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This weekend I’ll be listening to… Nik Turner with Inner City Unit May 5, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve mentioned before my fascination with proto-punk and indeed those groups – Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, and Motorhead amongst others, who slotted more or less neatly into that bracket, or had elements of it in their output. Hawklords, a thinly disguised variant of Hawkwind in the late 1970s dabbled with new wave and post-punk on their eponymous debut. But for a direct crossover into punk we must turn to the prolific Nik Turner, former Hawkwind member, turned solo with a raft of projects and main man behind the Inner City Unit .

The Inner City Unit, and what a brilliant name that is, represents a bridge between space rock and punk and post-punk and…er… oi. Their particular approach was to retain strands of psychedelia amongst other areas but add to them the aggressive guitar rush of 1976/77. Throw in some defiantly political lyrics (Blue Rinse Haggard Robot from Punkadelic is about a well known political personality of the 1980s, but there’s a lot more) and vocals, indeed a lot of politics, albeit deeply cynical – garnish with a sense of humour and you’re there. For proof of that humour listen to Skinhead’s in Leningrad which is both brilliant and barmy, but if you can work with that you’ll most likely enjoy it.

And added to that sense of humour Turner has always had an highly individual aesthetic, something approaching an off skew pop sensibility. Part of that is his ubiquitous saxophone, but it is more than that. Something in the very structure of the records. Listen to the central portion of Night Life or even Skinheads in Leningrad. These aren’t generally atonal, though on some tracks they can be. Not that the Hawkwind roots are entirely discarded. There’s a passage in Two Worlds which sounds oddly like Horslips. And other parts, particularly later releases, remind me of The Three Johns.

ICU had a prolific output across an extended period of time. My direct knowledge of them came from their appearance on Friends and Relations albums issued by Hawkwind during the 1980s and then later purchasing their Maximum Effect album around 1985 in a record store in Malaga (Captain Sensible contributed a lot to that album, which is another neat crossover with punk proper).

Skinheads in Leningrad

Sid’s Song

Two Worlds

Epitaph To The Hippies

Bones of Elvis

Blue Rinse Haggard Robot

Paint Your Windows White


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