Skip to main content

Queer Noises 1961-1978: From The Closet To The Charts - album review, Plan B Magazine, 2006


(Original Headline: "get bent" - from Plan B Magazine, 2006)
Words: Neil Kulkarni

Various Artists
Queer Noises 1961-1978: From The Closet To The Charts (Trikont)
   In this age of all-out retro gluttony, when every single tendril of pop can be teased out with a click into its prone entirety, the only way that ol’ construct that is The Compilation can surely work beyond laziness is by thematic dogmatism, by cutting a swathe through the ages and pulling together the diverse with a purpose, with a reason to be together. Queer Noises, Jon Savage’s hugely inspirational, endlessly fascinating collection of forgotten, and unforgettable, transmissions from the gay pop underground works both as musical journey, and as a launchpad for your own reconnaissance. Crucially, it works because it doesn’t try too much – it tries something clear, specific, and always political.
   Savage’s engrossing sleeve-notes spell out the score way more eloquently than I ever could, but what he’s collated here is a trip between lacerating camp, butch hostility, subterfuge, pride, comic angst and tragic-theatre – he charts a four-decade journey from terrifying shame (and its concurrent outrageous skewering in queer clubland) through acceptance to a faltering sense of identity with some fascinating and freakin’ brilliant music. Highlights have to be the Good Lord Joe Meek letting The Tornadoes drop ‘Do You Come Here Often’ with a snicker and a shufty, Teddy & Darrel’s Sunset-Strip drag-bitchin’ ‘These Boots’, Carl Boettcher’s skykissing ‘Astral Cowboy’, the Seventies glory of Sylvester and Jobriath & Peter Grudzien’s mindblowing ‘White Trash Hillbilly Trick’.
   At every turn, the overtness of the lyrics (even 30 years on) is startling and heartbreaking, especially when you consider that any r’n’b/hip hop act making records as brave as The Miracles ‘Ain’t Nobody Straight In LA’ would be dropped like a bad habit right now – and the palpable sense of relief (both from the parody/grotesqueries of the Sixties past and the navel-gazing of the early Seventies) sweeps you through the Ramones and the awesome Twinkeys into Sylvester’s ‘Mighty Real’ with a real euphoric rush come the end.
  Gratifyingly, where such a comp could’ve tediously pointed out the ambiguities and coppings of queer culture that mainstream pop thieves and
thrives on, what it aims for instead is entirely insular, self-sufficient, thrillingly guerrilla, creating an alternative cannon of gay music, frequently ignored, often suppressed, always utterly exciting to hear cos you always sense that this is music that had to battle, fight, not just for its own space but within itself for its own id and identity. Get this, get bent, and then, as Savage says, go straight to www.queermusicheritage.com and pursue your own intrigue as far as it’ll take you.
   I await volume two with breath baited.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A POP DAYDREAM PART I: THINNING THE HERD.

This was my dream. And it was so vivid it really happened. 
I hired a van. The expense was a concern but I needed the capacity. First the long drive north to Middlesborough. I knew he'd be at home, visiting relatives. Made sure my HeadBag was packed. Blindfolds and ballgags. Rope. Some starved, stroppy badgers. Maxi-pack of chloroform-seeped bogroll from Costco. Masking tape. As I eased onto the M1 I told myself again the story of how it was developed from the need for waterproof ammunition casings in WWII. I had to, I was bored, and it's a long schlep up to 'boro. Idly, after securing a mortgage for a bacon roll at Tibshelf, I had an argument with my other personality about whether Middlesborough was in North Yorkshire, County Durham or Teeside. 
Nothing got resolved. A plain-clothes officer pulled me off in the hardshoulder near Malton and issued stern words about punching myself while driving. No hilarity did ensue. I needed to focus. This was a serious business. By noo…

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

BRITAIN SEE THYSELF PART II. A POST-REFERENDUM DIARY AND A HISTORY OF BRITISH SELF-PITY

Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …