Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Strawberry Blondes - Under Suspicion

Strawberry Blondes - Under Suspicion (UK)
From the EP "Nothing Left To Lose", (2013)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sham 69 the Original 77 line up LIVE a review.

For years I was envious on the Londoners and New Yorkers. They could pic and choose any classy band from any part of the world as entertainment. Stockholm is starting to get a bit of that nowday´s, a feeling of beeing where things happen. I didn´t go and see Black Sabbath on last friday, because I wanted so see Topper again, reed my gospel about them here. In true punk spirit they drag me into some late night jamming from hell after the gig, hahaha, with singers like me they don´t need enemies. On saturday there was one thing on the schedule, Sham 69.

The Band

Sham 69 was one of the single most important band for the development of the Streetpunk and Oi! movement. Sprung out of the original wave of bands in the late 1970ies they were the band that wave the punk banner when most other original bands turned into pop och post punk bands.

Unlike the Sex Pistols and The Clash rather sophisticated punk rock, Sham didn´t do more that put three chords together and in the chorus burst out in football crowd chants like the football fans did on the teraces. Mayby so, they came the true core of street punk much closer than the Clash did, for instance, with its more and more sofisticated pop. Today I find it hard to even think of a streetpunk and Oi! scene without the Sham 69 seventies adventures. Because adventures it seemed to be. Not only with the tension within the band as companion when singer Jimmie Pursey often refused to go on long tours.
Their leftish, working class aproach didn´t only gathered the poor no future kids and the outcasts in England. The ultra right wing party National Front decided as well make them their band. At least turn the Sham gigs into a platform for their nazi shit. The gigs turned into riots and the career of the Sham 69 would never see the heights that they deserved.
Besides that, many chritics and trendy know it all´s saw them as a vulgar hooligan band, not least in the Swedish music papers, where Sham together with UK Subs and the Exploited wasn´t given the same credit as other early punk bands. Sham wasn´t for the trendies, it was the real deal.

Sham 69´s football chants and underdog lyrics was the blueprint for the Oi! Movement and are so still today.

I saw Sham 69 (Pursey and some musicians) in the late 80ies where still the Swedish neo nazi skinheads (aka Boneheads) did turn up like a clockwork or Clockwork Orange gangs*. Just as the situation was when the band broke up in the late 70ies. For some reason Jimmy Pursey decided to be a rapper at the time and most of the gig was a musically breakdown. Pursey´s fighting spirit held top class. Through the whole show he mocked and humiliated the sieg heil skins so it must hurt, even in the mind of some boneheads. I saw some skins cry like babies afterwards, ripped out of an illusion that Sham 69 was their band. A pissed off Pursey did not include the boneheads in their anthem ” If The Kids Are United”.

The Crowd 2013

The Neo Nazi skinheads are almost gone in Sweden now. The ultra right wings have suits and being eager for power in the parliment now, not wearing Dr Martens and braces. The new skins in town are SHARPS, original or/and unpolitical*.
So therefor the wasn´t any core of Hitlerlovers infront of the stage as in 1988.
The crowd contained many familiar faces as well as others. Young and old, everyone there to show our affection and love to the classic band with their classic line up.

And possible was it the love and good response that made the dear old ranting singer a bit pale and numb in the beginning. Maybe he was so used to the animosity infront of the stage, so he might needed some of that to get him going? I don´t know, but when the security at the place did behave like morons, then Pursey transformed from a man on the job into a brilliant character and the true frontman of Sham 69. Was it a bit of the old punk that came out of the shadows?

The Venue

First of all, it was hard to get tickets, it was hard to even get information about the gig. It was poorly promoted. Possibly because it was a bunch of punks trying to put together their anual punk gathereing. Why on earth don´t people realize that punk legends shall play at Debaser Medis or Fryshuset with its capacity, so that more people can get tickets. On the other side it was cool to watch the band on such a small stage.
The place which I and many with me never heard of before was way under the standards of the regular clubs like Debaser or Strand. Enarena Globen was the name of it. If you live in Stockholm you understand the ridiculous in that, if not, we take that another time. The security seemed a bit taken of the amount of people and the people itself. Shaken and stired.
Inside, the 2 bars were real fast in serving thirsty punks and skins.
But I got a bad feeling about it all, not least the time it took to get all the people inside. And the bad feeling wasn´t wrong even if it turned out to be the right thing for the gig in the end.

The Gig

The band went onstage, the crowd roared like a hungry beast, eager for some Sham...
Unfortionately didn´t the security guys understand the basic concept of a punk gig and after a few songs they marched up on stage to make it look like an old The Doors show (you know where the worked up Jim Morrion having a go at the cops covering the stage). For most of the gig I saw some beefy, scared bouncers, where I should be seeing the bass player Dave Tregunna and Guitarist Dave Parson.
This was probably what Jimmy Pursey needed to be going. It was hillarious to see the psychodrama that was going on between the singer, the security and the front rows. For a moment I got the feeling that it was going out of hand.

They gonna cut the power”, I tought, ”or there´s gonna bee a riot”,
In this hostile enviroment, Sham 69 where at their best. All of the sudden I could see that they weren´t here for the money and fame, They were the real deal.

After a while the security staff seemed to be learning their lesson, there wasn´t any situation going on, just a punk rock mosh pit having fun. Jumping and chanting like every song was a part of our DNA, which it were, at least mine.

This time we all sang along ”If The Kids Are United” even if a shitload of us were close to our 50ies and not kid´s anymore. They should change the lyrics to the more accurate ”If The Drunks Are United”.
”Bostal Breakout”, ”Hersham Boys”, ”Angels With Dirty Faces”, ”Questions and Answers” name it. Most classic tunes where there. Those five mentioned was, in my mind, the best**.

Mr Pursey didn´t lost the opportunity to praise Olof Palme, our murdered Prime Minister, our JFK. And praise Sweden and Stockholm as one of the coolest places in the world. So the Stockwell tune was suitable renamed Stockholm. I guess Tregunna felt good as well with our response compared to when he played in Stockholm with the Lords of The New Church in the 80ies when the crowd was legendary stone cold.

Without the tension between the band and the boys with security badges it would been like any other concert. They did their songs, the crowd showed their affection and blah, blah, blah.
Now the band could show how they worked back in the days without being sad nostalgia. Part of it because that their songs are still vital and their political stance is as important in our days as it was in the good old days. From where I stood (Jumped like a madman) the sound was terrific and the moshpit kept me alive.

In the end the bouncers smiled a bit and possibly understood that this was exactly like things should be.

Worth the money 300 SEK. Definately (I did go for free however, but would gladly have paid for it)

Oh I forgot, there was another band as support, Stilett, I didn´t see them and will give them a chance next time.

* Note Cicci Rehnström Suurna´s documentary about the 80ies STHLM´s skins.

**The Set List, the Anthology is the classic songs rerecorded and released this year 2013.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Whatever happened to the 80ies Skinheads...

Skinheads 25 år senare (Skinheads 25 years later)

Documentary shown on SVT (Swedish Television) Tursday 21/11 2013

1986 the then young and ambitious Swedish reporter Cicci Rehnström Suurna did make a documentary about some young Skinheads in Stockholm. I saw it back then, still with sad memories of the skinhead thing going to hell (the far right). I knew, I been there, done that. In 86-88 Stockholm was a divided city between Punks and Rockers and Hip Hoppers (called Kickers at the time) and The Skinheads. I had no problem to talk to them and I remember that Character Göran, and my todays Girlfriend even was a hangaround. We knew that everyonee of them wasn´t nazis as the media claimed. I think Cicci back then managed to see the individuals cought in an extrem macho and violent style. Not some nazi thugs.

Now 25 years later she want to know what ever did happened to the guys, the movement etc.
The movment today trying the best to be originals, unpolitical and SHARPS. But still some young guys and girls and some punks gather at the nation known hangout, Helikopterplattan. In the end one of the more violent skins in the documentary shows up and it turn out to be a Japanese tourist photosession or something. ”We were there”, style!
And in a way both her films are a bit cute. Pakaging that violent young men as cute nd lost young boys. Not just, but a bit. Even if the main theme in the doku is ”Wheere are they now, what the hell became of the once Sieg Heil skinheads.

Most of them did end up in criminality and in jail. Some just fled the scene to become whatever they beacame. Those guys didn´t want to take part in the film and regret any involvement in the Skinhead movement. The two we got to meet again, Göran and Kent, told their story, a story that continued with drugs, holiganism and gangsterlife in the outlaw biker world. Both of them tries to make sense in their everyday life and tries to help out. Kent even work as a social worker, Göran co founded Exit, a Nazi defector organissation that still works.

A cop that was working at the scene then, trying to keep the ever coming minor weekend riots, was telling his impressions. Those kids were so torn inside, he comment.

I was on the other side back then, and I think those boneheads did destroy the cool thing about skinheads. I don´t host to many sympathies for them who helped to fuck it up. But I can´t see why that Göran guy have to hate him self as he seem to do still today as an ex junkie, ex con , ex skinhead. But it is good to see that they feel a bit embarrased over the right wing shit.
The doku is a bit to cozy to be real good. But as an document of the zeitgeist (both end of the 80ies and today) it is OK. At least it tries to see the humans behind the boots. Not just deliver the average media cliché.

Worth watching? A bit, it was better than the other shit that the TV chanels are full of.  

Topper, a Gospel, the best Swedish live band at the moment

Some weeks ago I went to a show that became impossble to write a review about. Im not that happy little girl (that hates Robbie Williams) that wen´t to see them Topper as in their song. More of a missarable son of a bitch or something. I knew that I was in it for a treat when they announced that there would be guest artists onstage like the former Sludge Nation/Dear Majesty singer Jälevik and more.
On the other hand, why did they invite guest singers when they are such a good band as they are? Questions, questions, well I might would get some answers if I went there.
Anyway they were on at the Snövits club Probation at Södermalm in Stockholm. Together with Stiffy Jones. But before I write about that I have tell the story from the beginning.

Let´s back the tape to Januari this year. To predict the future I claimed that it would be an interessting year when all the good bands would release a record. So did many of them do and there are still some more weeks left for those who didn´t. But I know that Topper are sceduled release their next full lenght album next year. But we might get a single now*.

This year started with a concert that I instantly felt this was something extra, Topper at Snövit Jan 26. Still I find it the best gig the whole year, still ten month later. Still I get shivers from looking on the footage from my hand held camcorder from that event. Its energy, the energy that Topper is all about. They are not the most wild thing you seen, not the most crazy you can run into. But there are some punk rock energy in it that is hard to explain.

So I went there this October friday without any illutions of ever feel close to any divinity that Topper have to top to top themself at the same place. A couple of new songs (is that really nessecary?) was to be expected and a couple of other guys ocationally onstage. It was with mixed feelings I did go there. Could they do anything than fail?

The other band went onstage, Stiffy Jones, and was quite OK, but sorry guys I was waiting for Topper that night. I´ll give you a real chance another day. The same night was the good band Pastoratet on a Stockholm visit at Broder Tuck as well the Swedish Fotball World Cup game against Austria on in the same City. Not only 60 000 spectators at Friends Arena but the whole nation glued at the TV sets. A bad day for a gig. But I didn´t care, I was curious for whatever Topper would come up with. Some clever guy that been helping out as a band driver as well as tour manager for Topper as well as Ligisterna, aka Alph, made up a logistic plan to manage to see Topper and the be just in time for Pastoratet.
If there was a dramatic Fotball game on I didn´t care, I was in for some Topper.

And when they finally entered the stage, not as rock stars but as bunch of old men still in they dayjob clothes, litterary changing their clothes onstage into their Topper uniform, the black Topper shirts. Then it was just some minutes left for the mayhem to break loose.

The Singer Jocke started with some ranting adressed to Swedish filmaker Lukas Moodysson that had premiere with his punk film (We Are The Best) the same night, ”You haven´t done it for real, we have”. Then the band burst into Punkrock revival. Where he pretty much waste all his voice, then it was a hissing as screaming Jocke that still tried to scream the little voice there was left out of his body. After first number it was bowling time from the old single tune from the year 2000, ”Take the Skinheads & Homeboys Bowling”, that was the moment when my embarkment start to burst. Then there was no hiding, then it was an open sore that never seamed to heal. The crowd started to move their feet ´till it went bananas. Little by little the barriere between the crowd and the band vanished. The guest artist was a part of it. If I ever was doubtful about them, I backed off. It was a stroke of genius. Mr Jälevik seems to enjoy every minute of it, while singing a Buzzcock tune with a growling voice.

The Trobbing bass guitar with its steady boom, boom boom, was the ground where their power came from. Matched with the hard drumbeating, drums that seems like taking more hard hits than any punchdrunk old boxer. The Steve Jonesy guitar licks and powercords worked out of an eager to be the best band there is, was taking the band further than mediocrazy. On top of it, the angry, ranting singing that comes from a madman singer that seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once, both in mind and in in the physical space, that was Topper, that is Topper!

It is quite alot of Clash, Stiff Little Fingers and Sex Pistols but enough of Jocke to make them a band on their own.
I´ve seen great international Punk Rock stars the last two years, very few would put them Topper behind themself in my toplist. Infact it is only Rancid and Street Dogs that can compeate. Stiff Little Fingers, Social Distortion, Iggy and The Stooges, Bad Religion,Dropkick Murphys and Turbonegro didn´t made me go bananas like I did at Snövit, for the second time this year. Even the Swedish pride of Asta Kask and Alonzo Fas 3 can´t match Topper a night like this.
Despite the rather dull cellar club sound that is standard at Stockholms cellar punk clubs, despite that there was no voice left in the singer, despite the whole country was watching football they managed to change the odds. They were fighting the fight any good band would do, fighting and winning. They didn´t seem to worry too much about it. The tapping of drumsticks 1,2,3,4 and the next tune is on and the band carries on.

I was no more a bloke with a blog that might write a review about it. I was a blob, an amoeba that lost every aspec of...whatever I lost. Dignity I lost a long time ago in a Galaxy far far away.
”Of She goes”, cries the pogoing crowd together with the guest singer Eas Tiljander. Then ”Robbie Dies” at least as everyone went on chanting that together like we never done anything else as the end of the ”Off she goes” goes. Imagine Topper and the crowd do the same at Hammersmiths Odeon!

At the end of their set the voice of the main singer was finished, so I an a few blokes grabed the microphones and gave him a hand (voice). We declare that ”we live in the Suburbs, 7 days a week”. The thin line between the band and the crowd was then diminished as it is supposed to be when punk comes true. I think I understand how religion once came into the life of the cavemen. It must been just like a night like this. So I don´t write a review, I write a gospel.

To talk about entrance fees such a night feels puny but whatever I did pay it was way too cheap.


But the night didn´t ended there.
Pastoratet (the Pastorate) is a band from the towns of Tibro and Skövde in the Vastergötland province, (the real Gotaland, not like it is in that HBO fantasy fiction TV series ”Vikings). And the gig was held at Broder Tuck in the same area. We, Ligisterna and I went to see them. And we were pretty much the ones that did. I felt a bit bad about it because how could they even be a fraction of as good as Topper that night? And in that basement club Dislocated with its bad sound. However, they did. Actually they did have a rather good, thick and heavy sound. And singer of Pastoratet Goran´s clear and soft voice mixed with some screaming did cut throught the sound barrier that is the sound of the band. Their songs felt like home and often the lyrics is a bit like being in a domestic argument. Afterwards I tried to find out who the song ”Stick din lilla diva” was about. But I rather should try to prove Einstein wrong instead, because there was no answer to get.

That the band even got my attention after Topper is remarcable, that they even got me going as well is astonishing. That good was their effort to get us, the few that was in the crowd going. And we got it going. I hope that they will come back soon, another time, when there is no punk film premiere, no fotball game and no Topper mayhem at the same time. But Im very pleased I gave them a chance because they perfected an alredy perfect gig night. I went home almost stonedeaf for two days. But that it was worth.

Worth the Money? Yes.

Tonight Topper go on the Snövit stage for the third time 2013, I will see them for the forth time this year, will they still go for that magic moments or will they not.

Topper will release a single in the end of December 2013 and the album 2014.