Word. An All Too Brief Glimpse At Beat Poetry Rock (UK edition).

Someone posted this on Facebook today:

It’s called “Batpoem” and it’s by the sixties poetry band called The Liverpool Scene, one of the many poetry groups in the Merseyside area in the late 1960’s. The groups were often lumped together as “the Liverpool Poets” and of these, I had only heard of Roger McGough before, and only because he was in Scaffold with John Gorman and Mike McGear, the latter of course I only knew because McGear was in fact Mike McCartney. The Liverpool Scene (the band), however, was centered around the words of McGough’s scouse counterpart Adrian Henri, whose style (like many of the Northern “beats”) was both bohemian and “moderne” while retaining the unpretentious charm and disarming wit, the traits that made The Beatles so endearing to the world at large.  Here’s another poem by The Liverpool Scene, a brilliantly retro slice of futurist metal called “We’ll All Be Spacemen Before We Die”:

I always have a soft spot for spoken word. I mean, I love music. I love words. Separately, both are powerful, but together there’s an alchemical convergence that only happens at that juncture. Listening to the British accents doing this sort of thing, today, I’m reminded of another great Northern English rock poet, John Cooper Clarke, a/k/a “The Bard of Salford” who did his thing during the late 70’s and early 80’s punk scene. Appropriating Bob Dylan‘s image, from the cover of his book Tarantula, Clarke was briefly the poet laureate of the British rock scene.

Left: Dylan on cover of Tarantula, Right: Clarke on cover of Zip Style Method

Here’s John Cooper Clarke,  doing a live version of his Modern Rock hit “Beasley St.” on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1980:

Of course, this leads me to thoughts of Mark E. Smith‘s long-standing reputation in The Fall:

\”Hit The North\” by The Fall

Perhaps the most recent comparisons, that I know, of contemporary updating of the old “British beat poet” thing, might well be Mike Skinner’s raps as The Streets, as heard here in “Let’s Push Things Forward”:

and, at a stretch, Alex Turner’s highly conversational lyrics with Arctic Monkeys, as heard here in “Fake Tales Of San Francisco”:


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