/Tuesday Ten /550 /Caught By The Fuzz

For the 550th Tuesday Ten – almost exactly seventeen years since I began this series – I’m turning my attention to the police.

/Tuesday Ten /550 /Caught By The Fuzz

/Subject /Police, Law and Order
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /073/Crimes /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/163 /Used Prior/31 /Unique Songs/126 /People Suggesting/74
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/46:45

That’s very much not the band, but the law, the cops, the fuzz. etc. I’ve done crime before (fifteen years ago!), but never looked at it from another angle. So this, it turned out, is actually about perceptions of the police, and judging on all the songs that I had suggested, these perceptions are not great: from the past to the present, little seems to have changed, despite a great many promises to do so.

As for why this is specifically on /Tuesday Ten /550? The police are often referred to as “5-0” in crime shows (and some songs), and I was surprised to find that this originates from the TV show Hawaii 5-0!

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).

/Atari Teenage Riot
/Your Uniform Does Not Impress Me
/60 Second Wipe Out

It is easy to forget these days just how extreme and outrageous ATR were in the 1990s. Their strongly anti-fascist, anti-establishment outlook – backed up by actions as well as words and music – seemed to take things further than their peers, and live around the time, they were absolutely vicious (and deafeningly loud, too). One of their best mission statements came on the scorching Your Uniform Does Not Impress Me, where they stare down uniformed police with no fear whatsoever. Going on various reports and stories of their actions at shows and protests, I can’t imagine they weren’t unfamiliar with German police tactics…

/Boogie Down Productions
/Illegal Business
/By All Means Necessary

A second appearance in a few weeks for Boogie Down Productions and KRS-ONE? Too right. One of many, many hip-hop songs detailing issues with the police (and there were some perhaps more obvious tracks from N.W.A. or Ice-T/Body Count, or Jay-Z, that I could have picked, but that would have been too easy), this sees the young KRS-ONE setting out some facts about the likely economic impact of such illegal business, but then tells the tale of crooked cops trying to get their share of the local drug business too. These are not unusual, sadly: here and here‘s just two from the past decade

/Your Sniffer Dogs Are Shite

This Northern Irish rap group – who mostly rap in Irish and are proudly Republican, and use quite a bit of humour to temper their anger – recently came to wider attention by the Tory Government declining arts funding to the group because they didn’t want to fund “…people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”. An interesting counterpoint to that comes on Substack, with some context to where the band come from: the working class districts of Belfast, where opportunity still isn’t exactly knocking.

Thus, like many of Kneecap’s songs, there are encounters with the police, as they are searched, questioned and harried, simply for being the kind of people that might be “trouble”. The song’s chorus is a marvellous – and really surprisingly catchy – taunt at police who aren’t finding what they are looking for…

/Stampin’ Ground
/Officer Down
/Carved From Empty Words

Punk and hardcore bands writing songs about police violence and brutality is nothing new – Black Flag in particular wrote a number of songs on the subject, as they found out the hard way that DIY touring in small US towns – and simply being different – attracted all too much attention from the police. Twenty years on from Damaged, Cheltenham hardcore crew Stampin’ Ground released the ripping force and rage of Officer Down, probably the single finest hardcore track ever released by a UK band. It bristles with fury at police tactics, at police letting down the people they are supposed to protect, and like other bands in this post, I suspect they’d not shirk from standing their ground.

/Poison Idea
/The Badge
/Feel the Darkness

Another band writing on this subject were US punk heavyweights Poison Idea – a song better known by many for its appearance in The Crow, where it was covered to great effect by Pantera (but pretty much note-and-sample perfect). I’m sticking with the furious original, where the band tell it like it is (“Young and dumb, truth and justice fantasy, fresh out of the Academy“) and detail a host of transgressions that to young Americans that came into contact with the police, may have been all-too-familiar. As well, this song absolutely rips, and the closing thrash-out remains a mighty rush.

/Tom Robinson Band
/Glad to be Gay
/Rising Free

A seething song that is as old as me, sees Tom Robinson sardonically taking on British attitudes to LGBTIQA+ people back in 1978, and rather than shrinking back, standing up and being proud of what he is. Each of the verses take on a different attitude (and picks apart a common misconception of the time), and the first verse sees him sarcastically suggesting how great the police are, as they target gay bars, arrest people unnecessarily and generally perpetuate outdated stereotypes.

Sadly, too much of this song remains the case in 2024, and it needs to fucking change.

/No Thugs In Our House
/English Settlement

XTC were masters of documenting the events of life in provincial British towns, and that subject matter was mined to astounding effect on English Settlement. One of the most biting songs on the album was No Thugs In Our House, where a suburban family are rocked by regular visits by local police, as their son Graham is a full-on racist, with the tattoos and regular accusations of racial violence. Sadly the parents – and the father is a judge – refuse to realise the truth, and the song concludes with no arrests, and no change to their view…

/The Ruts
/The Crack

Indeed, part of the reason that no action was likely taken in that XTC song was because things were not exactly great in race relations at the time. Around the time of the album being written, the UK was reeling from the 1981 riots in a number of inner cities (most notably Brixton in London, and Toxteth in Liverpool), where mostly afro-caribbean youth finally snapped and kicked back against the police after being regular victims of the racist Sus law, which allowed police to arrest any suspected person whether they had committed a crime or not. The riots were a catalyst in the law finally being struck from the books in August 1981, and this fierce song by The Ruts tells a (presumably at least partly based on fact) story of someone being caught up in this law a year or two before.

/Alabama 3
/The Night We Nearly Got Busted
/Exile on Coldharbour Lane

I can’t help but feel that the members of Alabama 3, particularly in their earlier days prior to the release of their still-extraordinary country-acid-house fusion of their debut album, might have had a fair amount of experience avoiding the cops. The Night We Nearly Got Busted drips with paranoia: that of the drug-using protagonists, and that of their fear that they might get busted by an undercover cop when either scoring or later using. Somehow, they avoid their obvious fate and get to live another wild night…

/Kid Kapichi
/There Goes The Neighbourhood

Sadly, as we continue into 2024, little has changed. Stories continue to come out of police bias, servicing police officer rapists (and another recently) and servicing police officer murderers, as well as a continuing sense that nothing is changing, despite all of this. Kid Kapichi think this too on the exceptional 999, where they say all too common words – they don’t trust the police, even if they need their help. How do we make this better?

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