Attila the Stockbroker’s Live in Belfast

cover art for Live in BelfastJudith Gennett wrote this review.

“No Blood For Oil” is the first thing you see on the website of English Punk Poet Attila The Stockbroker. Attila, who’s been making a living as a poet for 20 years, is not afraid of words, not afraid to write and say words. There are a LOT of words on this highly political album, recorded at the Warzone Centre in Belfast in February 2003. Only a minority of them are about “No Blood For Oil,” but many touch upon the ruling classes of Britain and the United States doing things they really shouldn’t. For the most part this is a simple spoken word album; sometimes the verses rhyme, sometimes they are in sentences or in rap lines. Sometimes Attila plays the guitar and sings down-home folk-punk.

My favorite track is a story that doesn’t really seem so political. In “Frogspawn Man Meets the Boy Racers” Attila goes down to a creek by the A27 in Sussex to pick up some frog spawn. Why is everyone shouting epithets at him from the highway? Finally, he realizes that everyone (actually, they are all men) at the intersection thinks he is a bum with a bucket and is afraid that he will try and wash their window! So he … well, I won’t spoil the ending. He’s told the story better than I did, which is perhaps why he can earn a living at writing and I can’t!

On the heavier side, “The New World Order Rap!” is one of the best tracks on the album, though its hard to absorb all the words at one sitting. The one world superstate is:

Policed by thugs, awash with drugs
and kept in place by Murdoch’s mugs
And Sheriff USA is there to turn you into fries,
Yes you can bank on a Yank in a tank coz he who argues dies…
Change the names and fudge the dates
For United Nations read United States
They’re coming soon over your border
One World Nightmare.

Attila uses the name Rupert Murdoch in the same way that George Bush used Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War.

Atilla speaks of the “weapons of mass distraction” of the Labour Government in “The Iraqi Weapons Inspectors Report”… just where and how did the Iraqis get their weapons? He sings about the two-facedness of the U.S. government in “Death Of A Salesman.” (Why exactly is the world so mad at the U.S.? Could it be nasty little right-wing wars and commercial explorations?) He satirizes racism in the U.K. in “Asylum Seeking Daleks.” He attacks the commercial deception of the Supermodel image in “Supermodel”… he likes women who stock their refrigerators with ice cream! Whoa, great! And he sings about a dead cat in “The Spencers Croft Cat.” This is probably my least favorite track, but the audience seemed to like it. In all there are 22 tracks, so there is plenty of choice.

Celtic listeners may be worried that this is a punk album, but revealingly he mentions U.K. alternative folk bands like the Levellers and Blythe Power, as well as Joe Strummer, so perhaps this is actually a FOLK album. Who knows? You’ll either like Attila’s aggressive, emphatic, fast delivery or you won’t. The biggest drawback for American listeners, many of whom know already that their government has done some sneaky stuff, is that the culture and government of the U.K. are actually different than theirs. The important British governmental acronyms are often meaningless, and no one would think of criticising “W” for being a hypocritical liberal! In addition, the American Middle Class doesn’t give a flying f–k about fox hunting.

(Helmet, 2003)

Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.

More Posts