Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 3,373 items for :

  • Film, Media and Music x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Thomas Paul Burgess

As 1977 progressed, word was starting to seep across the Irish Sea that something cataclysmic might be stirring in London. It wasn't just a new kind of music or some fresh bands; it was a groundswell of discontent with the established order; it was a new movement, a new dispensation. The author believes the unique set of circumstances was the reason why punk rock meant more to youth in Belfast than in any other city in Britain or Ireland. By 1977 and following bruising scrapes with the law and the school authorities, the author and his gang friends had retired the Debs. To fill the vacuum left by the Debs, a new collective began to shape up, one that looked to drums, bass and guitar rather than boots, blades and belts. Kenny Anderson, Ivan Kelly and Barry Greene might sound like a firm of solicitors or undertakers.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Thomas Paul Burgess

Stiff Little Fingers, Roofwrecks arch-rivals, were moving on apace. Collectives and allegiances had already formed in the Belfast punk scene, and schisms were starting to appear. Revisionist musicologists and sociologists have often cited the apparently non-sectarian Belfast punk scene of the late 70s/early 80s as representing an alternative youth/cultural environment that transcended ethno-religious divisions. The film Good Vibrations (2013) tells the story of the Belfast impresario and his record store and the influence he had on youth culture at that time. The author's punk band's relationship with Terri Hooley and the Good Vibrations record shop and label was doomed to failure from the get-go. Hooley gave Ruefrex little or no credit or recognition for their successes. As they improved and tightened as a unit, the band's name began to seem inappropriate. However, English journalists, American musicologists and Japanese archivists all later came to embrace it enthusiastically.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Thomas Paul Burgess

By 1980, Stiff Little Fingers' star was truly in the ascendent. They had a successful first album via Rough Trade Records under their belt and, as Northern Ireland's sole ambassadors on the mainland, a place at the top table with the punk elite. So it was the stuff of dreams when Ruefrex were offered the support slot on their Irish tour featuring Dublin, Cork and Belfast. SLF would be assured of full houses all the way, so a captive audience was guaranteed. The Black Catholics band had a reputation for disrupting gigs and were in situ early that evening. The Black Catholics' behaviour grew worse, and one of the gang, noticing that Clarkey had reverted from his manic, all-action style to stand still and deliver a love song, saw his chance and attempted to set fire to his trouser bottoms.

in Wild colonial boys
Thomas Paul Burgess

It remains a conviction, that when Allan Clarke, infatuated by all things David Bowie, looks in the mirror, he sees Ziggy Stardust looking back. Over many years, as Bowie's look changed, so did Clarkey's alter-ego. The Cross the Line documentary made by BBC Northern Ireland in 1980 offers an insight into his thinking around. Clarkey's unshakeable belief that he is somehow hardwired into the Bowie psyche. In addition, his photogenic persona and strong stage presence, coupled with his highoctane performance came to be synonymous with the visceral musical signature of the band. So if manic, force-of-nature unpredictability with a fluid take on reality were prerequisites for a frontman, he had them in spades.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Thomas Paul Burgess

The author relates that he had taken to spending more and more time at the Brixton high-rise flat of Grimmo and Karen in the after hours. It was a small municipal flat on the 22nd floor that someone had somehow managed to get a grand piano up to. It overlooked the main Brixton railway junction, a jumble of intersecting tracks and signals. The furnishings were basic and the small kitchen less than sanitary. But the assembled bric-a-brac, reclaimed furniture, piano and the neon cityscape that stretched out below us gave the whole place something of a Blade Runner vibe. The author explains how his role as manager, led to him feeling the sting of the others' resentment, as well as hurt and lonely.

in Wild colonial boys
Thomas Paul Burgess

Around 1984, Kissed Air, the band from Maghera, were well ensconced in the leafy suburbs of North London. While struggling to command attention for their own music, like so many Irish exiles who went to London before them, each of the members had secured both accommodation and gainful employment, holding down sometimes quite menial jobs. The Kissed Air crew and Gareth Ryan expressed an interest in paying for the pressing, cover and distribution of 'The Wild Colonial Boy'. The author relates how he offered services as producer for Kissed Air's second single, 'Out of the Night'/'Change of Attention,' which added valuable studio craft to his steadily growing skill set. Kissed Air boys had been spending a lot of time socially with Cuthbertson who enjoyed the live music scene and quite fancied playing a role as indie record executive.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Legacy issues and the perils of misremembering
Thomas Paul Burgess

The whole 'legacy' debate on how people deal with the past continues to torment, pulling in one direction the urge to (perhaps) forgive but not forget the awful inhumanity of the recent history, hauling in the other, the generational and pragmatic tug to simply move on. Powerful actors in this drama find uncomfortable narratives, retroactive and limiting. For the orthodox narratives surrounding Belfast punk are entirely problematic. Yet Good Vibrations and the standard bearers of Belfast punk rarely cite the band in any official or historical context. Occasionally, the self-appointed keepers of the Belfast punk flame are compelled to give Ruefrex their due. The Ruefrex song 'The Perfect Crime' features a prolonged overdriven guitar introduction, loaning itself to use as film incidental music. It had been employed in John T. Davis's Shell Shock Rock in this way to great effect.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Thomas Paul Burgess

During the Twelfth of July celebrations in Belfast, when the town was almost exclusively full of partying uber-prods, the author would somehow manage to meet, and leave with, the only Catholic girl amongst the red, white and blue throng. Around this time, the author and his punk band Ruefrex were working with a film crew from BBC Northern Ireland on Cross the Line, a documentary about the band that featured live performances in the now notorious Tyndale Community Centre. It was the first of many cross-community ventures that Ruefrex was to play around the province. But it was Turf Lodge that steeled their resolve not to dilute or shy away from their mission to challenge the scourge of sectarianism.

in Wild colonial boys
Thomas Paul Burgess

By 1978, a hierarchy of bands had already formed in Belfast. Posturing and ego were nipping around the edges of what the author and his band had assumed punk was supposed to be about. Having played a particularly strong Saturday night set at the Harp, support band The Androids suggested that the author travel down with them the next day to Dandelion Market, Dublin, for a gig. The bohemian buzz around the market seemed a million miles away from the open wound of urban decay and raw violence associated with Belfast at that time. Vintage clothing, accessories, furniture, music, Dandelion Market evoked childhood memories of Smithfield Market at home. The author outlines how the band was supported on a tour by Lou Reed, and his delight when he secured a press pass from the Record Mirror. Punk could make everyone a star and a fan at the same time.

in Wild colonial boys
Abstract only
Thomas Paul Burgess

In this chapter, the author discusses his love affair that started with the press in 1986. A review by Muir MacKean of a Ruefrex gig at Jules, a secret nightclub in Belfast, spoke about Ruefrex as a powerful, mature that only needed a decent sound system to be heard as one of the most important bands in Britain. The front cover profiles were down to the backing of the good people at Melody Maker magazine, which was prepared to dedicate a healthy amount of coverage to reflect on the more nuanced political and cultural interpretations of (Northern) Irishness as represented by Ruefrex and others. The author relates how Bill Graham, a stalwart of old-school music journalism, had published an article whose title was controversial, making the author realize how the fourth estate could hinder, rather than help, one's best intentions.

in Wild colonial boys