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Shibboleth, My Revolting Life

Shibboleth, My Revolting Life

An engaging autobiography of Jeremy John Ratter, aka Penny Rimbaud. From his strict lower-middle class childhood, to art-school, the hippies and Free Festivals, including the now legendary Stonehenge Festival, of which Rimbaud was a co-founder.

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The majority of the book is unsurprisingly taken up with the story of CRASS, a band unique in the history of rock n roll, and of which Rimbaud was the founder, lyricist, and drummer. Crass took the idealism of punk seriously. When Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten screamed 'No Future' the challenge was taken up. In the space of seven short years, from 1977 to their break-up in 1984, Crass almost single-handedly breathed life back into the then moribund peace and anarchist movements. They birthed a huge underground network of do-it-yourself activism, fanzines, record labels, activist action groups, concert halls. While remaining on their own independent record label, and steadfastly refusing any interviews etc with the major press, they managed to sell literally millions of records. Their political 'pranks' included the now infamous 'KGB tapes', trumpeted amongst others, on the front page of the 'New York Times', and the duping of 'Total Loving' magazine to include a CRASS song (ranting against the patriarchy of marriage) as the "perfect song to play on your wedding day".

Shibboleth also includes for the first time, the full story of Wally Hope - 'The Last Of The Hippies', close friend of Rimbaud, co-founder of the Stonehenge Festival, and murdered by the state while incarcerated in a mental institution.

 

The extraordinary autobiography of Jeremy John Ratter, a.k.a. Penny Rimbaud, founder, lyricist, and drummer of Crass, a band unique in the history of rock 'n' roll. Crass took the idealism of punk seriously. When Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten screamed "No Future" the challenge was taken. In the space of seven short years, from 1977 to their breakup in 1984, Crass almost single-handedly breathed life back into the then moribund peace and anarchist movements. They birthed a huge underground network of do-it-yourself activism, fanzines, record labels, activist action groups, and concert halls. While remaining on their own independent record label, and steadfastly refusing any interviews with the major press, they managed to sell literally millions of records. Their political "pranks" included the now infamous "KGB tapes," trumpeted among others, on the front page of the New York Times, and the duping of Total Loving magazine into including a Crass song (ranting against the patriarchy of marriage) as the "perfect song to play on your wedding day." In this book, Penny takes us from his strict lower-middle class childhood and his experiences in art school to the Crass years, the hippies, and Free Festivals, including the now legendary, illegal Stonehenge Festival, of which Rimbaud was a cofounder. 
Shibboleth also includes, for the first time, the full story of Wally Hope—"The Last of the Hippies," close friend of Rimbaud, cofounder of the Stonehenge Festival, and who was murdered by the State while incarcerated in a mental institution.

 

A wonderful and truly inspiring read - political perhaps, but far more than just being another 'rise up and revolt' manifesto, it's a deeply human and moving story. After spending his life involved in various forms of cultural subversion and having witnessed the appalling (though clever) actions of the state in stamping out all and any activity that even hints at a challenge to the UK state, Penny Rimbaud arrives at an almost philosophical view of how we can most effectively use our personal spirit of rebellion. I really felt this was an important book - for anyone living in the UK - especially if you suspect there may be a little more to life than aspiring toward a bigger car, mortgage and comfy sofa, and that perhaps there could be a sinister edge to the fact that so many people find their lives unwittingly subdued and dominated by these socially constructed/state controlled desires. Made me ask real questions about my own life, the compromises I have made, and what I'm going to do about them

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