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History Punk Rock

Proto Punk at The Rowing Club, MC5 in York, 1972

MC5, 1969

During the research for my series of articles about the near-mythical Pink Floyd gig at New Earswick Folk Hall, it came to my attention that Michigan Proto Punk legends, the MC5, performed at a venue in York which I had preciously not heard of.

As a fan of Punk, music & its various offshoots, I am a fan of the MC5. They are held as a foundation of the genre. A semi-militant, anti-Vietnam, furious live band, their debut album was recorded live at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on October 30th & 31st 1968. You’ve probably heard Kick Out The Jams & it’s incendiary, profane intro, if nothing else. That perfect moment of rebellious Rock and Roll energy is seared into the history of Rock music.

So, my first inkling about this gig was a letter printed in the York Press, dated 24th July 2006, by Roy Hughes. You may remember he was the DJ & compere at the Tinned Chicken Club, the club night at the Folk Hall in New Earswick, which hosted ’60’s Psyche bands like Pink Floyd & Procol Harum. In the letter, which is titled Definitive Record, Roy confirms that MC5 did perform at The Rowing Club in 1972. He has some other interesting information in this letter:

The following day they appeared at Wembley Stadium with Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.

The bass player was a member of York band Gideon’s Few, who joined MC5 in Germany and remained on tour with them throughout Europe and USA for nearly a year. He is, incidentally, my brother Derek!

So Roy’s brother was Derek Hughes, who replaced original bass player Michael Davis, who was practically forced out of the band for Heroin abuse. Derek Hughes played with them for the majority of 1972.

a poster for Syd Barrett’s band, Stars.

In other Pink Floyd related news, around this time MC5 played a gig in Cambridge with Syd Barrett’s band, Stars. Barrett had left Pink Floyd in 1968.

After reaching out to the same York Past & Present Facebook group that provided me with so much information about the Pink Floyd gig, I have received account from group member Mike Stewart.

He recalls that the gig was “Loud!” & that it was “quite a coup for the venue.” He thinks that the band added the York date at last minute to fill in a spare night while travelling up and down the country. The Rowing Club apparently held “progressive/heavy rock discos every Saturday night.” He remarked how “not many bands performed with such high-octane energy in those days.”

Edgar Broughton Band 

Mike also remembers seeing Psychedelic Rockers, the Edgar Broughton Band at The Rowing Club. I hadn’t heard of Edgar Broughton Band before, but I am listening to them now & their sound is a heavy, psyched up Blues Rock. Shades of Black Sabbath. I’m interested in listening further so expect a review in the near future.

The York gig is not listed in this fan managed gig guide on the Concerts Wiki, but it looks like the gig probably took place in the June of 1972. Other gigs in the local vicinity, Leeds & Scarborough, seem to bear this out.

Listed June gigs from 1972, Concerts Wiki

Another York Past & Present member, Brian Walker, recalls how he could not believe the MC5 gig was happening at the time. There was no advertising, as such, and the news of it was spread by word of mouth. He believes it may have been a warmup gig before they played a few other dates, so perhaps it could have taken place at the end of May, before the Leeds City Hall gig on June 1st.

As for the venue, I assume it was the same building as houses the York City Rowing Club today (pictured above). Though I am not sure. York Past & Present user says he took over DJ responsibilities in 1976 from predecessor, Paul Blitz. So the Saturday rock nights must have gone on for quite a while. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has more information about the venue, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you remember it.

For now, that is all I have been able to find out. If anything else significant comes up about either the gig or the venue, there may be a follow up to this blogpost.

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Categories
History Politics

Happy Birthday Malcolm X & Ho Chi Minh

Showing solidarity with Malcolm X on his 95th birthday & Ho Chi Minh on his 130th.

A little while ago I made this Glitch art portrait of Uncle Ho.

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Uncle Ho

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And today, this one of Malcolm X

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Happy Birthday Malcolm X

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“If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress.

Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less healed the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”

Malcolm X

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Categories
History Politics Visual

VE Day, 75th anniversary

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the defeat, by the allied powers (British Empire & commonwealth, USA, USSR & many partisan resistance forces) of the fascist regimes in Italy Germany. After years of sacrifice and hardship by predominantly working class men, the forces of European fascism were finally defeated. I celebrate this day with a visual post showing some of the celebrations carried out by soldiers and civilians alike.
We must never forget the sacrifice made to combat far right extremism, and going forward, in respect of those who sacrificed everything, we must destroy far right extremism wherever it raises it’s ugly, intolerant head.

Solidarity.

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Categories
History Literature Politics

Contemporarily relevant dialogue by Chernyshevsky

“Your books say that we’re not supposed to live like this. Don’t you think I know that, Verochka? But in those books of yours it says that in order not to live like this, everything has to be organized differently; now, no one can live any other way. So why don’t they hurry up and set up a new order? Hey, Verochka, do you think I don’t know anything about those new systems described in your books? I know they’re good ones. Only you and I won’t live to see them! People are really stupid—how can you set up a new system with the likes of them? So let’s keep on living in the old order. That includes you! What sort of a system is it? Your books say that the old order is one of filching and fleecing. That’s true, Verochka. So if there’s no new order, let’s live by the old: filch and fleece. I’m telling you all this because I love you, becau . . . zzzz.”

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What Is To Be Done?

Let us remember though, with the looming environmental collapse, we are on a deadline. If we don’t introduce new systems and ways of doing things soon, it will be too late. We are literally on a deadline here. Planet Earth cannot sustain capitalist models of society any longer, that is the only certainty we have now.

Let us “filch and fleece” no more. A kinder gentler world is not only possible. It is imperative.

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Categories
History Music Politics

International Workers Day

To mark International Workers Day, my partner and I participated in a Zoom meeting with members of Unite the Union, the wider labour movement and people linked to the Miners Strike of 1984. To mark this day on this blog, I am sharing some of my favourite activist songs by Billy Bragg and some quotes from revolutionary leaders like VI Lenin and Ho Chi Minh regarding international solidarity.

misleading press image of anarchist protesters throwing a bomb at police, Chicago, May 1886

There are many things going on globally to mark International Workers Day. In the US, for example, I am aware of Mass Rent Strikes (the 1st of the month being rent day) and strikes at various US companies including Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Target, Amazon, Instacart, WalMart, Shipt and FedEx.

US labor movement (https://www.rlmartstudio.com)

The best way you can honour the many sacrifices of the international labour movement is by joining a union. It’s your best defence against unscrupulous employers, and in this age of rampant free market capitalism there is no shortage of those. And the defence that a union can offer you becomes more powerful as it gets bigger.

UK pro union poster

In the UK and the US, neoliberal free market zealots like Thatcher and Reagan have brainwashed many into thinking that the the unions had become too powerful before they came along. To believe that unions can become too powerful is to fundamentally misunderstand what a union is and what it is for.

Solidarity in the workplace. Educate! Agitate! Organise!

In the history of modern socialism this is a phenomenon, that the strife of the various trends within the socialist movement has from national become international.

Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, “Dogmatism And ‘Freedom of Criticism’” (1901)

All the martyrs of the working class, those in Lausanne like those in Paris, those in Le Havre like those in Martinique, are victims of the same murderer: international capitalism. And it is always in belief in the liberation of their oppressed brothers, without discrimination as to race or country, that the souls of these martyrs will find supreme consolation.

Ho Chi Minh, Le Paria, August 17, 1923
Billy Bragg playing There Is Power In A Union during the “Clap for the NHS & Key Workers”, 30th April 2020

If you are interested, here are some links to further reading about International Workers Day:

International Workers Day Wikipedia page

IWW archive

Solidarity Comrades.

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Categories
History Politics

Festa della liberazione

Today, 25th April, is Liberation day in Italy. This annual celebration marks the liberation of Italy from the forces of Mussolini’s Fascists and Hitler’s Nazis.

Following from Wikipedia Liberation Day (Italy) (click any links in this blog post for interesting reading):

The date was chosen by convention, as it was the day of the year 1945 when the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI) officially proclaimed the insurgency in a radio announcement, propounding the seizure of power by the CLNAI and proclaiming the death sentence for all fascist leaders (including Benito Mussolini, who was shot three days later.

By 1 May, all of northern Italy was liberated, including Bologna (21 April), Genoa (23 April), Milan (25 April), Turin [2] and Venice (28 April). The liberation put an end to twenty-three years of fascist dictatorship and five years of war. It symbolically represents the beginning of the historical journey which led to the referendum of 2 June 1946, when Italians opted for the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic, which was followed by the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic in 1948.

Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci. Artwork (surprisingly) by comic actor Jim Carrey
Monument to fallen partisans, Bologna
Italian communist party Liberation Day poster

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