Friday, 30 March 2018

Opera for Infantry - Band Sessions (1984) C60

Back in 1984, Opera for Infantry - Trev Ward and David Padbury who eventually went on to form the Grey Wolves - briefly spent some time as a punk band with guitar, bass, drums, and songs. It was really an experiment, an exercise in audience expectation, as Trev wrote at the time:

We've been busy working out a set for our next gig which is going to be on May 12th followed by one on May 26th that is a benefit for the ALF. What we'll be doing at these gigs is some punk stuff so that people will think that is what we are, and at the gig after that we are going to do something completely different so as to shatter their expectations and to let them know things are not as they appear to be. They couldn't stand it at the very first gig when we played Hopscotch (very loud) and smashed all this metal stuff to pieces. 99% of the crowd left the hall as soon as they could and after our set they filtered back in moaning about the violence of it all, the unbearable noise. We couldn't stop laughing as we cleared the mess up. So next time they'll get what they want, so they'll think we have changed and then we'll hit them again with something different. I find that these people who call themselves individuals and open-minded like the punks in this area turn out to be very conservative and don't like change, preferring to stick to their safe 'rebellious' music which actually isn't rebelling against fuck all or changing anything.

In case that all sounds a little cynical, I seem to remember another letter which claimed it was just a case of diversifying, appealing to a different audience - although I can't seem to find that letter right now, but given all the punk bands Trev put out through his label, and all those OFI supported, I'm sure it wasn't just Trojan horseplay; plus it's worth taking into account that the music is actually pretty fucking great, and hardly the work of someone who is merely faking it for the sake of knowing industrial chuckles.

This stuff comes from a tape I compiled myself, because everything Trev sent me was always on the cheapest shittiest car boot sale cassettes money could buy, so I usually copied the music onto a TDK or something; and this particular TDK contained the three tracks contributed to my Moraals compilation on Do Easy, only two of which I actually used, recorded when we were feeling a bit down, I seem to remember him saying, and possibly the best things Opera for Infantry ever recorded in my opinion. The rest of the material is from the rehearsal tape, complete with fuck ups, false starts, chatter and so on. Some of the titles are self-evident, but I've had to guess at a few of them. Trev is on vocals, and I definitely came across a letter (which I now can't find) referring to a drummer named Chris, and I don't know about the rest. There's a segment of the tape where Dap is mentioned, something about working out something for the bass for when Dap turns up, so I'm guessing he wasn't on this recording.

1 - It's Later Than It's Ever Been
2 - Self Discipline not Self Oppression
3 - Time is...
4 - (introduction)
5 - Technological Valium I
6 - Brenda Spencer I
7 - Brenda Spencer II
8 - Men of England
9 - Brenda Spencer III
10 - Chemical Warfare
11 - Policed
12 - Massacre
13 - It Could Be You
14 - Burning (false start)
15 - Burning
16 - Nothing's Wrong
17 - Don't Worry, Animal
18 - Technological Valium II

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