Posted by Billyjam, May 11, 2009 03:24pm | Post a Comment
In addition to the whole DIY ethic that was instilled, another great gift of both the punk rock movement and the post-punk movement that immediately followed it was how they each helped open people up to embracing a really wide & diverse range of music by artists doing anything from punk derived guitar music to varying styles of electronic, industrial, dub, roots reggae, world, and spoken word, etc. And of the spoken word artists, none matched the brilliant "bard of Salford," punk poet John Cooper Clarke, whose satirical & witty run on rants easily match any of the best hip-hop emcees.

John Cooper Clarke (JCC), who looked a lot like Dylan circa Blonde On Blonde when he first came to fame in the late seventies, hailed from Salford, Greater Manchester, the same area that Joy Division came from -- a group with whom he will forever be associated. As well as opening for such acts as the Sex Pistols, The Fall, The Buzzcocks, and Elvis Costello, JCC also opened for Joy Division. In fact, in one memorable moment from the 2007 Joy Division biopic Control, the artist convincingly recreates, 30 full years later, a performance from a 1977 Joy Division concert where he supported the group. 

Additionally, he can be seen performing his best known poem, "Evidently Chickentown," at the start and end of the video for Joy Division's live performance of "Transmission" (clip below), which features JCC reading the refrain and third verses. And even after Ian Curtis' suicide, when the band morphed into New Order, he continued to open for them, even in 1984 at a Music for Miners benefit at London's Royal Festival Hall.

Truly a poet of the people, his engaging everyman tales, delivered typically as witty, scathing satirical takes on every day, humorously tackled topics such as the British working class's favorite package holiday destination ("Majorca") to people's obsession with health and fitness ("Health Fanatic" + "Bronze Adonis"). "(I Married a) Monster from Outer Space" was as much an absurdist tale as a clever commentary on racism. His poem "The Pest," in which every other word began with the letter P, proved his masterful control of the English language. While he sometimes performed with music accompaniment backing from The Invisible Girls (Pete Shelly was a member), his poetry was at its best when at its rawest: delivered a cappella in a live, rowdy punk club setting. 

  John Cooper Clark Discography:
john cooper clarke

Où est la maison de fromage?

Disguise in Love

Walking Back to Happiness

Snap, Crackle & Bop

Me and My Big Mouth

Zip Style Method

John Cooper Clarke's musical output is primarily confined to the years 1977 to 1982, when he released six albums, including 1979's Walking Back to Happiness and 1980's Snap, Crackle & Bop. He also appeared in the 1982 music documentary compilation Urgh! A Music War, performing his poem "Health Fanatic." A serious heroin habit for much of the 80's was the reason for his prematurely stunted creative output. It was also likely the reason why he chose to make some easy money by appearing in a couple of UK TV commercials for Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal in the late 80's (see below).

Now 60 years of age, JCC still performs and reportedly does equal parts stand up commentary and poetry performance. In addition to his appearance in Control, in recent years his music has popped up in an episode of The Sopranos (see below). The 1981 book Ten Years In An Open-Necked Shirt remains his most popular published work to date. Look for his releases at Amoeba. You won't be disappointed with any of them.

                                      John Cooper Clarke "Health Fanatic" (Urgh! A Music War)                                                       
                                 John Cooper Clarke "Evidentally Chickentown" (clean TV version)

                                     John Cooper Clarke "Twat" (live audio version with text only)

Joy Division "Transmission" - John Cooper Clarke intros/outros

Sopranos episode ending with JCC "Evidently Chickentown"

John Cooper Clarke in Sugar Puffs UK TV ad (late 80's)

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