Why music and politics are inseparable, and let’s be thankful for that




Don’t worry, the purpose of the above pic will soon become apparent.

I often hear that music and politics should remain separate. I snigger at such a concept; as if they have EVER been separate. Those proponents may as well take the next logical turn in their impotent argument and suggest that drugs and pop have never taken the same fork in the road.

Without some form of statement, music would have become as relevant as the novella, or Spanish mime.

Every turn in society has been reflected in the music of the day, from medieval folk to early jazz and blues, to punk and beyond. In some societies it is one of the few ways of telling how brutal life is.

It is often to the United States that I look to for examples, and I expect with a Trump administration, the ground will become fertile for an upsurge in angry, potent protest songs. Some have already taken the cue, to record the inane but irresistible FDT (the DT is Donald Trump so you can work out what the F stands for).

It has, after all, been a long tradition in the Land of the Free.

Racism and civil rights

In 1939 Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit, a song written by Abel Meeropol after he saw a graphic photograph of two black men hanging from a tree. In his lyrics, and in her take on it, Meeropol and Holiday were decrying the lynchings and unfettered racist activity taking place in the American South.

The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s led to Aretha Franklin demanding Respect and Curtis Mayfield’s epic song of hope, People Get Ready. Bob Dylan wrote one of the greatest anti-war songs of all time, Blowing In The Wind. They would all be heard on civil rights and anti-war songs of the decade.

Beyond the US, songs have been the engine behind the great social movements. Nigerian legend Fela Ransome-Kuti invented Afro Beat as a way to protest the oil company regime, and 1977’s febrile Zombie railed against his country’s military dictators.

In South Africa, Chile, and Brazil music has been at the forefront of the fight against apartheid, military rule and oppression.

Reggae’s fight against injustice, in Jamaica, the UK and around the world requires a boxset in itself, but here is just one example, and it is not a song. At the One Love Peace Concert in 1978, Bob Marley brought the leaders of Jamaica’s two main political parties on to the stage and corralled them into a three-way air-high handshake. “At that moment, everybody was one,” said Edward Seaga the then leader of the opposition JLP.

Without politics there was effectively no such thing as roots reggae in the 1970s. It shaped the genre and gave it its identity. Hard to think now of The Wailers without Get Up Stand Up.

In my adopted New Zealand post-punk outfit Blam Blam Blam exposed the “she’ll be right” head-in-the-sand attitude. There Is No Depression in New Zealand was released in 1981, as protests and police reaction raged, as the offensive Springbok rugby tour exposed deep divisions in Aotearoa. The title virtually explains itself.

I could go on. And on. And I haven’t even touched on punk, These are songs of anger and passion that are heartfelt and, as such, hated by the corporate music industry. It doesn’t sell, they believe. Just give the masses their fill of sex and more sex and they’ll be happy.

It should also be noted that these weren’t movements and artists that embraced politics for the sake of it, to be an upstart, and to get under people’s skin. Politics came to them; if you’re seeing people being bashed or starving, you say something, you stick up for those less lucky than those who can afford a drum set.

Which is not to say that all songs written with a grievance are sublime, but let’s not dwell on the stinkers, at least their heart was in the right place. And no-one is as naïve to believe that it is all of a just cause; alas there is a strong anti-socialist element in country and western music (Okie From Muskogee) and a fascist skinhead scene, although it would be overstating reality to describe this odious sect as a threat beyond a few hundred numbskulls.

Personally, as a teenager, I was taken by a Billy Bragg song. Bragg is often as predictable as the main ingredient in a treacle tart, with his stating-the-bleedin’-obvious go-the-wee-man lyrics, but I love There Is Power In A Union – because there is. The union is the backbone for the downtrodden worker, and Bragg articulately explains why.

“The Union forever defending our rights/ Down with the blackleg, all workers unite/ With our brothers and our sisters from many far off lands/ There is power in a union.”

What a fizzer

Now, pray tell, what, Mr Porky, has Bucks Fizz, those archetypical purveyors of glossy, garish New Romantic-era sugar, have to do with all this.

Land of Make Believe was a No.1 hit in the UK and throughout Europe in 1981 with the band performing a well-choreographed routine on Top of the Pops as it blended in with the Festive Season.

The reality was somewhat different as writer Peter Sinfield later revealed it was an attack on Thatcher’s Britain and the burgeoning, callous neoliberal politics of the time.

“Something nasty in your garden’s waiting/ Patiently, till it can have your heart
Try to go but it won’t let you/ Don’t you know it’s out to get you running
Keep on running/ They’re running after you babe.”

Dissecting this particular verse I can imagine the garden being the green and pleasant land, England’s garden, and that something nasty is all sorts of horrendous policies that subsequently destroyed communities across the country.

So, a four-pieced remembered primarily for a Eurovision act that involved the skirts of the two female singers being thrown away, were in fact a weapon of insubordination. Fancy that.



The end is high


Alas, it is time to draw the curtain. Porky’s Prime Cuts reared its ugly head in February 2009 by an editor awash with ideas and enthusiasm.

Now, those ideas are drying up, and time isn’t as plentiful to write due to the usual, mundane matters like work, parenthood, and avoiding the Jehovah’s Witnesses. So we’re putting this baby to bed.

The blog has been a wonderful opportunity to spew forth about our love of music and culture, to talk to great bands and write in a way that wasn’t really being expressed anywhere else on the net. It was passion but not as fashion. To us there were no boundaries to hem us in, and we would happily go from agit-punk to Womad in the same week.

At the time of starting the music press was in a moribund state and the online media scene was pitifully poor, written by people with a love more of themselves than of the subjects they attempted to write about.

Eight years on, and the music is press is in a moribund state and the online media scene is ….

The more things change the more they remain the same.

But none of that really makes any difference to this blog. In our own little way, we established our own little empire. Without money or a large team or the technology we set out our stall early and kept it there. We’re immensely proud of everything that’s been written on this site, and there isn’t a word, photo or headline I regret putting up. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and shares. It’s been a success on a small scale, but my own personal satisfaction is what matters above anything else.

I have one more piece to write and that will be up here very soon. The site will remain online for posterity.

Craig Haggis, aka Porky


Albums of 2016

David Bowie: Blackstar 

Blackstar once again reveals the marvellously attentive nature of Bowie, and his Bowiefrighteningly surreal ability to move one step forward each time. It’s reminiscent of many of his post-Tin Machine albums: beguiling and intriguing, caustically prescient; it pushes the envelope once more.

The ten-minute title track is nothing short of magnificent, not a second overlong, but mightily weighty in its telling of a barbaric action.

As with The Next Day, the eternally-dubbed comeback album, Blackstar offers numerous snapshots of Bowie the groundbreaker, the man who changed direction at regular turns. It would be stretching reality to suggest it is a masterpiece, but it has a satisfying feel to it and with every listen offers more intrigue and clarity.


Horse Party: Horizons

Horizons is a 13-track mop-up job on R*E*P*E*A*T Records, that collects two 7”singles, various download-only releases and an unreleased track.

As the album progresses the mood gets darker (“we could drown if you like”) and there’s a feeling the frenetic, buzzsaw format is gradually being dispatched.Horizons

So, Out of Sight bristles with pugnaciousness, its corruscating lyrics aimed at someone with faults aplenty.

I appreciate relatively new acts releasing compilations so early in their careers; much of this is hard to get, spread over five separate issues in various guises plus an unreleased track I would have to assume wouldn’t see the light of day otherwise.


Mouse Eat Mouse: Toxic Tails

The Glesga duo have been awa’ in their hidey hole in the corner of the hoose, nurturing a path away from the trap and into the cheese factory.

But they’re oot the noo: CD Shade has his wordsmithery hat on again, for the follow up to the much-lauded Mair Licht (2006) and the more subdued Woof from 2013.

Toxic TailsThis self-released album comes in the midst of a British Conservative government intent on pursuing class war, and follows the defeat for the separatists in the Scottish independence referendum (at least in the short-term).

Mouse Eat Mouse’s frontman CD Shade is a Rabbie Burns-inflected writer and vocalist, a bald eagle of a colossus, whispering or bellowing the lyrics with an innate passion lacking in so many X-Factor lite-ish acts.

Toxic Tails is a monologue of writing, a journalistic inspection of the modern British state, and, in consequence, places and people way beyond the seas and coasts of the Isles. Fat cats beware: these mice are fucking angry.

Get Toxic Tails from bandcamp:



Alun Gaffey: untitled

Alun Gaffey, as we’ll call it, is a curious fusion of pop, electro and Tom Jones’ B-sides. Palutyllau possesses a distinct nod to the 70s funk and soul influences he so beloves: Sly and the Family Stone, Chaka Khan, Roy Ayers et al.

Yr Arfon pounds with early 80s hip hop beats, and New Romantic excitement.Gaffey

Sandwiched inbetween those is a track about dinosaurs (either in the literal or the metaphorical sense) Deinasoriaid, a glorious frolic in indie-pop with a clear acknowledgment of the genius of the Super Furry Animals. There’s the same Godlike pop sensibilities on O Angau, the free-form, jaunty jumpabout the Welsh seem to love (am recalling 90s bands like Topper and Big Leaves, both far too good for the ignorant London press).

It’s an extraordinarily diverse album that features guitar, claps, samples piano, drums, bass and drums, and “ayyb” – all played by Gaffey himself recorded entirely in south Cardiff. Themes include paranoia and alternative living.


Sulk: No Illusions

Sulk are part of a new wave of revivalist bands, their ears attuned to shoegazing, Madchester and Britpop.

From the first minute of Black Infinity (Upside Down) I’m detecting the shimmering guitars and slide effects of Slowdive, which these days is actually a compliment.Sulk

The silky vocals of Jon Sutcliffe and the reverb-drenched bass remind me also of Towns, who’s debut album has been reviewed on this site, as well as an act of about five-six years ago, S.C.U.M.

While Sulk take from the above scenes, and beyond, this is less a nostalgia trip but a hand-in-hand jaunt alongside the new psychedelia, or a pioneering mini-genre that, quite frankly, is too esoteric to even have its own label.


A Blue Flame: What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains.

Richard Stone is A Blue Flame, and he is possibly Leicester’s biggest musical export since … ahem.

a-blue-flameIt has lush 60s melodies that remind me of Bill Pritchard, another doyen of English sensibilities, who may not be a name that immediately springs to mind, but he is relatively well-known in Belgium. Which is more impressive than you might think because there’s two of them.

A Blue Flame are adept at stringing together tales of everyday mundanity and pleasures, with a dashing, neo-orchestral strumming of guitars and gentle clang of drums.

Marlborough Park Avenue is a daydream into a perfect, ice cream-kinda day. I uttered a hearty laugh at the line “I found An A-Z missing the index”, but Stone was clearly so stunned by his own cleverness that he mistakenly repeated it a few times.


Cate le Bon: Crab Day

I love this album. That in itself is probably good enough to entice you into Le Bon’s world, but I don’t have time to write about it myself.

So here’s a review lifted from The Guardian.

“After third album Mug Museum, Cate Le Bon has turned the last of her pottery-wheel twee and, on Crab Day, creates a springy rubber-band-ball of angular guitar, squalling saxophone and elastic basslines. Single Wonderful, for example, sounds like it has popped out of a Warhol Campbell’s soup can.

Mostly, though, the album has the eccentric air of an am-dram troupe who have raided the dressing up box, hopped in the camper van and escaped to the seaside to make their own fun. It’s cacophonous but also whimsical, thanks to Le Bon’s detached narration.

She sings abstractly about coathangers and yellow blinds as if sitting on her own luminous cloud. It’s best on tracks such as We Might Revolve, on which her thrilling, tightly wound post-punk guitar is glazed by her Nicoish impressionistic vocals, or What’s Not Mine, the incessant marching drums and customarily quirky xylophone offset by a sweetly sung airiness. Long may Le Bon continue to weird up the rulebook.”

Street Chant: Hauora

These Aucklanders (two gals and one lad) are, like two of the acts above, slow to release material, this coming nearly six years after debut Means.

They make a lovely, feminine racket and at its core is their declaration that they are different. The title reflects the unique Maori philosophy of health.

Hauora retains the sneery, snotty nosed approach that drove Means but adopts vulnerability in highlights like My Country, One More Year and run-down-Auckland-flat-life anthem, Pedestrian Support Lead.

There’s a shoutout to massive (for NZ anyway) shopping centre Sylvia Park on a bar rhymed with Sylvia Plath, only adding to the band-next-door charm that oozes through the cravats of each track leaving you wishing you were their best friend.







Vinyl at the library

DECADES AGO, when libraries first added music to books, borrowers would take out vinyl records. When CDs came into being, the records found their way into thrift and charity shops.

Now, in tandem with vinyl’s revival, 33s have found their way back onto the shelves of council-funded libraries. Well, one at least, but I am sure others will soon follow. That library is Wellington Central, which has always been attuned to the boutique tastes to its trend-seeking clientele.

Today, as I previewed in a recent post, vinyl is back on the shelf …


An interesting selection I am sure you will agree. At the moment there’s only about 300 records to choose from, but more will likely be added.

They have also felt the need to include a helpful stickered request for users. Alas, given the multitude of oafs who return CDs with an array of scratches, I fear this may be a tad too ambitious …




THINK LOCAL, ACT GLOBAL is the mantra of single-issue activists. And it should be the slogan Richard Stone writes on his hands every day as he sets about to make his name more meaningful than a natural-made object.a-blue-flame

Stone hails from Leicester and his debut album gained a lot of airplay on BBC Leicester and in other city and county-wide outlets.

Now he has an umbrella to work under: A Blue Flame. And a second album What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains. The rest of the UK and Europe beckon.

It has lush 60s melodies that remind me of Bill Pritchard, another doyen of English sensibilities, who may not be a name that immediately springs to mind, but he is relatively well-known in Belgium. Which is more impressive than you might think because there’s two of them.

A Blue Flame are adept at stringing together tales of everyday mundanity and pleasures, with a dashing, neo-orchestral strumming of guitars and gentle clang of drums. The Girl Inside of You is the perfect example of this modus operandi, evoking days of watching “The Great Escape on the TV screen” as it builds to a crushing crescendo.

From God On Down sees the band dip into reggae, and it sounds like one of the few UB40 tracks they wrote themselves after 1989. But Out There Somewhere is the kind of grinding full-on indie rock Porky can lap up all day. Mindless chanting and brief verses, what more do you need?

Marlborough Park Avenue is a daydream into a perfect, ice cream kind of day, of which there isn’t many in England’s East Midlands. I uttered a hearty laugh at the line “I found An A-Z missing the index”, but Stone was clearly so stunned by his own cleverness that he mistakenly repeated it a few more times.

I won’t pretend that What We’ve Become … is in any way a trendsetting work, but it works in such magnificent influences, deft lyrics and the sound of small town, housing estate England that makes it irresistible.

PORKY HAS BEEN instrumental in the creation of the latest, 45-page, issue of the above, many years after No.7 was issued.

This is part of the introduction by Shabbir:

“This issue contains an article on ‘Legends of Indie’ and Live Reviews from 2016. We also include album reviews, looking at ‘Days Run Away’ and ‘She Paints Words in Red’. We assess Terry Bickers work with Peter Fij. Also included is a detailed, updated Discography of the band and Guy Chadwick’s solo work, plus more.”

HoL 2013

To see more of this please go to
To obtain the zine in a pdf format email Shabbir at






I AM TERRIBLY excited to tell you all that the Wellington Central Library is to stock vinyl again from next month. Yes, it fucking is!!!

I saw the music chaps a couple of months ago sizing up the area and couldn’t quite believe my eyes: vinyl being loaned out at libraries once again? After 15 years away?!

This truly shows that vinyl is now THE main form of listening to music.

I do harbour some doubts though: given the condition some oafsome oiks leave a CD in after hiring it, I’m feaful of what condition the records will be when they are returned. I am confident that most people who take the records out are considerate and will treat them as they would their own. But it only takes a few selfish eejits to spoil it for the majority.

Wellington Libraries’ music man, Monty Masseurs (stop it, he is not a porn star) has gone out to Slow Boat records to carefully chose a good few hundred items for sensible folk to borrow.

See some of them in this promo clip the library has done itself: