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Desert Island Discs – Richard Cabut

Richard Cabut produced the fanzine ‘Kick’, wrote for the music press under the pen name Richard North, and played bass and proselytised for the punk band Brigandage. He lives in London and works as a writer.

Get Off My Cloud – Rolling Stones

The very first record I bought was the Rolling Stones’ High Tide Green Grass, the 1966 hits album from which track comes. In my parents’ house it was all Elvis, Beatles and Polish folk songs – but it was the Stones that watered the green shoots of my pop imagination with something that was striking – almost like a physical sensation – in its insouciance and insubordination.

Judy Teen – Cockney Rebel

This, along with Sparks, and Bowie a little earlier, provoked me to confront the arrangements of school and parents, ‘til then seemingly inescapable and inextricable. I felt its dazzling strangeness, and skewed lustre – its revolutionary magic. I started to dream about fantastic, fabulous things. Many years later, two of my kids ended up at the same junior school that Steve Harley went to. Needless to say, both of these kids turned out to be Cockney rebels.

3. Yum Yum – The Fatback Band

It is the mid 70s. I live in smalltown, working/lower-middle class suburbia. Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Thirty miles from the capital. Here, kids leave school and go on the track, the production line, at the local factory, Vauxhall Motors. If you get some qualifications you can join the civil service for the rest of your life. Meanwhile, Trevor and Nancy have been going out with each other since 3rd Form and watch telly round each other’s house every night, not saying a word. I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want any of that shit ever. Instead, I’m off to the California Ballroom to dance to the Fatback Band. Yeah.

4. Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Harry James, Lionel Hampton

In 1975/6 I found myself involved with the Swing scene that was all the rage. This meant ditching the four-button baggies and wedge shoes in favour of pegged trousers, demob suits and army surplus gear. No 6 were swapped for flashier fags, and pints of Trophy replaced by Southern Comfort. Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and the Big Bands were the sounds du jour. It all seemed as exciting as hell, but the limited thrills of such nostalgia were exposed as trifling and shallow when punk hit town a few months later. Ever since, I’ve been wary of the obvious dangers of cultural/personal immersion in the past – nostalgia is conservative, a retreat from modern life, and represents a fake consciousness. (There’s a Swing revival in progress, if that’s the word, at the moment – in Shoreditch anyway).

5. The Beat Generation – Bob McFadden

I loved Kerouac, Ginsberg and the Beats, and saw punk in that same spirit. Kerouac’s famous quote described the punk scene as far as I was concerned: ‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’ I like the fact that Richard Hell’s Blank Generation is a direct take of Bob McFadden’s song – it introduced very early on the important idea of ‘the art of stealing’ (and vice versa).

6. What’s my Name – The Clash

Punk is, in major part, about identity – becoming or reinventing yourself as the person you really want to be. As a 17 year old the lyrics: ‘What the hell is wrong with me? I’m not who I want to be/I tried spot cream an’ I tried it all/I’m crawling up the wall!’ meant a hell of a lot. They still do. In 1977 I’m in love with the Clash. I’m in love with punk rock. I’m in love with picking up momentum and hurling myself forward somewhere. Anywhere. Rip up the pieces and see where they land. I change my name a few times.

7. Jah Shaka soundsystem

I never particularly got into English or US psychedelia but I’ve always loved music that is disordered and driven, twisted and pulsing, full of atmosphere and surprise, and which is a potent drug in itself.

8. Downtown – Petula Clark

Early in 1978 I’m sitting backstage at a Clash gig in Dunstable. The gig itself is a bloodbath. Different warring housing estates slug it out with each other. People stagger around with axe wounds, someone has a gun, there’s blood everywhere, the Wild West. A support band called the Lous gets killed, the Sex Pistols’ minder Steve English, Clash security for the night, has a knife. The Clash are worried: they’re popping Mogadons. I’m worried, too – that I’ll get stuck forever in all this bollocks. I know it’s time to move on. Which, I do – to London. Some time later I find myself living with, amongst others, your host and mine, Tony D. Petula Clark’s perfect paean to the transformative power of the bright lights is from Tony’s record collection, and we always stick it on just before heading out into the night …

Luxury Object: In 1978, I bought a couple of books from Atlantis in Museum Street, London – Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley and the I Ching (Richard Wilhelm translation). The woman who flogged them to me said that if I was ever stuck on a desert island on my own, these two books would be all I’d need. So, that’s what I’ll go with.

Richard Cabut NOW & THEN:

THEN - Richard CabutRichard Cabut 2012

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