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‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s

The cover of Raw Power magazine featuring Iggy Pop, 1977.

“I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure.”

—Iggy Pop on his admission that he only planned to live “two more years” back in 1977 in an interview with Raw Power magazine

Founded by the sixteen-year-old duo of Scott Stephens (who wrote under the name “Quick Draw”) and Robert Olshever (aka “Bobalouie”) the LA-based ‘zine Raw Power got started in 1976 and almost immediately got the attention of major record labels who would give Stephens and Olshever an all access pass to rock and punk stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, DEVO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, the Ramones and other musical luminaries that the average sixteen-year-old only got close to by way of their poster-covered bedroom walls.

The teenage masterminds behind Raw Power Magazine (L to R): Robert Olshever (Bobalouie), Scott Stephens (Quick Draw) and Murray Schwartz.
Joined later by Murray Schwartz (who would take photographs for the magazine) Raw Power would publish for about three years and routinely featured all the stuff you’d expect to find in a magazine that fused the worlds of rock and punk together like interviews, album reviews and that—according to an archive of the magazine run by Stephens—LOVED to publish unedited “letter to the editor” many of which were laced with obscenity. And here’s a rather mind-blowing revelation from Stephens which took place during an interview with Ozzy in 1979 right after Osbourne (who repeatedly “teared up” during the interview) had been given his walking papers by Black Sabbath. According to Stephens it was the boys of Raw Power who recommended pint-sized guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads to Osbourne for his new band which at the time Ozz was considering calling “Son of Sabbath.”

Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.

When the 2000 film by Cameron Crowe Almost Famous came out many of folks in the trio’s circle immediately thought that the flick was about them—which should help put some perspective on how much of an impact Raw Power made in its short run despite its humble design and young founders. As I mentioned Stephens runs an archive for Raw Power where you can read through three issues in full, which I did and I can’t lie—it was a blast. I’ve posted a few images from the magazine as well as some fantastic vintage photos of Stephens and his cohorts cavorting with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop, Geezer Butler and Ozzy among others. Raw Power was also one of the only publications to have the opportunity to get some great live shots of Van Halen (taken by Murray Schwartz) while they were still performing in the LA club scene back in 1977. These had never been seen outside of the magazine until they were posted over at the Van Halen News Desk in 2014.

Scott Stephens of Raw Power Magazine with Iggy Pop, 1977.

Stephens with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
More ‘Raw Power’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Avengers opening for the Sex Pistols at Winterland
08:24 am



The Avengers were, as their lone studio album testifies, the great West Coast punk band. In a better world (so to speak) they and the Screamers would have looked down on the Sunset Strip from enormous billboards.

It’s belatedly come to my attention that pro-shot footage of the Avengers’ entire January 14, 1978 set at Winterland, opening the Sex Pistols’ final (pre-90s-reunion) show, is up on YouTube. The only Avengers video I’d seen of this vintage before was the blurry and generally unsatisfying Target VHS. By comparison, this is like the color turning on in The Wizard of Oz. It’s a sharp recording of a killer performance, and if nineteen-year-old Penelope Houston’s fierce opener, “The American in Me,” doesn’t resonate with you in 2016, then like Magic 8-Ball says, “Outlook not so good.”

You can also watch the Nuns’ full set from that night and, of course, the Pistols’. What you won’t find on YouTube is a trace of the evening’s emcee, the legendary rock critic Richard Meltzer, who was thrown out before the show ended. He writes:

At the Sex Pistols show in San Francisco I was asked to emcee, and I went out and provoked the audience and they threw things at me and Bill Graham, who was promoting it, chucked me out of the building—what a rush.

See the Avengers in action after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Punk poet John Cooper Clarke sings ‘MacArthur Park’ with the Stranglers’ Hugh Cornwell

Richard Harris’ seven-and-a-half-minute reading of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” is not for me. I like watching Harris on-screen well enough, and I like Jimmy Webb’s writing, but there’s something about the way Harris cries over the warm wine, soggy cake and “stripèd pair of pants” that is more than I can stand. Besides, I’m from Los Angeles, and when I hear the name “MacArthur Park” I think of gang murders and police beatings, despite the lovely gang murder wedding I once attended there.

But Mick Jagger was right: It’s the singer, not the song. What “MacArthur Park” needs is a voice without a hint of mawkishness, a voice that expresses disgust as easily as regret, a voice that has blown out some of its capacity for self-pity: a voice that belongs to an old Northern person. Replace Richard Harris with Dr. John Cooper Clarke, and I’m on board! Nor does it hurt if he’s singing ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell’s hot new arrangement of the number, over which Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull takes a flute solo reminiscent of Dave Greenfield’s keys on “No More Heroes.” All that is “sweet, green icing” on the cake.

Clarke and Cornwell on location (via Gigslutz)
The video for Clarke and Cornwell’s “MacArthur Park,” filmed on location, is the first taste of the duo’s upcoming album, and it is a treat. If the sight of John Cooper Clarke circumambulating an LA lake in his ‘66 Dylan duds doesn’t make blood rush to your groin and drool stream from your lips, just wait until he goes into the kitchen and actually bakes the fucking cake!

The video after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
BASS IN YOUR FACE: Excellent footage of the Sex Pistols’ notorious San Antonio gig
11:23 am


Sex Pistols

When I read about the very recent incident wherein the estimable Mr. John Lydon shrugged off a bleeding head gash inflicted by a bottle-throwing audience member to continue performing as though nothing had happened (this at age 60, folks—a lot of MUCH younger performers have stopped shows for less) I couldn’t help but be reminded of the great moments in early punk lore—the time that the Sex Pistols, on the brief US tour that catalyzed their demise, played Randy’s Rodeo, a former bowling alley converted into a cowboy bar in San Antonio, TX.

Such an inappropriate booking was clearly a deliberate provocation—this was at a time in when civilians still found tales of routine onstage sex and vomiting at punk shows plausible. So a crowd made up of cowboys and heshers (plus some pilgrims from Austin) had come expecting to see the most preposterous rumors about punk made real, and they had no shortage of missiles to hurl at the band—the usual bottles, cans and cups, hot dogs and popcorn, someone even pelted Lydon with whipped cream, which not only doesn’t hurt, it’s surely more welcome than the more customary gobs of spit.

The Pistols did do a fair job of delivering on punk’s rumored promise—singer Lydon, wearing a gay cowboy t-shirt by Tom of Finland and baiting the presumably hostile audience as “cowboy faggots”, farmer-blew snot onto the stage and the fans in front. Bassist Sid Vicious, actually experiencing heroin withdrawal, removed his coat to reveal “GIMMIE A FIX” scrawled on his chest, and endeavored to silence a heckler by bludgeoning him with his bass.

This clip from the 1980 documentary D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage, of the song “New York” from that storied performance, shows pretty much all that’s described above, and it wasn’t even a third of the way through their set. There’s great audience footage as well—rural metalheads air-guitaring, a seemingly normal woman who’d pierced her nose with a safety pin, and at the end, the guy who Vicious hit with his bass admitting he’d deliberately provoked the musician in performance, still cryassing about his retaliation.

What would you give to be able to time-travel to attend this show?

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Revolting Teens Lose Their MINDS! The awesome illustrated covers of ‘Punk Magazine’
01:03 pm


Punk Magazine
John Holmstrom

The cover of the first issue of ‘Punk Magazine’ featuring an illustration of Lou Reed by John Holmstrom, January, 1976.
Many of the excellent illustrated covers of Punk Magazine in this post were done by the zine’s cofounder John Holmstrom—the man behind the cover of the Ramones album Road to Ruin and Rocket to Russia as well as other illustrated oddities since embarking on his long career as an artist.

Members of the Sex Pistols and Malcolm Mclaren perusing issue #12 of ‘Punk’ featuring an illustration of Robert Gordon on the cover
A dear friend of mine recently gifted me with a copy of Holmstrom’s 2012 book The Very Best of Punk Magazine and I haven’t put the massive thing down in a month. Though Punk only published for a few short years the book itself is a literal goldmine of punk rock artifacts from beautiful reprints of hard-to-find early issues of Punk, photos, essays and even handwritten anecdotes from Lou Reed, journalist Lester Bangs, Debbie Harry, cartoons drawn by R. Crumb and other visual time-capsules too numerous to mention.

While I’m sure that many of our DM readers already own a copy of this heirloom, if you are not one of them I highly recommend picking one up as it is a much a joy to read as it is just to look at. One of my favorite parts of the book were the images of the illustrated covers of Punk the epitome Holmstrom’s cartoony DIY style which some liken to a giant punk rock coloring book. It’s almost criminal that you can find hardcover copies of the book for about $20 bucks out there but you can and it’s well worth the small investment especially if your memories of the 70s are fuzzy thanks to all that bad acid you dropped and whatnot.

Holmstrom recently announced that he is selling some items from his personal collection such as the first issue of Punk
(pictured at the top of this post). More comic-styled images from the covers of Punk follow.

The cover of issue #10 of ‘Punk Magazine’ featuring a big-headed version of Blondie.
More after the jump…

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‘Family Entertainment’: The Undertones blow the roof off BBC’s Belfast studio, 1979
08:23 am


the Undertones

Ad from ZigZag Magazine, 1979
In November 1979, BBC Northern Ireland aired the premiere of Green Rock, a six-week TV series devoted to Irish groups. The first act on the show was not, pace broadcaster Mike Edgar, Celtic rockers Horslips, but Derry’s mighty punk five-piece, the Undertones.

Captured mid-hurtle between their 1979 debut and 1980’s Hypnotised, the ‘tones blasted through their lovesick juvenilia with maximum pain and pleasure. The set includes two of their “girls talk” songs (“Girls That Don’t Talk” and “The Way Girls Talk,” though not their cover of the Chocolate Watchband’s “Let’s Talk About Girls”) and the single I personally find more affecting than “Teenage Kicks,” “You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It).” All that’s missing is “Male Model.”

At Creggan in Derry, 1977 (via Aural Sculptors)
The reunited Undertones—minus their original tremulous voice, Feargal Sharkey, who says he only sings to annoy his children these days—have UK dates booked through November. A remix of “Get Over You” by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine will be released as a seven-inch in October.

Watch the Undertones after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘We Who Wait’: BBC documentary on original punks T.V. Smith and the Adverts
02:55 pm


The Adverts
T.V. Smith

The Adverts had the poor luck to have a talented songwriter in T.V. Smith, a foxy-looking female bass guitarist, and an opening salvo that remarked on punk musicians who might not have been too technically proficient (a group that included some of the people in the Adverts, as it happened). Smith’s songwriting ambitions didn’t entirely fit in with the London punk scene that enabled the band’s existence, and the apparent boon of Gaye Advert’s photogenic, oftentimes goth-like glare simply became a weapon nay-sayers could use to put down the band (as in, “Oi, that girl bass player can’t play”). And naming your first single “One Chord Wonders,” well, you’re just asking for it now, aren’t you?

The Adverts broke up in 1979 after a single on Stiff Records (the aforementioned “One Chord Wonders,” featuring a typically brilliant Barney Bubbles cover) and a true hit in “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” for Bright Records—as well as two LPs—but the frontman and main songwriter for the band, T.V. Smith, never quit making good music, becoming something of a “troubadour,” in the words of Richard Strange as uttered in the 2012 BBC4 documentary We Who Wait: TV Smith & the Adverts.

When I first heard “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” I knew exactly who Gary Gilmore was but it had never occurred to me that the song was referencing a historical fact, that Gilmore had made sure to donate his eyes so that another might see. Would you want to have to look through Gary Gilmore’s eyes?

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
SHOOT BAND ALERT! Poison Idea’s new video depicts the assassination of Donald Trump
10:06 am


Donald Trump
Poison Idea

Though they were among hardcore’s early adopters, the intermittently long-lived Portland punks Poison Idea have remained a connoisseur’s buy, a genre band for people really really into that sort of thing. Their most triumphant flirtation with the great washed knowing that they even existed was when the inarguably uncute band was hilariously selected in June of 1992 to be highlighted in Sassy magazine’s “Cute Band Alert” feature.

CUTE BAND ALERT! The fellow in front went by the name “Pig Champion.” (RIP 2006)

But like many HXC lifers, Poison Idea have soldiered on through breakups, lineup changes, and the indifference of all but their most steadfast devotees. But they may soon find themselves the objects of greater attention, if not outright surveillance: their latest video, for “Calling All Ghosts,” brings hardcore back to its ‘80s I-Hate-Reagan glory by depicting the assassination of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. (It was released before the candidate was formally declared the party’s nominee, and so before he qualified for Secret Service protection.) The video’s narrative borrows ideas from The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, and Taxi Driver, showing a hapless rocker dude being brainwashed by a cabal of punks into serving as an assassin, and giving himself a Travis Bickle makeover before engaging in the fateful act.

While we wish the band well in avoiding any undue scrutiny, it’s probably not something to fret about—the ending is ambiguous enough to give the band wiggle room, and besides, by now I imagine there could well be members of Trump’s security detail who’re hoping someone gets a good shot in.

The video, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
What the actual fuck? Barney’s is selling Black Flag shirts for $265
01:26 pm


Black Flag

Look, right up front, I absolutely despise alterkaker getoffmylawning about how “PUNK DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING ANYMORE” blah blah blah. Punk is 40 fucking years old, it maybe doesn’t have to mean the same thing it used to. There’s more than one way to rebel, and if thekidstoday™ aren’t doing it in a way you can recognize, that might be on you.

Furthermore, handwringing about commerce ruining everything that was once pure and holy is some goddamn Baby Boom narcissist bullshit. Music was forever tainted by commerce the day someone first printed and sold sheet music. Without commerce, your favorite band doesn’t survive.

But all that being said, JESUS FUCK, THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT:


The pants—are those knickers? Is that a thing now?

Crafted of black brushed Japanese cotton-cashmere jersey, R13’s T-shirt is printed at front with white “Black Flag” lettering and graphics and styled at sides with decorative elongated zippers.

Yep, Barney’s, that NYC department store for assholes who have too much money and want everyone to know it, is selling Black Flag shirts for $265 (not even gonna link it). Even if the band gets a cut of that, well which band? The embarrassing and awful Greg Ginn version that wouldn’t exist if anyone involved had any goddamn sense? Ugh.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Quickie documentary on the 80s Austin punk scene including The Big Boys and The Offenders

I’m forever a sucker for any historical documentation of the 80s hardcore punk scene, particularly pieces like this that were created under the radar and then lost to the sands of time. YouTube has gloriously resurrected so much of this kind of material, including scores of TV evening news reports, such as this one on the “crazy” new music and fashion fads of the 1980s.

What we have here is a four-minute-long documentary from 1985 on the Austin, Texas punk scene which was produced by Robert Wynne at the University of Texas at Austin School of Communications for his master’s degree.

The short video contains interviews with music critics, students, and Randy “Biscuit” Turner of the legendary Austin punk/funk band, The Big Boys. Turner, widely regarded as a pioneer gay performer in the world of punk rock, sadly passed away in 2005.

The video contains a Big Boys photo montage which is set to their classic track “Fun, Fun Fun” from the twelve inch EP of the same name—unfortunately, the producer of the video didn’t realize (or maybe he did?) that the EP was meant to be played at 45 rpm. The version of “Fun, Fun, Fun” here is clearly being played at 33 rpm, which is either tragic or comic depending on the producer’s intent. 

More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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