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A few photos from the No Sir, I Won’t conference held at Oxford Brookes University on 28 June 2013 – one of the afternoon roundtable panel, and three from the exhibition accompanying the event. I’ve written a brief report from the event for the next issue of Freedom, but I won’t post the text of that here until the subsequent issue is published (why not take the opportunity to subscribe to Freedom, while you’re waiting…).

Sean Clark has posted a brief report from the event on his blog and has also shared a gallery of photos from the day on Flickr.

George McKay (left), Sarah McHendry and Penny Rimbaud

George McKay (left), Sarah McHendry and Penny Rimbaud


 
Panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won't conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013

Panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won’t conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013


 
A second panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won't conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013

A second panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won’t conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013


 
A third panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won't conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013

A third panel from the exhibition at the No Sir, I Won’t conference, Oxford Brookes, 28 June 2013

Exhibition by Russ Bestley; photos by Rich Cross and Ana Raposo

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No Sir, I Won’t: Reconsidering the legacy of Crass and anarcho-punk
Oxford Brookes University
Friday 28 June 2013

Organised by Oxford Brookes’ Popular Music Research Unit (PMRU) in association with the Punk Scholars’ Network (PSN).

THIRTY YEARS SINCE legendary anarcho-punk group Crass released their highly challenging LP Yes Sir, I Will, this symposium will explore the impact and long-lasting legacy of Crass and anarcho-punk. Crass are widely perceived as ‘reluctant leaders’ of the anarcho-punk scene; an ironic title for self-proclaimed anarchists, of course. The central question, for this study day, is: were Crass and anarcho-punk scene significantly effective politically or, alternatively, was the anarcho-punk scene surreptitiously more about clothes, music, image and ‘symbolic rebellion’ (to use Adorno’s term)?

Newspaper articles, journalist/fan publications and a growing body of scholarly work on Crass and the anarcho-punk music scene has been keen to celebrate the fact that such groups sold many thousands of records (more than a million in total in Crass’s case, reportedly), contributed substantially to the rise of anarchistic strategies on the Left and the revitalization of CND in the UK, drew the attention of the UK establishment including the House of Commons and were eventually prosecuted under the Obscene Publications act.

Recent scholarly work on punk has challenged classic academic accounts of punk such as Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Querying the legitimacy of such accounts has been a specific intention of the nascent Network of Punk Scholars, for example. This symposium, however, would offer a counter-challenge to post-Hebdigean scholars: what is the meaning and politics of punk? What have bands such as Crass done, beyond the ‘bricolage’ which Hebdige describes? What are (were) the limits to their efficacy as agitators? Was/is anarcho-punk really about more than music? If so, was music the best possible vehicle for the forms of agitation which Crass undertook?

Within the study day, in addition to presentations from members of the Punk Scholars’ Network and any other interested parties, an afternoon panel combines the views of Penny Rimbaud (the vociferous drummer of Crass), Sarah MacHenry (Crass fan, 1in12 member and ex-Witchknot/Curse of Eve drummer) and George McKay (author of Senseless Acts of Beauty discussing examples of correspondences he had with Crass in the early 1980s).

The symposium will be free of charge and will run all day. A free lunch will be provided. However, spaces are limited and interest is expected to be high so it is recommended that you book a place early to avoid disappointment. Those interested in giving a paper or wanting to book a place should contact Dr. Pete Dale at Oxford Brookes University, pdale@brookes.ac.uk c/o School of Arts, Richard Hamilton Building, Headington Hill, OX3 0BP. Please do not hesitate to contact Pete if you are at all interested in this symposium event.

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Steve Ignorant has dimissed a new punk compilation CD being released as a benefit for the National Trust. Never Mind the Dovecotes is an 18-track release, featuring songs by artists including Sham 69, X-Ray Spex, GBH, and Slaughter and the Dogs.

The Independent reported (4 August 2011):

It is estimated that half a million of the Trust’s members were aged between 16-25 in the late 1970s when the establishment was in uproar over the appearance of disaffected bondage-trouser clad youths in the nation’s new concrete shopping centres.

Now it hopes to cash in on the demographic shift by selling the album at its gift shops and online to fund conservation work on its historic homes and ancient landscapes.

“Over thirty years on, many of them now enjoy family outings with their children and families at parks, beaches and historic houses. Perhaps, though, this collection will offer them the chance to rekindle a little of that youthful spirit,” explained Phillippa Green, National Trust brand licensing manager.

Ignorant is unimpressed at the news:

“For me punk was not about dressing up in strange clothes and going to nightclubs in London. It was about getting on the streets and protesting about stuff,” he said.

“It just goes to show how shallow that part of the punk movement always was and always will be,” he said. “What’s it going to be next? You are sitting in ye olde tea shop listening to the Sex Pistols? I can’t get that at all,” he added.

John Lydon has also registered annoyance with the inclusion of two Sex Pistols songs on the release. His objection is entirely focused on what he claims is the lack of proper licensing and financial agreements. In widely reported comments, he says: ‘I would like to be able to trust the National Trust but from this point forward I can’t… No one however has even spoke to myself or my management, or had a conversation with myself or my management about this album. Never Mind The… Permission.’

Never Mind the Dovecotes

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To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Crass’ third studio album Penis Envy:

members of such crucial indie-punk and riot-grrl bands as Bratmobile, Mika Miko, the Need, the Sharp Ease, Dunes, Peter Pants and Auto Da Fe will attempt to re-enact Crass’ seminal […] Penis Envy. […] So get ready for plenty of “Systematic Death” and cheeky musical questions like “Where Next, Columbus?”

The performance takes places tonight (7 June 2011, thirty years to the day since the album’s release) at The Smell club, Los Angeles:

Housed in a funky old storefront, this aptly named downtown club is one of the city’s few all-ages live-music venues. Run by a clique of volunteers with a punk-inspired DIY philosophy, the Smell features arty, punky, freaky and experimental indie combos. Most shows are $5. All ages. No booze. No phone. http://www.thesmell.org

Some sites report that the performance will be vocal only. The ‘All-Star Crass Tribute Band’ will be joined by Crazy Band and The Brothers, plus “art installation by Irina Contreras, vegan pizza by Jeremy Noethens, and DJ sets from DJs Cathy De La Cruz and Jennifer & Jessie Clavin!”

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With the relevant US visas now secured, Steve Ignorant has confirmed the revised dates for the postponed north American dates of the Last Supper tour. This twelve-date section of the tour now kicks-off in Brooklyn, New York on 20 April, and concludes, back in New York on 8 May 2011.

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The Southend Punk Rock History site offers a good gallery of anarcho-punk fanzines covers, alongside more general punk fanzine cover galleries from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

What gets included in which category (anarcho-punk or general punk) is – inevitably – open to debate, and it’s a shame that no full-page scans have yet been included in the site, but it’s a great combined gallery.

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