Punk poet Seething Wells dies

This video from Britain says about itself:

Seething Wells – Agro Britain [about Rupert Murdoch‘s Sun newspaper]

Taken from the EP ‘Rough, raw & ranting’ by Seething Wells & Attila the Stockbroker, Radical Wallpaper, England, 1982.

By British ex-miner and 1984-85 striker, Norman Strike [not a pseudonym]:

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Steven Wells 1960 -2009

A great man died in the US last week. The things he said and wrote entertained, amused and angered a lot of people.

This man was a real revolutionary socialist, poet, wit, class warrior and a great writer, and his death has left a huge gap in countless peoples’ lives.

Steven Wells (aka Seething Wells aka Susan Williams aka Swells) was born in Swindon in 1960 – and I wish I’d known that so I could have called him a “soft southern shite” like I’d heard him call so many others born south of Yorkshire!

Swells first came to my attention as a so-called “ranting poet”, alongside others such as Attila the Stockbroker, Joolz and Porky the Poet. I saw him supporting some of my favourite bands – the Fall and the Mekons.

I really liked his poem, Tetley Bittermen, which I think I’d heard on John Peel’s radio show, so I was pleased when I got to know him during, and especially after, the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5.

We even shared a house for a brief period and attended Socialist Workers Party meetings in Willesden, though we both struggled with party discipline.

He was also a stalwart of the Anti Nazi League and had the arrowed logo tattooed on his arm.

An old friend of his from those days, Paul Sillett, recalls a Redskins gig in Brixton where they were collecting for the miners and Swells viciously verbally attacked a famous Radio One DJ for giving nothing and almost had him in tears.

He added, “Funnier still that at the same gig, try as he might, Swells collected hardly a penny for the miners as everyone gave generously to every bucket that was proffered apart from Swells own one.

‘Fer Chrissakes,’ he yelled, ‘Why am I the only bugger that can’t get money for the miners?!’”

Swells took no prisoners in either his poetry or his journalism and wrote many memorable articles in the music paper NME during the 1980s.

As his long time friend and ex-Redskins bassist, Martin Bottomley, said, “He was one of the most intolerant people you could ever meet – he hated racists, sexists, homophobes and Tories, and as a journalist he continued to persecute these people with all his wit!”

Swells, in recent years, wrote a brilliant sports column for the Guardian. …

I loved Swells’ writing but reading the three articles about his battle with cancer finally made me realise just what a great writer he was.

His death made me cry hot salty tears, and reading those articles just added to the flow.

“And suddenly it hits me. I’m poleaxed, sobbing uncontrollably. I feel very vulnerable and very, very scared.

“This is followed by 24 tedious hours of horribly gothic adolescent introspection during which almost every line of thought concludes with, ‘But what’s the point if you’re going to die anyway?’”

Who’d have thought that post traumatic shock would have so much in common with being a Radiohead fan?

Ah Swells, so bloody talented, vitriolic, scathing. I am really going to miss you but console myself with the fact that your writing will live forever.

And how bloody apt that your very last written words were: “Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.”

Michael Jackson grabs all the headlines but Steven Wells grabs your soul! RIP Swells.

See also here. And here.

Afro-punk: here.


4 thoughts on “Punk poet Seething Wells dies

  1. Pingback: Ranting poetry in Britain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Ranting poetry and politics at the British Library | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: British ranting poetry, 1980-2015 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Tuesday 1st November 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    Bob Oram sees the legendary Mekons — “the most revolutionary group in the history of rock’n’roll” — reunite for a brilliant session in an alehouse


    Fred’s Ale House


    Flying back home from the US to pay his respects at Aberfan, Jon Langford was never going to miss an opportunity to get together with his glorious Men of Gwent. But this time he took things to a whole new level. Looking forward to next year’s 40th anniversary of his legendary band The Mekons, he gets the original line up to play at this inaugural Langfest.

    It’s a moment fans thought they would never see but one many have dreamt of. For all those punks who wanted something more than cliched gobbing, the angular alt post-punk noise coming out of Leeds was a beacon of light on the future.

    They still cast a shadow on the history of rock’n’roll today and have as much right as anyone to represent the true standard bearers for that great explosion of punk talent that was the class of 1977. From their first singles through to The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen album, the Mekons opened up a world that not only expanded horizons but challenged boundaries.

    Their constant desire to progress, encompass, digress and do what exactly what they wanted has meant they have survived and constantly evolved as writers, performers and artists while still pleasing an army of new fans.

    Langfest is a celebration of not only the Mekons but Langford himself. A human dynamo, the pace of his life is unrelenting and this festival celebrates three of his best bands along with an exhibition of his art work at Fred’s Gallery. Over 35 pieces showcase not only a hugely talented artist but his love of musical heroes and history.

    There are fans here from all over Europe. The excitement is electric and emotional as the band shuffle through the crowd and take the stage.

    Marching-beat extremism fills the air as a grinning Langford pulverises the drum kit with the intro to 32 Weeks, the B-side of their 1978 first single. Shouty, staccato vocals from Andy Corrigan bounce off the guitar and snare to recount — “32 weeks to buy a car” — how long you will need to work to earn the cash to buy the things you want. It’s a wry reminder that life for the male working class has always been about “get a job/get a car/get a bird!”

    Next up is the A-side, which Kevin Lycett launches into with an unmistakeable guitar strum. A yobbish Northern retort to the Clash’s paean to black youth uprisings, Never Been in a Riot explains that “I’ve always been in a toilet missing out the noise.”

    Both songs have stood the test of time and yet who would have thought that the poverty and alienation that inspired punk would be as vivid as ever today outside in the street? Lonely and Wet predates Joy Division and PiL and is still as emotionally intense.

    Ros Allen’s steely bass and Langford’s drums launch into its short-fuse burn. “I am just not happy anymore” sings the iconic Mark White and you know he means it. “Why does the sun shine when I am sad,” he pleads and the audience join in, recapturing a moment from 1978 they thought had forever gone. The bedroom meanderings of a teenage Morrissey owe much to this masterpiece.

    The frantic guitar-and-drums anthem Trevira Trousers is up next with its chorus: “Drinks! Fags! Fun at night! Dirty books and Ford Cortina! Randy girls in plastic shoes” reminding the audience of an age of innocence and the band’s daft, observational sweetness.

    Tom Greenhalgh sings the lovely After 6, a forerunner of the move away from punk before they play Where Were You, an all-time forgotten anthem which, like Wire’s 12XU, is a song that will never age. The crowd go mental as we pogo on to that historic question: “When I was waiting in a bar, where were you?”

    And that’s it. Six perfect songs keeping aloft a true DIY punk mentality and the memory of one of the greatest bands of the 1978 generation. An amazing reunion of friends and band alike.

    By contrast, Langford’s The Men of Gwent are not quite as well known as the Mekons but, like his song about llamas in Llanyravon, they’re all legend. A collective of brilliant musicians, they play country, folk and good-time rock and roll all rolled up into one. Looking and sounding like a bunch of comrades, they sing passionately about their memories of Wales. They open with Tubby Brothers, in memory of lost youth, followed by Pill Sailor, delivered by that awesome accordion player Guto Davis.

    It tells of a man’s disorientation when, returning from the navy, he finds the docks closed in his home town of Pill: “Find me a skipper with someplace to go, ’cause these ropes are all knotted and tangled around me; I’m a sailor who wandered a little too far from the sea.” Achingly heartfelt, it flows straight into the supremely talented guitarist Julian Hayman singing The Coves at Aberystwyth.

    Adrian Street, as flamboyant as the 1970s glam wrestler, is a homage to every working-class lad who has dreamt of a better life — “Get me out of this hole” — and like so many of their songs here it is full of childhood memories.

    It’s echoed on the slowed-down sea shantyesque Old Wet Argus with Langford lamenting “history ground into dust.” Dirty Grey River, with its rolling accordion, follows before the Chinese riots in Newport are commemorated with the stunning Ballad of Solomon Jones.

    Llamas in Llanyravon has everyone singing along. Mental. Then roadie Mitch bounds on stage and the Mekons wanderlust resurfaces first in a reggae workout folloed by a shanty singalong and then the barnstorming classic Rock and Roll, a frenetic and powerfully emotional burnout.

    Guitars blaze a trail, the vocals follow, the crowd screams, the floor bounces. It ends. Perfect.

    This was s a celebration mostly of tales about, and of, Wales. But the Men and the Mekons are all cultural scavengers. They deliver history songs, drinking songs, protest songs, biographies and oral histories but, most of all, swaggeringly anthemic singalongs.

    They are legend and, as Lester Bangs once said, “The Mekons are the most revolutionary group in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.”

    Fred’s Ale House, which hosted this fest along with a cheap beer festival, is one of the best in Manchester. It thrives on a great atmosphere and Langfest certainly produced that, with Quiet Loner, The Three Johns and the wonderful Abstract Man, all making their mark at an unforgettable weekend.



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