Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Civilised Society? / Deviated Instinct - live in Bradford 6.3.87 + Rhetoric - live in Yarmouth 11.2.88
I got this tape a few years ago from a bloke on ebay who was selling a lot of tapes he had made himself. Now, that was before I even knew about music blogs and I almost fainted when I saw that he had live tapes of bands I loved and of bands I didn't know yet but was sure I was going to love. Two quids and one week later, I received a dozen of tapes among which this particular tape with a stellar line-up: Civilised Society?, Deviated Instinct and Rhetoric.
Now, I will start with a warning: the recordings are rough and the sound quality is low, especially the CS?/DI side. And yes, the hiss is a bit overwhelming at times. However, don't let these mere details spoil your listening experience because, after all, the gigs were probably recorded by a drunk teenager with a small tape-recorder in a shabby pub. For those unfortunate enough not to know Civilised Society?, they were an anarchopunk band from Yorkshire with Hammy from Peaceville and the Instigators as one of the singers. In fact, they had three singers at some point, one female and two males, which gave the band a sort of Chumbawamba-like quality. I like to think that if Chumba had been into hardcore and metal, they would have done something not unlike CS? because they really succeeded in being tuneful in a A-Heads/Lost Cherrees way but could also be fast and heavy like Antisect or Potential Threat. I am REALLY into CS? and I was slightly disappointed with the former members' apparent lack of enthusiasm about the band in Trapped in a scene... Oh well, call me oversensitive I guess... Anyway, the sound during CS? set is quite awful and if you have never listened to them, I would recommend you start with their excellent Lp's first. For those who already had the pleasure to be acquainted with them, you will notice that the set has songs from both albums, punky "Scrap metal" and more metallic "Violence sucks!". I am not sure what went on with the guitar player but he kept tuning and re-tuning his instrument between each song. Lyrically, CS? was very much a traditional anarcho band with songs dealing with feminism ("The fairer sex"), social control on the individual ("I can be free"), the arms race ("Star wars"), a "freedom, peace and unity, that's what it's all about" anthem ("Life is pain"), alienation ("Tooth & claw") and a great anti-work song ("Is there life after work?"). Just a little quote from "Tooth & claw" to brighten your day "Lepers in a sterile world / Trying to halt our fall / Do we scratch away the surface? / Or forever shall we crawl?".
After CS? come Deviated Instinct as both sets were recorded during the same night, on June 3rd, 1987, in sunny Bradford. The DI set suffers from the same sound flaws as CS?'s, though for some reason, DI managed to sound a bit better. This said, the guitar is very low in the mix during the first few songs so it is pretty much a guitarless "Stormcrow" you'll be faced with (who knows, maybe the soundman had gone for a piss) and on the whole this is more bass-driven than most of the band's live recordings that I have heard so far. This DI set is classic for the time, with songs from the second demo, the Ep and the third demo. The rendering of the songs is fairly chaotic (the sound quality certainly doesn't help) but there is a lot of energy and intensity nonetheless. The songs played that night were the following: Stormcrow / Welcome the orgy / Disciples of the storm / Rock'n'roll conformity / Master of all / Scarecrow / Warmachine. This was the snotty and dirty metal-punk period of DI, some sort of alcohol-fueled maelstrom reminiscent of Antisect, Celtic Frost, Bathory and Venom, played with the energy and aggression of Italian hardcore and the incivility of Chaos UK. The lyrics of DI were also one of their definite assets as, far from being haikus about war, the pigs or animal liberation, their words painted a bleak vision of society using metaphors of decay and unavoidable destruction to signify man's alienation, self-destructive power and self-imposed slavery. Some heavy shit, right?
Finally, we have a live set from Rhetoric, another band from Norwich, recorded in 1988. It is a really a shame that the band only has two songs on record, the "Consolidation" split Ep with Deviated Instinct (small world) and Revulsion, because not only does this live set sound great and a lot of songs would have fitted just right on a record, but Rhetoric were fun. Just listening to them joking between songs is enough to make me wish there were more bands who enjoyed themselves openly on stage. If Rhetoric had some serious lyrics from what I can suppose from the song titles, they also had joke songs, "Virgin raper" being a piss-take of satanic metal band and I can only guess at what "Beefburger" was about. If you have never heard of Rhetoric, this is actually a great start as the sound is loud and clear enough and the band is pretty tight. Musically, Rhetoric were a band of their time as they played straight-up gruffy metal-punk with a sense of humour, not unlike a more metal ENT or a more binary Mortal Terror. But who the hell is Simon Cooper?