Scottish Techno

Original Post here

“I just died in your arms tonight…” Midnight on Friday at Tek 2000 in Hamilton. The vintage rock strains of Cutting Crew are speeding, pitched-up and condensed over distorted 180 bpm kick drum. A hefty MC in saggy grey tracksuit and baseball cap lumbers about the stage offering a barely discernible stream of rhetoric. The classic rave scenario, perhaps. Yet close your ears and this could be a house club. The bar is packed. No lightsticks or whistles in sight and maybe only one E casualty, lunging around haplessly, eyes bulging in glassy oblivion. There’s a few lycra-clad babes gyrating on the edge of the dancefloor, sure. And two guys doing that classic double-speed skip-on-the-spot, like extras from an SL2 video. But the majority of this predominantly 16 to 19-year-old crowd – lads in check shirts, girls in T-shirt dresses and satin tops – display no interest in the fashions or conventions of yesteryear. And as the DJ shifts into the sneering, growling synth lines and rhythmic assault of Lowlands gabba, the dance floor fills up with awkward bouncing bodies, jerking and contorting themselves to the furious, punkish machine-gun invective emanating from the speakers.

This, then, is ‘Scotland the Rave’ 1996. Not so much the ugly sphere of drug addled, frenzied, nihilistic aggression that both the tabloids and city centre clubbers would have it. Rather, the week-to-week social life of ordinary teenagers in satellite new towns like Hamilton, Motherwell and Livingston. It is, however, a scene that’s in decline. Not due to any lack of popularity: the record labels are flourishing, the DJs booked for months in advance. The clubs, though, are closing. The same weekend we visit Trek 2000, the Metropolis in Saltcoats – one of a handful of hardcore venues left – announces it’s sacking resident DJs Joe Deacon and Billy Reid and finding its more house-oriented replacements. The Fubar in Stirling, another rave Mecca, recently moved to change half its nights to house, bringing in the Tunnel’s Michael Kilkie. Even rave giants Rezerection are planning to stage their next event in Burton-on-Trent rather than Scotland. In their wake, house promoters Streetrave are moving in to stage a massive all-nighter at the Royal Highland Exhibition Centre that features Pete Tong, Sasha and BT.

“It’s ironic, because there’s probably more hardcore record labels in Scotland now than there are clubs,” considers Jamie Raeburn of Clubscene Records, whose sales have increased threefold over the past year. “Club owners are switching to house because they’re afraid they won’t get a license for a rave club. It’s sad, because there’s a 100 per cent demand for it still. I mean, sacking Joe Deacon and Billy Reid from the Metro caused a sit-in, for God’s sake. It was about as popular as the poll tax.” He’s right. Out in Ayrshire, in the suburban sprawl of 60s concrete conurbations that stretches between Edinburgh and Glasgow, up in Fife and Elgin and Dundee and Stonehaven, on the housing estates; the piano-driven crescendos, the urgent warbling divas and the hammering basslines float free from cars, open towerblock windows and discount clothes stores.

And as the licensing boards clamp down on the clubs, following the precedent set by the closure a year ago of the controversial Hanger 13, few are rushing to rave’s defence. It’s nothing new, though. “This isn’t a new problem for the rave scene – it’s something we’ve had to cope with since day one,” continues Jamie Raeburn. “That’s why Clubscenemagazine was started, because we couldn’t get our records reviewed in any other publication.”

Track the genealogy of Scottish rave and its marginalisation, both geographically and culturally, has been a slow but sure process. Back in 91 and 92, hardcore was the sound of the city centre. The break-beat-driven, lightstick-waving, Vicks-wafting ritual of the all-night rave was fundamental to the success of clubs like Pure and Soma. Middle class students, fashion victims and hipsters would all make the pilgrimage to events at Livingston Forum, the Streetrave parties, Rezerection, Awesome 101 and Fantazia.

Ironically, just as the infrastructure of Scottish dance music was beginning to expand – bands like TTF gaining national recognition, labels like Clubscene and Evolution setting up – the popularity of hardcore in the cities began to wane. As the leather-trousered elitist backlash of progressive house and trance took hold, places like Glasgow’s Tunnel and Edinburgh’s Citrus Club began to manoeuvre themselves away from the fervour of rave which was gradually becoming that little bit too sweaty, that little bit too egalitarian, that little bit too populist for the fashion-conscious clubber.

Thus in the schemes and the satellite towns, in clubs like Fubar in Stirling, the Metro in Saltcoats and Hangar 13 in Ayr, this fiercely independent scene evolved. The economic infrastructure – provided by labels like Clubscene, Evolution, Twisted Vinyl, Notorious Vinyl, Stepping Out, Shoop (now folded), Massive Respect, Bellboy, Storm and Screwdriver – flourished from 1992 onwards. Rave PA faves TTF hit the charts and a clutch of other groups sprung up in the wake of their success: The Rhythmic State, Ultrasonic, Q Tex, QFX, Bass X, Chill FM. And bereft of any national media support, they founded their own publications like Clubscene, or colonised existing Scottish monthlies like M8. Record sales grew.

Through 1993 and early 1994, Scottish rave seemed unstoppable. Sure, it was despised by the city centre clubbing elite – all they saw were a kind of ‘lumpen proletariat’ of dance, eyes rolling, white gloves waving, jogging up and down to music they now deemed deeply unfashionable. It also received no national press recognition whatsoever. But the kids, well the kids couldn’t get enough. The raves swelled to gargantuan proportions. “The big one for me was fantasia at the SECC in November 93,” recalls Forth FM jock and ravers’ hero Tom Wilson. “There were 12,000 people there. It was unbelievable – the staging, the lighting, the bands.”

Meanwhile, Scottish house and techno heads were priding themselves on the innate intellectual inferiority of hardcore – in their eyes, an eternally static, remake of 1991’s cheesiest moments. And indeed, until around 94 when the Lowlands gabba sound emerged, many Scottish rave bands and PAs followed a fairly formulaic musical path. In fact, as long as you had melodramatic piano crescendos, accelerated diva vocals or, alternatively, dark Beltram Mentasm synths and over 150 beats per minute, you could be fairly sure of a place in the Scottish dance charts. Tunes like Q Tex’s Natural High and TTF’s Real Love hit the spot with their shrill treble melodics and high velocity programming. “When the scene first started here, you had piano anthems and you had hardcore,” remembers Scott Brown, who was recently voted top Scottish DJ by M8, produces as Q Tex and Bass X and runs a multitude of record labels.

Around 92 and 93, when rave’s stronghold became the suburbs and the schemes rather than the city centre, Scottish acts were tentatively finding their own identity and discarding the breakbeats which characterised the emergent English happy hardcore and jungle movements. And this was where the four-to-the-floor sound of Lowlands gabba came in, reckons Scott Brown. “The piano stuff got really, really stale and commercial and the English stuff had got really breakbeat led and people didn’t like too much of that up here. The only thing that started to come through was a lot of the Italian stuff on Brainstorm and some obscure German things. A lot of Dutch producers just hit the nail on the head: Sperminator’s No Women Allowed and Poing even, I reckon when that got into the charts it made a big impression on a lot of people.”

The rise of Lowlands gabba in Scotland was almost exactly tangential (if a little later) with the advent of ‘dark’ on the English jungle scene. A ferocious underground backlash against the commercial high watermark of rave. And even more despised and misunderstood than rave itself. By 1994, the fast anarchic spleen of high-bpm US and Dutch sound had usurped happy pianos and chirpy vocals as the Scottish ravers style of choice. “There was one Rezerection where every single DJ they booked from the US gabba scene,” recalls David Smit who runs Nosebleed in Rosyth, one of the handful of regular hardcore nights left north of the border. “And from then on, Lenny Dee was God up here!” Lowlands PAs Ruffneck Alliance, Human Resource, Charlie Lownoise and Mental Theo headlined raves while English jocks like Loftgroover, The Producer, Scorpio and DJ Freak, marginalised by happy hardcore down south, found their unrelenting kick drum-dominated sets in huge demand. “I’d say gabba finally peaked around last February or March,” considers Tom Wilson. “Rezerection seemed to be pushing the Dutch sound a lot. I even started calling myself Tom Van Wilson to try and get booked for it!”

Convergent with the invasion of Dutch DJs and PAs, Scottish acts Ultra Sonic, Chill FM and Q Tex found a growing market for their records in Holland, Germany and America. In 1996, Saltcoats-based Ultra Sonic are a global concern. And, though you may have never heard of them, they sell more records worldwide than Leftfield, Orbital or Goldie (around a million copies of their last LP, according to Jamie Raeburn at Clubscene). “Our albums sell best in the UK, Australia and Germany,” reckons Mallorca Lee, Ultra Sonic’s vehemently anti-elitist 24-year-old spokesperson. “We’ve just landed a deal with Avex in Japan for our first album as well.” Tracks like their hammering, acid-tinged 95 hit Check Your Head not only assimilated perfectly into four-to-the-floor segue of visiting Lowlands DJs but set raves alight all over Europe.

Closer to home, the DJ at Tek 2000 has moved through Scottish rave and gabba to the breakbeat-meets-kick drum amalgam of four-beat. A diminutive MC in white Ralph Lauren strolls confidently around the stage. And as the breakbeats roll from a vintage snatch of Beverly Craven into whiplash four-four and amply synths, the floor fills up and a kind of manic energy is almost tangible. Unwittingly, DJ Nicky Modlin’s set is itself a neat microcosm of the musical trajectory of Scottish rave. For after gabba’s 18-month stranglehold, the English four-beat sound has firmly established itself north of the border. “When gabba came in, a lot of people could get their frustrations out by dancing to the music and going for it full-on,” says Mallorca Lee. “But it died because promoters were putting on gabba solidly all night, and I don’t think anybody alive could physically dance to 200 bpms for 12 hours – although I suppose if you’ve got a skinhead and a sports tracksuit, you’ll give it a try!” The closure last year of Hanger 13, Scotland’s most popular gabba venue, after the Ecstasy-related deaths there of Andrew Dick, John Nisbet and Andrew Stoddart, signalled the end of Rotterdam’s reign.

And this perhaps was where the English sound came in. DJ Seduction’s four-beat strain of happy hardcore, which foregrounded the four-four beat, happened to tessellate perfectly with the records Scottish acts like Ultra SOnic, The Rhythmic State and DJ Scott Brown were making. The result? Rezerection began bringing Slipmatt, Brisk, Seduction and Dougal up to play and Tom Wilson, Mark Smith and Scott Brown found themselves booked to play hardcore nights in England. “We seem to have a lot of crossover with the English happy hardcore sound at the moment,” notes Tom Wilson. “As long as they get onto the ‘boom, boom, boom’, eventually the Scottish crowds aren’t adverse to a bit of breakbeat here and there.”

Ironically, with the closure of all but a couple of Scotland’s hardcore nights and the increasingly restrictive attitude of councillors like Jim Coleman in Glasgow (now trying to instate a ban on chill-out rooms, which even contravenes the government’s harm reduction guidelines for nightclubs in its conservatism), the Scottish hardcore scene is now more alive in England than Scotland itself. “The Scottish rave scene is dead on its arse. I’ve seen it dying for the past year,” says Scott Brown. “It’s ironic, because sales are better than ever.” Jamie Raeburn agrees: “There’s nowhere left in Scotland for Scottish rave acts to play… all the venue owners want to do house now, because there’s this feeling that they don’t want to be associated with the image of the ridiculous Scottish raver – y’know, all big staring eyes. I mean, nobody wants to be associated with that any more. And as a result, we sell more records now in England than we do in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the the archetypal Scottish raver: top off, lightstick bearing, lycra wearing, grinning out from the pages of M8 in glassy-eyed oblivion. But just how true i it any more? According to Liz Skelton of drugs advice agency Crew 2000, that legendary Scottish overindulgence is becoming a thing of the past. “As far as our experience of the hardcore scene goes, there’s definitely been a shift. People do seem to be a bit more sensible and a bit more informed. People are taking time to chill out – we noticed at the last Rezerection that the dance floor wasn’t as packed as it used to be, there are times when more people are in the chill out. And they’re not wearing so many mad hats and things like that.” However, the closure of weekly hardcore nights has led to a trend for ravers to view tri-monthly events like Rezerection with an urgency and fervour that leads them to overdo it. “There are still ridiculously high levels of drug use going on,” confirms Liz. “It’s better than it was before, but it’s not ideal. Very young people come down, very inexperienced, who know very little about what they’re doing. They seem to make an exception for big events – ‘it’s Rez so we’ll go for it’ kind of thing. Instead of having a couple of grams, they’ll go for ten grams of speed and a couple of Es. Then they say they feel a bit funny and they don’t know why.”

After the government restrictions on the prescribing of Temazepam last year, Crew 2000 have noticed a decline in the ‘jelly head’ syndrome once synonymous with the Scottish rave scene. “A year ago you could spot people wandering about who were totally off their face on jellie. They’re still there but not half as much as before.” And as bpms revved up to 180 and 200 in 1994 and 1995, when Lowlands gabba peaked, many noticed a fast music-fast drugs correlation. “When the gabba sound came in, people stopped taking so much E and started taking speed to keep up with the music,” observes Jamie Raeburn. Liz Skelton agrees: “There’s been a general trend towards less E and more speed for some time now.” Sadly, just as the hardcore scene seems to be absorbing the message of moderation and education that Crew 2000 have taken to ravers across the country, there are few clubs left to exemplify this slightly more aware sensibility.

Where now then for Scottish ravers? The most obvious answer seems to be traveling on coaches down to events in Newcastle and Doncaster every weekend. Tom Wilson sees many similar qualities in the accelerated trance-meets-rave synthetic of nu-energy. “I reckon that Tony De Vit sound will take over from hardcore, the fast stuff – Red Jerry, Tall Paul – music with balls.” With Streetrave’s all-nighter, Colours, in the offing this month at the traditional site of Rezerection, it could well be house. In Jamie Raeburn’s opinion, the exodus from rave to house has already begun. “You’ll find the same people going to Colours and Cream as the ones who were going to raves one, two and three years ago.”

And whilst the house and techno purists might bask in the knowledge that ahrdcore didn’t last, their complacency can only be shortlived. “The good thing about hardcore was that there was absolutely no way you could associate it with what was going on in the Mecca discos. This was 200 bpm music and an underground scene, whether you thought it was credible or not,” concludes Jamie. “It was outside the major record labels, it was working class, the people into it loved it like nothing else… not there’s no way you’ll find that in a house club these days.”

More Back to Basics Leeds Stuff

Original Post

[Originally published in the Northern Star magazine in November 1992. Excellent photo of Dave and Ali by Mark McNulty]

IT’S nine o’clock on a cold Saturday evening and Ali Cooke and Dave Beer are in their tiny office in the labyrinthine Music Factory, looking suitably shagged out after a trip to the Royal Albert Hall to collect Back to Basics’ prestigious Mixmag club of the year award last night.

The two bleary-eyed promoters clearly enjoyed the occasion to the full. They are not at their best. And all this less than a year after the club’s first night.

“I didn’t even realise you got awards for stuff like that,” Beer says. “When we set the club up, it’s not as if we did it to put ourselves in the limelight.”

“Dave wanted to go to a club where he’d like the music and the people around him,” adds Cooke, who also DJs at Basics. “And I wanted the chance to play the kind of music I want to play.”


Back to Basics was different to the ravier end of the market right from the very start, promising to “go three steps further than any other fucker” and over the past year it has redefined, to a certain extent, what’s cool and what’s not on a notoriously fickle club scene.

“We wanted something more relaxed that all the usual mental raving,” says Beer. “That’s why we have a strong door policy. We want people who are into the music rather than people who are coming down and getting wasted and sitting around on the floor all night.”

The club’s flyers emphasised the difference between Basics and everyone else, using both humour and Jamie Reid montages to set out the club’s stall. Whereas most club and rave flyers (then and now) were full of sunbeams and thinly-veiled references to ecstasy, Basics flyers included the warning: “The management reserves the right to politely fuck you off.”


“We were just pissed off with all that Loveboat shit,” explains Beer.

“It just seemed funnier to have a picture of Elvis with his dick out on the front,” adds Cooke, managing to get a sentence in edgeways as Beer takes a rare pause for breath. “And it’s nice to swear on flyers.”

But above all, it’s the music that has played the largest role in establishing the club’s reputation.

“We have a policy of no policy, really,” says Cooke in between bleeps from the intercom as someone else tries to blag the door downstairs. “It’s about playing what you want.”

Residents Cooke and Ralph Lawson provide a solid base of proper, grown-up house and more alternative fare for guests like Andy Weatherall, Lisa Loud, Terry Farley and Mike Pickering to work from [one of Cooke’s charts from earlier in the year features Severed Heads, Boney M and My Bloody Valentine as well as Espiral, Elixir Vitae and Coco, Steel and Lovebomb].

Of course, all this didn’t happen overnight. Basics, it seems, took years of planning.

“We’ve known each other for years,” says Cooke. “We used to play in bands together in Wakefield. They were pretty shit but we always knew what we wanted to look like. It never really happened until now.”

“We weren’t even sure it was going to work in the beginning,” says Beer. “We came into a gay club in town, nobody went there, in fact nobody would be seen dead there…”

Apart from the regular clientele, no?

“We got one floor on a Saturday night, decked the place out like a grotto and got 250 people who were into the same things we were.”

The pair firmly believe that, as Cooke puts it, “you can create a really good atmosphere by having a little bit of an attitude. Like, dressing up to go out, not posing but feeling good about themselves.”

“Some people can’t understand why we had Elvis Presley on but you can’t take it too seriously .. it’s all a bit of a laugh,” adds Beer. “We’re into anything that’s slightly off the wall, anything that people can be stimulated by. That’s why we have wizards wandering round doing magic, little bits of performance art, the Jamie Reid exhibition. It’s all part of it.”

The highpoint of this mad year for Cooke was Andrew Weatherall DJing at Basics for the first time:

“I felt like it had been christened. He’s a bit of a hero to me.”

And as for Beer:

“It was my mum coming down, I reckon, and getting it on with Jon Kelly on the dancefloor.

And the lowpoints?

“They tend to be on Monday morning when you’re recovering from what’s just happened.”

Monday mornings excepted, Beer and Cooke are sitting pretty at the moment. The club is full every week and offers of work are coming in from all over the place. It’s been a good year and the sky is the limit.

“We get a nice wage out of it, it must be said,” grins Beer. “We’re lucky lads aren’t we? We realise it. Luck shone on us one day and said, have a bit of this.

“We’ve had our fair share of shit as well though.”


Carter USM getting props in the Guardian

Original piece here –

Cult heroes: Carter USM – wagers of pop’s cultural wars

Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter and Jim ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison bought back indie’s anti-establishment rage with their searing social commentary and mockery of squeaky-clean pop

Get Carter … Jim ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison and Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter in 1991.
Get Carter … Jim ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison and Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter in 1991. Photograph: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

For indie-rock fans of a certain vintage, a train journey through south London feels like revisiting some sort of urban wild west. Tulse Hill, Peckham and New Cross are names that conjure up nocturnal transit-van dashes between tower blocks full of “smackheads, crackheads, pensioners, pimps … pit-bull terrorists, hammerhead loan sharks” and “Bostik boys playing chicken in the box”. It takes those fans back to 1990, when gentrification was but a glint in the eye of developers and legions of Sheriff Fatmen began their gold-rush on south-of-the-river slum flats, cramming them full of drug users, domestic abusers, the starving and suicidal.


Or so you’d think from the musical dispatches of this modern Dodge City’s two grebo Gary Coopers. Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine were Jim “Jim Bob” Morrison and Les “Fruitbat” Carter, accompanied by a drum machine that they appeared to have had unlocked at a dodgy key-cutters and souped up to three times the legal speed limit. Spitting in the dilated pupils of Madchester, they hammered out barbed punk poetry of urban degradation and decay, twisting to their own sardonic ends the regal synth-pop of the Pet Shop Boys, baggy’s filthy guitar funk, the indie urgency of the Wedding Present and popular culture references – Peanuts cartoons, Martini adverts, Gene Pitney, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elvis Presley, The Taking of Pelham 123. They sounded like the late 70s snatching the 80s’ gleaming blade from its hands and going for the throat.

Imagine Sleaford Mods with choruses and something to watch. Carter USM concerts were a riot of blinding white light, crowd-surfing mayhem and chants affectionately mocking the thyroid issues of their famed roadie and compere Jon “Fat” Beast. So it was no wonder, with the emergence of their shoestring debut album 101 Damnations and its stupendously faux-epic single Sheriff Fatman – condemning the rise of mercenary cowboy landlords with their criminal backgrounds and “more aliases than Klaus Barbie” – that they shook the indie-rock scene out of its ecstasy stupor and set a tone of snarling social commentary for the new decade that would be chorused by the likes of Primal Scream, Pulp, S*M*A*S*H, Blur and Chumbawamba. They were the unflinching report card on Thatcherism and the diagnosis of a brutalised Britain that’s yet to heal.

All of which sounds as likely to appeal to the masses as a humane politician or a fully dressed fantasy drama series. Yet the critical rapture that greeted 1991’s 30 Something – broadening their horizons beyond Brockley to tackle nationwide alcoholism (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere), war and its inherent racism (Say It With Flowers, Bloodsport for All) and blind globalist consumerism (Shopper’s Paradise) – sent them into the top 10, arguably the most snarling and subversive breakthrough act since punk – or at least Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Not bad for one squatty Sideshow Bob and one stumpy Lance Armstrong, but mock Carter USM at your peril, lest you get a thorough “Schofielding”. Popularity did nothing to sugar their vitriol, so when caught in the shallow machinations of the mainstream, Carter kicked back. Literally. Booked to mime their one-off single about child molestation and murder After the Watershed (Early Learning the Hard Way) at the 1991 Smash Hits poll winner’s party, Fruitbat reacted to their backing tape being cut short by kicking over the speaker stacks and flooring presenter Philip Schofield for yelling, “Blimey, that was original!” and calling him “The Fruitbat”.


Les’s handbagging of the face of Just for Men had an impact on popular culture that alternative music could only dream of today. It cut through indie-rock’s cuddly druggie image of the age, blurred music’s thick line between grimy underground menace and sparkly gnashered pop safety and repopularised indie’s anti-establishment rebellion. In its wake, major televised award shows became cultural war zones; the KLF machine-gunned the Brits audience with blanks, Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba drenched John Prescott, Jarvis Cocker flapped his blazer seat at Michael Jackson. Carter became instant superstars, hitting No 1 with their third album, 1992 – The Love Album, and having a bona fide Christmas hit with their cover of The Impossible Dream. A barrier broke, and through the breach charged the grebos, the crusties, the T-shirt bands and the scintillating dandies of Britpop.

Musical conspiracy theorists have remained strangely silent about the indiscernible brainwashing-sound hidden on the first Suede album, which somehow robbed the wave of bands that came before them of their ability to write tunes. The Wonder Stuff, EMF, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Jesus Jones, Senseless Things – by the end of 1993 there was barely a chartable hook between them, and Carter’s fourth album Post-Historic Monsters was among the most high-profile victims. Bitter, twisted and taking sideswipes at everyone from Richey Edwards to Terence Trent D’Arby, it bristled with a malcontent firmly at odds with the sleazy hedonism of Suede or the oompah nostalgia of Blur, and set them against the mood of the age. Adapting to survive, the duo ditched their drum machine for a human drummer on fifth album Worry Bomb, and by 1996 they were a six-piece who had shifted their sound towards straight-up punk pop. But style trumped sweat, and like most early 90s alternative acts trying to reinvent themselves mid-decade, Carter were swept under by the Britpop tsunami and split up on their 10th anniversary.

Since then, Carter have been unfairly dismissed as part of the wave of early 90s T-shirt bands that acted as a placeholder between baggy and Britpop. Their musical legacy, on the surface, consists almost solely of Andrew WK, who took their frantic electronic fanfares, hollowed out the politics and social conscience and plonked in a large keg and a beer pong table. They deserve more credit, though: the roots and attitude of the new wave of new wave movement – Elastica, S*M*A*S*H, These Animal Men, et al – can be traced to Carter, and Jim Bob’s shameless semi-comic mangling of TV, film and music references prefaced Noel Gallagher’s identical approach to the music of the Beatles, Bowie, T Rex and the New Seekers. The 90s was the light-fingered decade, and Carter were its Fagins.


As rock’s don’t-scare-the-demographic media training got stricter by the year, with “I don’t know enough about politics to comment” becoming the new “if anybody else likes it, that’s a bonus”, the hole that Carter USM left grew wider and darker – which is why their on-off “farewell” reunions have been crucial in helping to fill it. Between 2007 and their final set of shows in 2014, they played sporadic, sold-out Brixton Academy gigs every couple of years to an army of faithful, chanting: “You fat bastard” but yearning for such an informed, intelligent and outspoken crossover voice for the downtrodden in today’s mainstream music scene.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Fatman slavers over his billowing buy-to-let portfolio in his Pimlico penthouse, toasting the fact that he’s now the government-protected backbone of the British economy as he crams another overpriced windowless shed with 23 overseas plasterers, junior doctors and tangle-haired electro rock bands.