Saturday, 15 February 2014

Punk Footnotes 10# - Hagar the Womb

In this era of iTunes, Amazon and Spotify it is kind of easy to feel that everything ever is available to download. To be honest having recently downloaded an album of Triffids outtakes and early demos it is a fairly reasonable assertion. However browsing Youtube I stumbled across the joyous yelpings of Hagar the Womb, dishing out what is probably their best know work 'Idolization.'

This set a gutterful of nostalgia flowing. Hagar the Womb were part of the Anarcho Punk scene in the early 80's playing alongside the likes of Conflict and Omega Tribe. What made them  different was that despite the notional feminist and anti- sexist stance of many of the Anarcho bands, most were pretty male and pretty macho. Hagar the Womb was led and fronted by women, and like Rubella Ballet did a decent job of subverting the culture, adding humour, colour and a certain playfulness to the brew.

I came across them (of course) listening to John Peel who championed their 'Word of Womb' EP and getting them to record a (if I recall slightly disappointing) session. In my box of cassettes I am sure I still have these moments captured. Watching the video of them from the Leeds Bierkellar I felt a little pang, as I recalled the look of time, the big hair and printed dresses with DM's, girls who were just that bit older and so much cooler, the girls I yearned for, but stayed painfully out of reach. But what also struck me was that for anarchists, they don't look like the advance guard of an anarchist Armageddon. They and their audience look a rather nice colourful and jolly bunch.

Swept away by this warm nostalgic glow I decided to purchase Word of  Womb. However unlike the works of innumerable non entities iTunes could only manage one song on a compilation, and Amazon couldn't manage a download or a CD. But curiously in the Amazon store somebody was offering a copy of the EP for £30. I had a look on ebay, and there was again a copy of the EP for about £25. Further investigation showed that the band reformed a couple of yours ago for a tour, given that their recorded works amounted to two EP's and a JP session, for a band that no material currently available this seemed pretty impressive.

So the Hagar's were very much a footnote, but one that seems to have left a mark deep enough for a small following still to give  a damn 30 years after their brief shrieking life.