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PEGGIO PUNX- La citta e’ quieta …. ombre parlano 7″EP (selfproduced, Italy, 1983)

On Mayday, here’s my small contribution to what this day meant to me (however silly these memorial-, festivities-days may be in general): Labor is the enemy. Am I still an operaist at heart? This I don’t know.

PEGGIO PUNX were formed in 1982 in Alessandria, a small city in the north of Italy. In the late 60s, the region (especially the nearby city of Torino) was the epicenter of massive social and political turbulences which culminated in the formation of clandestine groups like the Brigate Rosse, a powerful urban guerilla that actually at first was mainly active in factories (they called it “Factory Guerilla”), supporting the many massive strikes of the often rebellious workers. The left radical scene of northern Italy soon split up into many, many different groups, one of them being the “Autonomia Operaio”. This diffuse melting pot for a larger number of militants from all over the country (such as workers, students, unemployed youth etc.) was very active throughout the 70s, the “Anni de piombo” (the “years of lead”), intervened with countless strikes, riots and occupations of infrastructural buildings and such.
The militants of the operaio-movement declined the concept of an armed struggle against the representatives of the state, like the “Brigate Rosse” propagated while quickly turning into a criminal leninist sect. With the kidnapping and killing of the influential politician Aldo Moro in 1978, escalated things completely – the italian state answered with a massive wave of often brutal oppression, smashing large parts of the once vital and very diverse left radical scenes. The year before, the german pendant to the “Brigate Rosse”, the leninist sect RAF (“Red Army Fraction”) had begun their bloodiest campaign, culminating in the ruthless murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, a high ranking representative of the german employer’s association. But when in Germany, the guerilla was a very isolated phenomena consisting of a few dozen activists, in Italy the militants had an incredibly large web of supporters of tens of thousands throughout all social classes – and the theoretical concepts of the italian militants were often years ahead of the crude leninism of their german contemporaries. 1977, when Punk became the short time mass media phenomenon that so many still dream of today, several european countries were in a state of political upheaval, often with forms of intense violence practiced by all participants. This feeling of urgency and earnest (however phantasmagorical the theories of the left radical scenes may have been, let me say this clearly!) still bleeds through in many cultural products of the 70s, like in music, movies, books and the arts in general and this makes it at least understandable why the current retro wave tries and transform these manifestations of turbulent times into petty products of today. That’s the retro chic: Pull the teeth, make it harmless, reduce things to a blurry surface.

The very loose and spontaneistic concept of the “Autonomia Operaio” was mainly based on the idea of a permanent, antagonistic struggle against – work! They saw the whole idea of work, labor not only as the functional base of capitalism, like Marxists do, but also as a form of sublime and often bloody oppression and disciplining. If a society, that’s what they believed in, had to be changed completely, you’d have to start where the individual suffers, be it from deprivation of all possible sorts, from the constraint and the compulsion to work, to produce and to consume. The imperatives were: Experiment! Reject! Intervene! Believe in the reality of your dreams! There’s a world beyond labor and all the useless shit you’re supposed to believe and follow.
Although the “Autonomia Operaia” produced a large number of pamphlets and had many followers all over Europe (notably Switzerland!), the history and short-time relevance of this movement is still largely unknown to most (after all, today’s world is exactly the opposite, with the idolatry of labor as a means to individual and collective salvation and the strong mass consent that supports this view point).
Although this short and totally simplistic sketch of mine is very simplistic and not overly accurate in details, you maybe still can see why the ideology (if you really can call it such) of the “Autonomia Operaio” offered many compatibilities with the radical sectors within the earlier Punk movements. The idea of self-organisation, the rejection of regular life forms and the powerful, vitalistic promise of what you could call a wild hedonism attracted a lot of young people, especially in Italy.

The lads of PEGGIO PUNX seemed to be among them. I don’t know much about the connections of PP to the AO, and I guess the links were merely of an idealistic nature (sympathyzing with operaism), but still I would love to learn moe about that. From what I understand, PEGGIO PUNX were a bit isolated in the Hardcore scene due to their political standpoints. If somebody has more on this, please please share. Also if my italian and english speaking readers would care to translate the statement on the inside of this sleeve, so that I could quote it here, that’ be much appreciated.
“La Citta e quieta … ombre parlano” [misspelled on the label, if you noticed] means: “The city is quiet …. the shadows are talking”. “Linea diritta” (“Straight Line” – not, not Straight Edge!) is the hit here, but all songs are just wonderful. The drumming in “Solitudine” is soooo great – in its own way. These sounds! If “La mia Vita” doesn’t get you on your feet, jumping around and doing anti-labor gestures, then you’re probably as dead as Punk.
Musically, PEGGIO PUNX were one of a kind. Even calling this Hardcore Punk is adventurous. It has the drive, the energy of it, of course, but it lacks so many of its key elements. This is not “moshable”, not cool, not macho, nothing to build a mass movement upon. It’s, that’s how I see and hear it, just a very personal way of creating the music you always wanted to hear. Not more, not less. It may not stand the test of time and it will probably always be the kind of music, band for people that seek not quick satisfaction and superficial idiocy (of which this kind of music has a lot to offer). These songs are a statement of fragility, of sensibility and maybe of resignation too. Hats off to the fine people who produced this music, I’m forever in your debt for this.

Here is the first PEGGIO PUNX EP and the followup to this one here, a quite diverse 12″EP, shall soon follow on this program, here on mongo history channel.

Guerra.mp3
Noia.mp3
Linea diritta.mp3
Solitudine.mp3
La mia Vita.mp3
Credi di …mp3

19 Comments

  1. laguardia

    “wild hedonism” as one of the main promises: fantastic! so many things I learn from this blog. the whole 77-connection sounds so interesing. are there books or movies about these things?

    never “understood” peggio punx music. too thin for me.

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    It’s about being “thin”!

    Concerning books & movies about – well about what exactly? Generally, I feel that most (if not all) books about punk or metal of the 70s and 80s are mere collections (and creations) of memories. A true “invention of tradition” is in the process of “writing history” at the moment.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 01-May-11 at 17:10 | Permalink
  2. Tim

    This was a great write up. Great timing too, as I have been listening to Peggio Punx nonstop the last two weeks. I have been wondering about the people who made the music, so the write up is much appreciated. Happy May Day.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 01-May-11 at 17:44 | Permalink
  3. seggiosoggio

    FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope the guys of the band sees this and explan the historia of the band. I seen them live many time in 1982-1984.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 01-May-11 at 19:58 | Permalink
  4. Adamski

    I used to have an LP of theirs (I think they had reformed in the late 80’s /early 90’s) & I remember the photo on the back had the guitarist wearing an IRA t-shirt. I hate the glorification of murderers, so that put them at a disadvantage before I even listened to the LP. I needn’t have worried – the record sucked big time.
    The 7″s are a different matter.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 13:27 | Permalink
  5. fernando

    Hi!
    The statement. My Italian isn’t perfect so there could be mistakes…

    “…TRY TO IMAGINE A LIFE THAT’S A BIT DIFFERENT…
    You must go ahead even if rage is killing you and your thoughts aren’t yours anymore but they spring from life’s meanness.
    You must go ahead even if they step on you every day and your life, full of hate, annihilates your personality.
    You must go ahead even if it would have been easier for you to mirror yourself through the needle of a syringe or getting unsober with beer and glue, but you know, beyond the wall nothing’s waiting for you. Ahead you must go so that your freedom sparks in [front of] the false eyes of violence, of war, of tyranny. Ahead you must go so that your personality never does bow under other man but, instead, only you smile at the time that passes by. You must go ahead even if the hands of the idiots have a grip on your heart and your freedom is raped every day, imprisoned by uranium bars. You must go ahead before your hands are full of nothing and your life is cancelled with a skrew’s turn.
    The walls of our old world are now rotten, so break and destroy and never look at the ashes.
    Freedom, personailty will be your new human being consciousness. Only whenever all of us will be side by side accepting us for what we are and not for what we represent, only in that moment we will be able to smile, because we will have learned how to live, learned how to die… P.P.”

    Last part is about the recording conditions of the EP (proud to do it mono, etc.)

    Saludos,

    Fernando :)

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Grazie Fernando and nice having you back!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 14:01 | Permalink
  6. fernando

    …and now to the (as usual) interesting writing…
    About the Peggio Punx, well, I think their formation dates from 1981 not 1982. At least there’s a demotape from 1981-82 (or said so) in their discography 2xCD. Apparently they had some Oi! tendencies in the beginning, which show on their early sound and in their covers “Youth” (Blitz) and “Scemo” (Evil, 4 Skins).

    It’d be great to find a good story of the band. The Italian article in the wikipedia is a let down… There, they talk about the Autonomia Operaia connection too. But I don’t know. I have a feeling that the early 80s Italiank punk bands tried to break with the 70’s rebels. Like RAF Punk singing “Freak? No grazie”, the “freaks” being the descendants (sort of) or what was left of the autonomists at the end of the decade. Well, I don’t really know anyway, there’s not much info about this evolution. I was always intrigued by an old “Penetración” zine article on punk in the world stating that the punk scene in Italy had ties with the so called “Indiani Metropolitani” but never got to learn much about those “Indians”…

    About the retro punk pun, well, that hits the nail on the head as for MTV punk goes but there’s a strong retropunk chic as well centered on politics and squats and trying to repeat the old slogans over and over, with loads of ramifications… Blurry it might be but harmless… oh well

    Saludos :D

    [Reply]

    justin Reply:

    Nice to see your mind in action again, stranger.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 14:19 | Permalink
  7. fernando

    …oh, and about labour’s day… Yes, the right not to work! I second that emotion! :D “Work work work” by MDC is the hymn here. Still in my teens I was happy to read Paul Lafargue’s book “The right to idleness” or whatever its called in English. Lafargue married to Marx’s daughter and old Kärlchen was not too happy with his son-in-law’s heterodoxies…
    More saludos

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 14:27 | Permalink
  8. howardx

    another winner, ive never really liked these guys but the writeup here makes me want to give them another chance which, really, should be the point.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 16:38 | Permalink
  9. Obama1 Osama0

    What a great day! First the killing of Binladin and second I downloaded this band (totally new to me). Amazing! The first Ep is even better!!!! And the writeup is pure GBM: Simply the best around.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-May-11 at 19:46 | Permalink
  10. ian

    great stuff as ever – nice to have the context behind the music. I always liked the fumbly/clumsy kind of feel of this ep – yeah, no macho posturing here! Recall a number came on clear vinyl as well.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 04:00 | Permalink
  11. marco

    Hi the link about punx- Autonomia Operaia is very strange. Some book in italian talk about this. At the begin the punx are not accepted by Autonomia Operaia because the look are very important ( black dress like fascist or badge like svastica). After a couple of year the situation change because the punx are accepted by anarchy movement remember Virus in Milano is born in anarchy squat, RAF punk from Bologna based at anarchy center at Cassero. I suggest book Lumi di punk written by Filopat free avalaible at site AgenziaX.it but it’s in Italian.
    About Peggio punk is on my top ten, very good music and lyrics.

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Ciao Marco – that’s the source I’ve heard about the connection between PP and AO. I would really love to hear more about this. So how was it for you guys then – did you ever, from your side, relate in any way to the 70s movement or was Punk and Hardcore a way to build something new, something out of the super-political, super-militant circles?

    [Reply]

    marco Reply:

    In 1980 I have 10 years and I miss the situation. I’m involved in hc- punk from 1983 and later in some anarchy group. After Virus end some punk organized concert at Leoncavallo (a autonomy squat) and change the history of italian CSA( Centri Sociali Occupati) because Leaoncavallo is a example for many italian squat but inside this movement there are many difference between a anarchy and autonomy CSA. But this is another story. From my point of view I goes to Leoncavallo or anarchy center to see punk gig, and music is a good way to erase difference.
    Your question is good but every kids can reply in different way. The italian hc-punk movement influence many kids involved in the generic “movement” in dfferent way from website, writing, music or life, ecc

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Oh, I thought you were older, like the Kina guys or so. Now you’re even younger than I am. Lucky boy!

    [Reply]

    Vandalo Reply:

    I agree with most of the things that Marco wrote.
    To add something, actually one of the PP members was in an Autonomia collective (Marco, the guitar player, if i remember right), but as a band they played anarchist and autonomist squats.
    They started in 1981 as Peggio Punx, chenged the name to Peggio with the 12″ in 1989 and quit few years later. Some members formed another band called Codex in the early 90’s that played a bunch of gigs and that’s it!
    About the political part: I won’t start an argument about all the communist groups that was active in the late 70’s – early 80’s in Italy (it’s too difficult and i’ll probably irritate some old long bearded hippie!), but PP were connected to “Autonomia” more than “Autonomia Operaia”. Pretty much the same thing, but more oriented to students, young people without work, etc.
    A bit similar to the german “Autonomen” movement.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 08:32 | Permalink
  12. Pär Arvidsson

    I love this as I love all (most) the stuff from Italy that you have put up here. Great as always.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 19:02 | Permalink
  13. Easily on my Top 5 italian punk/hc records. One of the very few italian records I’ve kept. Can’t understand why these guys aren’t more talked about then let’s say Wretched or Raw Power. Together with I Refuse It this is what Italian HC sounds to me.

    Has to be one of your best post to date. Top notch writing coupled with a top notch record. Gracias!

    PS. I miss the first EP. Post it!

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Grazias, Pedro! Can’t you see the link?

    [Reply]

    My penis is small Reply:

    WTF! And I also commented on it. I hate being a father it makes your already small penis even smaller.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 19:58 | Permalink
  14. Nice read, mongo history channel indeed. With a sophisticated mind like yours it’s no wonder the ladies don’t mind your hairy butt. :-) Peggio Punx are like the Butthole Surfers in a way that they were part of a different music scene in general and yet they were different from that norm. Thanx as always Signore Keller.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 20:56 | Permalink
  15. jubilee

    this posting is another example for why we’ll never let you end this blog :-)

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 21:08 | Permalink
  16. René S.

    “The imperatives were: Experiment! Reject! Intervene! Believe in the reality of your dreams! There’s a world beyond labor and all the useless shit you’re supposed to believe and follow.”

    your rhetoric talent sometimes scares me.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-May-11 at 21:29 | Permalink
  17. matthew

    always thought the vocals sounded like if doc dart from crucifucks sang in italian while trying to swallow a bunch of gravel.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 04-May-11 at 13:40 | Permalink
  18. Volpe

    Like Marco said hardcore in italy wasn’t punk, for the most was direct action (or direct talking), so people from autonomia operaia stopped beating up punks and sometimes started connections, in my town that old & idealistic movement leaves a great squat, still hardly going on in a complete desert land, yes now that conditions of young workers are really getting worse everyday that’s nothing in sight like these ”Experiment! Reject! Intervene!” claims, just you and the deep shit you’r in. cheers

    [Reply]

    Posted on 04-May-11 at 17:00 | Permalink
  19. Tim

    RAAAAW POOOOOOWWWEEERRRR !!!!!!!!!!!

    TA!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 09-May-11 at 18:53 | Permalink

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