In the early ‘80s, Black Flag were at the center of the controversy about punk rock violence that hung over the hardcore scenes in L.A. and nationwide.
Two elements seemed at work here. First were the media reports about punk violence fueled parental hysteria, and likely prompted parents of rebellious teens to call the cops on shows that would probably have turned out fine. Second was the actual risk of potential injury at L.A. punk shows. This typically led ad hoc scene spokespeople to defensively compare violence levels at punk shows with those at metal concerts or football games. It also caused plenty of serious internal hand-wringing (mostly in punk ‘zines) about “scene unity”—which now of course just seems like naïve tribalism.
Obviously, Black Flag shows weren’t sedate affairs. Of my two encounters with the band in the early Rollins era, one featured a quick half-stampede away from the stage and towards the door, while the other comprised watching a riot unfold outside a sold-out Flag show with the Ramones. Black Flag would eventually settle into the proto-grunge route to self-destruction in 1986.
British deejay Grum’s ‘Through The Night’ is an 80’s inspired dance jam that reminds me of some of my favorite groups of that much maligned era: The Human League, ABC, Pet Shop Boys, Spandau Ballet… The video directed by a mysterioso group called The General Assembly is a hilarious, homo-erotic homage to ‘buddy films’ of the 80’s. Brilliant.
Michael Been lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of 80’s band The Call has died of a heart attack at the age of 60. He was in Belgium acting as sound engineer for his son’s band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
The Call were one of the finest, smartest and most underrated bands of the 80’s. Michael wrote passionate anthems that went beyond simple bombast. His lyrics had depth, intelligence and incisive political content. He was highly regarded among musicians and collaborated with many, including Bono, Peter Gabriel and Robbie Robertson. His music was free of gimmicks and fashionable poses and, as a result, has stood the test of time.
Michael went from fronting his own band to becoming a guiding force in the development of his son Robert’s musical career. He co-produced and engineered several BRMC albums.
I was a big fan of The Call. They were the real deal. There was something about Michael that immediately appealed to me. His writing was terrific and he seemed like a decent, soulful, and genuine human being - nothing slick or phony about the guy. I listened to his songs and I know they seeped into my own writing and music. I can’t say that about many of my contemporaries in the 80’s. I respected Michael and I loved his music.
More goodness from Michael Been and The Call after the jump…
Over the past few years there have been a number of fanboys who have attempted to reconstruct Star Wars as a silent film. They convert the film to black and white, speed it up and add an old-fashioned piano score. But the ones I’ve seen have failed miserably to authentically replicate the actual look of a real silent movie…until now. This new one succeeds marvelously. It looks like something unearthed from the 1920’s - a really shitty print of a Metropolis outtake. Mark Hamill’s melodramatic facial expressions, his broad gestures and the heightened shadowing of his eyes resemble that of so many actors of the silent era.
Speaking of artists that invent their own languages, Magma, the powerful and bizarre French band formed in 1969 by Drummer/Singer/Composer Christian Vander sang most of their material in a phonetic German/Slavic based language called Kobaian. It’s mind blowing to be able to compile such a wealth of clips here featuring them performing their dark musical magic considering the fact that when I was growing up they were one of the most insanely mysterious bands you could imagine. It’s fun living in the future ! Also, may I state the obvious and point out that they had one of the most bitchin’ band logos of all time ?
Early Magma laying down the heavy weirdness on French TV 1970: