There was an area of this sceptred isle that was ever subversive.
A space within the tranquility of the home county known as Berkshire - close to Reading, where the annual corporate music fest is held; not far from Newbury, home of the anti-bypass movement - called Hungerford; made known in recent times by the psychopathic shootist Michael Ryan.
But better than, and more deserving of interest than Ryan, are RDF, Radical Dance Faction, the anarcho-punk band who also originated from Hungerford (the trigger-happy Ryan almost prevented RDF from existing little beyond their conception in 1987, but I'll come on to that in a moment).
At the centre of the ever-transmogrifying line-up of RDF, is charismatic front-man, singer and poet, Chris Bowsher.
Dreadlocked, passionate and very, very serious, Bowsher, rather like the Fall's Mark E Smith, is the only full-time member of the band; in fact he is the band.
And still is.
Here is some excellent footage of Bowsher and co performing at last year's Skanival fesival in Wales:
I'm not sure why it is that a member of the audience feels the need to stand inches away from Bowsher as he sings, but it's admirable the way Chris carries on, showing no sign of disconcertion; but then again he was probably used to it, and the video, if nothing else, is evident of just how shambolic gigs within the anarcho-punk scene often are.
A health and safety nightmare, what!
RDF released several albums in the first part of the nineteen-nineties, and they were all well received. In fact, RDF were one of the few crusty bands who got any attention at all in the hipper than hip music press of the time.
They were a favourite on the live scene; and their gigs tended to be like mini-festivals; attracting a crowd that would readily turn the Sir George Robey (Finsbury Park) or The Boston Arms (Tufnell Park) into a temporary facsimile of the Stone Henge Festival.
Taking Refuge is RDF's first release.
I think it's from 1987 (I can't even remember acquiring it, it must have been at a gig, but as you can tell, my memory is a bit hazy!), but it's been quite difficult to find out anything about it.
Which is gratifying in some ways, only being released on cassette, the lack of information suggests a rare status.
The sound and recording quality of this mini-album is quite superb.
So you can really whack up the volume and appreciate this most excellent piece of crusty-dub.
It just makes you want to bob back and forth.
You can't help yourself. Their music is very primal.
All the tracks are excellent, but the real stand-out tune for me is the dub-psyche-freak out 'Red Flame', where we hear RDF in full flight; and it still sounds amazing, without sounding at all dated.
As for Michael Ryan, well his actions are the inspiration behind the closing piece on the album: 'Hungerford Poem'.
While Ryan ran amok in the quiet town of Hungerford, Bowsher very nearly became one of his victims (Ryan killed seventeen (including himself, and his mother), and injured fifteen others on an indiscriminate killing spree during a boring Wednesday afternoon in August, 1987).
Bowsher's experience, and probably the feelings of many from that area at the time, are captured in this effecting spoken-word performance, and when you hear it, you know that his words are genuine; poetry emanating from someone who was really there.
It's an excellent piece of reportage; and it's an honest and quite remarkable piece of art
RDF - Taking Refuge
Shedding the Tears
Immaculate cassette rip @ 320kbs
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