Monday, 3 August 2015

The Apostles - 2nd Dark Age Demo (1982) C60


One of the first tape labels I ever wrote to was Cause for Concern, run by one Larry Peterson. I'd been hammering Flowmotion for their reissued Throbbing Gristle live cassettes for a couple of months, and now my curiosity had been drawn by Larry's Sudden Surge of Power compilation featuring some fairly big names such as Test Dept, Chris & Cosey, Cultural Amnesia, and others. It was actually a pretty good tape, so I sent for a few of the other things Larry had on offer, one of these being a demo by some band called the Apostles, not so much out of curiosity as to shut Larry up. The tape came, and it looked kind of punky, but I immediately understood why he had been raving about them. I had taken the Apostles for some fringe anarchopunk outfit, the sort which would eventually put out a yappy 7" on Crass Records and then dutifully vanish into obscurity; but the Apostles, as I discovered, didn't really sound like anyone in particular, and didn't quite fit in anywhere. The songs were political, but quite personal too, and a long way from the anticipated slogans about Thatcher and vegetarianism; and they were incredibly tuneful, atmospheric, even haunting - one minute sounding like the angriest thing ever committed to a Woolworths C60, next having you crying your eyes out. 2nd Dark Age Demo remains more or less my favourite indie tape cassette of all time. The songs sound rudimentary in places, just blokes stood in front of a cheap tape recorder for an hour or so hoping it doesn't sound too shite, but Christ - the atmosphere of the thing, the passion, and the uncompromising refusal to perpetuate bullshit or to repeat audience-pleasing slogans; in terms of emotion it still makes James Brown sound like Kraftwerk to me. As chance had it, I ended up writing to the Apostles, then buying everything I could get my hands on, and then about ten years after first hearing 2nd Dark Age I ended up in the band once it transformed into first Academy 23 and then the first version of UNIT. Having now worked with Andy Martin of the Apostles and known him for many years, it's interesting that he should be one of the few people whose real life persona has not spoiled the pleasure I've taken in listening to his early stuff. It's generally true that you should never meet your heroes, but Andy it seems was an exception to that rule. He's his own worst enemy - as he will himself admit on occasion - and the world's most aggravating fucker, but he's also one of the very few people I've ever met whom I still regard as a genius, or as having the potential for genius, despite knowing him. Naturally he now regards 2nd Dark Age as utter rubbish, his exact words being:


The 2nd Dark Age was so long ago and we've released such a wealth of decent quality material since then (well, since the mid 1990s anyway) I no longer care what you release! How you can enjoy that abysmal crap is a major mystery but I'm really glad you do because it means our effort wasn't a complete waste of time.

Anyway, here it is - thirteen songs about racism, homophobia, disability, alienation, self-loathing, and generally failing to function in a society broken beyond hope of repair - track titles based on a composite of the Cause for Concern version, and the one on Discogs - neither of which are actually accurate.

Seeing as we're here, Andy has been putting together some sort of CD retrospective of Apostles releases, at least the vinyl, so you might want to watch this space if interested; and I suppose I should also plug his writings, self-published as breeze block-sized tomes of tiny, tiny print which could be used to stun cattle, or even to mount a rousing defence against an intrusive bayliff and which are available from Lulu Publishing. Andy Nunn reckons Faded Fragments is well worth a look, for what it may be worth.



Tracks:
1 - The Sures of Time
2 - Thalidomide

3 - King's Cross Etc.
4 - The End
5 - After the Fact
6 - LBW
7 - Red Vote Pole
8 - Hello Mark
9 - The Wicket
10 - Eric's Detachables
11 - The Innocent Bystander
12 - Alien Asian
13 - New Face in N16


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