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‘Encyclopaedia of Ecstasy,’ incredible anarcho-goth-punk zine from 1983


 
I’ve hardly encountered a specimen from the postpunk years of the early 1980s that better exemplified how mixed up and stimulating all the categories were getting, than The Encyclopaedia of Ecstasy, Vol. 1, an utterly mind-boggling zine put out by Alistair Livingston in 1983. Livingston had/has associations with the anarchist collective/zine Kill Your Pet Puppy which ran from 1979 to 1984…. he references Crass and Bauhaus and Blood and Roses. While one wouldn’t necessarily expect that a “psychedelic goth punk fanzine,” as Livingston himself termed the project, would contain visions that might have emerged from Arthur Rimbaud‘s absinthe-drenched writings, the fact is that any movement led by Crass and Psychic TV was going to be awfully erudite and aestheticized, fueled by some pretty foreboding concerns over technology and culture. It’s so “political” that it fans out into almost pure (hyperverbal, psychedelic) sensation. In keeping with the absinthe feel, one page is titled “Vivé La Decadence, Paris 1893-London 199?”

The cover, complete with an all-seeing Masonic pyramid, reminds me a great deal of Gustav Klimt, which when you consider that it appears to have been executed purely with blocky magic markers, is awfully impressive. (The Klimt association is far from accidental—page 6 features a Xerox’d shout-out to Klimt’s “Jurisprudenz,” which was later destroyed by the Nazis.) At one juncture Livingston inquires, “why aren’t crass the psychedelic furs?” (Good question!) There are suggestive cut-and-paste headlines such as “whoops there goes another nuclear plant” or “man sees world saved by robots.” At the bottom of page 1 is an exuberant shout-out to the like-minded: “There is more… Like “Kill Your Pet Puppy” (a zine)…. The Anarchy Centres, the Black Sheep Co-op, punk lives (!), the people, the music, the squats, the whole beautiful chaoticness.”

Livingston is still active, he has run a stimulating blog called greengalloway for years—in this entry from 2005 he quotes from his own diary from this same era, name-checking Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Lou Reed, Blood and Roses, et al.

This is a pretty rare item—you can get one from Portland antiquarian project Division Leap for $125.

(If you click on any image in this post, you can see a much larger version.)
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Damaged Goods: I saw Gang of Four last night, because apparently, I felt I deserved to suffer
03.11.2015
08:35 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Gang of Four


 
I should have known better. I rationalized my choice to see Gang of Four (pick your epithet: Gang of Gill, One of Four, Gang of One…) thinking sure, this is in no way actually Gang of Four, but still, I’ll get to see Andy Gill playing guitar, and that can’t be bad. Ooooooh, brother, YES IT CAN.

I’ll backtrack—when the current Go4 tour was announced, I was pretty excited. I’ve seen Andy Gill and Jon King with a no-name rhythm section before, and it was always still a worthy show, despite how dreary most of their new music post-Songs Of The Free has been (how myopically Dunning-Krugerish does a band have to be to name its mediocre comeback single “Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke?”), because Jon King is a fucking living sparkplug, and even as he aged he remained one of the most kinetic and magnetic frontmen in rock music. So I was amped about the new tour because I somehow missed the news that King exited Gang of Four a few years ago and the band is now effectively Andy Gill and the Pips. But even still, if I was going to see an expensive Go4 cover band, it was a Go4 cover band with Andy by God GILL in it, and it’s been a fair few years since I’ve seen him brilliantly torture a Stratocaster into emitting jagged shards of perfect, poisonous hate-noise, so why not just go anyway? “How bad could it be?,” I thought.

Then I heard What Happens Next, the first Go4 album with new singer John “Gaoler” Sterry. The AV Club‘s Annie Zaleski compared it to Stabbing Westward and God Lives Underwater, and if that’s not enough of an indictment, I don’t know what the hell to tell you. Sterry is a fine singer, and in a band in which he wasn’t a replacement for JON FUCKING KING, he would not offend, but Sterry isn’t actually the vocalist on about half of the record, nor does he even sing on its best material. Guest vocalists are handed a lot of the throat duties, and the best song features German actor/singer Herbert Grönemeyer. But the album’s great crime isn’t that the “band” continued without a crucial member—they lost a lot when they lost founding bassist Dave Allen to Shriekback, but they still managed at least some enduring material—its crime is that it’s tepid and unoriginal, two things nobody ever needed from Gang of Four, but if we’re to be honest, apart from some promising moments on 2011’s Content, tepid and unoriginal are mostly what their studio recordings have delivered for the last 30 years. Go4 have been on cruise control for decades, perpetually trading on the brilliance of Entertainment! and Solid Gold.
 

 

Apologies for the crappiness of my phone camera. I blame Apple.

And yet I went to the show. Because I’m a dumbass. Despite the merits of Sterry’s singing voice, as a frontman he’s all posturing and no charisma. I spent the first half of the band’s set right up front and directly in the line of fire of Andy Gill’s amps, waiting to be fucking perforated by the glorious missiles of angular clamor they’d hurl, but even HE sounded blah. Much credit is due to the rhythm section, especially the drummer, and if he and the bassist should ever decide to move on from the tribute band scene, they could probably do something amazing. But tempos were sluggish overall, robbing the band of all the fiery urgency that was its calling card. Songs that should have brought the house down like “Damaged Goods” and “At Home He’s a Tourist” sounded like early ‘90s shit bands covering those songs in slow-motion. The new material they did could have been discarded—NOTHING about those songs is worthy of the band’s name or legacy, both of which Andy Gill seems bent on narcissistically shitting all over. Had that music been the product of a band by any other name (or any other guitarist), nary a soul present would have cared. This is no new beginning for Gang of Four. This is the violation of Gang of Four’s corpse.

Words I never thought I’d find myself writing: Gang of Four is a fucking awful band. Here’s a reminder of why they once mattered.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Entertainment: Gang of Four, live in Zagreb, 1981
Dialectics & disco: Post-punk Marxists Gang of Four get funky on ‘Dance Fever’
Gang of Four’s ‘Not Great Men’ played by Javanese gamelan ensemble

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Saturday night in the City of the Dead: Ultravox feel the fear in the Western World
03.10.2015
05:44 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Ultravox


 
Considering how absolutely NUTS I was about the John Foxx-led Ultravox when I was young (the badges I wore on my trenchcoat back then were of them, PiL, Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen, TG and the Psychedelic Furs) it occurred to me over the weekend (while I was blasting their classic Ha! Ha! Ha! album in the car) that we’ve never posted about them on the blog.

Then I took a quick look on YouTube and it was obvious why we hadn’t: Slim pickings. Next to nothing and mostly unwatchable quality. Kind of a testament to how unfairly obscure the first incarnation of the band has become over the decades.
 

 
Most Americans, of course, have probably never heard of either incarnation of Ultravox, but we are not concerned here with the Ultravox fronted by Midge Ure—a fey Scotsman with a John Waters-like moustache—that recorded the Vienna album and had many, many top ten singles and albums in the UK after John Foxx left for an influential but ultimately very culty solo career. I hate that group. They probably should have changed the name, but that version of Ultravox had all the hits and can still play double bills with Simple Minds filling football stadiums across Europe (even if they could barely fill a small club here).
 

 
Thirty-five plus years later, it’s mostly only going to be rock snobs of a “certain age” who recall the John Foxx era, which is a shame because to my mind, that incarnation of Ultravox made some of the very best music of the late 1970s and it’s still fresh and exciting sounding today. They had a striking, original thing that they did and few groups since have explored the mutant wasteland that their music implied existed.

When Ultravox burst onto the scene in early 1977—not long after the Sex Pistols, it should be noted, they’d been around since 1974 playing as Tiger Lily—they took elements of punk, Kraftwerk, Bowie, the darker elements of Roxy Music (Eno co-produced their first album), Van der Graaf Generator and the New York Dolls and dressed it all up in an image that was equal parts A Clockwork Orange, Philip K. Dick and William Burroughs. It was almost as if they were the sort of post-apocalyptic rock group that Burroughs’ “Wild Boys” would go to see at the Rainbow in between servicing their clients from down the Piccadilly Circus Wimpy bar… or knifing them in the back.

“Come on, let’s tangle in the dark/Fuck like a dog, bite like a shark”

 

 
The lyrics were sharp, tart and full of wordy sci-fi blasphemy and violence. Imagine what this number, “Fear in the Western World,” sounded like bursting out of your speakers a matter of months after Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols had been released. Turn this up as loud as it deserves to be heard, okay?

 
More Ultravox after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Eye-popping Bad Brains and Ramones’ cartoons that will rock your world


 
British animator Neil Williams (aka Stelos485) has created two of the coolest punk-related cartoons ever. The animation for the Bad Brains’ “Pay To Cum” is very much like the song and band itself: stripped-down, kinetic and as frenetic as a frog on a hotplate.

Williams’ animation for The Ramones’ “Chainsaw” is an ingenious mix of Saturday morning cartoon visuals, Tobe Hooper’s slice and dice horror films and beach party fright flicks. It’s perfectly in the spirit of The Ramones’ own obsessions and I wish there was one of these cartoons for every Ramones’ song ever recorded.

More of Neil Williams’ work can be viewed on YouTube channel.  It is definitely worth a visit. Check out his Beatles’ stuff and an animated version of the notorious Orson Welles’ frozen pea radio ad. 
 


 
The Ramones animation after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Scully is a punk: ‘X Files’ Gillian Anderson, teenage delinquent
03.05.2015
09:21 am

Topics:
Punk
Television

Tags:
punks
Gillian Anderson


 
X Files’ Special Agent Dana Scully has a punk rock past she’s not afraid to fess up to.

Actress Gillian Anderson still considers herself a “punk” at heart, confirming in a Parade Magazine interview, “even though I can dress up like a soccer mom, the punk rocker will forever be under my skin.”

In an NPR profile, Anderson expounds on being a punk-as-fuck teenage malefactor:

When we moved to Michigan ... my folks still had a flat in London that we would go to in the summertime. And through one of those trips I had started to become interested in the punk scene and started to dress differently than a lot of the kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were dressing. And I got my nose pierced and I started to shave my head and dye my hair and wear a lot of black. And so I looked like somebody that might be arrested. ... I was a bit of a class clown, usually the one that people would get to do the things that they were afraid to get in trouble for. So the mixture of those two things contributed, no doubt, to that vote.

And, in fact, on graduation night, I was arrested. ... I had a boyfriend at the time who was a couple centuries older than I was and I’d convinced him that we should go and glue the locks of the school so that people couldn’t get in in the morning. And lo and behold, they had a security guard because it was graduation night and they were concerned that idiots like me might try and do something like that.


Check out this 1985 photo of young, punk rock troublemaker, Gillian Anderson and take your crush to the next level
 

And this image purportedly from her high school yearbook (prior to lock-glueing arrest)
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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Tension: Killing Joke live on German TV, 1985
03.04.2015
06:01 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

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Killing Joke


 
30 years ago, in March of 1985, Killing Joke released their fifth album, Night Time, an impressive creative leap and commercial success. The band basically jettisoned the tribal drumming and shouted vocals that had made their name in favor of a more accessible sound, though their music retained its anthemic loftiness and inflammatory lyrics. The album spawned the indelible “Eighties,” which somehow still packs a huge punch despite its long-passed expiration date, and the single “Love Like Blood” owed a significant debt to the poppier side of the gothic scene, and sported some mighty radio-friendly production. Their prior album Fire Dances had hinted at the more accessible direction, and Night Time‘s successor, the self-consciously grandiose Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, though quite good, sounds at times like an effort to make an entire album out of “Love Like Blood.”
 

 
Also in March of 1985, KJ appeared on the improbably named German TV program Live aus dem Alabama. The show was named for its shooting location, the Alabama Depot in Munich, a long-time military storage installation that received its conspicuously non-Teutonic name when the USA took the facility over after World War II. The program’s musical performances are listed here. Killing Joke’s performance, unsurprisingly, includes half of Night Time.

00:00 – Night Time
04:55 – Sun Goes Down
09:19 – Tabazan
13:42 – The Wait
17:29 – Love Like Blood
22:01 – Tension
25:16 – Change
28:50 – Pssyche
33:31 – Eighties
36:59 – Wardance
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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MTV and Danny Fields visit New York City’s punk rock landmarks
03.03.2015
06:01 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
MTV
Danny Fields


Iggy Pop and Danny Fields by Brigid Berlin

Danny Fields has been a driving force in rock and roll as a band manager (The Stooges and The Ramones), journalist, disc jockey, A&R man, author and champion of New York’s punk rock scene from the beginning in the mid-seventies onward. A documentary about Fields, Danny Says, will premier at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin.

In this video from 1994, Fields takes MTV’s Tabitha Soren on a tour of some of New York City’s seminal punk rock clubs, including CBGB and Max’s, and some historic musical landmarks like Electric Lady studios and The Ed Sullivan Theater.

As someone who practically lived at CBGB and Max’s in their heydays, Danny Fields was an omnipresent source of rock and roll energy and enthusiasm, as essential to the scene as the musicians, club owners and booking agents who helped make the scene happen. 
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘I use your eyeballs for dials on my TV set’: The Cramps destroy the airwaves
03.02.2015
05:19 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Cramps
Inner Tube


 
Paul Tschinkel’s Inner Tube may have been low rent, but it was one of the grooviest TV rock shows in the history of the medium. The show ran on Manhattan cable from 1974 to 1984. With a shoestring budget, Paul managed to capture the raw energy of what is arguably the last great era in rock and roll. He filmed seminal performances from musicians like Klaus Nomi, Lydia Lunch, DNA, The Contortions, Johnny Thunders, The Blessed, The Cramps and many many more members of New York City’s punk and no wave scene.

Here’s some very cool footage from Inner Tube of The Cramps performing “Beautiful Gardens” at the Mudd Club in 1981. Who needed the Internet when TV was this good.

Oh my, oh me
What in the world’s come over me?
I’m seeing things that I should never see!
Spiders in my eyelids and ghosts in the cheese!
What in the world’s come over me?
I’ve lost touch with reality!
Reality!
Reality!
Reality!

The video features the second best lineup of The Cramps (my personal favorite was with Bryan Gregory on guitar): Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach, Kid Congo and Nick Knox. While versions of this video have floated around the ‘net, this is by far the best looking and sounding. It’s from the source. Many thanks to Paul Tschinkel.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Food Fight’: The Village People’s stupefying punk rock masterpiece!
03.02.2015
05:09 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Village People


 
It was 1981, disco was dead, and the Village People were left out to dry, having just suffered the embarrassment of starring in the hilariously terrible box-office bomb Can’t Stop the Music.

RCA had just picked up the “YMCA” and “In the Navy” hitmakers from Casablanca, seeking to give the group a last-ditch makeover for the new wave era.

According to the Village People’s “construction worker,” David Hodo, in a Popmatters interview:

They had a couple of people there passing around ideas. The first one was these leather outfits that were monochrome — someone in solid red, someone in solid yellow. They had fringe on them. They were awful. We nixed that one. Then they had these guys trying to convince us of this New Romantic look, which was Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet. That was the better of the two choices.

 

Village person David Hodo in 1978
 

Village person David Hodo in 1981

And so with the marketing angle determined, the Village People released the LP mega-turd, Renaissance, which noted music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine described as “simply an embarrassment that never should have seen the light of day.”

Hodo had turned in his signature hardhat for a doublet, lip gloss, blush, and (at least five) beauty marks.
 

 
Despite the deceptive packaging, Renaissance has nothing musically to do with the New Romantic movement. The music barely even qualifies as new wave. Most of the tracks are simply bad 80’s MOR rock and bargain basement Kool and the Gang-ish r&b. That is, with one notable exception, which Hodo himself provides vocals for: the improbable final track on the album, “Food Fight,” a fake-punk masterpiece easily as good as anything Plastic Bertrand or Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias ever laid down. 

“Food Fight” is an anomaly in the Village People’s oeuvre: a first and last attempt to cash in on the punk audience from a band clearly grasping at straws, willing to try absolutely anything to stay relevant.

Musically, one can hear the best elements of DEVO, as well as The Dickies, and Hodo’s nerdcore vocals sound remarkably like Weird Al.

“Food fight” plays out like the music you’d hear in an early 80’s teenage T & A movie where there’d be some marginally “punk” band playing on the beach in wrap-around sunglasses and clam-diggers, while a bunch of girls in string bikinis did robot dances in the sand. Yes, it’s that good. The subject matter would seem to indicate the Village People’s new target demographic was middle school children.

Hodo himself hates the song, calling it “some of the worst” music the group ever recorded. It’s a shame, because had the Village People followed Renaissance with an album full of songs in the “Food Fight” vein, they easily could have been the greatest fake punk band of all time.

The Village People’s fake punk student rebellion anthem, “Food Fight”:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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Forget that shitty ‘CBGB’ film, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ from 1978 takes you inside the real CBGB


 
Three aspiring musicians: Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd were looking for a place “where nothing was happening” for their band Television to play. If nothing was happening then the bar owner had nothing to lose. One day, down in the Bowery, Verlaine and Lloyd spotted a place initialed CBGB-OMFUG. They sidled across, went inside and talked to the owner a former singer and musician Hilly Krystal. As Lloyd recalled in Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s essential oral history of punk Please Kill Me, Hilly wanted to know what kinda music they played. They answered with a question:

‘Well, what does ‘CBGB-OMFUG’ stand for?’

He said, ‘Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers.’

So we said, ‘Oh yeah, we play a little of that, a little rock, a little country, a little blues, a little bluegrass…’

And Hilly said, ‘Oh, okay, maybe…’

 
01blitzramonebop.jpg
 
In fact, the only real stipulation for appearing at CBGB’s was to play new music, and although Suicide and Wayne County had already appeared at CBGB’s (after the demise of the Mercer Arts Center), it was not until Television, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and The Dead Boys started taking up residency that CBGB’s changed from something where nothing happened to somewhere it all happened.
 

 
If you were disappointed by the shitty CBGB’s movie made a couple of years back starring Alan Rickman, then you will get a better sense of the energy, talent and musical revolution that took place at CBGB’s in the mid-1970s with this hour-long TV documentary Blitzkrieg Bop . Focussing on The Ramones, Blondie and the The Dead Boys, Blitzkrieg Bop mixes live performance with short interview clips and a racy newscast voiceover. It’s recommended viewing.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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