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The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead
11:58 am


The Damned

Like rings in a tree, you can age me by the rock and roll songs that have embedded themselves in my brain and body. My musical dendrochronology begins somewhere in the late 50s with Chuck Berry and radiates outward to include layers of Brit pop, American garage, psychedelia, R&B, punk and substratums of blues, folk and jazz. I measure my life not so much in time but through epiphanies triggered by music, art, sex and drugs – a string of cosmic firecrackers shooting sparks into the ultimate reality of whatever the fuck I’ve become. I’m shaped by the things I love. And I love rock and roll.

In 1977, I was living in Boulder, Colorado. It was the year of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and every radio station across the known universe was transmitting that unstoppable, unavoidable ear worm, creating a phonological loop in even the most resistant of hosts. I owned the record. I played it. I liked it. But was it a life-changer? No fucking way. But something epochal, something brain-sizzling and exhilarating was churning in the near distance and heading straight for my very receptive rock n’ roll heart: a burst of punk ferocity called The Damned.

“New Rose” arrived in my life when I was searching to stretch my own art into new shapes. I was a poet who had grown tired of the solitary act of writing. And while I was good enough to be published in some small press magazines, I really wasn’t all that interested in seeing my poems in print. I was far more excited by doing poetry readings. I dug the interplay between me and an audience. Poets say you should write for yourself. I always thought that was bullshit. I wrote to be heard. I wrote to stir things up and topple empires. Poetry, for me, was a revolutionary act and the revolution wasn’t happening in universities or the dusty corners of bookstores. It was happening in bars and on the streets. And suddenly, in the year of ’77, it was starting to happen on the airwaves and in rock clubs.

Bands like The Damned, Patti Smith Group, The Ramones, The Stranglers, Talking Heads, The Clash, Blondie and Television were making music that was subversive, surreal, weird, untamed and unpredictable. It was like the Dadaists or the Beats had picked up guitars and formed rock bands. The gates were flung open and everyone was invited. It was explosive and it changed rock forever. And it changed me. I packed up my Smith Corona and bought a Telecaster.

Wes Orshoski’s The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead is the first documentary to explore the tangled history of Britain’s seminal punk band in depth. It’s raw, funny, intimate and at times heartbreakingly sad. Orshoski had total access to the group, both current and past members, and the complex and highly dysfunctional relationships that have driven the founding bandmates into two antagonistic camps is one of the truly sad tales of a rock and roll marriage turned toxic.

The film certainly has its dark side but it is also an exhilarating account of what total commitment to the life of a rocker is all about. The Damned have done it their way since their inception and they’re doing it still. Chock full of live footage from all of the eras of The Damned and wonderfully witty and prickly interviews with Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James, among many others, the movie is emotionally intense but it is also sublimely entertaining. Still punker than shit 40 years after they first got together as teenagers, The Damned are the embodiment of an uncompromising spirit that is as admirable as it is exhausting to sustain. While other bands from the class of 77 went on to some fame and fortune, The Damned never really got their due. Time for that to change.

Orshoski did an exceptionally fine job of documenting the life of the Motörhead frontman in Lemmy (2010) and his skill in getting artists to open up and be candid about their lives is particularly evident in the Damned movie. At times the intimacy of the film can almost be too much. When Rat Scabies or Captain Sensible drop their guard, the results can be a potent mix of bitterness, anger and a begrudging kind of love.

The jealousy, resentment and bad business dealings that split the Damned apart is a rupture that if healed could see the band playing together again with all of its original members. Not too many bands you can say that about. There will be no Clash re-union and The Ramones are gone for good. But the Damned still walk among us. Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible currently tour as The Damned. Rat Scabies and Brian James often do live gigs performing Damned songs. But it’s been almost 25 years since the four of them have played together and as long as they’re still all alive, that’s a damn shame.

In this interview Dangerous Minds conducted with Wes Orshoski, the director speaks of his admiration for The Damned and the struggles of making a movie on a zero budget about a band that is punker than you.

After the jump watch some never before released live footage of the Damned and an interview with a guy from El Paso who fooled everyone into thinking he was Dave Vanian. Plus, a terrific review of The Damned’s American debut at CBGB in 1977…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Estonian choral punk song festival: Either the most unpunk OR punkest thing on the planet
11:04 am



Last weekend in Rakvere, Estonia, thousands gathered for the third “Punk Song Festival.”

The festival, which was also held in 2008 and 2011, features popular Estonian punk songs performed by choirs.

This year’s program featured all Estonian punk songs arranged for choir and orchestra as well as the Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the UK.”

According to the Estonian Ministry of Culture’s website:

The Punk Song Festival is a symbiosis of the traditional Estonian song festival with lot of choral singers and punk rock. The idea came from Üllar Saaremäe, the artistic director of Rakvere theater in the Summer of 2007 and next year, June 7, 2008 the Punk Song Festival in Rakvere became a reality. Then the punk anthem “Anarchy in the U.K” was the only non-Estonian punk song in the repertoire.

Looking a bit like a cartoonish Quincy and CHiPs punks-comprised rendition of “We are the World,” the choir belts out an ESL, orchestrally arranged version of the Pistols’ timeless anthem.

Not much in-between here, this is either the most unpunk or the punkest thing ever:

More choral punk after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Balkan Pank’: Captivating photos of the explosive 1980s Yugoslavian punk scene
07:33 am



As the only Eastern Bloc country independent from the Soviet Union, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a highly unique experiment in communism. The country wasn’t technically “behind the Iron Curtain,” and culturally it was very open to so-called “Western” culture like metal, rap, New Romantic and yes, punk. The scene was big and incredibly dynamic, with all the diversity of the American or British scenes—Oi!, thrash, hardcore, proto-punk, you name it. Photographer Jože Suhadolnik started taking pictures of bands and fans at the tender age of 15 (his first show was a 1981 Siouxsie and the Banshees concert), and he’s recently compiled his photos into a book, Balkan Pank.

The pictures are sensual and untamed—everything you want from a bunch of young punks, but while Yugoslavia wasn’t a Soviet state, it was still heavily policed. Suhadolnik remembers:

“You could be arrested and beaten hard by police because you sprayed graffiti or were wearing a badge with a ‘Nazi Punks Fuck off’ sign just because ‘Nazi’ is on it. Few people were jailed and later secretly followed by the police.

After the break up of Yugoslavia, Suhadolnik had a chance to look at his own fat police file—over 400 pages about taking pictures of punks, a subversive act, simply by association.



More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Iggy Pop and Steve Jones’ druggy, doomy remake of ‘Purple Haze’
10:50 am


Iggy Pop
Jimi Hendrix
Steve Jones
Purple Haze

Steve Jones and Iggy Pop circa 1988
There exists a recording of the Stooges playing a straight-ahead cover of “Purple Haze” sometime in the 70s (see the dodgy-looking Anthology Box), but I’m in love with this weird, opiated bum-out version of the song Iggy recorded with Sex Pistol Steve Jones a decade later.

Along with several Pop/Jones compositions and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” “Purple Haze” was one of a number of songs the pair demoed in a home studio in L.A.‘s Hancock Park neighborhood in 1985. According to at least one crummy fan bio, Bowie was so impressed by the Hancock Park demos that upon hearing them he decided to reunite with Iggy for Blah-Blah-Blah.

Instead of the Day-Glo flash of acid, Iggy’s “Purple Haze” evokes the feeling of stumbling through a Ralphs supermarket at midnight on a handful of downers. (Despite the track’s druggy feel, Iggy biographer Paul Trynka says both men were clean and sober during these sessions.) It’s a radical rewrite of the song, with a new bridge, lyrics that mention The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and like none of the distinguishing features of the original. The vibe is more like the Stooges’ “Sick of You” than anything Hendrix ever played; Jones’ arpeggios remind me a bit of that gorgeous guitar break in the middle of Black Sabbath’s “Cornucopia,” and Iggy croons in his low register.

As on the previous Pop/Jones collaboration, the immortal “Repo Man,” Jones gets in a “Secret Agent Man”-style figure, though here it replaces one of the most famous rock guitar lines of all time. Unless I am merely going deaf, there is also a high-pitched drone throughout the song, reminiscent of the piano on “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Maybe this is what happens when you take the “brown acid”?


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Here’s that Minor Threat/Black Sabbath mashup t-shirt you didn’t know you totally wanted
07:20 am


Black Sabbath
Minor Threat

The photograph on this T-shirt captures the members of Black Sabbath in their hometown of Washington, D.C., on a sunny spring day in 1983, shortly after recording their only studio album Out of Step, which represented a galvanizing call to arms for a generation of disaffected youth eager to express…... 

No. Try again.

The photograph on this clever T-shirt, put out by Wear Dinner, is an adaptation of one of the many iconic pictures taken by Glen E. Friedman. The photograph, for which Friedman used a fisheye lens, was taken in the summer of 1983, just a few months before Minor Threat broke up. (If you’d like to learn more about that picture, I recommend picking up Friedman’s 2014 book My Rules.)

To get the shirt, you’ll have to fork over $25, or you can get a coffee mug for $12.

Unaccountably, I couldn’t find any clips of Minor Threat or Fugazi playing Sabbath covers (weird!) so here are these two extended videos instead.

Sabbath, Paris, 1970 and Minor Threat, CBGB’s, 1982.



Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Illiteracy Will Prevail’: Demo tape from Kurt Cobain’s pre-Nirvana band Fecal Matter
12:25 pm


Kurt Cobain
Fecal Matter

Photo Credit: Charles Peterson
When Kurt Cobain formed his band Fecal Matter in 1985 with drummer Greg Hokanson and future Melvins drummer Dale Crover, his blazing path to superstardom as the singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Nirvana was still several years away. Fecal Matter recorded a single demo on a four-track under the title, “Illiteracy Will Prevail.”

Now, for the first time ever, the entire demo, lasting slightly longer than 58 minutes, has surfaced online. Cobain’s uncanny ability to wrest tunefulness out of what is otherwise a gnarly punk mess is clearly in evidence all over this demo. You wouldn’t mistake it for the output of any other band.

The cassette cover for the 4-track demo
The demo has a dozen-plus “totally abrasive” tracks on it, the titles of which are not fully agreed-upon. The last full song (at the 45:08 mark) is an early version of “Downer,” which appeared as an extra track on some versions of Nirvana’s 1989 debut Bleach.

Fecal Matter broke up when the Melvins coalesced; future Nirvana bassist Krist (a/k/a Chris) Novoselic heard and dug the Fecal Matter demo, sought out Cobain, and the rest is rock history.

“Illiteracy Will Prevail,” approximate tracklist:
1. Sound of Dentage (00:00)
2. Bambi Slaughter (04:50)
3. Laminated Effect (08:24)
4. Blathers Log (10:42)
5. Class of ’86 (13:19)
6. Boatakk (17:15)
7. Love My Family (19:21)
8. Accusations (28:28)
9. Spank Thru (33:05)
10. Insurance (36:55)
11. Buffy’s Pregnant (38:24)
12. Vaseline (42:41)
13. Downer (45:08)
14. Instrumental version of Boatakk (48:09)
15. Riffs & “Turnaround” by Devo (49:48)

Listen to the entire “Illiteracy Will Prevail” demo below:

via Consequence of Sound

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Masturbator of puppets: The anatomically correct GG Allin marionette
07:19 am


GG Allin

GG Allin marionette
GG Allin marionette
There are entirely too many times during the day that while doing important “research” for DM, I audibly utter the words “I can’t.” However, after learning of the existence of a GG Allin marionette, I wasn’t even able to muster a sound in protest, and was instead at a total loss for words.
GG Allin marionette
Alex Godfrey, an artist and blogger over at The Guardian, posted blow-by-blow images of his fellow blogger/artist friend Shehzad making a marionette of GG Allin to give to him on his birthday last year. Because nothing says “Happy birthday, scum fuck!” like your very own naked, bloody version of GG Allin that can be controlled by strings. Shehzad’s didn’t skimp on the details—and from the looks of it, few details were spared when it came to making his version of GG look as much like the notorious man himself as possible.

If you want to know why, take a look at the NSFW photos of the GG marionette that follow as well as images from Shehzad’s “creative process.” There are also a few I can’t post, which helps illustrate my point about Shehzad’s attention to detail. If you really need to see them, click here. If you are familiar with GG, then I’m going to assume you’ll know what to expect. I also included a super-short video of marionette GG’s maker putting on a brief show with his most valuable (and possibly possessed) creation. See you in HELL!
The making of the GG Allin marionette in progress
The making of the GG Allin marionette in progress
The making of the GG Allin marionette in progress
GG Allin marionette
The GG Allin marionette LIVES
GG Allin marionette

The GG Allin marionette spazzing out

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Two rare Joy Division tracks were just re-released, and you can hear them here
09:14 am


Joy Division
Love Will Tear Us Apart

Rhino Records recently did that thing they do very very well, and re-released Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Closer, Still, and Substance on 180 gram vinyl. My feelings are mixed on the recent flood of vinyl reissues of albums that have been widely available for decades, but the 2XLP reissue of Substance contains some items of interest that have never been featured on any release of that collection—a rare 7” b-side called “As You Said,” and the so-called “Pennine mix” of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

“As You Said” was released as a b-side to a flexi-disc of “Komakino” that was given away in The Öther Söund magazine. That flexi also included a version of “Incubation,” and all three tracks were outtakes from the Closer sessions, the band’s final studio recordings. It’s a significantly brighter mix than the version that can be heard on the Heart & Soul box set and the Warsaw CD, and it’s only ever been issued with this level of clarity as part of the preposterous Singles 1978-80, an ultra-limited box set of ten remastered 7"s. It’s a synth-based instrumental curiosity, likely of interest to the überfan who’s heard it all.

The Pennine version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was actually the rejected original recording of the song, recorded at Pennine Sound Studios in January of 1980 (the version with which we’re all much more familiar was recorded at Strawberry Studios in March). It was released as the b-side to the original 7” and 12” of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” along with “These Days.” Some versions of the 7” dropped the Pennine recording of “LWTUA” and featured “These Days” alone. It saw a 1988 release on the “Atmosphere” 12” that accompanied the original release of Substance. In a 2010 GQ interview, JD’s drummer Stephen Morris cited this version as his preferred recording of “LWTUA:”

The Pennine version has always been there - it was on the b-side of the 12-inch when it first came out. But it wasn’t called “The Pennine Mix” or anything like that, it was just “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but a slightly different version. That version was the way we always played it live. The one that everybody knows, I actually hate.

Why, because it’s too poppy?
Just because of the bad, emotional things. Martin Hannett [Joy Division record producer] played one of his mind games when we were recording it - it sounds like he was a tyrant, but he wasn’t, he was nice. We had this one battle where it was nearly midnight and I said, “Is it all right if I go home, Martin - it’s been a long day?” And he said [whispers], “OK… you go home.” So I went back to the flat. Just got to sleep and the phone rings. “Martin wants you to come back and do the snare drum.” At four in the morning! I said, “What’s wrong with the snare drum!?” So every time I hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, I grit my teeth and remember myself shouting down the phone, “YOU BASTARD!” [smashes up imaginary phone.] I can feel the anger in it even now. It’s a great song and it’s great production, but I do get anguished every time I hear it.

Hear both songs after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Hear the Dead Kennedys as a five-piece with KEYBOARDS, play a Rolling Stones cover
06:25 am


Dead Kennedys
Paul Roessler

I recently finished reading Michael Stewart Foley’s excellent 33 1/3 series book on the Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables album. 

Rather than merely analyzing recording minutae or picking apart lyrical content song-by-song, the book documents the socio-political climate of late ‘70s San Francisco, exploring the environment that existed which precipitated the need for a Dead Kennedys. It’s incidentally got me on a personal kick of revisiting a lot of DK music, particularly from that early, formative era—when Jello Biafra was writing songs instead of diatribes.

When I’m not wasting my time obsessively A/B-ing different pressings of Fresh Fruit to detect subtle differences in the mastering quality, I’m double checking to see what blessings the gods of the Internet have offered up as gap fillers in the Kennedys’ historical record. A few months ago I wrote here about an incredible 1982 live video from Vienna. Although the recording I’m presenting today is audio-only, it’s a far more interesting historical artifact than even that Vienna show (which totally blew me away). Today we’re going to listen to Terry Hammer’s recording of Dead Kennedys from Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco from June 14, 1980.

Dead Kennedys played with Paul Roessler’s band, Bent, and the Subhumans from Canada.
Terry Hammer was an audio engineer during the heyday of first wave punk in San Francisco. He maintains a mind-blowing YouTube channel upon which he has graciously decided to share dozens of live recordings he engineered for Bay Area radio stations KALX, KTIM, KSAN, KSJO, KUSF, and KSFS. The channel features no less than five different (crucial) Dead Kennedys recordings—all worth investigating.

I’ve previously gushed all over Dangerous Minds about Hammer’s recordings of DEVO and Husker Du. The quality of this recording exists somewhere in between those two, preserving, with remarkable clarity, this point in the Kennedys’ history where they were feeling more comfortable in their arrangements and picking up the tempos (but before going full hardcore with the replacement of original drummer, “Ted,” with D.H. Peligro).

But what’s really, truly astounding about this recording is the inclusion of Paul Roessler on keyboard for the final five songs of the gig. At twenty-eight and a half minutes in, Jello sardonically introduces Roessler (brother of Black Flag’s Kira Roessler) as the “Remora of Rock and Roll.” Roessler was known up to that point for his work with the Screamers, Nervous Gender, Mommymen, Bent, and Silver Chalice. Bent had opened for Dead Kennedys on that night’s bill.

“Torture those keys,” directs Biafra, and Roessler does, with distorted organ sounds blaring even more raw, jagged and cutting than East Bay Ray’s bright surf-overdrive guitar damage. Roessler performs on “Stealing People’s Mail,” “Drug Me,” “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Too Drunk to Fuck,” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.”

The keys are particularly effective on “Too Drunk To Fuck,” changing the entire vibe of the song, giving it a campy horror sound, not far from the early death rock of bands like 45 Grave (whom Roessler was also a member of).

Roessler had previously worked with Dead Kennedys, in the studio, where he played keyboard tracks on “Drug Me” and “Stealing People’s Mail” for the Fresh Fruit LP. According to Alex Ogg’s book Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The Early Years, “Stealing People’s Mail” was musically influenced by Roessler’s group the Screamers.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Cover versions: Debbie Harry stars in pulp romance novels based on Blondie songs
07:08 am


Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry faux pulp novel
“Rip Her to Shreds” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song found on Blondie’s eponymous 1976 debut album

These clever faux pulp romance novels featuring Debbie Harry by Atlanta-based pop artist, Zteven are pretty much the best things I’ve seen this week. And I see a lot of cool stuff on a daily basis.

Not only did Zteven manage to portray Harry as one of the coolest salacious sirens to ever grace the cover of a smutty, old school pulp romance novel, he also incorporated the lyrics of songs from Blondie’s catalog in the titles and descriptions. There are even a few sly nods to Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, as well as songwriter and producer Mike Chapman who worked with the group on their breakthrough 1978 record, Parallel Lines as well as Eat to the Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980) and The Hunter (1982). The set of four prints, framed, will run you $40.
One Way or Another faux pulp novel with Debbie Harry
“One Way or Another” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song that appears on 1978’s Parallel Lines
More Blondie cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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