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Baker's Dozen

Dancing & Defiance - Paul Flynn's Soundtrack To 30 Years Of Gay Culture
Andy Thomas , July 24th, 2017 11:06

To mark the anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, Paul Flynn (author of Good as You: From Prejudice to Pride, 30 Years of Gay Britain) chooses 13 records that soundtracked his life, from ACR to Elton and Lil Kim to Sleaford Mods.

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Sleaford Mods - Divide And Exit
The first time I saw Sleaford Mods was in a room above a pub between Angel and Kings Cross. Everyone in the audience looked like me: overweight, balding, either side of 40, wearing a Patagonia Anorak, like a Kylie concert for straight men. At the time they were the sharpest British retort to all that introspective Brooklyn beard rock. They were really tight, with a point of view. I went with my mate Luke, a pleasing reflection of the straight and gay alliance on stage. You notice these things when they happen. Their performance blew my mind. The two of them reminded me at first of the great Shane Meadows film, Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee, then of Soft Cell. Their reactive impulses were so new. Jason Williamson is that great British performer who's alive, alert, awake, like Ronnie O'Sullivan or Stephen Graham, a branch of masculinity I find scintillating. Sleaford Mods aren't cultural balm. They're its spittle and crust. John Peel would've fancied them. When they deliver you can see the house they grew up in and smell their necks. They're physical, intimate, exposed performers with no regard for their privacy. That's always spellbinding. They represent the full arousal of anger and its close British cousin: total, can't be arsed laziness. Divide And Exit is all hits, no misses. 'Tweet Tweet Tweet' is the digital age 'Ghost Town'. It's only missing 'Jobseeker', probably their best song and one which predates I, Daniel Blake by several years. They're fantastic songwriters predicating a new form who make everyone else look shoddy. I've seen them many times since and none of that force has gone now they're playing to trendy young couples who talk about mortgages. They are just consistently brilliant, sincere and true, really quite beautiful in their own way. No record of the last few years sums up Britain with a sharper, sleeker three words than Divide And Exit. That's what pop should be for.


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