Thursday, 11 April 2013

A tribute to Thatchula: Mayhem "Gentle murder" Ep 1982

After a couple of weeks of traveling, hence the absence of new posts on Terminal Sound Nuisance, I came back home on monday with this glorious news: the death of Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher's influence on British punk-rock in the 80's cannot be underestimated. Glasper's books reveal that Maggie, her party and her ideology, motivated many a young punk band to form throughout the long and grim years that made up her rule. Indeed, she was, with reason, everyone's most hated figure and one may argue that a more moderate PM could have resulted in more moderate punk bands. Would there have been as many anti-war songs if the Falklands war hadn't happened? As many anti-nuclear weapons songs if she hadn't deployed American cruise missiles in Britain? As many songs about unemployment and poverty among the working-class if she hadn't been such a ruthless supporter of the wealthy and propertied and hadn't declared class war on the miners? As many anti Apartheid songs if she hadn't supported the South African government? Would the Belfast anarcho scene have been so flourishing without Maggie's plastic bullets?

Of course, it would be cynical to claim that her existence did any good. She did a lot of harm that can still be felt and paved the way for the hardcore liberalism that is so fashionable today. She contributed to fuel the anger of many youths frustrated at seeing such a horrible character running the country and it is undeniable that punk-rock would not have been the same without her.

To join in the celebration of her death, I decide to post a record from 1982 that, beside being great, aptly reflects the anger and the tension of the time. Sadly, when you mention Mayhem, people immediately think you are talking about half-demented, dressed-up Norwegians running in a dark forest. But ten years before the dodgy Scandinavians, there was an English band going by the name Mayhem, hailing from Southport in Merseyside. Although not the most famous band of the era, Mayhem will probably be remembered for the song "Psycho" that appeared on the compilation "A riotous assembly" and is one of the very best punk songs of the UK82 genre. "Gentle murder", Mayhem's first - and best - record, was released in 1982 by none other than Riot City Records. It was the label's 13th release, between Chaos UK's "Loud, political and uncompromising" and The Ejected's "Have you got 10p?".

Though unmistakably of its time, this Ep is definitely top-of-the-shelf second-wave British punk-rock. It is aggressive and snotty, with a rocking feel in the guitar sound, not unlike GBH or Picture Frame Seduction. The chorus are very catchy and have this singalong quality that you expect from this type of bands. Apart from "Dogsbody", a bouncy mid-tempo number, the songs are quite fast, "Blood money" using the typical GBH/One Way System's pummeling beat. The lyrics are sadly not included, but the last song, "Patriots", was an ironical song against the Falklands war denouncing dumb patriotism and people who blindly followed the Thatcher's propaganda and joined in the war hysteria against Argentinians.

A great record from a band that should have gone on playing fast punk-rock instead of slowing down (but then, that seemed to be a contagious disease at the time). If you enjoy aforementioned GBH and Picture Frame Seduction, The Threats, The Defects or Soldier Dolls, then Mayhem will be your cup of tea and a great soundtrack to Maggie's funeral.

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