Also from The Face - The Dark Side of The Mersey/The Scallies Rally To Pink Floyd ( worth a read)!
A hippy is chased down a darkened street by a group of 16-year old casuals. In most parts of Britain, what follows is likely to test his pacifist views sorely. In Liverpool, he’s more likely to be nagged for tales of the Isle Of Wight Festival. Genesis are big in Merseyside. So is Zappa. But Biggest of all are Pink Floyd.
“Our little Jimmy he’s only three.
But he’s into Zappa, just like me”
Politics Is Boring (poem from The End magazine, Vol 14)
“There’s one smoking a joint and another with spots.
If I had my way I’d have all of you shot.”
‘In The Flesh’ from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ (EMI 1979)
As part of a world tour to promote their LP, ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’, the Pink Floyd machine borrows Manchester City’s Maine Road football ground for a gathering of the faithful. Everything is as it should be. The lasers are doing what lasers were made to do, and lengthy solos sprawl across a marathon set. A crowd made up of students and social workers applaud the group’s sleepy dexterity. Everything is as it should be. Except that the students and social workers can’t relax. A massive contingent of young men from Liverpool slips through the crowd. The students keep their hands in their pockets. Are these progressive rock fans about to be ‘taxed’ by casuals from the wrong end of the M62?
The tension is broken by the thick Scouse accent which confronts one ageing hippy trying to keep track of the 25th guitar solo.
"Hey, mate. Have you got any skins on yer?"
Hours earlier, dozens of coaches and cars full of the kind of young men who the world presumes must
be into hip hop because they live on council estates, are heading for the centre of Manchester. In the
cars, "Dark Side Of The Moon" provides a suitable preparatory experience. Those lucky enough to
have a seat on a coach are able to chose between the visual delights of The Wall and Live At Pompeii
Outside the ground, the Manchester touts recognise that these people - most of them kitted out
in a variety of expensive trainers - have little in common with any artist's impression of a typical Pink
Floyd fan. Some haven't bothered to buy tickets. The touts adopt cup final tactics, keeping a firm grip on the valuable bits of paper.
"What the fuck are you lot
doing here?" asks one.
"We're here for the music, la," replies an unlikely-
Such events leave a trail of contradictions which will have most hip redbrick sociologists, with their
clearly defined ideas about the haunts and habits of the post-casual generation, thoroughly confused.
Received wisdom suggests that scallies go to the match and listen to Elvis Costello while hammening a hire car on the way home from Chelsea. In reality, while the media and the Government wonder what to do about The Lager Louts and how to introduce membership cards without causing a national Saturday afternoon riot, an ever-growing section of young Liverpool fans discuss the availability of king-size Rizla papers while buzzing on the Steve Hillage album "L".
While others are transfixed by acid house, the youth of the city have established a deeply rooted
retro-culture based on cannabis and the music of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis and an idiosyncratic collection of pre-Eighties progressive dinosaurs. Walls all over Liverpool spray out clues to passing motorists, yet few inside or outside the city are aware of a massive underground cult which can be traced back to the early Eighties.
'DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE -SMOKE POT AND FLY',
'SYD BARRET LIVES',
It's impossible to travel far through the suburbs and estates of Liverpool without seeing one or all of these on a wall, bus stop or shop shutter.
These things wouldn't be worth comment were it not for the fact that schoolteachers, students and
ageing hippies aren't often caught vandalising private property in the name of progressive rock. The
slogans are mostly the work of 14 and 15-year olds, the younger brothers of those at Maine Road
who were knee high to a pot plant when Jimi Hendrix began introducing the music world to the joys of distortion and dental soloing.
And such communiques only hint at the strength of the retro-casual movement. Record local attendances for low-key gigs by Roy Harper only served to confuse the record companies, who typically haven't a clue. As usual, they will be the last to find out.
Meanwhile, secondhand record shops and record fairs visiting the city are plagued by pre-teen jazz -
rock fans distinguished by the tribal call, "Got any Zappa, mate?" Video hire shops report pot culture
classics such as Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke inconstant demand from kids who in other cities might be waiting their turn for Robocop or ET. One truly enthusiastic 17-year-old has officially changed his name from plain David to Floyd, and the major record retail chains find Roger Waters' "Kaos" and
Syd Barrett's newly released "Opel" compilation in direct competition with the collected works of
Morrissey, Marr, Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
What's happening is both unique and uniquely ridiculous. Where will it all end? Some believe only
five nights at the Empire from Frank Zappa will heal the retro hysteria that has gripped the city.
Have you just got into Genesis/Floyd/Zappa 'cos it's safe to like them now?
Yes ......................................……………200 points
Yes, only when I'm stoned.............,........250 points
No, still into the Jam and The Beat….....minus 100 points.
"Are You A Real Wool?" quiz from The End magazine, 1982.
Paul Weller has a lot to answer for. Whatever sense they made in the rest of the country, The Jam,The Clash, The Beat and similar pop extensions of the punk phenomenon made perfect sense to the youth of Liverpool. As those groups fought and fizzled out, these kids could make no sense of the grey overcoat uprising that was left behind. Groups like Joy Division, Magazine and the whole Zoo label axis based in Liverpool were ridiculed as "student crap” .
Many of the current crop of Zappa/Floyd devotees mention being 'into' The Jam before they
discovered a previously neglected music from the late Sixties and Seventies. Before The Jam dis-
appeared into the ether, their sub-stadium date at the Deeside Leisure Centre in North Wales became the last great gathering of pre-retro scallies, who seemed to connect with the visual and musical sharpness of the group. This marriage made perfect sense to everyone. This was, all the critics agreed, the music of the working classes and the streets. In their wake came the Style Council who, it was unanimously decided, were "shit".
The resulting popularity of Bob Marley was an early indication of what was to come, though it
remains difficult to discern whether the music or the draw came first. Either way, one made the other welcome. The record collections of older brothers (this madness seems almost exclusively male) were investigated and, as there is said to be at least one copy of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" in every street in the country, the appreciation of their reflective rock became popular.
Their feelings can be summed up in a statement by Kevin, a militant short-haired hippy: "I wish I'd been born earlier. I'd have loved to have seen Zappa in the Seventies, sitting in a field wrecked out of my face."
Peter Hooton, singer with The Farm and co-editor of The End magazine, a Liverpool publication that
has documented and ridiculed this local phenomenon since its inception, remembers certain pubs in the Netherton area of the city where kids would set up Calor Gas and use hot knives to prepare
cannabis for inhalation through a 'bong' or a coffee jar. At a local club called Gatsby's, some of the
scallies created their own 'Genesis Corner (later renamed 'Zappa's Corner' following the meteoric
ascendancy of the bearded guitarist). It became known as a place where you'd find people-staring into smokey space.
You do buzz off it more when you're stoned,"explains one 15-year-old whose idea of a good
time is to lie with the lights out and his head between his stereo speakers listening to Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb". You might laugh at the lyrics more".
The Farm could have been the most successful group in Britain were it not for the intervention of
Bob Marley and Roger Waters. They dressed to a tee in the casual style that Liverpool youth had made
their own, and their music was made up of short, sharp pop songs with lyrics that were cutting and
often politically motivated. For a time they held · sway, but after a while they were obscured by clouds
of smoke and swallowed up in the shadow of "The Wall".
Peter Hooton remembers seeing a friend on the terraces at Anfield and enquiring about the
strange face on his t-shirt.
"Who's that", he asked .
"It's Zappa.", was the reply.
The End had set out to document Liverpool youth culture. As the Cannabis conquered the council estates, itfound itself the reluctant voice of a unique neo-hippy uprising. Its poetry pages were
plagued with verse which talked about the draw, The Wall", and the ubiquitous Zappa. The more
Hooton and the The End's writers took the piss, the more entrenched this retro-culture seemed to become. Simultaneously, the musical menu got stranger and stranger- a catalogue of artists connected only by being strongly associated with the Sixties or early Seventies and being well past their respective sell-by dates. Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel were strong early
favourites. A local talk group called Groundpig stumbled over this freak phenomenon, and as
capable old timers, started playing covers of records like Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill", Simon &
Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence" and Supertramp's "Breakfast In America".
During 1982, The Farm would play in one part of town and draw maybe 200 people. In another,
Groundpig would perform, filling a pub or club of as much as 600 capacity with more outside queuing hopefully. Some lads from the Everton area were inspired by the music to
form Drama. They would play Gabriel and Genesis covers. As part of a council-funded anti-drugs
campaign, Peter Hooton helped organise a Groundpig/Drama tour of comprehensive schools in the city.
"We didn't really have enough security," says
Peter. The kids were going mad to get in. Older lads
began arriving in vans. We had created a monster
and we had to stop".
David Miles is 17. He used to ride a BMX bike and go to see Liverpool now and again. Then he heard
Pink Floyd. He is now Floyd Miles, having changed his name by deed poll. Though his mates have
accepted his new name, his mother refuses to call him Floyd, thoroughly disapproving of the whole
idea. The Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive are a little more accommodating, having agreed to changed the name on his bus pass. He's as proud of this as he is of the hundreds of tapes and Cds he owns, each and every one of them having some relevance to the former psychedelic southerners.
Floyd remembers getting into them seriously seven months ago, and since then has spent almost £400
of his YTS scheme earnings on records. Having been at the Maine Road concert, he is full of a new live LP which documents recent shows. He talks intensely about the messages and meanings of the various records ("The Wall' means a lot to me"); of his intention to trek to Europe for future shows; and of his plans to visit the legendary recluse Syd Barrett at his home in Cambridge.
"He lives with his nurse now," he says wistfully. They say he took a jar of acid in the Sixties and he's
going to be tripping for the rest of his life."
He doesn't have any great expectations of the meeting: "I just want to ask him how he is, get his
Floyd pulls out another rare record, a bootleg album worth £30. "I got this at a record fair.", he sayes proudly. Most days, he will check through the racks of Liverpool's Backtracks - a huge secondhand mecca selling badges, T-shirts and old music to a new generation of short-haired hippies -for the new records that he doesn't have. Soon he plans a show on the local North Coast Radio, an unlicensed station which broadcasts fom the Bidston Estate where he lives.
Obviously, he will play nothing but Pink music. Other projects include recreating the sleeve from "The
Wall" on the font wall of his home ("I haven't asked my mum yet..."), and·perfonning the self-penned
"Dedicated To Syd" with a local teenage mod group. He has no interest whatsoever in other music.
"Gabriel's not bad," he admits, "but I don't really want to listen to anyone else. If I do, I might stop
liking the Floyd. I went out to buy a Genesis LP once but I ended up coming home with a Floyd record..."
The Night Of The Guitars, a tour based around a series of LPs for Miles Copeland's IRS label, arrives in
Liverpool. Like most, these people have no idea of the madness which grips the city. The posters
announce the 'No Speak' concept as 'Instrumental Rock For The Nineties', though most of the artists are remnants from the Sixties and Seventies. Steve Howe from Yes, Robbie Krieger of The Doors and two old men from Wishbone Ash relive former glories on the stage of The Royal Court Theatre.
Against a wall in the corner, a row of six scailies distinguished by their training shoes - are in various
stages of the skinning up ritual. The old men keep soloing and the scallies keep nodding their heads in
approval. A member of the road crew - distinguished by his clip-on pass, leather biker's iacket and grubby flares - passes and stares for a few seconds, dazed and patently confused. He is passing through a city and a culture which is unique. A city where the early Genesis public school
fantasies of old England seep from bedroom windows in Kirkby and Croxteth, a city where Waters is
"well sound" and Led Zeppelin are "a better buzz"; a city where "real hippies" are treated with a mixture of awe and respect; a city where the music of the future is on permanent hold.
This is Liverpool in
1988, a planet in its own orbit, a neo-hippy
settlement spaced out on the dark side of the moon.