BRINGING GOOD NEWS ON A FAST TRAIN, BRINGING FAST NEWS ON A GOODS TRAIN...
Whatever happened to the Desperate Bicycles? Their Smokescreen single was one of the first, possibly the first, DIY single of the punk era and made a virtue of its cheapness and independence, explaining on the sleeve how simple it was to make and declaiming in the lyrics "It was cheap, it was easy, go out and do it yourself." Others, such as the Buzzcocks and Scritti Politti (in those days a fearsomely ideological left-wing group), followed suit.
The idea that you could just go out and create your own stuff - records, clothes, magazines, art - was the key message of the punk era. Back in the Seventies, the world was brought to us through large corporations; by the Eighties, a whole generation had realised that it was possible to reach out directly to the public, by making your own records, setting up your own fashion label, gallery, film company, business... That, more than anything else was the legacy of punk, and it persists to this day.
Why do I mention this now? Because, even though the Desperate Bicycles and their ilk helped us to throw off the mental shackles of believing that we would never be more than consumers of the products of giant companies, they were never really able to reach a huge audience. They could press a few hundred copies of a single and get it played on John Peel but it could never go further (without the help of a giant corporate record label, of course).
Now, the internet has given musicians, writers, artists access to a limitless audience, effectively completing the revolution started by punk. By way of illustration, Rhodri Marsden, a journalist and musician, has accepted the challenge to create and promote a single on the web. I think it may be for an article in the Independent.
It's called Those Rules You Made and you can read more about it on his blog, which is funny and worth reading in any event. The video, shot for five-hundred quid or so, is apparently the second-most watched on Youtube, so his plan seems to be working.
There's a nice circularity to all this in that Rhodri Marsden is a member of the latest (non-political but tuneful) incarnation of Scritti Politti. I wish him luck, though I prefer the Desperate Bicycles.