I often find myself wondering exactly what music my peers choose to listen to; say, for example, my former schoolmates....I wonder what tunes they turn to as they slide into what is often referred to as 'mid-life'. The reason I ask this, is that I often imagine they adopt the pipe-and-slippers approach to music, finding solace in the bland waves of Dido, Newton Faulkner or, if they're feeling a bit radical and rebellious, immersing themselves in the nosebleed techno/industrial grindcore melange that is *spit* Coldplay. My reason for raising this point is that I've found myself listening to some of the most almighty clatter of late, whether it be Battles or Lightning Bolt or The Boredoms, or the noise terrorism on show in a compelling but ear-shredding documentary (which I intend to cover on a future Blog soon), or the full-on aggressive bark of Conflict.
I don't know if it's all some form of self-harm, a way of breaking through the jaded boredom of modern life and all the bland crap the media has to offer as entertainment, or if indeed it may be something more primal and pertinent....a way of refusing to buckle to the ageing process.
I know I've covered Conflict before in a previous Blog, but what's sad about listening to Conflict again is how after nearly 30 years, their words are still totally relevant. Almost worryingly so!
Take 'The Guilt And The Glory' from 1984's 'Increase The Pressure'; have a read of these lyrics and imagine a new band releasing this today....it would be as relevant now as it was back then. Perhaps even more so....
"Do you know that at least 70% of the human population of this planet starve and many more do not get enough to eat?
You must now be familiar with reports of the famine In Ethiopia, where the weather has been so dry that crops fail, where the people are so hungry they have to walk many miles to the nearest relief station where there might be food if people have been generous.
In any one station at least 40 people a day die, totally shriveled.
They haven't the energy to brush away the flies that are waiting for THEIR meal.
These people are the victims of our western governments.
In Britain alone there are massive great food stores where surplus grain sits, In the EEC there are food mountains.
In America farmers are paid to destroy part of their harvest, while big corporations plunder the 3rd world countries at the expense of the natives.
Why Is this - economics, the science of greed.
That which says people must pay western prices for their food.
Natural starving countries can't afford this especially when their government takes the best first.
The western government have plenty of money.
They tax us on our income, then they tax us on what we buy.
They take the money we have worked for and use It to buy arms.
They would rather be able to destroy the world 12 instead of 10 times over than transport surplus food to those who die.
Indeed, they become ill through obesity.
Must we tolerate these obscenities?
When soon even we may be starving because of their taxes.
Some people don't see the connections between big business and destruction.
The biggest murderers are MacDonald's.
Not only do they breed and slaughter millions of cattle, great rain forests are pulled down to make way for grazing ground.
This destroys hundreds of unique species each time not to mention the fact that we need trees to produce oxygen for the planet.
Many birds In North America migrate to these forests, on arriving and finding no forest they die.
The drop In population of birds means more insects and the Americans only answer to this is pesticide.
We all know about factories who manufacture pesticide, you know about Union Carbide.
They're an American Company who set up dangerous plants.
It doesn't matter, nearly 3,000 Indians are now dead due to their callousness, thousands have strokes and injuries that will never heal.
Innocent people who had done nothing, whose life is not easy anyway, and why?
So America can steal food from the starving millions.
Nearly all big business is based on exploitation of the worst kinds.
Cosmetic companies use dead animals to make their products, then poison many more by feeding it to them with the end result of encouraging sexism by convincing men and women to look the same as each other.
Advertising promotes this and advertising of any kind usually portrays women as a sex object only, there to be raped.
Drug companies (like Roche & ICI) claim to Invent new drugs to cure Imagined diseases.
Thousands die at the hands of their useless research.
They try to make drugs to cure heart disease which was originally caused by the sufferer eating meat and dairy products to excess.
Booker McConnell own everything from butchers to health shops, as long as the cash rolls in who cares?
Other companies who make machinery and domestic appliances (like Thorn EMI.) also makes defense gadgetry.
British Aerospace specialize In fighters in favour of passenger jets.
Governments pay more for weaponry that domestic consumers pay for domestic items.
That's why many many companies world wide clamour for defense orders, some would go bankrupt without them.
The final Industry, uranium mining, sponsored in Britain by RTZ plunders the landscape, kills the wildlife,exploits the natives and gives them cancer.
The product makes bombs to kill all and 15 used for nuclear fuel.
The kind of power that produces waste which can be pumped Into the sea In Cumbria.
Deformed babies and children dying and leukemia are coincidences we are told.
How many more lies must we listen to?"
Back in 1983 and 1984, Conflict were involved in the 'Stop The City' peaceful protests against the financial belts sponsoring of the arms race....again, check these words from a spoken piece from the same album ('Increase The Pressure') and see how it corelates to the recent Occupy St Paul's peaceful protest of just last year....
"September the 29th
An idea that had formed and grown into 'Stop The City' had taken place.
A carnival in the streets; a protest against the companies and men who finance War.
An occupation to stop people at theirs.
Peaceful blockades, a traffic free zone.
So what actually happened?
The walls and pavements were daubed with coloured chalks; slogans and symbols that probably meant nothing to the city gents.
Some blockades were formed and removed.
There was conversation with city folk, and some music made.
But some arrests angered the 'free'; some carried out by brutal police without their identification numbers.
All day people rallied (unintelligible) with that as a starting point.
And a meeting at the Guild Hall turned into a strong defiant show of force that marched through the streets, past the Bank Of England to the Stock Exchange where loud chanting echoed around the tall buildings.
People banged on the doors and windows.
Siege was laid until the horses arrived.
But it was spontaneous, disorganised, except for the whispered word.
A way of confusing the law.
The carnival WAS enjoyed, but the city was not stopped.
They worked under siege although many visited the carnival out of curiosity.
The dull day was brightened, but it left no mark.
The next day most walls had been scrubbed of their graffiti messages.
But the fact remains, power HAS been tested.
If you try hard enough, things CAN work.
If you go on trying, it WILL work!"
Going off tangent a little; in a few hours I will settle down to watch this years Oscars Ceremony. Now I know this may seem a little to corporate for your dear old pals here at the ~Streetlamp~, but I have to confess to being an absolute sucker for all that Olde Hollywoode chintz and glitz, despite the wonky retainer in which it is presented! However, I have a feeling that my enjoyment of tonight's show is going to be tainted somewhat by the Best Actress Award going to Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Satan's arsehole Margaret Thatcher. Turning Thatcher into someone who possesses a soul and some humanity is typical of Hollywood, who may as well all come over one by one and piss on the sites of the closed coal mines, or the empty steelyards, or into the once thriving Clyde dockyards which now turn out exactly nada! The ~Streetlamps~ hatred of Thatcher is unwavering and we patiently await the day upon which her grave becomes Britain's largest outdoor public urinal.
However....only recently have I found myself looking back at the regime which replaced her, and found myself equally shocked at the ultra-Conservatism that was shuttled in after she'd gone. Thatcher was replaced by surely the most boring, bland, porridgey-grey lickspittle milquetoast ever to wield (ahem) absolute power; John Major.
It was under Major that some of the most draconian laws were attempted to be put in place; for example in 1994, Major's government tried to introduce a bill of law that would make it illegal for 18 Certificate movies to shown in anyone's home, purely out of fear that children would see them. This stemmed of course from the Festival Of Light's campaign of moral censorship, helmed by close friend of Thatcher, Mary Whitehouse. Think about what that actually implies; if your are over 18 years old and have no children, it would still be illegal to own or show such films as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Schindler's List, Ingmar Bergman's 'Persona', The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Blue Velvet, any Tarantino film, any John Woo film etc etc, the list is endless. We were deemed incapable of having the intelligence to watch these films in a responsible manner. Thankfully the bill was never passed and the rise of the Internet put paid to the ludicrous censorship laws that were already in place here in the UK.
At the exact same time the Free Festival movement of Great Britain (basically what became known as New Age Travellers) joined forces in an uneasy alliance with the Rave Generation of Techno, House and Dance Music to organise a series of underground word-of-mouth Rave events, often in warehouses or even just out in the open. If there is one thing that a Conservative government really hates it's a coming together of people as one. The Conservatives can't stand the idea of any kind of communal thought as it makes it impossible for them to control. An individual can be manipulated, bullied and controlled, but a seething mass of like-minded souls presents a huge problem to their ability to oppress.
So, again in 1994, Major's government introduced the shocking denial of basic human rights that was/is the Criminal Justice Act. This made it illegal for more than 10 people to gather together to listen to (and these are the exact words as used in that preposterous manifesto) 'music comprising of repetitive beats'!! Erm, excuse me, but ALL music consists of repetitive beats you brain-dead fannies....even Free-form Jazz is based on repetitive beats!!
All of this led to such sights as youngsters in dayglo clothing, high on soft drugs (some on harder stuff, some on nothing more than the joy of the music) being manhandled by over-enthusiastic police; or even more disturbingly, the sight of heavy handed police storming into travellers caravans and mini-buses (essentially, their homes) and showering screaming women and children in broken glass. Not good!
At the head of the protest against this oppressive thuggery was a dance music collective called Spiral Tribe who not only stood against the bullying, but were arrested and tried in a shambles of a long running court case.
At the time I had become disillusioned with music and was suffering from bouts of depression which meant that I never really took much of a stand, nor offered much support to those who stood against the Criminal Justice Act, also partly because I never really cared much for Rave music at the time.
I now regret this lack of action, and know that if this was happening now, we'd be doing our bit.
Finally, for those who think that the aforementioned Conflict were just an unlistenable Punk gruel, try this for size; the final track to their 1986 masterpiece 'The Ungovernable Force'....