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☺ Now The Dance Is Dead ☺


   In November 2004, The Prodigy (the first major pop act to come from Essex) released their first album since 1997. It reached No.17 in the national charts. In February 2005, The Chemical Brothers (originally from London but who met at Manchester university and adopted that mecca of popular culture as their centre of operations for the next decade) released their first album since 2002. It is currently at No.15 in the national charts. Both these groups were regarded as the epitome of all that was excellent in what was loosely termed ‘dance music’ in the 1990s. However, much of the material on these two contemporary releases is hardly what would have been recognised as dance music in 1995 even though on an aesthetic level, the music is among some of the best these outfits have ever released.


   A colour supplement issued with The Guardian newspaper in 2004 proudly announced the death of dance music in a three page review. So are The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers simply living out the fag-end of the dance craze in a tedious repetition of those punk bands like Discharge and The Exploited who tried to keep the rotten corpse of punk alive after 1977? Were they repeating similar instances of an even earlier age when beat groups in 1967 reverted to playing cabaret venues if they were unable or unwilling to mutate into psychedelia like all their more commercially successful peers? One thinks of the group UK who, in 1979, tried to prove that progressive rock was still alive and well. On the contrary, they proved nothing of the kind. Their two albums, while technically most accomplished, were rather boring and sunk without trace at the time although they sold reasonably well when they were reissued on CD in the 1990s, no doubt purchased by middle aged middle class types alienated by the dance craze that swept the nation at the time.


   The analogy should not be taken too far.


1)     Punk rock lasted just 3 years, from 1976 to 1979.

2)     It was a movement in complete isolation with no other musical fashion of any worth to compete with it.

3)     It was a direct reaction against the alleged irrelevance of the previously prevailing musical scene to life in Britain in 1976. 

4)     (This is most crucial) it was musically an extremely conservative genre afflicted with severe limitations. Technical ability was not only regarded as unimportant, it was even dismissed as bourgeois! In a misplaced desire to be direct and honest, the music was simple to the point of being primitive. Basically, the music had nowhere to go after every possible permutation had been played, rehashed and regurgitated in garages and clubs across the land.

5)     The political posture of most of these groups was precisely that: a pose designed to boost street credibility.


   Perhaps the most odious example of this last salient point is a group called The Clash whose meticulously manicured record covers contrived to present the band to their public as a bunch of political revolutionaries, of aural guerrillas intent upon the downfall of western capitalism. In fact The Clash had nothing much to say and were bereft of any means by which to say even that after the first two albums. They made records for CBS, an American multinational corporation involved in the arms trade. The nadir was attained in 1980 when they released an album called Sandinista. The cover showed the four band members lounging on a flat bed rail truck in some rural setting intended to imply Nicaragua. Each of them was attired in military combat drag, an allusion to the Sandinista rebels. This cynical use for personal glorification of an image by a mere pop group of a nation of people engaged in a struggle against a military dictatorship is deeply offensive.


   Here is where the analogy fails to retain an ability to be completely convincing.


1)     The dance craze lasted from 1990 to 1997, over twice as long as punk rock.

2)     It had to compete with Brit Pop (Blur, Oasis, Pulp and Radiohead being the most obvious examples) and the burgeoning, relentless march of gangsta rap (NWA, 2 Pac, Puff Daddy, Ice Cube, Three Six Mafia, Snoop Dogg Snoopy, Master P, Ghostface, So Solid Crew and a whole host of others). Brit Pop and Gangsta Rap were hugely successful, both commercially and aesthetically. Gangsta Rap in particular succeeded where punk rock failed, that is, it spoke for a marginalized section of society with wit, anger and eloquence. Even now, in 2005, there are gangsta rap outfits in operation which, though they now sound a little dated, are still highly enjoyable and definitely relevant to the social milieu they represent. Compare that to the lamentable attempt of punk rock in the 1980s whose groups trudged ever further down a vacuous little cul-de-sac populated by sad social misfits unable to face reality or the passing of time.

3)     The third point is also salient. The dance craze was never a reaction against anything. On the contrary it evolved from a curious amalgam of American hip hop, European industrial noise groups and a mutation of disco. When teenagers first flocked to the Spanish island of Ibiza in 1991, their sound track must have sounded like tunes written by aliens to the local population. A brief digression is in order here. Consider the two drugs favoured by punks in the late 1970s: amphetamines and alcohol. Both are killers. Both render the participant incapable of coherent speech or activity. By contrast, the favoured drugs for the baggies were ecstasy and marijuana. Both are virtually harmless taken in moderation. Both render the participant able to converse (on a somewhat eccentric level, to be sure) and, in the former case, leap about in alloyed joy. The euphoria may well have been false but I preferred to be among my pals who were laughing, joking and having a good time on E than with a bunch of sad, miserable brutes incapacitated on alcohol, choking on their own vomit and starting fights they could never finish.

4)     When we encounter the fourth issue, here we are obliged to confront a problem. Critics of dance music complain that it is little more than a repetitive succession of computerised electronic sound effects set to a moronic 4/4 beat. I have to accede to there being a degree of truth in this but only in the sense that there will always be third rate copyists who try to emulate the more artistically successful efforts of their peers from the first division. For example, Travis and Coldplay were initially poor, meagre and much less accomplished relatives of their heroes Radiohead. That they later managed to produce more interesting music coincided with a corresponding decrease in the musical influence of Radiohead on their own works. In any case, The Orb, Paul Oakenfold, Leftfield and their peers at the Ministry Of Sound were never going to produce progressive rock or freeform jazz for one simple reason: their music was designed primarily for nightclubs and raves. It was functional music, a sound track for a scene raised on computers and the internet. The use of collage had never before been so effectively utilised. Through the use of digital manipulation, samples of music from any and every source (even classical, country and western and swing bands from the 1940s) were infused into this joyful electronic melée.

5)     As for politics, our rave culture was political in action. We preferred to club together and do something rather than inflict polemical diatribes upon our audience with every record we released. Any fool can sing about the injustice of the world from the clinical safety of a recording studio or on a concert hall stage. Well, when crowds of teenagers (and older people) flocked to our dwindling forests and woods during the 1990s to prevent motorways and tower blocks being built in their place, these were the same people you would see next month at squatted warehouses, dancing to the latest remixes from the Ministry Of Sound. They were not punks.


   Note: most American punks who read this will either find my comments above faintly offensive or simply confusing. To them, I apologise right now. I am well aware that there is and has been for over a decade a strong political consciousness among the American punk movement as is revealed by their support of AK Press to give just one example. Besides, there is no equivalent of Rave Culture in America. Point 5 above applies to Britain only. To emphasise the issue, during the first years of the new century, we encountered many punks in London who started to squat empty and derelict council buildings. This was new – punks had ceased to bother with this form of direct action since the early 1980s. What had caused the sudden change of attitude? We found out soon enough when we asked them: they replied in strong French and German accents. So that is the way it is: to locate punks who are politically active, we have to import them from Europe. (Also, I admit in this instance I was personally biased in their favour because it turned out two of the German punks owned copies of Fire & Ice, our 3rd album!)


   During the 1990s (which must rate as the most inventive decade in the history of popular culture) hip hop itself mutated into garage, jungle and drum and bass as black teenagers in America and Britain became more financially secure and learnt to use computers as instruments of artistic expression rather than mere functional tools. Over in Europe, teenagers interested in the avant garde realised that those same computer programmes (Q Base being the most celebrated) enabled them to create in their bedrooms what people their parents’ age had to labour over in a recording studio for £100 a day. In the best techno and dance music the phrase ‘anything goes’ comes to mind. Even if the beat was unfortunately tied to 4/4 with an unnecessary rigour, what went over the top of it was often extremely inventive and interesting. The combination of mutated found sounds, stolen music from previous eras and computer generated original sounds resulted in music that kept us fascinated and enthralled for nearly a decade. At times it may have been self indulgent but then so is much progressive rock, jazz and modern classical music. The acid test (excuse the pun) is this: do people like it? In market terms, does it sell? The answer to both questions is ‘yes’ although the latter question is utterly unimportant of course, unless you are some sort of business executive or financial consultant in which case you are a sick bastard who doesn’t deserve to live anyway.


   I go further in my assault on the paucity of punk rock to achieve anything. In the 1990s we squatted abandoned factories and warehouses. We held our own raves, complete with sound systems and DJ’s from our own social circle. We had no need of heroes or experts. We did properly what the punks tried to achieve a decade earlier. Why did the punks fail? Well, to be fair, it is not accurate to dismiss all their efforts as failure. The Zigzag club was opened up and squatted by members Crass, The Mob and my own group The Apostles, although it was Crass who organised the event and who must receive most of the credit for its success. It is believed they squatted the Centro Iberico in Westbourne Park but in fact this old school had already been squatted by a bunch of elderly Spanish anarchists – all the difficult work had been completed before the punks were invited in. I know this to be so for I was one of the young teenagers involved in this dubious enterprise. But at these and many other events, there was almost always trouble, usually in the form of invasions by skinheads.


   Anyone born after 1980 will not know what a skinhead is so permit me a brief digression. The original skinheads were a coagulation of all the brainless dross from the late 1960s who used to be mods but while their peers grew their hair and became hippies, this bunch preferred to opt for big boots, braces and beer, liberally watered by heavy doses of fascism. In the early 1980s, there was a mercifully brief skinhead revival as social misfits too inadequate and unintelligent even for the punk circuit, went to Carnaby Street and decked themselves out in Levi 501’s, Ben Sherman shirts and Dr Marten boots. The British National Party rubbed their hands with glee as a new gang of brainless cannon fodder was provided for their rallies. The radicalisation of the Asians in British society combined with a new pride (fuelled by hip hop lyrics and proto-gangsta rap outfits) exhibited by young West Indians (or black British as some of them like to be called), informed a popular rebellion that rendered the mere existence of these fascist thugs untenable. By the end of the 1980s it was simply not realistic to be a skinhead if you wanted to celebrate your next birthday. I have no problem with this.


   So, the punks were usually unable to police their events when gangs of skinheads invaded. The woeful diatribe of pacifism prevailed among the punk scene and this allowed cowards an escape clause: ‘it is wrong to commit acts of violence so I will not fight back or defend my colleagues when some mindless thug assaults him with a crowbar.’ In all the raves I attended, I cannot recall any major incidents of violence. There was the occasional minor fracas but what do you expect when 200 teenagers are crammed into a squatted warehouse in Essex? What surprises me is how little violence and trouble occurred in the circumstances. Curiously, a major reason for this is due to the choice of drugs. Ecstasy requires an increased intake of water but it absolutely does not mix with alcohol. When you have dropped an E or two, even the thought of alcohol is anathema. It is unnecessary and irrelevant. Ecstasy encourages friendliness and gentle euphoria. Alcohol is a depressant that also encourages aggression. In the chill out rooms of our raves you would occasionally (but not always) smell the caustic aroma of marijuana fumes. I hate the stuff but one fact remains: you never see a group of people loiter outside a club spoiling for a fight after they’ve had a few spliffs: even if they wanted to cause trouble, they simply couldn’t be bothered.


   There was a further advantage both The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy exhibited over any of their punk forefathers: a refusal to countenance the childishly immature hostility to purveyors of other, older music genres. For example, the album Surrender by The Chemical Brothers features guest appearances by Noel Gallagher of Oasis (on Let Forever Be) and Bernard Sumner of 1980s group New Order (on Out Of Control). That would be like The Clash featuring, say, Phil Collins as a guest vocalist on one of their numbers – which would have been interesting. Had they done so then at least one number by The Clash would have been sung properly. The attitude of the punks toward other genres and cultures was that of a group of children who prohibit anyone different from joining their gang. There were even punk records released in the 1980s with lyrics that brazenly insulted rap and hip hop even though such an assault was utterly unprovoked; I have never encountered a rap record that gives punk rock a verbal kicking. (If there is one, then I want a copy!) Anyway, this was another reason why the punk scene stultified and died a death so quickly.


   Perhaps an additional contributing factor was the social scene at the time. The 1980s, after all, is the only decade in the history of popular culture when there was actually no pop music of any worth, value or relevance to what was happening. The whole decade can accurately be dismissed with this pithy summation: crap politics, crap fashions and crap music. In fact this only applies to Britain. In America only the first half of the decade was similarly afflicted for in 1985 the nations’ youth culture was saved by the birth of hip hop, house and rap. However, white teenagers who were not interested in this music had little else to celebrate.


   As one of my numerous digressions, notice that the two major British youth cultural phenomena of the 1990s, Brit Pop and Rave Culture, were of little interest to most of America. In fact, the majority of American teenagers expressed virtually no knowledge of, or particular interest in, groups like Oasis or The Chemical Brothers. Instead they had the Seattle scene with groups like Nirvana and R.E.M. to keep them amused. Such was the quality of these groups that it is quite possible American youths felt no need for the import of oddities from the UK. I use the word ‘oddities’ deliberately for both Brit Pop and Rave Culture were essentially British phenomena even though many of the techno and rave outfits included samples from American house, garage, R&B and rap in their repertoire. In fact it was in mainland Europe that the rave scene became really popular and where techno records achieved high sales figures.


   So by 1999 the rave scene had dissipated and become characterised by small, isolated underground groups of people who continued to party but the original vitality (and commercial viability) had evaporated. It is therefore hardly a coincidence that The Prodigy released the superb album The Fat Of The Land in 1997 and then remained largely silent until their next record, the single Baby’s Got A Temper in 2002. Their next album, Always Out-gunned, Never Out-manoeuvred, only appeared two years later in 2004. These records reveal an increase in rock music samples and a decrease in the techno music style that characterised their 1990s recordings. The same is true for The Chemical Brothers. Their 1999 album Surrender is far more gentle and introverted than their previous records. Their next album, Come With Us, witnessed a return to form perhaps but it still sounds a little reticent compared to the all out assault that informs Dig Your Own Hole, their second album which was released in 1997. It is interesting that the best albums by these two outfits were released in 1997, the same year that three of the most famous and respected Brit Pop bands The Charlatans, Blur and Oasis suffered a marked and evident decrease in originality, vitality and urgency in their own records. It appeared that dance and techno had come of age while Brit Pop had begun to lose its direction. However, as we have seen, this was soon to spiral into second rate repetition or obscurity within a couple of years.


   When I purchased Push The Button by The Chemical Brothers in March 2005, I admit I expected to be largely disappointed. That this album is actually as vibrant and interesting as their mighty 1997 opus is a tribute to their skill and imagination. However, this is not really a dance album. Like The Prodigy, they have moved on and started to incorporate less techno and more rock / hip hop into the mix, with convincing results. That there is virtually not a single weak track on the album is a testament to this. However, this poses an intriguing question: how relevant are The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy to teenagers in 2005. How many teenagers know who these groups are? I purchased Push The Button on Saturday morning on my way to work (in a Chinese youth club). As a result, I had the CD with me when I entered the Chinese Centre. Now, Chinese teenagers display musical tastes that are often rather curious and frequently old fashioned or else they adopt the same tastes as their black, West Indian peers.


   The Chemical Brothers are regarded, like The Prodigy and Oasis, as a product of the 1990s, being the kind of music to which their older brothers and sisters listened and raved about. Consider the elapsed time between The Fat Of The Land and Baby’s Got A Temper, for example: 5 years. In popular culture that is a long time indeed where much can change. In 1963, The Shadows and The Beatles enjoyed top ten hit singles. By 1969, The Beatles were history, King Crimson, Deep Purple and Jethro Tull were the flavour in favour and it would have been unthinkable to have been seen walking into school with an album by The Shadows. The same can be said for a later period: in 1975 you were ‘cool’ if you had the latest albums by Hawkwind, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Yes and Genesis in your ‘pad’. By 1980, if you still owned any of these records then you kept them hidden somewhere more secure than a Swiss bank to make damn certain your friends never found out.


   There is a difference between previous generations and the current scene, a difference I find especially enervating: it is now quite difficult to be considered ‘uncool’. If you own a progressive rock recording from the early 1970s you are likely to be considered ‘into retro’, that is, you are interested in historical rock music. It is no longer embarrassing to like music from previous generations and genres. You can own a box set of 1940s recordings by Louis Jordan and this is quite acceptable. In fact, the only certain method to ensure you are treated with derision is to proudly boast a love of current chart fodder such as Hearsay but a year from now, of course, no-one who reads this will know who Hearsay were – such is the ephemeral nature of commercial pop fashions.


   The insular nature of the punk scene in Britain is evident by the fact that even today, in 2005, there are actually people who still want to make and listen to punk rock records. Most of these people are sad, middle aged types who lack imagination or originality but, worse still, there are even teenagers who consider punk rock ‘cool’. This is so bizarre that I no longer even find it sad. This is like a sixteen year old in 1971 forming a skiffle group and trying to find an audience for it. The difference here is that if you form a punk band in 2005, you will be able to find an audience for it although it is very small, elitist and oozes with inverted snobbery. Groups who display technical proficiency are treated with considerable suspicion. Groups who play more than one style of music are actually regarded with contempt. Also, if you seek to succeed in the UK punk scene, it is essential that you are white, able bodied and preferably heterosexual.


   If anyone should accuse me of invention, I can state a direct case very close to home: our group, Unit. Over the past two years we have been attacked, ridiculed and insulted but only by purveyors of punk rock. This is for three main reasons. First, because we include purely instrumental works in our repertoire and we use flute, clarinet, saxophone, keyboards and vibraphone as regular instruments in our group. In punk rock, you are only allowed to use shouted vocals, electric guitars and drums. Every number has to be short, fast, in 4/4 time and vocal. Again, in Rave Culture, diversity was celebrated. We wanted to hear unusual instruments and novel vocal techniques. Punk rock is all about obedience to a strict and confining set of rules. When I read what some of these punks say about groups like ours, they sound just like my dad.


   Second, although we hardly ever include brazen, empty displays of virtuosity in our music, it is apparent that 4 of the 5 members of Unit are technically accomplished musicians with formidable degrees of skill. Now, it does not require much skill or ability to play punk rock. This does not invalidate the music. On the contrary, it is important that there are kinds of music in which everyone can participate. Other than a decent knowledge of a good computer programme like Q Base, it was not essential for the purveyors of techno and dance music to be skilful musicians. So I do not seek to ridicule a group simply because they did not attend the Royal Academy of Music. But we were actually attacked because we dared to display our obvious technical ability! One little punk fanzine, Fracture, tried to be crafty and, irritated by our ability, criticised us for being ‘hopeless’ and ‘crap’. The public must have been rather bemused, then, when no less than seven other magazines, two of them punk zines, remarked on our ‘superb musicianship’, our ‘obvious skill’ and ‘evident ability’, even though the two punk zines in question otherwise really didn’t like our style of music despite our musical ability. To quote one of them: ‘bands like this are obviously very capable musicians and their music is clearly very clever but that’s probably why I find it so boring. Give me a good dose of hardcore thrash any day. What’s the matter with not being a virtuoso?’ To answer this question: there is nothing wrong with not being a virtuoso but there is plenty wrong with refusing to exhibit any imagination, originality or intelligence. There is a whole world out there – why be so narrow minded and ineffably conservative?


   It’s time for another of my digressions. I mentioned above that 4 out of the 5 Unit members are highly skilled musicians. In case you wonder, I am the one who is not so adept but then I do have an excuse: I was born with severe dispraxia which means I should not even be able to play a musical instrument at all. There are some (like the writers of Fracture and Idwal Fisher, two notoriously right wing fanzines who want everyone in the world to be just like them) who will insist that I still can’t play music to save my life (and they may have a point there, to be honest) but does that mean spastics are forbidden to participate in pop groups? Are we forever supposed to sit at home and marvel at what everybody else does but never have a go at playing music ourselves? Well, stuff that! I have as much right to release records as anyone else and I won’t have anyone tell me I can’t, least of all a bunch of elitist has-beens who are still stuck in the eighties. Is it too much to hope the UK punk scene will one day wake up and realise the world has moved on since 1977? Probably.


   Third, successful punk bands in the UK are white, able bodied and heterosexual. That is partly why they are able to sell so many CDs: they are acceptable to the majority. When we played concerts in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and even Brighton, we were subjected to racist taunts from audience members who dressed like punks – so I assume they were indeed punks. It is perfectly understandable that such people should find our complex and varied music irritating. It is absolutely not acceptable for these same people to subject us to racially motivated abuse simply because we do not play punk rock. (Why should we? After all, we are not a punk band.) I have lost count of the number of times I have been threatened and insulted for being a queer, for playing ‘faggot rock’. Now I am aware that European and American readers will find all this most disturbing and strange. I should add here that, to date, while there are plenty of American punks who clearly don’t like most of our music, we have yet to encounter even one who has ever actually insulted us and certainly they have never ever resorted to racial or homophobic abuse. What does this say about Americans? What does this say about the British?


   Were there no decent, interesting punk bands, then? I could be churlish and state that the previous question contains a blatant contradiction in terms, like ‘military intelligence’ or ‘caring conservatives’. How can I possibly give a fair answer to that question? I don’t like punk rock; the genre does not interest or inspire me at all. There must surely be many decent and interesting individuals who are involved in the punk scene, some of whom are in punk bands, but their sloganeering, bombastic rhetoric for lyrics, coupled with their noisome, tediously predictable racket for music, means I am unable to tell one punk band from another. There was a band called Total Chaos from Gateshead in Newcastle. They broke barriers and infused their brand of punk rock with elements of folk music and the avant garde. They achieved this in a thoroughly convincing manner even though they were not what you might call technically accomplished musicians. They utilised their limitations with consummate skill so that only another musician might realise they were not top of league for virtuoso ability. They released two 7” records, one 12” record and a track on a compilation album. After that they vanished into obscurity and to date none of their works have ever been reissued on CD.


   America has been served rather better for interesting punk bands. There are the two F words for a start: Flipper and Fugazi. These two bands prove what can be achieved if a group refuses to obey the intense conservatism of the punk rock code. There was also an amazing band called Artless who were easily as musically competent as ourselves and almost as catholic in their tastes. They released an album in the 1990s called Crassdriver that remains one of the most inventive albums by a punk band ever released. This, too, has never been reissued on CD as far as I am aware. (If I am wrong here and it is available on CD then would someone please let me know how and where I can obtain a copy? You can contact me via U-J on our e-mail address.)


   There is (was) a liberating aspect of Rave Culture that was never properly addressed by the punk scene. How many people can afford to spend £200 a day in a small recording studio to record an album? Radiohead spent £100,000 to record their first album, Pablo Honey. Fair enough, they were backed by EMI, their record label. But prior to the Techno and Dance revolution, the only means by which one could release an album of decently produced music (regardless of the quality of that music itself) was to book a recording studio, not for as long as was necessary but for as long as one had sufficient funds. The rave scene liberated us from all that. Once one had paid the initial expense of purchasing a decent computer with the requisite software (which would require around about £1,000), any further expenditure was negligible. One could spend how ever long was necessary to perfect a track and then burn each CD privately if necessary. If the CD proved really popular then it was financially feasible to pay for a batch of discs to be copied professionally.


   I am not old enough to recall this from personal experience but I am informed that these days, the punk scene has changed from the ideology it once represented. Now the most respected punk bands use the most expensive instruments and it is the most professional production jobs that receive the most laudatory reviews in punk fanzines. As I always suspected, punk rock is still for little rich boys to shock their parents and impress their peers with how much they spent on producing their latest single. At least, this is true in the UK. Their lyrics about third world poverty are sung into microphones that cost enough to feed a family from Somalia for a month. I find the political posturing of punk bands so tediously pompous. You know that most of these snotty nosed oiks will buy and sell on the stock market ten years from now or, if they are successful, they will sign up to Polydor or CBS and claim they were never really punks in the first place. Are we having fun yet? Can you now understand why every member of UNIT is proud to say that we are not punks, have never been punks and never want to be punks? I am aware there are people in America, Europe and Japan who like and support UNIT, who also call themselves ‘punks’ or who identify with the punk scene and who may therefore find my remarks unnecessarily hostile. To all these people I say only this: the members of UNIT live in England, Great Britain; my sentiments are the direct result of the treatment we have received from the punk scene here. No overt criticism is directed here to any of our American, European and Japanese colleagues.


   To conclude my defence of the innovation, originality and intelligence of the rave scene as opposed to the elitism, pomposity and extreme conservatism of the punk scene, perhaps I should be fair and admit that the dance is dead. We had a laugh and a giggle during the 1990s, despite the fag-end of Thatcher and the miserable grey fog of Major but the Blair witch hunt regime, which is far worse than anything Thatcher could have invented in even her most volatile fantasies, helped to kill off the last fragments of hope. Fleetwood Mac played at the Jimmy Carter election party; Blair and his cohorts tapped their feet along to records by Oasis at their first party conference after they were elected. The government were never able to co-opt a rave outfit for any of their sordid little functions. I am grateful for that at least. Where do we go now? The Libertines – The Strokes – The White Stripes – is that it? Is that really the future direction our popular culture is to go for the next ten years? Oh, please, let there be more than that.


   Not apparently relevant to this review but a last desperate attempt to end on a note of optimism, we must congratulate Helen Steel and Dave Morris, the two people who, unaided by any organisation, single handedly took on the might of MacDonalds and won! After a 13 year struggle in the European human rights court, they won their appeal against the original British justice decision that initially ruled against them for their campaign of leaflets and propaganda against one of the most vociferous exponents of global capitalism in the world. It is the story of how it is possible for two ordinary people to take on one of the largest multinational fast food chains in the world and win. Name me one punk band that can claim a similar achievement.


Andy Martin (c) 2005.




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