Author: Nylons

Lead guitarist of visceral Socialist R&B band, Thee Faction

Nylons’ Guide To Why AC/DC Are The Most Proletarian Band Ever

1.       They are a blues band. End of. They took the blues, electrified it further than any band before them, and applied not only lyrics that were written from the working man’s/band’s perspective, but added  a Stakhanovite work-rate to boot. They sweated blood for their audience. And made it HEAVY and POWERFUL. Full of testosterone. Nothing wrong with that, Brothers and Sisters. I refer you to the MOST killer version of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, available on the DVD set ‘Plug Me In’.

2.       They have a bass player who has to look down when he changes key. ‘Nuff said. And a drummer who couldn’t breathe through his nose if you taught him to do it, but who never misses a beat.  And a rhythm guitarist whose face you barely ever see. Who took the guitar his older brother gave him, stripped off the colour, and took out the pick-up that didn’t sound right, and hammered the FUCK out of his instrument. Together, they could power a small town.

3.       In Bon Scott, they had… well, a truck packer. A Scottish one, at that. And a perv, to boot. Roguish grin, though possibly with a taste for girls who were a bit too young (witness ‘Little Lover’ – from ‘High Voltage’)*, clearly an enormous thirst… And bagpipes. Oh, my god, the bagpipes… Just listen to ‘Long Way To The Top’. Incredible.

4.       Angus Young. I was there when a good friend said to Angus: “I failed my exams because of you…”  His response: “Me too, Mate… hehehehe…” Lovely. He dresses as a schoolboy. What better way to reduce us all to an unformed state? To that point in our lives when the only certainty was being picked on by the bigger kid? A bit like living under the Tory yoke, no?

5.       ‘Down Payment Blues’.  If you can find a more eloquent paean to living the way more and more people in this country are going to be living over the next few years, I’d like to hear it… “Can’t even feed my cat… on Social Security…”

6.       When they mattered (clearly, I’m talking about the band up to and including ‘Back in Black’), every song was about them. What they did, their ambition, their lives. Rock and Roll as narrative. There are plenty who’ve done similar, but none with the visceral heft of the ‘DC.

7.       ‘Rock’n’Roll  Singer’. Best couplet EVER. “Gonna be a rock’n’roll singer, gonna be a rock’n’roll star… Yes, I ARE…” BECAUSE IT RHYMES…

8.       Rock and Roll Singer is the classic, pithy rejection of bourgeois values – ‘They wanted me to be respected, like a doctor or a lawyer man – but I had other plans…’

9.      Because they are about Hard Graft. Hard Work. They always knew that, in order to communicate, you have to work. You have to communicate on the most base level. We work hard – so do you. This is what we share. This is what connects us. Playing hard doesn’t hurt, either.  You know it, so do we….

10.  Because never, ever, have they given a fuck about singles. Because never, ever, have they changed in order to ‘sell product’. Because never, ever, have they done iTunes. Seriously. Look up the Beatles. It’s there. AC/DC aren’t, and probably never will be. THEY OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, REAP THE REWARDS, AND DO NOT RELINQUISH IT TO THE MAN. Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd – We Salute You.

 

*[‘Little Lover’, probably written about the dangers of being a successful touring band, also contains a reference to Gary Glitter that would really be overly ‘knowing’ were it to be composed now… See also Motorhead’s classic ‘Jailbait’]

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Pubs and Villages

Brothers and sisters, an interesting coda to my examination of various alcoholic beverages and other ‘vices’ is today’s announcement that the Office of Fair Trading has rejected the argument of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale), amongst others, that the big brewers are essentially running a protectionist racket that forces publicans to carry their landlords’ products – and no others – while maintaining cripplingly high rents – all of which essentially reduce most publicans to being a pimp for The Man. What happened to the supposedly capitalist ‘value’ of competition?

This is why your local might very well close soon, particularly if you live in a rural location. It’s currently projected that at least 1,500 English pubs will close in the near future. Many of these will have been at the heart of their community for scores, if not hundreds of years.

Do they matter? Not if you’re The Man. If they’re not willing or able to play the game, they’re fucked.

Pubs matter to local people, though. A community is always the poorer for losing a pub. Mark my words, the countryside will become a more desolate place in years to come. Villages and small towns becoming dormitories for white-flight arseholes and second-home wankers who can’t be bothered to invest emotion in the place where they’ve chosen to invest money in property, while pricing the locals out of a decent home.

 

Support your local Free House. It’s the Socialist thing to do.

Nylons’ Guide to what’s Bourgeois and what’s not. Part 2: Vices

An occasional guide to what’s bourgeois and what’s not, from the man who knows what’s bourgeois and what’s not.

Part 2: Vices.

Alcohol: depends rather on what the booze is.

  • Beer. Specifically, Real Ale. Always good, particularly in the company of Morris Dancers. Nothing wrong with Morris Dancing. It’s a folk tradition; therefore the music is definitively proletarian. It’s agrarian, for the most part, or nautical. Mostly the former, though. I digress, however. The beer is generally brewed in defiance of the PubCos, and finds a place in enough hearts to maintain a stubborn resistance to The Man, who believes in quantity over quality (hence the so-called ‘vertical drinking’ establishments, which demean both the consumer and the licensee). Pick out the twigs and love your traditions.  (NB: Nothing wrong with lager. Just maintain a healthy suspicion of anything associated with Anheuser-Busch, and remember who invented the word ‘Budweiser’. Czechs, not Americans).
  • Wine: Generally Socialist. Therefore Brilliant. The Co-operative movement has very strong roots amongst the vineyards of La Belle France. So go for the Vins des Pays of the Deep South, for example, or some of the fabulous wines coming out of the former Soviet republics. And southern Italy.
  • Spirits: Vodka, of course – preferably Russian (and made from potatoes), but, failing that, Scandinavian. Absolut (capitalists to a man, of course) recently confounded  themselves by collaborating with Brother Spike Lee to produce their limited edition ‘Brooklyn’ edition. Flavoured with Green Apple and Ginger… with equal parts of cranberry juice and ginger ale over ice = ‘Stoop Party’. A truly proletarian cocktail. Whisk(e)y: The booze of choice for the armchair revolutionary. Gin: Plymouth = Good. Artisanal. Gordon’s = No. Bourgeois. Bombay Sapphire = ‘pretend colonial’. Don’t even go there. Even though it’s delicious. Rum = Good. Particularly the proper Jamaican stuff. Caution needs to be exercised with Morgan’s Spiced, though. 

Drugs: Also, depends rather on the substance.

  • Smack. No. Obviously.  When you’re useless, you’re useless.
  • Cocaine. Lovely, but No. Even the most hardened revolutionary socialist will find themselves interested only in chasing the high. This is what The Man wants.  Plus, it’s the source of misery and slavery for hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters in Latin America. Derivative: Crack. Effect? Half an hour of fucking someone you don’t want to fuck, then stabbing someone you don’t hate to get more. Truly shit. 
  • Speed (meaning amphetamine sulphate or one of the commercially manufactured  versions *fondly remembers ‘Blues’*). The proletarian revolutionary’s drug of choice. Home-made, intense. Never did me any harm. Unless you count the dental bills. Good for R’n’B.  And rockin’ in general. Just take my advice – don’t try dissolving a gram in a bottle of Newcastle Brown. VV Bad. Also, steer clear of the ol’ Crystal Meth. Very Very Bad Indeed (see Crack).
  • Cannabis. No. The drug of bores. There is no insight, apart from the fact that you are stoned (and paranoid). This is why the Grateful Dead could have been a good band, but weren’t.
  • LSD. Recommended, if you can get the real thing. It’s a bit utopian, but what good Socialist isn’t? Like a windscreen wiper for the mind.
  • Ecstasy (meaning MDMA): See LSD, only a bit vacuous. Not as recommended, if only because it’s really lovely, and therefore doesn’t lead to insights as such, apart from ‘Ooooo. My forearm feels really amaaaaaazzzziiiiiinnnnnnggg, and I think I love you. Yes, like that! Even though you’re my brother. WOAH…’
  • Any ‘legal highs’. Are you a plant? No? Then what are you doing inhaling plant food?
  • Tobacco. It’s brilliant. But don’t take my word for it. And for fuck’s sake, don’t start, if you haven’t already. Enfin, it’s the ultimate capitalist drug. Its roots are firmly in slavery, FFS. I’m ashamed to be weak enough to still be an addict. 

Gambling:

The Man’s way of taking your money away while you’re pretending you’re having fun. What’s to like? Never forget that it’s an industry, with the odds stacked against you. Buying a raffle ticket in the name of a good cause is acceptable, however. If you must, then I would recommend Blackjack/21. Best odds in the house. NEVER Roulette. I learned the hard way, over a very painful 12 minutes in Vegas.

Sex:

Not a ‘vice’, and I’m not going to get into prescribing or proscribing here. So long as what you’re doing don’t involve relatives, children, animals or anyone/thing that can’t/doesn’t consent, then do it. Particularly if it makes your partner feel good. Nothing more fulfilling than that – particularly if they share your particular vision. Plus, we have to make more socialist babies, comrades! The Catholics have us beaten hands down at the moment…

Donald Fagen and Nylons. Is there something they're not telling us?

A quick aside about guilty pleasures. These are not vices. Thee Faction had a discussion the other evening about Steely Dan, for example. The band, that is, not the implement in the William Burroughs book. A guilty pleasure (for me and Billy B, not for Baby Face, it should be stressed), not a vice. Ditto Girls Aloud (for me only, I suspect). Although there would have to be a sexual fantasy attached here (see above). Just so we’re clear, I don’t have a ‘thing’ for Donald Fagen. OK – I might, but that’s between me and the bedpost.  And you, dear reader.

But hey – that’s just me. Follow your conscience, Comrades.

Keep it real. Or don’t, depending on your vice of choice.

Signing off.

N x

Nylons’ Guide to what’s Bourgeois and what’s not. Part 1: Music

An occasional guide to what’s bourgeois and what’s not, from the man who knows what’s bourgeois and what’s not.

Part 1: Music.

OK – generally speaking, music is not bourgeois. It’s one of the primal forms of human self-expression. However, some forms are more bourgeois than others. What follows is a far-from-definitive examination of some of the more popular genres. Feel free to request a judgement on any genre not mentioned below. Email the Guild at the usual address, and I shall instil some education.

Rhythm and Blues. Not bourgeois. Obviously. However, there is an important distinction to be made in terms of cut-off points. R’n’B is emphatically NOT ‘Contemporary R’n’B’, which is bourgeois in the worst way. Wikipedia makes the distinction. So should you.

Horrifically bourgeois. Unacceptably bourgeois. Very very bourgeois.

Punk Rock. Definitely not bourgeois. The DIY Ethic, the (initial, at least) rejection of the traditional routes through the ‘music biz’ etc. Beware, however, the pretenders. Not The Pretenders – they are marvellous, and can be filed under this particular heading.  The Police, though, for example. NONE more booshwah.  Might be a guilty pleasure, just don’t admit it to me. Otherwise, there might have to be re-education.

Ska/Reggae. Definitively NOT bourgeois. End Of. Three words: Misty In Roots. Apart from some well dodgy dancehall stuff courtesy of Beenie Man, Elephant Man and the like, who play up to the horrific homophobia still rampant in Jamaica, it’s the voice of the struggle/having a really, really good time. Which are not mutually exclusive. It has to be emphasised that most dancehall is just good-time music, designed to make you shake your butt. And there’s nothing in Marx or Engels that says you can’t shake your butt. Domestic offshoots, including Grime and Dubstep, also embody the struggle from the modern perspective.

Jazz: Generally speaking, non-bourgeois. Obviously. Apart from that which you hear murdered in hotel lobbies. This is very bourgeois.

Country (and Western): For the most part, utterly proletarian, therefore, once again, non-bourgeois. The fantastic country rock of Gram Parsons, for example, is a soundtrack to blue-collar America. There is, however, a lot of stuff out there that isn’t bourgeois, but is hateful. It’s pretty easy to spot, though. Care needed.

Metallica. None more reactionary.

Heavy Metal/Hard Rock. The ultimate in non-bourgeois musical genres. Visceral Heft incarnate. Mainly concerned with devils and shit. Or being in a heavy metal/hard rock band. And shagging. Although they may not agree, Steel Panther’s Anthem ‘Party All Day’, with its refrain “Wo-oh-ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah – fuck all night and party all day…” is, in fact, an expression of utopian socialism at its purest. Innit. Also, metal/rock tends to eschew the commercial mainstream and its reliance on the concept of ‘fashion’, albeit while using the mechanics of the ‘industry’ in the case of the more successful bands. None of the above applies to Metallica, obviously. Although I admire them in an objective musical sense, they are reactionary to the nth degree.

Progressive Rock: Difficult. Some used their art to protest what they saw happening around them (see: King Crimson, ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’), whereas others (Yes, for example), um, didn’t, and just wanked themselves into a frenzy. Some did one, then the other (King Crimson again). But there are surprising exceptions. I will posit here that Pink Floyd come down on the side of the good guys. Although it’s hard to square their protests at the way the music industry works (see ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘The Wall’ for perfect examples) with their consummate exploitation of it. One for careful choices, Comrades.

Classical: Non-bourgeois. Except Wagner (just TOO tainted) and opera. Apart from Cosi Fan Tutti, which pioneered the theme of women making sexual choices. ‘Nuff said.

Folk: Again, definitively not bourgeois. The voice of the peasant, the worker, the revolutionary throughout the centuries. Required listening. Apart from wanky modern ‘alt-folk’, that is*. Here’s your starter for 10:

  • Martin Carthy
  • The Watersons
  • Nic Jones
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Billy Bragg (oh, yes, he is)
  • June Tabor
  • Louis Killen
  • Ewan MacColl
  • Shirley Collins
  • The Copper Family

Hip-Hop/Rap: Again, difficult. Not even going there, frankly. This is the home of my own guilty pleasures.  And I’m not sharing those with you.

Suggestions for the next subject welcome… Emails to the usual address, or comment below.

*there are exceptions – Mountain Man are a good example.

Nylons on a trip down memory lane

 

So, there I was. I was doing a little time, nothing too serious, you know. Just biding my time, waiting to get back to the comrades. Still smarting, though. I was set up – a political prosecution. Cunts. In a non-sexist way, of course. I was in this open place, day release, got to go into town on a regular basis. OK, so I pushed the limits a bit, but the screws didn’t take it personal, like. I’d hang around town a bit, and next thing you know, I was catching a show or two. The Feelgoods were still playing around Canvey and Essex then. It was visceral. It had heft.

Lee, confronting the masses, challenging them, almost, to rise up… It may have been disguised as paeans to 17-year-old girls or whatever, but to me, this was the reinterpretation of the blues for the fucked generation.  A call to arms. A cautionary tale – don’t wake up, bruised and with a mouth like a 1970’s ashtray in a pub car park. Burn the fucker down.  And Wilko… The man was an inspiration.  The eyes, full of fervour.  The jerky, uncontrollable, spasmodic movement across the stage.  The implied gunning down of the audience. Here was a man who literally took no prisoners. His sound, too – that staccato, connected, soulful Noise… It was incredible. Made me pick up my guitar and play. I couldn’t cope without a plectrum, like him, but I sprayed my fair share of blood across the strings.  Never had the balls to get a red scratchplate like him, mind. Proper fackin’ socialist, too. Shouting down the Tory bastards who wanted to expand the refinery bollocks across Canvey. No – not shouting them down – reasoning. Pointing out the flaws in their fucked ambitions.

It was all still a bit punk then, back in the day, but we soon found the way. The historical thread – the medium being the message and all that. And the ideological purity. You can play R&B – properly – without selling out to the man. And you can adapt it to whatever time you happen to be in. So we rocked, and became Thee Faction, slowly. The Miners’ Strike was a turning point for us. That Ebbw Vale gig convinced us that we needed to properly join the communist international. As far as we were concerned, Ebbw Vale (of which we have recently, miraculously, found the 16 track master tapes) convinced us that the revolution was at hand on our own shores, so, for various reasons, we decided to cross over and tour behind the so-called Iron Curtain. As the comrades have made clear, we won’t discuss it. Never. And we won’t discuss why we decided to come back. Let’s just say that it had something to do with a choice between North Korea, China (capitalist sell-outs), and Cuba. And my horrible hives when exposed to humidity and heat. Not to mention the old Farmers, to which I have always been a martyr.

So. We’re back. And we’re rocking. Soon, you might get to hear the legendary sound that reverberated around the Valleys at the height of the struggle.

Join the movement, comrades. Don’t sell your consent. Reject the bourgeois capo, and play it in E.

And, whatever Baby Face says, remember – Situationism was, and is, cool. I’m with Asger Jorn on this one.