Spies, Lies and Melted Mars Bars

Stephen Irvine, 04 October 2012

I’ll begin by asking you to step back into 1967 with me, dear readers – the year in which the police conducted a now infamous raid on Keith Richards’ Redlands estate. Picture stunned Bobbies bursting in to find members of The Rolling Stones in possession of naughty substances, and Mick Jagger in the act of eating a Mars bar out of Marianne Faithfull’s front bottom. What’s most upsetting about this yarn is not that the Mars bar bit was made up by the rozzers – it’s the truth behind what they were doing there in the first place.

Included in a new biography Mick Jagger by Philip Norman, released this week, is the revelation that the Redlands raid was in fact an MI5 plot to bring the Stones down by ensuring that they would be denied US visas due to drug charges, before inevitably fading into obscurity having failed to have any impact across the pond. The reason? A fear of their corrupting influence on the youth of the day, and all to be achieved by cutting a deal with an American drifter called ‘Acid King Dave’ whose own drug charges would be ignored if he agreed to do the dirty on Mick and the lads having supplied them with his wares.

Long hair, snaky hips and songs such as Let’s Spend the Night Together simply wouldn’t do, and with MI5 drawing up dystopian blueprints of the bland, identikit, talentless drones that they would like to be the forerunners of popular culture, the wheels were in motion with regards bringing the band to its knees. It’s amazing to think that the powers that be considered such brilliant stories would make them less popular, and compared to what we are faced with today, it’s downright laughable. I mean, if you had the choice of smoking a spliff with Keith Richards and being served a Mars Bar hands-free by a young Marianne Faithfull or singing karaoke in front of Gary Barlow, which one would you go for? I know which way I’d be leaning, and it would definitely be in the direction of Marianne’s futon…

It is simply unimaginable to anybody living in this sterilised, franchised, soulless era that any artist’s influence could be considered so benign that MI5 would actually plot to destroy them, and if they were to bring down an interesting, edgy and controversial artist of today, who would they go for? Lady Gaga I suppose – and if that doesn’t make you want to cry, you don’t deserve the gift of life. Down the years the secret services have (probably) murdered the likes of Keith Moon, Ian Curtis, Bill Hicks, Tupac and Biggie, all while allowing Paul McCartney to live, and they’ve done a real number on us all.

Now the prevailing culture is this nasty, talent competition one, where we listen to a girl-next-door sing a cover of something shit in front of a panel of the most risible scum you could imagine, before blubbing her way through a sob story about her ‘journey’ to Dermot O’Leary, waiting in the wings and surely on the brink of suicide with his ‘career’ reduced to this. As the last truly exciting band warned us all the way back in 1992; ‘Sleeping gas, every home was like Alcatraz /And mutha fuckas lost their minds

Zack de la Rocha’s lyrics speak great truths about the prime time slime pumped into people’s minds, and now so entrenched is the anti-originality mind-set that artistic credibility no longer seems important to anybody. You’d have to say it’s a job well done by The Ministry of Truth, and as John Updike said, ‘what art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit’ – the flip-side of which is today’s gameshow anti-art, and therefore the spirit and creative thinking of the masses is controlled and placated.

That’s all from me anyway, I’m off to meet a bloke called ‘Speedy Jim,’ then to the cash and carry for a box of Mars bars – I’m expecting company this evening…