It seems a little trite to claim that music can cause a massive shift in the way that you live your life, but in all honesty it was (along with a few other tunes) the song by Conflict ‘Tough Shit Mickey’ that really prompted me into giving up meat and exploded my awareness of animal rights issues. It ranks up there with ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ by the Levellers as one of the few songs that genuinely made me see the world in a different light. A worse light, but it made me a better person, or so I like to think.
‘Tough Shit Mickey’ is merely one track from Conflict’s second release proper, ‘Increase the Pressure’. If you were looking for a defining statement as to what anarcho-punk was – and in my opinion, what punk rock can be at its very best – then this would have to be the record. Seven tracks of articulate punk fury that completely defines the genre, I simply never tire of this fantastic record. Uncompromisingly political, singer Colin Jerwood kicks things off on the title track with the immortal lines “Never mind the bullshit, here’s the facts” before smacking you about the face with seven songs dealing with political oppression, the infighting of the left, police brutality and animal rights. It’s breathtaking and does exactly what political punk should do – it makes you want to get up off your arse and do something.
I’ll be coming back to Conflict a few times in this series, but this remains the defining statement. Far more listenable than Crass, they remain the greatest punk band the UK ever produced, and are utterly essential for anyone interested in political punk music.