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Red Organ Serpent Soundare bringing their ten-legged groove machine to an Ambassador near you. And the cross and burn atrocity policy that never was.
Eamonn McCann, 03 Nov 2005
Red Organ Serpent Sound hit Dublin on November 4th, to play a double-header at the Ambassador with the most famous Belgian people in the world since Hercule Poirot, dEUS.
(I gather that there are circles in which you can never hold your head or anything else up again if you admit to knowing nothing about dEUS. Didn’t Bjork have a song called Deus, once upon a time? Does that count?)
Frontman and Derry superhero Rory Moore---I’ve mentioned before that he’s modelled on Spiderman Kelly---tells me that the debut Red Organ single “In Search Of Orgasmuz” is selling “brilliantly, considering”.
Considering that we may have to wait for, oh, weeks before organic country-funk techno-sleaze becomes all the rage, maybe he has a point. Or maybe not.
Moore is the only rock frontman this side of Ophidia who sheds his skin at mid-point in the set. No, really.
The Ambassador will be no place for diplomacy, there being nothing two-faced about the Man in the Ironed Mask. This is music to lay you flat out from left jabs, right uppercuts, hooks you can’t see coming, roundhouse choruses, rope-a-dope riffs, duck’n’dive chord-shifts and a sledgehammer bolo-punch to send you home staggered. Not to mention the sibilant sizzle of inter-round sex. And that’s just Wally the Crash-Test Drummer.
Red Organ’s live vibe and visuals are vital. Words of description fall flat on the page. ROSS aren’t an amalgam of anything. Roll out the song quotes and note-patterns, the atmos and ambience, and the myriad musical references you might suspect you detect and you don’t come any way comfortably close. Not that comfort is anywhere in the zone.
Rory, Chris McGonaghy (guitar), Johnny Nutt (bass), Dermot McGowan (keyboards) and Phillip Wallace are decidedly of the sui generis genre. They made themselves up over weekend cottage breaks in the badlands of Donegal back in the dim distant days of about a year or so ago, and have been spoiling for a fight with the rest of the rock world since. Within a month of coming out punching, they’d flattened all before them in their immediate vicinity. Now they are as ready and raring as they’ll ever be: who in the fragile, uncertain world is to say where or how far they can take it? The most to be said is that they’re well entitled and having a go. If you’re in roaring distance yourself of the Ambassador ahead of the gig (on November 4), get along. You never know.
And what means Orgasmuz?
Any means necessary.
And I am told that dEUS aren’t half bad either (see interview in Sounding Off, this issue). I think there was a fellow called Deus in Machina, before he left.
“An elderly lady from Newington in north Belfast, now passed on, once told me of how her family home on the Old Lodge Road had been daubed with a cross one afternoon in the 1950s after one of Paisley’s meetings in the area.
”They knew what it meant. They immediately moved out to live in a house offered by a Protestant gentleman in Glengormley. As they left, they saw the mob torching their old home. Shades of Kristallnacht.”
Thus, a Daily Ireland commentator a couple of days after Alec Reid denounced Protestants as no better than Nazis.
I have a rake of relatives from north Belfast, and none of them have ever heard of any such incident.
None of them ever heard, either, of the practice of doors being daubed with crosses to mark out Taig homes for torching. I’d have thought that this custom – so routine, apparently, that the Newington family knew instantly what it portended – would have been instanced and commented on in some of the many published memoirs of political life in Belfast in the period. But there’s not a word that I’m aware of.
Ed Maloney and Andy Pollok’s Paisley (Poolbeg Press, 1986) includes a detailed account of the roaring Rev’s early anti-Catholic rantings around Belfast, but makes no mention of the Newington or any similar incident.
Pity the elderly lady isn’t available for interview, or the Protestant gentlemen who, instantly and on the spot, provided the fleeing family with a house.
Things just as horrible happened, of course. The oppression of the Catholics of the North over the years of Orange rule isn’t a figment of Nationalist imagining. The civil rights movement of the ‘60s and early ‘70s was necessary, right and inevitable.
What was striking about the “Kristallnacht” story, however, was the way it slotted into the new Nationalist discourse, of which Fr. Reid’s outburst was illustrative. This account has it that the people to blame for the suffering of Catholics were, of course, the Protestants. During his exchanges in a Protestant church in south Belfast, Fr. Reid referred repeatedly to “your community” as being “no better than Nazis”.
He didn’t lay blame for the ills he outlined on the larded businessmen and landed gentry of the Unionist Party, or on the sectarian coat-trailers of the “Loyal Orders”, or on successive British governments which divided-and-ruled. His anger over the treatment of one community was directed at, and only at, the other community.
This wouldn’t have been the line of attack even a decade ago, when the Northern conflict was conceived as having arisen from partition, imperialism and British repression. More and more openly now, Nationalists, particularly Nationalists of the Sinn Fein tendency, present the conflict as a contest for political advantage between “the two communities”. Britain didn’t figure in Fr. Reid’s presentation, other than as a silent, disinterested onlooker, and hasn’t figured at all in the Nationalist polemics which have taken up the argument since.
Naturally, then, it isn’t the British ruling class which takes the brunt of the rhetorical onslaught, but “your community”. The objects of the onslaught are then demonised so as to depict them as unworthy of esteem. This is the context in which the people of McCracken, Hope, McNeice, Morrison, Higgins, Keenan and Best can be damned as Hitlerite marauders.
The exercise is both libellous on the Protestant people and comes close to denying the truth of the Holocaust. It is also politically useless, in that it offers no way forward other than an endless sectarian trial of strength.
Successive commentators have argued over the past month that although Fr. Reid lost it and went too far, his basic thesis was sound, that although Orangeism and Nazism are different, the difference is one of degree. But even if this argument is admitted, which it should not be, differences of degree are sometimes so vast as to refer to intrinsically different phenomena. Quantity becomes quality.
My own knowledge of the oppression of Catholics comes from the fact that I grew up in the Bogside. My resentment at the way we were treated hasn’t faded. But it wasn’t the Warsaw ghetto, and I resent even more the lie that’s involved in pretending it was.
The plain Protestants of Derry didn’t organise the denial of houses and jobs to Catholics. They never had control of the distribution of these commodities.
The main importance of all this has to do with the way sectarianism, the “two communities” account of the conflict, endorsed in the Good Friday Agreement, has become the conventional wisdom of the political mainstream. Nothing good will come of it.