nostalgia for an age that never existed – jello biafra and mojo nixon

It was Christmas of ‘84, it was. Class War had visited at the start of the week, bringing a day of action. I’d just done a gig as Virullex! – my fourth under that name and the first really bad, might-as-well-off-myself, fucking never again performance I’d ever done.

My girlfriend at the time had gone back to Perth to spend the festive period with an ancestor and a sibling, leaving me to lumber around our flat by myself.

Largo place in EH4 was an odd-numbered half-street which in those days looked onto some grass that had sprung up after a German bomb missed Leith docks some forty years earlier. Of course, a prime site like that is now tiny drone-boxes, families crammed in on top of each other, fighting for a view over the water of Leith.

In those days, I regarded television as a cross between a tumour and a lobotomy, so I unplugged Jacqui’s colour portable and used the freed up power points to plug in my array of tape recorders, effects pedals and other noise warping accoutrements.

I’d agreed to do a collaboration tape with Opera For Infantry, from Amesbury, who I’d been in contact with for a while. We’d sent each other half an hour or so of recordings to use as a starting point for this work. I’ve no idea what theirs started off as, but I’d sent them some of the backing tapes from the current Virullex! live set.

With the miners’ strike in full swing, there’d been a plethora of wartime propaganda films on TV – mostly narrated by John Snagge – to try to convince the country we were all behind That Nice Mrs Thatcher and to hell with the future.

So I wanted to look at parallels between all this bullshit about ‘Their Finest Hour’ and ‘Britain Can Take It’ and the reality of the world those wacky zany neo-liberals were trying to bring into being. Those sepia-toned ‘good old days’ so beloved of Nigel Fromage and his kind nowadays.

A Britain which ruled the waves, in which everyone knew their place and had the common decency to be white, male and heterosexual without having to think about it first.

So each day, I got up and worked on a track for this collaboration. It took up the five days I had the flat to myself and at the end, I was pretty pleased with what I’d achieved.

I copied it onto a ‘cassette’ and put it in an ‘envelope’ and ‘posted it to Trev in Amesbury. If that last sentence made no sense to you, sit down with your gran or granddad and they’ll explain how we communicated with one another in the olden days.

Listening back to these recordings now, in their fully cleaned up hyper-crikey-sonic magnificence, it’s like looking through old photos from a holiday – or a spell in a Turkish prison – that I can barely remember. I know I was there, but there are so many gaps in the narrative, it’s like a memory of a dream that someone else described to me ages ago.

These recordings are available again from as of Monday 23rd at – it’s a historical document, from a time when an ideology-driven right wing demagogue ran this country with a cabal of shadowy money-men and the media blanked out any and all information that ran counter to this. The ‘good old days’, yeah? They were fuckin’ shit from start to finish.


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