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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Reclaim The Eighties: The Imperfect List

Here at the ~Streetlamp~ we've never really been ones to hide our political light under a Garry Bushell, and regular readers of our Blog will know us as Guardian-toting, Commie Pinko Marxist Stormers-Of-The-Winter-Palace....always have been, always will be. And yesterday as we sat supping Guinness in Glasgow's 13th Note bar, getting our copies of 'The Skinny' covered in grease from our spicy chips, I pondered why our Leftist leanings, and our fanatical hatred of the Right and all it stands for, were so passionate, and why we linked them so clearly to our love of music and culture.
I guess it's because we grew up in that most derided of decades, the 1980s.

The 1980's have rather annoyingly been thoroughly misrepresented in both the current media, and the history books. Buy any CD claiming to be 'The Ultimate 80s Album' and you'll suffer the tired old performances of Wham, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, The Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Culture Club etc, and any TV retrospective will churn out the usual tirade of Thatcherism, Yuppies, big hair, shoulder pads, Armani suits, filofaxes, and the general sense of 'me me me', all the time portraying good men like Arthur Scargill, Tony Benn and Neil Kinnock as beaten down caricatures of the 'old Left'.
We here at the ~Streetlamp~ say BOLLOCKS TO ALL THAT!!!

The 80s for us weren't the awfulness mentioned above; they were The Smiths, Crass, New Order, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sarah Records, Creation Records, Rough Trade, the NME, joining the Miners Strike, campaigning for the CND and the women of Greehnam Common, generally doing everything to take a stand against Thatcher and all that she represented. Of course slimy, smug Right Wing apologists will argue that if it hadn't been for Thatcher then Leftist musicians, artists and writers would have had nothing to rail against....but we'd still have preferred NOT to have suffered her at all.
Being Scottish, we had even more reason to hate her than most; not only did she rupture the mining industry up here, she also closed the steel yards, and then tried the Poll Tax out on us like we were some single-cell guinea pig.
We HATED her!!!

And the only other people who despised the old witch as much as we Scots were the Scousers (that's people from Liverpool to our overseas readers!). And it's a fine release by good Scouser Pete Wylie that I am here to Blog about tonight.

Pete Wylie was of course the brains and talent behind the myriad Wah! projects that ran through the 80s, but my favourite release of his was under the strange moniker of Big Hard Excellent Fish. Their one and only release was 'The Imperfect List'; under Wylie's supervision, performance artist (and Wylie's girlfriend of the time) Josie Jones reads out a list of all things vile, mostly related to Thatcher and the 80s, over an ambient soundscape created by Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins.

Here is the list in full as read:

Adolf Hitler

Mike Gatting

Terry & June

Fucking Bastard Thatcher

Insincere social climber of mixed origin


Scouse impersonators

Macho dickhead

Bonnie Langford

Poll Tax


Lost keys

Phoney friend

The Royal Family

Stock Aitken & Waterman

Heartbreaking lying friend

Smiling Judas

Myra Hindley

Acid rain

Stinking rich female in furs

Disloyal lover

Wife & child beater

Drunken abuser



The Sun newspaper

AIDS inventor

Leon Brittan

All nonces

Massive massive oil slick



Hard cold fish



Imperfect list

Gut wrenching disappointment

Evil gossiping fashion bastard

Tasteless A&R wanker

Nurse Ratchett

The Tory invention of the non-working class

Cold Turkey

Mister Jesse Helms


Weird British judges



J Edgar Hoover

John Lennon's murder


Anyone's murder


The breakdown of the NHS

The Bomb

Heysel Stadium

Police harassment

The death of the rain forest

The troubles


The Klan


Imprisoned innocents

The all-American way

Red sock in the white washin'

Nancy's term

Tiananmen Square

Ronnie's term

Sexual harassment

Jimmy Tarbuck

Mile long check-out queue

Sick baby

Nelson Mandela's imprisonment


Where were you?

The single was released in 1990 and was one of the first records to attack the 1980s as a whole, as though it were a product of Thatcherism itself. Despite it's ambient beauty, the track is still fairly savage and the hatred of the Right runs all the the way through it.
Unsurprisingly, the single wasn't a hit and wasn't played on many Radio stations either, whether for political or censorial reasons, who knows?
I feel though that it's time the 1980s were reclaimed by those of us whose view of the decade was forged by political activism and Left Wing art and culture; let's debase all these horrid notions of a synthetic, money burning, selfish, culturally vapid decade, and let's remember that among all the detritus, there was a generation who didn't just sit back and take it.....and we still wont!!

Unless we act now, this current decade will end up tainted and tarnished and in an even worse condition than Thatcher left us with back then!

You know what to do!


You can download the track here

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