AS MUCH as I loved fast and furious bands like Antisect, Amebix and Discharge, who operated at the heavier, more raucous end of anarcho punk, there was also a place within my heart for the bands who took a stealthier approach, who sang rather than shouted, who took their time with what they wanted to say and employed a number of chord changes, hell, sometimes even actual melodies to say it.
Foremost among them were The Mob and Zounds – and the Poison Girls of course, but we’ll have to save them for another time – who always seemed to be linked in my mind, not least because they toured together a lot and shared a drummer for a while. And the two bands also seemed to share a style of approach which often seemed completely at odds with many other bands who released music on Crass Records – not least Crass themselves.
Both the Mob and Zounds employed humour, subtlety and experimentation where others were content to focus on shouting, profanity and buzz-saw guitars – not that there’s anything wrong with shouting, profanity and buzz-saw guitars you understand, but everyone needs a bit of light and shade sometimes, don’t they? Some respite from the anger and hatred, a break from the big ideas? I was very grateful they were around.
They didn’t parrot the by-the-numbers sloganeering endemic in much of the scene, and instead talked about people rather than problems, the personal rather than the overtly political. It was a very different way of working and one that was about setting a mood and creating an atmosphere as much as telling you what was what in the world.
In contrast with the black and white, one-side-or-the-other certainties of Crass and many of the bands on their label, Zounds and the Mob didn’t claim to know all the answers, or indeed any of the answers. They probably weren’t even sure about the question ..
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