Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Attila The Stockbroker

Back in Blighty's dark days of Mad Maggies mayhem there was a trinity of radical rockers that could often be found sharing the bill of a benefit or protest gig. Regular readers will already know who they were, The (Newtown) Neurotics, The Redskins and Billy Bragg, I guess we were lucky as these bands also played some damn fine music. As often as not somewhere on the bill would be a roundish balding male with an acoustic guitar strapped round his neck, he would either be spitting out his poetry or playing one of his songs full of anger and rage. The man was none other that Attila The Stockbroker, who started out as a bass player in a punk band influenced by none other than the Clash. He cashed in his chips and reinvented himself as Attila in 1998, the inspiration behind the name comes from when he had a temporary job on the London stock exchange. This change of name also led to the change of style and in many ways luck as for one man and a guitar it was a lot easier to get a support spot as opposed to a full band. As such he was quickly noticed by both Peelie, two sessions were to follow, and major indie Cherry Red, who would release two albums 'Ranting At The Nation', 1983 and 'Sawdust And Empire', 1984 from which we find 'Boadicea Uber Alles' a good example of his work from this period where he uses the Dead Kennedy's song as a starting block for his own ideas. Since parting company with Cherry Red he has kept himself busy writing, recording, performing and drinking beer. 2007 will see the 12th edition of the Sussex based festival Glastonwick where he manages to mix those things closest to his heart, poetry, music and beer! Apart from performing as a solo artist, listen to 'New World Order Rap!' to get an idea, since 1994 he has a side project in Barnstormer where he gets to mix his two favorite forms of music, medieval and punk! Listen to 'Haider' from their 2000 'Just One Life' album to hear what they sound like, and yes that is a recorder!

As I have already mentioned Attila was greatly influenced by the Clash and above all Joe Strummer, who wasn't? In the 80's it was not unusual for a Neurotics gig to end with a rousing version of 'Garageland' with Attila taken over the vocal duties, he has also recorded a rather straightforward cover of 'Washington Bullets' obviously chosen by him for it's political content, many of his own songs tackle US foreign policy. It should come as no surprise then that following Strummers untimely death Attilla was moved to put pen to paper and came up with the touchingly honest 'Commadante Joe'.

I guess in quite a lot of ways I grew up just like you
A bolshy kid who didn't think the way they told him to
You kicked over the statues, a roots rock rebel star
Who knew that punk was more than just the sound of a guitar
And I'll always remember that night at the Rainbow
When you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.

So many bands back then were like too many bands today
A bunch of blokes who made a noise with bugger all to say
The Clash were always out in front, you put the rest to shame
Your words were calls to action, your music was a flame
You were our common Dante, and you raised an inferno
And you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.

Reggae in the Palais
Midnight till six!
Rockin' Reds in Brockwell Park!
Sten guns in Knightsbridge!
Up and down the Westway
In and out the lights!
Clash City Rockers!
Know Your Rights!

I guess in quite a lot of ways I grew up just like you
A bolshy kid who didn't think the way they told him to
Like you I always knew that words and music held the key
As you did for so many, you showed the way to me
Although I never met you I'm so sad to see you go
'Cos you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.

Not the most complicated of prose I will admit, but definitely from the heart and I must say it speaks volumes to me while putting a smile on my face and taking back to those innocent days of youthful optimism. If only all poetry could be as simple and direct as this.
If any of you have been taken by his music/poems there is a bucketful of mp3s to be downloaded here, and if you really feel like it well why not buy his records and his books, after all poets need to eat as well!

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