Sunday, 30 September 2012
Naked "Go for what?" live at the Feltham Football Club 29.7.1983
Before everyone overdoses on 90's punk, here is a choice live tape recorded in 1983 from one of the most underestimated British anarchopunk band, Naked. Granted, they picked a rather shitty name for their band, but apart from this tiny mistake (after all Chumbawamba made it, didn't they?), Naked probably penned some of the best punk-rock tunes I have ever heard. While I love the noisier and thrashier end of the punk spectrum (be it UK82 or anarcho), I also have a soft spot for cracking melody and cacthy, poppier tunes in my punk-rock. Now when I say poppy, I don't mean the utter crap that is called pop-punk and mostly comes from the other side of the pond since this is to be avoided like the fucking plague. I mean harmonious, almost delicate sounding tunes that are still anthemic enough to make a good punk song. The line is thin between unbearable cheesiness and Buzzcocks genius and few bands can pull it, but Naked is definitely one of them along with other favourites like Toxik Ephex, Lost Cherrees, Passion Killers and No Choice.
Actually, Naked only did the one record, an Ep on Bluurg Records (Dick Subhumans' label) called "One step forward towards reality". This is clearly a jewel in the anarcho world and I recommend reading the enthusiastic chapter dedicated to Naked in Glasper's "The day the country died". If the early anarchopunk scene was musically pretty varied, I guess the second wave of British punk was on the whole keener on playing faster and noisier songs and that explains why Naked stands out from the crowd. Far from GBH, Chaos UK or even Crass, Naked sounded more like an angst-ridden, intense first wave punk band than an early 80's one. For clarity's sake, let's say they were probably more into the Buzzcocks, the Newtown Neurotics, Charge and Eater than Flux of Pink Indians, Discharge and Vice Squad. But they only borrowed the Buzzcocks' tunefulness and song-writing skills as Naked's lyrics are definitely rooted in the anarchopunk world with songs about war, the rise of the right (the absolutely glorious "Mid 1930's pre-war Germany"), children abuse and social alienation.
As brilliant and effective in terms of sheer melody as the riffs are, as precise, diverse and always adequate as the drumming sound, it is the singer's voice that clearly sets Naked apart. I mean, he could actually sing in tunes, which was something quite unusual I suppose. His voice is very vibrant, deep, full of anger, frustration and melancholy but it doesn't sound depressive either, it is just a beautifully angry voice. I know that just sounds cheesy but you'll know what I mean when you give it a listen.
This live set was recorded in 1983 so it is pretty much Naked at the peek of their game and was released on tape by aforementioned Bluurg Records (Bluurg 32 to be accurate and a nerd) so you know the sound is good. Apart from the second and the third song that sound like shit (I am not sure if it is my tape and if the geezer holding the tape recorder somehow passed out during these two songs before someone else took over), the sound is fairly clear, meaning that you can hear everything, and Naked were apparently as intense, tuneful and, dare I say it, musical live as in the studio. The tape has songs from the early period of the band and even actually includes some songs that don't appear on the mandatory Naked retrospective cd "One step backward" that Overground Records released in 2007 (by the way, as much as I love what the label is doing, it would be even better if the lyrics, or at least some of them, were included, but anyway, I digress...), namely "Rabid feeling", "1984", "Suicidal state", "Pressure", "Can't win" and "Good old boy" (thinking about it, it is a shame these were never given the studio treatment). The song "Policeman" is actually a sped up version of the song "Brief encounter" from the first 1979 demo and the tape ends with Naked covering the Ramones' "Do you wanna dance?".