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Men in black: The Stranglers’ BBC documentary about the color black, 1982
06:42 am


The Stranglers

In 1982, BBC Southwest aired a short documentary about the color black made by two members of the Stranglers. Singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell and drummer Jet Black
“were asked to put together a piece about the colour black for an arts programme called RPM,” according to Cornwell’s autobiography.

Around this time, the Stranglers were obsessed with the sinister Meninblack (as they stylized it) legends of UFO lore. They had released their great concept album, The Gospel According to the Meninblack, and changed their names to Hughinblack, JJinblack, Daveinblack and Jetinblack; they were even thinking about changing the band’s name to the Men in Black. Ultimately, these pursuits scared the band shitless.

“We were unearthing very curious connections between UFOs and dark forces,” Cornwell writes in his autobiography, characterizing the period as “disastrous.” “It wasn’t until after we had finished on The Meninblack album and had moved on to working on La Folie, that the misfortunes stopped.”

Cornwell touches on the BBC documentary in The Stranglers: Song by Song: “Jet and I made a television programme about how the colour black has always been associated with authority. We were doing a lot of research into the Meninblack, but there were certain crucial books that we couldn’t get hold of at the National Library. It just so happened to be the books that related to the connection between the Meninblack, religion and civilisation.”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Pig Pile’: Big Black live on their final tour, with members of Wire, 1987
09:23 am


Big Black
Steve Albini

In 1992, five years after their breakup in the wake of their amazing LP Songs About Fucking, the influential and scathing post-hardcore pioneers Big Black released a boxed set called Pig Pile, which featured a shirt, a poster, a VHS tape, a vinyl LP, and a clear-vinyl 5” single. The LP and VHS were documents of the band’s July 1987 concert at London’s Hammersmith Clarendon, and the 5” was a totally incongruous cover of the Mary Jane Girls’ “In My House.”

In My House by Big Black on Grooveshark


Talking to NME about the show, the band’s singer/guitarist Steve Albini had this to offer:

We made a splash immediately before we broke up; now a band starts shopping its demos to majors after its third rehearsal. By the end, I think we improved; on the live record and video we were probably as good as we were ever gonna be. That gig was exciting—there was this giant belch and everyone involved in this giant belch felt immensely relieved afterwards.


It was indeed a hell of a belch. The band at its height was known for a relentlessly concussive and scarifying musical blitz—Albini’s guitar tone alone could practically sever limbs—paired with true-story lyrics that unflinchingly detailed the most reprehensible of human behaviors, often to genuinely chilling effect. The videotape and album show the band slaying an excoriating best-of set, and for their encore, a cover of Wire’s “Heartbeat,” they were joined onstage by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis in what must have been a fan-fantasy score of a lifetime. The LP was rereleased as a CD in short order, and inevitably came out on vinyl again in the ‘oughts, but the video has never been reissued in any format. Per the band’s label, Touch and Go records,

In 1992, Touch and Go released a Big Black live album and video, titled Pig Pile, that were recorded (mostly) in 1987 during Big Black’s final tour. Someday, we might release the video on DVD. Until then, please don’t ask us about it.

As of this writing, used copies of the complete set are being offered on for between $60 USD (box condition fair, shirt worn) and well over $200. But if you’re really that hot to watch it, and you don’t mind tiny and fuzzy, here it is.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Shellac Pistols’: Shellac and David Yow do the Sex Pistols, 1998
Awkward, hilarious interview with Steve Albini
Absolute Nirvana: new Steve Albini mixes push in utero anniversary set into essential territory

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Tommy Ramone, RIP: Last original member of Ramones passes
09:09 pm



Tommy Ramone, aka Thomas Erdelyi, the last surviving member of the original Ramones died today at his home in Ridgewood, Queens. He was 62 (several sources say 65) and had been in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct. The time of death was 12:15pm. Claudia Tienan, his partner of 40 years, asked Andy Schwartz, former editor of NY Rocker (among many other things) to make the announcement of his passing.

Tommy and guitarist John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) first got together in a high school garage band called the Tangerine Puppets. When the Ramones formed, he was supposed to be their manager, but ended up becoming the drummer from 1974 to 1978 and producing several of their albums. Tommy was always considered the most “normal” Ramone.

Post Ramones, Erdelyi produced the Replacements Tim album and Redd Kross’s Neurotica. In recent years he’d been playing bluegrass and folk with Claudia Tienan as Uncle Monk.

Below, The Ramones perform “Havana Affair” and “Listen to My Heart"at Max’s Kansas City, October 8th, 1976:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘The Kids are United’: Footage from Reading Festival 1978 featuring The Jam, Sham 69, Ultravox

Reading Festival 1978
1978 was the year that punk invaded the Reading Festival. The first day of the event, Friday, August 25, featured the likes of The Jam, Sham 69, Penetration, as well as The Pirates and Ultravox, and the day was scintillating enough that two different VHS videos were produced of it, The Kids Are United and Kids Like Me + You. (These seem to be the same movie; both were directed by Peter MacDonald, anyway.) The videos are only available in VHS format, but wonder of wonders, the entirety of the Kids Like Me + You video has been uploaded to YouTube, and it’s a treat. In addition to lots of galvanizing live footage (which looks pretty darn good in the transfer, considering it’s from a VHS tape), there’s also a bunch of interview footage with Paul Weller from The Jam, Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69, and so forth.

The Jam are excellent as always (although Paul Weller was unhappy with the sound and was aloof towards his punker fans), but the revelations in this footage are Penetration with Pauline Murray and Sham 69 with Jimmy Pursey. The Sham 69 rendition of “The Kids Are United” is so intense that you could practically put it in a time capsule to represent punk. Whereas in the nocturnal Ultravox and Jam footage there’s some distance between audience and performer, when Sham 69 plays it’s still daylight and everyone’s on top of each other, the stage is jammed with people and the intense, pogoing audience is right there.

Of course, nothing is as simple as that. The intensity of the performance and the audience reaction led to some scuffles and then some between the “punkers” and the “longhairs,” and Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 became incredibly frustrated at the violence—see more on that below.
Reading Festival 1978
This page has incredibly exhaustive information about Reading 1978, including audience testimonials, pictures, and information about the VHS releases. Here’s some audience reaction, with emphasis on the out-of-control Sham 69 set:

Pursey was totally hacked off with the aggro and it must have been overwhelming performing in front of around 15,000 people on the Friday.

It was my first proper gig, me and a mate camping, aged fifteen, miles away from parental control.  It was magical, I had already fallen in love with Sham 69 and found it amazing that Jimmy Pursey would spend most of the day hanging around with us idiots.  He was, and remains, a really genuine bloke, always accessible.

The Jam didn’t get a fair deal on the sound front but they just drove straight past their supporters into the back-stage enclosure, no talking, no autographs, good socialism comrade Paul.  They were always better suited to small halls anyway, that type of band.

The Pirates were brilliant, Penetration were superb (Pauline was gorgeous) but the Friday belonged to Sham.  One Reading newspaper described it as a “Punk Invasion”.  I will try to scan the damned thing and get it to you when I can afford a scanner.

That day it seemed like punk rock was going to change the world.  Is every generation so stupid?

We flogged out tickets on the third day cos we’d run out of money, fags and booze but, after the first day and Sham dominating proceedings, everything was going to be anticlimactic anyway.

Reading ‘78 was one of the best experiences in my life, mainly because of the great performance of Sham 69 a brilliant live band who always gave 100%


Just to answer a point on your website Jimmy Pursey broke down in tears during his performance out of sheer frustration at certain sections of the crowd. He brought Steve Hillage on during the Kids are United to try and unify the Punk/Old Guard audiences. (this was the first time reading had embraced punk)

There was a group of skins who didn’t take much to this and were attacking any long-hairs down at the front. I know , as I was one of them – the longhair not the skin! It deeply upset Jimmy to have to watch this going on and be helpless to stop it.


I was at Reading 78 as a 15 year old.

My recollections of the Sham escapade:

The mood was ugly before Sham arrived. There was much discontent from the biker and metal fraternity regarding the “New Wave” acts.

Sham 69 were on stage and were useless - out of tune, out of time and out of their depth playing such a large venue.

Various objects were thrown at the band, who in fairness were determined to play on regardless.

Eventually, a well-aimed can hit the bass player on the head and he stopped playing, bringing the rest of the band to a halt.

Jimmy Pursey had already made several comments, but finally shouted “If you don’t like it you can **** off home”, to which the crowd responded with a barrage of beer-cans and other objects. The stage invasion then happened as documented by other reports.

I left the arena at that point.

The violence between the punkers and the longhairs made the news: On that exhaustive Reading 1978 page there is a news clipping with the headline “Punks in pop fight.”
Kids Like Me + You

Track listing:
Sham 69, “Borstal Breakout”
Penetration, “Life’s a Gamble”
Ultravox, “Quiet Man”
The Jam, “In the City”
The Pirates, “Johnny B. Goode’s Good”
Sham 69, “Angels with Dirty Faces”
The Jam, “Mr. Clean”
The Jam, “‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street”
Penetration, “Lovers of Outrage”
Ultravox, “Slow Motion”
The Pirates, “Shakin’ All Over”
Sham 69, “The Kids Are United”


Thank you Gordon Reichert!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Shellac Pistols’: Shellac and David Yow do the Sex Pistols, 1998

Shellac / Sex Pistols
On Halloween night of 1998, Shellac and David Yow of Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard fame indulged their silly side, pretending to be The Sex Pistols for a set of scorching music. The location was Lounge Ax, the legendary venue on 2438 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago that had been pummeling audiences with awesome music since 1987. (It closed in 2000; you might remember it as the venue in High Fidelity where John Cusack first meets Lisa Bonet.)

The first performers were Ms. Fits, an all-female Misfits cover band. During their set, Shellac’s Steve Albini stood right in the middle of the audience “to loudly support” the openers, who were facing “a tough crowd.” The middler, Sixto, featured members from Seam and Dis—they’re still active, at least judging by their bandcamp page.

When the crew put up three microphones for the final set, a rumor briefly flared up that this was going to be a Big Black reunion. What the audience got was a lot more special than that: Shellac with David Yow as a spot-on Johnny Rotten doing most of the songs off of Never Mind the Bollocks. Bob Weston was Sid Vicious, Todd Trainer was Paul Cook on drums, and Albini was Steve Jones.
David Yow as Johnny Rotten
An attendee of the show submitted the following account:

David Yow stalked onto the stage, in full 1970’s-era Johnny Rotten attire to the letter. Bleached and spiked hair, psychotically glaring at the audience, the whole nine yards. He’d done his homework on this one. He was followed by the three Shellacs, with Steve Albini doing his best Steve Jones in vinyl pants (!) and a red doo-rag on his head. Bob Weston *was* Sid Vicious, in spiked black hair, mesh shirt (with scratches and scars visible underneath), glassy-eyed, and an impressively bloody IV bandage on his arm. Only Todd Trainer seemed to buck the whole Pistols image. I mean, he could have found one of those big sweaters or something. Paul Cook had style too.

Anyway, they ripped into “Holidays in the Sun”, and that set the tone for the evening. Yow had Rotten’s nasal Brit accent down pat, even in song. He pulled the whole thing off so well, I tell ya. Weston kept coughing up “blood” and running into things. Steve’s guitar sounded kind of sloppy, but I don’t think Jones could have done it any better. Between songs the band taunted the audience in mock cockney accents, Steve asking if there were “any PAA-ties about”. The audience responded by throwing chunks of a dismembered jack-o-lantern at the band.

The setlist was confined to material from Never Mind the Bollocks, including “Bodies”, “Submission”, “Anarchy in the U.K.”, and closing with “God Save the Queen”. Yow seemed to remember the words to them better than he remembers the words to Jesus Lizard songs.

Yow ended the evening by asking, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” and the band walked offstage, barely an hour after they started. For a long time, nobody left. The house lights came up and nobody left. Todd Trainer started taking his drum set apart and people booed. It finally registered that that was the evening, that they weren’t going to get anymore, and they weren’t getting any Shellac songs.

As attendee Andy Larson wrote ten years later to the day, “steve albini said something like ‘does anyone know where there’s a party about?’ in a british accent—and i believe only that. walking up lincoln ave. after the show i passed bob weston (sid vicious) and said ‘hey—great show’ and he said “right” in a british accent.”

There’s no video of the show, and scarcely any pictures—at least on the Internet. The b/w shot above is the only one I could find. There is, however, fairly good audio, which you can download here in flac format.

1. Holidays In The Sun
2. Bodies
3. Pretty Vacant
4. Seventeen
5. Sub-mission
6. New York
7. Anarchy In The U.K.
8. God Save The Queen

The poster for the show was done by Illinois gig poster legend Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine. The poster run had a limited run of only 100 pressings, which combined with the specialness of the gig makes this an extremely hard-to-get item.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Debbie Harry hawking Sara Lee French bread in 1980s TV commercial
06:20 am


Debbie Harry

I’ve been waiting forever to find high quality video of this commercial! I set a Google alert for it, because it is my absolute favorite punk rock non sequitur, and it’s just too absurd to be viewed with inferior video. It was just uploaded by what appears to be a Harvard square gay bar called Videodrome Discothèque—perhaps a nod to Debbie’s performance in Cronenberg’s Videodrome? Not for the last time am I thanking a gay bar for its contribution to the world!

Before you get all huffy, I post Debbie Harry selling French bread not to mock or disdain her, but to show our faithful readers what an insanely sexy person she is. She freaking unsheathes a loaf of Sara Lee bread and with a series of advantageous close-ups (she absolutely works the camera), she somehow actually convinces me I want to buy Sara Lee French bread! A product which I know to be crummy! Such is the power of Debbie Harry! 

Her foray into domestic product endorsement reminds me of my favorite Debbie Harry quote:

“I could be a housewife… I guess I’ve vacuumed a couple of times.”

A woman after my own heart.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Irene:’ New Pere Ubu video is eerie and gorgeous
06:47 am


Pere Ubu
Carnival of Souls

The adventurous, impressive, and long-surviving art rock band Pere Ubu have released well over a dozen albums, few of which sound overmuch like each other, all of which sound like Pere Ubu. Their last, Lady From Shanghai, was an especially big leap, laden with bold electronics experiments and even odder arrangements than Ubu’s usual, and it’s just glorious.

Recently, the band announced the forthcoming release of its 15th studio LP, Carnival of Souls. It’s tempting to assume that this might be an album about the disquietingly atmospheric 1962 Herk Harvey film Carnival of Souls, as the band did a live underscore to the film just last summer, and a video from the album, “Road to Utah,” is made up of clips from that movie, a movie which in fact takes place on the road. To Utah.

But it’s folly, even with a ton of evidence like that in your corner, to think that one can jump to that kind of easy conclusion with regard to a band that copped its name from a cagey absurdist like Alfred Jarry. With Ubu, the “obvious” should rarely be taken at face value. Per the band’s founder and singer David Thomas on

The album is not about the movie. The album is ‘about’ a complex sensual response to living in a world overrun by monkeys and strippers who tickle your ears, cajole you to join in with their cavorting and then become vindictive when you decline. I got rid of my TV because I don’t want them in my house. I got rid of my phone because I don’t want them calling me. So if you understand that and add in several more keyframes and make at least two more intuitive jumps, then you can see what role the movie has as ambient background noise - in the same way that sun shining through the trees along the Yellowstone River has as a reference point to Kerouac’s ‘On The Road.’

Since that’s only so illuminating, I reached out to Ubu’s longtime drummer, Steven Mehlman, for clarification on what the new music may have to do with the film:

The answer is yes and no. Yes, some of the music is based on the music we did for the live soundtrack. The tour we did after that was with a portion of our expanded lineup and we started refining some of those songs, and roughly half of each show was improvised (and recorded) and led to the other half of the album. One song is straight from the live recordings.

So there you have it. The other video from the album, due in September, is for “Irene,” a song that features beautiful solo work from the band’s newest member, clarinetist Darryl Boon. It’s a simple, surreal video, the focus of which is a mask, as eerie and haunting as the song itself, made by the Brighton-based puppeteer Daisy Jordan, founder of Barely Human Puppets.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Pere Ubu is like a cup!’ insists David Thomas
‘Self-expression is evil’: the mind-boggling beauty of David Thomas and Two Pale Boys
Pere Ubu’s David Thomas is pissed off about band member visa approval rigamarole

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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SST Records try the K-Tel route in this crazy early-1990s TV commercial
08:23 am


Cruz Records

This commercial must have been put together around 1990 based on the appearance of e.g. Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK, which came out in late 1988 and H.R.‘s solo album Charge, released in 1990. It’s a healthy reminder of just how remarkable Greg Ginn’s nose for talent was…. all those familiar bands, Bad Brains, Descendents, Dinosaur Jr., Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, they’re all represented here.

Appended at the end is a quick bumper for SST’s sister label Cruz Records, home of Skin Yard, Big Drill Car, and ALL. I love the quick-n-dirty late-night informercial feel of this, complete with crazy gesticulating and ridiculous camera zooms.

via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Happy Birthday to Mick Jones of The Clash!
07:08 am


The Clash
Mick Jones

Mick Jones was kind of The Clash’s George Harrison. He’s a gifted and distinctive guitar soloist, and was inarguably crucial to the band’s founding and sound, but he was rarely the guy out in front, and like the man said, “It’s the singer, not the song.” But imagine The Clash catalog without “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Train in Vain,” “Protex Blue,” or “Police On My Back?” (Yes, the last one’s an Equals cover. Whatevs, Jones completely slayed the lead vocal, and anyway, we just covered how it’s the singer not the blah blah blah, right?) And of course, the one Clash album he’s not on is the one they’d love you to forget ever existed. Jones was born on June 26, 1955, and so the punk rock pioneer who went on from The Clash to found Big Audio Dynamite turns 59 today.

Here’s a 2004 interview on Later with Jools Holland, where Jones joins not just the erstwhile Squeeze keyboardist, but Clash bassist Paul Simonon as well. There’s some great archival footage of a performance of “Clampdown,” and you can catch glimpses of one of the show’s other guests, Green Day, waiting in the wings to shit up the program. Towards the end, Holland asks Jones and Simonon if they’d ever work together again, and predictably enough they hedge, but several years later, they did play together again, as members of Gorillaz’ touring band, and on their Plastic Beach LP.

This footage of Jones out in front of The Clash on the London Calling tour, singing “Train in Vain” for a Paris audience, is mighty damn good.

Jones’ final performance with The Clash, at the US Festival in San Bernardino, CA, May 1983. He’d be ousted from the band just a few months later. This has turned up on YouTube before, but while individual tracks seem to live on uploads of the full show keep getting pulled. Enjoy it while you can.

“The Bottom Line” with his post Clash outfit, Big Audio Dynamite:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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