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Anarcho in the UK Ten years in the making, a musical review of the Anarchist Punk movement

Anarcho in the UK

Ten years in the making, a musical review of the Anarchist Punk movement

by Alan Rider, Contributing Editor
first published: April, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

Alongside the music, radical poets such as Attila The Stockbroker, and unsettling poetry/sound experiments - ably demonstrated on this collection by Annie Anxiety - flourished

Cover ArtVarious Artists
Cease & Resist - Sonic Subversion & Anarcho Punk In The UK 1979-86
(Optimo Music)

10 years in the making, ‘Cease & Resist’ looks back at some of the most radical music recorded by acts at the forefront of the underground and self-initiated musical movement, Anarcho Punk.  The Anarcho Punk (or Anarchist Punk if you prefer) term may conjure up cliched images of shouty spikey haired kids with painted jackets shouting “Smash The System” slogans, and although it has that aspect in places, this double album firmly dispels that myth.  Although musical, technical, and financial limitations resulted in some fairly rudimentary recordings, the sheer inventiveness on show here is impressive.

Communicating subversive and anti-establishment messages was always at the heart of the movement, but as the scene grew during the early 80’s, so did the diversity of music that emerged under the Anarcho Punk umbrella from the punky DAF sounds of D & V (Drums & Vocals) to the proto-EBM synth-pop of Belfast’s one-man Hit Parade and the Dadaist Beefheart hybrid of The Cravats. In later days the two biggest acts of the scene, Flux of Pink Indians and Crass themselves, both released LPs which had more in common with improv Jazz than hardcore punk. Alongside the music, radical poets such as Attila The Stockbroker, and unsettling poetry/sound experiments - ably demonstrated on this collection by Annie Anxiety - flourished, as did photo montage graphics and art, most notably those produced by Gee Vaucher who designed numerous record sleeves and the cover of this album, and the late Dave King, who designed the iconic Crass symbol. The fact that Anarcho Punk was, unusually for Rock at the time, not male dominated, but had a truly gender and age blind attitude, with many of its leading lights female or of school age, was also significant.

Compiled by JD Twitch and Chris Low (with Chris being an integral part of the scene at the time, producing his own punk fanzine and performing in The Apostles who also feature on the album), this double album set collects together music made between 1979-86 and features tracks from Crass, Poison Girls, Flux Of Pink Indians, The Mob, The Apostles, Zounds, Honey Bane, The Cravats, Alternative TV, The Ex, Lack of Knowledge, Hagar The Womb, Chumbawamba, Annie Anxiety, Andy T and more including several previously unreleased studio versions.  From the more straightforward punk sounds of Zounds, Hagar The Womb and Flux of Pink Indians, to the extreme cut up sound sculpture of Annie Anxiety, and the spiralling light and shade of a new studio version of Crass’s ‘Bloody Revolutions’, to the open experimentation of Mark Perry’s Alternative TV, there are surprises and twists at every turn. I have no doubt that there will be some omissions, that’s inevitable.  This could easily have ended up as several double albums and many will have wanted their favourites included, but as a representation of the sheer breadth of the scene, this does an excellent job.

At this point I have to declare an interest. The concerts Crass played at Digbeth Civil Hall at that time were a turning point for me. At that point I was already producing my own fanzine, but those gigs showed me that music and the ideas behind it could have real meaning as a lifestyle and need not be shallow and hedonistic, pandering to the egos of performers who dreamt only of being on Top of The Pops (as did the majority of the original punk acts). The fact that Anarcho Punk in all its forms remains to this day the unifying soundtrack to a culture of resistance and independent thought that stretches from Scotland to Indonesia and yet remains as removed from mainstream music and culture as it was over forty years ago is a burning testament to its continuing relevance.

Essential Information
Main Image by Gee Vaucher
Cease and Resist is released May 12. Order through Bandcamp here⇒ 

Alan Rider
Contributing Editor

Alan Rider is a Norfolk based writer and electronic musician from Coventry, who splits his time between excavating his own musical past and feeding his growing band of hedgehogs, usually ending up combining the two. Alan also performs in Dark Electronic act Senestra and manages the indie label Adventures in Reality.

about Alan Rider »»



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