Steve Ignorant With Paranoid Visions ‘When…?‘  (Overground Records)
CD/LP/DL
Release date: 11th November 2013

Louder Than War recommends former Crass frontman’s latest collaboration with Dublin punk rockers.

This collaboration has caused a few raised eyebrows among my social circle: why is the geezer from Crass teaming up with a bunch of obnoxious spikes’n’studs punk rockers – even if they were a more typically “anarcho” band in the old days?  My guess?  Probably cos it’s fun and he gets on with them! (pssst, don’t tell anyone but people have fun playing in bands…)  The union was born when Paranoid Visions supported Steve Ignorant on his Last Supper tour, after all. Sometimes people forget the fun behind bands with a serious outlook.  Mind you, the mugshots of the assembled mob of 10 people who recorded the album look deadly serious: in places like they have been lifted from a grim documentary about punks from 1982 and in others like they have been lifted from Crimewatch!  (Have you seen this man?  He is accused of rocking the establishment and should not be approached as his mouth is armed and dangerous).  And the lyrical content paints a pretty grim picture.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect: Steve Ignorant’s previous bands have all hit the nail on the head but the recent SI&PV 7 inch on All The Madmen (LTW Review) which included versions of 2 of the tracks from this LP) was pretty diverse and Paranoid Visions are a band that can be difficult to pin down. Musically this is largely a verse-chorus affair and veers from UK Subs into Blaggers ITA territory and into the space occupied by old anarcho bands like Toxic Waste with maybe even a hint of Conflict in places.  The album clearly has long roots but it’s uptempo and dirty enough not to sound dated.  If you’re expecting Crass Mk3 then you will be disappointed.   Having said that, there are points at which this album does bring to mind Christ The Album when Steve really gets going, firing off a tirade.  There’s also the familiar use of a few snippets of news clips at the start of songs.  Crass references won’t be far away if you want to find them, and the last song of the album (a refrain of the opening track) kicks off with a sample of “course they fucking do”!

Lyrically there are some slightly introspective moments but SI&PV have charities, rock’n’roll rip offs, paedophile priests and even the internet in their sights. And this is most definitely an Irish album, dealing with issues facing these Dubliners day in day out.   Here are a few of the highlights from among the 12 tracks:

“Log on/Bog off” may be the acoustic lull in the album but the lyrics are angry as fuck at the fact we are all chained to our computers and being so easily controlled.  Think about it.  If you felt pissed off about a bunch of idiot farmers shooting badgers or hunting foxes 20 years ago you would be in touch with the Hunt Saboteurs Association, running round a field saving lives.  Now you click the “Like” thumb icon and you think you are somehow contributing.  The irony as I type this and as you read it is not lost on me….

“Charity begins at home” takes a pot shot at Bono in the opening sample which made me chuckle, but the song addresses a very real problem.  Charities absolve liberals of guilt by taking the money they can well afford to give when that’s just a sticking plaster cos the real problem is systemic and they need that system to maintain their status.  I’ve been saying this for years – in some cases charities become a vehicle for over inflated chief executives salaries rather than focused on their supposed beneficiaries.  SI&PV nail it in this song, paraphrased:  “Too many goody goodies…spending other people’s money…used for paying salaries..they’re set up by the rich elite and they’re rotten to the core”.

Sexual violence appears in “Independence Day” (“The screams of children rapied in monasteries”) and the song “Sex Kills” which looks at pornography and its role in objectifying women and lays the charge of it being a breeding ground for rapists.

 

“Changing Times” charts the punks on the street who “don’t give a toss about the property ladder, don’t give a shit about getting ahead” as they morph into people who “don’t wanna know about smashing the system, subverting the state or protesting the war”, this theme continuing in “Rock’n’Roll’n’Revolution”. There is a lovely backwards glance in the latter song to “Punk Is Dead” when Steve sings “It’s not for revolution, it’s just for your cash”.  Of course punk is now more of a money spinning commodity than it was in the heady days of the 70s. Even the Pistols didn’t sell out to the extent that they launched “Never Mind The Bollocks The Musical” on Broadway and the West End! As SI&PV are keen to point out “For CBS read Epitaph…Punk is now a fucking joke to sell us what we already own”.  I agree wholeheartedly, but hasn’t punk always had an element of the “plastic anger” and “pseudo revolution” they sing about? The kids who wear the slogan but don’t take action?  The bands who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk?  No one is perfect so inevitably as you stand there with your pile of stones you realise you inhabit a glass house and have to put them down again.  It can be dangerous territory.  And both Paranoid Visions and Steve Ignorant have faced their detractors over playing venues such as the Shepherds Bush Empire.  At the time my response was “If you don’t like it, don’t go.  And when did someone decide anarchist punks weren’t allowed to just have a bit of fun every now and then?”.  As anarchist Emma Goldman reputedly declared “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” This comment will no doubt put me on the hit list of “sellouts” to be sneered at (I don’t get paid for writing for LTW by the way).   Wherever you stand someone else will occupy the more-punk-than-you moral high ground (or gutter, they will insist).

This is a release that grows on me the more I listen to it with some catchy tunes, memorable guitar melodies a gang of reprobates shouting in yer ear and I do not hesitate to recommend it but I have to be entirely honest when I say that without Steve Ignorant, for me it would lose a little of its interest and appeal.

If you aren’t sure, you could always head down to the Boston Arms in Tufnell Park on 9th November for the launch gig (Facebook Event), listen to the album performed live in its entirety and if you like it buy it on the way out!

The vinyl version of the LP comes in a Crass style sleeve and along with the CD will be available from Overground Records.

Track List:

1. When…?
2. Join The Dots Braindance
3. United Left Annoyance
4. Log On – Bog Off
5. No Contrition
6. Charity Cegins At Home
7. Independence Day
8. Changing Times
9. Sex Kills
10. Rock n Roll n Revolution
11. ….When!

All words by Nathan Brown.  You can read more from Nathan here.

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