Friday, 19 February 2016

"They ain't seen nothing yet!!!" compilation Ep, 1991

"They ain't seen nothing yet" is a prime example of a world-wide anarchopunk tradition: the benefit compilation. It works like a benefit gig, but instead of drinking too much and raving about Discharge with your mates, you get an Ep you can take home (these are not mutually exclusive obviously). 

The Poll Tax riots, along with the Falklands War and the Miner Strikes, were a defining moment in British political life and one of the most important class movements of the 20th century in the country. This tax, implemented in 1989 by Margaret Thatcher, everyone's favourite enemy, was a direct attack on the working-class and an overt present to the privileged few. I am not exactly an expert in Law but the booklet provided with the Ep offers a clear description of it. The Poll Tax was a new local taxation system on housing that dictated that what you pay was not proportional to the value of the property that you own or rent. Basically, a poor bastard living in a shithole in Burnley would pay the same amount as a Lord living in a posh mansion. The resistance was overwhelming. There were huge demonstrations that often ended in chaos and destruction of property, famously the Trafalgar Square riots, and many people just refused to pay the tax. The Poll Tax was cancelled in 1991 but not before Thatcher had to resign. On a punk level, these events certainly helped rekindle a political flame and was arguably influential on the making of a lot of early 90's bands. Even The Exploited had an anti-Poll Tax song, which says a lot about the unpopularity of the measure. 

But let's talk about the actual record. It was a benefit for the Trafalgar Square Defendant Campaign, a prisonner-support group that helped those who had been arrested and were doing time following the Trafalgar Square riots. The Ep contains a lot of information about the riots, the TSDC, the Poll Tax and class solidarity from an anticapitalistic perspective. French translations are provided, which makes sense since it was released on Nabate, an anarchopunk label from Belgium that put out marvelous records from Revulsion, One By One, Disaffect and of course the mighty Hiatus who were close to the label. Nabate did an impressive job with that Ep as it looks superb, there is plenty to read and think about and all the bands provided some neat-looking artwork. This is exactly how a politics-oriented compilation Ep should look like and I strongly recommend you take a look at the "Exclusion" compilation Lp, which was Nabate's first Lp release in 1989, as it is even more spectacular.

The first band of "TASNY" is Mushroom Attack from Groningen, a band that is mostly remembered today as being "pre-Fleas and Lice". Although this is obviously true, as three members of MA would form FAL afterwards and there are indeed similarities between both bands (just listen closely to the crunchy, energetic guitar riffing and its profusion of chords), MA definitely deserve to be seen on their own merits. The band recorded two split Lp's, with Forgotten Prophecy in 1990 and Disorder in 1992 (the gloriously-named "Masters of the glueniverse"!), that stood out the test of time. MA played fast anarchopunk with a hardcore punk influence and great male/female vocals, not unlike a more tuneful Disaffect, a crust-free Fleas And Lice or a hardcore version of Toxic Waste. I love the fact that they played intense music but still kept a sense of melody, not unlike One By One really, and the intro of their song "Fuck nazis" that is included on the Ep even reminds me of Chumbawamba in its harmonies. While the production is certainly indicative of the early 90's, bands like MA could still be regarded as being ahead of their time, as their take on tuneful and yet fast, hard-hitting anarchopunk can be heard in many late 90's/early 00's anarcho bands. A genuinely good band with a genuinely strange name. Has anyone ever been attacked by mushrooms?

Psycho Flowers are next and I unfortunately don't know much about them. From what I can see, they were from Scotland and were around in the late 80's/early 90's but I haven't been able to link any of the members with other bands so far. Judging from their two appearances on vinyl, Psycho Flowers walked on the anarcho side of things. Beside their contribution to "YASNY", they also appeared on a great 1in12 Club compilation ("Wild and crazy "Noise merchants"") in 1990 with an anti-Napalm Death song (them selling out was one of the topics of the day I suppose). The song on the Ep is "Disease of mankind" and is yet another anti-nazi number. Musically, PF are not far from the early 90's Northern England sound and bands like Slander, Hellkrusher or Armed Relapse, just solid, slightly metallic and crusty, pissed hardcore punk.

Next are the mighty Hiatus, one of my favourite crust bands ever. I have already raved like a lunatic about them in the past so I will do my best to be brief. This was the early incarnation of Hiatus and the last recording with the first singer Raf who also growls on the "I don't scare easily" Ep. The song on "YASNY" is "The show must go on" and it is an absolute ripper, gloriously over-the-top and utterly unself-conscious. It starts with a slow and filthy metal beat, slimy guitars and gruff vocals in true UK crust fashion, and then bursts into vintage neanderthal eurocrust with a chorus you can sing along to. Hiatus has always been an uplifting band if anything.

On the flip side, Private Jesus Detector from Belgium are opening with "Paralyze power". And before I delve deeper into the subtleties of PJD, let's have a quick word about genres. Contrary to popular beliefs, PJD were not a crust band and in fact, they rejected the term back then. They were around between 1989 and 1993 when the genre was spreading like wildfire, but contrary to all the other early crust acts, PJD never had any metal influence, which makes it problematic to characterize them as "crust" (unless you consider than anything with a D-beat and dreadlocks is "crust"). So while some lazily categorize them as "crust" because they looked "crusty" (or whatever) or just because the vocals are really rough, well, I am not one of them. PJD intended to bring back the metal-free, raw hardcore punk sound of bands like Anti-System, Subversion, Shitlickers or even early ENT. And raw it is. I am not sure if it comes from my own copy but the sound is rough like the proverbial badger's arse. Heavy, distorted raw punk with a Scandi feel and an anarcho touch (I just love the the spoken part on this one). This is absolutely brilliant and exactly what I listen to when I crave for genuinely raw, 80's-inspired hardcore. The lyrics deal with systemic manipulation and social paralysis and are far above average as well and rather long for the genre, more akin to Antisect or Anti-System than Discharge. A few years ago (well, in 2003), a highly recommendable discography Lp of PJD's recordings was released.  

The last band on the compilation is Dreadful, a grinding hardcore band whose demo I reviewed a few years ago on TSN. Dreadful were from Glasgow and played rough, sloppy but very fast hardcore with vocals more akin to cavemen grindcore than bandana-worshipping music. Very intense stuff. The song "Wind of the storm" was their sole vinyl appearance and it is a pretty clever number about uprising in the face of poverty and frustration, in a "you reap what you sow" gesture. There is actually a rather long dub interlude in the middle of the aural savagery (I know, how unlikely is that) which works surprisingly well. Who would have thought? 


  1. Psycho Flowers did a demo. Had it once. Tres bonne chansons.

    1. I heard it after I wrote this actually. If I'm not mistaken there were future Disaffect songs on the demo, right?