Friday, July 30, 2010

red army fetish

Judy Nylon, now sixty-two years old, arrived in London sometime in 1970. 

Between the death rattle of the swinging 60s and the arrival of glam rock, most of the British Isles - the media would have had one believe - was deep in the grip of a very public mourning over the demise of The Beatles.

Beards predominated, as Nick Kent - and assorted terrified children - observed. 

Dense thickets of facial hair deep enough to hide a monkey in.

Divorce and therapy became the order of the day. A primal scream or two, if one could gather together enough coin. While up and down the country everybody's mum and dad was stroking their chin and brooding over Alex Comfort's "The Joy of Sex", I was still getting off on "Meet the Monkees"; glueing my fingertips together in the struggle to get an Airfix B-52 off the ground.

Look ma, no prints.

Patti Palladin took a little longer to scrape together the airfare. Connecting briefly with Nylon via a transatlantic telephone conversation; leaving New York City three years after John & Yoko moved in, nailed the windows shut.

By 1974, of course, the complexion on and around the Thames was a good deal more refreshed. The popular charts were once more ablaze with spots. Teenage acne. Jimi Hendrix was dead, and his closest living relation was a diminutive imposter who had not long since traded his white swan for a metal guru. 

Jim Morrison's beard floated south in a bath tub in Paris back in '71, and by 1974 even Marc Bolan no longer seemed quite so elfin. Of course, by then he'd been on the game for close to ten years.

Suzi Quatro from Detroit was in vogue. Paper Lace. Mud. The Rubettes. 

A predatory paedophile called Gadd. 

In hindsight, there was really very little fairy dust being flung around. Snorted. Despite all the glitter. Nothing remotely glamorous. The London which propelled Snatch out of obscurity into more of the same was a soot bricked Dickensian warren of shysters; apprentice Fagins peddling smack on the side; swarthy entrepreneurs from the Midlands resembling Fred West.

In fact. The beards might have been shorn but, underneath the undrneath, it was all still business as usual.

Look a little closer and one is hard pressed to unearth a single genuine teenager lurking near the top slot. Just a bunch of corseted paunches masquerading as puppy fat. Propping the stage door open to usher in an endless procession of wan underage meat.

Between 1974 and the emergence of punk commercially, any blushing roué on stacked heels was virtually guaranteed an audience. Just chauffeuring the Glitter Band radiated enough of a spark to leave an adolescent open to persuasion.

I suspect.

Well. It might not have been Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Butt. A steel capped size nine in the seat of the pants was nevertheless just what the doctor ordered.

"I.R.T.", back to back with with "Stanley" on Lightning Records and Bomp in 1977, may have basked a little in the receding spectacle of a sweet jane disappearing into the dark maw of the subway painted on "Loaded", but really it had more to do with those fluoroscent tunnels trailing under Piccadilly Circus; a blinking strip light in Finchley Central.

Rumour continues to circulate that The Damned's Captain Sensible makes his presence felt on "Stanley", but so far as I'm aware it has never been corroborated. Exactly who plays on it subject to speculation. Judy and Patti have never openly dispelled the myth, but The Heartbreakers play a later documented role in their fabric of conspiracy.

In 1978, Snatch very nearly scraped the bottom of the UK Top 40 with a double A-Side - "All I Want" b/w "When I'm Bored" - featuring ex New York Doll and one time Heartbreaker, Jerry Nolan on drums. It got to No. 54 and promptly sank without a trace. Nylon and Palladin appeared unperturbed.

There followed a collaboration with Brian Eno. Another single: "R.A.F.". By then I only had time for Hurricane fighter planes.

In 1983, Pandemonium Records compiled a string of demos and those all too few 45 releases titled, simply, "Snatch". Irritatingly, although it includes versions of the tracks which appeared on the 1980 Fetish issued EP, "Shopping For Clothes" - their final release, produced by John Cale - those versions differ markedly from the (uncompiled) original Fetish product.

The Pandemonium curated mixes are a good deal crisper, more commercial than the Fetish issue. Interesting, but only by way of contrast.

Now. I did not buy into this snatch of vinyl first time around. "Shopping For Clothes" passed me by. The following vinyl rip(s), then - so far as I can gather now completely out of print - were cribbed from the now defunct Direct Waves.

SNATCH: JOEY from "Shopping For Clothes b/w Joey / Red Army" 12" (Fetish Records) 1980 (UK)
SNATCH: RED ARMY from "Shopping For Clothes b/w Joey / Red Army" 12" (Fetish Records) 1980 (UK)


WZJN said...

You know, I do so enjoy reading these passages by you. Sometimes I read them over once or twice just to be sure I squeeze all the juice out of them - making sure I take everything out of them.

Love your style - dense and captivating.

ib said...

Thanks, WZJN.

This piece got progressively denser as Friday night's alcohol rations were depleted. It's a wonder it makes any sense at all.

What started out as a background sketch quickly became something of a diatribe. I grew up with all that cheap shit being peddled in the UK in the early 70s, and I easily get as nostalgic for some of that stuff as I do for sticky crap and sugar laden drinks.

Thank god, though, for the rain.

Löst Jimmy said...

Gosh, The Rubettes, I can't think of any retort to the mere mention...I remember their coordinated attire well, the white caps live long in my memory. In fact isn't it a shame and a cruel function of the faltering mind that one can barely remember highlights of one's youth and yet there they are The Rubettes in all memory's multi-coloured gore!

ib said...

It - The Rubettes - was a hideous sight to behold. As defining a moment, maybe, as Sex / Seditionaries.

I still have that 45 tucked away somewhere, I am ashamed to confess. Filed next to a few Chinn & Chapman's; the odd Mike Leander.

I can remember Rubettes polyster scarves hanging from rails at The Barras. The boys and men in brown pinstripe high waisters; the girls with plucked eyebrows like Mary Queen of Scots in a purple and tan v-neck sweater.

Cruel times. Always the rain, then, too. Huge puddles. Hot Dogs. The stink of wet Afghan Fur coats and "match postponed" leaking from every pub on the corner.

jonder said...

I was just thinking the other day about Judy Nylon, when I was rifling through my records and came across her "Pal Judy" album. Those were interesting times, when she and Annie Anxiety, Mark Stewart, Ari Up, Keith Levene and others were making strange (and sometimes wonderful) music with Adrian Sherwood and the On-U Sound collective.

ib said...

I haven't listened to "Pal Judy". Though I've heard of it.

Given enough time, I may yet dig it out. The On-U Sound is a nice tip. Some seriously warped dub might just be what the doctor orders.

jonder said...

Judy Meets Adrian inna Jailhouse Downtown:

Judy Nylon interview from 2001:

And here's something new (circa 2010) from the On-U crew! Adrian vs Lee Perry inna Swiss Chalet:

ib said...

Thank you for these, jonderneathica.

The interview with Judy on 3:AM is a good read. Tried to take out a subscription, but the autoresponder clearly does not like me.

I immediately dived into the Sherwood Perry dip, though it took a seeming etrnity to transfer. I am familiar with "His Master's Voice", but the rest is all new to me...


frankenslade said...

This is cool stuff I've never heard before. I've got one good Snatch song from an EG Records comp, and I relate Judy Nylon with her appearance on John Cale's Fear album.

ib said...

My favourite is probably "Stanley." Still.

I lost touch with what they were doing after the first couple of singles released here on Lightning Records. Bomp!, I think, in the US. I was mildly surprised on hearing some of their later material after an interval of more than twenty years.