20 years ago, a band named S*M*A*S*H smuggled a song about killing the ruling Tory cabinet into the top 40. Along the way they inspired a host of DIY punks to write fanzines, form bands, make T shirts or to get involved in politics. In the piece below from 2006, I reflect on what they meant to me as I saw them play again.
I now feel incredibly proud that the band that, along with the Manics, was the main motivation behind the germination of R*E*P*E*A*T Fanzine, are putting out a track on our label. They've re-recorded 'I Want To Kill Somebody' for 2014, and it splutters with at least as much anger, energy and righteous indignation as the original. It's accompanied on a very limited vinyl picture disk (with free CDr and download) by a track by a young, gifted, articulate and equally fantastic rapper NxtGen whose track CONDEMned drips with the pent up fury and desperate desire for change felt by millions.
I've copied on the press release below, along with a selection of images of both S*M*A*S*H and NxtGen, including some from the private collection of R*E*P*E*A*T writer Bones...
S*M*A*S*H are a band who have profoundly effected my life; I have a feeling that NxtGen may well do the same for me and indeed for the next generation...
Whoever's in power, we'll be the opposition...
Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T, February 2014
Launch Party - Cambridge Portland Arms, 29.3.14
They came, we saw and nicked their S*T*A*R*s!
Did they affect our lives?
Yes they did, and here's how and why.
Emerging amidst a music scene celebrating Brit(pop)ishness, S*M*A*S*H arrived kicking and screaming about the reality of living in small town England. They were an adrenaline fuelled mix of anger, energy, righteous indignation, politics, DIY punk empowerment and star jumps, all choreographed to some of the finest punk-pop songs you'll ever hear.
They played hundreds of toilet gigs to thousands of normally overlooked punters, produced fanzines, badges and fantastic cheap sloganeering T shirts by the bucket load, released a single named after and inspired by Germaine Greer's 'Lady Love Your Cunt', played to hundreds of thousands from the back of a lorry at the Anti Nazi League Carnival in Brockwell Park, were responsible for some of the best singles of the 1990s and a rather disappointing album, and inspired us to start writing a 'zine.
Top of the Pops...
And then they smuggled a song about killing the Tory cabinet into the Hit Parade.
Soon after they were themselves killed off by press hypocrisy and label incompetence, a band inspired and also finished off by the times in which they lived.
And now they're back. Looking older, possibly wiser but still as driven, S*M*A*S*H have returned with a bunch of new songs and many of the old ones too. Hearing these at a Bedford gig recently took me back to the excitement of 1994 when it seemed that a band could perhaps ignite and change the world.
Perhaps one still can?
Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T, 2006
Visit and listen to S*M*A*S*H here
S*M*A*S*H / NxtGen
R*E*P*E*A*T Records 24 March 2014
20 Years ago, a punk rock trio from Welwyn Garden City called S*M*A*S*H smuggled a song about killing the hated, corrupt and discredited Tory government into the Top 30 of the hit parade. Their righteous anger struck a chord right across the country, as they played to packed venues across Britain before appearing at the massive Anti-Nazi League Carnival of 1994 on a float with Billy Bragg and across Europe with The Ramones and The Cramps, and even went on to perform on Top of the Pops.
Fast forward two decades and we have another detested, unrepresentative government of the rich-for -the-rich, and the sense of bottled up, unrepresented, unexpressed anger and frustration is as vehement as ever. To help give this potent force a voice, S*M*A*S*H have re-recorded their anthem and show no signs of mellowing with age; the guitars are, if anything, even more strident and urgent than they were in 1994, while the barbed lyrics still bristle with incandescent, righteous anger, and have been rewritten to suit the current condemned government :David Cameron and the other one / Boris Johnson, Teresa May / Denis McShane expenses claim / Milliband Milliband / Jeremy Hunt rhyming slang / I want to kill somebody / Right now
CONDEMned manages to combine these targets in one magnificent poetic rant of rage, showcasing breakneck verbal gymnastics married to knowledge and wit, all accompanied by an understated laid back piano sample.
Life tasted sour since they came to power / But the truth I say is louder / I'll say it louder til I'm up the tower
While NxtGen may be half the age of his label mates, they are clearly contemporaries in their disgust at the present government, and their burning desire to do something about it. As NxtGen puts it, To be found you gotta be loud and have a different sound, step out from the crowd, just rise from the underground
With this release R*E*P*E*A*T Records hopes to help raise rebel music loud and proud from the underground; any profits will be given to Love Music Hate Racism, an organisation that uses the power of music to combat the divisive racism which those in power gleefully use to help keep us weak.
The Tory Baiting single will be available on picture disc vinyl from good record shops and by mail order from the R*E*P*E*A*T website here and via download on 24 March 2014.
Sat 29th March CAMBRIDGE PORTLAND ARMS with S*M*A*S*H, NEXTGEN and SUPPORT
S*M*A*S*H AND NXTGEN ARE BOTH AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS
Now here's some pix of the band from Bones and the R*E*P*E*A*T scrapbook...
Unknown venue and photographer
Edinburgh Wilkie House 1995 by Phil Rose Esq
Backstage at Bedford Guildhall, 1994 by Martyn Goodacre
Petal Buzz, S*M*A*S*H Fanzine
Bedford Angel, January 2006 by Rosey