ebay diary: part four

decay of the angel NON 7″

Week 7: Whilst you have the Right to Kill, I must inform you that you are infringing my trademark

I was never a big collector of power electronics and have little to add to what is said by the anonymous author of Bang Out of Order. Noise is something which has always interested me, but even at the height of my fascination with sonic extremity I avoided immersing myself in the work of its muckiest exponents.

I saw Whitehouse at their “come back” gig in the back room of a south London pub in 1990. It was hugely loud and violent, but I didn’t feel the need to experience it again. It is perhaps indicative that the only Whitehouse record I have ever owned has been a fake one which was sent to me at the turn of the century. I’d filed it away after getting a mate to review it and only remembered its existence during a recent conversation with Martin. He assured me that power electronics fans were both rich and gullible enough to want it.

The record is allegedly a “cover version” of an unreleased Whitehouse track which was faked up by northern noise pranksters “Smell & Quim”. I once saw them do a gig with Headbutt and it was fucking bedlam with about 30 people on the stage going mental in various different ways. However I managed to find some speculation on the web saying that it was all the work of legendary Japanese noise-meister Merzbow, so I hyped that up in the auction instead.

It is a cliche that a lot of this stuff is more interesting to think and talk about than it is to actually hear. Next to the “Whitehouse” record was an early 7″ by NON and Smegma which is best known for having two holes drilled in the label to allow more variation in the sounds on the tracks. I recall playing that one at least once.

I also dug out a few fanzines which featured material by Whitehouse-related artist Trevor Brown. I still quite like his earlier stuff – all stark monochrome draftsman-like line drawings. Less keen on his later full-colour work featuring injured girls.

The only power electronics group I had any real knowledge of was The Grey Wolves. It seemed like every letter I received in the early 90s featured several of their tiny flyers. They did “bleak” very well, although after a while their endless parade of totalitarian imagery proved wearing.

What I liked best about them was that they seemed relatively down to earth people. As with Andy Martin of the Apostles/Academy 23 you could write to them and get nice letters back. There was a kind of proley punk aspect to what they were doing which was some distance from the aloof artiness of Whitehouse. Yes, they were named after a turkish fascist group and used runes, skulls and images of blokes with balaclavas and rifles more than was strictly necessary, but they at least were able to make unambiguous statements about not being fascists themselves. Maybe the years between me seeing this stuff and the satanic-nazi chic material of the mid-90s makes me look back on the Grey Wolves with rose-tinted specs, but I see more depth there.

I remember the music as being quite good as well, but their cassettes have long since been disposed of. One compilation album remained (including tracks by “names” Ramleh and Con-Dom) on it went.

I also found reams and reams of printed matter by ye Wolves. If I remember rightly one of them actually had a photocopier in his house which I found kind of amazing in the late 80s. Lots of booklets (mainly reprints of suitably bleak material from text books or tabloids) catalogues and posters.


A small auction of flyers and a letter from USA power electronics “unit” Intrinsic Action generated this entry on their blog: “borders on the disturbingly stalker-ish side of things… personal letters, and all…”. Disturbing the composers of “Sado Electronics” was something I found quite funny.

Intrinsic Action’s work has always been in the shadow of the godfathers of the genre, and this carried over onto ebay. It gave me enormous pleasure to receive the following just two days into the auctions:

Dear John Eden,

Thank you for your recent auction-style listing on eBay. Unfortunately, these items breached one or more of our policies and had to be removed from the site:

230098214766 – WHITEHOUSE (?) – Sweet Tooth / 5.57 7″ RARE MERZBOW

Your eBay fees for this item have been credited to your account and all bidders on this item have been notified of its removal.

The rights owner, Susan Lawly Recordings, notified eBay that this listing violates intellectual property rights. When eBay receives a report of this type of violation, we remove the listing to comply with the law.

Why was your listing removed?
Misuse of trademarks, brand names and logos is illegal and therefore against eBay policy. A trademark is a unique sign (such as a name, word, phrase, logo, or symbol) that a company uses to identify its products or services. Trademark misuse includes inappropriate comparisons to a branded item, selling counterfeit or replica items and keyword spamming.


The rights owner for the item you listed sent us a signed legal statement telling us that your item infringed their copyright, trademark or other rights. We were therefore legally obliged to remove the listing.

If you have any questions about the removal of your listing please contact the rights owners directly.

Please note: It’s illegal and against eBay’s policies to use a brand name as part of your listing to falsely imply connection between you and the brand owner, or a false sponsorship or endorsement of your listing by the brand owner.


We encourage you to contact Susan Lawly Recordings directly if you have any questions. You can send an email to:


I was initially a bit irked at this as my auction listing had made it pretty clear that it the item in question wasn’t by Whitehouse but was a “tribute” or cover version (I can’t recall which, and the listing has been removed).

Obviously William Bennett (head honcho and I assume only employee at Susan Lawly) has a duty to protect his trademark, as does any small-businessman. In fact, in the case of Whitehouse this is probably more important than for any other cult pop group. The reliance on mystique is paramount. It is a bit of a toss up though, whether the mystique is more damaged by piss-taking “tribute” records, or by Bennett spending his working day trawling through ebay for unofficial Whitehouse product.

Having said that, his intervention reminded me to register at the Susan Lawly discussion forum to hype the living daylights out of my remaining auctions, which lead to a very agreeable number of additional bids.

I certainly enjoyed the process of setting up ambiguous situations and seeing what the reactions are. A bit like power electronics, but without the godawful noise and shouting.

It made the actual monetary value of what I was flogging much less interesting.


  1. BTW — all of my stuff from this era went in the recycling / down the dump years ago, but then I wasn’t *distributing* it, so had less to deal with. Unless I’m paying to store vast swathes of it that I’ve forgotten about…

    So when are you going to start flogging your complete collection of PTV live albums?

  2. Unfortunately WB does have a tendency to spend vast amounts of time policing the web – myself and some American bloke were unceremoniously kicked off the Whitehouse Yahoo list many moons ago for bringing up Susan Lawly personnel’s ‘extra-curricular’ ventures like The Relationship Academy and, even funnier, the Boogie Bus.

    Strangely enough, copies of ‘Dedicated to Gripper Stebson’ managed to wriggle through eBay undetected….

  3. Pah! All that occulture never opened your third eye to the correct spelling of the surname of Grange Hill’s most infamous sadist and mass slayer. Truly the most violently repulsive childrens’ TV character ever conceived, we can only marvel at this excellent libertine’s firm grasp of the concept of Will to Power, deployed as a tool with which to bludgeon the weaklings who stood in his path. At least I’m sure it was Stebson – bet you the green PTV LP for a copy of “Franz Stangl RapeParty”

    The Boogie Bus was some Edinburgh-based venture involving Florence Detaille who works on the Susan Lawly mail order and business side (and assists with the ‘makeovers’ for the Relationship Academy’s self-image-boosting course) which seemed to involve ferrying people to 50s rock and roll weekend around the UK. The website’s not up anymore, actually the Academy seems to have disappeared too, or is just Google-proof at the moment.

  4. Funnily enough I always thought that whitehouse were rubbish.

    I like to think I added to John’s emerging political backbone in those days.

    BTW – re an earlier post – Wicca isn’t very arty-farty. I know I shouldn’t rise to this sort of bait, but there you go.

  5. Wicca! You mean you were at church, bored, singing “Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?” one day, and decided the tree had the worst deal and you’d prefer it if God was a woman! Having said that, don’t put the evil eye on me. I do wonder whatever happened to David Farrant’s White Wiccan Workers party though – no integration with Europe and transforming Enfield into a technology-free druid enclave.

  6. Sounds a bit like that ’60s Dr Who movie where a Bedfordshire ‘of the future’ was turned into miles of quarry, with humanity slaving away under the daleks. Did they have pre-cog or what?

  7. Sorry, it was Wicca Workers Party, not ‘White Wiccans’ (allegedly, I don’t know the full details)

  8. Not sure I recall the Dr Who in Bedfordshire episode, having grown up there I can say that the miles of nothingness riled by daleks is about right. There was also an epsiode of 1970s Sci-Fi series Space 1999 called the Rules of Luton. ‘The Moon has been sent out of Earth’s orbit and across space by a nuclear explosion. Humans from Moonbase Alpha land on the planet Luton, so named because the American producer saw the name on a road sign on the way to work. The planet Luton is inhabited by intelligent plants’ (google to find more)

  9. “When they are worth something.”
    Funniest reply ever! (because it’s true)

    The funniest bit is that if these nobodies came after you for “copyright infringement” imagine the hullabaloo his majesty GPO would cause if you tried selling something with “his symbol” on it. I guess you won’t have to worry about it for a while tho… last time I tried getting rid of some PTV stuff on eBay I couldn’t even get people to buy it for free.

  10. Ha ha – hold tight the Dr Who Bedfordshire crew! If you google Wicca Workers Party you get some mad stuff.

    Anathema – yeah I suspect there is a PhD thesis to be done on “wrongheaded trademark and copyright infringement in industrial music”. Actually I did just flog a couple of PTV things (more about which soon) but I think they just flooded the market in a way that other groups didn’t. Also they never really played the “limited edition” game properly.

  11. Whitehouse have never really worked once the mystique was broken -http://loki23.blogspot.com/2006/11/slut-meat-tales.html#comments – so i guess WB ought to give up the ghost, they never really worked once you saw a pic of him, grinning with him arms round steve stapleton or heathen pathak or whoever… though to be fair i have found that whitehouse makes an excellent contirbution to cycling to work, especially as a soundtrack to my continual war against the rabbit legions (long story – think Watership Down crossed with the opening credits of Teachers and a super-speed El Topo ) so perhaps they just need to rebrand or something…

    also i agree with the PTV not doing limited eds properly – you could always get those records in the Yeovil Our Price – nowhwre near the harcore record hunting required for whitehouse / ramleh / come lps…

  12. You english guys just crack me up! I just dont know of anything like this in america.

    BTW I’m not being mean on purpose.

  13. RE Gripper:
    Mark Savage who played Gripper on Grange Hill actually tracked me down via the information superhighway to blag a free copy of the Ambulance Chasers’ ‘Dedicated To Gripper Stebson’ album (lathe-cut, ltd to 20, 1999-ish). Obviously I wasn’t gonna say no 🙂

    Didn’t know you were at that ’96 Smell & Quim, Headbutt etc show John – I was one of the 30 or so loonies in the ‘band’ that night – as was Lol Coxhill which would look good on my CV if I had one. The best show of that era was a truly crazed Belgium one where we managed to totally freak out and offend a crowd of black-clad ultra-serious Euro-Industro-Goths.

  14. Hi simon – yeah it was very memorable! Lots of Dick wittington references I seem to recall. Headbutt are one of my favourite live bands ever, I think, and I was at a lot of their gigs around that time… great people also.

    S&Q have quite a history but I don’t know much about their music really…

  15. my ‘ my cock’s on fire’ 12″ i was selling just got taken off by billy bennet, lasted a day on ebay, a bootleg apparently. eve though the record is released on the album.

  16. oh the only use for Whitehouse records is to get people out of your flat when they’ve overstayed their welcome, they’re just garbage and so rubbish they’ll clear any dance floor… but I kept hold of my copy of Sweet Tooth, very funny, but if you can flag this up enough and create a market I’d be prepared to part with it for £20 or more (once I’ve made an mp3 of it – I’m sure Smell and Quim wouldn’t try to enforce their intellectual copyright)… Just William is more effective as a British Council representative than an incarnation of ‘evol’…

  17. That’s right, Martin, it was called the Wicca Workers Party; not the “White Wiccan Workers Party.” More about Farrant’s stab at becoming an elected representative can be read at the following link with all the background history and genesis:


    David Farrant prepared to stand as a candidate in the 1978 British General Election. He launched what was described as the “Wicca Workers Party” to the cry of “Wiccans Awake!” Journalist and editor Peter Hounam wrote a front page story for the Hornsey Journal, 30 June 1978, that thundered:

    “A new peril for candidates fighting the marginal Hornsey constituency emerged this week with news that some of their supporters who indulge in witchcraft may switch their votes to the ‘Wicca Workers Party’ in the General Election. David Farrant, who lives in Muswell Hill Road, is fighting under the slogan ‘Wiccans Awake’.”

  18. Hey Arminius – thanks for reassuring me I didn’t dream up that WWP poster! It’s been a while.


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