Tag Archives: Crass

ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE- ‘Don’t Turn Away’ (2019)

‘Anarcho punk legend’ Steve Ignorant returns with his new acoustic project Slice of Life follow their 2014 debut ‘Love And A Lamp-Post’ with a new collection of eleven songs titled ‘Don’t Turn Away’. Accompanied by Carol Hodge, Pete Wilson and Pete Rawlinson as the Slice Of Life our man Anto Morra discovers Don’t Turn Away may be mellow, but the emotions and feelings are definitely not…

ABOUT STEVE

Steve Ignorant is a singer/songwriter and artist. He co-founded the anarcho-punk band Crass with Penny Rimbaud in 1977. After Crass stopped performing in 1984, he worked with other groups including Conflict, Schwartzeneggar, Stratford Mercenaries, Current 93, and US punk band Thought Crime, as well as occasional solo performances. Steve is also a wood sculptor and volunteer on the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat, has written his autobiography –All The Rest Is Propaganda- and has worked as a traditional Punch and Judy performer using the name Professor Ignorant.

In 2007 he performed Crass’s entire Feeding of the 5000 album live at the Shepherds Bush Empire and throughout 2010-2011 presented The Last Supper, touring/celebrating the songs of Crass around the globe, ending with a farewell gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in November 2011. In 2013 Steve and Paranoid Visions decided to record an album. The result ‘When …?’,  a hybrid of styles, all with a nod to early 80s anarcho-punk. They now perform live on special occasions. Steve is now performing with his new band Slice Of Life. A far cry from the aggression of Crass, nevertheless compelling with powerful songs delivered in an acoustic style.

Debut album Love And A Lamp-post was released on Overground records in late 2014, surprising many with its honesty and change of style for Steve. A new bassist followed in early 2015, along with new songs and extensive touring all over the UK, as well as dates in Finland, and festival slots at Rebellion, Wickerman and Something Else A Bit North.

The opening title track tells you exactly where Steve Ignorant is coming from, if you don’t all ready know.  A bloke that just wants to walk his dog Evie in a better and more just world than the one run by the ‘dodgy toupee’ wearing war mongers we have at present.  ‘Your Day Will Come is’ a beautifully aggressive delivery to ‘Bully boys & laddies’ that take joy in acts of sadism that Karma will come for them. Oh, how I hope he’s right!

‘The Right Way’ is a joyful rant from the perspective of the pig-headed male we’ve all met down the pub, and occasionally as we get older, believe we may have become.

(“Anyone that has suffered a loss or has to deal with depression and/or despair YOU are not alone”)

I’ll apologise if I have misinterpreted what is being said in the next song ‘S.A.D.’ but it felt to me like quite a cathartic out pouring of grief with an advisory instruction to get bereavement counselling of any sort if required! Steve’s delivery, the backing and melody on this song brought to mind David Bowie, Lou Reed and even a touch of Leonard Cohen.

‘Slaughterhouse’ is a return to the short sharp shock 100% punk Mr Ignorant is known and loved for.  A message to assert yourself, read between the lines and make sure you believe before you commit. ‘The Story Continues’ is a lyrical punch in the guts. Tragically beautiful, depressingly true and perfectly said. ‘Song For Myself’ is a bleak celebration of getting to an age that you’re expecting the bells to toll for you, but hoping they’ll continue to ring out for you instead so you can enjoy home comforts and having another pint. ‘Diffrability’ a statement of what set him apart from the rest.  I think the one word missing in this song is integrity. ‘Stretford Blue’ is a dig at all those that have become masters of marketing revolution,  those Punk icons that have become the very corporate Hippies they told us not to trust. ‘Good Intentions’ this record just gets better. A melody we’ve heard a million times before but with a lyric so refreshing and courageous.  I can’t think of any other artist that could approach the dangerously sensitive subject of gender politics in a song today and treat it with such balance, gentleness and anger in equal measure. ‘Whistle Down The Wind’  the perfect closing track calling us to arms in order to protect our world, our rights and the values we have to hold on to because ‘This is our world’.

Well that’s the lyrical content dealt with. Musically it can be summed up very briefly as beautifully sparse, classy and clever arrangements with fantastic performances and musicianship by all concerned.

Much the same can be said of the sonic quality.  The production values are also second to none.

I don’t get a lot of time to do reviews these days but when the opportunity came up to review Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life’s new album I couldn’t resist.  As I get older I become less forgiving and many of the singers and bands I really looked up to, have become very stale and turned out to be complete arseholes and continue to scratch a living from nostalgia! So that is what gives Steve Ignorant ‘Diffrability’.    Back when I was a youngster Crass were vital, scary and not remotely commercial or easy to listen to.  I was more in love with the idea of them and the graphics they produced, than the music they made and would be much more likely to put Elvis Costello or Stiff Little Fingers on my turntable.

I think Honey Bane’s ‘A Big Piss Off To The Music Buis’ EP was the only record on the Crass label that got played regularly by my teenage self.  I loved it and am pleased to say I still have my original copy.

Steve Ignorant is still fighting the good fight and, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, has not sold out by continuing to tour or churning out the same stuff he was doing 40 years ago.

My older self loves nothing more than hearing songs about stuff that matters and this ticks all boxes. It’s Sleaford Mods meets Dr John Cooper Clarke, for Southerners and The Streets for people bored of those Hip Hop beats.

When I look at the Music Industry today and those Punk pioneers of radical change, it’s like it never happened! So I’m kind of delighted that Steve Ignorant is still here to prove it did happen. It was important and there was much more too it than loud music, screaming, leaping up and down and gobbing at each other  even if that was what was a lot of fun when we were young.

Buy Don’t Turn Away  CD- FromSteve  CD/LP-OvergroundRecords

Contact Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

Don’t Turn Away is released on Overground Records which gives us a nice chance to plug Rock’n’Reel ,run by the indomitable Sean Magee, who occasionally works for Overground. It’s the UK’s best selling eclectic music magazine featuring all manner of Roots, singer-songwriter, Folk, Rock, World and Blues since 1988.  WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TENBAGS- ‘Bags o’ Craic’ (2018)

Crusty punk troubadours from the middle of England playing Anarcho-Celtic-Punk ballads and rampaging through folk tradition!

Bags o’ Craic arrived at London Celtic Punk Towers towards the end of 2018 on a scruffy home made CDR with a basic photocopied cover and a couple of stickers that wouldn’t play on any of the CD players in my house or my laptop!! So it was with great relief that the band recently stuck it up on Bandcamp so I could finally get round to hearing it. Having checked them out on Facebook they seemed like they were a band i would be into and after a couple of listens this was confirmed!

The Tenbags a true Brummy mix of backgrounds including – Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Indian, Trinidadian, English, Italian, Roma Gypsy and Punk!! From left to right: Neil Harvey – Washboard and Guitar * Johnny (Kowalski) Noblet – GuitBanj and Voice * Niall Singh – Guitar and Voice and Poems * Benedict Davenport- Mandolin and Tenor Banjo * Sam-uendo – Fiddle.

Bags o’ Craic is twelve songs that fly past in an incredibly quick twenty-four minutes. Songs beloved by the folk snobs purists are stripped right down to basics and played without frills or flourishes which for many of these songs that is exactly how they were meant to be played when first written. The roots of The Tenbags lie in Niall and Ben’s meeting at Birmingham art school back in 2009. A shared interest in folk music thanks to Ben’s Irish background and Niall who had grown up obsessed with Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and The Pogues before getting into Punk. Coming from a half Scottish/half Indian background he ingested the folk music from his Mam’s record collection and the Pogues from Celtic Supporting, Celtic-Rock loving Uncles!

The album kicks off with ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ a song originally penned by folk legend Leon Rosselson which tells the story of the Diggers (English radicals seen as forerunners of anarchism) rebellion on St. Georges Hill in Surrey in 1649.

“The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain
By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command”

It has been recorded by several artists with perhaps Billy Bragg’s 1983 version the most popular. Here it is played fast with sparse backing of acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin with Niall’s vocals leading. These days their is such a market for Irish music that the temptation is to perfect and polish everything so that the pub cover gigs keep rolling in. This is a long way from the roots of Celtic-Punk and Shane could never ever have been accused of trying to croon his way through things and it is to Shane’s tradition that Niall continues. This is followed by a cover of ‘The Blackleg Miner/ You Made Your Bed’, a song that has recently been covered by Ferocious Dog and regularly features in their live set. From the mid 19th-century the song is set among the Northumberland pit villages and spits vengeance against strike breakers otherwise known as scabs to the miners and their families. A subject close to Niall’s heart as his family in Scotland were from the mining community, seamlessly flowing into the original track ‘You Made Your Bed. One of the best tracks here is the cover of Tom Paxton’s ‘Johnny Got a Gun’. The heartbreaking tale of a child who is bullied at school so gets the means to defend himself that ends in utter tragedy and contains one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.

“Johnny’s mum and dad still work long hours
And knock on the unit door
They sit with Johnny in the visitor’s room
And his feet don’t reach the floor”

Niall’s voice may not be the polished article but that is far from why The Tenbags are doing this and their is more emotion in this song than many of the albums that have featured on these pages over the years. Do yourself a favour and check out the great Tom Paxton’s version as well here. Next up is a spoken word piece ‘Banned From The Tesco’ where Niall spits out the words at us in just seventy seconds leading into a couple of covers of minor classics starting with the Crass song ‘Securicor’ and followed quickly by The Exploited’s ‘Alternative’ sounding as unlike Crass and The Exploited as you will ever hear. The Tenbags take the songs and breathe a life into them I would never have thought possible. That anarchic punk rock spirit shines through in the spoken word sections. These use to popular in Punk Rock, especially on Oi! compilations, but has all but disappeared these days so the thirty second angry anti-war rant ‘Grandad’ is both a blast to the past in subject matter and its very existence. The covers chosen here sound to me to have been picked very carefully and Bob Dylan’s  ‘When The Ship Comes In’ leads us into another anti-war rant in ‘Warlords’ before the album’s highlight hits the airwaves and in ‘Bella Ciao’ Niall perhaps comes as close here to singing in tune! The Italian anti-fascist anthem dates from the rice fields of the late 19th century but it was revived by the anti- fascist movement active in Italy during the Second World War with it’s lyrics updated. The next song also harks back to Crass in the albums second original track ‘The Man Who Spoke To God’. There follows a couple of minutes of silence which may be a nod to Crass and their problems with the song ‘Reality Asylum’or could be that the final song is meant to be a hidden track! The album comes to an end with the classic Irish traditional lament ‘The Parting Glass’. It was maybe too obvious to cover something that Shane was well known for singing but The Pogues did get round to singing ‘The Parting Glass’ and here The Tenbags keep it simple an play the song as it is meant to be played, slowly.

So an album that you will either be able to get past Niall’s style of vocals or not but as I’ve said we are in a scene where we worship a man who couldn’t sing for toffee so you should never let that put you off. The music is extremely well played and the arrangements sparse with the songs chosen far beyond ‘folks greatest hits’ and with some great and unusual and unexpected punk covers thrown in to. The energy and passion here is evident on every single track and with the band having made the album available for free download you have no excuse not to get a copy. Simply click where it says Buy Digital Album and this will take you to a page where you have the option to name your price where you can simply type in £0.00 and you will receive the link for your freed download.

(listen to Bags o’ Craic for free on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Bags o’ Craic  Name Your Price Download  Contact The Tenbags  Bandcamp  Facebook

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: