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Unseen video of the Micronotz, Kansas punk comrades of William S. Burroughs, a DM premiere
07.29.2016
08:55 am

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Music
Punk

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Randy “Biscuit” Turner’s cover art for the Micronotz’ third LP, The Beast That Devoured Itself
 
Last year, I posted about the Micronotz (originally named “The Mortal Micronotz”), a punk band from Lawrence, Kansas that released four albums and a live EP between 1982 and 1986, all out of print for yonks. Hoboken’s Bar/None Records has just digitally reissued the band’s entire catalog, and to celebrate, we’ve got previously unseen video of the Micronotz playing at Minneapolis’ First Avenue 31 years ago, to the day!

As you may know, William S. Burroughs was a punk sympathizer. He sent the Sex Pistols a telegram as a gesture of solidarity in ‘77, and when he moved to Lawrence in ‘81, he gave the local teenage punk band a song lyric he’d written. This nursery rhyme about a woman eating her children became “Old Lady Sloan,” a thrash tune on the debut The Mortal Micronotz. Years later, the author contributed to a Micronotz tribute album, doing his own interpretation of “Old Lady Sloan.”
 

 
The Micronotz’ early records have the anger and momentum of punk, and the melodies and chords are continuous with garage rock tradition (i.e., not Flipper). They played with everybody, or everybody who came reasonably close to Lawrence: X, REM, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, Suicidal Tendencies, TSOL, et al. They even opened for SPK at the mindhurting Lawrence show captured on The Last Attempt at Paradise. American Hardcore (the book) likens them to the ‘Mats:

TAD KEPLEY (Anarchist activist): The Micronotz from Lawrence were one of the original American Hardcore bands. They started playing in 1980, and broke up in 1986 after an album on Homestead. They never got the recognition they deserved. They were along the lines of the Replacements — and were equally as popular in the Midwest. They played Minneapolis all the time at First Ave/Seventh Street Entry, and they played Oz in Chicago. The first Micronotz record and EP could easily fall under Hardcore — the other bands back then certainly considered them to be Hardcore.

 
More Micronotz after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
That time Ween opened for Fugazi at City Gardens
07.28.2016
08:58 am

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Music
Punk

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If you’ve read “Understanding Trump” by the cognitive scientist George Lakoff, you might recognize aspects of “strict father morality” in Fugazi’s code. It was funny, escaping the hierarchies of home and school to attend a Fugazi show as a teenager: You didn’t know which songs they were going to play, but you could be sure they would deliver a stern talking-to about your behavior before the night was over. That was a new development in rock and roll; I doubt Gene Vincent’s audience would have stood still for such a lecture, even if Gene had been the guy to give it.

Don’t get me wrong, they were great. But the values we associate with Fugazi—discipline, hard work, sobriety, authority, frugality, self-reliance—are traditionally paternal.
 

 
That’s why it’s such fun to imagine Ween, the crowned and conquering child of 90s rock, opening for them at Trenton, New Jersey’s City Gardens on March 19, 1991. Then a crazed, wasted suburban duo backed by a tape deck, Ween was still pretty loose back then, and at least as irresponsible as the Butthole Surfers: On that year’s The Pod, they encouraged their fans to believe Scotchgard™ was an excellent high. It’s almost impossible to imagine them lecturing a crowd about stage-diving. All they demanded of their fans was to keep bringing them home-cooked food.

Apparently, the show is briefly discussed in the City Gardens oral history No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes. I had clean forgotten about it until last weekend, when, strangely enough, my copy of Flipside #84, in which I first read about this legendary bill, turned up during a long and fruitless search for my Pure Guava T-shirt. In Flipside reporter Ted Cogswell’s hard-hitting interview with Ween, conducted in January ‘93, Gener and Deaner cleared up some important points: if Pure Guava were a drug, it would be “love boat”; no, they had never really huffed Scotchgard™ (“Sorry kids”); and yes, they really had opened for Fugazi. All typos have been preserved out of respect for the indomitable fanzine spirit:

Ted: Wasn’t there an infamous show at City Gardens (in Trenton, NJ) once when you opened for Fugazi?
Gene: They hated us.
Ted: I heard that you guys just started, like, playing one note over and over again, and were staring into space,...
Dean: No, those are just rumors. We played that Ozzy Osbourne-Lita Ford duet, “When I Close My Eyes Forever”, They hated that. Then we did “Where Do The Children Play” by Cat Stevens.
Gene: And they hated that. It’s not a problem now anymore though, because people are starting to like our shows, so we can’t do “Where Do the Children Play”. We save that for, like, when we’re about ready to get shot.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
A Covers Album: Front covers of New York Rocker, 1976-1982
07.26.2016
09:44 am

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Media
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

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The New York Rocker was a punk/new wave magazine founded by Alan Betrock in February 1976. It was produced by a dedicated, tight-knit group of young men and women—a “remarkable breed” of contributors—who had a passion for music that was outside the mainstream. They wrote feisty, opinionated reviews. They took their subject matter seriously, giving it the respect the well-financed music press gave to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Eagles or any other stadia-filling corporate-backed band. The New York Rocker was hugely influential early on in identifying and promoting American indie rock.

A total of 54 issues were published between 1976 and 1982 when the magazine folded. It was briefly revived in 1984 but never achieved the same success.

Just looking at these covers for New York Rocker there’s a great sense of the history and in particular the incredibly high quality of new music that came out of punk and new wave each week during the late 1970s and early 1980s—the likes of which we may never see again.
 
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More covers from the New York Rocker, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Slade: Not just for Christmas but the whole year round
07.21.2016
12:33 pm

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Music
Pop Culture
Punk

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It starts around late October every year—the loop of Christmas songs played out over sound systems and tannoy in department stores and shopping malls across the UK. Songs by one-hit-wonders and novelty acts that somehow found a place in the nation’s heart rub along nicely along with festive number ones by artists like David Bowie, Bing Crosby, The Waitresses, Wham and Wizzard.

These Christmas compilations are a good little earner for the songwriters’ pension fund. The only downside being that some of these artists are now best known for their Christmas number one rather than the quality of their back catalog. It’s a fate that could almost have happened to Slade whose festive stormer “Merry Xmas Everybody” is now “credited” with starting the seasonal race for the Christmas number one.

But Slade aren’t just for Christmas—they’re for all year round.

Slade were Noddy Holder (guitar, lead vocals), Jimmy Lea (bass, violin), Don Powell (drums) and Dave Hill (lead guitar). They were according to Paul McCartney the heir apparent (along with T.Rex) to The Beatles and The Stones. From 1970-1975 Slade had seventeen top twenty singles, six number ones—three of which went straight to the top of the charts—and sold over six-and-a-half million records in the UK alone—a feat not achieved since the days of the Fab Four.

I was first introduced to Slade by my older brother. As kids we shared a bedroom which meant anything one of us played on the record player both of us had to hear. This is how I was introduced to a lot of music I might never have tuned into—it was a shared experience unlike the i-pod users today who dwell in their own little jukebox. Slade may not have started off as one of my favorite bands—but I sure as hell grew to like them and appreciate why they were brilliant and in their own way, very very revolutionary.
 
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The album that started it all off was Slade Alive—one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. A garish red gatefold LP that everyone seemed to own. One listen to that whole album explains why Slade were such an influential and revolutionary band—go on just stream the sonic armageddon at the climax of last track side two “Born to be Wild”—it’s eight minutes and twelve seconds of Slade delivering the future of rock ‘n’ roll music.
 
More from Slade, plus concert footage in East Germany from 1977, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Shit happens: Future Fox News anchor Shep Smith reports on the time GG Allin came to Florida
07.19.2016
10:11 am

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Punk
Television

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Whereas I am certainly no admirer of GG Allin—he brought nothing to rock and roll and may his soul rot in Hell—I admittedly LOL’d at this vintage local news clip about one of his shows in Orlando, FL in the early 1990s reported on by none other than future Fox News anchor Shepard Smith!

During this WCPX-News 6 evening news broadcast Smith told viewers about how clubgoers at the Space Fish Cafe had

“... paid $7 to watch a man defecate into his own hand while he was nude. And that is just the beginning.”

Smith is almost comically unflappable at the notion of an asshole throwing his own shit around a nightclub. No wonder Fox News hired him.

But the real star of the show is the guy who was merely an innocent bystander when the feces-covered Allin ran out of the club. The one who makes the LOL comment about “well-to-do white kids.” I’d quote it here but I’d rather force you to watch it.

Near the end of the report, the club’s owner oddly muses that this is “the first bit of the big city that’s come to Orlando.” What does that even mean in this context? Which big city is he referring to?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Ghost Rider’: Amazing new video surfaces of Suicide, live in 1980
07.17.2016
06:21 pm

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Art
Music
Punk

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This newly re-mastered and edited video by Merrill Aldighieri captures Suicide performing “Ghost Rider” in 1980.  It is some of the best footage you’ll ever see of the legendary rock pioneers.  Alan Vega shines in an atypically subdued but still pretty intense performance. Edgar Allan Presley.

As the resident video jockey at New York City rock club Hurrah, Aldighieri documented some of the best live performances by cutting edge bands of the early 80s including
Gang Of Four, Magazine, Bush Tetras and Suicide. In this edit,  Aldighieri has incorporated the older footage with new imagery filmed at a retrospective of Alan Vega’s paintings and sculptures in Lyon, France that took place in 2009.

Merrill Aldighieri’s website ARTCLIPS is a marvelous compendium of digitally re-mastered Hurrah concert videos made between 1980-1981 among many other delightful things. Visit it.

Merrill is a friend and shot footage of my band at Hurrah in 1980. I asked her for a comment about Alan Vega and this is what she wrote:

The night I met Alan, Oct. 1, 1980 on stage at Hurrah, I was terrified by his unbridled passion. It took all my courage not to turn away. The next time I met him was in his loft downdown. We talked for hours. He did not shy away from anything. His life was an unsolved mystery and you were invited to be a witness, a participant. Humility and talent in equal generous doses. I guess that’s why he was such a good collaborator. He was very proud and in wonderment at the joy of being a father too. He did not hold back.

Legendary punk rocker and Dangerous Minds’ contributor Howie Pyro knew Alan quite well and describes him as…

a man so ahead of his time he left us all in the dust. One of the first times I ever went out to a club in 1976 I saw Suicide open for Blondie & was not prepared for the onslaught of volume, sound, blood, real violence, art, and true rock n roll but with NO guitars or drums!! It blew my mind & I grew up a lot that night…had I known I would be recording with “that guy” 20 years later I’d have (happily) fainted…

Ironically, a man in a band called Suicide approached this mortal coil with the kind of no bullshit intensity that makes life way too interesting to abandon.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Adam Ant’s brief career in comedy, 1982
07.15.2016
11:32 am

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Amusing
Music
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Adam Ant trying his hand at comedy during his appearance on the Cannon and Ball show, 1982.
 
Here’s something you don’t see everyday—Adam Ant dressed up as a caballero dancing his own version of a “Jarabe Tapatío” (or Mexican “hat dance”) during his appearance on Cannon and Ball, a UK comedy television program that was on the air from 1979 to 1988. Say WHAT?

Of course seeing Adam Ant dressed up like a caballero isn’t really much of a stretch given the fact that for much of his career he looked like a punk rock version of Tonto—but that’s besides the point. On the show, the then 28-year-old Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) and the show’s stars, Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball (Thomas Derbyshire and Robert Harper respectively) put on an amusing song and dance routine with Ant playing his role to the hilt all while maintaining a straight face.

According an article published back in 2013, Ant actually credited his appearance on the show with helping his 1982 smash “Goody Two Shoes” hit number one on the UK singles chart. While the footage isn’t great great quality it is a fantastic “who knew?” moment involving one of my fave raves. Plus Adam Ant lipsynching for his life and dancing by himself for three-plus minutes until he’s out of breath on Cannon and Ball doing you guessed it, “Goody Two Shoes.” Vive Le Ant and Olé!
 

Adam Ant performing in a comedy routine on ‘Cannon and Ball’ along with his totally 80s precursor of punk rock aerobics

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Razor’s Edge: 1970s underground fetish zine about bald women and shaving
07.14.2016
03:10 pm

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Amusing
Punk
Sex

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Baldness and head shaving fetishes are things I never really considered much, but if you asked me about it I’d have to be all like, “Oh yeah, that’s totally a thing somebody masturbates to.” However, prior to the existence of the vast cornucopia of internet pornography, really niche fetishes rarely had their own publications, which is why The Razor’s Edge is such a rare historical gem, notable for the professionalism of the publication, the quality of the writing, and the sweetness—almost innocence, really—of the models.

The Razor’s Edge was launched in 1975 by famed underground cartoonist Alan Shenker, best known as his pen name “Yossarian.” Shenker got the idea while working for Screw, when he heard of a women’s cult shaving their heads en masse to protest gender inequality. Under the name “Captain Stanley,” Shenker actually managed to keep the magazine going for a few years, paying models up to $200 to be shaved and receiving some major press attention from publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and The Village Voice. The magazine even hosted a fairly well-publicized Miss Bald America pageant.

Interestingly enough, the women featured in The Razor’s Edge aren’t really sexually objectified. The fetish isn’t just for bald women, but for the process of shaving and the transformation thereof. Much of the shoots are dedicated to the women’s reaction to being shaved, and their delight and surprise at their new chrome domes.
 

 

 
More images of historical interest from ‘The Razor’s Edge’ after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Who Is Poly Styrene?’: Vintage 1979 BBC doc on first wave British punk band X-Ray Spex
07.12.2016
11:02 am

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Punk
Television

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Against all expectations, this 1979 episode of BBC’s Arena program about lead singer of noteworthy punk band X-Ray Spex—titled “Who Is Poly Styrene?”—is remarkably lyrical and sedate. Focusing on the demure and thoughtful singer (born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) results in about as effective an advertisement for the basic good sense of the punk movement as one can readily imagine. It’s not difficult to picture grandmothers in the U.K. watching this back in the day and not being overly discomfited by it.

The show opens with Poly Styrene applying makeup while we hear her voice intoning the lyrics to the X-Ray Spex song “Identity”—which then segues to the band playing the song on stage. Moments later she says while brushing her teeth, rather in the manner of a TV commercial, “I chose the name Poly Styrene because it’s a lightweight disposable product.” There’s some delicious footage of her in a supermarket, stuffing brightly colored packages containing “DAZ” and “FLASH” into her shopping cart. It goes without saying that her choice of epaulets as a fashion statement is unsurpassed.
 

 
Poly Styrene was not only one of the few women stars of the punk movement but also one of its few people of color—her father was from Somalia. The premise of “Who Is Poly Styrene?” is to suppose that Marianne and Poly are two irreconcilably different creatures, which kind of suggests that someone as calm, soft-spoken, and sensitive as Marianne could not possibly also be a punk singer, but whatever. Poly was an artist experiencing anger and confusion, and punk was a perfectly natural outlet for that expression. In any case, Arena deserves credit for even seeing that there was a story worth pursuing in Poly Styrene’s mostly cheerful equanimity.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie!’: True tales of Black Randy, first wave Los Angeles punk icon
07.08.2016
05:30 pm

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Music
Punk
Queer

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The many roads that led to the happening that was to be referred to as “punk” are varied and often way more interesting than punk itself. It’s still a wonder to me to see the various ways so many very opposed situations all wound up in one place, at one time. In other words, to skew a quote from the the old TV show Naked City “There are eight million stories in punk city. This is one of them.”

My personal introduction to Black Randy was when I arrived (by bus!) in Los Angeles from New York with some friends and bandmates to visit our new found buddies who had come to New York six months before. We let them stay in our sorta squat (in actuality it was the storage space of the drummer of The Lovin’ Spoonful, who our friend babysat for!) and they said to come to LA. These new pals consisted of Brian Tristan (later to be known as Kid Congo Powers), Trixie Plunger, Mary Rat, Rod (from LA band The Mau Maus) and Hellin Killer. Lifelong friends, all. In LA we bounced between the three places most people in our circle did: The Screamers house (aka The Wilton Hilton, where Brian/Kid literally lived in a closet); The Canterbury on Cherokee, off Hollywood Boulevard, an entire apartment complex stuffed to the gills with punk rock kids in every room and across from infamous punk club The Masque; and Joan Jett’s house, then a looney bin party pad.
 
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When entering the Canterbury I was warned by Screamers drummer KK Barrett about a guy named Black Randy who was crazy and to “definitely not shake his hand”! The next morning we went out and in the lobby of the Canterbury, on the huge maybe seven ft by eight ft art deco-ish mirror was a thick covering of human feces. THIS was a typical Black Randy gesture to humanity. I was then told that when he went to get assistance from the government due to his mental problems (SSI aka “crazy money”) he had his pockets stuffed with his poop and went in with his hands in his pockets and gratefully shook the worker’s hands when greeted…of course causing a mini riot at the welfare office and speeding up his paperwork just to get him the hell out of there! This is why you do not shake Black Randy’s hand. He was also known to poop in party hostesses’ purses and worse. His phony phone calls are legendary and can be heard here!

I then found out Black Randy had a band. This I had to see!
 
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I saw Black Randy and The Metrosquad at the Masque. At his very first show there the first words out of his mouth were “I’m glad to see there aren’t any punks here tonight… because I HATE PUNK.” Being from New York it reminded me of James Chance and the Contortions. It had a similarly fast and funky element, but unlike Chance’s bands, the subject matter was scathing and funny with lots of gay, street and political references. Songs about Idi Amin, porno, fighting the police, narcs, sex and death. His backup singers—the Blackettes (think the the James Brown Revue on glue) were the scream of the then new crop of punque chicks including Exene Cervenka, Alice Bag, Lorna Doom, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and others.
 
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To quote Furious.com:

Black Randy and his Metrosquad were a supergroup of the Hollywood punk era: the lineup included members of the Randoms, Eyes and the Dils as well as one of the other founding partners of Dangerhouse, David Browne. Musically, they were nothing like the hard-fast-loud sound of punk- if anything they were a ‘60’s Soul/James Brown style funk/soul band that played rather fast. They also had echoes of early Blondie and the Who, with their tough and tight rock and roll. They were a funny band, a joke band in the sense that humor was key to understanding what they were about. The band’s’ music, with its circus-like Woolworth Doors organ vibe, played the collective straight man to Black Randy’s drunken, buffoonish, drawling, sneering voice. His voice is one of the few truly filthy voices I’ve ever heard in music—every word he says is dripping in self-hatred and general loathing, a venomous nicotine and beer-stained voice that’s just laughing. His voice is sleazy enough that you don’t just think that he just slept in a porn arcade (as the lyrics to his anthem “I Slept in an Arcade” discuss), you think he INHABITED it. The band was perfectly in sync with Black Randy, playing covers of “Shaft” and “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” while he took aim at the songs, exaggerating the swaggering manhood of one and the simple-minded racial pride of the other to grotesque proportions.

Black Randy as a lyricist was a satirist who made everything he took aim at disgusting and outrageous, but still rooted in the real world. This is important, as many artists will take satire into fantasy (such as Eminem), making the situations so outlandish they become unreal. Almost all of Black Randy’s lyrics are internal narratives of a person’s feelings at a certain moment.

 
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The other main member of The Metrosquad was David Brown who started the first and best Los Angeles punk label, Dangerhouse Records, who put out classic 45s by The Germs, Avengers, Dils, Eyes, X, Weirdos, Deadbeats and more. The only LP released on Dangerhouse was the incredibly titled Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie by Black Randy and The Metrosquad. The reason to celebrate is that the LP has just been reissued by another classic early punk/post punk/hardcore label, Frontier Records (Suicidal Tendencies, Redd Kross, Christian Death, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, Long Ryders, Three O’Clock, Damned, Adolescents, etc.), helmed by founder Lisa Fancher and still going strong. It’s been a long time since this LP has been available on vinyl. Get it while you can here.
 
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As an afterthought, I have a really interesting tidbit of info that no one knows: Black Randy had a long history, like so many of the older first wave punk rock innovators. He was a video tech in the earliest days of that field. He was friends with the guys who became LA synth cult icons The Screamers (Tomata Du Plenty and Tommy Gear) long before that when they were doing insane drag performances. I don’t mean Judy Garland impersonations, I mean more like terrorist performance art. In 1974 they had put a show together called Savage Voodoo Nuns which was booked into a new club in the worst neighborhood of lower Manhattan (The Bowery) called CBGB, by Ramones friend (and later their t-shirt designer and lighting director) the late Arturo Vega. Read a review of that show here. They also wanted bands on the bill so Arturo wrangled his friends The Ramones (their second show) and another new band on the scene called Blondie to play.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
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