Dick’s Picks: “With so much political upheaval in the air what better time to dig out that studded leather jacket and jump up and down to four blasts of hard, hi-octane, second generation Brit-Punk?”
Ahhh 1982, the year in which Channel 4 was launched, the ZX Spectrum ‘home computer’ was everyone’s favourite new gadget and Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose was successfully raised after 500 years at the bottom of the Solent – why would anyone think that Britain might be burning? Oh yes, nearly forgot…the Falklands War, a former TV/film personality (Ronald Reagan) was the U.S president, all-women protests at the Greenham Common Nuclear base, an I.R.A. bombing campaign on the British mainland and unemployment topped three million for the first time since the 1930’s…..Chaos U.K indeed!
Although the band formed in 1979, they would spend the next three years furiously gigging and learning their punk chops in and around their native Bristol and the South West, with their first release, the ‘Burning Britain E.P.’ not emerging until 1982. From a 2016 perspective the band can now be seen as part of that huge wave of ‘second generation punk’, not a pejorative term, but rather an accurate description of all the ‘yoof’ up and down the country that were inspired to learn three chords and form a band just like the class of ’77 told ’em to!
The Burning Britain E.P.
Place the needle down on track 1, ‘Four Minute Warning’, and you’re immediately transported back to the mindset of 1982, where fear of nuclear war was all too-apparent and Chaos U.K. like so many others saw fit to add their two-penneth-worth to the err, debate – “Hiroshima was just a start for America to act out a part” – yeh, right on…
So what’s the record like? Super feedback/fuzzed guitars a’ la Crass set the ‘nuclear scene’ before drummer Richard Potts launches the furious tempo and you’re off – like so much ‘second generation Brit-punk’ this is no angular thesis set to music like some of their ‘trendy’ big-city contemporaries, instead it’s a full-on angry assault that’s positively prog in its 2.22 running time, although granted a good 30 seconds is the nuclear explosion at the end!
The sweetly named ‘Kill Your Baby’ rounds off the A-Side, not sure where to go with this but after the ‘comedy’ opening it’s either a not-so-subtle re-write of the Pistols ‘Bodies’ or just, err, a bit of a laugh?
Flip it over and you’re confronted with ‘Army’, a short-sharp-shock of fuzz-saw guitars and all over in 1.36, and from what I can make out would appear to be a comment on the British occupation of Ireland, musically it’s another stormer – like contemporaries Discharge the super-fast tempo would help set the template for punk-offshoot – hardcore…
However, proving there was more to the band than 100 MPH rama-lama punk (and there’s nowt wrong with that mind) last track ‘Victimised’ slows the tempo down, stretches out the track to a mind-bendingly Yes album track length of 3.09, whilst detailing the trials and tribulations of choosing ‘punk’ as your lifestyle choice. Mohican haircuts, ripped trousers and home-made leather jackets might be alright for a Saturday afternoon peacocks parade up and down the King’s Road in that-there London, try it out in any one of the U.K’s provinces in 1982 and, as ‘Victimised’ illustrates, you might not have had such an easy ride, “I’m being victimised, police won’t leave me alone We’re being victimised for wearing strange clothes….Bring false charges against you Nothing else you could do Take you out to make your statement Then it’s back to police detainment”.
And there you have it, four tracks of highly charged punk, all over in the blink of an eye, and a pretty accurate description of life in ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ (as Rik the people’s poet might have it), the band continue to tour and release records, in fact 2015 saw them release the wonderfully titled ‘Shit Man Fucker’ EP and the Burning Britain EP was reissued by Let Them Eat Vinyl in 2014…..
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