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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Contenders from Easterhouse February 14, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Ah, Easterhouse. Scottish name, but hailing from Manchester. Brothers Andy and Ivor Perry fronting the band. A small assist from Morrissey who allowed them to support the Smiths and a first EP co-produced by Martin Hannett. House band, so it is said, of the Revolutionary Communist Party… really, can one see Frank Furedi and co. getting down to a band that were sort of like the Smiths, sort of like the Wedding Present and with a hint of the Chameleons… at least until the utterly dodgy second album, which only had Andy’s involvement, which arrived in a fanfare of synthesised horns and truly vile guitar solo’s, whatever about that resonant voice, and promptly slipped off the edge of the world (by the by, I’m entertained to see a comment – a comment! – from the CLR as ‘source’ here… ).

For no more was heard from them (well, apart from a small reunion in 2005 with Andy Rourke joining them live).

But when stuff was heard from them, in the mid to just after the mid 1980s, what was heard was arguably one of the most political albums of that, or indeed any, decade. Angry, definitely angry. But soulful.

Then there was the Inspiration EP which on songs such as Nineteen Sixty Nine, Easter Rising and Inspiration dealt – favourably – with Republicanism and the hunger strikes.

The lyrics?

Clunky… no doubt about it, ejh once referred IIRC to them being sixth form doggerel, but excoriating.

A Labour party man comes knocking at my door/around election time, once more he’s counting on my loyal support/ there’s been betrayals he agrees, and there I have his sympathy/ but we must think of unity to keep the party on it’s feet/ What did his party ever do for me?

If it should sink without a trace I won’t lose a moments sleep. You’re out on your own.

Hmmm… a credo for independent socialists… or indeed Thatcherites… so perhaps the RCP connection wasn’t that odd… and consider the following…

Where is the man who’s speaking out for me? Community leaders want more black shopkeepers, the union’s a say in the jobs sold away, and I’m told that my homes in a nuclear free zone, but that ain’t much help when there’s bills to be paid. Police accountability, non-nuclear war strategies have made the fight a mockery.

Yes, perhaps Frank Furedi was dancing to it after all…

Or the previously mentioned Nineteen Sixty Nine:

The savage beat of soldiers feet. Streets of broken glass. That crushed the lie of justice that England brings to foreign lands. The truth came out without a doubt in 1969. How many must have thought that things would work out differently. Labour men in government, the workers own party. Who brought out their true colours and nailed them to the mast. Served the Union Jack as they always have in 1969. You have to draw the line sometime. And I draw mine…

How desperately they try through schemes of treachery and lies to hide their hands stained red with blood of countless Irish lives, they talk of dangerous gunmen, the sectarian divide and then they try to kill the truth between 1969…
… A machine of murder, the system of brutality, at H-Blocks cells a concrete hell to bury the truth…

It shouldn’t work, the lines don’t scan, but in the context of the music I think it comes together.

Songs such as Get Back to Russia, or Lenin in Zurich did pretty much what the titles implied… ‘At least the Russian working man knows exactly where he stands…’. Indeed.

Anyway, here is a Rough Trade live promo which has recently appeared on YouTube.

Whistling in the Dark

Nineteen Sixty Nine

Get Back to Russia

Coming Up for Air

Comments»

1. ejh - February 14, 2009

A great deal better than the album that followed, but still, like pretty much all political music other than the absolutely first-rate, most of what one can hear, in retrospect even if not at the time, is the sloganising.

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2. Dunne and Crescendo - February 14, 2009

I was a Redskins man myself. Listening to most of that stuff now you wonder how you actually thought it was a good idea trying to put Rosa Luxemburg to rockabilly/soul. Mind you Keep on Keeping on might be apposite for today.

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3. WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2009

I still like the Redskins, sort of. Some great tunes…

I know what you’re saying ejh, and I think your point is bang on… true too of the Redskins. It’s difficult to be metaphorical without being twee and it’s difficult to be authentic without being hectoring. A tough one.

Incidentally that second album was awful. Some great melodies dragged down by the worst of 1980s production and backing music…

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4. ejh - February 14, 2009

U2 copyists, I thought when I heard it.

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5. WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2009

Yes, and I’m no fan of U2… 😉

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6. Seán Báite - February 15, 2009

‘king hell – you bring me back WBS… Think I have Contenders on a damp cassette somewhere that probably won’t play any more. Didn’t even notice they had out a second album.
Usual problem with all overtly political music, as pointed out by yourself and commenters – hard to retain any nuance or subtlety when every other line is a slogan.
I think I bought Contenders after hearing 1969 many times on the great Capital Radio – and being surprised to hear someone with an English accent taking the Irish side (but were they really – or just bashing mainstream Labour??).
Capital used to also play a Dexy’s track a lot that managed to square the political pop circle with much more subtlety (can’t remember the title – was about the Troubles – chorus: ‘It all sounded the same…’);

Finally have to thank them for inducing me to work out the chords to ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’ – which I massacre to this day – albeit with the ‘original’ lyrics.

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7. Seán Báite - February 15, 2009

Off topic, WBS – going by the title of these posts – do you have a garden shed as ‘well-appointed’ as the bloke in the Fast Show sketch ?

If Ms Kittin is still in there from the other weekend – could ye lend us the key for fifteen minutes.. :->

I’m sure you’re having to make up the depreciation of value – them sort of things used to sell for 300 grand on the Northside only a year ago :-<

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8. WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2009

Sadly not Séan, but I’m working on it…

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9. Seán Báite - February 16, 2009

Working on Ms Kittin ? Or putting up a garden shed as ‘well-appointed, convenient to Dart, a choice of 4 or 5 shite pubs, nude bathing spots etc.’ or whatever they say in dem property pages ?

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10. WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2009

Do they have property pages any longer? 😉

And in truth the CL isn’t the worst… not the best mind…

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11. Ithankyou Arthur - September 7, 2013

Very earnest and politically specific and yet Contenders is an album I keep on coming back to… especially as those Labour “betrayals” just keep mounting up.

“I know your history and that gives me authority…” it is sixth form poetic bludgeoning and yet… it always makes me feel like I should do more.

Paul Joyce

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WorldbyStorm - September 7, 2013

I get that feeling too. It’s sort of more potent than it should be.

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