Saturday, 3 January 2009

Dancing in Circles Makes your Head Spin Round

They had a wonderful exuberance did Culture Shock.

Emitting a joyful and celebratory sound that insisted you let your dreadlocks down and have a good jump about to.

It's only when you stop for breath that you realise the lyrics are savage, yet spot-on, polemics against society, ideology, alienation, superficiality and all things superstructural.

Dick Lucas's words were sharp as knives; he was no ranter, and fortunately, the juxtaposition of his lyrics with top-heavy, jingly-jangly ska made sure he was never preachy.

Dick really began his vocal career with the hardcore band the Subhumans (recently reformed) back in 1980, but as punk hastened towards moribundity Lucas began Culture Shock, and a new sound was quickly established: all skank and no mosh.

This mini-album, Go Wild, released in 1986, was their first; and their best in my opinion.

Dick's lyrics are hard-hitting but not yet as spiteful as they would become (not so much with Culture Shock, but with his next band, Citizen Fish, Lucas's lyrics became pretty difficult to listen to, and he could make an audience feel pretty uncomfortable; both in terms of being lectured to, and in a socialist paternal fashion, feeling like you're being told off!), and there is an element of snide-humour and satire here that he also failed to reatin (he was always pretty angry; but sometimes that anger could get a little misdirected - I noticed at gigs [I saw Dick Lucas perform at least a dozen times] that he would often be on his own; big black book under his arm, or often he'd be writing in it, sat up at the bar, with the occassional upward glance [I wonder what he was writing in there?]).

But as I said, on this release, there is a greater enthusiasm; and their music, despite its inspiration from Jamaica, is terribly English.

There's also something of the pastoral about them; their hailing from Wiltshire comes as no real surprise; and seeing them in somewhere like the Sir George Robey totally reinforced the concept of urban-folk music.

But it was out in the sticks somewhere or other that Culture Shock really shined; and the free-festival atmosphere always suited their music the best.

The final two tracks on this album are both dub numbers, and for me they are the most evocative of that time.
Very much the sound one would encounter on one of those spaced-out quixotic meanderings one goes off on at festivals.
Kind of Narnia-like, you enter a magical world merely by pushing back a fold of canvas; and there you are, confronted with wonderful ska music and the best damn party on the planet.
I can smell the wood smoke, the incense, the pot, the diesel fumes, the donuts; I get that taste in my mouth of not sleeping properly, the illusion my mouth and teeth are under that I haven't eaten anything other than Rennies for the last forty-eight hours, that crippling sense of paranoia that kicks in when you can't find the fucking tent after searching for the last hour or so ('well, it looked like that field...'),
the bad back...

O yeah. That's why I don't go to festivals anymore.

Culture Shock - Go Wild (1986)

Punks on Postcards
Go Wild
Messed Up
Six Foot Rooms
Ten Per Cent Off
Circles
Mother's on the Phone
All (Messed Up) Together

Quality vinyl rip @320kbs.
Get yourself cultured here


7 comments:

devotionalhooligan said...

nice wordplay mate... i still remember how this & flux's uncarved block felt like somebody had switched on a light... the early 80s were shite... i spent half the time getting my head kicked in & the other half fucking it up.but this still makes me smile... i still admire them for trying to be upfront... and doing it on their terms... and it still makes me dance.peace.xx

kendo said...

Aggreed!! Its high up on my A.T.F list (All Time Fav list)

kendo said...

Moribundity!!! Nice one
I think I know what it means,
Did you ever read any of Dick Lucas's books "write the way up"is great he plays around with words and can be a little exhausting to follow but worth it

roy rocket said...

Didn't know of Dick's literary achievements... I'll follow that one up...
Cheers! roy

kendo said...

He'll send you a copy think I sent him a fiver was a few years ago
http://www.myspace.com/dickmental

But if i can find my one your welcome to it Roy I'll have a look

Duncan Disorderly said...

Oi Kendo I have got your book man !. Devotionalhooligan i love your write up of culture shock . Spot on bruvvers:-)

Listen and Understand said...

Another favorite of mine. It is too bad lots of people don't know that members of this band were in the Subhumans. Same thing with Citizen Fish. I managed to see the reformed Subhumans play with a reformed A-Heads about a year ago near Downtown Los Angeles.