Punk 4 The Homeless is the brainchild of Nottingham based couple Eagle Spits and Rachel, admittedly that is probably not his birth name but it does seem to suit a character who 40 years after his initial involvement in punk is still going strong- still angry, hopeful, humorous, militating for change. Seeing The Stranglers on TOTP performing ‘No More Heroes’ at 14 was Eagle’s introduction to punk but he’s never settled for a narrow definition of punk that fetishises fast music and studded belts, for Eagle punk includes a call to arms, to participate in improving the world. Early on he hung round with The Clash before their gig in Peterborough, got ‘Feeding of the 5000’ by Crass discovered anarchism, became acquainted with the ‘Agitator from Nazareth’, and realised that punk that included changing the world made much more sense than punk that gave up on it. In 2014 he commented ‘…’Yes’ I am a punk if punk is an attitude but ‘No’ if it’s someone who just consumes generic, unchallenging crap.. I’m still naive enough to want to change the world and despite its problems believe the punk scene can be a major part of that’.
Eagle quotes one of his heroes Joe Strummer as saying “I thought we were a fucking punk band. I thought that meant we could play what we wanted!’ Consequently there has been a book of poetry Slap Bang In The Middle of a Contradiction, The Poor Geezers, Spitune, Eaglespitshexx, all have given expression to spoken word, industrial noise, collaborative cacophonies.
Alongside making lots of noise Eagle and Rachel have run ‘Punk 4 The Homeless’ since 2010 putting on gigs each month, raising money to take kids off the streets of Central America and into the safety of orphanages away from the hands and feet of local cops.
This has focussed on a monthly Punk (Benefit) Gig in Nottingham. The monies raised are channeled through Compass Children’s Charity which started as Casa Alianza UK in February 1999 in response to the senseless death of one street child – 13-year-old Nahamán Carmona López – at the hands of four police officers in Guatemala City who found him sniffing glue on the streets to combat his wracking hunger pains (1). This incident lies behind the P4TH slogan, ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’.
Earlier this year P4TH released the first in a series of Punk 4 the Homeless Compilations. Volume 1 is made up of 14 tracks by bands who have played P4TH gigs since the early days, with further volumes planned.
The predominant style is musically ‘punk’ in its various forms but there is also a fair smattering of acoustic stuff in there which reflects P4TH’s ‘broad musical church’ approach and makes for a varied aural experience.
Now the tricky bit, how do you review 14 tracks without boring people who can’t actually hear what they are reading about..OK, I’d better make it snappy but comments in no way imply that any tracks are better than the rest and in fact when you buy this excellent album you’ll wonder how I skimmed over…(insert your favourite).
The album kicks off with Brocker, Born To Destruct and 3 Stone Monkey-nice run of three tracks that gets the album off to a quality, energetic start. I’ve only seen Brocker out of these three and this track ‘Gimme Gimme Rock n Roll’ gives a good idea of their melodic end of punk sound, this is one of those tracks that gets better everytime you hear it, which can also be said about the tougher sounding ‘We Love It’ by Born To Destruct and the popier ‘Left to the Right’ by 3 Stone Monkey.
For me it is track 4 by Blackpool based thrash metal/punksters CSOD where things really get going, a riff Motorhead would have been very happy with…hang on while I listen to it again.
Luddite Bastard are next up with ‘Hitler Youth’, hardcore punk from Derby, reminds me a bit of Dead Kennedys for some reason, maybe it’s the vocals? Very good!
Track 6 is ‘The Glory of Yesterday’ by Rich Gulag. I’ve seen Rich solo and as part of Black Light Mutants and as expected it is musically strong, intelligent and articulate lyrically. Not a comfortable song to listen to. ‘Stop referring back to what you’ve done, what are you living like today?’ would probably be a reasonable summing up. Thought provoking. Good work.
I’ve seen Headsticks a couple of times-excellent band at The Levellers end of things. ‘You’re Killing Me America’ starts off with Trump promising a crowd that a wall will be built, lyrics include “The blind leading the blind”, seems to sum up much of American politics very succinctly. Good band, good song.
First of three acoustic tracks is ‘Chin Up’ by Lily Gaskill, I’m not always a big fan of singer songwritery type stuff but this is excellent! I’d like to write out all the lyrics but better than that, find it and listen to it! “…without you good honest workers, the rich don’t have shite…” Stirring, thoughtful, politically bang on. This should have been used on the film Pride.
Steve White and the Protest Family’s ‘Moving Target’ is track 9-good song on the experience of being a cyclist trying to survive in a world of car drivers.
Skapete the Uplifter’s (sort of) anti-paean to a ‘Dirty Cat’ rings true, dead birds, dirty, persistent. I’m not a cat lover, this rang true.
UK Skunk celebrate the mundane with ‘Hobnobs (The SAS of Dunkers)’, good fun track. “The man with the greatest R&D job was the man who invented the holy hobnob” I like it more each time I hear it!
Wonk Unit contribute ‘Van’ really good quality as most of you would probably expect, I’m off the pace on this band and think this is the first time I’ve heard a track by them despite seeing their name numerous times-really impressed! Guess that’s one of the great things about compilations…
‘The 99%’ by Mispelt is the penultimate track and a cracker! “We are the 99%, innocent victims of the government. Got no money can’t pay the rent, we are the 99%” Musically and lyrically bang on.
The Blissetts ‘Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)’ is an ideal closing track with a succinct, incisive summing up of the worker’s experience of capitalism and this track seems to be an apposite way to end an album that will contribute to rescuing kids from poverty and vulnerability.
Like with any compilation album different tracks will appeal to different people but overall this is a great album that gives a good overview of UK DIY punk and as the first Volume in the PUNK 4 The Homeless series sets the bar pretty high!
Punk 4 The Homeless Volume 1 is available on Bandcamp
and at P4TH gigs.