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Rubella Ballet - Ballet Bag LP - Dark Entries

Dark Entries Records have released a vinyl album version of Rubella Ballet’s 1980 debut cassette release Ballet Bag, which also includes tracks from the band’s two sessions for the John Peel radio show on BBC Radio 1. The Ballet Bag LP can be ordered direct from the US label’s web site (although shipping costs outside the US can amount to more the price of the album itself). Details of any UK distributor will be added here as/if confirmed.

Rubella Ballet are a gothic anarcho-punk band formed in autumn 1979 by former Fatal Microbes Pete Fender (guitar) and Gem Stone (bass) with vocalist Zillah Minx, and Flux of Pink Indians drummer Sid Ation. Sid and Zillah were living with the Poison Girls at Burleigh House in Epping. Pete and Gem were the son and daughter of Poison Girls singer Vi Subversa. The band used Poison Girls equipment to jam and write songs, and their first performance was when they jumped up on the stage at a Crass concert. Zillah created and designed ultraviolet hand painted day-glo clothes for the band and dyed their hair multicolored to differentiate themselves from the death rock bands who tended to wear black, army-surplus style clothing. For their psychedelic stage show they used nothing more than black lights, strobes, and a bit of smoke to illuminate the band.

In 1982 Rubella Ballet released their first batch of material on a cassette album titled Ballet Bag for Poison Girls’ Xntrix Records. Their sound went from fast punk to full on Goth, innovative like their clothing. Sounding like rather organized chaos this was the start of a very colorful part of the British anarcho-punk scene, which remains vital to this day. Lyrics tell of living under the grim rule of Thatcher’s government, in haunting fashion. Despite the severity of the material, pop and even funk dimensions are discernible beneath the claustrophobic thrashing. Ballet Bag was a 100% DIY project, all artwork was drawn and hand-printed by the band. Each cassette came in a bag with a lyric booklet, badge and poster. The band recorded two John Peel sessions for BBC Radio in 1982 and 1983, which are of much higher fidelity than the home-produced cassette. We’ve included 6 of those songs here as bonus tracks, complete with John Peel introductions from the original broadcast.

All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Housed in neon pink and black checkered jacket emulating the polyvinyl bag that covered the original cassette. Each copy includes a replica of the original 12-page zine with lyrics and drawings by the band. Also included are 2 black and white postcard featuring never before seen photos of the band from 1981.

SIDE A
Emotional Blackmail
Belfast
A Dream Of Honey
Newz At 10
Slant & Slide
Me
Blues
Exit

SIDE B
Krak Trak
Me (Peel Session)
Ballet Dance (Peel Session)
Belfast (Peel Session)
T (Peel Session)
Slant & Slide (Peel Session)
Exit (Peel Session)

 

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Where's the Pleasure  - front cover

Following their successful vinyl re-release of the Poison Girls’ albums Hex and Chappaquiddick Bridge, Water Wing Records are to re-issue the acclaimed (and deservedly so) 1982 Poison Girls’ LP Where’s the Pleasure.

First released in September 1982 on their own Xntrix Records label, Where’s The Pleasure was described by Johnny Waller in Sounds as “The last great punk record”. The record came out of a period of change for Poison Girls. A new house, a new bass player, a completely new set, and, with it, a determination to challenge the expectations of their audience. What resulted is an outstanding collection of songs. Vi Subversa’s lyrics seamlessly make the personal political, and the political relevant to everyday life. The music bristles with inventiveness. What we hear is a band at the top of their game, exploring different styles and enjoying themselves in the process. It is Poison Girls flexing their musical muscles, rediscovering their roots, and connecting with the true spirit of punk, which is of course, unbridled, messy and adventurous creativity. Where’s The Pleasure is a truly wonderful achievement by a truly unique band.

The record can be ordered direct from the Water Wing Records site (in the US). In the UK, as with the earlier Poison Girls’ releases on the Water Wing label, All The Madmen are also offering Where’s the Pleasure for pre-order.

Digital downloads of all tracks on the album are available on the official Poison Girls web site (for a suggested donation of £6.50).

Where's the Pleasure  - back cover

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Daily Mirror - 10 November 2016

THE DAY OF DONALD Trump’s election as US president, Gee Vaucher’s acclaimed 1990 gouache on card Oh, America (originally commissioned for the cover of the 1989 Tackhead album Friendly as a Hand Grenade) became something of an (almost wholly unattributed) internet meme, shared numerous times on the social web, as people responded to the news of Trump’s victory at the polls.

In the UK, Oh, America has been appropriated as the front page illustration for the Daily Mirror‘s post-mortem on the election – it’s now confirmed that the Mirror used this image with the knowledge and permission of Vaucher, and that her artistry is credited on the front page of the print edition of the paper, and inside.


UPDATE: 12 November 2016:

The Mirror has now published a piece describing the selection process around Gee Vaucher’s artwork:

Gee Vaucher - The Mirror

Gee Vaucher’s artwork ‘Oh America’ and the story behind the Daily Mirror’s historic US election front page

IN THE INEVITABLE avalanche of social media fallout that followed Donald Trump’s astonishing victory, one image struck the mind more forcefully than others.

The words ‘Donald Trump elected President’ are arguably all that’s required to convey the full impact of the 2016 US election result.

But in today’s digital world, where news travels as fast as a tweet or email, national newspapers face the unenviable task of summing up the story in a few words and a memorable image, but better than has already been done online – and hopefully better than its competitors.

That’s when an inspired editorial decision is required.

“We knew we wanted to create an iconic front page to mark Trump’s amazing and historic victory, so we were all keeping an eye out for something striking,” said The Mirror‘s Editor-in-Chief, Lloyd Embley.

“It was morning editorial conference and our picture editor, Michael Rye, was showing the senior team a selection of images relating to the US election.”

“And suddenly – bang! There it was. It was perfect.”

The image in question came from the inevitable avalanche of social media memes that followed the election result.

The next task was to find out where the image originated, who owned the copyright, and whether permission for its use was available.

Fortunately, not only did the image prove to be a cult artwork, but the British artist behind it, Gee Vaucher, is about to enjoy her first major retrospective exhibition.

“Michael tracked down Gee and she kindly gave us permission to use it,” says Embley.

“Every day is a special day editing the Daily Mirror but seeing that front page on the news stand will live long in my memory.”

Oh, America

The image is titled ‘Oh America’ and was created in 1989.

When The Mirror asked Gee for a comment to accompany our article she offered the following words.

‘Give us justice which is not the searing spite of revenge, peace which is not the product of war nor dependent upon it. Give us freedom where now there is only servitude.’

The words are by British punk poet-philosopher Penny Rimbaud, Vaucher’s lifelong creative partner, and have previously been superimposed over a version of the image.

The artwork – gouache on card – has also previously been used as the cover of an album by hip-hop group Tackhead on 1989’s Friendly as a Hand Grenade.

WHO IS GEE VAUCHER?

The Dagenham-born artist is a pioneering figure in the DIY and protest art scenes and has been working for more than 40 years.

She first rose to prominence in anarcho-punk band Crass in the late ’70s, who performed under minimal lighting in front of video collage backdrops, often created by Vaucher.

Born in 1945, Vaucher spent her formative years working as a political illustrator for publications including The New York Times and New York Magazine.

Her work straddles the gap between the absurd and the harrowing, focusing on political, personal, environmental and humanitarian messages. Her works are often collage or photomontage.

Throughout her career, she has produced books and ‘zines, allowing her the control to produce and disseminate work through her own channels and on her own terms. Her most recent work, A Week of Knots, was published through Vaucher’s own Exitstencil Press.

The radical counter-cultural touchstone, who designed the sleeve for The Charlatans album Who We Touch among others, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in 2016.

WHERE CAN I SEE THE ACTUAL ARTWORK?

‘Oh America’ features in Introspective, the first major British show of Vaucher’s work, which takes place at Firstsite, Colchester, from November 12 2016 – February 19 2017.

You can see more details about the exhibition here.

Gavin Alley. 2016. Gee Vaucher’s artwork ‘Oh America’ and the story behind the Daily Mirror’s historic US election front page, Daily Mirror, 10 November. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gee-vauchers-artwork-oh-america-9231864.

 

oh-america_1990_gouache-on-card

Gee Vaucher, Oh, America, 1990.

Gee Vaucher’s Introspective exhibition opens at the Firstsite gallery, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester CO1 1JH on Friday (11 November 2016).


UPDATE: 12 November 2016: Interestingly, in the copy of The Mirror front page Tweeted in the Crass and Southern Records accounts (presumably from the first edition London copies printed early on 10 November), the image does not include a credit to Vaucher’s in the top-left hand of the image (as seen in the later editions, including the one above).

 

Below is a blow-up of the additional small credit on page 13 of the print edition of The Mirror:
 
Gee Vaucher - Oh, America credit - The Mirrror

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Mike Dines and Matt Worley (eds.). The Aesthetic of Anger: Anarcho-punk Politics and Music. Minor Compositions: Colchester / New York / Port Watson. ISBN 978-1-57027-318-6.

322 pages, 5.5 x 8.5
US: $25 / UK: £18 (one released, in print version, to book suppliers this autumn).

Available (in print) now direct from Minor Compositions for the special price of £10 (plus postage). The open access PDF can also be downloaded free of charge from Minor Compositions. (Please see below for more on the open access publishing model of Minor Compositions.) Official release to the book trade in Fall 2016.

Punk is one of the most fiercely debated post-war subcultures. Despite the attention surrounding the movement’s origins, analyses of punk have been drawn predominantly from a now well-trodden historical narrative. This simplification of punk’s histories erases its breadth and vibrancy, leaving out bands from Crass to The Subhumans who took the call for anarchy in the UK seriously.

Disillusioned by the commercialization of punk, the anarcho-punk scene fought against dependence on large record labels. Anarcho-punk re-ignited the punk ethos, including a return to an ‘anyone-can-do-it’ culture of music production and performance. Anarcho-punk encouraged focused political debate and self-organised subversive activities, from a heightened awareness to issues of personal freedom and animal rights to the development of local cooperatives where musicians, artists and like-minded people could meet.

The anarcho-punk movement helped to reignite a serious anarchist movement in the UK and inspired actions challenging the Thatcher-Reagan axis. The Aesthetic of our Anger explores the development of the anarcho-punk scene from the late 1970s, raising questions over the origins of the scene, its form, structure and cultural significance, examining how anarcho-punk moved away from using ‘anarchy’ as mere connotation and shock value towards an approach that served to make punk a threat again.

Contributors: George McKay, David Soloman, Russ Bestley, Ana Raposo, Helen Reddington, Rich Cross, Matt Grimes, Pete Webb, Michael Murphy, Alistair Gordon, Mike Dines, Pete Dale, Steve Ignorant, and The Free Association.

Minor Composition’s approach to the practice of open access electronic publishing is explained in the prelim pages of the book:

This book is open access. This work is not simply an electronic book; it is the open access version of a work that exists in a number of forms, the traditional printed form being one of them. All Minor Compositions publications are placed for free, in their entirety, on the web. This is because the free and autonomous sharing of knowledge and experiences is important, especially at a time when the restructuring and increased centralization of book distribution makes it difficult (and expensive) to distribute radical texts effectively. The free posting of these texts does not mean that the necessary energy and labor to produce them is no longer there. One can think of buying physical copies not as the purchase of commodities, but as a form of support or solidarity for an approach to knowledge production and engaged research (particularly when purchasing directly from the publisher).

The open access nature of this publication means that you can:

• read and store this document free of charge
• distribute it for personal use free of charge
• print sections of the work for personal use
• read or perform parts of the work in a context where no financial transactions take place

However, it is against the purposes of Minor Compositions open access approach to:

• gain financially from the work
• sell the work or seek monies in relation to the distribution of the work
• use the work in any commercial activity of any kind
• profit a third party indirectly via use or distribution of the work
• distribute in or through a commercial body (with the exception of academic usage within educational institutions)

The intent of Minor Compositions as a project is that any surpluses generated from the use of collectively produced literature are intended to return to further the development and production of further publications and writing: that which comes from the commons will be used to keep cultivating those commons. Omnia sunt communia!

Support Minor Compositions / Purchasing Books
The PDF you are reading is an electronic version of a physical book that can be purchased through booksellers (including online stores), through the normal book supply channels, or Minor Compositions directly. Please support this open access publication by requesting that your university or local library purchase a physical printed copy of this book, or by purchasing a copy yourself.

If you have any questions please contact the publisher: minorcompositions@gmail.com

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Front and back cover of The Aesthetic of Our Anger - Anarcho-Punk, Politics and Music
Mike Dines and Matthew Worley (eds.). 2016. The Aesthetic of our Anger: Anarcho-punk, Politics and Music. Minor Compositions / Autonomedia: Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

COMING THIS AUTUMN, a new edited collection of essays on different aspects of the aesthetic, politics, culture and music of anarcho-punk:

Punk is one of the most fiercely debated post-war subcultures. Despite the attention surrounding the movement’s origins, analyses of punk have been drawn predominantly from a now well-trodden historical narrative. This simplification of punk’s histories erases its breadth and vibrancy, leaving out bands from Crass to The Subhumans who took the call for anarchy in the UK seriously.

Disillusioned by the commercialization of punk, the anarcho-punk scene fought against dependence on large record labels. Anarcho-punk re-ignited the punk ethos, including a return to an ‘anyone-can-do-it’ culture of music production and performance. Anarcho-punk encouraged focused political debate and self-organised subversive activities, from a heightened awareness to issues of personal freedom and animal rights to the development of local cooperatives where musicians, artists and like-minded people could meet.

The anarcho-punk movement helped to reignite a serious anarchist movement in the UK and inspired actions challenging the Thatcher-Reagan axis. The Aesthetic of our Anger explores the development of the anarcho-punk scene from the late 1970s, raising questions over the origins of the scene, its form, structure and cultural significance, examining how anarcho-punk moved away from using ‘anarchy’ as mere connotation and shock value towards an approach that served to make punk a threat again.

Contributors: George McKay, David Soloman, Russ Bestley, Ana Raposo, Helen Reddington, Rich Cross, Matt Grimes, Pete Webb, Michael Murphy, Alistair Gordon, Mike Dines, Pete Dale, Steve Ignorant, and The Free Association.

More information will be available from the Autonomedia site as the publication date nears.

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Alastair Gordon’s new book Crass Reflections on Punk: Capitalism, Culture & Ideology is now available from the Active Distribution online shop. (This is the paperback printed version and not the limited edition version sold at the Leicester Crass Artwork Exhibition in June 2016).


Crass Reflections - Alistair Gordon

Alistair’s Gordon’s new book Crass Reflections on Punk: Capitalism, Culture & Ideology was launched at the Keep It Simple, Make It Fast conference in Porto, Portugal in July.

Jointly published by Active Distribution and Itchy Monkey Press, Crass Reflections is a revised and extended version of Gordon’s Throwing the Punk Rock Baby Out with the Bath Water: Crass and Punk Rock a Critical Appraisal, originally published in 1996. That text had its own origins in Gordon’s undergraduate thesis.

Crass Reflections revisits, revises and extends the text of Throwing the Punk Rock Baby and comes with a lengthy new scene-setting introduction by Gordon. The book has been designed by Russ Bestley, and includes a Foreword by Crass’s Penny Rimbaud.

This book comprises an undergraduate monograph an essays written in the mid 1990s. The central theme sets up and critically examines the need to examine the work of the anarchist punk band Crass in light of a poverty of discussion of their activities in previous cultural studies writings on punk. Equally, notions of endpoints in underground cultures are put to the question. The broad thesis of the monograph interrogates links between critical theory and Frankfurt school perspectives on art and subversive culture and Neo Marxist accounts of their phylogeny. There is critical discussion of the tension and similarities between Crass and Neo Marxist accounts of the role of dominant ideology (traditional notions of false consciousness/media effect) in contrast to the cultural monopoly of survival needs as the central motor of social reproduction in capitalist culture. The monograph concludes with a discussion of the importance of the legacy of Crass and the need for future research. This monograph was written before the groundswell of punk scholarship in its wake and serves as vindication of its obscure and early importance. It’s principle importance lies in the fact that most accounts beyond this work have focussed not on critical theory but instead on historical contextual salience, aesthetic value and biographical detail.

This new edition comprises a new extensive introduction assessing methodological approaches in punk scholarship and examines the stormy DiY publication and contextual history of the original monograph. Moreover expanded versions of an original chapter is included in addition to essays on subversive culture, the 1982 Falklands conflict and an examination of philosophical approaches to repressive technologies.

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Steve Ignorant has released a remixed version of West One (Shine on Me), the classic Ruts single as performed by Steve Ignorant with Paranoid Visions. The download-only version (£1, or more if you wish) is a benefit for the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat charity, that Ignorant is a crew member of.

An alternative mix can be found on the 10″ vinyl (plus CD) release “The Height of Ignorance” (limited edition) available from http://www.foadmusick.weebly.com. A percentage of the profits from that release will go to the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat charity… However… 100% of what you pay for this exclusive version will go to them.

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