Monday 19 September 2016

Silence is a Rhythm Too

Last Monday, I headed over to the Euston Road to check out the Punk 1976-78 exhibition at the British Library. It's a small, but often fascinating exhibit, surprisingly heavy on ephemeral items, flyers, fanzines and posters - things that one might have thought would've been lost over the past 40 years. Among the other items on display are a couple of original Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood t-shirts from the Sex boutique on King's Road, the original cassette of The Clash's first interview for NME and the only known document in existence to be signed by all five Sex Pistols - Glen Matlock's official resignation letter from the band. I personally lingered longest at the wall of punk 7" sleeves - surprised at how many I still knew after all this time and how few I failed to recognise.

Overall, the exhibit rightly gives time and space over to some of the important female artists of the period (Slits, X-Ray Spex, Siouxsie etc), though somewhat surprisingly, the blurb on the poster at the entrance overlooks them altogether, singling out only the Pistols, Clash and Buzzcocks by way of introduction. Fortunately when Viv Albertine of The Slits visited the show she remembered to take along a felt tip pen. I took a quick snap of her handwritten thoughts on this glaring omission. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Here are The Slits with a fantastic tune that actually falls outside of the exhibition's timeframe (it was released on a split 7" single in 1980), but it just doesn't get an airing often enough.

The Slits - In the Beginning There Was Rhythm 

(Punk 1976-78 is on at the British Library until October 2nd, admission free.)


Walter said...

Looks like an interesting exhibtion bringing back the memories from the past. I always loved the Slits and this song is one of their biggest legacies. Last Weekend there was a documentation on German TV about Düsseldorf punk Scene, espescially about Ratinger Hof, the place were all the Punks hang around in the late 70's. They showed very rare footage about the bands played there. Highlight was a Clip of Wire's first live appearance in Germany playing at this place

Anonymous said...

I kept a lot of fanzines and singles myself, although some of the fanzines mysteriously vanished when I left home in 1979.

Who would have thought some of this stuff would have become so valuable all these years later?


Anonymous said...

Oops, that last post should have ended:

Who would have thought some of this stuff would have become so valuable all these years later?

Certainly not my mum, who I think must have binned them.

Anyway sounds like an exhibition worth seeing if you're in the London area.


Charity Chic said...

Go Viv!

Walter said...

I changed the provider for file-hosting. Would you try and test if is possible to listen / download now?
Thanks a lot.


Swiss Adam said...

Would love to go to the exhibition. Great track too, massively forward thinking.

C said...

It sounds like a great exhibition - although I must admit I still find it weird to think of some of the things that were so 'of the moment' etc ever becoming exhibition attractions! Maybe a lot of it is to do with (at the time) not being able to imagine a future in which they'd become ancient artefacts, because that would make us ancient artefacts too...
Good on Viv there!

Brian said...

Viv made the news that day, I can tell you... and rightly so. Glad you carved some time for yourself, Swede. Would love to see this one, too.

Jez said...

Had no idea this exhibition was on, but think I might pay a visit over the weekend now.

Seem to remember there used to be a really good blog called Silence is a Rhythm Too too.

The Swede said...

Walter. That sounds like an interesting documentary, I hope it shows up on YouTube one of these days.

Jamie. Ouch! I feel your pain.

Charity Chic / Swiss Adam. Indeed!

C. I feel myself becoming more of an ancient artefact with every 'deluxe anniversary edition' reissue that I buy!

Brian. By rights, it should be a touring exhibit, I'm sure there'd be interest.

Jez. Wish I'd thought of it!

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