Friday, January 30, 2009

Awesome Intro to "Choosing Death" by John Peel

The sun shines. Trees bud. If I opened the window, I'm Sure I would hear birds singing. And this morning, when I took the dogs for a walk, I found a fully-grown deer dead in the stream that gurgles past our house, half its head blown away by a hunter. This, I thought, as I watched the dogs evacuating their bowels at the roadside, is an omen from God--of if not from God, from Vashti, Handmaiden of Baal or someone like her--to warn me that I'd better sit down and get that book introduction written.
But where to start?
Well, I could whirl you back in time to the mid-50's and try to explain yet again the impact that hearing Elvis for the first time had on my young and bourgeois life, or I could tell you about the gig I did at Southampton University with Hendrix, but it might make more sense to return to a riverside pub in Putney, London, at the end of 1986.
I don't recall whose idea it was, but I'd trekked to Putney to see the Stupids. Punk, let me remind you, had happened nine years earlier an had evolved into art rock subgenres every bit as beastly as the muck that it had, in theory, swept aside. What was needed, my BBC Radio 1 producer, John Walters, and I felt, was a return to rousing vulgarity. What we were looking for was a band that, metaphorically at least, lit their farts on stage. The Stupids, bless them, were that band. Was that band? Who cares?
The Stupids were funny, fast, loud, clever/stupid and they took the piss out of Walters and myself. They also came from East Anglia, the part of the country in which I still live and in which the deer discussed above died. They were shit hot and local. How could you not love them? They also told me--warned might be a better word--of another local phenomenon, Extreme Noise Terror. ENT, with Mick Harris on drums and with charismatic, blue-haired Dean Jones on vocals, played from time to time at the Caribbean Centre in nearby Ipswich, so I took Sheila, my wife, and our son, William, to see them play. That's the way to bring up your kids. Trust me, I know. ENT were amazing. So were their fans. Any track more than 20 seconds long was greeted with derisive cries of "too long, too slow" or "fucking prog-rockers" from the Caribbean Centre faithful, most of whom looked as though they had but recently risen from shallow graves alongside A12, the arterial road that runs from London to Ipswich. The only disappointment for Sheila, William and me was that the band, constrained, no doubt, by economic factors, wasn't loud enough. We wanted to leave the Centre with blood trickling from our ears.
Well, one thing led to another. At one of those Ipswich gigs, ENT were joined by the even faster Napalm Death, at another by the short-lived but murderous Intense Degree. All three bands recorded sessions for my radio programmes and most of the tracks they recorded ended up on the Hardcore Holocaust compilations. Almost everyone I knew who heard these compilations, or tracks from them, thought they were all crap. A result, I thought. Then along came Carcass. Who could failed to be appalled by titles such as "Exhume to Consume" or even the essentially meaningless "Empathological Necrotism," both recorded and broadcast repeatedly by the BBC?
Then, early in the 1990's, something went wrong, for me at least. The willfulness, the wild-eyed exuberance went out of the music, to be replaced with... with what? Well, I suppose it was, to a degree, heavy metal. I'd really had enough of that in the '70s to last me a several lifetimes, so Slayer, Metallica, those bands never meant a thing to me, I'm afraid. There was also the breaking down of the music into subgenre after subgenre, to the point at which it became somehow incomprehensible. The same thing happens, to be honest, in dance music. Take happy hardcore, for example. Ludicrously fast, basic to a fault, oafish and wonderful, dance purists hated it. Now it is called hard trance--or was last week anyway--and they still hate it. They're missing the point.
So it's 2004, and I'm still wandering the record shops, still standing amongst the boys searching the racks marked "metal," boys who probably assume that this old feller is there to touch their pert, young bottoms, and I'm still hoping to hear something that will thrill me and make me laugh out loud as Carcass, Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror did. Current favourites include several of the Relapse bands and Teen Cthulu--great name, great band--and only last night, in a programme I was recording for Radio Eins in Potsdam, Germany, I played a couple of raging tracks from the cover-mounted CD with issue 108 of Terrorizer magazine.
i don't know why Terrorizer is called Terrorizer rather than, in the British spelling, Terroriser, but it is right that it is. That Z just looks better that a mere S. The tracks I played were "Clotted Cryptic Writings" (what can that possibly mean?) lifted from the LP Three on a Meathook by the Ravenous and "Flesh for the Twelfth Omnipotent" (who's He? Or She?) by Japan's Intestinal Baalism. I mean, how could you not play them? Of course, people will warn me, as they have warned me about so many other things, from Little Richard to Run-DMC("You shouldn't play that. That's the music of black criminals," a colleague told me), stuff like that can be damaging to impressionable young minds. What, more damaging than the diet of war, rape, pestilence and unearned celebrity they're fed daily by the media? I don't think so.
"Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency" anyone? Come on in, The blood's fine...

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