...but I've only just discovered Marc Heal out of Cubanate's blog site.
Good stuff here - witty and well-written. It'll certainly strike a chord with alternokids of a certain age, and anyone who was hanging around London in the 90s.
This piece, about scary industrial loonies Judda, is great. It captures the time and place very well: pre-internet 90s, pre-disinfected Camden. It's a nice tribute to Judda, who were very much the real deal at a time when umpteen bands were doing intense 'n' shouty industrialism with varying degrees of conviction.
Judda are more or less forgotten now, I suppose - they came and went at a time when bands could still vanish without trace. Now, of course, even minor bands that barely get out of the bedroom leave a trail across the web a mile wide. But in those pre-internet days, when you were gone you were gone.
But I remember Judda. In particular, there's one gig that stands out in my memory...
At one time Judda were London's all-purpose industrial support band. They'd crop up at gig after gig, but always half-way down the bill, never at the top. I think they were too crazed and erratic to make it to the very top, where a certain amount of focus and discipline and civilized behaviour always helps. Judda just didn't do focus and discipline. And they certainly didn't do civilized behaviour.
But I did see one rare Judda headline gig - at the Bull & Gate (now no longer a rock 'n' roll pub: that's an old page). It was a kind of good news/bad news thing for Judda, I suppose. They'd got themselves a headliner...but in a small back room of a boozer. Pedro, the frontman, was much exercised by the situation. "We've MADE IT!" he shouted from the stage in mock triumph. "We're MEGASTARS! We're playing the BULL AND FUCKING GATE!"
Then they brought on the barely-structured chaos that was a Judda show. Pedro was playing it for laughs, which involved head-butting full cans of beer into the crowd. He'd hurl a full can of Red Stripe up into the air, then as it came down he'd jump up to meet it and give it a Premiership-style header off the stage. Every time can and head made contact, there'd be a frightening CRACK, easily audible over the noise of the band. The audience could only duck and cover.
Don't try it at home, kids, but surely it's impossible to give a full beer can a running header into a crowded venue without sustaining some collateral damage. I fully expected cracked skulls and blood everywhere. But the audience dodged the missiles, and Pedro was indestructible. He finished the gig as fresh as a daisy. Cans with head-shaped dents were strewn everywhere.
They got away with it, as they always seemed to do. But Judda were never asked back to the Bull and fucking Gate.
I haven't heard a note of Judda music for years, but I recall they did have Proper Songs lurking in the rampaging noise. With a bit of production polish they might just have become accessible enough to make it. But then, if you had ever dared to put that idea to Judda themselves, they would have probably stuffed your head down the Slimelight toilets.
Incidentally, Marc Heal makes a good point about The Prodigy in that blog piece, too. I've always said the Prodge basically took the Camden industrial thing, cleaned it up a bit, and duly cleaned up. If only Sheep On Drugs hadn't gone down the rabbit hole with their second album, that could've been them...
Wise words by me on that subject here, if I say so myself:
"Sheep On Drugs were hot stuff at the time. The band had hit paydirt with their debut album of post-Alien Sex Fiend sardonic techno-punk stompers. An album which, surely, showed the way for The Prodigy - at the time still doing novelty breakbeat numbers, but who got all punky and attitude-laden in a distinctly SOD style shortly afterwards."
As it happens, in a manifestation of synchronicity (or something), I went to a Sheep On Drugs gig last night.
But that's quite another story...