Right On, Fight On

12 Apr

I bought my first PINK FAIRIES record in a headshop/pornoshop/recordshop (remember those?) in El Paso, Texas in the late 80’s. And though I’ve been hooked hard on the entire FAIRIES/DEVIANTS nexus ever since, I’ve often struggled to explain why. Their American peers to whom they are most often compared – THE STOOGES, THE MC5, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – were all more coherent musical units. Studio records from these Brits were consistently uneven, as they keen wildly from sloppy hangover mess to full-throttle, power liftoff in the space of a single hairy eyeball. And neither THE DEVIANTS nor THE FAIRIES had singers who could really, ya know, sing – let alone write actual songs! – until their last, original stand on Kings of Oblivion (thank you, Larry Wallis).

But oooh man they always put EVERYTHING they had into their thing – be that rough-hewn talent, balls-out energy, confrontative politics, or unidentified controlled substances – in turn exhibiting a kind of primitivism more or less unheard of on this fair isle of England at the time. Their unflagging dedication to creating temporary autonomous zones via the sacred act of plugging in, turning it up, and tearing it the fuck down is still worthy of deep reverence. And the collected oeuvre of these guys & their friends is certainly the most compelling document of The End Of Hippie (Burnin’ Ladbroke Grove Division) in extant – one of the more poignantly-fascinating stories in the history of rock n roll. They went up, they went down . . . yes, indeed.

And so all this brings me to the fact that I finally finished reading Rich Deakin’s Keep It Together: Cosmic Boogie with the Deviants and the Pink Fairies, published by Headpress earlier this year. I’ve had it since it’s release here in the UK a few months ago, so excited as I was to get my hands on the complete story behind all these wild records. Welcomed as a godsend to FAIRY freaks worldwide, it’s chock full of images, quotes, and half-remembered stories from everyone involved, including extensive info on even peripheral crazies & hangers-on who chose to orbit this uniquely English sonic blackhole. Not unlike the difficult careers of it’s heros, Keep it Together is a long, tough haul that meanders down blind alleys as often as it takes flight.

That said, it’s also book that often lost me in it’s relentless documentation of DEVIANTS/FAIRIES minutiae. While many of the actual events recounted are captivating, inspiring, and at times, downright Homeric in scope – ultimately, the author fails to bring it all together and articulate why anyone not already attuned should bother paying attention. To paraphase FAIRY drummer Twink: it’s like 10,000 words in 10,000 different cardboard boxes, left for the reader to try and make sense of in the harsh light of 2008. Mick Farren’s Give the Anarchist a Cigarette published by Jonathan Cape/Pimlico in 2001 remains the far more focused, biting, and hilarious – albeit egocentric – examination of this late 60’s/early 70’s crew, as Mick actually succeeds in translating some of that heroic, gonzo spirit into terms even jaded, modern day emo girlyboys could grok. And if ever England’s kids needed some kinda DEVIANT/FAIRY street rock and roll madness & inspiration to light fires under their asses once again, it’s right fucking now.

———-

What does get my unqualified support is the new PINK FAIRIES Finland Freakout 1971 CD (Major League Productions, 2008). Recorded as a trio after Twink had bailed but before Trevor Burton joined up, this catches the boys rockin’ a commie stage to absolute pieces. The fidelity – at least equal to that found on any DEAD C. record – damn near replicates what standing in a muddy field beneath a 50 ft. wall of Orange amplification and Marshall stacks with burst eardrums must’ve once been like. And their take here on “Tomorrow Never Knows” is absolutely definitive. Up the Pinks!

Photo of THE DEVIANTS by Robin Morrison, taken from the pages of Rich Deakin's Keep It Together

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2 Responses to “Right On, Fight On”

  1. Dave Lang April 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    Okay, you’ve inspired me to pull out some old ‘Fairies discs. A fine entry, indeed! You a fan of Twink’s “Think Pink” LP? An EXCELLENT album, one of the best in the Hawkwind/Deviants/Pink Fairies/Pretty Things family tree.

  2. mrowster April 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Yeah Twink’s LP is a great, great one – and probably the first really musical record this bunch got it together to record. The earlier DEVIANTS recs, though totally fascinating, are more like aberrant, speeded-out art statements/middle fingers, than anything actually musical.

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