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The Pop Group meet the Bomb Squad: Stream new album ‘Honeymoon on Mars’—a Dangerous Minds premiere
10:53 am


The Pop Group
Hank Shocklee

The Pop Group emerged from relatively out-of-the mix Bristol, England in 1977 with a devastating mix of noisy art-punk with straight funk and dub that underpinned strident and often just flat-out hectoring leftist lyrics. While both the music and singing were often pointedly tuneless, the band’s jagged rhythms and allegiance to dancefloor sounds set in motion a scene in Bristol that reached an apotheosis in Trip-Hop, and continues today with Grime and post-Grime. The band’s singer/polemicist/leader Mark Stewart has a kind of godfather/elder statesman status, and keeps closely engaged with those scenes’ developments, and the second new Pop Group album since their 2010 reconstitution, Honeymoon on Mars, reflects that continued engagement.

It’s DM’s pleasure today to debut the stream of that entire new album; digital and physical will be available for purchase on Friday. It shows a band completely reinvigorated by the new—contemporary underground beats and electronic experiments dominate the songs, and it’s a much more daring LP than its predecessor, their comeback Citizen Zombie. The lead-off single, “Zipperface,” has been out for a minute, and it’s already been remixed by Hanz, and an intense video was made by Bristol videographer Max Kelan Pearce. But to produce an album that pushes into new territory, the band recruited some old hands. Dub producer and Matumbi bassist Dennis Bovell, who produced the band’s first album Y, has returned to collaborate with TPG again, but perhaps the more exciting news is that they also worked with a producer for a very different band, which also combined energetic and noisy music with heavy politicking—the legendary Bomb Squad mainstay Hank Shocklee, who of course is best known for his dizzying and utterly groundbreaking work with Public Enemy. It was my extreme pleasure to talk to both Stewart and Shocklee about the collaboration’s origins and their creative process.

MARK STEWART: This is the story—the Pop Group, straight out of school, were flavor-of-the-month in New York, us and Gang of Four. We were out there all the time, playing in the No Wave scene with DNA, Bush Tetras. I was constantly trying to dig out things I was interested in in New York, and one of our roadies and I, we had these ghettoblaster radios and we were recording things, and suddenly we heard these huge piledriver noises—it was the first scratching I’d ever heard, and it completely blew my mind. It was DJ Red Alert, from Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, doing an early hip-hop show. I’d heard rapping before—Bristol had a good import shop—but this was the first live scratching I’d ever heard by a proper DJ. We took those tapes back home—we’d recorded like 14 or 15 shows—and duplicate, duplicate, duplicate on our double-cassette machines, and that kickstarted the scene that was to become Bristol trip-hop.

For me, I was enabled by punk, but I was given a real shiver down my spine by deep roots dub music. That’s why we worked with Dennis Bovell when we were kids, and when we were trying to think of who could pull things together for us now, when we’re trying to pull in all these newer influences like post-grime, trap, Goth-Trad, The Bug—we’re getting all this kind of new rhythmic programming. And who could pull this together? And I remember what Dennis did for us when we were kids, all running off in different directions, and I thought he could help get these new songs together. Then, I thought some of the hard rhythmic stuff, was very hip-hop sort of stuff, and by chance, Dave Allen from Gang of Four was at South By Southwest when we were there and he asked if he could bring Hank Shocklee to one of our shows. I nearly wet my pants.

HANK SHOCKLEE: I saw the Pop Group at South By Southwest. I was introduced to them by Dave Allen, the bass player for Gang of Four. And it turned me on, man! They only played for like five minutes, because the sound wasn’t right, then they got cut off for cursing at the sound guy, then it got to be a fight with the sound people, and I was just like “WOW!” The energy was reminiscent of the early days of hip-hop. [laughs] The attitude was straight punk. Then I saw them another night, and they were really great musicians, it was an eclectic mix of dub, and punk, and funk, they can go into a little bit of jazz. They have that ability, like a traditional classic band from back in the days, when even though bands were into rock ’n’ roll, they’d have other disciplines like classical or jazz, so this way they could go into other variations. I thought that was interesting so I talked to Mark, and said “You know, if you guys ever want to do something, I’m interested.” And lo and behold, he reached out and said he wanted me to do something for the album.

STEWART: When Public Enemy broke in England, it was a sea change. For a place like Bristol, where it’s very multiracial, suddenly loads of people I knew, a couple years younger, had an identity. What Hank was doing with these kind of sheets of noise, when I first heard Public Enemy, I stepped back and nearly kind of gave up, because he was doing similar kind of experiments in a slightly different way that I had only dreamt of. But for this album, nobody was trying to reproduce anything from the past. This is the first time since we’ve re-formed that we’re really what we’ve wanted to be, sort of pulling on things and reacting, and feeding off the now, to try to occupy the future with my brain. Not the whole future, there’s room for other people. [laughs]

Since the beginning of the band, I’m kind of a hunter-gatherer. I just kind of collect bass lines and play with musique concrète, trying to throw loads of stuff into the pot, it’s always cut-and-paste and juxtaposition. Then things would evolve live, and then we’d twist them again. On our album Y, we suddenly started doing loads of editing, we’d have 80 pieces of tape up on the wall for these mad mushroom editing sessions. This kind of evolves again—I’m executive producer, it’s me pulling in all these things and trying to focus on different directions, but I find that you get the best out of people if you don’t tell them what to do too much. In the end, if you look at it like a prehistoric burial site, there’s bronze age things, iron age things, and I throw some dice into the procedure, then they pick up the dice and start doing something, while me and Gareth [Sager, guitarist] have always got our ears open for mistakes. If something interesting is happening, we’re not focusing too much on that. We’re aware of a machine breaking down.

SHOCKLEE: Once they got it all together, they sent me stuff they were working on where they didn’t have an idea where to put it, where it would fit, what it would be. They were ideas in development. I just said send me the stuff that you have, and it was over 40 tracks of ideas that they was trying to put together, but they couldn’t get it all together. I listened to most of the stuff, and I just said “Wow, they have something here,” so I organized it, stripped it back. I brought in my engineer Nick Sansano, who worked with me on all the Public Enemy records, and he partnered up with me in helping produce and shape the tracks and try to create a theme, try to create a story, and try to move it into an area where it becomes a little more cohesive.

I wasn’t able to be there in England to work with the band face to face, but it was very similar to the P.E. process, where I’m going through records and organizing them in terms of samples and arrangements in order to make it fit the agenda that I’m trying to get across. So I looked at the tracks like I had a bunch of samples and a bunch of records, and I just shaped them, and chopped them up, straighten out the bassline, emphasize the beats more, and arrange the tracks to they have, to me, a more consistent flow. I wanted to bridge the gap between what you would hear in electronic music and what you would hear on traditional pop records.

Listen to ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry covering The Ramones 27 years ago
09:16 am


Debbie Harry

What we have here is some ultra-rare footage of Debbie Harry performing the Ramones classic “Pet Semetary,” a song which was written for the Stephen King movie adaptation of the same name. This performance from October 23, 1989 was part of Debbie’s Def, Dumb, and Blonde solo tour. The Ramones original had been released five months earlier on their Brain Drain album and had become one of their biggest radio hits. The song has since become a staple of Blondie’s live set.

Though there’s nothing particularly unusual about Debbie Harry covering the Ramones—they were pals and CBGB compatriots, this clip is remarkable for the quality of the performance and the fact that, for a Ramones song, it sounds an awful lot like it should have been a Blondie song.

Debbie’s cover here was recorded at The Roxy in Los Angeles. Though the framing and video quality makes it difficult to verify who exactly is in Debbie’s band here, information online suggests that she had been touring around the same time with a lineup of Chris Stein (guitar), Leigh Foxx (bass), Carla Olla (guitar), Suzi Davis (keyboard), and Jimmy Clark (drums). The image and sound quality here is less than stellar in this rare footage, but the band rocking hard.


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The entire print run (1979-82) of NYC punk magazine ‘Dry’ is now online!
09:33 am


Ryan Richardson
dry magazine

Wendy O Williams of the Plasmatics in ‘Dry’ magazine
Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of StarRock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.

We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds. The last time was back in June when he uploaded the entire print run of excellent early San Francisco punk magazine Damage over at his site

Richardson has done his Good Samaritan work once again, this time with the upload of the complete print run of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s NYC punk magazine Dry to Circulation Zero.

According to Richardson, Dry was conceived by art school students and titled as a reaction against Wet, “The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing.”

Dry is manic in its cut-n-paste layout and panicked in its reviews and reports. Eclectic coverage of punk, No Wave and eventually hardcore in the later installments.

Fourteen issues were published, all of which are available as a single pdf download HERE

The layouts in Dry are a bit over-the-top with the cut-and-paste collage aesthetic. Though the technique is certainly part of the design tradition of punk rock, it doesn’t always make for easy reading—but that’s a fitting standard for a counter-culture fanzine… it should be challenging. 

I wouldn’t call Dry a definitive chronicle of NYC punk between 1979 and 1982 by any stretch, but these issues are still a priceless addition to the historical record and certainly worth a gander by anyone with an interest in this specific era of alternative music, particularly things that happened in New York.

The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. Donations to these charities make the project worthwhile for Richardson, so it would be, you know, the cool thing to do to toss a few bucks that way, considering the amazing gift being provided here. Richardson has placed donation links on—go there now to download Dry, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of pages from Dry‘s history:

A pre-fame Cyndi Lauper, singing with Blue Angel, in the pages of ‘Dry’

More from the pages of ‘Dry’ after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Here you go, the first 16 episodes of the classic L.A. punk TV show ‘New Wave Theatre’
05:41 pm


New Wave Theatre

Last year DM alerted readers to the possibility of viewing all twenty-five episodes of the classic local music show that ran on Los Angeles area UHF station channel 18 from 1981 to 1983, New Wave Theatre. At that time we ended the post with the statement “Enjoy it before someone yanks it off of YouTube!” Well, sad to say, that warning proved all too apt, as the video has indeed since been pulled from YouTube.

In the intervening months I’ve received some requests as to where one could find the episodes, so I’m confident that there is some interest in this subject. It turns out that a YouTube user named TheSnappySneezer has uploaded first sixteen episodes of the show, so if you want to enjoy the punk and new wave madness, now’s your chance.

New Wave Theatre had an frenetic DIY vibe that perfectly mirrored the energy of the L.A. punk and new wave scenes. In Josh Frank’s book In Heaven Everything Is Fine, Ken Yas described New Wave Theatre as “Ed Sullivan on acid meets American Idol on cocaine.” New Wave Theatre provided a showcase for acts like the Angry Samoans, Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, Fear, the Plugz, X, Circle Jerks, and many more.

It’s impossible to discuss the show New Wave Theatre without confronting its memorable host, Peter Ivers. Ivers was an L.A. musician who wrote “In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song)” for David Lynch’s 1977 masterpiece Eraserhead (many years later, it was covered by the Pixies). In 1983 In early March 1983 Ivers was found murdered in his apartment, beaten to death with a hammer. The crime is officially unsolved but all indications appear to implicate one of his business associates.

After the jump, episodes 1-16 of New Wave Theatre….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Raw Power: Rare 1973 footage of Iggy and the Stooges escapes right into your living room!
12:41 pm


Iggy Pop
Ivan Kral

Much has been said about musical miracle man Ivan Kral here on Dangerous Minds. Born in Czechoslovakia where rock ‘n’ roll was heavily frowned upon, Kral came to the United States with his diplomat parents in 1966. After the Warsaw Pact Invasion in 1968 he decided to stay here as a refugee.

Young Ivan bought a Super 8 film camera to keep a visual diary & filmed loads of rock n roll starting with Murray The K shows in the mid 60s. As time progressed this all around talented musician played with Blondie, Shaun Cassidy’s teen glam band Longfellow, a long and fabled stint with the Patti Smith Group, Iggy Pop and many many more. During the early years of the dawning of punk he was filming everything, much of which was edited into two underground films Night Lunch and Blank Generation which were shown all the time at Max’s Kansas City, and were the first glimpses my generation got of the early days of our favorite bands that we had just missed due to our age.
Ivan Kral and friends
Watching people in his films like the Dolls, Wayne County, Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads all before they made records (except the Dolls) and watching these films in the clubs they were filmed in while the same bands were still playing there was strange to say the least. I can’t imagine what seeing them now for the first time would feel like. These very primitive silent films were shot on crude black and white film stock that made the participants look like they could be from some decadent 1920’s Dada club, or from any time besides NOW. It’s wild to think that these films were just about two years old when I first saw them!

Of his most infamous short films that never made it to these two compilations is the footage Kral shot of Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 at the Academy Of Music on 14th Street in New York, where I spent much of my teenage life seeing middle-sized touring bands on their way up (or down). The infamous yearly Frank Zappa Halloween shows were held there before and after the name was changed to The Palladium, outside of which I can be seen as a kid making a fool of myself in the Zappa film Baby Snakes. Whenever The Stooges films have showed up they have been in black and white and very short, like under a minute.

My old friend, rock superfan and writer Madeline Bochario alerted me to this wild color footage with sound that just appeared on YouTube. A way better and quite lengthy version of the Ivan Kral footage.

Search and destroy, while you can, after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Corrosion of Conformity member’s parents tell hilarious tale of legendary 1984 punk riot show
09:41 am


North Carolina
Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity have been at it for over three decades now. Formed in 1982 as a hardcore punk band in Raleigh, North Carolina, within a couple of years of existence they came to the forefront, along with DRI and Suicidal Tendencies, of the burgeoning “crossover” scene, which was the initial melding of hardcore punk and thrash metal—two subcultures that were strangely previously at odds with one another in the early ‘80s.

COC has continued successfully, throughout the years, eventually settling in to a slower, heavier, bluesy-metal sound.

This week, COC will be playing the North Carolina State Fair, but it’s not the first time they have made an appearance on that stage, as The News and Observer reports:

Thirty-two years ago, Dorton was the site of a battle of the bands called “Battlerock ’84.” COC, whose members were still teenagers, was among the contestants. And no one outside of Raleigh’s punk cognoscenti knew what to make of them.

COC’s performance would end almost immediately after security mistook the crowd response for a riot and shut it down. In the ensuing scuffle, COC vocalist Eric Eyche was arrested, COC guitarist Woody Weatherman’s mother had an altercation resulting in charges – and a legend was born.

The scene, as described by band members, was a misunderstanding between security and concert-goers with the officials being confused over the slam-dancing, freaking out, and shutting the show down, which merely escalated the volatile situation.

They moved to shut COC down and pulled the plug. The head of the stage crew wound up onstage in a confrontation with [vocalist Eric] Eyche, and he sustained injuries after being thrown into the crowd. That got the cops’ attention.

“What ensued was a misunderstanding,” said Steve Bass, the promoter. “They saw Eric as instigating a riot, so they tried to restrain him, put hands on him and it did not go well with the crowd.”

Once the music stopped, multiple altercations broke out between band members, State Fair police and the stage crew. Eyche was the only one arrested on the scene – taken offstage as the crowd chanted “T.J. Hooker,” a reference to the cheesy cop series starring William Shatner.


In Eyche’s telling, the cops’ treatment of him was not exactly gentle.

“When they took me out back, a female officer was detaining me by a squad car,” Eyche said. “I kept asking her what I’d done, she kept telling me to shut up and I finally said, ‘Baby, (expletive) you.’ She grabbed the back of my head and slammed me into the car. ‘You shut up now,’ she said. ‘O.K., got it!’ ”

But Eyche wasn’t the only one who got into trouble with the law at that fateful show…

See who else ran afoul of police at the show, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Shock And Awe’: How platform shoes, mascara and glitter saved rock ‘n’ roll

In 1972 rock music rolled out of the 60s as pale and cold as a corpse on a hospital gurney. There was the occasional death twitch but rigor mortis had set in and for most of us rockers there was a sense of hopelessness as we listened to vapid shit coming out of our radios.

How bad was it? Here’s the top ten tunes of 1972 according to Billboard magazine:

1 “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” Roberta Flack
2 “Alone Again (Naturally)” Gilbert O’Sullivan
3 “American Pie” Don McLean
4 “Without You” Harry Nilsson
5 “The Candy Man” Sammy Davis, Jr.
6 “I Gotcha” Joe Tex
7 “Lean on Me” Bill Withers
8 “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me” Mac Davis
9 “Brand New Key” Melanie
10 “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” Wayne Newton

That list is completely devoid of anything that remotely could be called “rock and roll.” With the exception of Joe Tex’s “I Gotcha,” virtually every song falls into the easy listening/pop category. Sentimental, corny, goofy, maudlin and over melodramatic, none of this stuff rocks. The closest the top 20 got to rock that year was Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold.” And as lovely as that song is, it’s one of Neil’s most middle-of-the-road creations and still more folk than rock. In the entire Billboard top 100 of 1972 there are two songs that could be categorized as hard rock with some bonfide badass attitude. They were Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”  and T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Elton John, Derek And The Dominoes, Badfinger and The Hollies all had hits with power ballads or top-forty schlock. The Hollies aping Creedence Clearwater with “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” may be memorable, but it also could have been recorded by just about any half-decent band. Completely unidentifiable as a Hollie’s song. 1972 was also the year that arguably the greatest rock composer of all time, Chuck Berry, released “My Ding A Ling.” This was the kind of shit that made a rock fan like myself weep.

In 1972, I was 21 and writing record reviews for a newspaper in Boulder, Colorado. At the time, record companies were very generous in sending out review copies of LPs to just about anyone claiming to be a rock critic. As a result, I was receiving well over a hundred copies of new record releases each month. Every day the postman would drop a load of vinyl on my front porch and I was like a kid at Christmas. Unfortunately, most of the freebies were real shit. But some good stuff would squeak through and occasionally the good stuff would be better than merely good. There were records among the dross that would eventually change my life.

From ‘72 to ‘75, when I did most of my reviewing, the albums that blew my mind were coming from reggae artists like Bob Marley and Toots And The Maytals followed by Brit rockers T.Rex, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Mott The Hoople, Cockney Rebel and American outliers Lou Reed, The New York Dolls, Sparks, Alice Cooper and Suzi Quatro, among a handful of others. What these performers shared in common was an energy that recalled some of the best of 60s garage bands, British Invasion, doses of psychedelia and a theatricality that was eccentric, fresh and provocative. Their songs tended to be short and to the point, with strong hooks and infectious beats. And they were sexy! This was the beginning of what eventually became known as glam rock. I know calling Marley glam is a stretch but let’s face it, Bob was glamorous and songs like “Lively Up Yourself” could be dropped into a mix with Bowie and Marc Bolan without missing a beat. Even if the twain does meet, we’ll still keep reggae out of the mix for sake of argument.

Glam rock blew open the doors for the punk scene that quickly followed on its heels. There’s not a single rock band that emerged in 76/77 from CBGB, Max’s, or The Marquee Club that weren’t inspired by glam bands. A few hate to admit it, but most know it’s true. From Johnny Rotten to Joey Ramone to Patti Smith, the visionaries in platform shoes with glitter in their hair like Marc Bolan, Bowie and The Dolls turned budding punks’ heads around and pointed them in a direction that would change them forever… just as they did for me.

Glam rock was fun at a time when rock wasn’t. The music I loved had become too self-important or too inconsequential to capture my heart and gut. Easy listening “elevator music” on MOR radio tossed with the pompous orchestral rock of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes and the blowhard power ballads of Kansas and Styx created a mind salad that was all cellulose and little fiber. Even bands I had once looked to for some hard-edged three-minute rockers, The Who, for instance, were creating pretentious rock operas that were large-gestures but intellectually feeble. I wanted plain old pinball machines without the wizards. When rock songs started taking up entire sides of an album, I found myself dragging out my old Seeds and Music Machine albums. Few rock artists could sustain the longform song for me. Only the Doors, Jimi Hendrix and The Velvet Underground could pull that off.

So glam put the fun back into rock. It also put sex back into rock and returned some color, glitter and style to a musical culture that had turned to faded denim, faux blues and pretentious bluster. It was bigger than life, but as light as moonbeams. While Rick Wakeman and Mike Oldfield were pumping hot air into the balloon of pop culture, Sparks and Roxy Music were sticking needles in it. Underneath their wild threads and crazy hair, the glam rockers were smirking at the artifice of it all, using the theater of rock and roll to remind us that rock music was as silly as it is essential.

Simon Reynolds book Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century is the definitive book on the music and pop culture explosion that put style, extravagance and a sense of—yes—absurdity back into rock and roll. Written from a place of genuine love for his subject, Reynolds’ 700 page history is formidable in its research and thoroughly entertaining. It’s smart without being academic and contains none of the “hey look at me” smarty pants rock crit that focuses more on the writer than the subject at hand. Reynolds is passionate about what he’s writing about and it’s truly infectious. From the big lights of Bowie, Roxy and Bolan to lesser known, but equally amazing, groups like Wizzard, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Tubes, Reynolds covers dozens upon dozens of artists starting with proto-glamster Jerry Lee Lewis, The Stooges, through the rock scenes impacted by glam including punk, new wave, hair metal and techno. Like with his terrific book on post-punk Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984,  Reynolds obviously knows what he’s talking about. As well-researched as his books are, they’re never larded with too much minutiae or footnoted to death. They move like rock and roll moves. Shock And Awe has the energy and exuberance of a tight chugging Marc Bolan guitar riff. You can dance to it. Buy it here. Really, buy it. At 12 bucks it’s a fucking steal. Thank me later.

After the jump, a special video mix inspired by ‘Shock And Awe’ containing songs from Marc Bolan, Mott The Hoople, Slade, Roxy Music, Suzi Quatro, Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Wizzard, Sparks, Mud, The Osmonds and Jook….

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Heavy Metal Kids: The missing link between glam rock, punk, cult TV and William Burroughs

File under Missing Links. Or perhaps: Good Bands who should be better known because they tie a lot of other things together.

Let’s begin with Malcolm McLaren—that cultural magpie who took his inspiration from some very unlikely quarters. When he was punting the Sex Pistols as modern day Artful Dodgers he was taking a cue from another band the Heavy Metal Kids. McLaren was never one to be shy of pinching other people’s ideas to confabulate something of his own. The Heavy Metal Kids were a gritty rock band who had a fanatical following in and around London during the early-mid 1970s. As McLaren used pub rock bands (like Kilburn and the High Roads) to show the Pistols stagecraft, he also saw something usable in Heavy Metal Kids’ frontman Gary Holton’s appearance—a style, a presence, a definition of how he wanted to sell the Pistols. Holton dressed like a Dickensian street urchin. He looked like Keith Richards dressed as the Artful Dodger in top and tails swinging an umbrella menacingly around in his hands. Holton’s swagger, his pure theatricality made a good rock band into something better, something bigger, something more dangerous and out of control.

The Heavy Metal Kids formed out of two other bands—Biggles and Heaven—Holton had been lead singer of both. Biggles were given a lot of hype by the record industry which proved to be money well wasted as Biggles proved to be a “Disaster. A very expensive disaster.” However, all was not lost as it was decided to merge the two bands and create a new one called Heavy Metal Kids in 1972.

The band’s name came from the gang of street kids featured in William S. Burroughs novel Nova Express. It was apt as juvenile delinquency and teenage street crime were rife across London at the time. Bovver boys. Skinheads. Gangs aping Alex and his droogs from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange were running riot. The Metropolitan police even ‘fessed up on a BBC documentary that teenage criminality was at an all time high and that one of the city’s most notorious burglars was an eleven-year-old kid.
Gary Holton plugging the Heavy Metal Kids support tour with Alice Cooper.
The original line-up of Heavy Metal Kids was Mickey Waller (guitar), Ronnie Thomas (bass and vocals), Gary Holton (lead vocals), Keith Boyce (drums) and Cosmo (guitar). With Holton’s powerful rock ‘n’ roll vocals and supreme stage swagger, the Heavy Metal Kids were soon spotted by Dave Dee—better known as singer/guitarist with sixties hit combo Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich—who signed them up to Atlantic Records.

The Heavy Metal Kids probably thought of themselves as a rock band but their hard-edged sound was an early sign of the oncoming punk tsunami. Their music mixed hard rock, proto-punk and Weimar cabaret. They were anti-establishment, political to an extent (Holton famously railed against the cops), and idolized by their fans—many of whom (Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Paul Simonon and Chrissie Hynde) went onto form their own bands. The Heavy Metal Kids’ gigs were legendary and infamous as Holton related to Sounds music paper in 1975:

“[W]e got banned from just abaht every ‘all we played in. Our act’s a bit lewd, and I fink the management of some of the venues was rather shocked. I was stickin’ knives into the stage durin’ one gig, and afterwards a guy come up to me and said: ‘I wish you ‘adn’t splintered it all up like that, we’ve got a ballet on tomorrow!’”

They supported Alice Cooper on his Welcome to My Nightmare tour and were the only band Keith Richards claimed he listened to in the mid-seventies:

In those days, the mid 70s, about the only thing I remember listening to is the Heavy Metal Kids.

See what you’ve missed with the Heavy Metal Kids, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Brian Setzer’s pre-Stray Cats new wave band

Brian Setzer rocketed to stardom in the early ‘80s with his band the Stray Cats, thanks to a handful of very popular MTV music videos that were in inescapably heavy rotation between 1982 and 1983. The Stray Cats were part of that decade’s rockabilly revival which also included bands like the Blasters, the Rockats, and Robert Gordon, among others.

Many are unaware of Setzer’s prior group, Bloodless Pharoahs, which bore little resemblance to the rockabilly stylings of the Stray Cats. Bloodless Pharoahs were a new wave outfit active in the late ‘70s New York and Philadelphia scenes. Though not as full-on scronk as their NY “no wave” brethren, they traveled in the same circles and certainly skirted more of the “art” side of the burgeoning new wave spectrum. Their “sound” has been described as “a cross between early Roxy Music, Modern Lovers, and Talking Heads.”

Anyone interested in obtaining some of their recorded output might first check out their two tracks on the Marty Thau Presents 2x5 compilation. There also exists a CD of mediocre-sounding live recordings titled Brian Setzer and the Bloodless Pharaohs.

But the entire reason for this post is to show off some incredibly rare live footage of the band playing live in NYC at Max’s Kansas City taken from Paul Tschinkel’s Inner Tube public access television program. Tschinkel’s documentation of the early NYC punk and alternative music scene is absolutely crucial and his YouTube channel sporadically updates with new archival footage every few months (not often enough, if you ask me!)

The first of the two tracks is the more interesting. The second is a quirky cover of the Perry Mason theme. Setzer’s guitar playing, particularly on the first track, is reminiscent of the punky-surf sound that East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys would become known for, though Setzer’s backing vocals may leave something to be desired.

See it after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
A young Patti Smith and Jonathan Miller star in a 1971 BBC doc about New York City

Jonathan Miller became famous in the cast of the great 1960s comedy show Beyond the Fringe, sharing the stage with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and—I can’t tell if a heart emoji would be out of place here—playwright Alan Bennett. To this day, Dr. Miller is well-known in the UK as a public intellectual, prominent atheist, TV documentarian and opera director. (During the early 1980s, Miller was briefly famous in America, too, as the host of the popular PBS history of medicine, The Body in Question, and as the author of the best-selling book of the same title. He was often a guest on Dick Cavett’s talk show for an entire week at a time.)

In 1971—YouTube says ‘72, but I’ll take Miller’s biographer’s date—Miller returned to New York, a city he’d first visited when Beyond the Fringe played Broadway a decade before, and he brought a BBC camera crew. West Side Stories: Two Journeys into New York City juxtaposed his impressions of New York City and those of a very young Patti Smith.

She looks and sounds like Rimbaud if he just stepped away from a stickball game, which is to say she’s already, as Oliver Stone made Ray Manzarek say, “making the myths.” Patti talks Godard, rock journalism, “slopping the hogs,” spending the whole day on 42nd Street for fifty cents, and the first porno double feature she watched (Orgy at Lil’s Place and Blonde on a Bum Trip), all with unusual verbal facility and charm for a 24-year-old.

In my whole life, no matter where I lived—Chattanooga, Chicago, South Jersey—I was always an outcast. Y’know, even in my own neighborhood, even in my own family. I looked different than my whole family. I always felt alien. Not that I wasn’t loved, but people thought I was weird-lookin’ and skinny and all that. I had an eyepatch which I’ve since got rid of. And I never had no friends or boyfriends. When I came to the city, my whole life changed.

The uploader of this footage, YouTube user Pheidias Ictinus, claims it was the cameraman’s idea to interview Patti:

This film was made by the director Tristram Powell. At the suggestion of his cameraman he went to meet Patti and she ended up as an integral part of the film he was making with Jonathan Miller. The decision was made on the fly, during filming in New York, it was not part of the original concept. That’s what you call creative freedom.

Who would Jonathan Miller’s cameraman tell him to interview in today’s Manhattan? Some tech guy? I can’t wait to turn on the TV in 2047 and hear some tech guy reminisce about New York on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel. Lord, take me now. . .
Watch after the jump…

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