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Seminal art-punks X__X cover Albert Ayler’s ‘Ghosts’: A DM premiere
09.03.2015
08:31 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Albert Ayler
X___X


 
X__X is pronounced “Ex Blank Ex,” and their 1979 debut release—a 7” with an A side titled “A” and a B side called “You’re Full of Shit”—was already posthumous. The group existed for all of six months in the fertile late ‘70s Cleveland ur-punk scene; the electric eels’ singer/antagonist John D Morton knew he’d be moving to New York, and decided before his move to form an intentionally short-duration band. To that end, he recruited guitarist Andrew Klimeyk, bassist/future ‘zine publisher Jim Ellis, and drummer/future Golden Palomino Anton Fier. The only evidence of their existence lived in the form of two 7"s, the aforementioned, and 1980’s “No Nonsense / Approaching The Minimal With Spray Guns.” Those singles are unruly and just plain unholy blasts of spiky, disordered, nihilistic art-punk—had this band been birthed in New York, they could have been No Wave icons. X__X did make that move, but petered out without attracting much notice.
 

 

 

 
As seems inevitable these days, X__X’s music has been exhumed recently, by the Full Contact imprint of the Finnish label Ektro, who last year released the compilation X Sticky Fingers X, which included both of the singles and a slew of live recordings and rehearsal tapes. Finally reaping some overdue accolades, Klimek and Morton put together a version of the band to tour, with Rocket From the Tombs bassist Craig Bell and drummer Matthew Albert Harris, a band that opted to continue making new music as X__X. In a phone conversation, Klimeyk discussed the band’s initial dissolution, and its decision to move forward on reuniting.

When the archival album was becoming a reality, we started putting feelers out to everyone. We thought a reunion would be good to promote the release, and just an interesting thing to do. I was hoping to do it with as close to the recorded lineup as possible, but it was something I was interested in doing anyway. When we moved to New York there was a plan to keep the band going, and that didn’t happen. John moved up first, then Anton, then me, but Anton got involved with the Feelies and Lounge Lizards so his plate was full. John and I did get together a little, but it fizzled out.

We want to keep going with it, definitely, I wouldn’t pursue this if we were only going to play old songs and do gigs just based on them, I would get bored with that. We’re already looking ahead to different things.

The band’s first proper album, 37 years after forming as a temporary why-the-fuck-not, will be released by the Smog Veil label in November. Named Albert Ayler’s Ghosts live at the Yellow Ghetto, the title is no bullshit—the band actually covers “Ghosts” by Albert Ayler. It’s a fit move, as Ayler was a fellow CLEperson, and his divisive, skronking sax style which privileged timbre over pitch made him something of a No Wave forefather. He was definitely a hero to John D Morton, who talked to DM about that inspiration.

I was 14 when I got the the ESP Sampler for 99¢. I knew the Fugs, I knew Sun Ra a little, and I knew William Burroughs. The sampler had just a little clip of every song, and one of them was from Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts,” and I’d never heard anything like it. I mean I was 14, just getting out of the Beatles and looking for more interesting things. “Ghosts?” I was totally flummoxed by it, but I smiled when I heard it. And I went on to discover more about music, and I actually bought an Ayler album. I didn’t even know he was from Cleveland, then I found that out, and eventually I realized that when I play, the way I think about music, that little clip of Ayler was always in my mind’s background, especially in my thoughts about anti-music. There are a lot of similarities, when you think about it, between free jazz and punk. They’re both angry, or at least I think so, they can both be funny, and they’re both like “fuck you, I don’t care if you like it or not.”

So while we were on tour, Craig said that we’d become a “real band,” and on the way back from Detroit, Andrew told us he made arrangements for us to record. So knowing we were going to stay together and record, I thought about “Ghosts,” and I tried to work it out to see if I could do it. I don’t know the scales on purpose, and sax has different scales anyway, but I was able to learn it. And I knew that doing it was audacious, and it had to be really good if we did it, otherwise it would be laughable, embarrassing. It had to be right. Some songs are great, but some bands shouldn’t do ‘em. I got through the first three melody parts that make up the piece and got to the free jazz part, and 20 seconds in to that, I knew I could do it. Teaching the guys to play it, they were looking at me kind of askance, like “we’re REALLY going to do this?” and Craig said “oh, this could kill us.” But part of the basis of Smog Veil’s interest in releasing the album was the cover of “Ghosts,” so it had to be there. We met up in Cleveland like five days before the recording to practice, we hadn’t been together since the tour. We got through “Ghosts” and I said “we got it, we can do it,” and they all looked at me like “I don’t know if we played it right.” I said “You can’t play it wrong.” But after we recorded it, we all agreed it was the right thing to do. The fact that Ayler’s from Cleveland, I feel a debt and affinity there. I’d heard free jazz by Coleman, and others, but Ayler was the ghost that spoke into my ear.

After the jump, hear X__X’s dizzying and jagged take on Ayler, plus an in-studio take of “Ghosts”...

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Nothing says anarchy like these hilarious stock photos of ‘punkers’
09.01.2015
10:53 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
Punk

Tags:
Stock Photos


A group of happy punks
 
Oh dear, the stock photography version of punk. If you asked my nana what a punk was or looked like, she’d point to one of these photos and say “Right here. One of them.”

My favorite image out of all of this cringe-worthy mess is the “punk” dude holding the giant bazooka. As we all know a punk outfit is never complete without a handy rocket launcher. And don’t the ladies love ‘em???


The nut never falls very far from the tree.
 

Anarchy Angie, the waitress at “SPIT” the new punk rock theme restaurant, brings you your Molotov cocktail.
 

“This is about the JEANS, people. The JEANS. Not the bazooka, the jeans!”
 

Never mind the spreadsheet…
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Jazzercise takes on Sid Vicious. Nobody wins
09.01.2015
08:45 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious


 
The biggest-selling single the Sex Pistols ever put out wasn’t “Anarchy in the U.K.” or “God Save the Queen” or “Pretty Vacant” or “Holidays in the Sun”—it was “Something Else,” a cover of an Eddie Cochran hit from 1959 with Sid Vicious on lead vocals that was released more than a year after the breakup of the band—and three weeks after Vicious’ death on February 2, 1979.
 

 
Americans probably aren’t very familiar with Legs & Co., an all-female dance troupe that used to brighten up the proceedings on Top of the Pops in the late 1970s. The U.S. equivalent would be the Solid Gold Dancers.

Sometime during its run in the Top 10 of the U.K. charts, Top of the Pops managed to convince Legs & Co. to do a sort of Jane Fonda/jazzercise routine to the song. The over-abundance of spandex, the nice shiny colors in the leotards and wigs—not to mention the strange approximation of a stock market chart in the set design—it all makes this clip seem a kind of harbinger for the shiny and materialistic 1980s that were just around the corner, even if nobody knew it.

At the outset you can hear the closing strains of Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Young Adam Ant looking like a pretty punk rock Adonis
08.31.2015
09:17 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
goth
Adam and the Ants

Adam and the Ants at Eric's Club in Liverpool, 1977
Adam and the Ants at Eric’s Club in Liverpool, 1977 

Before the flamboyant gyrating, Native American-obsessed pirate we all know and love as Adam Ant there was another fellow (born Stuart Leslie Goddard), who looked more like the proto-goths of the 70s such as Siouxsie Sioux (who Adam and The Ants often supported live back in the day) or Dave Vanian of The Damned.
 
Adam Ant and Sioux Siesioux backstage
Adam Ant and Siouxsie Sioux hanging out backstage, 1977
 
After joining his first band in 1975, Bazooka Joe, Goddard bore witness to what was likely the very first performance ever given by the Sex Pistols, who were the opening act for a Bazooka Joe gig. Goddard quickly quit the group and went on to form another band that never really got off the ground called, B-Sides. Following a battle with anorexia and a suicide that landed him in a psychiatric hospital, Goddard was released, changed his name to Adam Ant and eventually formed Adam and the Ants around 1977.
 
Adam Ant and Jordan live at The Vortex, 1977
Adam Ant (with Jordan) at the Vortex, (London, 1977)
 
In addition to some pretty amazing photos of Ant, his band and collaborator/punk fashion icon Jordan (aka Pamela Rooke who worked at the King’s Row boutique, SEX run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood), I dug up this very punk recollection from UK music and culture historian, Tom Vague on the first time he laid eyes on Adam Ant in 1977:

The first time I saw Adam Ant he had just had ‘Fuck’ carved into his back by Jordan with a razor blade and World’s End was stained with his blood

Who knew everyone’s favorite post-punk jaunty pirate was so dangerous? Well, I’m sure some of you did, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the following photos that pre-date Ant’s 80s fashion and antics.
 
Adam and the Ants (with Jordan) at The Marquee, 1977
Adam and the Ants (with Jordan) at The Marquee, 1977
 
Adam Ant, super goth, 1977
Adam Ant, 1977/1978
 
More, plus early film footage of Adam and the Ants, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead
08.28.2015
11:58 am

Topics:
Movies
Punk

Tags:
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.

Dangerous Minds conducted an interview with Wes Orshoski shortly after the Austin premier of The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead. Orshoski talks about his passion for The Damned, touring with Motorhead, and the struggles involved in making movies with a single video camera and a credit card. It’s clear that despite the complexities and hardships of getting an indie movie made in this day and age, Wes would have it no other way. Punk rock demands punk rock film makers. His no bullshit approach is exactly what The Damned deserves. Fuck the ho-daddies, fuck the poseurs.
 

 
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
08.28.2015
11:04 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Estonia


 
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
08.21.2015
07:33 am

Topics:
Fashion
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Yugoslavia


 
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’
08.13.2015
10:50 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
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
08.10.2015
07:20 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music
Punk

Tags:
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
08.05.2015
12:25 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Kurt Cobain
Nirvana
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
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