Saturday, 29 January 2011

From the Top Drawer III - Treatment

I first went to the Stonehenge Festival in June 1983 - some friends had managed to get along the year before but I had at that time been laid up with a broken leg. I stayed for about a week that year, arriving a few days before the main event of the Summer Solstice and leaving a few days later. The next year I stayed for longer. I was amazed at the size of the festival (at its height in June 1984 it was reckoned that somewhere around 40,000 people had spent time there) and the co-operative spirit that allowed stages, tents and cafes to be set up and operated quite efficiently, both feeding and entertaining everyone. Sure, supplies had to be paid or traded for, but the entertainment was free. Just sitting around watching the various types pass by was entertainment in itself...

People came and went, leaving the site to get supplies in the local towns, go for a swim in the nearby river (wow, was it hot in '84!) or even go home for a few days to return later on - since it ran for the whole month of June, it was quite possible to do that. A couple of bored-looking coppers in shirtsleeves stood near the gate of the site within earshot of people loudly advertising their wares, and 'anarchy', that bugbear of Middle England and the authorities, reigned supreme. Anarchy for a whole month, proving that people can exist together, self police and (dis)organize themselves quite happily and efficiently. Whether something of this size could have lasted longer than a month or could have been carried into an urban environment remains to be seen. Of course the next year Thatcher and her cronies saw fit to put an end to these festivities, harassing the Peace Convoy which was making its way to take the site on June 1st, resulting in the atrocities collectively known as the Battle of the Beanfield, which has passed into legend (along with the repression of the miners during the same time) as one of the most infamous episodes of state violence in the UK.

Although I was to see them many times in London in later years, I don't think I ever caught Treatment playing at 'Henge (not knowingly anyway) and this tape was recorded in 1981/82 before I ever got there. It captures the typical atmosphere of generator-powered buzzing PAs and equipment set up either on the grass or on a proper stage if you got lucky and booked a slot to play. Bands played whenever they felt like it, during the day for a more mellow set perhaps, or more intensely at night, often at a makeshift site between the tents where they were camped. Someone might be cooking and selling hot food nearby, and as you lay on the ground or danced under the stars, the aroma of veggie curries might be smelt, triggering an attack of the mmmunchies...

Treatment live at Club Dog, Wood Green, London 29.05.1987

Treatment's strengths lay in their musicianship, often swapping instruments and vocal roles during a set, and their ability to cycle through various moods during the course of a set or even the same song. The range of styles they covered was broad, from punky thrashes to spaced out drifting acid washes, often with an edgy challenging vibe and lyrics with a homespun philosophical bent.

Here's their tape of live stuff from Stonehenge in 1981 & 1982

Titles & credits are listed in the pics above (Bob's coughing is truly world class) and it's been ripped as two side-long tracks @320kbps.

Download HERE


  1. Went to every one of the festivals. Man, it was beautiful. I was into every aspect of it you could think of. Your description alone has given me a severe case of nostalgia. Point of interest,I wanted to go last year for the summer solstice 2012 as I heard things were happening there. Purely by chance my mate was on a round visit to Wales that day so I got to go, arriving about 4pm. Ushered into the car park a clear mile away from the stones by dayglo stewards, pointed to the stones by 'organizers' down a single lane where you had to stop at a checkpoint and have your bags and pockets searched by the police and walk past a sniffer dog, past the corporate burger bars charging the usual extortion rates then onto the stones were you could rub shoulders with more stewards making sure you didn't light a fire, pissed up idiots who took to the booze because nothing nicer was allowed, bemused tourists and patrolling cops. The usual wafty druids in the middle of the stones commandeering the event and burbling nonsense from a plastic hippy all unseeable thanks to the aforesaid tourists. And no music! It was a f...... parody of a festival and no way will I ever be going again.
    Sorry this wasn't about Treatment - Who are amazing.

  2. Hello Mick and thank you for passing on your observations of what goes on at the Henge these days. Not being as fan of 'liberty' (where some dubious 'authority' grants you the right to do something that is your natural right anyway) versus natural freedoms that are Creator-given and your birthright, I haven't felt attracted to going back to the Stones on the Solstices since the Festivals, even after they were opened up again in recent years.

    Reading your account, I think I've made the right decision. But hey, everything goes in cycles and there's no reason to think that such celebrations as the free festivals may not re-emerge when the time is right.

  3. Possibly but would take a great deal of effort in the face of adversity. You certainly made the right choice.
    I have only just discovered your site after looking for this kind of music for a long, long time. Great stuff here. Will you be putting up any more music, Zuvuya possibly? The only things I have to offer you are a couple of Moshka tapes. I have plenty of music on my HD but no idea how to upload them. I'm available on Facebook under the same name. Cheers! :)

  4. Hi Mick, I've nearly come to the end of my own personal stash of tapes, but I'm tapping into a new source that could be rewarding - in the light of this I'll see what I can do to accomodate any requests.