S*M*A*S*H – I want to kill somebody
All the way from the town planners’ paradise, Welwyn Garden City, ‘New Wave of New Wave’* could’ve-beens S*M*A*S*H arrived in 1993 with the outstanding ‘Lady, love your cunt’, inspired by Germaine Greer’s treatise The Female Eunuch.
The following year saw the 15th year of Tory rule with no end in sight, a time before the arrival of Tony Baloney, the beacon of the soon-to-be ‘Britpop’, the C(o)unt of Cool Britannia with its artificial memories and false consciousness.
This 1994 single is an agit-punk attack on the then frontbench reeling off the candidates on the hit-list, the architects of neo-liberalism: Thatcher, Archer, Heseltine, ‘especially Gill Shepherd’ who’s got ‘an appalling unemployment record’; the song is as Rhian E. Jones has described it ‘shone diamond-like in the seemingly infinite slurry of the Major years’.
Singer Ed Borrie (the/now/ever) declaims ‘whoever’s in power I’ll be in opposition’ illustrating an anarchic apathy with the ‘system’. Although this less-than-three minute spleen-venting was available for one day and banned by the radio it nevertheless got into the Top 40, a heavily censored version on a Sunday evening adorning the airwaves. Subversion for pudding. The song was updated in 2014 to include the current stooges; different faces and names, same policies, same shit.
Bill Fay – War Machine
Songsmith Bill Fay reappeared with new material in 2012 after an absence of 41 years. This heartstring wrencher (from new album Who is the sender?) parallels human affairs with the law of the wild, the survival of the fittest as a metaphor, transposing the brutality inherent in the animal kingdom to the barbarism meted out by our world’s governors with vested interests in artillery and bloodshed. The coda optimistically cries for a time without human bloodlust and senseless killing machines. As overheard at the latest confab:
Rule 1. The ‘goodies’ are allowed arms, the ‘baddies’ must be destroyed by any means necessary.
Rule 2. U.N.-official arms trading. Who sold them these abhorrent tools? ‘We absolutely did not’
Rule 3. Deterrent is protectionist whereas W.M.D. is aggressive
Rule 4. The war message must be controlled and maintained within. The message will not be questioned. Anything that does is to be rendered ‘conspiracy theory’ until any point when it then becomes an ‘act of transparency’ on our part.
Rule 5. Framing and terminology is paramount. We suffer losses, ‘enemy combatants’ are collateral damage.
Celestial and hymnal, this song encapsulates Wilfred Owen’s ‘futility of war’.
Patrik Fitzgerald – Irrelevant Battles
East London folk-punker Fitzgerald’s output fore-sounds Blur’s more frenetic moments with this propulsive 1978 release about ignoring societal problems at home in favour of ‘trendier’ causes.
Warfare, natural disasters and loss of life naturally command worldwide attention, but, they are also exploited by nefarious entities to distract and manipulate with sleight of hand politics. The minimum pay do-gooding chuggers who accost with their maniacal grins, dreaming of that end-of-shift drink whilst attempting to coerce and extract your money.
Fitzgerald alerts the listener to the problems at ‘home’ that attract less concern contrasted with ‘hipper, more worthy’ causes abroad. It comes across as companion to Sex Pistols’ ‘Holidays in the Sun’:
I don’t think you’re really seeing what you’re talking about
Except for the tourist version no doubt
Senator M.P. Kent Kairless, Worksop: ‘Look at those poor souls, ravaged by famine, disease and catastrophe, we must act now!’ ‘What? There are people starving and homeless HERE! Commieganda, no less! ‘Opkins, get on the media and set ‘em straight’
In Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine she looks at ‘disasternomics’ and how tragedy can always be monetised. Beware the prophets of profit (e.g. Bill Clinton in Haiti).
Wherever, whomever, ‘some of us are having hard, hard time’.