Be Realistic: Demand the Impossible | Dissident Voice
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Yet, for all the infectious appeal of its hormonally-charged bubble-gum melody, the phrase Boom Bang-a-Bang itself was a piece of accidental Dadaism, a pop-powered grenade worthy of Kurt Schwitters. One of the biggest hit records of was Those Were the Days, an Anglicisation of an early twentieth century Russian romance sung by Welsh chanteuse Mary Hopkin. With a lyric by Greenwich Village folk singer Gene Raskin set to a melody by Russian composer Boris Fomin, the song looks back with ennui at a time of youthful idealism, by September when it hit the top spot, it already seemed to be sound-tracking an age just past.
Beggars Banquet opened with the ethnographic diabolism of Sympathy for the Devil, a song recorded in June of that year, when its genesis was filmed by Jean Luc Godard in his sprawling counter-cultural cut-up, One Plus One. The film also looked at black power, Marxism and deconstructing power in a film later compromised by producers, who re-edited and re-titled the film as the more commercial Sympathy for the Devil.
The spirit of events in Paris too filtered through the song. Both albums were pretty grown-up stuff. More interestingly, artist Luke Fowler was nominate for the Turner Prize for a body of work shown at Inverleith House in Edinburgh that included All Divided Selves, a film collage drawn from archive footage of Laing.
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Nuttall would do something similar to Bomb Culture a couple of decades later with his less sung tome, Art and the Degradation of Awareness, another phlegmatic critique of received orthodoxies in a post-punk, post YBA climate. Nuttall had been a key member of The People Show, the very English performance art troupe he co-founded in , originally performing in the basement of underground mecca, Better Books, on Charing Cross Road.
If Bomb Culture marked the end of something, a necessary taking stock before the real revolution began, as the Proclaimers make clear in Lulu Selling Tea, such seismic activities would take a while to affect a couple of young shavers growing up in Fife. Their generation had other concerns. When punk went boom bang-a-bang then La la la almost a decade later, all those Situationist slogans had come of age.
Lulu selling tea might have been a lifetime away, but, in the words of Hopkin, by way of Raskin and Fomin, those were the Days, my friend. Those were the days.
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