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Punk rock is coming for your children! Arrogant talk show host blows an easy one


 
The alarmist punk-rock-is-coming-for-your-children episode of everywhere’s local talk show was practically a genre unto itself around 1980. They typically followed a template: a safe, comfortable, grinning suburbanite moderator projects his or her values onto a movement s/he doesn’t understand at all, and expects a handful of alienated, hobo-looking kids that the producer dug up somewhere to represent punk as a whole, as though a couple of random petulant runaways should shoulder the responsibility of justifying the existence of a broad international musical and cultural movement. On better shows, they found bright kids, and the hosts at least made an effort at understanding the new weirdness, instead of just hectoring their guests about their negativity, as though all art was invalid unless it existed solely to entertain them personally.

This is not one of the better shows.
 

 
Stanley Siegel was an interviewer of some repute, who fancied himself audacious and uncompromising, but was often really just kind of a showboating dick. In one infamous episode, Siegel physically restrained Timothy Leary before sandbagging him with a surprise phone call from Art Linkletter, who blamed LSD, and by extension, Leary, for his daughter’s suicide. So yeah, THAT kind of showboating dick. On his obligatory punk rock scold show (IS IT A DEATH TRIP OR A RITE OF PASSAGE?), he managed to book credible guests and proceeded to treat them with amazing condescension. In addition to the usual few aimless kids, Siegel landed Penelope Spheeris, director of the canonical L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and artist Gary Panter, whose logo for the band Screamers is such an elemental piece of punk art that it’s probably much better-remembered than the band itself. He’d become even better known as a cartoonist for RAW and as the set designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Spheeris, right out of the gate, is just not having any of Siegel. At first it seems like she’s trying a little too hard to affect disaffection, but soon enough, what looked at first like brazen posturing (“I’d like to be a hooker?” Really?) becomes more than justified by Siegel’s smug, curt patronization. Real quote: “This woman actually produced and directed a film!” Spheeris would go on to make the cult classic Suburbia and the mainstream classic Wayne’s World, and is still directing. Not sure Siegel’s career was quite so storied, but whatever. It’s all pretty eminently watchable.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Robin Williams’ friendship with the Stranglers
12.19.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Punk
R.I.P.

Tags:
Robin Williams
the Stranglers


 
When Robin Williams died in August, one of the most unexpected eulogies came from JJ Burnel, the bassist and singer in the Stranglers, who says that he and Williams struck up a friendship in the early 80s. Burnel writes that Williams visited England in 1982 and stayed at the house of drummer Jet Black, where the Stranglers were rehearsing the songs for Feline. Williams then stayed at Burnel’s house in Cambridgeshire, where the comedian and his first wife, Valerie Velardi, reportedly conceived their son Zak. Burnel remembers:

It is with great sadness that I woke up on Tuesday 12th of August to learn of the death of Robin Williams, the actor, comedian, musician and all round genius.

The word genius is often too readily used but having known the man I can vouchsafe the term is appropriate in his case.

I met him through a girlfriend of mine in the early eighties. She had met him in Los Angeles through a film cameraman called Dave Stump, a friend with whom he played in a band. At the time he had just become famous through a tv series called Mork and Mindy and the film Popeye.

When the Stranglers were to play on the west coast of the US he had invited me to stay at his house on his ranch in the Napa valley. He was a wonderful host and I soon started to appreciate his fame when I went out to dinner with him in San Francisco and saw the effect he had on a whole restaurant when he entertained them as a distraction to afford us, his guests, a diversion from the attention.

I reciprocated the gesture when he flew over to Europe with his then wife Val and met him at Heathrow. The Stranglers were in the middle of preparing Feline at Jet’s house in the west country and he was going to hang out with us at Jet’s and then come over to my house in Cambridgeshire for a few days.

Every evening we would stop rehearsals to go down to a local pub before resuming work. He would come down with us and that was when we would discover the multiple personalities and the continuous flow of ideas and comic repartee that had us all in stitches. He would literally have conversations with himself and the other personalities he inhabited.

After a week at Jet’s I drove him over to my house. I would like to think that it was the laid back atmosphere on the Fens that allowed him to conceive his son Zak at my house in the summer of 1982. At least that’s what his wife told me later.

After that, as his Hollywood career took off, he would call me whenever he was in London.

Over the years we lost touch but I have nothing but very fond memories of a very talented and genuine person.

If it is true as to the way of his death it is only testimony to his great sensibility and humanity and the world is a much poorer place for his disappearance.

The Stranglers’ original vocalist and guitarist, Hugh Cornwell, devoted two pages of his 2004 book A Multitude of Sins to memories of encounters with singer Robbie Williams, drummer Robert Williams, and comedian Robin Williams. Cornwell’s account would put Robin Williams’ visit with the Stranglers about a year earlier than Burnel’s, but Zak was born in 1983, so Cornwell is either mistaken about which album they were working on or recalling a separate visit.

I’m jogging with Robin Williams in Gloucestershire. John Burnel has met him somewhere at a celebrity dinner and he’s come down to hang out with us while we rehearse before recording the La Folie album. He’s a lovely bloke and expresses a desire to come running with me first thing every morning. He’s in good shape and is keeping up with me, even though I’ve been doing it regularly. He’s a bundle of energy and constantly comes up with funny life observations. Jet’s got a souped-up Fiesta with lots of lights mounted on the front bumper and Robin asks me if he has to pull a trailer carrying a battery for the extra lights.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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The man whose stocking expanded: The Fall’s Mark E. Smith reads Lovecraft. For Christmas.
12.18.2014
07:28 am

Topics:
Literature
Punk

Tags:
Mark E. Smith
H. P. Lovecraft
the Fall


They say music should be fun / like reading a story of love / but I wanna read a horror story.”

Readers, if this post seems disjointed and disordered—if I sometimes lose the eldritch thread that knits together the all-too-discrete patches of this bafflingly incoherent holiday quilt—it is because I am slowly going mad with terror as I write these words. You see, I’ve just watched Mark E. Smith read H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour out of Space,” filmed in 2007 as part of BBC Collective’s Christmas festivities. And indeed, what better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord?

If you haven’t read “The Colour out of Space,” it’s basically the same story as O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” The main difference is that, instead of the woman selling her hair for a watch chain and the man selling his watch for some combs, there’s an extraterrestrial plague that kills the livestock, blights the crops, and drives everyone mad with terror. Merry Christmas! If you think about it, Mark E. Smith is kind of like Santa Claus, too, except instead of a bottomless sack of prezzies, he carries around a ruined stomach full of bile.

MES explained how he selected this festive text at the BBC Collective site:

I’ve been a fan of HP Lovecraft since I was about 17. I chose to read this story because it’s very unusual for him; it’s not like his other tales. They are usually about people who live underground, or threats to humanity - which I like as well - but The Colour Out Of Space is quite futuristic. He wrote it in 1927, which is weird.

I’m writing my own book at the moment. It’s supposed to be my autobiography, but I’ve put a few short stories in it too. It’s out in April 2008. My stories are very much like Lovecraft’s actually. Everyone wants me to write about dark and doomy things, like my lyrics. But some of my stories are quite cheerful.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘They wanted to be rock stars’: Crass co-founder disses Sex Pistols and Clash in Positive Force doc
12.16.2014
08:13 am

Topics:
Activism
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Crass
Clash

Positive Force
 
Positive Force is a Washington DC-based activist collective that’s been around since 1985. The documentary, Positive Force: More Than A Witness; 30 Years Of Punk Politics In Action, explores the history of this organization, which often stages benefits with like-minded bands to promote various causes. There’s a wealth of archival performances in the film—including footage of Fugazi playing in front of the White House on the eve of the Gulf War—and this updated edition of the DVD has another 30+ minutes of rare live clips. The documentary also features interviews with such notables as Ian MacKaye, Kathleen Hanna, Jello Biafra, and Dave Grohl, who talks about his first-ever live gig, drumming for the band Scream at a Positive Force benefit.

One of the highlights of Positive Force is the interview with Penny Rimbaud, drummer and co-founder of the UK group Crass. Rimbaud’s band, which existed from 1977-1984, very much influenced the principles of Positive Force. Crass not only put out their own records and were critical of the mainstream, but they were also activists, believing that it wasn’t enough to just sing about social justice, you had to practice what you preached. In the clip, Rimbaud accuses the members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols of not meaning it, man, as he feels their drive to make it as rock stars came before all else.

If you have any interest at all in the history of American punk and/or activism, Positive Force is definitely worth your time. Pick up the new edition of the DVD via PM Press or Amazon.

All right, here’s Mr. Rimbaud:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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Psychotic Reaction: The *third* best live footage of The Cramps you’ll ever see!
12.16.2014
05:35 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Cramps
Kid Congo Powers


 
Earlier this year I posted what I described as the “second best” Cramps footage out there and owing to the reaction, I think that many of our readers agreed with that assessment. The #1 best Cramps footage is them playing at the mental hospital, of course, but that Mudd Club gig that I called to your attention is fucking primo Cramps.

And so is this, what I reckon is the third best Cramps show to be found on the Internet and so far it’s had fewer than 250 views!

This absolutely stunning Cramps show was taped at the fabled City Gardens in Trenton, NJ on November 3, 1982—a smoking hot Kid Congo Powers era set that’s pretty high quality (sound and vision) for something of this vintage that was probably taped on VHS.

Dig the shamanic trickster god (and “most exalted potentate of love”) Lux Interior in the prime of his performing career backed by Poison Ivy, Kid Congo Powers and stickman Nick Knox. The Cramps were always a truly great live band, but at this point (around the time of their classic live Smell of Female EP recorded at the Peppermint Lounge) it still wasn’t completely clear how much of their act was “showbiz” and how much of it was them just being completely insane evil people on bad acid.

No band will ever have an “edge” quite like The Cramps ever again. It’s just a fact. Sorry young people!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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New species of snail is named after Joe Strummer
12.15.2014
09:01 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk
Science/Tech

Tags:
The Clash
Joe Strummer


 
Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, has named a newly discovered species of deep sea snail, Alviconcha strummeri, after Clash leader Joe Strummer, telling the Santa Cruz Sentinel

“Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon.”

The name A. strummeri honors Joe Strummer, the lead singer and a guitarist of the British punk rock band The Clash.

The golf ball-sized snails rock out near hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean, as deep as 11,500 feet.

We wouldn’t quibble with the decision to honor Strummer. After all, who but a hater would deny the Clash their due? But given that A. strummeri is yellow and spiky and the late Strummer was neither, there’s more of an actual resemblance between the snail and plenty of other potential honorees, though admittedly, they may merit the distinction in, um, varying degrees.
 

Joe Strummer, the Clash
 

Lars Frederiksen, Rancid
 

Billy Idol, Generation X, solo
 

Paul Cook, Sex Pistols
 

Guy Fieri, gigantic doucherocket
 
Via the A/V Club

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Acne bacterium is named after Frank Zappa, immediately releases four albums in gratitude

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Merry Crassmas’ (or Santa died for somebody’s sins, but not mine)
12.11.2014
09:08 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Crass


 
From the Dangerous Minds archives comes this festival holiday favorite…

In 1981, anarcho-punk heroes Crass had had about enough of the increasingly commercialized holiday season—not to mention the mass slaughter of turkeys each year—and decided to protest musically with a Casiotone medley of some of their best-loved numbers. The two-sided single, “Merry Crassmas,” was the result. It is the only Christmas song I can think of that hopes you choke on your turkey…

“Merry Crassmas” was credited to “Creative Recording and Sound Services.” On the picture sleeve, ringing Gee Vaucher’s distinctive art were these words:

COLD TURKEY ONE. VERY MERRY CRASSMAS. HERE’S AN AMAZING XMAS MEDLEY OF CRASS’S GREATEST HITS. SUPER FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY. PLUS…SUPER FUN TIME COMPETITION THAT EVERYONE CAN JOIN IN. HERE’S WHAT YOU DO…IT’S EASY. JUST LIST, IN ORDER, THE TITLES OF THE EXCITING CRASS SONGS ON THIS RECORD. THE FIRST THREE CORRECT POSTCARDS TO BE RECEIVED WILL BE SENT THE FOLLOWING GREAT PRIZES…1ST PRIZE… BATHSALTS, 2ND PRIZE…ONE EXPLOITED SINGLE, 3RD PRIZE…TWO EXPLOITED SINGLES. HAVE FUN. SEND ENTRIES TO “CRASSMAS COMPETITION.” PO BOX 279. LONDON N22.

Please note that back in 1981, kids, “bath salts” actually meant bath salts like you would put in your bath—not a drug that makes you want to eat people’s faces off—a shitty prize, in other words. I like how third place gets not one, but two Exploited singles!

Side A:
Jingle Bells
Big A, Little A
Punk is Dead
Big Hands
Contaminational Power
I Ain’t Thick, It’s Just a Trick
Nagasaki Nightmare
While Shepherds Watched

Side B:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Securicor
Darling
G’s Song
Banned from the Roxy
Tired
So what
Silent Night

One of only two Christmas records I own. I guess you could say that I’m not big on the holiday myself…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘punk’ album: ‘YOU’VE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR MINDS!!’
12.11.2014
07:42 am

Topics:
Literature
Punk

Tags:
Robert Anton Wilson
Golden Horde


 
In many of Robert Anton Wilson’s books, the “about the author” page mentions that Wilson recorded a punk rock album called The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy. This is one of those records I would have given a tooth for in the pre-filesharing era. I’ve still never come across a physical copy of it, but a glance at the Discogs.com marketplace suggests it’s not as rare as it once seemed.

Recorded while Wilson was living in Ireland in the mid-‘80s—avoiding Reagan’s presidency, if memory serves—The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy is the first LP by Irish garage-psych rockers the Golden Horde. Wilson contributed vocals (spoken) to most of the songs, and he wrote the lyrics to “Black Flag” and “Lawrence Talbot Suite.” Unless you are a hardcore Nuggets person, it might take some imagination to hear this as “a punk rock record.” To me, the Golden Horde often sound like a less proficient Rezillos, which is a beautiful thing, but fans of the Queen Haters might be disappointed. These vinyl rips are not of the finest quality, though I doubt this LP was ever destined to deliver an audiophile experience.

As the sleeve notes say, “COSMIC BUBBLEGUM EXISTENTIALISTS OF THE WORLD, UNITE….....YOU’VE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR MINDS!!”

“Black Flag” by the Golden Horde with Robert Anton Wilson:

 
And the rest of the LP:

The Chocolate Biscuit
Young and Happy
Communist for the FBI
Little U.F.O.
Lawrence Talbot Suite
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Rock Against Racism: On the front line with The Clash, Specials, Undertones & Elvis Costello

10rarclash170s.jpg
 
It all began in 1968 when an old Tory coot Enoch Powell gave a racist speech against immigration and anti-discrimination legislation at his West Midlands constituency in England. Powell claimed he was horrified at what he believed was an unstoppable flow of immigration that would eventually swamp the country where “in fifteen or twenty years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” It was an incendiary and offensive speech full bile and hate, and became known as the “Rivers of blood speech” because of Powell’s quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid about “‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’”

Many of the white working class supported Powell, most shamefully the London dockers’ union staged a one day strike in his favor. Powell became the pin-up of the far right and his words appeared to sanction their rise, in particular the odious neo-Nazi National Front that promoted its racist policies with the boot as much as the ballot. Against this rose Rock Against Racism—“a raggedy arsed united front” co-founded by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others in 1976.

At first, Rock Against Racism was just an idea—a way to bring together a new generation of youth against the stealthy rise of the far right. It may have remained just an idea had it not been for Eric Clapton announcing during a concert in 1976 that the UK had “become overcrowded” and his fans should vote for Enoch Powell to stop Britain from becoming “a black colony.” Allegedly Clapton then shouted “Keep Britain white.” His racist tirade led to Saunders and Huddle writing a letter to the music paper NME pointing out that half Clapton’s music was black. The letter ended with a call for readers to help establish Rock Against Racism. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In April 1978, 100,000 people marched across London in support of Rock Against Racism, which was followed by a concert at Victoria Park headlined by The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band. It was a momentous event, which singer and activist Billy Bragg correctly described as “the moment when my generation took sides.”

Photographer Syd Shelton documented the rise of Rock Against Racism during the 1970s and 1980s from its first demonstrations, the concert in Victoria Park, to the gigs, bands, musicians (The Clash, The Specials, The Undertones, Elvis Costello, etc), the young activists and supporters who stood up and proudly said: “Love Music, Hate Racism.”
 
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16rarspecials70s.jpg
 
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01rar70s.jpg
 
More rocking pictures against racism, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Dead Kennedys’ ‘International’ punk event, 1984
12.10.2014
09:47 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Jello Biafra
Dead Kennedys


Recognize this guy?

Incendiary pro-shot video Dead Kennedys set from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, 1984. This was the infamous “International Event” concert held on August 10th that ended in a riot (like many hardcore shows in Los Angeles did at that time, especially ones held at the Olympic, once a boxing arena, now a church). Note that tickets were just $7.50!
 

 
Also on the bill that evening were Italy’s Raw Power, BGK from the UK, Finnish hardcore group Riistetyt, Mexico’s Solución Mortal and Reagan Youth.

Dig Biafra’s boss Carl Jr.‘s tee-shirt. Now THIS is a front man!


 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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