolation and hatred for the collective lie have already won over to the rational decision to kill or kill themselves. Let ten people meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence rather than the agony of survival. From this moment despair ends and tactics begin. Despair is the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of everyday life.’ Raoul Vaneigem

3 ‘Justice’ – ‘How Much Longer’ March 21 1980: Who killed Blair Peach? British justice 1979 c/o the SPG. As the Pop Group ‘Y’ album came out, on April 23 1979 the National Front held a meeting at Southall Town Hall a week before the May 3 election. This blatant incitement to racial confrontation in the predominantly Asian area was met by a local anti-fascist demo which was duly broken up by the SPG. Blair Peach found himself at Thatcherite ground zero caught up in an SPG squad charge along the Broadway from the Town Hall. He was knocked to the ground by a riot shield and then hit about the head with a truncheon. After another baton charge by mounted police, 40 SPG officers attacked Misty In Roots’ Peoples Unite centre, which was being used as a sanctuary. Members of Misty and community leaders were systematically beaten with truncheons and forced to run a gauntlet out of the house. Then police trashed the studio, even smashing records. The Rock Against Racism spokesman John Dennis said: “The SPG action was more characteristic of a punitive army action than a police exercise in crowd control.” The Met Police Commissioner David MacNee said: “If you keep off the streets of London and behave yourself, you won’t have the SPG to worry about.”

4 ‘Amnesty Report’ – ‘Prostitutes’ B-side November 17 1979: ‘Beaten in the face, stomach, head and genitals – choked until unconscious – cold liquid poured in ears – plastic bag held over head – thrown against the walls – hit with karate chops – bending of the wrists – lifted up by the ears – burnt with cigarettes – teeth knocked out – spread-eagled against the wall – spread-eagled across the floor – and then jumped upon – with threats of death – light switched off – threats of rape’ – from the Amnesty International report on British army torture of Irish prisoners. Amnesty’s main concern in Northern Ireland was the situation in the Maze prison where on-going protests for political status led to an extreme regime of punishments and more extreme protest; including the ‘dirty protest’ where prisoners decorated cells with excrement. In 1978 H-Block prisoners went to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that they had been subjected to ‘torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ The EC found the ‘inflexible approach of the state authorities’ to be ‘concerned more to punish offenders against prison discipline than to explore ways of resolving such serious deadlock.’ Following the EC report there were some improvements but the government compromise of ‘civilian type’ clothes instead of prison uniform wasn’t accepted by the prisoners and led to the Bobby Sands hunger strike.

5 ‘Feed The Hungry’ – ‘How Much Longer’ March 21 1980: Stewart attacks third world juntas and mega-corporation rape of world resources 4 years before 80s Band Aid media spectacle. As the full extent of the horror in Cambodia’s killing fields was revealed with the overthrow of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese, since the Americans pulled out of Phnom-Penh in 1975 it’s estimated that a million executions took place, along with another half million deaths from starvation and forced labour. Nowhere comes close to Pol Pot’s Cambodia for post-war atrocities though many other regimes were responsible for exploitation and human rights abuse of the same type if not magnitude, almost always aided and abetted by western business concerns. ‘Western bankers decide who lives and who dies.’ While Che rotted in his CIA grave and Allende became the first telecommunications war victim, in Bolivia the average life expectancy of native Indian tin miners was 30 years. Their average wage was a dollar a day. The tin produced was shipped to Liverpool to be refined by Rio Tinto Zinc. Strikes were prohibited. The 1980 coup led by General Luis Garcia Meza resulted in arbitrary arrests of miners’ leaders, detention without trial, torture, disappearances, dissidents forced into exile and widespread human rights violations.

The apartheid regime was in full swing in South Africa with the new President’s Council still excluding majority black representatives. The schools protest, industrial and ANC action were met with detention without trial, prisoners of conscience, bannings, torture and over liberal use of the death penalty. In Indonesia, Amnesty were concerned about the continued detention of those opposed to the US-backed 1965 military coup led by General Suharto. Since then an estimated half a million communists and Muslim Kommando Jihad activists had been killed, along with the disappeared/summarily executed of East Timor where 100,000 starved to death after the 1975 invasion. Argentina, between the 1978 World Cup and the Falklands war, was second only to Uruguay in the Juntas United disappeared league. After their 1975 coup ousted Isabel Peron, the ‘moderate’ junta leader General Jorge Videla notched up 15,000 disappeared, 10,000 ‘subversives’ in jail, an estimated 4,000 executions, and various creative forms of torture perpetrated by the anti-communist alliance death squads.

6 ‘Where There’s A Will’ – Rough Trade/Y single March 7 1980: High ideals and crazy dreams over distorted funk groove anthem of the indie oppressed. Originally released as double-A-side with the Slits ‘In The Beginning There Was Rhythm’, causing an NME ‘revolutionary tribunal’. The Pop Group and the Slits took the Clash and Pistols’ agit-punk politics into the 80s doing benefits for Amnesty International ‘Creation for Liberation’ in Manchester, the Southall defence fund and Scrap SUS campaign, with PIL, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Cooper-Clarke, Nico, Patti Smith, Pere Ubu, the Radical Alliance of Black Poets and Players, DNA, Gang of Four, Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. At the 1980 CND re-birth demo in Trafalgar Square Mark Stewart performed ‘Jerusalem’ for the first time in front of 250,000 people with Adrian Sherwood doing the sound. Pop Groupies past and present include Nellee Hooper, Massive Attack, Bowie, Tricky, Siouxsie, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Neneh Cherry, Al Jourgenson and Steve Albini.

7 ‘Forces Of Oppression’ – ‘How Much Longer’ March 21 1980: The 1936 Public Order Act, brought in to curtail the activities of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, was used increasingly in the late 70s by the police ‘with lead in their batons defending the National Front.’ In 1977 hundreds of police with helicopters and TV cameras were deployed to look after the NF leader Martin Webster when he marched through Tameside – neo-fascist hives security remote control helidromes. 8 ‘Spanish Inquisition’ – ‘We Are Time’ July 5 1980: ‘Badges, names and dead institutions – Beware the Spanish Inquisition – bankrupt ideologies litter the dealing room floors while some strange form of insignia hangs above the door.’ This is about the Cathars and Templars according to Mark. Like these tracks, the Cathar mountain strongholds are monuments to an undefeated heresy. In the 13th century, the Cathars’ brand of Anti-Christ/sex Zoroastrianism incurred the wrath of the Pope and the origination of ‘Kill them all, let God decide’ in the Albigensian crusade. In nearby Rennes Le Chateau the Knights Templars are said to have stashed the Holy Grail.

9 ‘There Are No Spectators’ – ‘How Much Longer’ March 21 1980: Anarchist-Situationist dub cut-up. ‘You participate whether you like it or not – there is no neutral – no one is innocent…’/JFK: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that there were and say why not.’/‘We are all accessories to murder – there is guilt and there is action – take the war into people’s homes.’ Immediately after the release of the ‘How Much Longer’ album, the first of the 80s riots took place in St Paul’s, Bristol, the Pop Group’s hometown. A police raid on the Black and White Café to confiscate some of the owner’s booze, according to the Bristol journalist John Michael, incited black, white, brown, young and old citizens on to the streets to drive Babylon out of St Paul’s, and set the pattern for the on-going series of riots through the 80s. Boredom pulled the trigger but who bought the gun. The Pop Group penetrate the highest echelons of pop Camelot. Mark hates it all and splits…

The Slits/The Raincoats/The Pop Group

After the Slits supported the Pistols, the Clash on the ‘White Riot’ tour and Steel Pulse, the female punk outfit ended 1977 playing an anarchic Christmas party at Holland Park School. The singer Ari, who was officially still a Holland Park pupil, was filmed by their onetime manager Don Letts rampaging through the school hall as the audience threw eggs at her and a smoke-bomb went off. Arianna Up is the daughter of Nora Springer, the German publishing heiress ex of Jimi Hendrix and Chris ‘Motorbikin’ Spedding (who recorded with the Pistols), currently Mrs Johnny Rotten. The first Slits guitarist Kate Korus went on to the Raincoats and the Mo-dettes, and was succeeded by Viv Albertine, formerly of Sid Vicious’s Flowers of Romance group. The bassist Tessa Pollit had previously been in the Castrators. The drummer Palmolive, also formerly in Flowers of Romance and later in the Raincoats, was Joe Strummer’s girlfriend.

The post-punk, independent, arty, political, anti-rock side of punk rock focused at Rough Trade was most definitively represented by the Raincoats. Like Mark Perry’s Alternative TV, the mostly female group formed at 202 Kensington Park Road in 1977. The singer/bassist Gina Birch and singer/guitarist Ana de Silva (who worked at Rough Trade) recruited Ross Crichton (previously of Harrow Road’s Lightning Records and the husband of the current Rough Trade shop manager Jude) and Nick Turner (later of the Barracudas and Lords of the New Church) on guitar and drums, for a benefit gig at the Tabernacle in Powis Square. Then the Raincoats merged with the Slits as Kate Korus and Palmolive were both briefly members. And in due course the Slits would join the Raincoats on the Rough Trade label.

By the time the Slits finally signed to Island in 1979, the punk girl group had become more reggae than punk rock. Ari, Viv, Tessa and by then Budgie’s long awaited debut album ‘Cut’ produced by Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell best encapsulates the mood and attitude of the Notting Hill punky reggae party; with ‘Ping Pong Affair’ – in which Ari sings ‘whilst you were cycling I could have been raped in Ladbroke Grove’, ‘Instant Hit’ – referring to Sid Vicious, ‘So Tough’, ‘Spend Spend Spend’, ‘Shoplifting’, ‘New Town’, ‘Love and Romance’, ‘Typical Girls’ and ‘Adventures Close to Home’. Some of which was previously available in punk thrash form on the John Peel sessions bootleg. Dennis Bovell was also the frontman of Matumbi and the post-punky reggae producer of the Pop Group and Janet Kay’s lovers rock hit ‘Silly Games’.

The notorious mud-people ‘Cut’ sleeve was co-designed by Geoff Travis of Rough Trade, the photos were taken by the Clash photographer Pennie Smith, and the Slits were on Virgin Music Publishing. On the tour to promote the album they were joined by Bruce Smith from the Pop Group on drums (as Budgie went on to Siouxsie and the Banshees), the jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, Prince Hammer and Creation Rebel. Don’s daughter Neneh Cherry also appeared with the Slits. The album’s release was also accompanied by the opening of the Slits Shorts film by their former manager Don Letts and Mick Calvert. After ‘Cut’ and the ‘Typical Girls’/‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ single, the Slits quit Island for Rough Trade and the Y label. Most of them also appeared as New Age Steppers and in various other forms on Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sounds label, and they were on the Faction agency in Ruston Mews opposite Rillington Place

In 1980 Rough Trade and Dick O’Dell’s Y label released the Slits and the Pop Group’s post-punky reggae double A-side single, ‘In The Beginning There Was Rhythm’/‘Where There’s A Will’, the Slits’ official bootleg and the Pop Group’s ‘How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder’ albums. Following Ian Penman’s ‘dogmatically vague’ critique of the single, the NME featured a ‘Rough Justice’ revolutionary tribunal of Penman by the Slits and the Pop Group. The Slits played a benefit for the Advisory Service for Squatters with the Pop Group, and the Electric Ballroom with the Raincoats, This Heat and the Rough Trade Mighty Observer sound-system. The Raincoats also appeared with Delta 5 at an ‘Alternatives on Broadway’ gig at Hammersmith Clarendon, subtitled ‘Dance and Defend Womankind.’

The NME’s notorious ‘Women in Rock’ issue featured the Raincoats, Passions, Mo-dettes, Au-Pairs and Girlschool (the female Motörhead), gathered together at Barbara Gogan of the Passions’ house. Then the 1980 rad-fem girlpower revolution was taken over by the communists at the Morning Star 50th anniversary festival at Alexandra Palace, featuring the Slits, the Pop Group, the Raincoats, Essential Logic, the Au-Pairs and the Manchester post-punk poet John Cooper-Clarke. In the wake of which the Slits fragmented into the New Age Steppers and the Pop Group – without their frontman Mark Stewart – became Rip Rig & Panic.

Crass: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in the West Country

June 14 Crass mini-riot at Southampton Ashby Hall (and/or July 2 Shirley community centre?) Martin Butler (from Salisbury)’s MPM Productions gig meant to be Vague benefit: Crass didn’t impress me – I didn’t like their music for a start and I hated their style and military image. I’m just not into them but that’s not the point. They have a reputation for doing good fanzine interviews (by the thousand) and had some quite good things to say. So we sent a whole crew of Vague reporters down to what was supposed to be a part-Vague gig when Crass played the Ashby Hall in Southampton. Martin, one of the Ms out of MPM (remember them?) was promoting it and some of the proceeds were supposed to be going towards Vague. This is what happened (according to Perry and Iggy, mostly the former):

Crass, Southampton: Anarchy (yes), Freedom (just about) and Peace (forget it). First on were the Squad, and the gig already had a bad atmosphere before they even came on, with hordes of skinheads being generally anti-social (although there were some who had come to see them, and for that reason only). The Squad played a pretty basic punk thrash type set that included a version of ‘The Locomotion’, and considering the atmosphere played quite well, but they received very little audience reaction. Next on (I think) was a little girl (Annie Anxiety), she sang some poetry while doing Kate Bush movements, the audience (actually I think I’ll call them the crowd from now on) either laughed, swore or just stood quietly watching. I thought she was quite good and she was certainly very brave to go in front of such a crowd (bet someone says that remark’s sexist).

Then came the Poison Girls, whose set included minor scuffles and police who kept walking in and out (probably to make people think there were more of them). To be quite honest with you I was a bit disappointed with the Poison Girls although I didn’t really watch them that much as I was paying more attention to other things going on. At around this time I was pleased at the thought of having to leave to catch the last bus home, even though as time went by it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to see even the beginning of the Crass set… They had to go and missed Crass and a good kicking. You can’t really blame Crass for the hassle. Although Martin does, he’s being taken to court for the damage and they don’t want to know. (I think they probably did in the end?) Also Perry told me that before the gig Crass were strangely not interested in doing an interview.

June 17 Crass cancelled gig mini-riot at Bournemouth Town Hall: Unperturbed however Perry heroically trudged down to Bournemouth Town Hall the following week, only to find the pictured notice (‘Pop concert tonight is cancelled’) pinned to the door. This was due apparently to the Town Hall cancelling the booking at the last minute. There was a riot in Bournemouth and all that… The Bournemouth Echo reported: ‘Punk protest over cancelled show – Punk rock fans who arrived from all over the country to attend a concert by a group called Crass at Bournemouth Town Hall last night were angry when they found it had been cancelled. Today it was discovered that the rear of the town hall, where the event was to have been held, had been daubed with obscenities in red paint – probably sprayed from an aerosol can.

‘Dorset county councillor Ken Bailly (the England football mascot who went to punk gigs at the Village) says he has been receiving abusive telephone calls accusing him of being responsible for the cancellation of the show which was to have featured a group called Crass. “In fact,” he said this morning, “I knew nothing about it and I have never even heard of the group.” The trouble began when the fans arrived at the town hall – some had come from as far as Rochdale – and found a notice pinned up telling them the concert was off. Although there was no violence, tempers ran high and the crowd dispersed in a disgruntled mood.’ On their arrival in Bournemouth Crass paid the price for postponing the Vague interview by being subjected to a grilling by Pissed and Broke fanzine: “Why are you taking the piss out of the Pistols?… What do you do at Christmas?… Have you any children?… Do they go to school?… Why are you vegetarians?… Do you have a television?…”

June 16-24 Stonehenge Festival June 20 Crass Stonehenge riot, also featuring the Poison Girls, Nik Turner of Hawkwind’s Inner City Unit, the Mob, the Epileptics (later Flux of Pink Indians), the Eggheads, Androids of Mu, Thursday’s Children, the Asphmatics, Suicide Victims, Snipers, Crimmos, White Bird on Red Rice, etc. I remember wandering round, drunk rather than stoned or speeding, with flattened hair, wrapped in a blanket, as bikers chased punks about in protest at the anarcho-punk bill – not entirely disagreeing with their point of view…

Finally there was the Stonehenge debacle. Perry and Iggy had given up on getting the Crass interview, they didn’t care anyway and nor did I, but I was at Stonehenge having a good laugh at all the Crass punks who were pushing their weight around a bit with the bikers. Apparently Crass didn’t intend to go on at all, but the Eggheads and the Epileptics did and they were both so fucking awful that they were quite good. However one or two bikers didn’t think that. Then said bikers caused the vicious terrible riot (I must have blinked), all the punks shit out and Crass didn’t have the guts to even attempt to play, leaving their gear and legging it. (?) The Clash were better than that, they were honest at one time. Some anarchy boys, or should I say old men. Tom Vomit

In the June 28 NME ‘Bikers Riot at Stonehenge’ report by the news editor Derek Johnson: ‘A night of violence all but wrecked the weekend’s Stonehenge Festival. The trouble erupted late on Saturday night when a group of middle-aged bikers went on the rampage, attacking every punk they could lay hands on, and effectively preventing Crass and Poison Girls from playing their sets. The evening began peaceably with music from Nik Turner’s Inner City Unit, the Mob and the Snipers, but when punk band the Epileptics took the stage they were greeted with a hail of flour-bombs, cans and bottles. Their lead singer was knocked to the ground by a bottle. The bikers then set fire to the Epileptics’ banner, attacked members of Crass and Poison Girls, damaged the generator and took over the stage. Crass and Poison Girls decided not to play “to avoid a blood bath,” and spent the rest of the night trying to break up fights and ferrying their punk fans to the safety of the nearest railway station.

‘Crass drummer Penny Rimbaud said it was “a 4 hour nightmare,” with punks being hunted down by bikers in “the most savage attacks I’ve ever seen.” Gurts De Freyne, from Inner City Unit, described the scenes as “horrible – the bikers were pulling punks out of their sleeping bags to beat them up; it was really disgusting.” At least two people complained to the police but one of them, John Loder, a sound-man at the festival, claimed that the police were “totally uninterested” and refused to take any action. At Salisbury Police Station, a Superintendent Maddock told NME he had no knowledge of the violence or the complaints. He did say that 67 arrests had been made, mostly for drug offences or stealing wood, and added that in the police view “the entire festival was illegal” as it was held on squatted land.

‘Penny Rimbaud, who was one of the people who started the Stonehenge Festival in the early 70s, was particularly bitter at the bikers’ attitude. “They said they didn’t want punks taking over their festival, they only wanted to hear ‘real’ music. This is supposedly an open festival, of peace and freedom. After this, I don’t think Crass will play there again, we won’t expose our fans to these experiences and these risks.” Gurts De Freyne was even more pessimistic: “Maybe this is the end of Stonehenge.” A former Cabinet minister, Lord Peter Melchett, is planning to raise in the House of Lords claims that 300 people were strip-searched by police in view of passers-by.’

Devo: Casale’s Theory of Devo-lution

June 9 Devo at Southampton Town Hall. Chris Johnson was pictured posing in a Devo hat as he scooped the Southampton fanzine Frayed Edges for this interview with Devo’s Jerry Casale. He asked Chris: “Have you ever heard of the Devo bootleg EP ‘Mechanical Man’? That was a tape that somebody got hold of in Akron in 1974. This was most intolerable because it wasn’t a live bootleg but a demo session. I like the other stuff on it though. It was very electronic with no real drum sound… What we would like to do and what we’re trying to do and going about doing is trying to get back to some basic structures. Some primal energy that’s real rather than vain heavy metal energy or rock’n’roll energy or certainly trying to stay away from arty pretence. We’re not trying to be melodic or pretty or sentimental, those kind of traps, all those sort of things that sell records.”

Chris: “People associate you with you sexual bands.” (He always says that. Ed) Jerry: “I don’t know how they could. I think I know the article where you got that from. The guy kept asking questions about sexuality. I mean, there’s no band that is not a sex band. There’s always some kind of sexuality being projected, because after all that’s what we are. Either you’re indulging in it on the lowest level or you’re pretending you don’t have it or you’re trying to change it. There’s hard rock, macho big cock rock dick bands like Van Halen. There’s happy good time Christian bands that pretend they’ve had their weenies cut off. There’s arty gay type bands that portray homosexuality very well. I mean, your sex appears.” Chris babbles on about clinical aesthetics then sensibly decides to drop the sexuality subject, deciding that Devo have clean machine sexuality, whatever that is.

Jerry Casale on the Devo stage act: “What happened is after many repetitions we started to repeat ourselves on purpose. But the way it came about was by the act of doing it and remembering it rather than rehearsing a lot… We couldn’t afford to bring the whole thing over. We just couldn’t afford to do it all without losing a lot of money that we didn’t even have… In the States there’s a totally different thing going on. Devo were never well received to begin with, unlike England where you built us up and tore us down. There, there’s been a constant build up, where Devo was just a cult thing that nobody had heard of at first. Then by the time of the second album people started to hear about us. Now, with the third album, FM radio have responded quite well. We’re getting some airplay and it’s starting to happen over there… Very selective audience – people that are fed up with bands like Van Halen and Foreigner, people that like the B52s, people that like Gary Numan, people that like Devo…

“A sense of humour is very important. Like, everybody in the world has a sense of humour. I’m not interested in art that hasn’t got a humorous side to it. The right kind of humour I think is civilised. It’s an understanding of a particular situation in life with contradiction or something like that. You get groups of idiots, all kinds of idiots, conservative idiots, people in the street that beat other people up, humorous people that forgot what they were and are not connected to what they were except by acts of violence. You know the sort of people – totally uptight… The music breaks down into serial structures, various geometric lyrics, it’s like geometrically structured. We try to present to the point lyrics that don’t linger too long on anything.” Chris: “What about the film Devo-lution?” Jerry: “We made that in 1976, it cost 25 hundred dollars. We made it ourselves. Then ‘Satisfaction’ was made when we got a record contract…

“The tour’s been going as well as could be expected. I know the press have got a monolithic bad attitude towards Devo, which is barely interesting. I would’ve thought that this time they would have found better things to do. We’re certainly not important enough for them to have to vent their hostility on us…” Devo hit the stage to much applause and bopping… The members of Devo each stand in front of a box affair that lights up and flashes on and off to create a silhouette effect. Most effective but I’m not very impressed with all this technology… They do a great set which consists of most of ‘Freedom of Choice’, including the great new single ‘Girl U Want’, some old faves like ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Come Back Jonee’ and ‘Mongoloid’. Then lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh leads Devo into an extra long version of ‘Are We Not Men?’ which really gets the crowd going. The crowd, which are all standing in front of the stage by now, consists mainly of punks and college students but there’s even some trendies…

Gary Glitter: There’s a little bit of Glitter in Everybody

July 30 Gary Glitter at Bournemouth Stateside The most controversial of all the Vague 6 interviews turned out to be the one with Gary Glitter by Tom and Chris, which was entitled ‘There’s a little bit of Glitter in everybody’ at his suggestion: Backstage at the Stateside (formerly the Village), we were surprised to see a sprightly looking hip young man who was unmistakably Gary Glitter… The big dressing room is full of sequined suits and roses. Gary Glitter is seated on a makeshift throne attended by his cautious manager who is surprised to see us get on so well. He tells us about his latest comeback: “We started last December, that was mainly cabaret stuff – I hated it. Then we played some universities and it was a whole new audience. There was a second generation, it was happening all over again… I’m just about to sign a new deal. We’re going to re-issue all the old classics as an EP but for the price of a single.

“We just play what people want to hear… It’s not a comeback, I haven’t been away. I did retire at one time, but I’m too young to retire really, aren’t I? Also, I need the bread or the tax man does. The name of the game is, firstly earn a living, secondly have fun. That’s why I thought the punk thing was so good, but a lot of the fun has gone out of it now… I think the Human League are good, bit too electronic for me, not really rock’n’roll to me. I know the Ants use ‘Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again’. I really liked the Cuddly Toys when I went to see them the other day, but I don’t think much of the glam rock revival. It’s the same with all revivals, not as good as the originals. The originals will last forever… It’s not just the clothes, it’s the sound… But there’s a little bit of Glitter in everybody, that’ll make a good title for you, dearie…”

Anarchy in Shaftesbury by Jane Austin

August 2 Program and the Squad (replacing Animals and Men who had split) at Shaftesbury Town Hall Vague Promotions reviewed by Jane Austin – her real name, not a literary west country punk fanzine nickname: Shaftesbury, one of the most famous tourist spots in Dorset, with its Town Hall situated at the top of Gold Hill, of Hovis advert and Far From the Madding Crowd fame, has now staged its first and (probably) last punk gig. (It’s also where King Canute died and Tom Vague was born.) The inhabitants had been on edge since the first poster appeared, and when we arrived Saturday night the streets were deathly quiet except for a few bewildered kids staring shyly at the spiky-haired crowd queuing outside the hall. I didn’t arrive until about 7.45, as Carol and I had to drive to Southampton to pick up Program and their gear. Inside the hall was quite empty, with Bath kids one side and the rest of the punters the other… There was about £20 in the tin, things certainly didn’t look too healthy at this point… Tom was a physical wreck trying to arrange everything himself…

About 10 o’clock things were looking up, the hall was quite full and the first band on, the Squad, had broken into a good set. It’s a pity that many people found it hard to actually get up and dance even though they really wanted to. I’ve never seen the Squad before but they came across really well… They did their set with a lot of energy or as much as the makeshift stage would permit… I’m afraid I can’t remember any of the names of their songs, well I can’t review a gig and take money on the door. Later a lot of people asked us to get them another gig around here. Almost immediately after the Squad had finished Program did a quick soundcheck and broke into one of their new songs. Because most of the locals had seen Program before they all had the guts to get up dance, fuck posing Bath, at least our kids are loyal to their favourite band and manage to show it…

Paul battled his way through the well known ‘Face to Face’, ‘Strength of Heroes’, etc. I don’t think anyone who likes Program will get bored with their old stuff… Then things really started to liven up when 2 of the local lads took upon themselves to supply some more exciting entertainment and give Program a rest for 5 minutes… Luckily we have a few avid Program fans with us that don’t like people spoiling a good night and can if pushed show their support in a different way… After a few bloody noses and words of wisdom from Paul, the naughty boys decided they were beat and calmed down. I’d like to add at this point that the local coppers handled things well and didn’t stop our gig, mainly because they were listening to Program themselves. And also thanks to the local lads, especially Scam and Davidge, who helped us move the ancient stage and clean up afterwards… Titch Brickell, the King’s Road Beaufort Market punk stallholder who came from Shaftesbury, told Jane he was impressed that we had managed to put on a local gig.

August Adam and the Ants ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ LP was recorded. August 2 Program at Shaftesbury Town Hall Vague Promotions. August 5 London to make Vague 5 deliveries to Rough Trade and Better Badges. Athletico Spizz 80 at the Marquee and Martian Dance at the Moonlight. August 28 Unemployment went over 2 million. September 13 Leeds Futurama festival 2 featuring the Banshees, Bunnymen, etc. September 29 Echo and the Bunnymen interview at Bournemouth Stateside. Vague 6 came out. Lost a bag of this issue which Iggy left on the tube when we got off at Ladbroke Grove.

 

Tom Vague
(Vague Publishing, 1980)
 
now out of print