Chumbawamba on Joe Strummer

Ben Courtice benj at
Wed Jan 1 04:19:01 MST 2003

Just checking the Chumbawamba page ( for new
stuff and found this great tribute to the clash.

If you don't get the reference to the " anarcho finger sniffer" I think
they're talking about the punker-than-thou anarcho underground who tend
to be pretty down on any punk band that sells a lot of records as being

The way Stephen Wells enthuses about the Clash (who I like quite a lot)
reminds me of what I thought of the Dead Kennedys at high school. "
aesthetically and politically flawed AND totally perfect" -- that's it!

Ben Courtice

Joe Strummer 1952-2002

1977. Me? Suburban schoolboy billy-no-mates virgin twat.

Them? Skinny, sullen Apollonian mod gods. Instant shell-shock.

Splintered, paint spattered and battered guitar twatting Oxfam-clobbered
cock-stiffening'n'cunt drenching ugly-pretty boy uber-yobs with dog
eyes,sex hair and the thin twitching limbs of
smackfucked'n'tapewormriddled ultramodels.

Day-glo homocommie kneetrembler chic.

Fuck! Glottal-stop mock-cockernee agit-prop retro-pop punk rock.

FUCK! Chunka chunka, reggae style drop-out.  Rapid strobe rock. THAT
glottal-stop gobbed sulphate stammer. Flickering shutter rock. Speed
stuttering. Absolute total never-ever-to-be-touched-ever-again
numb-tongued  ning-nang-nong nirvana. So stiffly male, So limply butch.
So CARNIVEROUS. So effortlessly, cockthrobbingly, cuntdrenchingly,
mindblowingly, punkrockingingly absolutely fucking aesthetically and
politically flawed AND totally perfect. THE CLASH.

Perspective? Fuck you, anarcho finger sniffer. Tick off all their
faults, list all their failures, mention at length all their fuck-ups
and mistakes and youre still left with the much greater reality of the
rocknroll band who re-defined rocknroll as  a culture of protest, riot,
rage and liberation.

That attitude. That aesthetic. That agenda.

The story is The Manic Street Preachers - a bunch of brilliant, utterly
fucked off, self-educated working class kids in South Wales in the 1980s
- coming across The Clash and thinking FUCK!

Its the story of Tim from Rancid - a fucked upalcoholic Californian
skate punk in the 1990s who hammers a punk band together because he cant
get the clanging chords of Remote Control out of his spiky head,

The story is how a self-regarding, cliquey little London art-school take
on New York underground rock became the last great (and genuinely
populist) mass art movement of the 20th century. How nihilism became
revolution. How elitism became empowerment. How it made revolutionary
socialism, racial miscegenation and righteous anti-fascism into pop
phenomena. How it made rock stars out of its audience

The story is about how a bunch of scruffed up, fucked up and sulphate
scrambled ex-skinheads, proto-mods, secret poshoes, wannabe guitar
heroes and pup pub-rockers sold themselves (and got sold) as Che Guevara
with attack guitars.

The story is Lewisham and Victoria Park and that Sounds first cover. Of
Rock Against Racism, The Anti-Nazi League and a million children
refusing the role society has planned for them .

A set of ideas. A set of possibilities. Yep, buy the boxed set, watch
the videos, just consume if you want. But the template - the idea that
the band as a gang, the band as an on-stage riot, as flawed gurus, the
band as guerrillas, the band as propagandists, the band as
revolutionaries, rabble rousers, rebel rockers - makes all the other
proffered alternatives looks lame, weak. pasty-faced and pitiful by

Stephen Wells

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