In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan Anarchists of the Barcelona CNT-FAI union unexpectedly found themselves required to build armoured cars for the Republican government. Confounded by the ethical questions raised by such a job, the Anarquistas – noting Britain’s deployment of Rolls-Royces – chose Hispano-Suiza, the most expensive Spanish vehicles they could find, and even insisted on retaining the spare wheel. This proto-Gotham Vision was the result.
HEATHEN FRONTIERS IN SOUND by Christophe F.
This month, I’m delighted to report the arrival of the first of the Black Sheep solo albums, HEATHEN FRONTIERS IN SOUND from former Universal Panzies leader Christophe F. Released on Holy McGrail’s brand new Trilithon Records label, Christophe’s wonderful record has been completed far sooner than I had anticipated, but the results are tremendous. Over eight long songs, F. has brought forth a superb and succinct set of lyrics explaining the nature of Revolution and the manner in which, he believes, this can all be effected. In true William S. Burroughsian fashion, Christophe brings us names, Greedhead companies, heck, even a few addresses. I told him: “I’m glad you’re my friend, but I wouldn’t wanna live near you!” From the opening notes of the opening song ‘Gringo Blues’, listeners are pitched into a whirlpool of bitter anecdotes, eloquent poetic thought, Uber percipient comments and all delivered via catchy bastard tunes … and it’s the toons I just cain’t stop humming. But, brothers’ n’sisters, what makes the release of this record so extra sweet is the long journey back to health that Christophe has had to make in order to achieve it. For Christophe’s long silence after his 2000CE Universal Panzies performance at my South Bank festival CORNUCOPEA was brought on by very bad health and some heavy operations; in some ways the Black Sheep project has seen him ‘Recalled to Life’. Strangely, it all began precisely 12 months ago, when I reviewed the Universal Panzies’ sole album TRANSCENDENTAL FLOSS as Head Heritage Album of the Month #100, and Christophe – ever the gentleman – emailed to thank me. Within the month, he’d taken up temporary residence in our annex as House Engineer and was happy to join the Black Sheep Acoustic Division, banging a drum on the November busking tour. Several weeks and umpteen conversations later, I asked him if I could commission him to write an album in the Acoustic Division style that concentrated on defining what this trip was about from his point-of-view. Brothers’n’sisters, he’s achieved precisely that; it’s fucking great.
MAO by Jung Chang
Okay, still basking in that same Revolutionary light, this month, I’ve chosen to review two extraordinary non-fiction books, the first being a vast biographical tome entitled MAO, written by WILD SWANS author Jung Chang. Clocking in at over 750 pages, I spent the first 200 throwing the book at walls in disgust. Had this former Red Guard been so brainwashed by Mao that she knew only his own method of argument? It certainly seems so when Jung Chang concludes one sentence: “What really happened was that Mao discovered in himself a love for bloodthirsty thuggery. This gut enjoyment, which verged on sadism, meshed with, but preceded, his affinity for Leninist violence”. Phew. Page 48’s a little early to be making those deductions about the book’s hero, dontcha thunk? But no. With true Maoist fervour, throughout those opening chapters, Jung Chang batters, nay, pulverises her readers in this manner, as though we Westerners were just as brainwashed as the fucking Commies. We’re not! And then, after all of her tantrums, rants’n’harangues have subsided, suddenly and out-of-nowhere Jung Chang gets bored, settles down with the material (and WHAT material) and presents us all with an absolute tour de force. Page after page, Jung Chang mounts up the evidence of the Chairman’s murderous methods, his refusal to live in the austere manner that he expected of his fellow Chinese, and those obscene, dilettante Visions of the Future that he foisted upon the population every decade or so. Yup, despite the over caffeinated cluck of the opening chapters, Jung Chang’s book is mighty, a sensation, outrageous in many places, taking liberties in others, but absolutely authentic in its manner of revealing Mao. Herein, Jung Chang presents the kind of sustained and terrifying evidence against Mao that makes Stalin look half-assed and Adolph nowt more than a fucking Emo. Essential, totally essential.
GOD's EXECUTIONER by Micheál Ó Siochru
Next, let’s turn to another historical monolith. For GOD’S EXECUTIONER is an extraordinarily detailed and careful account of Oliver Cromwell’s infamous 1649 conquest of Ireland. Published by Faber & Faber, this superb work was written by Dublin scholar & intellectual Micheál Ó Siochru, whose unpronounceable surname immediately conjures up a man with a heavy pro-Irish bias, right? Wrong! Despite highly detailed accounts of the New Model Army’s atrocities at Wexford and Drogheda, GOD’S EXECUTIONER is remarkably restrained in its antipathy towards the Lord Protector himself; in the words of Ó Siochru: “Protestants living in Ireland, such as [Lord] Broghill and [Charles] Coote, committed many of the atrocities subsequently attributed to Cromwell…“ Moreover, Ó Siochru’s mind-boggling account of mid-17th century Ireland reveals a politically confused country whose bowed population were so put-upon by their Catholic priesthood and their Papal emissary, so betrayed by their clan leaders, so abused by opportunistic Continentals wishing to use their island as a springboard from which to mount an attack on Britain, and so milked by their aristocracy both Protestant AND Catholic that “the Irish in all quarters”, according to Cromwell’s Irish military opponent the Marquis of Ormonde, “entered into their [Parliamentary] service and marched with them in their armies.” As our author comments dryly: ‘The role of Irish Catholics in assisting English parliamentary forces is not so readily acknowledged’. However, from this reviewer’s geographical perspective, the greatest success of GOD’S EXECUTIONER is the manner in which Micheál Ó Siochru has separated the mythical Oliver Cromwell from the man himself. For, as a myth, Cromwell’s behaviour in Ireland has become viewed by the Irish themselves as barely less evil than that of the Devil himself. However, the evidence as shown herein reveals the Lord Protector to have been a typical educated Englishman of his time; comments Ó Siochru: “Cromwell’s views on Ireland mirrored those of the vast majority of his contemporaries in England, who applauded the crushing of all native resistance”. As an Englishman, I had always consoled myself that Cromwell’s infamous behaviour in Ireland had been facilitated through the failure of the Levellers’ Revolt. However, the thorough evidence of Ireland’s political and religious chaos as presented in GOD’S EXECUTIONER has convinced me that - Cromwell or no Cromwell – mid-17th century Ireland was a powder keg awaiting detonation by any amount of random scheming foreigners, should they have chosen to ignite the correct fuse. That Cromwell’s name has in Ireland become affixed to almost every misdeed perpetrated against the native mid-17th century Catholic population appears, from the evidence presented so thoroughly by Ó Siochru, preposterous and unjust. Read this book; he’ll shock you.
Z'HA'DOOM by Bibilic Blood
Best new music this month by far is Bibilic Blood’s awe inspiringly minging album Z’HA’DOOM, three-quarters of an hour of sub-sub-sub-Into the Voidness as recorded by a passing motorist with an out-of-phase compressor mike, Death Comes Along-stylee. Fuck, this is good. Suitably monickered bassist/chantooce Suzie Psycho dirges her alcoholic Fucking Hate You sub-Snatch loser laments over a sonic Soviet 4x4 so shambling’n’low slung that shamed Lamborghini owners across the nation slink into the nearest underpass whenever Bibilic Blood pass. Like an industrialised Odin commanding a khaki combine harvester across the low farmlands of Zealand, these druids KNOW the Reaper personally and help him on his Saturday round. Here, they surround Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel with Khanatean, nay, Plotkinian levels of sub-subness. There, they swallow Bang, St Vitus and Tiger B. Smith in one mouthful and barf them out in a salty mucal puddle of NYC No Wave. Urgh! In Bibilic’s meaty claws, Sabbath’s ‘Symptom of the Universe’ becomes Monoshock Sings The Koran; THAT magnificently, inspiringly, wailingly incoherent, brothers’n’sisters! It’s a joy to report on such behaviour. Score this ripe menstrual wad from myspace.com/bibilicbloodwar
. And cancel that Dynorod visit you just booked. You don’t need it, because Bibilic Blood does all your drains for ya, both psychically and physically.
SIGN OF THE 3-EYED MEN by the 13th Floor Elevators
Finally, there’s no particularly outstanding vinyl release this month, that is, nothing that really parked in my strasse. Still, I’m more than delighted to report that the long promised 13th Floor Elevators 10CD box set has finally come to fruition and is, as suspected, a genuine phenomenon. Put together by my dear friend and Elevators’ biographer Psychedelic Paul Drummond – a man as utterly incapable of backing off as myself – this lavish package has been so well reviewed everywhere in the UK press that it needs no more words of description from me. Instead, what needs to be said is a huge thank you to Mr Drummond from everyone in the Underground, and I hereby demand the right to represent that Underground, and bark out high praise and endless cheers to this Forward Thinking Motherfucker. Psychedelic Paul nearly killed himself writing the book in the first place, but still he came back for more. Next, he wanted a 10CD box set, he got it. Then, he decided he wanted it to be given an original title courtesy of Tommy Hall; he got it. Brothers’n’sisters, when we were designing THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN back in spring ’98, Paul & I used to sit in HarperCollins’ offices plotting his Elevators book. At times, when he was in Texas and I was writing THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN, we wouldn’t see each other for a whole year at a time. Please excuse my making a big deal about this but IT’S A FUCKING BIG DEAL!!!
Okay, I shall now simmer down and prepare to leave y’all for another month. Black Sheep fans amongst you should try and head for the Bristol Festival, where the full Black Sheep ensemble will be performing on the evening of Sunday September 20th. Look forward to the full line-up of myself, Holy McGrail, Michael O’Sullivan, Acoustika, Christophe F., Big Nige, Fat Paul, Antronhy Øh, Common Era and David Wrench. Also putting in an appearance as a Fluxus-style agitator will be Black Sheep artist Hebbs on placard and general feistiness. In the meantime, anyone Jonesing for a new collection of Cope songs should – in the next coupla weeks – look no further than our Merchandiser, where FLOORED GENIUS 4 shall soon be appearing. Chock full o’rare TV appearances, rare radio songs, and rare studio songs from the past three decades, FLOORED GENIUS 4 also continues the series’ long tradition of throwing in a coupla previously released tracks. This time it’s 2000CE’s ‘The Glam Dicenn’ and 2005CE’s ‘Due to Lack of Interest, Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled’. Everything else is previously unreleased and ain’t half catchy, if you’ll pardon my bigging myself up. Okay, that’s your lot until October, so suffer the birth pangs of autumn with as much dignity as you can muster, and remember we might still be a party to an unannounced Indian Summer just around the next corner. Yowzah!
Odinist love in the Late Summer,
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)