Thursday, April 28, 2005


Apparently it’s odd – if not embarrassing – that before last night I’d never heard 23 Skidoo’s FUGI, or the album it’s from, Urban Gamelan.

I only downloaded it because of a reference to it in Simon ‘Ardkore’ Reynolds’ Rip It Up & Start Again, which is fast becoming the best music book I’ve read in a long time (since Lloyd Bradley’s Bass Culture, I suspect). What’s great about this book is that rarely has such a volume been so necessary (as Reynolds points out, there’s a huge gap in collected music writing or journalist overviews for this period, ironic because it was the period when music journalism was probably at its most febrile and essential) and also that Reynolds has kept his tendency to lapse in rather arcane theorising to a minimum compared with his previous books (which isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed them all). I suspect this is – at least in part – because bands like Scritti Politti and The Pop Group have already done all the theorising for him, and then some….

What’s interesting so far (and to be honest I’m only about 1/3 of the way through – as a book to read on the bus it makes a pretty good housebrick) is Reynolds’ insistence (rightly) on redrawing a lot of the accepted lines of chronology and influence for the 70s, his attempt to demonstrate that punk was an aberration, a blip, rather than any kind of Year Zero, and that what came after punk was unavoidably related to a lot of the stuff that came before (Reynolds smartly pivots this on Lydon / Rotten’s Capital Radio appearance in 1977 where he played or namechecked all manner of heretical 70s prog/art rock artists alongside the expected reggae).

It’s one of those books I want to devour in a rush but at the same time I’m trying to pace myself and take it all in, sat there downloading madly, with my new mp3 player spooling out all manner of new-to-me and exciting stuff – 23 Skidoo, This Heat etc – that I just hadn’t got round to before, because I’d found it too dense, or too unwelcoming, or too obscure, or something….

Which is, I believe, where we came in.

“Fuck you, GI”
posted by dubversion at 2:25 pm

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