Monday, 15 August 2011

From Russia With Love

The Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear" was for much of the post-war period the symbol of the Cold War. These sinister, silvery machines were regular visitors to British airspace in the 1970's and 1980's, and would often be pictured in British newspapers being gently shooed away by Royal Air Force jets. The missions that these planes undertook were nominally reconnaissances, but their real purpose was intimidatory, and it was intimidation that worked.

The "Bear" was a nuclear bomber, and its appearance was a constant reminder that the UK was easily within range of even the most basic Soviet nuclear capabilities. But what the Tupolev delivered was not bombs or missiles, but small, pearlescent balls of dread that would fall to earth and roll into the national nervous system. This submerged dread was never at the forefront of public consciousness, but always seemed to tick away in the background, a kind of ultimate nightmare that hid behind the more pressing social issues of the day.

It was another form of dread, immersed in the sounds imported from Jamaica that was to allow its expression - a hesitant, febrile leaking of psychic poison. The sound of screams suppressed by social convention.


W. Kasper said...

For all the bad press UB40 - justly - got later for being lazy cover-version hacks, that first album was a bit of a blinder.

Phil Knight said...

I've been getting the urge recently to check out the "bad" mid-eighties periods of punk and post-punk bands, just to confirm/overturn my own prejudices, and I've been quite surprised at how many of them are really quite good.

I reckon The Pretenders hold up really well (more about them soon) and Siouxsie was probably better in the late-80's than at any time before.

So I'm tempted to do the same for the Youbeez.