Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Singalong anti-nuclear

Even if you can't read Scottish, you know what it means. Our complacency broken, its time to roll out the anti-nuclear power campaigns again.

Once in generation it seems as if we have a major nuclear accident. One too many. And even if these major accidents are few and far between - low level radioactive leakage seems to be regular and the cost to the taxpayer of subsidising nuclear power is enormous. Then there's the question of what to do with the waste. I remember Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight with his trademark incredulous frown asking the then chair of British Nuclear Fuels if he was 'seriously proposing that we bequeath to our grandchildren tonnes of radioactive junk'.

Generations are often marked by their tunes. So, where are all the anti-nuclear power tunes? Nuke war has got a few. But atomic energy? Well, perhaps my 5 minutes of half-hearted research wasn't thorough enough but I managed to dig up a few examples - all from the 80s it seems. And all from the 'anarcho-punk' genre. The anarchist strand of punk music didn't quite change the world but its impact was to be seen in movements such as CND - given the kiss of life by Crass - and the animal rights movement. Unfortunately for some, it was also the mother of all chastity belts. The Pope would've been proud. No condoms needed as adolescents were consumed by marching for CND and against vivisection, reading veggie cookbooks, squatting and latterly by getting filthy and growing dreadlocks. Though this was mostly by those who later graduated to a job in banking. Sex was viewed with frustrated suspicion - maybe it was 'sexist' to chat someone up? 

Anyway, Edinburgh's anarchos Oi Polloi seemed to shout most about nuclear power. Songs like Resist the Atomic Menace, No Filthy Nuclear Power and Go Green provided a soundtrack for protest trips to Torness to rage against nuclear power stations that Labour gave us before they opposed them before they advocated them again.


Loanhead based noise-merchants AOA also got in on the act with their split LP with Oi Polloi. AOA also came from an area where the miners' strike was at the heart of the community. Today it may seem as if environmental activists and 'spokespersons' all speak with the same kind of Oxbridge accent. AOA weren't of that ilk.

Flux of Pink Indians emerged out of the Crass-inspired wave of punk. They were responsible for memorable anthems such as Tube Disaster but also for the weird and pretentious, though superbly titled, 'The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks'. Flux later produced the Buddhist-inspired 'Uncarved Block' on their own Little Indian label which also gave us the likes of Bjork and the Shamen. Here though is their own anti-atomic anthem.

Lastly is Discharge. Again, very influential - certainly on thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Sepultura. Lyrically, they are best described as 'uncomplicated' and 'straight to the point' though 'repetitive' may also be apt. They definitely had a bee in their bonnet regarding things nuclear though to be honest, war was by far their biggest bugbear. 'The Possibility of Life's Destruction' is open to interpretation though. Here are the lyrics. All of them.
Can you hear the sound of an enormous door slamming in the depths of hell
The possibility of life's destruction
Can you hear the cries of pain the mournful sound
At present, Scotland's SNP minority administration government is committed to making Scotland nuclear free. Should the election in May see the uninspiring former radical Iain Gray become first minister as head of a Labour-lead government, then Scotland could once again become a nuclear dustbin.

Time to hit the streets.

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