Rarely gaining the recognition as an innovative, intelligent singer/songwriter with a strong social conscience that his work deserves, Dick Lucas started his career as a teenager in anarcho-punks the Subhumans in the early '80s. During this initial period, it became clear that his lyrics and musical ambitions stretched beyond the usual punk rut. The 1983 mini-album Time Flies...But Aeroplanes Crash included the melancholy "Susan," a moving tale of a young girl resorting to suicide in order to escape the restrictions of conventional life. It was something most of the Subhumans' contemporaries would never have dreamed of attempting. With his own record label -- Bluurg -- now established within the alternative scene, Lucas moved on to the upbeat tempo of ska, mixed with reggae references and punk politics. The vehicle for this was Culture Shock, arguably the most interesting and entertaining underground band of the late '80s, providing welcome relief from the usual uniformity and drabness of so-called "political punk". With Culture Shock, Lucas produced three fine albums, the best of which was undoubtedly Onwards & Upwards. On this excellent collection, listeners were treated to lyrics on personal, emotional, and socio-political subjects without ever devolving into empty rhetoric or personal deification. The stand-out tracks, "You Are Not Alone" and "Don’t Worry About It," showed an extraordinary gift for tapping into the minds of isolated young listeners, marking Lucas as a Morrissey for the "crusty" generation. Lucas decided to start the '90s with a new project, named Citizen Fish, embracing his philosophy that anarchists and libertarians are free-flowing souls trapped by the rules of civilization. Free Souls in a Trapped Environment confirmed this stance, as Lucas struggled with the dilemma of expressing strong political views in an exciting way without losing the fun by being too rhetorical or burying the meaning with flippancy. A heavy dose of thrashing guitars/drums, offset by rootsy ska/dance tones, proved to be the perfect solution. The lyrics, of course, were as astute as ever: "Just to know that every up and down must balance out somehow/And there’s a smile to end a conversation that was full of frowns/And here’s a major chord to lift the minors up and dance around/And if the song seems far too long then tune in to another sound." Wider Than a Postcard continued the social theory and skanky music, while the music press, whenever they deigned to actually write about them, compared Citizen Fish with the much-vaunted Manic Street Preachers: "these are the real Generation Terrorists!"
Share this page