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A Covers Album: Front covers of New York Rocker, 1976-1982

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The New York Rocker was a punk/new wave magazine founded by Alan Betrock in February 1976. It was produced by a dedicated, tight-knit group of young men and women—a “remarkable breed” of contributors—who had a passion for music that was outside the mainstream. They wrote feisty, opinionated reviews. They took their subject matter seriously, giving it the respect the well-financed music press gave to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Eagles or any other stadia-filling corporate-backed band. The New York Rocker was hugely influential early on in identifying and promoting American indie rock.

A total of 54 issues were published between 1976 and 1982 when the magazine folded. It was briefly revived in 1984 but never achieved the same success.

Just looking at these covers for New York Rocker there’s a great sense of the history and in particular the incredibly high quality of new music that came out of punk and new wave each week during the late 1970s and early 1980s—the likes of which we may never see again.
 
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More covers from the New York Rocker, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Slade: Not just for Christmas but the whole year round

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It starts around late October every year—the loop of Christmas songs played out over sound systems and tannoy in department stores and shopping malls across the UK. Songs by one-hit-wonders and novelty acts that somehow found a place in the nation’s heart rub along nicely along with festive number ones by artists like David Bowie, Bing Crosby, The Waitresses, Wham and Wizzard.

These Christmas compilations are a good little earner for the songwriters’ pension fund. The only downside being that some of these artists are now best known for their Christmas number one rather than the quality of their back catalog. It’s a fate that could almost have happened to Slade whose festive stormer “Merry Xmas Everybody” is now “credited” with starting the seasonal race for the Christmas number one.

But Slade aren’t just for Christmas—they’re for all year round.

Slade were Noddy Holder (guitar, lead vocals), Jimmy Lea (bass, violin), Don Powell (drums) and Dave Hill (lead guitar). They were according to Paul McCartney the heir apparent (along with T.Rex) to The Beatles and The Stones. From 1970-1975 Slade had seventeen top twenty singles, six number ones—three of which went straight to the top of the charts—and sold over six-and-a-half million records in the UK alone—a feat not achieved since the days of the Fab Four.

I was first introduced to Slade by my older brother. As kids we shared a bedroom which meant anything one of us played on the record player both of us had to hear. This is how I was introduced to a lot of music I might never have tuned into—it was a shared experience unlike the i-pod users today who dwell in their own little jukebox. Slade may not have started off as one of my favorite bands—but I sure as hell grew to like them and appreciate why they were brilliant and in their own way, very very revolutionary.
 
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The album that started it all off was Slade Alive—one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. A garish red gatefold LP that everyone seemed to own. One listen to that whole album explains why Slade were such an influential and revolutionary band—go on just stream the sonic armageddon at the climax of last track side two “Born to be Wild”—it’s eight minutes and twelve seconds of Slade delivering the future of rock ‘n’ roll music.
 
More from Slade, plus concert footage in East Germany from 1977, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Shit happens: Future Fox News anchor Shep Smith reports on the time GG Allin came to Florida
07.19.2016
10:11 am

Topics:
Punk
Television

Tags:
GG Allin
Shep Smith


 
Whereas I am certainly no admirer of GG Allin—he brought nothing to rock and roll and may his soul rot in Hell—I admittedly LOL’d at this vintage local news clip about one of his shows in Orlando, FL in the early 1990s reported on by none other than future Fox News anchor Shepard Smith!

During this WCPX-News 6 evening news broadcast Smith told viewers about how clubgoers at the Space Fish Cafe had

“... paid $7 to watch a man defecate into his own hand while he was nude. And that is just the beginning.”

Smith is almost comically unflappable at the notion of an asshole throwing his own shit around a nightclub. No wonder Fox News hired him.

But the real star of the show is the guy who was merely an innocent bystander when the feces-covered Allin ran out of the club. The one who makes the LOL comment about “well-to-do white kids.” I’d quote it here but I’d rather force you to watch it.

Near the end of the report, the club’s owner oddly muses that this is “the first bit of the big city that’s come to Orlando.” What does that even mean in this context? Which big city is he referring to?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Ghost Rider’: Amazing new video surfaces of Suicide, live in 1980
07.17.2016
06:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:
Suicide
Alan Vega
Merrill Aldighieri


 
This newly re-mastered and edited video by Merrill Aldighieri captures Suicide performing “Ghost Rider” in 1980.  It is some of the best footage you’ll ever see of the legendary rock pioneers.  Alan Vega shines in an atypically subdued but still pretty intense performance. Edgar Allan Presley.

As the resident video jockey at New York City rock club Hurrah, Aldighieri documented some of the best live performances by cutting edge bands of the early 80s including
Gang Of Four, Magazine, Bush Tetras and Suicide. In this edit,  Aldighieri has incorporated the older footage with new imagery filmed at a retrospective of Alan Vega’s paintings and sculptures in Lyon, France that took place in 2009.

Merrill Aldighieri’s website ARTCLIPS is a marvelous compendium of digitally re-mastered Hurrah concert videos made between 1980-1981 among many other delightful things. Visit it.

Merrill is a friend and shot footage of my band at Hurrah in 1980. I asked her for a comment about Alan Vega and this is what she wrote:

The night I met Alan, Oct. 1, 1980 on stage at Hurrah, I was terrified by his unbridled passion. It took all my courage not to turn away. The next time I met him was in his loft downdown. We talked for hours. He did not shy away from anything. His life was an unsolved mystery and you were invited to be a witness, a participant. Humility and talent in equal generous doses. I guess that’s why he was such a good collaborator. He was very proud and in wonderment at the joy of being a father too. He did not hold back.

Legendary punk rocker and Dangerous Minds’ contributor Howie Pyro knew Alan quite well and describes him as…

a man so ahead of his time he left us all in the dust. One of the first times I ever went out to a club in 1976 I saw Suicide open for Blondie & was not prepared for the onslaught of volume, sound, blood, real violence, art, and true rock n roll but with NO guitars or drums!! It blew my mind & I grew up a lot that night…had I known I would be recording with “that guy” 20 years later I’d have (happily) fainted…

Ironically, a man in a band called Suicide approached this mortal coil with the kind of no bullshit intensity that makes life way too interesting to abandon.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Adam Ant’s brief career in comedy, 1982
07.15.2016
11:32 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk

Tags:
1980s
Adam Ant
Cannon and Ball


Adam Ant trying his hand at comedy during his appearance on the Cannon and Ball show, 1982.
 
Here’s something you don’t see everyday—Adam Ant dressed up as a caballero dancing his own version of a “Jarabe Tapatío” (or Mexican “hat dance”) during his appearance on Cannon and Ball, a UK comedy television program that was on the air from 1979 to 1988. Say WHAT?

Of course seeing Adam Ant dressed up like a caballero isn’t really much of a stretch given the fact that for much of his career he looked like a punk rock version of Tonto—but that’s besides the point. On the show, the then 28-year-old Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) and the show’s stars, Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball (Thomas Derbyshire and Robert Harper respectively) put on an amusing song and dance routine with Ant playing his role to the hilt all while maintaining a straight face.

According an article published back in 2013, Ant actually credited his appearance on the show with helping his 1982 smash “Goody Two Shoes” hit number one on the UK singles chart. While the footage isn’t great great quality it is a fantastic “who knew?” moment involving one of my fave raves. Plus Adam Ant lipsynching for his life and dancing by himself for three-plus minutes until he’s out of breath on Cannon and Ball doing you guessed it, “Goody Two Shoes.” Vive Le Ant and Olé!
 

Adam Ant performing in a comedy routine on ‘Cannon and Ball’ along with his totally 80s precursor of punk rock aerobics

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Razor’s Edge: 1970s underground fetish zine about bald women and shaving
07.14.2016
03:10 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Punk
Sex

Tags:
bald
fetish
Yossarian
The Razor's Edge


 
Baldness and head shaving fetishes are things I never really considered much, but if you asked me about it I’d have to be all like, “Oh yeah, that’s totally a thing somebody masturbates to.” However, prior to the existence of the vast cornucopia of internet pornography, really niche fetishes rarely had their own publications, which is why The Razor’s Edge is such a rare historical gem, notable for the professionalism of the publication, the quality of the writing, and the sweetness—almost innocence, really—of the models.

The Razor’s Edge was launched in 1975 by famed underground cartoonist Alan Shenker, best known as his pen name “Yossarian.” Shenker got the idea while working for Screw, when he heard of a women’s cult shaving their heads en masse to protest gender inequality. Under the name “Captain Stanley,” Shenker actually managed to keep the magazine going for a few years, paying models up to $200 to be shaved and receiving some major press attention from publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and The Village Voice. The magazine even hosted a fairly well-publicized Miss Bald America pageant.

Interestingly enough, the women featured in The Razor’s Edge aren’t really sexually objectified. The fetish isn’t just for bald women, but for the process of shaving and the transformation thereof. Much of the shoots are dedicated to the women’s reaction to being shaved, and their delight and surprise at their new chrome domes.
 

 

 
More images of historical interest from ‘The Razor’s Edge’ after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Who Is Poly Styrene?’: Vintage 1979 BBC doc on first wave British punk band X-Ray Spex
07.12.2016
11:02 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
Poly Styrene
X-Ray Spex


 
Against all expectations, this 1979 episode of BBC’s Arena program about lead singer of noteworthy punk band X-Ray Spex—titled “Who Is Poly Styrene?”—is remarkably lyrical and sedate. Focusing on the demure and thoughtful singer (born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) results in about as effective an advertisement for the basic good sense of the punk movement as one can readily imagine. It’s not difficult to picture grandmothers in the U.K. watching this back in the day and not being overly discomfited by it.

The show opens with Poly Styrene applying makeup while we hear her voice intoning the lyrics to the X-Ray Spex song “Identity”—which then segues to the band playing the song on stage. Moments later she says while brushing her teeth, rather in the manner of a TV commercial, “I chose the name Poly Styrene because it’s a lightweight disposable product.” There’s some delicious footage of her in a supermarket, stuffing brightly colored packages containing “DAZ” and “FLASH” into her shopping cart. It goes without saying that her choice of epaulets as a fashion statement is unsurpassed.
 

 
Poly Styrene was not only one of the few women stars of the punk movement but also one of its few people of color—her father was from Somalia. The premise of “Who Is Poly Styrene?” is to suppose that Marianne and Poly are two irreconcilably different creatures, which kind of suggests that someone as calm, soft-spoken, and sensitive as Marianne could not possibly also be a punk singer, but whatever. Poly was an artist experiencing anger and confusion, and punk was a perfectly natural outlet for that expression. In any case, Arena deserves credit for even seeing that there was a story worth pursuing in Poly Styrene’s mostly cheerful equanimity.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie!’: True tales of Black Randy, first wave Los Angeles punk icon

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The many roads that led to the happening that was to be referred to as “punk” are varied and often way more interesting than punk itself. It’s still a wonder to me to see the various ways so many very opposed situations all wound up in one place, at one time. In other words, to skew a quote from the the old TV show Naked City “There are eight million stories in punk city. This is one of them.”

My personal introduction to Black Randy was when I arrived (by bus!) in Los Angeles from New York with some friends and bandmates to visit our new found buddies who had come to New York six months before. We let them stay in our sorta squat (in actuality it was the storage space of the drummer of The Lovin’ Spoonful, who our friend babysat for!) and they said to come to LA. These new pals consisted of Brian Tristan (later to be known as Kid Congo Powers), Trixie Plunger, Mary Rat, Rod (from LA band The Mau Maus) and Hellin Killer. Lifelong friends, all. In LA we bounced between the three places most people in our circle did: The Screamers house (aka The Wilton Hilton, where Brian/Kid literally lived in a closet); The Canterbury on Cherokee, off Hollywood Boulevard, an entire apartment complex stuffed to the gills with punk rock kids in every room and across from infamous punk club The Masque; and Joan Jett’s house, then a looney bin party pad.
 
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When entering the Canterbury I was warned by Screamers drummer KK Barrett about a guy named Black Randy who was crazy and to “definitely not shake his hand”! The next morning we went out and in the lobby of the Canterbury, on the huge maybe seven ft by eight ft art deco-ish mirror was a thick covering of human feces. THIS was a typical Black Randy gesture to humanity. I was then told that when he went to get assistance from the government due to his mental problems (SSI aka “crazy money”) he had his pockets stuffed with his poop and went in with his hands in his pockets and gratefully shook the worker’s hands when greeted…of course causing a mini riot at the welfare office and speeding up his paperwork just to get him the hell out of there! This is why you do not shake Black Randy’s hand. He was also known to poop in party hostesses’ purses and worse. His phony phone calls are legendary and can be heard here!

I then found out Black Randy had a band. This I had to see!
 
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I saw Black Randy and The Metrosquad at the Masque. At his very first show there the first words out of his mouth were “I’m glad to see there aren’t any punks here tonight… because I HATE PUNK.” Being from New York it reminded me of James Chance and the Contortions. It had a similarly fast and funky element, but unlike Chance’s bands, the subject matter was scathing and funny with lots of gay, street and political references. Songs about Idi Amin, porno, fighting the police, narcs, sex and death. His backup singers—the Blackettes (think the the James Brown Revue on glue) were the scream of the then new crop of punque chicks including Exene Cervenka, Alice Bag, Lorna Doom, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and others.
 
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To quote Furious.com:

Black Randy and his Metrosquad were a supergroup of the Hollywood punk era: the lineup included members of the Randoms, Eyes and the Dils as well as one of the other founding partners of Dangerhouse, David Browne. Musically, they were nothing like the hard-fast-loud sound of punk- if anything they were a ‘60’s Soul/James Brown style funk/soul band that played rather fast. They also had echoes of early Blondie and the Who, with their tough and tight rock and roll. They were a funny band, a joke band in the sense that humor was key to understanding what they were about. The band’s’ music, with its circus-like Woolworth Doors organ vibe, played the collective straight man to Black Randy’s drunken, buffoonish, drawling, sneering voice. His voice is one of the few truly filthy voices I’ve ever heard in music—every word he says is dripping in self-hatred and general loathing, a venomous nicotine and beer-stained voice that’s just laughing. His voice is sleazy enough that you don’t just think that he just slept in a porn arcade (as the lyrics to his anthem “I Slept in an Arcade” discuss), you think he INHABITED it. The band was perfectly in sync with Black Randy, playing covers of “Shaft” and “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” while he took aim at the songs, exaggerating the swaggering manhood of one and the simple-minded racial pride of the other to grotesque proportions.

Black Randy as a lyricist was a satirist who made everything he took aim at disgusting and outrageous, but still rooted in the real world. This is important, as many artists will take satire into fantasy (such as Eminem), making the situations so outlandish they become unreal. Almost all of Black Randy’s lyrics are internal narratives of a person’s feelings at a certain moment.

 
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The other main member of The Metrosquad was David Brown who started the first and best Los Angeles punk label, Dangerhouse Records, who put out classic 45s by The Germs, Avengers, Dils, Eyes, X, Weirdos, Deadbeats and more. The only LP released on Dangerhouse was the incredibly titled Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie by Black Randy and The Metrosquad. The reason to celebrate is that the LP has just been reissued by another classic early punk/post punk/hardcore label, Frontier Records (Suicidal Tendencies, Redd Kross, Christian Death, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, Long Ryders, Three O’Clock, Damned, Adolescents, etc.), helmed by founder Lisa Fancher and still going strong. It’s been a long time since this LP has been available on vinyl. Get it while you can here.
 
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As an afterthought, I have a really interesting tidbit of info that no one knows: Black Randy had a long history, like so many of the older first wave punk rock innovators. He was a video tech in the earliest days of that field. He was friends with the guys who became LA synth cult icons The Screamers (Tomata Du Plenty and Tommy Gear) long before that when they were doing insane drag performances. I don’t mean Judy Garland impersonations, I mean more like terrorist performance art. In 1974 they had put a show together called Savage Voodoo Nuns which was booked into a new club in the worst neighborhood of lower Manhattan (The Bowery) called CBGB, by Ramones friend (and later their t-shirt designer and lighting director) the late Arturo Vega. Read a review of that show here. They also wanted bands on the bill so Arturo wrangled his friends The Ramones (their second show) and another new band on the scene called Blondie to play.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Lucretia Reflects: An interview with Patricia Morrison, the Gothmother of Punk


 
Patricia Morrison could very well be considered the gothmother—she’s certainly one of them—of punk. Growing up in Los Angeles, Morrison—at the tender age of fourteen—started playing bass in The Bags. She was in the best incarnation of Gun Club—along with Kid Congo Powers and the mercurial junkie bluesman Jeffrey Lee Pierce—and this was followed by a fabled stint in The Sisters of Mercy (that ended in court and a non-disclosure agreement between Morrison and Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch). In 1994 she released a solo album Reflect on This and in 1996 Morrison joined The Damned, marrying the group’s lead singer, Dave Vanian the following year. Her iconic long black hair, dramatic makeup and frilly antique dresses set the precedent for the classic goth look—that is the elegant sophisticated, goth look, not the goofy Hot Topic mall goth look. She is like a dark unicorn that has been in the coolest bands. 

Morrison is now retired as a musician and lives in England with her husband and their daughter, Emily. The following interview was conducted via email

Dangerous Minds: How did you get your start playing music?

Patricia Morrison: I always loved music, was music mad in school with my friends and spent many an hour in my room pretending to be in a band. David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Queen, etc. Many of the LA punks who I became friends with later listened to the same bands in the 70’s. I also liked country music as my mother listened to it and I grew up with hearing it on the radio in the kitchen on a daily basis. When punk came along it opened up opportunities with like minded people deciding to give it a go and I was one of those people. I found two other girls (most boys wouldn’t consider playing with girls back then unless they were the singer or on keyboards), and we started playing with cheap drug store bought instruments. It was all so exciting between ‘being in a band’ and going to see concerts of old and new bands.
 

As “Pat Bag” in 1977 courtesy of Alice Bag Flickr archive

Dangerous Minds: Who was your earliest influence in music and fashion?

Patricia Morrison: Music: The Sixties, 1967-69 in particular. I still listen to and love music from that time. Fashion is harder as there were not that many people creating the style I became known for and in LA that was especially true. Back then it was all blue-eyed blonde beauty that was celebrated. My pale and pasty look was not yet appreciated! Film stars I suppose. I loved the glamor, and transferred it to punk as quite a few of us did.

Dangerous Minds: How did you develop your personal style?

Patricia Morrison: Thrift shops and just wearing what I liked. There was an amazing dress shop in Pasadena called Lila’s and a dress there was a massive 10 or 15 dollars but they were gorgeous. Dresses with unusual designs and fabrics from the 1930’s onwards. We also found warehouses in downtown LA that had old stock and it was a goldmine to us. I just wore what I liked. There were no rules or directives. I refused to cut my hair and some people had a go at me for that but I ignored them. Now punk has a defined look but then it was individual. People took cues from the NY and London punk scenes but LA had a strangeness they didn’t and that I loved.
 

The Bags play Portland in 1979

Dangerous Minds: Early on you played with the Bags and Legal Weapon. What was it like playing with other female musicians versus joining the all-male bands you played with after?

Patricia Morrison: Any females I have played with have been strong characters and in some ways more single-minded than the men. Also, back then you had to try harder if you were a girl. As I started playing with women first, it never seemed odd or different to me—it was down to the individual’s personality so not much difference looking back on it. Male and female, we all had the same problems, issues, camaraderie and egos.

Dangerous Minds: Who was your favorite band in the late 70s/early 80s to play shows with (as peers)?

Patricia Morrison: In the punk days there were so many! New bands popped up each week. The biggest band in the beginning was The Weirdos.The LA scene seemed to mix and match and sooner or later you played with everyone. LA had a friendly rivalry with San Francisco playing with bands up there as well. There were some great bands whose music still holds up today.

Much more after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Bad Brains live at Max’s Kansas City, 1979


 
Max’s Kansas City is famous for hosting acts like the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Television, Suicide, and the whole downtown punk scene of the mid-1970s, but it also was the venue for an early gig by Bad Brains, the legends of DC hardcore. The original location of Max’s Kansas City on Park Avenue South and 18th St. closed in 1981. It’s said that Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys played the final gig at that location, but the evidence is mixed: this exhaustive page on the venue states that that lineup was scheduled but cancelled.

Bad Brains were there two years earlier, however, and fortunately for us the gig was exhaustively documented. The date for the show is commonly listed as February 1979, but that’s not correct. The date of the show was Sunday, December 16, 1979, a fact that is corroborated by two pieces of information, the poster above and the comment by H.R. during the show that it was drummer Earl Hudson’s birthday that day. (Also H.R.‘s younger brother, Hudson turned 22 in 1979.)

Bad Brains opened for The Mad, an interesting band fronted by a native of Osaka, Japan, who used the name Screaming Mad George. The Mad only put out a couple of singles at the time, but there retrospective CDs were released later on. Screaming Mad George did the poster for the gig. He also transitioned out of punk music into special effects for Hollywood movies, working on such 1980s classics as Big Trouble in Little China, Predator, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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