The Crackdown

June 17, 2009

The street protests in Iran and the sadly predictable state response brought this song into my head. Cabaret Voltaire may have written it in 1985 but it seems just as relevant, if not more so today – “someone sometimes cracks down”.

Like their electronic buddies Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire were always about standing in the way of control. As far back as 1980 talking about The Voice of America Richard H Kirk described the record’s themes as: “Oppression, control, the general state of what’s happening in Britain right now, especially under this government”. Listen to that record now and it seems even more relevant to today’s world of twenty-four hour surveillance cameras, draconian anti-terror laws and New Labour doublespeak. 1981’s Red Mecca sounds even more prescient – listen to Spread the Virus and shudder. The album is a distant mirror, reflecting then and now. Scary.

Goodbye Johnny

June 4, 2009

According to Marxist theory every revolution has it’s Thermidor  (no- not a lobster dinner); its point of reaction. The moment when the pigs become the men and the status quo is restored.

It’s debatable when punk had its thermidor. Purists would probably say it was when the Damned released New Rose and the scene went overground; others would point to the rot setting in when bands like the Police, the Jam and the risible Elvis Costello jumped on the spiky haired band wagon and called themselves ‘new wave’. Me, I reckons it’s when the Addicts went on Cheggars Plays Pop.

What I do know is that the final nail was driven into the coffin when John Lydon and Iggy Pop both decided that they really weren’t quite wealthy enough and needed to lose any last semblance of credibility by appearing in tv ads – really really bad tv ads. 

These are the men who started cultural revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic. Iggy, who used to bleed and swing his dick for his art selling fucking insurance, that dirtiest of products. Great timing Iggy, with the world in financial meltdown because of the sharks who sold us this kind of shit. Best get your nose in the trough before it’s too late.

And the snarling, sneering Johnny, happy to turn himself into a pantomime English eccentric just to sell butter. But maybe he was always a pantomime villain. It (almost) makes me want to flog Metal Box on ebay.

Let’s at least hope they earn enough to save the world from the indignity of another comeback tour. Fuckers both.

290905_iggy_pop_280x350  JohnLydon