Music Monday, September 5th

Punky Reggae Party: Hereford hosts pick their favourite punk classics

Music Monday, September 5th

Punky Reggae Party: Hereford hosts pick their favourite punk classics

On Friday September 9, The Wild Hare Club joins The underground Revolution to present a Punky Reggae party – featuring The Ramonas, The Irascibles and Reggae Pie DJs at The Booth Hall, Hereford.

Here Richard Page, The Wild Hare Club’s founder and MC, who was inspired by the original punk explosion, and Rich Lovell, of band Terminal Rage and promoters The Underground Revolution, point you in the direction of 10 great punk songs.

Richard’s picks:

The Clash: White Man in Hammersmith Palais

Ask me who’s my favourite folk band and I will of course answer without hesitation - The Clash. Actually if push comes to shove, they’re my favourite band. I was lucky enough to see them twice, the first time at The Lyceum. It wasn’t just the band, it was the pent up energy of the audience, if ever an atmosphere was to be described as ‘electric’…I remember hearing 'White Man' for the first time and playing the single over and over again to try and catch the words. Still don’t think I’ve got them all. The Clash were prime instigators of the punky reggae party for which I will be forever grateful but I seriously wish I’d got to see The Clash at The Rock Against Racism rally playing White Man to a wildly diverse crowd.

X Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescence

People think of punk of a rudimentary three chord thrash but that’s a reductionist point of view. It wasn’t even like that at the beginning, X Ray Spex were a skew-whiff pop band that were unlike any other band that was around at the time and still sound unique. This song about teenage anxiety and vapid consumerism sounds strangely prescient.

The Ruts: Babylon's Burning

This song has a tension that perfectly articulates the anxiety and tensions of the late 1970s but unfortunately is equally apt for the violent world we’re living in now - well maybe not the pastoral, peaceful Herefordshire countryside, but the wider world. 'Babylon’s Burning' is also a great song, so much so that my friend, Horsemouth, was able to give it a swing-jazz arrangement that worked really well.

 Viv Albertine: Confessions of a Milf

Viv Albertine was one of the first wave of punk rockers who, like Polystyrene of X Ray Spex, saw punk as a vehicle for women to start making their own music unbound by the conventions of what was a predominanatly male culture. The importance of punk rock of the late 1970s in opening up the music industry to female voices mustn’t be underestimated, yet even now the women seem to get little or no space compared to the men. Even the current British Library exhibition on punk culture didn’t mention any women in its introductory panel causing Viv to graffiti in on top of the glass the names of the key women’s bands including her own The Slits. The Slits’ first album Cut is one of the most original of the era and a million miles away of the four square meat and two veg of the more commonplace punk music. 'Confessions of a Milf' is a recent song of Viv’s built on a twitchy, nagging guitar hook that worms its way into your brain as the feminist stream of consciousness lyrics that rail against domesticity and the lot of the housewife living a magazine perfect life. Compelling. I have tried to lure Viv to Hereford but so far, she has politely declined.

Vaginapoclyspe: Night Bussed Up

So for my last punk song I’m choosing local folk duo Vaginapocalypse, Wild Hare Club favourites, who are brimming with punk attitude not least by adopting what one of their close friends rightfully observed is a success-proof name. This hook-laden tune is a protest song rallying against those moneyed yuppies who blithely party with no idea how the other half lives.

Rich’s picks:

The Exploited: Chaos Is My Life

I’m a bit of a Thrash-head as well as a punk and this crossover track works just fine for both of my needs. The Exploited are one of those bands that have been around forever and are almost always on tour. Wattie (the lead-singer) has had a few health problems recently which have slowed them down, but fingers crossed they keep delivering this sort of fire when they do get on stage. Let’s face it, most people think Punk is about anarchy and chaos and sometimes it’s good to live up to the clichés isn’t it.

Cockney Rejects: Fighting In The Streets

One of the original bunch, the Cockney Rejects have always tried to shun the more political side of punk in favour of the singing about their life on the streets and the terraces. One of the earliest Oi bands, their gigs are not for the meek – the pit gets errrr “excited” shall we say which suits me fine. Had their troubles with certain right wing factions trying to attach themselves to the band, but these bruisers are pretty quick to call the boneheads out and tell them where to get off.

UK Subs: Down On The Farm

Charlie Harper is in to his 70s now and still touring – he is considered by many as the godfather of Punk. They started the name of each of their albums with consecutive letters of the alphabet starting with “Another kind of Blues” back in 1979 which has some cracking tracks on – 'CID' and 'I Live In A Car” are punk beauties – fast and unkempt. The Subs have just released 'Ziezo' which is to be their last. This track is so good (don’t bother with GnR’s pretend cover) we named a music festival after it at Gwatkins Cider Farm.

Old Firm Casuals: We Want The Lion's Share

I know….an American band – yes they can play punk; many, many good bands have come out of the various US Punk scenes. The Casuals are led by Lars Frederikson, a good old Perry-polo-Ben Sherman-shirt-braces-wearing skinhead, who also plays for legends Rancid. This is a typical Oi / Street tune – short, angry and best played loud. Another moshpit to avoid if you have delicate ribs…..

Louise Distras: Hold You Down

You want punk spirit? This is it – crowd-funded, angry, a strong message of fury and frustration at the many wrongs of OUR society delivered in your face. This is Louise Distras! Acoustic punk at its best – actually just punk at its best. This is from her debut album 'Dreams from the Factory Floor' which is filled with thoughtful songs. For me, it’s what this whole Punk thing is about. Music without a message or without passion, doesn’t really work for my poorly maintained brain and uneducated ear. This kind of music is what I thrive on.

Punk has a bit of an anarchy image, so you ask for five choices I give you six……………or something like that:
Crass: So What

No, not the Anti-Nowhere League swear fest. Crass were a punk collective as much as a band – and lived their ideology – no gods, no masters, environmentalism, animal rights and were at the forefront of the movement that drew punk and anarchy together. This song sums them up. They pushed the boundaries, swapping musicians, using tape collages, spoken word and quite a bit of improvisation in live performances. Fronted by Steve Ignorant (coming to Hereford on 5th November, plug, plug) and poet/ writer/ musician/activist Penny Rimbaud, their music can be hard to listen to, but can also be inspiring and thought provoking. They certainly got me thinking about my position in life when I discovered them (quite late on). Not everyone’s cup of tea and that is probably just what they wanted.

For more information about The Punky Reggae Party please go to Tickets are £10 or £8 with NUS card available here.

Tile and banner photo: Amaya & Laurent via CC-BY-SA. Artwork: Mark Bowen. 

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