The Day The Country Died – A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 -1984, book review

The Day The Country Died – A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 -1984
The Day The Country Died – A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 -1984

The Day The Country Died – A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 -1984 by Ian Glasper & published by Cherry Red Books is Glasper’s second book in a trilogy of books exploring the landscape of a so-called “second wave” of punk rock that took hold in throughout the UK in the early 1980s.

The Day The Country Died concentrates on the anarcho punk movement that began with Crass. Like The Sex Pistols before them, nothing prepared the world for such an onslaught. But whereas the Pistols and the first wave of punk burnt out through hype and commercialism, Crass were more than just a small wonder – they became a way of life.

Their debut release was an 18-track 12” The Feeding Of The 5,000 on Small Wonder, an independent record label that shared Crass’ dislike for big business and the music industry.  However, when the label pressed the release without the blasphemous track “Reality Asylum” Crass decided all future releases would be on their on Crass Records label and in essence, this was the start of something much bigger than just a band.

Reality Asylum” / “Shaved Women” 7” was released in 1979 & The Feeding of the 5000 – Second Sitting was re-released on Crass Records in 1980.  Between them was, in my mind, a masterpiece.  Crass released their debut album in 1979.  Stations Of The Crass was a double album – three sides of studio tracks plus a live gig; and similar to those who heard or saw The Sex Pistols in 1976, the effect on audiences who witnessed the unique sound and powerful messages of Crass was to start their own bands which inadvertently by lead a punk movement sub-culture spreading across the whole of the UK.

With The Day The Country Died, Ian Glasper follows the same format as with his previous book, Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980 – 1984.  The introductory chapter gives an excellent incite to how the anarcho punk movement began, followed by subsequent chapters broken down into regions of the UK where the most popular bands from each area are introduced before offering a selected discography.

The anarcho punk movement was well represented in London and Ian Glasper acknowledges this with dividing chapters – north & northeast London which includes Flux Of Pink Indians, Rubella Ballet, Dirt & the mighty Crass among others; and south & southeast London where he also covers groups from North Kent. This chapter more than others fills me with great memories as I affectionately reminisce seeing groups every Tuesday night at The Red Lion pub in Northfleet, north Kent. Local bands such as Liberty, Anthrax & Naked (Isle of Sheppey) would play regularly; and it wasn’t long before the venue got a reputation and with it came The Sub-Humans, The Mob, regular gigs from Conflict… and one of the best gigs I have ever been to when a makeshift stage was erected in the pub garden for Anthrax, Dirt and Flux Of Pink Indians.  They are all here – well researched and in many cases including interviews with original members of the bands themselves.

Other groups highlighted include Rudimentary Peni, Chumbawamba, The Cravats and many others. Last year I returned to the Red Lion after more years than I care to remember, to see Anthrax & Dirt.  It wasn’t quite as dirty, smelly or fast as I remember, but seeing old friends and groups from that time of my life filled me with joy, as did reading this book.

The Day The Country Died – A History Of Anarcho Punk 1980 -1984 by Ian Glasper was originally published by Cherry Red Books in 2006 and is now available as an eBook along with other book titles, covering a range of punk, indie and alternative rock.

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