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The unknown obscuro glam, punk and new wave mystery bands of 1980s… FLORIDA?
05.08.2015
06:04 am

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Music
Punk

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Gregory McLaughlin, Randy Rush - The Front

A pair of eye-opening, no-budget documentaries on the (surprisingly great) glam, punk, and new wave music history of Florida have surfaced. These documentaries, primarily focused on the 1980s hyper-obscuro bands of the Miami scene, are a window into a musical history that, probably because of its geographical distance from the rest of the country, has been virtually ignored.

Punk rock historian, and author of the excellent Crate Digger: An Obsession With Punk Records, Bob Suren, who is constantly alerting me to new old bands I’ve never heard, sent me a link to Greg McLaughlin’s You Tube channel—a veritable treasure trove of Florida new wave and punk history. And get this—most of it’s actually really great.

McLaughlin led The Front, an early ‘80s punky, new-wave-ish quintet from Miami, with a sound reminiscent of San Francisco’s The Mutants or John Foxx era Ultravox. These guys were legitimate outsider weirdos who could have been huge if they had been from New York or LA or, hell, even Athens, GA. McLaughlin’s You Tube channel is chock full of clips of The Front as well as other Florida bands that no one north of Tallahassee’s ever heard of. Most of these bands may have released one or two singles if they were lucky. The Front had two.
 

 
McLaughlin has collected a lot of this footage, as well as interviews, into two documentaries: Invisible Bands and The Front -The Band That Time Forgot. The former chronicles Florida’s DIY music history from ‘60s garage punk bands through ‘80s new wave, power pop, and punk. The latter deals more specifically with McLaughlin’s own band, The Front, but also delves into the ‘80s Florida music scene, with bands such as The Eat, Cichlids, Screamin’ Sneakers, and Charlie Pickett and the Eggs.

Both documentaries are charmingly “no budget,”—fun in spite of their utter lack of any production value. Both could use a lot of fat-trimming, and would benefit greatly from about 30 minutes worth of cuts each. I think this is a problem film makers often face when they are too close to their subject matter.  The Front documentary loses focus about half way through and just starts including footage from loads of ‘80s contemporary local bands. Thankfully, all of the music (from a slew of unknown bands—“Killed By Death” greats, The Eat, are the most famous band featured, if that gives you any frame of reference)  is fantastic, even if the document itself is overlong and disjointed. Some of the footage repeats between the two documentaries, and if you’re not a patient person you may find yourself wanting to skim around a bit, but the music is totally worth it. There are some major gems to be unearthed here.

More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
This is the best punk band in the United States
05.07.2015
06:05 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

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Sure, this will be a controversial superlative, but fuck it, I’m going out on a limb and declaring right now: Downtown Boys are currently the best active punk band in the United States.

I don’t make such statements carelessly. 

Providence, Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys may not be a household name, even in most punk houses, but they should be. The six-piece utilizes highly danceable manic punk blasts as a soapbox for their confrontational but heartfelt radical political screeds. The self-billed “bilingual political sax dance punk party” draws many influences together to create something that sounds familiar enough to pull you onto its frantic wavelength, but refreshing enough to keep you there. One might detect hints of The Fall, Bikini Kill, The Contortions, and The Ex, as much as the obvious comparison, X Ray Spex, who Downtown Boys share more in common with sonically than simply a saxophone and female singer.
 

 
In an excellent interview on wonderingsound.com, guitarist Joey L DeFrancesco touches on what sets Downtown Boys apart from most “political punk” acts:

We like to dance, and so do most of our friends. It’s something that brings people together. That’s just a good baseline. We aren’t trying to create a distraction from the awful world, but rather help create a new world inside the show space, and hopefully inspire folks to go out and do it in the outside world, too. There’s a power and joy in that, and that goes beyond just going to a club (which is still awesome and valid). Love and rage together are greater than the sum of their parts. Political music is often cheesy or boring, so no one listens to it. It’s ineffective propaganda.

Insert appropriate Emma Goldman misquote here.
 

 
Singer Victoria Ruiz paints a picture of the vibe at a Downtown Boys show—a vibe I can personally vouch for, as I was lucky enough to see them live last year. While most of the crowd waited outside for the by-the-numbers, headlining, cool-guy-hardcore-band, a smaller contingent of folks who had never heard of opening act, Downtown Boys, were at first stunned, and soon bouncing off walls, as the band utterly transformed the room. Ruiz conveyed a depth and realness that is so lacking in most of what passes for “punk” in 2015, and the audience picked up on that bigtime.

Every time we play, I think that we are going pretty deep down into the darkest and brightest places of ourselves, pulling out emotions from our subconscious and conscious desires, dreams and future. We are trying to relate to people. A lot of us in the band have worked in relational organizing, where you build relationships with people in order to create demand for change. It is the same thing with people at shows. We hope to meet people where they are at. It is crazy to look to the audience and be like, ‘Wow — there is a person here singing the lyrics louder than I am, there is a person here slowly unfolding their arms and slowly moving their head, there is a person here who looks likes I did when I was 16 — nerdy, brown and dirtying the cultural hegemonic brainwash.’ [At our shows] I want people to be with us and feel completely relevant and important.

OK. I made a rather bold statement up-top, and so it comes time to provide some musical evidence to back it up….

After the jump, listen to the best punk band in America today…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Punk posters from London’s legendary Roxy club
05.05.2015
10:01 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Music
Punk

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Barry Jones: “They all loved the posters. Wayne County signed his. Everybody wanted copies so I went back for a reprint.”
 
Barry Jones was one of the three founders of the Roxy in Covent Garden at the very end of 1976 and the start of 1977; the other two were Andrew Czezowski and Susan Carrington. The Roxy famously lasted less than two years and had an especially awesome start, featuring many of punk’s greatest acts in a very short time, including Wire, X-Ray Spex, XTC, the Damned, the Jam, the Police, the Adverts, Buzzcocks, Sham 69, Siouxsie & The Banshees, the Slits, and the Vibrators.

After the Roxy closed, Barry Jones joined the London Cowboys, who stayed intact through 1986.

If you do research about the 1970s with any regularity, as all DM contributors do, it becomes immediately apparent how ubiquitous black-and-white photography was and how expensive printing in color must have been. One of the aspects that makes Jones’ gig posters so marvelous is that, in addition to being totally too much and overwhelming the onlooker with visual data, they’re just full of brimming color. Not suprisingly, they were supposed to be in B&W too, as Jones revealed in the pages of The Roxy London WC2: A Punk History by Paul Marko:
 

I loved color and I loved collage. I loved Andy Warhol and I loved the mass production thing. I’d found the place on Regent Street where Bowie shot that cover of Ziggy Stardust in the telephone booth right near the Xerox copy place. There were very few copy places around at that time—colour copiers anyway. We found this place that was conveniently near us and I did some paste ups. I was in love with magazines; if you went to my flat there were stacks and stacks of colour magazines from Vogue to colour supplements. I would go through them and pull out images I loved and the typefaces I wanted to copy. I had reams of references. At that time I was also really into Spiderman comics and their graphics. I loved the depth of feel that they got. I didn’t know what I was doing but I liked that the fact there was more to read in them than my earlier posters which were flat graphic.

When I came to do the posters it was just like a natural transition to me and include things I liked. So basically I slung together these collage things. The first three were for the Yanks. I liked them and they were gonna be B&W because that was all we could afford at the time; we weren’t making that much money. I remember going down to get them printed. I ran them through the B&W copier and they were pretty disappointing and I thought just for me I’ll do a colour one and that was it. Boom! Off the page it was phenomenal. and I just made the decision on my own that these were going to be colour. It’s a special gig; it’s the Yanks, it’s the Heartbreakers. They were expensive and had to be strategically placed rather than smothering the town.

 
(If available, clicking on an image will spawn a larger version.)
 

Cherry Vanilla: “That vibrator was drawn in. It was actually a microphone in my hand, but they made it into a vibrator. I had no control over that, but I didn’t mind it. I was sexual and I didn’t mind being portrayed that way.”
 

Jones: “Leee Childers was so gracious because I’d spelt Heartbreakers wrong. I had this kind of dyslexic thing where I would do a layout and one in ten I would do a misspell. I spelt it ‘Heartbrakers’... He was so gracious saying ‘it doesn’t matter they’re beautiful.”
 
More of Barry Jones’ posters from the Roxy, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Joey and Marky Ramone mock George Bush on Howard Stern, Republican Johnny does not
05.04.2015
05:56 am

Topics:
Politics
Pop Culture
Punk

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The partisan animosity within The Ramones is arguably the most fascinating political subtext in punk history. Most famous is the story that “The KKK Took My Baby Away” was left-wing Joey’s kiss-off song to right-wing Johnny, who had recently taken up with Joey’s girlfriend. Joey’s brother disputes this interpretation, maintaining that the song actually referenced an ill-fated romance between Joey and a black woman, but the lyrics indicate a clear streak of a bleeding heart, regardless. There is also Johnny’s famous acceptance speech at the band’s induction into the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, where he proclaimed “God bless President Bush, and God bless America” during that oh-so-embarrassing post-9/11 era of G.W love. There were other internecine jabs and some of them were in public.

The clip below is from one of The Ramones’ memorable appearances on The Howard Stern Show—this segment from 1990 probably didn’t help ameliorate the animosity between Joey and Johnny. The sketch features Billy West—best known as the voices of Ren of Ren and Stimpy and Fry from Futurama—as an oblivious President Bush. With surprisingly good comedic timing, Joey and Marky set up West to portray Bush as cavalier and avoidant, preferring golf to the responsibilities of the presidency (sound familiar?).

One can presume from Johnny’s political record (and his lack of participation) that he was not amused by such irreverent humor at the expense of our then commander-in chief.

Note Howard bemoaning his resemblance to Joey and the reference to Dee Dee’s mercifully brief career as a rapper under the name Dee Dee King,
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Open Up and Bleed: WILD footage of Iggy & The Stooges performing ‘1970’ IN 1970!
04.27.2015
08:00 am

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Music
Punk

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Iggy and The Stooges at their most primal proto-punk prime, filmed at the Goose Lake music festival in Michigan in 1970.

If the Stooges sound a bit “thin” here, this performance was done without original bassist Dave Alexander, who arrived at the gig too fucked up to stand, let alone play.

Alexander was promptly fired. A heavy drinker, he died at the young age of 27 in 1975. He was name-checked a few years later in Iggy’s spoken-word intro to The Idiot’s “Dum Dum Boys”:

“How ‘bout Dave? OD’d on alcohol.”

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Cramps’ long-lost video for ‘Human Fly’ FOUND!!!
04.23.2015
07:09 am

Topics:
A girl's best friend is her guitar
Music
Punk

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The story goes that in 1978, the Cramps made a video, filmed by Alex de Laszlo, for their song “Human Fly,” that featured singer Lux Interior (RIP 2009) in a classic movie-monster transformation scene—but it seemed like nobody saw it, or could even prove it existed. A close perusal of Thomas Owen Sheridan’s collection of contemporary zine articles about the band—itself a rare Cramps collectible—yielded exactly one reference to its existence.
 

Seriously, that’s it.

The 1990 book Wild Wild World of the Cramps, by Ian Johnston, who also wrote the book on Nick Cave, offered this:

In May, The Cramps made their first tentative steps into the world of promotional video. A friend who was studying at film school suggested his services and a short three-minute film, based on the song ‘Human Fly’ was produced. The film was made for under $200 and featured Lux painfully transforming into a fly. This artefact is now so rare that even Lux and Ivy do not have a copy of the film.

In 2011, an amazing blog post by Kogar Theswingingape proffered actual screen caps and a scene-by-scene breakdown, but the video itself wasn’t posted.

The film opens with a countdown and a placard with: Vengeance Productions Presents a Film by Alex de Laszlo. It immediately cuts to a shot of Ivy walking down the street, transistor radio glued to her ear (The Way I Walk is playing), blowing bubbles and holding a glass bottle coke. Cut to a somber looking Lux in a smoking jacket sitting on what appears to be a leopard print sofa. He’s prepping a huge hypodermic needle by lighting a match and holding it under the needle.

Lux then gathers up some flesh from around his throat and slowly injects himself.

The result is immediate; he begins a transformation!

 

 
Well, it seems that a couple of months ago, the actual film, AT LONG LAST, after decades of existing as little more than a tantalizing rumor, finally and with little fanfare found its way to YouTube. It’s amazing that this sine qua non of Cramps ephemera has been online for months with such a paltry view-count. Let’s ramp those numbers up a bit, shall we?
 

 
This post is dedicated to the memory of “Brother Ed” Wille, who probably had this on an 8MM reel or something. Many thanks to Shawn Swagerty for alerting me to this find.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
The Cramps ‘Human Fly’ opera version
The Cramps want to know: ‘Can Your Pussy do the Dog?’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Here’s an incredible unreleased 1982 studio session from Flipper!
04.23.2015
06:23 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
Always defying both cultural and counter-cultural conventions, San Francisco’s Flipper were one of the more sonically caustic bands of the early ‘80s West Coast punk scene. Mostly on the pop consciousness radar for being “on Kurt Cobain’s T-shirt,” Flipper is the dirging sound of boredom, depression, and nihilism—ugly music for people with ugly feelings, and their long-lasting influence reaches throughout punk, grunge, sludge, and noise rock.
 

Infamous band/famous T-shirt.
 
Some internet saint has uploaded an entire unreleased Flipper studio session from 1982. This recording would have come between their Generic Flipper and Gone Fishin’ records. Indeed, many of the songs on this were re-recorded for Gone Fishin’.

In this excellent article on sfbg.com, Flipper’s Bruce Loose makes mention of an unreleased album:

Luckily, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor, either. He has some hilarious stories, and it’s a joy to hear his voice perk up when he tells them. For example, there was the time he crawled under the stage at a Dead Kennedys show and yelled through a hidden, plugged-in microphone, “I might be ‘too drunk to fuck,’ but I can sure lick some pussy!” He also mentioned a scrapped plan to issue a still-unreleased studio album from the mid-‘80s under the title Flipper’s Greatest Misses, with artwork depicting a dartboard decorated by errantly thrown syringes instead of darts. “Will would have thought it was hilarious,” he maintained.

Loose is referring to bassist/vocalist Will Shatter who died in 1987 of a heroin overdose.
 

 
The album remains unreleased to this day, but has appeared as a bootleg CD entitled The Light, The Sound, The Rhythm, The Noise, and—at least for now—you can hear it, in its entirety, on You Tube. It’s absolutely incredible, and if you’re a fan or even have a casual interest in the band , you need to hear this right now.

Tracks included:

Sacrifice
In Your Arms
You Naught Me
Survivors of the Plague
In Life, My Friends
One by One
Now is the Time
On & On
In the Garden
First the Heart
I Want to Talk
Flipper Blues
Get Away
Talk’s Cheap
The Light, the Sound, the Rhythm, the Noise
Kali

Here you go, you can thank us later:
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Joey Ramone and his proud mom on ‘Geraldo’
04.22.2015
06:30 pm

Topics:
Punk
Television

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Birthday boy Joey towers center, mother Charlotte Lesher is on the right.
 
Geraldo Rivera is an idiot, and The Geraldo Rivera Show was Oprah on crack, minus the nuance, double the audience manipulation. But—and this is a big “but” here—there is some quality entertainment to be had in the trashy daytime TV of yesteryear. There was the trend of the day, of course—drumming up the public panic on Satanism, but Geraldo also liked to run features on famous people’s moms—a surprisingly interesting subject, especially when guests actually seemed to get along with their parents.

The clip here is from an episode titled “Heavy Metal Moms”—I can’t pinpoint the date, but the density of hair bands should tip you off. Apparently Geraldo wasn’t clear on the genre of Heavy Metal, because the line-up included Steve West of Danger Danger, Joe Leste of Bang Tango, Kristy Majors of Pretty Boy Floyd, and Mark Craney of Jethro Tull and… Joey Ramone (plus all their moms)! I gotta’ say, Jeffrey Ross Hyman (Joey’s real name) and his darling mother Charlotte Lesher are really sweet together—she’s incredibly supportive, even singing a little of “Beat on the Brat” and “I Wanna Be Sedated!” Joey’s sister-in-law also pops up in the crowd. What a happy family!
 

 
Thanks to Kenzo Shibata

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Mind your own business!’: Socialist post-punk funksters Delta 5
04.21.2015
12:16 pm

Topics:
Activism
Class War
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
Socialist post-punk dance-floor agitators, Delta 5 were closely aligned with the Gang of Four, another Leeds-based group who mixed music and left wing politics. Formed in 1979 by vocalist/guitarist Julz Sale, fretless bassist Ros Allen, and second bassist Bethan Peters, who then added guitarist Alan Briggs and drummer Kelvin Knight. Their thumpy, double bass guitar-led funk attack, slashing guitars and flat, bored female vocals made them sound like a tighter version of the Slits mixed with the Gang of Four’s razor-sharp guitar lines. Both Delta 5 and the Gang of Four were associated with the Rock Against Racism movement. Delta 5, with three women in the group, also played several benefits to fight the Corrie Bill, an anti-abortion statute.

In late 1970s, the racist British Movement, a National Front offshoot that was unashamedly Nazi organized in Leeds and enlisted some local yobs to form skinhead groups to harass the “Communist” bands and to counter RAR. The concerts they organized were called Rock Against Communism (The notorious oi band Screwdriver sprang from this mucky milieu). One night Delta 5 member Ros Allen was recognized in a pub by eight British Movement members who called her a “Communist witch.” The members of the group were followed outside and beaten. Vocalist/bassist Bethan Peters told Greil Marcus in 1980 that the sight of skinheads doing “Sieg heil” salutes was common at their gigs and how she once grabbed one of them and repeatedly smashed his head into the stage.
 

  
Delta 5 did not last that long, just one album and some singles before they split in 1982. Their reputation was obscure for several decades, but in 2006, the Kill Rock Stars label released some early Delta 5 material called Singles & Sessions 1979-81, which saw renewed interest in the group.
 
Their best song (in my opinion): “Mind Your Own Business” performed at the Hurrah nightclub in New York City, 1980. The full set is available on DVD.
 

 
More Delta 5 after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘White Glove Test’: The ‘teenage folk art’ of the Louisville, Kentucky punk scene, 1978-1994
04.20.2015
06:55 am

Topics:
Design
History
Punk

Tags:

White Glove Test
 
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:
 
No Fun
1978
 
The Endtables
1979
 
Kinghorse
1990
 
Many more amazing punk flyers, after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
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