Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)

"The towers of London, these crumbling blocks, reality estates that the heroes got. And every hour's marked by the chime of a clock and whatcha gonna do when the darkness surrounds?" sings our patron saint at the start of Up In Heaven (Not Only Here) - a song so cool it quoted Phil Ochs' United Fruit when no-one much seemed to care. It is one of the enduring media myths about the punk years that all the groups were singing about tower blocks and being on the dole. But was that really the case? Some songs do spring to mind, such as Chelsea's High Rise Living and the TVPs' 14th Floor. The list is not a long one though. One slightly more oblique entry in the high rise living chapter of the London songboook would be Rubella Ballet's fantastic Arctic Flowers. Rubella Ballet were (are!) a day-glo punk outfit, often associated with the Crass anarcho scene, sometimes with the goth or positive punk ones, but they're just unique. The music was often melodic and hypnotic, comparable to the Banshees at their best. Core of the group are punk evangelists Zillah Minx and Sid Truelove, and they're still spreading the word. Among the striking videos they have posted on YouTube is this promo filmed in 1981 on the roof of Balfron Tower, a council block in Poplar, east London, where they lived in a flat for 11 years on the 24th floor. And this fades in slowly ...

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