Sunday, November 5, 2017

Who Are These Weirdies?

Throbbing Gristle : Slug Bait (ICA)

"We were absolutely antithetical to rock'n'roll at that point. We really didn't care if anybody liked it, or if we sold any records. Mark Perry of Sniffin' Glue famously said, 'Learn three chords now form a band'. I said 'Learn none at all'. To play chords was to plug into the tradition at some level."
-Genesis P-Orridge, vocalist to Mojo

On November 4, 1977 industrial rock pioneers Throbbing Gristle released The Second Annual Report, a disturbing collection of psychopathic slurring embedded in dense, improvised synthesized sounds. Throbbing Gristle's success led the band to create their own Industrial Records label from which they issued music by bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA.

Keith Baldock was the unwitting music journalist who wrote an early review of the band:

One may have asked in passing : “Who are these weirdies?” I still don’t know who they are, or why they should have attracted such publicity, and I went out of my way to see them perform at the Nag’s Head pub in High Wycombe on Friday. 

 Well, I say perform because just at the moment I seem to be lost for words to describe what went on.

 I make no apology for saying I am a lover of heavy, noisy. Jarring, ear-splitting music. I’m young and strong and I can take it. 

 But I had a job to keep my pint in my stomach as I listened to the muck which was Throbbing Gristle’s claim to fame.

 An ape with his hands severed can thump just as violently on a bass guitar as Genesis did. I thought that was bad, but then he picked up his electrified violin and suddenly the place was full of agonised cats. 

 I can’t be sure that he was trying to sing, and I couldn’t make out every word he screamed into the microphone, but it sounded like I should have ignored the man and gone home. 

 Our photographer gave up early. I wish I’d followed him. 

 But I waited, and watched dumbfounded as Cosey Fanni Tutti bared both her chest and her ignorance of music, and Genesis poured artificial blood over his head then spat it onto the stage. 

 At least he did stop playing for a while — but only to shout obscenities at the audience and to throw a table across the hall. 

 Then he invited half a dozen youngsters from the catcalling and jeering audience onto the stage, and he handed them the instruments. They sounded better than Throbbing Gristle, even though they couldn’t play a note. 

 Those youngsters paid 75p to go into the hail to listen to the stomach churning travesty of music which Throbbing Gristle was oozing into the Nag’s Head. 

 The landlord, Mick Fitzgibbon, told me that the youngsters were about ready to throw Genesis P. Orridge, plus his equipment, bodily through the door.
 “I’ll never have them back here,” he said. “The kids were threatening to punch the promoter, and I don’t blame them.”

 However Gig Reserves, the promoters want to make amends to customers of theNag’s Head. They promise that next weekend’s band, Phil Ram, is good, and not to be missed. I think I’ll go along to make sure.

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