a few reviews from some of the disability magazines
The first two of these are from Disability Arts In London, which is one of the main
disability arts magazines that exists in Britain.
"You say you'd rather die
Than end up looking like me
You say you think I'm brave
Because you think life's worse for me".
From Soci-at-Ease by Simon Smith
Reviewing music cassettes and C.D.'s can be a bit
of a chore. But not in this case. I've been bouncing
around the office and wearing out my Walkman
listening to some very pleasing sounds- Simon's
use of striking imagery in both lyric and note has
led me to want to know more about this disabled
fine-art graduate turned singer. I don't have the
space this month to do more than recommend
you give this album your best attention.
Powerful but familiar messages are put in a
masterful way through Simon's lyrics. I'll try to
interview him for December's issue of DAIL.
Then you'll be able to meet a vigorous and
persuasive songwriter and performer
A longer and more detailed review will accompany
the planned interview for the next edition.
SIMON SMITH & THE USELESS EATERS
As promised in the last issue of DAIL
magazine, here is the interview with
I have to say that I hadn't
heard Simon's music before and,
ashamedly, had only seen his paintings in
reproduction. - that's because, although a
native Londoner; I have been in the
relative wilderness of Yorkshire for the
last twenty years. But that's another
Cosily esconced in the DAIL
began by having a discussion on the
question of just how much, if any,
Simon's disability affects his art -
musically as well as visually. Simon
considers there are a lot of levels to that
question and chose to deal with the
physical side first, so I let him speak for
"My paintings tend to be on the large
especially those that are on the record
cover, so it's a technical question really, I
have to stand on a chair to deal with the
top edges and I use long brushes and so
on. Philosophically and politically I would
say that I do not compromise myself by
exhibiting to a mainstream audience
disabled child I had to free myself and one
of the ways I did this was through the
technical aspect of being able to draw.
The other thing is that I tend to paint
figures rather than deal with abstract
elements and that is probably the result of
psychological disturbances as a child, disturbances that
in their own way, like a lot of things, including my
do come back in some way to my disability.
I'm a double-chip person, well
because I have chip on both shoulders!
But, politically speaking, I'm more tolerant
than many people I meet in the movement,
believing that it takes understanding from both sides.
However I do FEEL the injustices suffered by disabled people and,
yes, I do struggle against them.
I've been associated with people in the
disability movement from quite early on and
am pretty well aquainted with it, I've got my
own point of view about disability
awareness and I
have strong opinions. I
know I upset some people by believing that
change will only be brought about by
legislation and actual social integration and
that it is no use screaming
your head off to get that change.
The sort of loud radical
approach, in the
end, doesn't seem to me to be very
positive, it causes more problems later on.
If you're trying
to get people to change
their minds it seems to me that you have to
be manipulative in a positive way and not
just go with the knee jerk reactions.
I feel that as an artist you
should be able to compete on an
equal basis; there are several famous artists
who were disabled and they did not use
their art as a lever - they just got on with
their work. Disabled artists need to walk the
tightrope between mainstream values and independent
"disability culture" carefully otherwise they'll find themselves
falling in to the habds of people who want to pigeon hole them in to
stereo typical disability slots, or appearing as though they have no
contact with the"real" world.
I want to spend the next year or so
promoting this record, both here and on
the continent. I seem to be a sort of
business man these days rather than a
musician. We already have plans for
another album; this may not include any
direct reference to disability.
When Simon had gone I went
album 'Entitled' again, listening hard to the
way Simon got his message across and
found the mixture
of disability sensibility
and music particularly appealing in Soci-at-
Ease where 'tragedy', patronisation and
oppression are examined in a way that
avoids the screamingly obvious. Most of
the remaining tracks, excepting Grateful',
I found to be in the easy listening Dire
Straits mode, but what's wrong with that?
Professionally produced and
with a welcome intelligence, in particular
the understanding and portrayal of image,
this album is the one to join the others in