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Attila The Stockbroker

Ranting oi!/punk-poet turned folk-bard, ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER (born John Baine, 21st October 1957 in Southwick, West Sussex) flirted between the two genres (and more) from his halcyon days of the 80s to more recent times.
After initially training to be a real stockbroker, the lure of the music biz proved too much and Baine set himself up as a performance poet (fiddler and mandolinist) under the pseudonym ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER. Brief stints in obscure Gravesend-based punk band, English Disease (and Brighton Riot Squad), ensued, as he enjoyed another fleeting position with Belgian band Contingent (released one single in 1979: `Police Control’).
Following on from a John Peel session, ATTILA secured a deal with independent label Cherry Red, who issued a belated debut album RANTING AT THE NATION {*7} in 1983. Tracks included ditties from his earlier “ranting” EPs (including `A Bang & A Wimpy [burger]’) and if one was partial to songs about Russians, England, Albania and a variety of fish, this set would be your cup of char. Described as the alternative Les Dawson, his ranting was a light refreshment to the “oi” music around him as he took up where JOHN COOPER CLARKE left off. Shot through with typically barbed humour, his state-of-the-nation commentaries were well observed if something of an acquired taste. Critical opinion wasn’t exactly in his favour and perhaps as a result, ATTILA was increasingly developing the musical aspect of his work.
Moving on from the sparse mandolin backing which had accompanied his earlier work, the release of SAWDUST AND EMPIRE (1984) {*7} found the man moving in folkier circles alongside the likes of fellow erstwhile punk and general space cadet JOHN OTWAY; tracks such as the minstrel-like `March Of The Levellers’ (an instrumental!) pre-dated NEW MODEL ARMY’s brash take of other Roundheads’ historical times, while Baine and his motley crew of two female backers excelled on the title track. The fact that he collaborated with said OTWAY (wot no BARRETT) on CHERYL – A ROCK OPERA (1991) {*6} was of true “Headbutts & Halibuts” legend.
With other titles like LIBYAN STUDENTS FROM HELL (1987) {*5} and SCORNFLAKES (also a book! in 1988) {*6}, you knew what to expect from this decidedly un-PC performer. Combining punk-rock and maniacal medieval nights in mid-90s outfit Barnstormer, ATTILA’s now surpassed the 3,500 gig-a-mark, while he’s also celebrated thirty years in the trade. One just has to browse at his expanding discography to find where he’s at in today’s world; not many outsiders would’ve recognised (with respect!) the baldy bard in his one-off appearance for his football team (Brighton & Hove Albion as Seagulls Ska) in their greatest achievement of 2005: the Top 20 chartbuster `Tom Hark (We Want Falmer)’.
Among ATILLA’s several books of poetry, his autobiography `Arguments Yard’ was published in 2015.
© MC Strong 1999-2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Oct2013-Feb2017

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