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Zounds

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Reading, United Kingdom (1977 – 1982)

Zounds were a UK anarchist band formed in 1977 from loose jamming sessions around the Reading area. Originally they were part of the cassette culture movement, releasing material on the Fuck Off Records tape label, and were also involved in the squatting and free festival scene.

The band met up with fellow anarchists Crass when, legend has it, their van broke down on the road. They made their way to nearby Dial House, where Crass were based, who helped them with repairs. The two bands became friends, and although musically very divergent, they shared many common political views. Zounds shortly afterwards released their first EP, “Can’t Cheat Karma”, on the Crass Records label.

The band released their first album The Curse of Zounds on Rough Trade Records in 1981. The cover art, by anarchist artist Clifford Harper, featured a painting of fire fighters apparently trying to put out a blaze at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. However, the picture continued onto the back cover, which showed that in fact they are spraying the fire with petrol, thus feeding it!

The band split up in late 1982. Bass player and vocalist Steve Lake and guitarist Laurence Wood continued to work together for a while as The World Service, whilst drummer Josef Porta (AKA Joseph Porter) went on the join The Mob and later formed Blyth Power. Lake continues to work as a solo artist, and Zounds occasionally reform for benefit gigs with a line-up augmented by Protag (formerly of Instant Automatons, Alternative TV and Blyth Power) and drummer Stick (previously of Dirt, Doom and Extreme Noise Terror). A remixed version of the bands song “This Land” was released in 2001 as a CD single benefit for the McLibel support campaign.

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