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Archive for the ‘Casette tapes’ Category

As its members gear up for their first single release in more than three decades, Phil Hedgehog Tonge documents (in a rare guest post) the intricate obscurities of the cassette, vinyl and CD releases of The Cravats and their descendants…

The Cravats - Toytown

The Cravats seem to have swept up in the fluff those modern music writers and bloggers use their dustpans and brushes to categorise the band into another Anarcho-Punk band. Nay not so. Although associated with the British Anarcho scene (in the same way a fighter escort accompanies bombers), they were very much ploughing their own furrow with their unique Dada-Jazz-Punk agenda.

Formed in those heady anything-goes days of 1977 in that hideaway West Midlands, England town of Redditch, The Cravats began to build a distinctive audio approach (the so-called Redditch “Dustbin of Sound”). This enticed a small to medium-rare following of fans, including Pete Stennett (Small Wonder Records), Mick Mercer (Pop Music Scribbler) and John Peel. Mr Peel was famously quoted as saying that he hated Toyah records and loved Cravats records, but everyone went out and bought the Toyah records instead.

As the band went through their existence as underground cult group and whispered rumour, they eventually spawned the collective project DadaCravatsLaboratories aka DcL. This was to encompass not only The Cravats, but combos such as The Very Things, DcL Locomotive, The Babymen and (the never recorded) Piston Smash (though the outfit Gritty Foreskin was probably a DcL/Mick Mercer wind-up). [footnote 1]

Now, to celebrate the band releasing their first new recording since 1985 [footnote 2], we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to compile a discography. The difference being, whilst most of the music of The Cravats/DcL is easy to find on-line, what exactly are your chances of getting a physical copy?

Well, surprisingly the early 7″ singles on Small Wonder, even Gordon, come up frequently on eBay, usually at quite reasonable asking prices. Although I still get the disturbing feeling that this may be due to the fact that first generation fans are dropping dead and the family’s having a boot sale.

When we get to stuff like Terminus rarity kicks in as do the prices. Rub Me Out seems to be under guard by Crass records die-hards and if you want In the Land of The Giants 12″ you can whistle for it. When we get to The Very Things two things happen, One, availability is negligible and Two, when they do appear on auction sites, they’re being sold by rather rapacious, mercenary gentlemen (and let’s face it, they’re always blokes). One occasion saw one seller trying to get 300 quid for the Bushes Scream LP. The CD version. As for The Babymen and DcL Locomotive singles. Forget it.

The Cravats - Terminus

The Cravats: A Discography

Audio Cassettes. For many years there has been talk amongst music anoraks like myself of the legendary audio-tape releases by The Cravats. They even had catalogue numbers, Choo 1-3.

It turns out this was a massive punk rock wind-up of epic proportions and reinforced by the fact Gordon has the Cat. No. ‘Choo4’ on it. According to The Shend [footnote 3] some people still claim to own these. And there’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Tristan Tszara.

Gordon / Situations Vacant
7″ Single. Released July 1978. On own label which was white/blank, so some sources have the label name as ‘Situations Vacant’ or as ‘Lyntone Recordings’. Most copies have a Small Wonder stamp on the label after Pete Stennet bought the remaining copies because he liked it so much.

Burning Bridges / I Hate the Universe / The End
7″ Single. Released Spring 1979. Small Wonder Records. Cat. No. Small15. I Hate the Universe was many years later used as the slogan on the front of one of The Cravats’ official t-shirts. And boy do you get some weird reactions from the public when you wear it. From “Couldn’t agree more” to “And what don’t you like about it then?”

The Cravats in Toytown
12″ LP. Released Early 1980. Small Wonder Records. Cat. No. Cravat1. Recorded in a hotel in Taunton for some bizarre reason. Re-released in 2012 by DcL Electric Recordings through Overground Records as a 2 CD set (Cat. No. OVER 129CD). Disc one is the original album plus the Small Wonder singles including (at bloody last) Gordon. Disc 2 is the album ‘re-imagined’ and generally fannied-about with by Penny Rimbaud. Still available to buy. In fact it’s currently the essential purchase. Why are you reading this if you haven’t already got it? BUY IT! NOW!!

Precinct / Who’s In Here With Me?
7” Single. Released August 1980. Small Wonder Records. Cat. No. Small24. The A-Side is inspired by the newly opened Kingfisher Shopping Centre in Redditch (“Come and see the palm trees!”). The B-Side is apparently about the voices in The Shend’s head, which he says keeps him company these days.

You’re Driving Me / I Am The Dreg
7″ Single. Released March 1981. Small Wonder Records. Cat. No. Small25. Dreg is the aural equivalent of an angry wasp being stuck inside your head and is of course, splendid.

The Cravats - Southern Studios - Off The Beach - December 1981
The Cravats – at Southern Studios – recording Off The Beach – December 1981

Off The Beach / And The Sun Shone
7″ Single. Released November 1981. Small Wonder Records. Cat. No. Small26. Small Wonder pissed off John Peel royally when the package containing the promo copy of the single burst open on his desk covering it in sand and seashells. The B-side is the track I want played at my funeral.

Firemen
Flexi-disc that came free with the Dutch magazine Vinyl issue 11. February 1982. Cat. No. SHOL 3232. It actually lists the track as ‘Fireman’.

Terminus / Little Yellow Froggy
7″ Single. Released February 1982. Glass Records. Cat. No. GLASS 021. The best record you’ve never heard. The B-side is an instrumental that ends with a disturbing fairy story about a ‘Little Yellow Froggy’ that meets a lump of plasticine.

Rub Me Out / When Will We Fall?
7″ Single. Released July 1982. Crass Records. Cat. No. 221984/4. B-Side features guest vocals by Eve Libertine. This scintillating item alerted a whole new swathe of people to the existence of the group and is also responsible for them being looked over as ‘just another anarcho-punk band’. As if there is such a thing.

The Colossal Tunes Out
12″ LP. Released 1983. Corpus Christi Records. Cat. No. Christits 8. A compilation of single and Peel Session tracks, including a superior (in my opinion) mix of Off The Beach. Also came with a 7″ flexi-disc Laboratory Series 1 which was a mission statement / Dada Audio cut-up from DadaCravatLaboratories.

In The Land of The Giants
12″ EP. Released 1985. Reflex Records. Cat. No. 12RE10. Contains In The Land of The Giants, The Shroud of New York Parts 1&2 and Execute His Will. Contains no saxophone at all as it’s basically The Very Things line-up.

In The Land of The Giants
2-CD set. Released November 2006. Overground Records. Cat. No. OVER 112VP. Compilation of album and single tracks, plus Séance and some (well low-fi) bonus live tracks. Copies still available. Hint, and indeed hint.

Séance
CD single. Released February 2007. Caroline True Records. Cat. No. CTRUE4. Credited to ‘The Cravats with Paul Hartnoll’. Contains, Séance, Séance (Paul Hartnoll remix), Séance (Demo) and In Your Eyes 06. The final Cravats/DcL project to feature Robin Dallaway (Guitar/Vocals).

The Very Things

The Gong Man / The Colours Are Speaking To Me
7″ Single. Released November 1983. Corpus Christi Records. Cat. No. Christits 2. The Cravats had just lost Richard London aka Svorr Nan (Saxophone) to the band Pig Bros and Dave Bennet (Drums) to Poison Girls. So, The Shend and Robin Dallaway recruited drummer Robin Holland aka Disneytime to form The Very Things. This is an odd release as it’s very proto-TVT and that classic ‘Psychedelic Rockabilly’ sound isn’t quite there yet.

The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes / Shearing Machine
7″ Single. Released May 1984. Reflex Records. Cat. No. RE5. Some copies (well, mine) had the ‘Bushes’ label on the B-side so I had to write to the band to find out what it was called.

The Bushes Scream While my Daddy Prunes
12″ LP. Released August 1984. Reflex Records. Cat. No. LEX 3. Came with 7” flexi-disc ‘Laboratory Series 2’, which has a marvellously caustic bit about Disneyland. Re-released on CD in September 1993 by Fire Records (Cat. No. REFIRECD12). Pay no more than 300 quid indeed.

Mummy You’re A Wreck / When Father Papered The Parlour / The Light Pours Out Of Mummy’s House
12″ Single. Released Summer 1985. Reflex Records. Cat. No. 12RE9. Track 3 is an incredibly creepy instrumental version of the title track.

This Is Motortown
7″ Single (Cat. No. DCL1) / 12″ Single (cat. No. 12DCL1). Released October 1986. DCL Electric Recordings. Contains the excellent This is Motortown (and a number of remixes depending on the inch-size) and the track Epilogue. A fittingly slick promo video can be found on You Tube.

Let’s Go Out!
7″ Single (7TP 8) /12” Single Limited Edition (O12TP 8) / 12″ Single Regular Edition (12TP 8). Released 1987. One Little Indian Records. By now TVT had dropped the whole DCL umbrella and were trying to make it as “a proper band”. And releasing various mixes of the same song on different formats is always a giveaway that you are. The Limited edition has a ‘Instrumental Dance Mix’ of the title track if you want to know.

Motortown
12″ LP. Released 1987. One Little Indian records. Cat. No. TPLP6. The final gasp of TVT. By now even Mick Mercer had turned on them, giving this a below-par review in Melody Maker (“I don’t like Soul”). Re-released on CD by Fire Records in September 1993 (cat.no. REFIRECD14). Contains all the mixes of Let’s Go Out! that you’ll ever need. Or want.

It’s A Drug, It’s A Drug, It’s A Ha, Ha, Ha, It’s A Trojan Horse Coming Out of the Wall (American Gothic)
12″ LP (cat. No. REFIRELP 13) / CD LP (cat. No. REFIRECD 13). Released September 1993. Fire Records. So, not quite the last gasp then? However, this is a construct of what was originally going to be the second album before a halt was called and a new direction followed.

DCL Locomotive

King Midas In Reverse
12″ EP. Released 1985. Reflex Records. Cat. No. 12RE4. Contains a cover of The Hollies’ King Midas in Reverse, The King’s Broadcast, The Last Black Tile and KMIR Test Five. A phenomenally brilliant record that single-handedly invented the sub-genre ‘Electro-Skiffle’. Apparently a big underground hit in the Chicago Gay / Dance/ Electro Club scene at the time.

The Babymen

For King Willy
12″ EP. Released Autumn 1986. One Little Indian records. Cat. No. 12TP 3. Contains The Legend of The Babymen, For King Willy, March of The Babymen and Think of Honour and of Wealth. Oddest thing the DCL ever released. Marvellous stuff that’s built around a schoolboy humour chant of “For King Willy” (now do that out loud). You have bugger all chance of laying your hands on a copy of this.

For further information skip along to Dale Jowett’s excellent website http://www.thecravats.com and then go pleasure yourself at the bright lights of The Cravats Facebook page.

Phil Hedgehog Tonge

Footnotes

  1. This is of course just mentioning the DcL’s music work. There were also a series of Dada-inspired pranks, japes and “happenings”.
  2. Unless of course you count the Séance single. Oh you do. Fair enough.
  3. Bass/Vocals/Actor etc. and founder member of The Cravats.

 
The Cravats at home
 

The Cravats – Jingo Bells – new single

Released on 11 March 2016, is The Cravats’ first new material for 31 years. A limited release (475 copies only; each with a hand-numbered insert), Jingo Bells is available to buy from Overground Records.
 

 

Anyone who has had even a vague love of punk music over the last 35 years will know The Cravats or, at least, be aware of their existence.

Championed by John Peel with four sessions, releases on Small Wonder and Crass; the sax-riddled, bass-laden weirdness, the humour, the love of Dada and the infamous Redditch ‘Dustbin of Sound’.

Never mainstream, never hugely popular but always utterly unique they ploughed their own musical furrow in the peripheral vision of the music biz since forming in 1977, which was fine by them.

Those that loved them, loved them to death, those that didn’t, didn’t.

They stopped in the mid-eighties for a cup of tea and it wasn’t until the 2006 release of ‘The Land of The Giants’ double CD compilation on Overground Records that many folk realised what they’d missed.

Co-founder The Shend and original sax-riddler Svor Naan, along with fellow Redditcharian Rampton Garstang on drums, resurrected a live version of the band in 2009 at the bequest of admirers old and new.

Steve Albini’s curated ATP, the final Feeding of The 5000 Crass show, a host of European festivals including 4 years at Rebellion Festival, a Marc Riley BBC6 session and a bunch of selective UK gigs followed to much critical acclaim.

But it is only since the addition, of Viscount Biscuits on guitar and Joe 91 on bass that they have finally decided the ingredients are right for new material and the Jingo Bells / Batter House single is the first offering of this burst of productivity. With a second 7″ already recorded and an LP due for release by the end of 2016, plus a host of upcoming gigs The Cravats are well and truly back.

Still drenched in sax, obliquely angry, raucous and sounding like no other band in existence they have remained faithful to the sound that made them unique. Eccentrically frantic on stage, odd but on the ball on record and definitely not normal, the world needs bands like The Cravats.

For now though, it’ll have to settle for just the one.

The Cravats - Jingo Bells
 

 
PS: Who poshed the driver?

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Under the thirty-year rule, newly-released Cabinet Papers from 1984 reveal for the first time new details about the government’s assessment of what became known as the ‘Thatchergate tapes’: the hoax tape collage of conversations between British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan produced by Crass.

Until investigative journalists were able to identify Crass as the source of the fake, security services in the US, UK and Europe attempted to assess the provenance and credibility of the recorded conversation – which ranged over issues such as the Falklands War, the accelerating European nuclear arms race, UK-US relations and more besides. Although the agencies were able to confirm fairly quickly that the tape was a fake, the political issues highlighted through the fabricated conversation between the two leaders (in a dialogue that managed to be grotesque, alarming and deeply subversive at the same time) did reverberate in the media and political circles; and were again thrust into the spotlight when Crass’s authorship was confirmed.

Papers released include the anonymous ‘press release’ sent out to the media by Crass with copies of the tape; security service assessments; correspondence between civil servant offices; transcripts of the recording; documents matching fragments from the tape to their source recordings; and more besides.

The released papers do not contain any dramatic game-changing revelations about the government’s response to the Thatchergate tapes, but do provide a lot of interesting detail on the state’s efforts to make sense of the recording; and do show (notwithstanding the possible existence of more significant redacted official documents) that the amateur home-recording was certainly not dismissed out-of-hand by state authorities, who were clearly keen to restrict the supply of the ‘oxygen of publicity’ to it.

>>> Download the documents from the National Archive site (link now returns a 404 error)

EDIT – 23 December 2014: The free preview of the file has now been withdrawn from the National Archives site. There is now a standard catalogue entry for the file, which shows as being available to freely consult on the premises of the National Archives; or through paid-for digital download (£3.30). There is a preview image browse facility, but the scans are “intentionally distorted”, so as not to make the contents freely downloadable.

Penny Rimbaud was interviewed on UK Confidential on BBC Radio Four (3 January 2014) about the released papers.

The papers’ release was also covered in the Daily Mirror; and on the Buzz Feed and Vice sites.

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Bullshit Detector (unmastered short-form assembly edit) from Imperfect Cinema on Vimeo.

By Dan Paolantonio & Allister Gall: Unmastered rough-cut short form version of the Bullshit Detector! feature documentary.

Bullshit Detector – A collaborative documentary which examines the cultural significance and legacy of the legendary Crass Records compilation album releases (1980-1984) and which explores synergies between these and the Imperfect Cinema project.

The directors of the Bullshit Detector documentary have released their first ‘short-form assembly’ of the film, in the hope of demonstrating the worth of the project and encouraging others who featured on the compilation trilogy to share their recollections and thoughts on what it mean to be part of these albums’ soundtrack.

To encourage that participation, the filmmakers have:

set up our own Vimeo account (this one) which will allow anyone to simply upload video footage for the project to a centralised online location so that this can be incorporated into the documentary. We are hoping that people who contributed to the original Bullshit Detector compilations and those with an interest in these will record their own video footage for the project (recollections, observations, reflections, etc) and then upload these to our Vimeo site for inclusion! As with the original BSD releases, production values are not criteria for either inclusion in or exclusion from this project; in fact is doesn’t matter if you shoot footage on a webcam, mobile phone, or an HD camera, it is the content that is all-important! So pick up a camera, or turn on your webcam, shoot and say whatever you want and make your contribution to this unique project!

For a hands-on guide on how to convert and upload video footage to our Vimeo site please visit our website at the following URL:

http://imperfectcinema.com/?page_id=325

If you’d like to join our Facebook page for this project please visit the following URL:
http://facebook.com/groups/bullshitdoco/

For more info on this project or if you would like any advice or guidance on how to contribute, shoot, structure, convert or upload your footage please contact danpaolantonio@yahoo.co.uk or iamgall@yahoo.com

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Under The Pavement presents: Anarcho Punk Fair and Under The Pavement Tenth Birthday Party (with vegan cakes and vegan beer!)

Saturday 16 June 2012 – 12.00noon until 7.00pm
The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN
Free entry

Upstairs, the programme includes screenings of She’s A Punk Rocker (film and discussion); The Day The Country Died and the Bullshit Detector Documentary (initial 15 minute cut); Downstairs, are stalls from the Under The Pavement Radio Show; TNS Records; Infiltrate the System Records; and others. Live performances from Andy T and The Sanity Clause.

The full programme can be reviewed on the Under The Pavement blog.

Follow Anarcho Punk Fair on Twitter @punkfair

Event page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/events/288359251253409/

Want a stall (it’s free!), show a film or do a talk? Then email david@underthepavement.org

Under the Pavement

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Dan Paolantonio of Imperfect Cinema is inviting bands to submit DIY video contributions to his proposed documentary of on the Bullshit Detector releases.

Calling all Bullshit Detectees! Wanted for this documentary project, your thoughts, memories, observations & reflections! As part of the project, & in the spirit of Bullshit Detector we would like those involved with the BSD compilations to record & upload their own video footage to contribute to the project! Doesn’t matter if you use a webcam, mobile phone or an HD camera, just record your thoughts & follow the link for a hands-on guide on how to convert & upload your footage! Hopefully this will make the project more far-reaching & representative (& also actually really helps me to produce it as I am self-funding it!!)

Dan has provided a how-to guide to uploading video contributions to the Vimeo streaming video service.

More details can be found on the documentary’s Facebook page.

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A group of filmmakers is planning a short documentary on the three Bullshit Detector compilation albums released on Crass records between 1980 and 1984. The project intends to:

critically examine these releases, from the perspectives of those involved and as also as an artefact of underground activity! The documentary film will be a bonus feature on the Imperfect Cinema compilation DVD (eta Sept 2011) and will be used to contextualise the form and content of this release. We’re looking for people to help us with our research & investigations and to appear in the film – which is strictly a DIY non-profit venture! So if you know of anyone who could help, or would like to help us with the project, please get in touch! We are especially interested in hearing from people / bands who appeared in the compilation series and people involved in the early-mid 1980’s tape trading scene. For more info on Imperfect Cinema please check out our website at http://www.imperfectcinema.com

Contact can also be made through the Bullshit Detector Documentary! Facebook group.

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Gig recordings

I’m still picking up anarcho-fanzines and clipping collections through eBay – where they’re not insanely priced. A purchase from last week included a couple of gratis CD-Rs, one of which included some live anarcho-gigs recordings.

I was really chuffed to find that amongst those recordings was a full through-the-mixing-desk version of Crass’s set from a gig in Exeter in May 1984 – a gig that I organised. I wasn’t aware that there was a recording of this date, and was really happy to (accidentally) track down a copy.

I’ve picked up many a tape from BBP over the years. But on top of the output of DIY tape labels and distribution services, there must be *so* many personal live recordings from 1979-1984 anarcho-gigs out there – whether mixing desk run-offs or basic-as-hell condenser mike recordings from portal tape recorders. Let’s hope most people take the time to transfer them to digital before those thin strips of analog tape (now 25+ years old) stretch and snap irretrievably.

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