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Wednesday, 19 October 2016
KL Troopers: Dickheads
The Clash playing at a Rock Against Racism gig in 1978. Image by Val Welmer.
Don Letts' Skinheads was a really enjoyable overview of the five or six lives of Skinhead-ism, and the contradictions between the disparate parts of the subculture.
There was one clip of the man who set up the Skinheads against Racism in Music talking about global manifestations of racist skinheads: 'There's this gang of fucking dickheads called KL Troopers and they're Malay Nazis... and they want all the Chinese and Indians to fuck off...'
Malaysia for the Malays only. That would be as good as England for the English or India for the Hindus, or France for the French, or Nigeria for the Nigerians; you'd be left with a nation of inbred simpletons sewing on their silly patches and drooling into their 100% native nasi lemak/fish and chips/whatever...
So there you have it, KL troopers. You're now known internationally as dickheads. Well done.
Watch Skinheads here if you're in the UK or you can get around it.
And buy Skinheads the book here, for only £8.99 (that's probably about 5 of your euros if you're reading this in 2018). This is Nick Knight's first book, made in his second year at college the bastard before he became a fashion superstar.
The book was made in 1982 and is symptomatic of the huge link between music, subcultures, publishing, fashion and photography in Britain at the time. There's such a direct connection between the ethos of music, the rise of colour in British photography, the development of fashion magazines in the early 1980s, the rise of British fashion photography and the ethos of punk and protest and how that affected photography, and design - to the present day.
Ah yes, design. In parts of the UK, design does gets a little fetishised, especially in places like Manchester, where the emphasis is understandably on the high-end manifestations and you can get all Factoried out by the design. Here's a more typical example below of Manchester design (from this classic source of ephemera from Manchester's musical past).
You can read about music and anti-racism in this review of Walls Come Tumbling Down.
And here's Syd Shelton talking about his photograph at a Rock Against Racism/Ruts gig in 1979.