Unspun Heroes – World Domination Enterprises

Digging up buried treasure from the depths of our collection.

This week: John Doran salutes some truly radical post-punkers.

World Domination Enterprises
Let’s Play Domination
(Free Love, 1988)

World Domination Enterprises didn’t just bite the hand that fed. They gnawed the fingers off, chewed the bone, cartilage, skin and blood and then spat the mess back in the owner’s face.

Frontman Keith Dobson was inspired by the hippy free festival scene, then radicalised by punk, then motivated by post-punk by the time he formed WDE in the early ’80s. He detuned his £5 guitar and replaced the bridge with a metal door handle so it sounded like a chainsaw slicing through a brass donkey’s head.

Backed up by Steve Jameson on dub-heavy, gutter funk bass and Digger Metters on junkyard drums, they were everything PiL had promised with ‘Metal Box’ before John Lydon and co ran off chasing Top Of
The Pops appearances.

The cherry on the cake was that they recorded the highlight of their career – ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’, one of the great lost alternative singles of the ’80s – with money from Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme. The track forms a missing link between the serrated Marxist funk of Gang Of Four’s ‘To Hell With Poverty’ and Big Black’s ‘Kerosene’.

Dobson was proud of using state money from an ill-thought-out unemployment figure-masking scam to make his grand statement, saying: “We are born into subjugation… us ordinary folk have to scratch and scrape just to get by. It is our right as ordinary humans, maybe even our duty, to get back as much as we can.”

Whatever your view on his politics there is no doubting ‘Let’s Play Domination’’s status as an artefact of sonic revolution. Right from the opening bars of ‘Message For You People’, it was obvious that the band had caught everyone napping.

The atonal, clanging no wave-style chords over dubbed-out bowel-rupture bass and the Fall-scrapping-with-Sonic-Youth single ‘Hotsy Girl’ made notably extreme statements in a year when extreme music was already par for the course.

World Domination Enterprises may have failed to live up to their name, but they still remain a high watermark of late ’80s alternative music.