This week, Drag City is releasing a rad book of American punk rock ephemera entitled, White Glove Test: Louisville Punk Flyers, 1978-1994. This 288-page hardback is jam-packed with what David Grubbs (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol) calls “teenage folk art.” The book documents a bygone era—pre-Photoshop and before the rise of the Web—when flyers were hand-assembled and often the only means bands had to promote their shows.
“Ephemera—the most beautiful kind of refuse. Created in a moment without thought of legacy, but standing as a pure record of time, place, and without any Rashomon spin or Zapruder eye. When we were stenciling, chopping, and recombining days before a show, I barely had a thought about anyone not standing on Bardstown Road or near Iroquois Park ever giving these broadsheets another glance. There was a need to leave a breadcrumb trail for the freaks. The newspaper of record saw us as a fringe element not worthy of bulletins. It was the only way to broadcast—to cast broadly. Now they have gained an emotional sheen. The punk rock mayfly (genus Ephemera) is gone, but any of these posters is a microchip bursting with memories.” (Tara Key, a member of a number of Louisville outfits, including No Fun, now considered the scene’s first punk band)
There are over 700 flyers in White Glove Test; here are some of our favorites:
Brooklyn-based artist Kelsey Henderson paints stunning portraits in oil, recently turning to punks and more explicitly counterculture fashion plates for her subjects. The louche bodies that illuminate her canvases sometimes pose coyly for observers, but some paintings feel more like amateur photography—perhaps impromptu snapshots from a punk show. Henderson sometimes even stages the images on mock-smut magazine covers, adding a cheeky layer of niche consumerism to the viewing. From her artist’s statement:
At first seemingly influenced by fashion photography and photorealism, Kelsey Henderson’s work is a brutally honest study in perception and attraction. Her painting style is comprised of seemingly invisible layers which connect to her subjects like skin. Lying at the heart of her work, the emphasis on the skin enables the artist to continue exploring the idea of the Platonic Crush, an attraction to beauty devoid of sex, ignoring gender and embracing physical and emotional flaws. Using a desaturated palette, these excruciatingly pale portraits become almost translucent; the artist’s perception on and through the subjects’ skin. Bruises, scars, veins and tendons shine through, not as imperfections, but emblems of beauty.
In art of the less “fine” variety, Henderson also designs and sells patches and pins of S and M and fetish imagery.
The trouble with getting famous when you’re young and cherubic is that you’re forced to grow up in public—a public that still wants you to be the nerd from The Breakfast Club, no less, when you’re Brat packer Anthony Michael Hall. Hall attempted to buck typecasting with his role in the 1986 stinker, Out of Bounds, a “gritty” film directed by no other than Richard Tuggle—who wrote the actually gritty Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz. Trouble is, Anthony Michael Hall isn’t Clint Eastwood or even in the remote vicinity, and his role as an Iowa farm boy searching for the LA drug kingpin that murdered his brother is not his finest moment.
It is so bad. Between stilted dialogue and Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to pull off a tough-guy act, we’re talking hilarious 80’s cable TV B-movie fare here. The soundtrack however, is from Stewart Copeland of The Police, and it is surprisingly good, if a little schizophrenic! With music from Copeland and Adam Ant, Night Ranger, Belinda Carlisle, The Smiths, The Cult, The Lords of the New Church(!), Sammy Hagar, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, who actually had a cameo in the film—you can see the performance below. Don’t get me wrong—the hamfisted inclusion of some good music for cool cred does not save this bomb, but maybe they’re enough to make it a cult classic?
Like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis before them, two members of Lodi, New Jersey’s Misfits changed their tune and got right with Jesus. In the late 80s, exchanging devilocks for golden curls and “Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?” for “In God We Trust,” they renounced sin and turned to praise metal.
Immediately after the Misfits’ breakup, Glenn Danzig fucked off to form Samhain with Lyle Preslar and Brian Baker of Minor Threat. Punk stardom, and the royalties from posthumous Misfits releases, were his; metal stardom would soon follow. But it was “oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again” for Misfits bassist Jerry Only (né Gerard Caiafa) and his brother, guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (né Paul Caiafa), who found themselves in a less enviable position. Only had financed the Misfits’ seven-year career by working at the Caiafa family machine shop, and this perhaps took on the appearance of a shit deal during the lean years after the breakup.
The cassette cover of Kryst the Conqueror’s Deliver Us from Evil EP
Now wise to Satan’s snares, the brothers vowed nevermore to be the devil’s plaything and evermore to be his scourge. To that end, they formed a Christian metal band c. 1987 called Kryst the Conqueror, recruiting Yngwie Malmsteen’s singer, Jeff Scott Soto, and a drummer credited as “The Murp” on Kryst’s lone release. Soto, who was Journey’s lead singer from 2006 to 2007, once looked like this:
Rechristening himself Mocavius Kryst (“Mo the Great” for short), Jerry Only spearheaded a viking-themed heavy metal act with Doyle called Kryst the Conqueror. Joined by fellow Lodian Jim Murray on drums, Kryst the Conqueror embraced a galloping power metal sound a la Helloween or Manowar. The overt Christian themes were difficult to ignore, however, not only in the band’s name but on their singular release, 1990’s self-pressed Deliver Us from Evil EP, which boasts songs such as “In God We Trust” and “Trial of the Soul.” There were also “Mo the Great’s” various fan club writings at the time. To wit: “In the final days of the second millennium, I, Mocavius Kryst, and my men now swear this pact with God. For it is by His command that I now open the gates, unleashing the fury of His vengeance… behold the power of truth for it burns its light up the sword of my brother.” “We don’t want people to come out and say, ‘They were great, but they’re into that devil shit,’” Only explained to Yeszista. “That’s not it, all of our songs are about going out and chasing the son of a bitch. That’s what it’s all about… if I made Kryst with a ‘C,’ people are gonna say, ‘He’s making fun of God.’ We’ve come in His name to do the job.”
Former cohorts would question the validity of the Caiafas’ sudden conversion to ultrapiousness (“They’re about as born again as Anton LaVey,” Bobby Steele snorted to MRR in 1992). Further doubts surrounded Jerry’s proclamation that Kryst the Conqueror was on par with Led Zeppelin and that the band’s music would sustain for a minimum of three decades. When push came to shove, “unleashing the fury” ultimately proved somewhat tricky for Kryst: The band never managed to employ a full-time singer as Jeff Scott Soto, the vocalist who sang on Deliver Us from Evil, was under contract to Swedish guitar sensation Yngwie Malmsteen at the time and could not commit fully to another project. In fact, Soto couldn’t even legally be credited in Deliver Us from Evil‘s liner notes—the vocalist listed on the sleeve is, in fact, Kryst the Conqueror.
Kryst the Conqueror has not been heard from since Jerry “Mocavius” Only won the right to the Misfits’ name in 1995. The new Misfits promptly hit the road, introducing the world to Republican singer Michale Graves, who is best remembered today as a vocal supporter of President George W. Bush. Hail Satan?
Fear turned up in some strange places in the ‘80s—a time when punks on TV or in movies were generally fakey cartoon caricatures of the real thing. The crucial reference, Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, is an excellent resource in studying the ridiculous “punxploitation” in ‘80s media. Fear racks up no less than fifteen entries in that tome.
Now, one could argue that Fear themselves had a bit of a cartoonish image to begin with, but it’s still rather bizarre that some ad agency thought it was a good idea to hire them to do this series of “pro-wrestling promo” style ads for a chain of radio stations. These were top 40 stations, so it’s unclear what audience the advertisers were trying to appeal to by putting Fear on TV. Especially for the time and context, these are simply weird.
GG Allin, the deceased shit-flinging “Rock and Roll Terrorist,” known for his transgressive live act, appears in this clip, which is taken from the excellent 1994 Todd Phillips documentary Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, with a newly-dubbed audio track of Internet-sensationAndy Rehfeldt performing the song in a lounge style.
According to Rehfeldt’s notes on the upload:
This video got me in a lot of trouble. I have strikes on both my other channels because I tried to post there. My good friend, Kim Watkins, blurred out GG’s pecker and poop here, and so far it has not been banned.
We imagine GG wouldn’t mind the Internet pissing all over his legacy like this—he seemed to really be into that sort of thing in his waking life.
So, if you’ve always wanted to see what would have happened if GG had taken his act to Vegas, now’s your chance before this one gets shut down by the You Tube police (or the Disney Corporation, for that matter).
Though the naughty bits have been blurred, we still imagine it’s not “work safe” for most office environments. Perhaps the most entertaining part of the whole thing is watching the censor blur try to follow Allin around the frame!
Here’s the once quite dangerous punk anthem, “Bite It, You Scum,” soiled by the Internet:
Just so it’s clear, there really was a Chipmunk Punk, a 1980 project of Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., the namesake son of the Chipmunks’ creator. It was not particularly “punk”—it contained Alvin and the Chipmunks’ cover versions of songs by opposite-of-punk artists like Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Linda Ronstadt, Queen, and for some reason THREE SONGS by the Knack. The entirety of the LP’s New Wave representation was supplied by Blondie’s “Call Me” and the Cars’ “Let’s Go.” It was stupid as hell, but I liked it. Because I was 10 years old. Bagdasarian followed the successful cash-in with Urban Chipmunk, a collection of squeaky-voiced pop country covers, and Chipmunk Rock, which at least had a version of “Whip It” going for it, but by then, I was like 12, and much too sophisticated for such juvenilia.
And again, so it’s clear, what follows was NOT actually on Chipmunk Punk, so if you go buying that album expecting to hear it, well, something’s possibly wrong with you anyway. California’s smartassy theatrical comedy band Radioactive Chicken Heads recorded an amusing-as-far-as-this-sort-of-thing-goes Chipmunkified version of Suicidal Tendencies’ definitive song, 1983’s “Institutionalized.” I’d hope it should go without saying that the possibility of this actually being a product of anyone officially connected with the evidently deathless Chipmunks franchise is a few leagues beneath unlikely. Whether it’s better or worse than Ice-T’s recent effort at updating the song is a debate I’ll leave to others.
It’s a seemingly innocuous yet ultimately loaded question for the culturally adventurous of a certain age. For Night Flight was the sort of cultural touchstone that—if one was lucky enough to have experienced it firsthand—one is not likely to forget and can even serve as a sort of secret handshake decades later. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre has gone so far as to claim, “I learned about punk from this cable show called Night Flight” and Richard Metzger, co-founder of this very blog, described his intentions for Dangerous Minds to the New Yorker as, “a late-night television network for heads, like Adult Swim, but different. Do you remember Night Flight in the early eighties? Something like that.”
A lot has been made of MTV’s launch on August 1, 1981, but Night Flight—appearing on the fledgling USA Network—beat them to the punch by nearly two months premiering on June 5 of the same year. Though Night Flight played its fair share of videos and music films, its scope was much broader encompassing all manner of cult films and shorts extending back over several decades. However wide-ranging its programming, though, it was always informed by a subversive, outsider sensibility. The show had no host, just a disembodied female voice accompanied by (at the time) cutting edge computer animation of the Night Flight logo (unsettlingly similar to the 80s cheese rock band Night Ranger’s own logo) flying over darkened landscapes.
The show ran every Friday and Saturday from 11PM to 7AM but actually only contained four hours of programming simply repeating the previous four hours again at 3AM. This inevitably led to hordes of teenagers making the ill-advised decision to stay awake for at least four additional hours to catch anything they missed the first time around (especially if they had the VCR cued up with a blank tape). Imagine that kind of dedication in today’s on-demand generation. Just what you would see when you tuned in was anyone’s guess. It could be a contemporary rock documentary such as the Clash’s semi autobiographical Rude Boy; Urgh! A Music War featuring performances from the Cramps, DEVO, X, Pere Ubu, and Gary Numan amongst a host of other; or Another State of Mind documenting Social Distortion and Youth Brigade’s ill-fated cross-country tour (an education in punk rock indeed). Or it could be 1938’s The Terror of Tiny Town, the world’s only musical Western with an all midget cast; cheesy Japanese tokusatsu TV show Dynaman (dubbed with completely different parody dialogue); Reefer Madness; Proctor and Bergman’s J-Men Forever! or classic 1919 German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. There were plenty of brand new music videos (like The Residents’ “Three-Minute Movies”) as well including a segment dedicated to Britain’s Some Bizarre Records (Coil, Foetus, Einstürzende Neubauten, etc.) or the popular “Take Off” segments (how about “Take Off to Sex” featuring Duran Duran’s uncensored “Girls on Film” video?), or live in studio performances courtesy of Peter Ivers’ (originally cable access) New Wave Theatre from the likes of Fear, Circle Jerks, or Suburban Lawns.
So who, you might ask, was behind this creation? The show was the brainchild of Stuart Shapiro who had run a film distribution company which had specialized in cult films (“pretty much horror films and music films” he has said) many of which had ended up in the eccentric yet social atmospheres of midnight screenings. While the nascent cable networks offered a great deal of promise bordering on hype for expanding television’s horizons, they were yet to deliver on that promise. “At that time there was this sort of evangelistic attitude that cable was really gonna come out and be another world for alternative programming,” Shapiro recalled.
Cable television promised to reach niches previously underserved. “It was gonna be the birth of a freer reign of programming.” One key area that Shapiro saw was sorely lacking was the late night time slot. Many channels simply stopped airing content after 11 or midnight. From seeing the films he distributed performing well on the midnight movie theater circuit, Shapiro “knew that there was a culture of late-night [moviegoers] that were hungry for programming late at night on the weekends. In the beginning, the cable system was going dark late at night - there was really nothing on, so I felt it was a wonderful opportunity to try to put cool hip programming on television.” Shapiro’s business partner, Jeff Franklin, happened to have a friend at the USA Network and when they pitched their idea there they already had the bulk of their programming in Shapiro’s quirky catalog. In addition to the go ahead from the network, USA exerted no control over the pair’s programming choices. “It was the height of freedom,” Shapiro recalls. (What’s more, the network had no way to track which segments were driving the show’s overall ratings.)
Night Flight played a large part in exposing people to up and coming bands (and not just those on major labels with mainstream commercial potential) as well as the new format of the music video but they did even more by putting those videos in perspective by placing them in the larger context of underground video art. In time, of course, they would come to be seen as nothing more than advertisements selling a product. But Night Flight represented the kind of free form spirit embodied in places like college radio where ratings and revenue were not factors but trust in your favorite DJ was enough to for you to give them an hour or two of your time to see where their idiosyncratic taste would take you. It was an approach that would not last through the decade with Night Flight’s final episode airing on Saturday, December 31, 1988.
MTV’s corporate and unadventurous programming would eventually win the day and become the future (and eventual demise) of music video programming. “Discovery was the most important ingredient about Night Flight,” Shapiro would later recall. “You could come and sit down and know that you would be turned on to discover something, no matter what segment it may be.”
Anyone who knows punk history in the U.K. is doubtless familiar with So It Goes, Tony Wilson’s remarkable program on the Granada network that provided so many vital punk bands, including the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees, with their first TV exposure. The sheer volume of terrific live footage that appeared on the program is mind-boggling, including virtually every prominent British act of the era, as well as a good number from the United States. Wilson obviously went on to found the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester and was one of the key figures in the inception of Factory Records. In the movie 24 Hour Party People, Steve Coogan, playing Wilson, inhabits a re-creation of the So It Goes set. (In addition to being portrayed by Coogan in 24 Hour Party People, Craig Parkinson also played him in Anton Corbijn’s 2007 film Control.)
In this whimsical and brief clip from what must have been the final episode of the show or close to it—Wilson says “Happy Christmas” and the last full show aired on December 11, 1977, so this may have been tacked on to that final show? In any case, this clip seems to be a mashup of two clips, one with the punk poet John Cooper Clarke and the other featuring Tony Wilson’s curious “countdown” of the top punk acts to enhance So It Goes in 1977.
The title of this video is “Granada so it goes reverse TOTP countdown 1977” which manages to set up the “countdown” as a vague alternative to Top of the Pops, which is fairly plausible. Watching it, it’s hardly clear what the 1-32 ranking is supposed to mean, and the positioning of the Clash as the #32 and last entry suggests that further down the list meant “better,” insofar as it meant anything.
If nothing else, the list (aside from a couple of puzzling entries like “Sooty”) isn’t a bad starting point for an exploration of the galvanizing U.K. music of 1977 and beyond.