I’m pleased to have a reason to call attention to the Sheffield Tape Archive, an absolutely unbeatable resource helping to preserve an essential part of our collective musical heritage. As they describe it, the archive’s purpose is to house “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities.”
One of the more intriguing acts featured in the Sheffield Tape Archive existed only very briefly, never put out an album, and their only live dates were before 1980. They were called Molodoy, and they had a terrific gimmick: The entire band was an extended homage to the joint artistic labors of Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of course having most memorably adapted the former’s unsettling bestseller A Clockwork Orange. Not much is known about this band today, but I’m willing to bet that one rejected name for the band was Alex and the Droogs.
The group’s singer, Garry Warburton, unmistakably played the role of Alex, complete with facepaint incorporating the book’s signature gear/eye motif (as you can see above) that also references the extravagant eyelash makeup worn by Malcolm McDowell in the movie.
The name, Molodoy, comes from the book, which is told in an invention of Burgess’ called “Nadsat,” a type of youth slang that is replete with Russian-derived colloquialisms—the best-known term is “horrorshow,” which is a reformulation of khorosho, the Russian word for “good.” The term molodoy, meaning “young,” pops up early in Burgess’ novel:
I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, my gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”
Molodoy unfortunately didn’t leave much trace behind. I was able to find an account of a Cabaret Voltaire gig at Sheffield’s Limit Club from the summer of 1978 at which Molodoy also played. The writer, whose name I was not able to ascertain, seems to have found them more than a little intimidating:
Molodoy follow. This is the band the skinheads have come to see. The singer is dressed in full Clockwork Orange droog uniform: black bowler hat, eye make-up, white shirt and trousers, black boots and braces. Real horrowshow.
“This one’s called ‘Children Of The Third Reich’”.
The lyrics flirt with fascism. The music is taut, dense and sexless. He’s watchable in a detestable kind of way. The skins push each other around, there is argy, but thankfully no bargy. The rest of us look on, mute. We are either young, liberal-minded types who think everyone is entitled to their own point of view, or we are collectively shit scared of getting a 14 eye oxblood Dr. Martens boot to the head. Molodoy continue to thrash and thrum, we the audience opt to keep schtum.
To perform in a rock group dressed as a Droog in 70s Britain was to, obviously, assume the mantle not just of “ultra-violence,” but of sexual violence as well. After Fleet Street blamed the film for inspiring a gang rape in which the attackers sang “Singin’ in the Rain” as “Singin’ in the Rape” and A Clockwork Orange was linked to several sensational murders, Kubrick’s film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the director’s request. No wonder the bootboys came out in force for Molodoy.
The Sheffield Tape Archive has made available a six-song demo, which they reckon emanates from 1977. I found the songs quite good, occasionally hitting a Wire-ish groove. One of the songs is Kander and Ebb’s memorable number from Cabaret, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” which is chilling but also makes a dandy little punk tune.
Warburton and drummer Bob Snell couldn’t get provocative World War II themes out of their heads, it seems—their next project was called Dachau Choir.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘A Clockwork Orange’ trading cards