I love the chorus: "Run, run you government scum. The banks will fall; your time has come." Makes me feel like punk is on the march, instead of just the pointless internal feuds (at least that's most of where the energy seems to go here in the States, lately). We need more of this spirit.
Favorite track: Run Run.
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Download for free (Limited time only)includes the 20 page full colour lyric booklet, a poster and a logo page to print out on to iron on patches
They were the band who bridged the gaps between the Sex Pistols, X-Ray Spex, and Crass.
Tyler Ville, Punk Globe
Constructed around the enduring nucleus of Sid Truelove and Zillah Minx, Rubella Ballet formed at a gig in 1979 when Crass
invited their audience to use their equipment. Having been drawn to the punk movement during its initial stirrings in 1976, Zillah and Sid became increasingly committed to its lifestyle alternatives, taking up residence at a large commune that included the Poison Girls, located near to Crass’ Dial House headquarters. The newly formed group took to the road with Crass and the Poison Girls, quickly establishing a unique niche and standing out from the multitudes in black combat wear with their vibrant visual image. Always looking beyond the anarcho scene’s encroaching orthodoxy, Rubella Ballet assembled a diverse range of material that encompassed all points from perky to doomy, with lyrics that juxtaposed protest and dissent against more impressionistic themes.
Having made an immediate impact with their groundbreaking ‘Ballet Bag’ cassette pack, recorded in 1981, Rubella Ballet gigged heavily, presenting a celebratory spectacle of ultraviolet defiance that was driven relentlessly onward by Sid’s mighty tribal rhythms and given context by Zillah’s siren-song vocals. Pulsating with energy and colour, the group burst forth from the then-ubiquitous shadow of Crass to headline their own shows and transcend narrow genre definitions. Given the band’s singular nature, it was hardly surprising that they soon came to the attention of legendary DJ John Peel who commissioned the first of two sessions from the band, a five-track set that aired in July 1982.
The summer saw Rubella Ballet’s vinyl debut, the four-track Ballet Bag EP, which emerged to considerable critical acclaim and subsequently topped the then-influential Independent Chart, necessitating a second pressing. This success attracted the attention of some major labels, which the group dismissed in favour of retaining their independence. After recording a second John Peel Session in January 1983, they supported Death Cult on their nationwide tour, their genre-spanning sound and image appealing to the large goth and post-punk audiences. Rubella Ballet’s inclusive ethos not only transcended the established boundaries of youth culture, but also became evident in the support and assistance they offered a wide range of newly formed bands including Ritual, Sex Gang Children, Ausgang, the Skeletal Family and 1919. This period also saw Rubella Ballet appear regularly across the music press with high profile features in magazines such as NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, Zigzag and Punk Lives. True to their principles, the group contributed heavily to the burgeoning DIY fanzine culture, helping raise the profile of a multitude of photocopied publications with their approachability and readiness to be interviewed.
In addition to the group undertaking their first European tours, 1984 saw the release of their first twelve-inch single ‘42°F’, released on the Jungle label in April. Indicative of their expanding creative horizons alongside an assuredness developed through constant gigging, the single appealed to a wide-cross section of alternative cultures and again hit the Independent Top Ten. Weary of the atavism that existed even within the independent music scene, Rubella Ballet’s next releases – 1985’s long awaited At Last It’s Playtime LP and the non-album ‘Money Talks’ twelve-inch would be issued on their own Ubiquitous label. As well as bringing their riot of day-glo energy to pubs the length and breadth of Britain courtesy of the developing trend for video jukeboxes, establishing their own label would see the group embark upon their most prolific period of recording. Their increased profile led to an enthusiastically received first American tour, with both Playtime and ‘Money Talks’ topping the KXLU Radio Chart in Los Angeles.
Rubella Ballet’s third twelve-inch single, ‘Arctic Flowers’ followed shortly after, while their second full length vinyl set, If – considered by many to be the group’s finest release to date – hit the streets less than a year after their debut album. 1987 saw the group re-energize their back catalogue with the Cocktail Mix LP, before the live double album The Ballet’s Birthday Box captured their live power with tracks recorded at their 7th Anniversary Show at London’s Savoy Ballroom, alongside material recorded on their first US tour. At The End of the Rainbow, an album bringing together a selection of the band’s back catalogue, emerged on the One Little Indian/Brave imprint in 1990.
After embracing the nascent rave culture as Xenophobia, Sid and Zillah reactivated Rubella Ballet at the end of the decade to embark on a long series of celebratory live shows that would see them traverse the UK and Europe throughout the next ten years, including appearances at the popular annual Rebellion Festival. The warmth that greeted the band provided testament to their legacy; a lifetime spent in pursuit of individual freedom and creative expression in defiance of a society that seeks to monitor, exploit and oppress. In 2008, the earlier corpus of the band’s back catalogue was released by Overground Records as the Anarchy In The UV compilation, with subsequent material being collected on Never Mind The Day-Glo, issued by the same label two years later.
Recent gigs have shown that their power continues undiminished, with an original, atmospheric black UV light show and performances that continues to defy stereotypes. Their songs that have politically and ethically more than stood the test of time, showing how groundbreaking and ahead of the curve Rubella Ballet’s stage show, music and ideas really were.
Further evidence of Rubella Ballet’s enduring impact came from acclaimed British fashion designer Louise Gray, who acknowledged Zillah’s influence upon her work: “She was one of the originators of punk in London,” Louise asserts. “She wore colours and ultra-violet paint to make her clothes and sets for gigs, so everything was illuminated – I love her!” Another aspect of Zillah’s range of talents became evident in 2010 with the release of the She’s A Punk Rocker documentary, which she devised and directed.
Now, 35 years on from their inception, Rubella Ballet have issued Planet Punk – their first album of new material for over 25 years. Already, lauded as the group’s crowning achievement, it is quite evidently a labour of love, and that love shines through – a beacon of positivity illuminating the multilayered mists of lies, disinformation and obfuscation. “The overriding message of the album is not to believe everything you hear on the news, or read in the newspapers – as the very same people we are protesting against are those compiling the news” explains Sid.
Throughout Planet Punk, both the medium and its message are rendered with skill and passion to produce an album that equals, and in some respects exceeds, the best of Rubella Ballet’s back catalogue. In particular, Sid’s abilities as a multi-instrumentalist and producer are made manifest, while Zillah’s vocals display impressive authority across several of the disc’s 15 tracks. Providing a neon-lit route map of post-millennial oppression and exploitation, the album hits its lyrical targets with precision.
Planet Punk also contains highly motivated and political songs about a variety of subjects including the Illuminati, government brainwashing, the New World Order agenda, global corruption, the creation of new strains of flu virus to reduce the human population. It covers issues such as what really happened during 9/11 to atrocities that have taken place closer to home, including the police cover up of the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster. Whatever expectations you may have about this album, be prepared to have them both confounded and surpassed. ‘Planet Punk’ is not only a superb summation of everything that made Rubella Ballet unique but also takes the group into new, exciting realms. Explore with them.
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A repressing of the LP Planet Punk on limited splatter colour vinyl, matt cover and comes with a free download of three extra tracks including a 20 page lyric booklet.
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Includes unlimited streaming of PLANET PUNK
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Here, both the medium and its message are rendered with skill and passion to produce an album that equals, and in some respects exceeds, the best of Rubella Ballet’s back catalogue. In particular, Sid’s abilities as a multi-instrumentalist and producer are made manifest, while Zillah’s vocals display impressive authority across several of ‘Planet Punk’s 15 tracks. Providing a neon-lit route map of post-millennial oppression and exploitation, the album hits its lyrical targets with precision. While the pedantic may decry Rubella Ballet’s evocation of the term ‘illuminati’, this is simply semantics: Illuminati, Babylon, the System, call it what you like – whichever way you cut it there are people out there whose prosperity depends upon our oppression and exploitation – and they mean to ensure it stays that way.
‘Planet Punk’ opens with its eponymous title track. A celebratory statement of identity and defiance that delineates a lifetime’s commitment to anarchy, peace and freedom across the backdrop of some genuinely visceral fuzz overload. ‘All Potential Terrorists’ uses sampled soundbites as part of a blistering sonic collage that seeks to expose the culture of media manipulation to which we are all subject. Here the layers of disinformation surrounding the 9/11 event are used to illustrate the kind of dynamic whereby considerable efforts have been made to ensure that the term ‘conspiracy theory’ becomes a synonym for fantasy – when the very idea that groups of individuals gather to conspire the fates of others is undeniably demonstrated by parliament buildings across the globe.
A techno-infused debunking of the banking crisis shell game, ‘Run Run’ is another track that is as rich in texture as it is in polemic intent. Exploring capitalism’s pride of place among the crippled pantheon of flawed ideologies that are presented as viable, it again exposes the media’s complicity in facilitating this particular global sting. ‘Killuminati’ detonates fat, jagged chunks of distorted guitar supported by jackhammer industrialisms to provide a sonic metaphor for the fury of the oppressed in the face of constant surveillance through apparently passive technologies. ‘Pandora’s Box’ moves its lyrical crosshairs to frame the manner in which the medical industries, while presented as benign, are a cornerstone of state control. Particularly prescient at a point in time when the Health Service is collecting and processing ever more data on those who fund it, the track showcases Zillah’s unique voice and provides more evidence of Rubella Ballet’s glorious unorthodoxy with a song that slithers hypnotically over its carefully constructed aural architecture. ‘Anonymous’ provides an understated summation of 21st century dissent; reflecting our nascent dystopia, while asserting that opposition is unstoppable so long as sufficient will exists to support it.
Based upon Sid’s bitter experiences during his treatment for leukaemia and myeloma, ‘Hellbilly Heroin’ juxtaposes churning ramalama punk against a description of the manner in which laws are used to enforce the prescription of certain treatments, while prohibiting others as a means of strengthening the bonds between government and commerce. Based upon a lyric initially written by Zillah during the 1980s, ‘Bio Hazard’ echoes the concepts found in ‘Killuminati’, exposing the wider ways in which technology is being used as a control mechanism. Glittering and transcendent, the song detonates into a savage guitar firestorm. The soaring, bass propelled ‘Silver Or Lead’ uses the example of CIA drug running to explore the roles played by secretive government agencies and the manipulation of those who are cowed into compliance while highlighting the self-evidently absurd promotion of violence as a solution for perceived ‘drug violence’.
Possibly the album’s standout track, ‘Wonderful Life’ essentially serves to expose the way in which governments ruin lives. An undeniable endorsement of the idea that by and large, we are all worse off for the existence of government, the song sees Sid generate solar winds of flange that are drawn into a superdense collision between processed analogue and digital sounds. While ‘You’ll Be Sorry’ demands a reckoning with clarity and punch, ‘Sedition’ recalls the industrial power of groups such as Ministry to expel its portentous urgency and white hot rage across superheated waves of thunderous guitar.
‘Victory For The Victims’ uses a bass driven narrative to drive a sonic collage detailing the police/media cover-up of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where 96 football supporters were killed during an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Effective and affecting, it again exposes the symbiotic relationship between those who govern and those who report upon that governance, and asks the always pertinent question: ‘who watches the watchmen?’ ‘Vampire Wedding’ extends the metaphor of a parasitic monarchy through the prism of a twisted nursery rhyme driven by unsettling subsonics, before ‘Starship Transporter’ closes the album by taking to the stars in search of freedom. With Zillah’s vocals at times reminiscent of Gilli Smyth, the track is a valedictory departure from the planet that explores the notion of transcending conditioning through personal discovery. While a six-minute slice of spacerock isn’t what you’d necessarily what you’d expect from Rubella Ballet, the song works within the context of an album that sets out the entire scope of Sid and Zillah’s idealism.
Whatever expectations you may have about this album, be prepared to have them both confounded and surpassed. ‘Planet Punk’ is not only a superb summation of everything that made Rubella Ballet unique but also takes the group into new, exciting realms. Explore with them.
Dick Porter -TrakMARX - March 27th, 2014
Rubella Ballet formed in 1979 and toured with Crass and Poison Girls. Sid Truelove and Zillah Minx original founding members
are still touring and have recently returned from tour the East/West coast of America following a short European tour. Recent LP's Planet Punk and Danger of Death
Orders are posted within 3 days of being placed. Postal services report no delays in deliveries during Covid 19...more
Ha! Subhumans very great band. i like so so much. This album is so good. i remember in 83 at Palikao in squat at Paris in live with D and V and "Berurier Noir" good french band...Excellent concert..
so for me Subhumans comme Crass, Dirt, flux, conflict....grands groupes.
vive l'alternative. No passaran! almadjinn