Sunday 11 March 2012

Mine's Is The Last Voice You Will Ever Hear!

A couple of weeks ago JC and I were talking about nothing in particular between bands at the Spector gig at the Wah Wah hut, when he mentioned the Dorian Linksey book, 33 Revolutions Per Minute and in particular the Frankie Goes To Hollywood chapter and we were both in agreement that it was a very unsettling time with a lot of scary shit going on.

I really don't want to sound like some old codger with the "you had to be there at the time" kind of shit but I'm not sure that anybody under the age of thirty can really grasp how close we came. Not as close as in October 1962 when it really can down to the wire. But a couple of times during the 70s/80s  not least when the USSR invaded Afghanistan it looked as though we could be heading for a nuclear showdown.

I remember asking my uncle Jimmy if he remembered where he was when Kennedy was killed to which he replied, " Aye and I also remember where I was when he nearly bloody killed us all!" referring to the Cuban missile crisis. I can't say that I could pin point a time in the 80s that was just as serious as that.

I 'm not sure if I became obsessed with nuclear annihilation but I spent a lot of my youth with a  pessimistic outlook which made me think that the world didn't have a  a cat in hell's chance of reaching the year 2000. That may sound over dramatic but you watch The War Game and Threads and see if you can keep up your sunny disposition.

At the time we had an American President that thought of the USSR as the "evil empire" and himself as the good guy in some Western who was going to save the world. Over here a Prime Minister that would bend over backwards to do Ronnie's bidding and in Russia, christ we didn't even know if the President we saw on the news footage was even alive. These factors did not lead to a rosy world overview.

Being involved in the Youth CND movement didn't help either all those figures about how many times over we could blow up the planet, facts about nuclear winters and EMPs. Finding out that just outside Lanark there was a Royal Observer Corps Bunker, that the race course which had fallen into disrepair was the location of the mass burial ground after an attack and also reading the Government's Protect and Survive pamphlet didn't give much hope for the future.

Living in Lanark, at the time we had a part time fire service and also the State Mental Hospital seven miles away from town. What the hell has that got to do with any of this, I here you asking? Well it's simple, any time there was a fire within the jurisdiction of the local fire station or every second Thursday at one o'clock the siren would go off, the same siren that would go off in the case of a nuclear strike. Not many, if any of my peer group realised this fact and if in the same class as me first thing after lunch on every second Thursday looked at me rather strangely as I would stiffen in my seat as soon as I heard that horrible sound. I used to try and rationalise it to myself, saying that it was just the test for the Penni siren but there was always that, "what if it isn't, what if it's just a coincidence that it's going off at 1 o'clock on a Thursday?"

I spent the early to mid eighties going to demos in Barrow In Furness, Coulport, Greenham Common and RAF Mildenhall amongst many other lovely locations surrounded by razor wire and patrolled by men with guns with live ammunition and nothing I had seen at any of these places gave me a great hope for the future. It seemed to be inevitable that we were going to come to a sticky end before we even got a chance to get into the nineties.

Which brings me to the main point of this ramble, at this time we had loads of bringing the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction to the masses. Who can forget Duran Duran with their hard hitting protest diatribe Rio. or Spandau Ballet with their critique of the sheer stupidity of the arms race "True".  Bands as diverse as Gillan with M.A.D and Timezone's frightening World Destruction took up the cause but it took Paul Morley, Trevor Horn and the demo from a band from Liverpool to produce the ultimate anti war track of the 80's which in equal measures scared the shit out of you but also made you want to dance.

With it's myriad of remixes and formats it is also responsible for the rise in bands having the sole intent of bankrupting their fans by releasing their singles and albums in multiple formats and mixes. Which in turn would lead to the chart authorities putting limitations on the amount of different formats which would be counted  when calculating your chart position.

Here are a couple of the mixes

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes (Annihilation)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes (Hibakusha)


Dirk said...

Rather frightening times indeed, Drew ... and I do remember those bloody siren tests very well ... scared the shit out of me each time!

Great post!

adam said...

The BBC showing The War Game 20 odd years after it was made, because first time round the cabinet office believed that it would lead to mass suicides amongst the lower classes devoid of hope - the big production gloss of 'The Day After' on ITV with the much demanded 'right to reply' debate afterwards by Max Hastings (we had a 'party' - several friends came and stayed the night and we sat up and watched it and got scared together) - the much more serious and straightforward 'Threads' by Barry Hines on the BBC (*ahem* I can sort you out with an .avi of this if you're interested) with more right to reply - Raymond Brigg's 'When The Wind Blows' which I read again the other day and is still incredibly powerful, especially the last page of it - going to see 'Atomic Cafe' at the film society, a collection of 50s 'what to do in the event of an attack' films. Two Tribes was still a highpoint amongst all of this - their very best thing amongst a short but burning bright career of very good things.

drew said...

Adam I would love to see Threads again. I can't read When The Wind Blows without shedding a tear and the last page has me in bits. My mate had the soundtrack to Atomic Cafe, Duck and Cover was a classic.

Dubrobots said...

Have to agree with Dirk, that really was a great post.

The Annihilation mix still sounds incredible 28 years on. And typing that makes me feel really old...

dickvandyke said...

*Sat under kitchen table since 1983.

Can I come out now?

Sac Prada said...
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