Friday, May 19, 2023

Bane of my life

There's a really cool new Optimo collection out now: Cease & Resist – Sonic Subversion & Anarcho Punk In The UK 1979​-​86. Compiled by JD Twitch and Chris Low, it makes a strong case for anarcho as a musically interesting genre, at its best a separate flank of post-punk experimentalism, albeit tethered always to a didactic agit-prop agenda. Still, it shows that far from utterly imbalanced towards Content (as with so much straight-edge hardcore), the anarcho-punx did have some time for formal concerns - being in the UK, they were perhaps  swayed by the postpunk idea in circulation that radical messages required equally radical delivery-systems (a.k.a. music). 

Here's a piece by Charlie Bertsch on the compilation, which can be heard and procured here

Here's a Kill Your Pet Puppy piece on the compilation and on another Chris Low-curated project, Best B4 1984: Fanzine and Flyer Images from the Anarcho-Punk Underground.  And here is also is  a mix he did a while back of anarcho-punk.


My younger brothers were really into anarcho - they had the Crass records, later on they got stuff by  Discharge. 

Crass's "Bloody Revolutions" , the third track on Cease & Resist, got a hell of a lot of play in our household. Such that hearing it again for the first time in an eon, every vocal inflection, every lyric was instantly familiar - like seeing the face of an old friend.  Regardless of whether you agree with the "all government's  the same" argument (I don't), the searing conviction with which it's delivered by Steve Ignorant and Eve Libertine is thrilling. 

But my absolute favorite on this comp is one I don't remember hearing  at the time: Honey Bane's "Girl On the Run". Almost unfeasibly exciting. 


It's basically Crass backing her up - under the alias Donna & the Kebabs, Donna Boylan being Bane's real name

The whole three tracker including "Porno Grows" and "Boring Conversations"

This Top of the Pops clip of her pop-move under Jimmy Pursey's tutelage could not be more New Wave, from the inorganic color palette to the lyric about "plastic vision" to the anti-TV politique.  

The Honey Bane tune that I cherish most in the memory - and that entranced me as a 16-year old listening to Peel - is "Violence Grows" by Fatal Microbes

So chuffed to be able to get that onto the Rip It Up and Start Again compilation

Honey Bane was some kind of real life runaway -  only 14 when she formed Fatal Microbes.  If memory serves, she was taken in by some nice anarcho-punk squatters. 

Now musically I preferred postpunk to anarcho-punk by a long way, but for a while there I did have semi-serious truck with anarchism as a politics. But when I joined the anarchist group at university, it was quickly disillusioning. They were either ineffectual (quel surpise that anarchists would be disorganized eh?) and hippie-ish. Or in a few cases, macho types, up-for-a-ruck headcases into the idea of violent disorder for its own sake. 

Nowadays I would say we need more order not less. There's people and forces that need curbing and being told to behave themselves. World government or the whole world goes kaput - it's that simple. Ministry for the Future with sweeping supranational powers, issuing diktats to save the biosphere. 

As for the immediate American context, the choices are either a second Reconstruction (one that finishes the job this time) or Partition.  


More Bane 

A move towards pop too far with this cover - a Supremely flimsy bit o' fluff

On the flipside, a  comment on becoming a product of the pop assembly line? 

The next single's title "Wish I Could Be Me" seems wistful when set against the earlier solo-career launching proclamation "You Can Be You" - "sick and tired of losing my own identity".   Watered-down Toyah, if such a thing could be imagined. 

Crikey, she / they kept on trying. 

Let's rewind to the start