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Archive for January, 2016

I AM OCCASIONALLY asked by a curious reader about the name of the site. It’s one that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I feel stuck with it now.

Porky Prime Cuts was named after I read something about the etchings in thousands of records made by the production plant of the same name.

Porky Prime Cuts was the brainchild of George Peckham, a record engineer from Blackburn in Lancashire. The inscriptions on the barely-legible run-out grooves were generally tongue-in-elbow, and some inscriptions referred to him as Pecko or Pecko Duck.

One of his substantial accolades was on 1973’s The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief double album. The first disk was as normal, but the Pythons wanted something a little different for the second disk, so Porky The First came up with a cunning plan that meant that different material would be played depending on exactly where the stylus was put down. Mind-boggling.

To aid me here, go and fetch a record, a single might be best. Now, that bit just outside the inner circle where the record ‘plays out’ is the run-out groove, or lead-out groove. Hold it up to a light and you should see some barely-legible inscriptions, some matrix numbers or something that may refer to the engineer.

Porky etching

Only a record nerd like myself could ever take the least bit of punitive interest in such etchings.

Beside the humdrum technical stuff there were scribblings by the artists themselves, or at least ones you would presume had the approval of the talent. They would sometimes be just be a birthday greeting (thinking The Primitives here) but could often have witty or caustic comments – the Smiths were especially adept at the former, or messages that were somewhat oblique or plain cryptic, scribbled in the knowledge certain people would be alerted to them, and that most buyers wouldn’t even make the effort to try to find such a message.

Looking at Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart you wonder if Ian Curtis was revealing something, in the weeks before his death. The A side message is “Don’t disillusion me”, flip over and you can read “I’ve only got record shops left”.

In a totally vinyl geeky way here’s some inscriptions on some of my own 7” singles. Alas, in doing this, it reveals to the whole wide world that I own a record by Goth stars The Mission.

The Bodines, Paradise:

A This is the start

B Of cleaning up the charts

David Bowie, Boys Keep Swinging:

A Your bicameral mind

B Mind your bicameral

Bis, Starbright boy:

A Disco is legal today

B Charity shop hip hop

Bradford, In Liverpool:

“Late result, Bradford gain promotion”.

The Darling Buds, Shame On You:

“Such a darling”

The Darling Buds, It’s All Up To You:

A Do your ears stick out?

B Then pick em back

Easterhouse, Whistling In The Dark:

“Now take the Next Step” [reference to the Marxist paper they were aligned to]

Fatal Microbes, Violence Grows:

A Fatal Microbes live on

B Pathetic

Gene, Haunted By You:

A Truth, rest your head

B Spare the corgis

The Hammers, I Hate Dead Pop Stars:

A Don’t forget your orange, Michael

B Kurt, you should of used a blank

Huggy Bear, Her Jazz:                               

A Kathy Acker Bilk

Lush, Sweetness and Light:

Cool, fresh milk float

Morrissey, Interesting Drug:

A Escape from Valium

B Return to Valium

Morrissey, Piccadilly Palare:

A George Elliot knew

Morrissey, Our Frank:

Free Reg, free Ron

The Mission, Stay With Me:

A For the pure in spirit and the tarnished flesh

B Tony, I think you suck very well

Primal Scream, Rocks:

A Free Peter Packet

B Make my funk a screamin funk

The Primitives, Way Behind Me:

B I’ve got a rainbow in my trousers

The Poison Girls, Are You Happy Now?:

A Well are you?

B Such is the nature of shitpiles

Redskins, Keep On Keepin’ On:

A There’s no point in having a revolution ….

B We shoot the bastards afterwards [their presumed mistake]

Redskins, The Power Is Yours:

A If all you ever deal in are sweet nothings …

B …. sweet nothing’s all you’ll get

The Smiths, Ask:

A Are you Loathsome tonight?

B Tomb it may concern

The Smiths, Sheila Take A Bow:

Cook Bernard Matthews

The Smiths, Shoplifters Of The World Unite:

Alf Ramsey’s Revenge

The Smiths, Panic:

I dreamt about stew last night

The Smiths, I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish:

A “Murder at Wool Hall” (x) starring Sheridan Whiteside

The Smiths, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

A “The Return of the Submissive Society” (x) starring Sheridan Whiteside

B “The Bizarre Oriental Vibrating Palm Death” (x) starring Sheridan Whiteside

[note, while Sheridan Whiteside was an actor, all these films are fictional]

The Wedding Present, Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?:

B The Only thing you owe the public is a good performance (H.Bogart)

 

And if you want more, here’s a page with a vast amount more from the worlds of rock and indie ..

http://publiccollectors.org/MatrixMessages.htm

 

 

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JOE SOLO IS A “folk, punk and blues” artist from north Yorkshire, who sings about how it is in working class Britain, without all the pretence and romance. And, as the name suggests, it’s just him and his guitar.

He’s a prolific live performer, recording artist and writer, and also instrumental behind various projects like We Shall Overcome. He may not be a familiar name but his campaigning attitude ain’t ever going to gain traction with Radio Happy. An album, Never Be Defeated, was released at the end of last year and is an excellent work with hard-hitting lyrics.

Joe Solo 2

Britain under the Conservative regime is an unhappy, cruel and austere place; on the one hand Cameron’s rich boys and girls say the national debt needs to be curtailed by cutting benefits to vulnerable people, and on the other it orders up jetplanes to bomb a country it has no right to be in. There’s plenty of opportunity to expose some lies and hypocrisy, which Joe does quite well.

I caught up with Joe just before Christmas.

Me: It must be hard to be a campaigning, independent songwriter in a time of heartless Tory cuts, rampant neoliberalism and war. Is socialism still relevant – and achievable – in this environment?

Socialism is needed more than ever, but it is needed in the true sense and not the well-thumbed pages of dry political tract. Socialism at its core is about people, and if you put people first – before profit, before self-interest – then you are a Socialist in attitude without relying on scripture.

We need to put the politics of compassion and equality into ACTION and not just spend hours talking about how everything is terrible and how cruel the world is. That’s the way of the coward.

It’s easier to imagine the task is impossible, because that excuses you from trying. It isn’t impossible. People just need the alternative voice, and because they don’t hear it they follow the pervading narrative of looking after No.1, of commodity culture. Stand up. Speak up. We have a world to change.

Me: Is there still a place for campaigning, anti-establishment bands, especially when it’s all Katy and Justin on the radio?

I don’t think the radio matters any more. That’s just background music for people to do the ironing to. If you want REAL music you look for it somewhere else. That somewhere else is no longer in the mainstream media via the record companies, so in that sense the industry which propelled Billy Bragg or The Housemartins, or New Model Army, say, to mainstream ears in the 1980’s, is dead and gone.

As such it is harder to survive, because getting a band out there and keeping it on the road costs money, money you can’t make without a name which you can’t make without the industry. It’s Catch-22. Doesn’t make the music less relevant.

I’d say The Hurriers, Thee Faction and Interrobang to name but three, are as vital and valid as anything from previous generations.

There just aren’t the breaks anymore, so you have to be prepared to knuckle down for the long haul and stand your ground. That makes you stronger, and if we stick together and help each other, then we have a scene of our own that the industry played no part in creating – a stronger, more inclusive scene built on support and mutual respect, rather than one competing for the limelight.

Me: Britain now has the most-right government since the Thatcher regime, if ever, and a party, UKIP, doing well with a programme that is nothing more than racist and bigoted. In this environment can a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party really provide an alternative?

In short, yes. The Tories will wreak havoc as always until they pass the point of being unelectable. It always happens. You just have to expose them at every step, fight them where possible, and be patient. UKIP have been essentially wrong-footed by Cameron calling a referendum on the EU; once that has been and gone, win or lose, they will have had what they were demanding. Their anti-immigration rhetoric played well in certain communities, though I personally don’t think the UK is racist I just think we don’t engage our brains before we start nodding and cheering.

It is easy for Nigel Farage to blame the fact you can’t get a job or a council house on immigrants “coming over here and taking all our…..etc etc”; much harder to talk of the real problem, that of chronic underfunding in schools, hospitals, public services, and a decades-old lack of investment in public housing. That is a problem you have to blame on the politicians themselves, so they naturally don’t want you to do that and point the finger elsewhere.

Jeremy Corbyn has to win that argument, expose the lie at the heart of austerity and The Cuts, and fill the void not with blame but with constructive policy. If he does that, he wins back UKIP votes, and more importantly, reawakens the Old Labour voters who have deserted politics. If he adds this to a rising tide of young voters whose ideas of Socialism aren’t tainted by decades old pre-programmed Cold War propaganda, he has the country.

You also have to look at social media and the fact that we are five years away from the election. By 2020, the traditional press will be less influential, and peer-formed opinions much more the order of the day.

Corbyn is shrewd. He knows his mandate to run the party comes from here and not the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party], and he knows young people represent the future, and the Tory old guard, the past. We need to support him, to back him, to use our voices to expose the Tory counter-narrative against him….. and to hold our nerve. These are exciting times.
Me: Has his election given hope to those who need it most, or is this just another false dawn, cos the establishment always wins in the end right?

 It has certainly energised a lot of people, and that can only be a good thing. Nothing ever changes from the top down, we have to force it from down here. That has always been the way. If his election has galvanised the people who make things happen, it will have been a good thing regardless of how The Establishment plays it. I’m not saying it won’t get messy, but I do believe the more people there are talking about politics, organising, marching, campaigning, fundraising and exposing the lie at the heart of the system, the better.

Me: Never Be Defeated tells the stories of miners and their families during the Miner’s Strike of 1984/85. How did this project come about and evolve? Joe Solo 1

I was asked to sing a few songs at Stainforth Pit Club [Doncaster] as part of the 30th Anniversary commemorations, and it grew from there. I was just so inspired by the lads and lasses down there and their stories and speeches that I started writing and couldn’t stop. I wanted to tell the story of The Strike through first-hand recollections of people who lived through it, rather than dry polemic from me.

The Hatfield Brigade are such an incredible and inspiring bunch of people that the record is effectively just me making them rhyme. I’m very proud of it, and the only review that matters is the thumbs up I got from them. I wanted to give something back to the people who helped define my politics back in the 80’s. That thumbs-up meant everything.

Me: Tell us about We Shall Overcome?

WSO was something a bunch of us started the day after the election in May. We wanted to put together a night of musical defiance and raise provisions and cash for food banks and homeless shelters as we did it. We thought maybe, if we were lucky, we might get 10-15 gigs together on the same night and make a point. We tagged everyone we knew, and the idea exploded.

By the time we ran our weekend in October this year we had 250 gigs in 123 towns across eight countries raising an estimated £125,000 worth of food, cash, bedding and clothing for those hardest hit in our communities. It was monumental, and so many people were involved in so many different communities. It was a lesson in solidarity and togetherness I will never forget as long as I live.

This year we do it all again, and again, and again until there is no need for it. Music, politics and community are all a part of the same thing, but people forget that.

Me: How important is it for you to play benefit gigs?

Massively. I can talk and I can write and I can sing, but they mean nothing if I can’t put them to some use. I believe music was born around campfires to tell stories and to raise spirits and to help people through hard times, and they can industrialise it and commoditise it all they like, at its heart, music is hope. That is what I want to bring to a gig. If I can help raise funds doing that, then fantastic. It matters. It all matters.

Me: Which artists, past and present, have most inspired you?

Too many to mention. I’m a huge Clash fan and a punk at heart, but I love music of all genres. Anything that lifts your spirits, picks you up, makes you feel and think and strive. I’m typing this on the anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death, so it seems fitting to say that I am what I am because on Complete Control he shouted ‘AND THAT MEANS YOU’, and I believed him.

Check out Joe’s website from this link: http://joesolomusic.com/ rather than google his name as another Joe Solo will pop up, someone who is “everything I am not,” says our Joe Solo.

 

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A WEE BIT LATE in reviewing this, but worth doing so, as you look Anti-Clausforlornly at your Christmas presents and then peer at the credit card balance to inspect the damage.

Enter The Anti-Claus is a collection from the good people at Auckland’s Powertool Records featuring local talent and acts from Germany, England and the States. Given it was never going to be sold alongside One Direction’s Christmas offering at The Warehouse this is an indie fest that’s worth dipping into at any time over the summer/ winter.

All the best Christmas tracks have been by alternative acts with an axe to grind …. Bollocks to Christmas by The Business, There Ain’t No Sanity Clause (The Damned), Christmas No.1 (The Black Arts) and Christmas 1979 (Wild Billy Childish) are some that come to mind.

This antidote to commercial fanaticism contains such delights as Christmas Is Hell by River’s Edge and No Christmas For John Key by Brother Love and Boss Christ in which the Dear Leader of The Flag Confused Republic of Aotearoa is given special treatment by a noisy garage punk tag team.

Some tracks, it has to be said, are far better than others, and special mentions go to two old Porky favourites, Gold Medal Famous and Jordan Reyne for their excellent, individual festive efforts.

Buy from the Powertool website: https://powertoolrecordsdotnet.wordpress.com/

Full tracklisting….

  1. Great Dynamo – Timeshed (Germany)
  2. Mary – Big Boy (New Zealand)
  3. Factory Kids – Father Christmas Still (England)
  4. Doubtful Sounds – All The Angels Sang (New Zealand)
  5. Gold Medal Famous – Red Pill Christmas (New Zealand)
  6. Fatal Elf – I Wanna Be Your Elf (England)
  7. Andrew Deadman – Silent Night (USA)
  8. Jordan Reyne – Song For Winter Soltice (England)
  9. Rough Church – PJ vs The Mouse (USA)
  10. Joed Out – Reindeers (New Zealand)
  11. Anti-Claus – Little Baby Jesus (New Zealand)
  12. Mucus Kids – Satan’s Claws (New Zealand)
  13. Mark Airlie – A Day Like Today (New Zealand)
  14. River’s Edge – Christmas Is Hell (New Zealand)
  15. Brother Love with Boss Christ – No Christmas For John Key (New Zealand
  16. One Man Bannister – Silent Night (New Zealand)

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