'In Nomine Patri' by The Alternative
As I stretch myself out across the chaise longue, sweet sherry in hand, I find myself once again reflecting back on my last days of High School; the rolling, sun dappled Balquiderock hills, my pressed linen shirt, my white sta-prest, my tennis cardigan draped over my shoulders, blonde fringe flapping in the breeze as Sebastian puts some Lotus Eaters record on the Dansette....and then I realise I'm mixing up a romanticised version of my last school days with an old episode of Brideshead Revisited!
But in truth, I WAS thinking back to final days at High School recently as Griff and I had been discussing writing more about the *ahem* 'angrier' music we used to listen to, and not just sticking to the Twee/Folk/Acoustic blueprint we had been following so far.
I was compiling a list of tracks to write about and noticed that they all seemed to come from around the time that I was finishing school, and I was somewhat shocked and surprised to realise that in those last days at the old school, my favourite song at the time was 'Antichrist' from The Alternative's 'In Nomine Patri' EP.
It has always troubled me, especially of late, that my last school days weren't the romanticised pastel hued remembrances of say, 'The Catcher In The Rye', Christopher Isherwood, 'American Graffiti' or even 'Dazed And Confused', but were in fact thuddingly underwhelming uncool days of badly dressed faffing about in a schoolboy Punk band. Good at the time....not so good to look back on whilst trying to crochet some Evelyn Waugh-meets-Él Records re-imagining, or reconciling one's self that Arthur Rimbaud had written Une Saison en Enfer by the time he was 16!
It was a strange time those last days of school; not only was the glue that had bound everyone I had known since the age of 5 coming undone, casting us all to the winds, some never to be seen again, but even the aforementioned schoolboy Punk band I spoke of earlier, The Cakes, was starting to unravel, almost as though the onset of serious puberty was causing a diastrophism amongst longtime friends.
As for my musical tastes of the time, they seemed to hinge around The Damned, The Dead Kennedys, Crass, The Passage, Cabaret Voltaire, The Stranglers, The Birthday Party and a few bands who only released one or two records; The Paramedic Squad, The Scrotum Poles, Surface Mutants, Diagram Brothers and so on. Things would change pretty soon, slowly at first thanks to Cherry Red's 'Pillows And Prayers'(of which a full blog will follow soon) which Griff and I latched on to passionately, and both The Smiths and The Fall were lurking just out of sight, waiting to strike and change my life(and my listening habits) in perpetuity.
But before all of that seismic shifting of lives, friends and tastes, all I would rave about was 'Antichrist' by The Alternative. It seems insane now, but I had forgotten all about it until I started researching this Blog. This was a song whose praises I hollered from the rooftops at anyone who would listen....which was often nobody. I was mesmerised by this song; by it's squalling atmosphere building intro, to it's snarled Scottish accented opening salvo, to it's cavernous drum heavy pounding rhythms and raging vocals....the kind of thing you REALLY wished U2 would do until you realise that what you actually wish is that U2 simply didn't exist!
I think the word for this song is 'blistering'!
I remember putting it on EVERY mixtape that I compiled for people that Spring, and whenever friends came round to the house I would play it to them, insisting that this was the greatest record ever made....and it was by a Scottish band! Hurrah!!
But nobody ever took any notice. Most sat there with glum bewilderment as I sat forever enthralled by such an exciting piece of music. Why didn't they get it? Why didn't they share my ferocious enthusiasm? It WAS good, wasn't it? No....it was BRILLIANT!! But only I seemed to get it.
The Alternative came from Dunfermline and their first release was on one of Crass's 'Bullshit Detetctor' albums. Now usually these albums were simply unlistenable but on this instance the track by The Alternative is far and away the best thing on it.
The 'In Nomine Patri' EP followed, again on Crass Records. In fact it could be argued that The Alternative followed the Crass blueprint a little too closely; Crass had the Dial House commune, The Alternative had it's own communal dwelling known as The Pad; Crass had the motto 'Anarchy & Peace', The Alternative had the motto 'Autonomy & Peace'....see what I'm saying?
Nearly all of the 'Bullshit Detetctor' albums are rubbish, but a lot of records released on Crass Records by other artists were often very good indeed(more of which in later Blogs), and for me 'In Nomine Patri' was the best, and 'Antichrist' it's standout track. Listening to it now I still get a bit of a shiver at it's immense power, especially in the early section(a warning to anyone listening for the first time, you really have to get beyond the opening minute of build up to appreciate the actual song it's self), and it feels right that I should be using the ~Streetlamp~ to shout it's praises all over again.
Now if only Sebastian would put some Poison Girls on....the scones and cream are beginning to hum in the mid-day sun.