THE AFFLICTED / AFFLICTED MAN
Formed: Kent, England, UK
A one-band band comprising Steve Hall, a great guitarist who squatted around London, did loads of drugs - glue and heroin - and in the 1990's became a born again Christian, playing to prisoners. Presumably, the authorities felt that incarceration wasn't punishment enough. Anyway, his incredibly rare records feature an awesome variety of sounds, from straight-ahead punk to PiL-type dub noise to psychedelia, with Get Stoned Ezy (1982) a remarkable display of low-budget production and wild guitar freakouts, as Hall goes absolutely insane over three lengthy tracks. He also deserves credit for naming an album The Afflicted Man's Musical Bag, giving rise to a mass of confused punters mistaking it for a Some Bizarre compilation called An Afflicted Man's Musica Box. He later joined The Accursed, turning them into a decent band in the process.
THE PASSAGES IN ITALICS BELOW ARE FROM HERE
Hall formed The Afflicted in 1978 or 1979.
According to drummer Bill Frater: 'The original Afflicted was a very different animal. There were about seven people in it. Steve joined them and I helped out at a couple of gigs as they were having trouble with their drummer. They were signed to Deccca Records but nothing was ever released. I remember the bass player's name was Les and she was, Ha!"
Hall: "[The Afflicted"] had a bit of a political following that I don't really like to mention too much... a Nazi British Movement following. It was our fault a bit, because we got ourselves a following and we just thought 'let's run with this.' I guess we did that because we had no morals really, in one sense, and so we went down that road."
This Nazi following was no doubt because amongst their members were Nicky Crane and Glenn Bennet. According to drummer Bill Frater, "both [were] leader guards of the British Movement. Nick sang, Glenn played bass, though they never recorded anything. Unfortunately their involvement with the British Movement meant all of a sudden we have massive Nazi following. That's when we deciced to stop playing and we didn't play again until we made the 'Get Stoned Ezy' record".
As a result of that decision, The Afflicted were banned throughout London and a performance on John Peel's radio show saw them receive a deluge of complaints and "very bad press". Eventually Hall disbanded the group and became The Afflicted Man, a career move that saw no moral upturn; "We toured all around Holland gobbing and spitting at people," being Hall's clearest memory of the time.
In between 1980 and 1982 The Afflicted Man released some incredible records, quote unlike the other punk records of the day. This sums it up: "His songs’ reliance on repetition have as much to do with the limits of one man’s taste and abilities, along with the studio capabilities of the times, as any sort of applied aesthetics. A bare light bulb, a stack of mind-melting vinyl, a guitar and amp, a mattress, and a paint-splattered wooden floor are all the imagery his music affords. From a nearby window, nobody seemed to be looking out for our Steve, and he replies in kind, tape looped bass and unsteady drum tracks starkly bearing down on his effects-heavy, tin-shack blues. The resulting music is left with a miniaturized presence, like there’s no way to listen to it without feeling somewhat isolated from and towering over the product itself. Even when things start to sound a bit familiar, they carry a particular trail of individualism, usually involving a lengthy, substantial guitar solo loaded down with reverb and fuzz",
Frater: "All of our gigs were played in and around Deptford area, two pubs in particular, The Fountain and I can't remember the other, it was by the Albany Club and the Thomas a Beakett in the Old Kent Road. I made two albums and four singles with Steve, just him and me apart from a friend Billy Graham playing bass on a track on I'm Off Me 'Ead and on 'Get Stoned Ezy' . Paul; Mason played bass. All I can really remember about making Get Stoned Ezy is there was alot of people in the studio and Paul and me was drunk. Steve was never a drinker. We played live and made the album out of what we could salvage from the session. I remeber we was supposed to play at Guys Hospital, London Bridge. The organisers left us a barrel of beer for the band. Needless to say we got wrecked and never played".
The story seemed destined to end in tragedy, but it was at this point that God stepped in. "My brother was talking to a guy at the time," [Hall] recalls, "who was sharing to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked this bloke, 'Come on, how do you get this Jesus anyway?', in the kind of way that made it look like I didn't care. But deep down I was interested, because no one could help me out and I was desperate for help. He just said to me that Jesus could live in your heart. And I was riding up the road on the motorbike after that just saying, 'If you're there Jesus...' It was a matter, like it is for all of us, of just taking that first step, and once I had I'd never felt anything like it. I really felt God come into my heart and my life and that's what made me cry. It made me burst into tears, I just could not believe what was going on." Wisely he parked his bike before things got too emotional.
At this point, with Hall still involved in the punk scene with a new band, The Accursed, he felt the need for an entire change of scenery. It wasn't long before he realised that there was no chance that the two lives could co-exist. "At the end of the day I got born again," he says, matter-of-fact, "and I tried to witness to the rest of them, but they didn't want to know. Then I just felt God pulling me out. I played the 100 Club and I was looking across the audience, jumping all over the place, and I just thought, 'What am I doing here?' I came out of there and I didn't go back." Moments later, God began to hit Hall with heavy doses of grace and mercy. "After that I got married," he beams, "and we had three lovely daughters, one of whom, Anna, is one of the dancers in the band. Being saved took me away from the whole drugs scene and the punk music and I really came into Christianity in a full way. I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and started to do God's work. I got involved with the band and now here we are."
Singles / Albums
(7", as The Afflicted, 1979)
|All Right Boy
(7", as The Afflicted, 1979)
|The Afflicted Man's Musical Bag
(LP, as Afflicted Man, 1979)
|I'm Off Me 'Ead
(LP, as Afflicted Man, 1980)
|The Afflicted Man's New One
(7", as Afflicted Man, 1982)
|Get Stoned Ezy
(LP, as High Speed & The Afflicted Man, 1982)
|The Complete Recordings
(2xCD, as Afflicted Man, 2007)
Messthetics #5 UK '77-81 "D.I.Y" & DIY-Punk: "A" US CD-R (Hyped To Death): Who Can Tell