Monday, August 1, 2011

Basque Punk (IV): La Polla Records

You can't write about Basque Punk and not mention La Polla Records (The Dick Records). This band from Agurain (Araba) was as important as any other if not more. Musically they may not have been as brilliant as Hertzainak and for sure they were not as nihilist and self-destructive as Eskorbuto but their lyrics were just brilliant (and almost invariably politically relevant) and they make some of us vibrate like no other band.

Somebody called their style: Truth Rock.

Definitively the most important band of my own personal and subjective youth.

Coming from Catholic school, their first record, Salve, was indeed eye opening. It was indeed in a concert of La Polla like the one below when I became myself. Salve:

Salve regina, mater misericordia! [Church song in Latin, chorus]

By means of promising the kingdom of Heavens,
some smartasses what they are doing
is to make their own private heaven on Earth.
Buy a piece of Heaven paying monthly installments!

One has to be nuts to speak of God's love
and simultaneously, in their schools,
train the future leaders
of fascist repression!

Economic control is control of power
mind control sexual control
really guys I never saw a religion
so much willing to save us by beatings*

Opus Dei oh no!

This was 1984, when they became famous and the Punk scene boomed in the Basque Country almost overnight. Earlier they had published a first record, What are you going to do me now?, a true statement to the futility of authoritarian education: you can't kill the monkey inside us. Main theme:

All my life brainwashing me
but you see it was useless
you could not prepare me
to be manipulated

And what now, and what now
and what are you going to do me now?

You can't do anything against me
you want negate me but I'm dead
and you know a dead man cannot die
and what now?

We are always with the same story
they come with their sale prices
they want to use us
but they get nothing!

Their third record, not less impacting, was Revolution, from which maybe this one: Come and see, about the delights of the so-called "Free World":

Come jumping above the Berlin Wall,
come to this "free world" smiling,
you will soon see with your tired eyes
our blessed freedom
In truth I do not know what you come for.
In truth I will tell you: there is nowhere to flee to!

In this paradise, we live very bad
What's up with you, kid, crying?
When will you realize
that the wall is a lie?
In truth I do not know what you come for.
In truth I will tell you: there is nowhere to flee to!
Run away!

From the East to the West... run away!
And in the West deception... run away!
In truth I will tell you: there is nowhere to flee to!

Then came No somos nada! (We are Nothing!) With the main theme being a homage to the complex of Asterix, so typical of Basques, but of all people who resist stubbornly to fascism no matter what.

Dear friends, in this World all is under control... All? No!
A little village inhabited by invincible Gauls resists now and always to the invader
with a magic potion that makes them invincible: the brain!

We are the grandsons of the workers who you could never kill
that's why we never ever voted for the Popular Party
nor to the PSOE nor their traitors nor to anybody else
we are the grandsons of those who lost the Civil War.
We are nothing! We are nothing!

We are the grandsons of the workers who you could never kill
we are not punk, nor rock, nor heavy, nor rocker, nor mod, nor techno.
You want to deceive us but you cannot, we also have no price.
You'll see what you do, we will see too.
We are nothing! We are nothing!

We are the grandsons of the workers who you could never kill,
we are the grandsons of those who lost the Civil War.
We are the grandsons of the workers who you could never kill,
we are the grandsons of those who lost the Civil War.
We are nothing! We are nothing!

You want to identify us, you have a problem. (repeat)

And this was just the beginning. The next record broke their pattern, Where it is told... (about animals and people, and relation is established among them for the greater glory of God and better understanding of men). Maybe the most intriguing theme is the last one, which is a homage to William S. Burroughs' impressive literary work, including in stereo and simultaneously part of the text (in Spanish) of two of his short stories (from Exterminator!). All animals eating together in the tavern:

Then, after a live record, came Los Jubilados (The Retirees), a very interesting work in which the various musicians changed their usual roles. Among other excellent works, Ivan tells the story of the Russian Revolution in few words and when the USSR was collapsing (1990):

This story that could well be true,
seems a lie now, we will tell it anyhow.
In the Russia of the beloved Tsar, lived a peasant named Ivan.
Working the land without pause, suffering much hunger with no time to think.
Sow, sow and sow again, and count Borrowich gets all the harvest,
the young priest asks resignation, invites himself home and eats the best foods.
There was Ivan! There was Ivan!

One day that he was with the hoe, some men came and told him: comrade!
There are no masters to obey anymore, you are a free man, we have seized power.
Think, think and think again, Ivan slowly makes up his mind:
nobility has been deposed, there will be no more comedians living without doing work.
There was Ivan! There was Ivan!

Jumping on one leg, the sickle and the hammer on the red banner.
With persistence and some attention, look what kind of turns that the situation takes.

And then came Barman: a single (4 songs) dedicated to the New World Order that was coalescing as the USSR fell. Kamarraden is probably the most representative of the feelings then.

Then came the black record (no title), and I think Alice is from that one (unsure):

Oh, Alice
in the Greedland
of pimps who get her addicted.
Sweet Alice.
Police is looking for Alice
in Maliceland
and she can't get out.
Oh, Alice
in Greedland,
in Heroinland.
Sweet Alice
some day will be in the news
she will sleep in a caress
and she will never wake up.

Then Today is the Future. From this one, End of Century:

They say Eastern Europe... Earth is round, I do not understand.
And we steal some plutonium, science doesn't pay and we have to live.
And they say things about the Third World... to see poverty you do not need to leave this.
But they are going to build a huge wall because the slums harm the view.

My End of Century World: they steal eyes from children,
the bomb is at your reach if you pay its price.

Who turns the roulette around will not teach you,
they are spoiled rebels like their dads.

Sons by mail and the Pope that gets an abortion
after a pregnancy not much desired.
And Mari Puri is nice in bed
but a little boring when it's over.

Let we have something in memory of our buddies,
for living and dead, let we have two.
And then let's talk of archaeology:
the hashish rock that got lost.

And they continued yet for ten years more, with more and more records but I had lost interest, admittedly (though not many others). Here there is a great nostalgic theme from a late record, All life the same: Pastelarium:

I won't translate the lyrics here but it's about missing the past.

Actually, the leader of the band, Evaristo, continued making great irreductible themes after La Polla disbanded in 2003, in the new band Gatillazo (Spanish expression for when the penis, unexpectedly and for no apparent reason, does not want to work properly).

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