“Grebo” by Mick Mercer Melody Maker 1987

With Phil from The Rose of Avalanche, Crazyhead, Bomb Party, Gaye Bykers On Acid etc etc.

“It don’t seem right somehow.” (Anonymous dork, Altamont.)

UNBELIEVABLY, in recent months, I have seen bands of ostensibly sensible, youngpeople hallucinating horribly, covering ‘Born To Be Wild’, ‘Radar Love’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ yet’ and I have these lumpen antiquities applauded! Every day it becomes more worrying just leaving the house, wondering how soon it will be before finding an audience that might not laugh at ‘Stairway To Heaven’. The great gorgon Hippy, fornicating with Rock, has slipped unobtrusively out from under the double chins of The Mission, to be suckled by the pretend Rock fever of The Cult, and there’s more stubble coming every day.

So let’s KILL it!

“It don’t…”

IT DOES! It’s happening out there RIGHT NOW! Brains usually softened by allegiance to Sisters Of Mercy, Julian Cope and Killing Joke are anticipating the luxuries of laziness, when all you need do is lay back and let the effluence wash over you. truly, this is the Devil’s work. Mystical charms have sprouted round people’s necks and wrists. (Mother Earth! Hot damn, how interesting!), flares have taken over from the colorado beetle and a Roger Dean revival could be on the cards, posters and record sleeves even as we struggle.

Unless something is done to ensure this species are contained, and then educated, someone, somewhere, may even see fit to emulate Supertramp, as they are currently exhuming Hendrix. Satan, with controlling links in afghan coats and coach links with Marrakech is happy as a pig in castle Donington. How he will reap the wind caused by people rutting in medieval squalor, as their new Gods traipse all over them! he will laugh fit to burst as babies named Druid are breast- fed at free festivals and, when no-one is looking, he will inflict this country’s greatest, most debilitating curse.

DENIM. For menials who don’t try at all.

The roots of this revival are still visible through the top-soil. There has always been low-key interest in the Sixties, fostered most recently by brainwashing institutions like Alice In Wonderland; the clothes, mannerism and increasing torpor have been severely magnified by the success of The Mission (Jeremy irons on vocals). As the clothes get gaudier, so the audiences, short-haired, obtain longer, criminal records. These loners with perverse listening habits began to get chummy with Rocky Foreplay, and to them bands like Ghost dance come as a blessed relief! They haven’t got a song worth recounting, but make a pleasantly idle backdrop for mooching around in post-Goth sackcloth. or, if you have drippier melancholic feelings to hide, there is the failsafe support All About Eve can provide. Maybe Victims Of The Pestilence and their love-ins might work, or the Sixties respectfully revamped with Voodoo Child? To some, The Prime Movers’ socks may smell sweet, and for the really hopeless cases there is The Cult.

“Be my…Angel!” (Ian Arse.)

THIS is the danger period. 1987, 20 years on from when the stylish demise of that decade, with its mad and psychedelic bodycount, became flatulent and dreary. By 1969 you couldn’t move for headlice. The UN was on standby. Do we really want that to happen again in 18 months? A time, as then, of dim, distant performers, with considerably dimmer audiences? Acid’s already on the way back in large quantities. IT could happen, and that indolence, that blank-eyed approval that gave us progressive (sic) and pompous rock in unforeseen circumstances will be with us again. Remember, as the expansive minds of these consciousness-raising performers increased, so their imaginations contracted.

And then came Concept Albums. If anyone seriously wants The Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Spirit, YES, ELP or Genesis as role models, today’s usually ostracized pop may become heroic. (Five Star as anarchists?)

So far the signs haven’t been too bad. Longhairs with presentable variety. As people forget about Balaam And The Angel, and speculate over the date of Zodiac’s guest slot with Little & Large, the newer bands manage an unconnected sense of spirit.

For all their ponchos, Victims Of The Pestilence are a fruitily, wild bunch, Hunters Club cudgel The Buzzcocks, Voodoo Child claim to be a reverential archaeological dig and All About Eve know only too well the power of POP. Stir them in among Fields Of The Nephilim, Webcore, Batfish Boys, Crazyhead, Gaye Bykers On Acid, Scratch Acid, Junior Manson Slags and Rose Of Avalanche, all Hippy-free detergents, and the fall-out is admirably hemmed in. (Mind you, the Siegfried Sassoon Salon still calls to them…)

To find out where these people are coming from, it is as well to start with a man who clearly confesses a love of the past, Ricky Powell of Voodoo Child,.

“It certainly is getting trendy,” he reflects. “Let’s face it, most of the bands are putting themselves into that position. See a bandwagon, and jump on it.”

Criticisms of pre-stressed adolescence are cheerily dismissed.

“The music is base din early Seventies, but the way it’s projected is not. I like the way music’s gone back to guitar, bass and drums. It’s great, you’ve got to learn a bit about the instrument to be able to be a three-piece band. As far as writing songs goes, I think none of the bands are as good as that time.”

But he has hope.

“I believe what is needed is for one or two of these bands, like Gaye Bykers, or Crazyhead, or as well as ourselves, to break big, to say, no, it’s not a joke. Bands like us, playing Seventies rock, is happening now. People forget, they say, ‘God, that happened in the Seventies, why hasn’t it died?’ For kids of 18/19 it’s new, that’s why it’s taking off. Okay, we are like Jimi Hendrix our live show is based on that. People ask, ‘why are you doing that?’ but come down and see the crowds. They’ve all heard of Jimi Hendrix, seen hundreds of videos, but never seen it live.

“Some of the best music ever came out of the late Sixties, early Seventies, music still being listened to day and bought in large quantities. I can’t imagine Duran Duran still being appreciated in 20 years’ time. I know we’ll never recapture it again, but we are trying to create something from that era.”

People haven’t heard many madrigals before either but I suppose there’s no point carping continually. (You have to draw breath sometime.) Bad points Ricky?

“It’s to say ‘we’re not part of the scene’, that they’re doing it themselves, always slagging off Hippies. We don’t do that. I can’t really see the point. I think there’s a bit of Hippy in everyone somewhere along the line.”

(Frantically scans x-rays!) Is there any in Phil Morris of Rose Of Avalanche?

“If there is, I don’t know anything about it!”

Mock accents flying, Rose Of Avalanche’s adopted Americana, straddling both coats could saddle them as revivalists. Never one to mince words, Phil disagrees.

“We’ve done it from the beginning, slightly more accessible now. We can’t be put in with this thing. People could associate us with the image, especially Glenn, our guitarist; classic sixties guitar hero, glasses and stupid shirts.

“I dunno, it’s hard to understand. It’s obvious we are different, but it doesn’t seem that we are different.”

Prepared to give a brief nod of affirmation towards the idea of good rock songs, his view of the new pretenders is anything but complimentary.

“I think it’s appalling,” he grumbles. “I can’t see what people see in Crazyhead or Gaye Bykers for a start. They’re reverting back to shitpunk, not even good punk.”

The openly gregarious, unconcerned vocal trio of Leicester’s main coincidental onslaught, Anderson (Crazyhead), Andy ‘Jesus’ Mesquera (Bomb Party) and Mary (Gaye Bykers and, presumably, Andy’s mummy) react with little short of inertia,.

Anderson: “Fair enough.”

Mary: “You know ‘shit’ means? It’s a Freudian message for gold.”

Anderson: “It doesn’t really matter. It comes down to I know we do good songs, we’re a good band, and that’s what matters.”

And he’s right. None of these bands induce soporific trance. Visigoth visitations, here solely to twang contemporary bra-straps, their emission is far from impossible. Musical moustaches, the bands on everyone’s lips, they are antidotes (in Bomb Party’s case, anti-Christs) with literary awareness; great expectations stuffed inside their overtly dazzled heads. Similarly, Simon Detroit of the trusty Batfish Boys, the most eloquent non-spokesman for degeneration, is bemused by it all.

“You can cross Hip Hop with metal, so you can cross Goth with Hippy, which would be Gippy, with Metal, which’d make it Gimippy, and it just goes on and on! It seems everyone’s looking for something to blend together and make their own cup of coffee, but I think the main reason it’s happening is because kids of that age haven’t heard of that music, and it’s a new thing, but as regards all this imagery, what do people think they’re doing? It’s HIDEOUS!!!”

Well you’ve got a strong image!

“I was born with it,” he chortles. “We’re state-of-the-art Screaming Metal!”

As long as they don’t become rending metal, these bands will continue holding their heads above polluted waters with their economical historical affiliations and their ego-comical cynicism, but it’s no good any of them pretending that this is all entirely natural. They can’t just have started playing or dressing like they’ve never done before. The Punk and Goth years of the late Seventies and early Eighties doesn’t immediately lend itself to never telling the barber you’re sorry. They chose this direction, it didn’t choose them. Feigning surprise over people’s indignation and questioning is similarly short-sighted. To an outsider, so much colostomy knitwear and Long hair makes it hard to differentiate visually between The Cult and something cute, between a hippy, a rocker and a carthorse. People are being asked to deal with images, of dirt and malarkey, every nit as much as they are being subjected to long forgotten ‘artforms’, where even the guitar solo, which once served a purpose,. Could start beingthe purpose.

“The rebirth of the dirty rocker,” as Simon Detroit adroitly puts it. “Before, in the Sixties, acid was taken to try and ‘find’ yourself. Now it’s taken to escape from yourself. Same thing with music. Whereas before Led Zep might have been something amazing to be into when it first happened, now it’s like attempting to reverse our troubled times and escape.”

The Leicestershire Lovelies hum and hah behind sunglasses and curls.

Anderson: “That’s how we look. I don’t know if we did graduate towards it. Do you sit and analyze how you dress? The rocker thing I find a bit of a joke. The biker/metal thing is tedious.”

Jesus: “If you think about your image it becomes contrived. It’s a bit like saying why is your arse burning, ‘cos you had a vindaloo curry last night. That’s not why you had the curry, so that your arse would burn. You had it because you like curry.

Point taken. (At a distance.)

‘Good songs’, however, is another matter. The notion, expressed by some, that it takes backward appraisal to write them is laughably self-denigrating. Any band with self-respect should feel itself capable of writing them anyway.

“People ripping off good songs,” snorts Detroit, spinning.

The ultimate crime?

“Ripping off Led Zep badly is the ultimate crime,” the li’il devil continues, “and being accused of ripping off Led Zep when you’re not.”

How would you react if someone called you a Hippy?

“I’d probably bite their head off.”

“There’s a fine line between being basically crap,” Anderson ventures, “and being a boring self- indulgent muso. You have to get something in-between. We’re doing that fine line. We’re having a good time. I’m total crap. I was born crap and I’m crap now. It’s great…I’m gonna be a star. A crap star.”

Julianne Regan of the undeniably Hippy-infected but still mischievously adorable All About Eve shudders when the word ‘muso’ is raised.

“I hope that doesn’t happen! I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd this morning and even I would find it boring to watch them for an hour at Pompeii. Good Lord!”

Mary would practically kill for a ticket.

“Love to,” he burbles, trousers torn in anticipation. “They were a really good band. The first two albums were inspired. Everyone revered The Velvet Underground and, at the time, The Velvet Underground revered Pink Floyd.” (An extremely unlikely concept – Ed.)

WEBCORE, A BAND WHOSE CROSS-BOUNDARIES AND peculiarities have led to them erroneously dubbed as psychedelic hippies, find it all ludicrous.

Mick (vocals): “If anyone’s got any values they don’t need to align themselves with any cult or label, because those are personal values they’ve got for themselves.”

Karen (vocals/gyrations): “They think, ‘Everything else has been rehashed, so why can’t it work now?’ Cashing in on fashion.”

Phil (bass): “If it is a revival then it’s just a big wank, isn’t it?”

I must be coarse and agree. Prankster pop-metal-funk merchants Junior Manson Slags, who deserve to be in the end of the dream, haven’t got a clue what it (or anything) is.

“Is it such a bad thing?” guitarist Finn ponders. “I don’t think it is. Rock has lost its entire purity. Hippies have lost their purity, but the kids….what are they supposed to relate to? They’re relating to the music. What is better than that as a progression, have you got an answer to that?”

Yes. Anything.

Ricky Powell, an amiable sage, appreciates the dilemma.

“It’s too young yet. No particular band has grabbed it. Going back to come forward, I can see progression coming in a couple of years’ time.”

With any luck we’ll all be dead by then.

“It’s a pretty optimistic viewpoint,” Simon D (!) rationalizes. “I presume they’re saying we’re distilling the essence of rock ‘n’ roll and we’ll end up with a finer, purer thing at the end of it but a lot of the original rock they’re taking off had nothing to do with the songs so much as being there. I suppose. Not that I was, but the whole atmosphere that went with it, as opposed to anything you could distill out of it…”

THOSE who want to forget the low stakes of the past are bound to fall upon them and it’s simply a question of how many of our prime young things and thugs will sink so low. How many will jettison shares in favor of stocks?

Graven images appropriated by raven lunatics like Zodiac Mindwarp and The C**t, with poorly rehashed Motorhead and Bad Company tributes is all bad enough, but with their craving for hollow theatrics and emotions they may manage it on a huge scale, because what all these bands had to do before was turn a club band into ‘a show’. With Old father Bono, one of the biggest hippies of the lot because them they can doze contentedly, safe in the knowledge that, beneath a landslide of merchandising, in some foreign field forever Woodstock, only cretins connect. (They also have the technology.)

“I can put my hand on my heart,” Julianne Regan says, during her Napoleonic impersonation, “and say we do put a very genuine feeling of love and concern into our songs, so the good that comes out of it is we’ll give some real joy to people, and get some back for ourselves.

“I’m a bit concerned we’re lumped in with all these people because I do dread it becoming a bit of a joke, trivialized and turned into a movement because all the bad apples will embarrass the good. I’ve got a feeling that these other…folk, are in great competition to be the vanguard of the Hippym Rock movement. Come the day of reckoning the bandwagon jumpers, if that’s what they are, will be seen in their true colors. I hope they’re getting ready to hang their heads in shame.”

Care to name names?

“I couldn’t, ‘cos that’s a ‘bad vibe’ isn’t it?”

(She screeches, which saves me bothering.)

Speculating what degree of involvement Chernobyl has played in this dreadful occurrence I am interrupted by Mary Byker, being as sweet as pie.

“Are we going to impose this kind of fascism and say people are not allowed to be hippies? With youth culture now you’ve got a huge spectrum of how you can represent yourself. Hippies represent pace and love and if that’s realistic to them, fair enough.”

But we have to stop them, to help them. And alleviate future breakdowns. Nobody is more embarrassed about the first Hippy and Rock explosion that lingered bombastically on for five years than those who took part. These casualties now thrive as capitalist dogs, running to evade their memories.

“It’s like asking us what we think of Curiosity Killed The Cat,” Mary pipes up, taking the question right out of my mouth. “You see’ The Sun’ and they’re taking acid. A tenuous word, ‘hippies’.”

Anderson: “I don’t give a shit. I just wanna make loads of money.”

Simon Detroit polishes off a Norton or two and assesses it all.

“I think the symptoms will be dying out by the end of the year and those happy little microbes with the strongest sense of melody will be left at the end. It is happening, that’s why you’re writing about it. Front pages of Sounds! When that starts, the tumbleweed gets rolling. There’s no way you can stop it until it wears itself out and falls apart which is, pessimism akimbo, what will happen and something else ill come along. People playing bits of toast, or something.”

That’s all we need. A Bread revival.

Hippy begat Rock, begat Pompous Drivel until, on the seventh day of the seventh decade God gave up the meths, saw sense, and invented Punk. Hippy and Rock have no place now if recreating sloth, because the old days were times of truce, when that was still affordable. Days of optimism are over, only cynicism and anger bears fruit. We need Crazyhead and Batfish Byker Bombs (etc) over and above the Old Order, as you may need your head dressing removed.

“It don’t seem right somehow.” (Anonymous Dork, 18 years on.)

Look around and wince. McLaren said ‘Never trust a Hippy’, which was a bit rich coming from the likes of him, but the idea holds true. (Never trust anyone with the initials M.M.) We’ve got The Mission, pleasant men, pleasant tunes. Zodiac! Peasant men, peasant tunes. Aren’t we lucky?

So, before anyone spikes your guns, putting petunias down your barrel, get those machine gun emplacements implanted around those suburban lawns. Alternatively, hold your nose and pray that an icy sense of perspective will blow the flower children back into the compost heap of credibility where they belong.

Chris Roberts’ recent (accurate) observation, that Hippy clothes always look like you’ve been sick over yourself, ties in with a couple of things. Mary Byker was correct in his earlier musing. The Longhairs aren’t committing any greater crime than the people who constantly open the Velvet Underground casket to tamper with the remains. They simply look worse.

All good things come to those who hate. Take a good look at what is happening an marvel at what a hopelessly lackluster ‘happening’ it is, if you’re seeking Ancient Britons then study the latest Cult video. Notice how they, and the Longhairs at gigs, look. How the facial countenance and coiffure strive to suggest torrid oral sex with decomposing mammoths. Then take those sleeping pills. Plagiarists will always claim they were only obeying orders, but we know, don’t we children?