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Tesco Vee and his merry Meatmen release first new album in almost 20 years
05.29.2014
03:03 pm

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Tesco Vee
The Meatmen


 
Lansing, Michigan’s Meatmen formed in 1979 and although the band’s lineup has changed over the years, the group has always been fronted by the clown prince of hardcore, “Dutch Hercules” Tesco Vee. Savage Sagas is the sick, mean-spirited and utterly politically incorrect Meatmen’s first new collection of songs in nineteen years, since 1995’s Pope on a Rope (yes, the one about hanging the Pontiff). The AV Club called it “ribald.”

The album is out now on vinyl and CD via Self Destructo Records and for digital download in all the usual places. The Meatmen are touring in support of Savage Sagas and playing some of the summer festivals. Tonight they’re in San Diego, tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

I noticed that Tesco is on Twitter, @tescovee666. He’s one of the funniest people on the planet, so he’s probably worth following. If you haven’t read my rave review of his stone classic Way USA show that was produced for MTV in the late 1980s, it’s one of my top favorite things I’ve ever posted on this blog.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Way USA’: Sleazy punk/comedy travelogue is the greatest cult video you’ve probably never seen

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Plasmatics destroy the stage with an exploding Cadillac
05.28.2014
06:11 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Wendy O. Williams
Plasmatics


 
The Plasmatics gained a unique notoriety in late-70s NYC, not necessarily for their metal/punk hybrid music, but for twisted and over-the-top live shows. These regularly featured live chickens and the chainsaw deaths of their own guitars and items symbolic of consumer society (like TV sets), but they mostly focused on the flaunted sexuality and aggressive attitude of singer Wendy O. Williams, known for performing practically nude save for a g-string and a “top” fashioned from shaving-cream or pieces of strategically placed electrical tape.
 

 
When you’re better known for your live stunts than your songs, there’s always a need to keep pushing things further, so when the time came to publicize their debut LP, the classic New Hope for the Wretched (their insane version of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” is, by itself, worth the cost of the album), The Plasmatics devised something extraordinary.

Per the September 1998 issue of Spin:

The defining moment for the punk-metal band The Plasmatics was in New York City in the fall of 1980, when Wendy Williams jumped out of a moving Cadillac just before it exploded and catapulted off Pier 62 into the Hudson River. The victim, a ’72 Coupe de Ville, had been purchased from a couple who initially had doubts about selling the car they had driven all through their high-school days to the Plasmatics. “I don’t want my car to die!” the young wife said.

“Everything must die,” Wendy said sensibly, “but your car will be immortal.”

 

 
Williams was born on May 28, 1949, and so would have been 65 today had she not taken her own life in 1998. In their pursuit of the outlandish, she and her band did nothing halfway, and the Pier 62 show was just the beginning of an awesome career of wrecking shit. If you’re at work, be advised, Wendy O. Williams is in this video, and thus there are boobies.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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White hot Black Flag: Live in the UK, 1984
05.27.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Black Flag


 
Decent and complete Black Flag concerts from the band’s original era are tougher to find than I’d like. It’s the nature of the Internet that ten great ones could suddenly turn up tomorrow, of course, but for now the easiest to come by online are a single-camera document of a Hollywood show from 1982 (with terrible sound), an inaudible AND invisible vid of a 1984 Club Lingerie show, and a 1983 Philadelphia set which, if nothing else, is notable for showing off the briefly extant five-piece lineup with Dez Cadena on second guitar, and has an unfuckwithable raw energy to it, but is still mighty hinky, quality-wise. Then there’s their 1984 UK show at the Bradford Bierkellar. That recording is a much better sounding, multi-camera document that actually saw a legitimate video release as Black Flag: Live in 2000, and as such, has merited a page on allmovie, from whence:   

Right around this time, the band let its admiration for such classic heavy metal bands as Black Sabbath seep into its punk/hardcore sound, as the lineup at this particular juncture of Black Flag’s career featured founder Greg Ginn on guitar, vocalist Henry Rollins, bassist Kira Roessler, and ex-Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson. The roars through such Flag classics as “Nervous Breakdown,” “Slip It In,” “Black Coffee,” “Jealous Again,” “I Love You,” “Fix Me,” and the raging set closer, “Rat’s Eyes.” In addition to the fine musical performance, a humorous scene occurs early in the show, when an annoying fan keeps walking around and sitting on the stage during the performance, and is unknowingly spit on by Ginn!

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Death of Samantha: Great ‘lost’ ‘80s underground band returns


 
Ohio’s semilegendary art-punk band Death of Samantha surely enjoyed one of the greatest debut gigs in history. In the early 1980s, teenaged clarinetist/guitarist/singer John Petkovic was sporadically employed at a family-style steakhouse called The Ground Round in the cultural dead zone of Parma, Ohio—then and still the New Jersey to Cleveland’s Lower Manhattan. His boss was a wiseass, always snarking at John about when his young, incompetent, only-just-barely-extant band was going to play at the restaurant. When that manager went on vacation, the assistant manager, who had overheard those exchanges and was apparently unable to parse sarcasm, actually booked the band. Per Petkovic, from a recent in-person interview that was totally fun to transcribe because he was munching on goddamn popcorn the whole night:

We didn’t have any songs, we didn’t have a name, but the assistant manager said there was an opening on wing night. So we brought down our amps and a P.A., and it was insane, whose band would do this to play the Ground Round? And at first, we thought people would actually be into it. So we needed a name, for the marquee, where it would usually say “BURGER NIGHT $4.99,” and [drummer] Steve-O mentioned “Death of Samantha.” I didn’t even know it was a Yoko Ono song, but I thought it would be cool, where it says “POPPERS AND ZUCCHINI $2.99” it would also say “MUSIC BY DEATH OF SAMANTHA.” So we set up, and people were coming in asking “what is this music by Death of Samantha, what is that?” and we thought they were asking about us because they were really into it! They were more like appalled! They fuckin’ HATED IT. People started winging baskets of popcorn around, throwing chicken wings at us, people were yelling “these guys suck, this is awful, this is terrible, we came here to eat!” People were refusing to pay, and the waitresses were screaming at us “Stop! They all want their money back!” Anyways, the place cleared out. It was embarrassing, but our bass player Dave James had a zine “Negative Print,” and he wrote about it. People thought it was a joke, but that fanzine was getting around. So people started calling us about shows. We had this credibility because I got fired for all that, so when we got our first real show there was a ton of people there.

 

 

 
From their beginnings as inciters of suburbanite riots, DoS went on to become a pretty big deal in the ‘80s midwestern rock subterra. The trio added lead guitarist Doug Gillard, and after the requisite handful of locally-pressed singles, they hooked up with Homestead Records—home to heavy hitters like Nick Cave, Big Black and Sonic Youth—for the albums Strungout on Jargon, the particularly brilliant Where the Women Wear the Glory and the Men Wear the Pants, and Come All Ye Faithless, and the essential E.P. Laughing In The Face Of A Dead Man. (All are out of print now, so prepare to dig deep.) The band convincingly and compellingly crossbred post-punk defiance and hardcore sneer with the fearless glam strut of Roxy Music, the exploratory meanderings of Television, and uncommonly literate lyrics. Concerts were a showcase for a preposterous low-budget-Tubes showmanship that emphasized Petkovic’s brutal wit and unstoppable mouth, and Steve-O’s flair for the ridiculous—the chubby, muttonchopped drummer was often ceremoniously borne to the stage in a coffin, from which he would emerge dressed as Vegas Elvis. The band would then launch into 40 some odd minutes of a beautifully shambolic rock that didn’t care what genre it was purloining at any given moment, and mocked you if you DID care. They were fucking magnificent.

Also, they inspired one of my favorite useless Robert Christgau reviews ever—here, in a review of the Wailing Ultimate compilation, he posits an imaginary conversation between John Petkovic and his mom:

As long as you don’t take the hooks too literally—believe me, there aren’t many more where they come from—this is a pretty fair introduction to garage postnihilism, a surprisingly palatable mix of musical and sociological interest. Just like the grooveful laborers on a reggae or hardcore compilation, Gerry’s kids hold together for the kind of continuous listen most local/label samplers can’t sustain. In fact, only their fans and their mothers could tell most of these fourteen bands apart without a scorecard, and I’m not so sure about their mothers. Mrs. Petkovic: “I liked that song you did about the well.” John P.: “How could that be ours, mama? A girl sings it.” Mrs. P.: “Isn’t Samantha a girl?” John P.: “Ma, we’re called Death of Samantha—Death of Samantha.” Mrs. P.: “Oh Johnny, she’s not really dead. That’s just, what do you call it, poetic license, right?” B+

OK, Bob.

But by the dawn of the ‘90s, just as bands like DoS were starting to get taken more seriously by bigger labels, if not yet radio, the familiar pressures of a lot of work in exchange for going nowhere pulled the band apart. A few years later, Gillard, Petkovic and later member Dave Swanson (now of Chamber Strings) reunited in Cobra Verde, and all three served time in Guided By Voices, though Gillard had the longest and most edifying tenure in that band. Gillard later joined up with Nada Surf, and Petkovic formed Sweet Apple with J. Mascis. But now seems to be the time for bands of that era to reunite, and the bug bit DoS practically at random. Petkovic again:

I had to go buy a pack of cigarettes, and Dave James was working over there—we’d been working like 1,000 feet from each other for ten years and never seen each other—and I saw some guy smoking, I thought I’d try to bum one off of him, and it was Dave. Doug had been in town the week before, and we talked about doing something musically again, and I told Dave the Beachland [concert club] kept bugging us to do a DoS show, and I didn’t think it made any sense, but Dave said “Sure it does, I’d do it.”

 

 

 
And that why-the-hell-not approach has led the band to not just a welcome reactivation, but to the most interesting album of its career. In rehearsing for their comeback show, DoS held their final practice at a recording studio. The engineer suggested running a recording of the practice, and the band said why the hell not. Those recordings are now the 2XLP If Memory Serves Us Well. Its liner notes contain reminiscences from Byron Coley, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, and GBV’s Bob Pollard, and though it offers no new songs, it reveals their transformation over time in other ways. The band has become looser, and far more free. Two and a half decades spent in touring bands have definitely done wonders for Petkovic and Gillard’s guitar playing (and Doug was a hotshot to begin with), and James and Steve-O as a rhythm section have found a very deep pocket, giving the two guitarists a hell of a lot of room to explore the spaces around one another. There were always some lengthier explorations mixed in with Death of Samantha’s general spikiness, but it feels like they’re engaging more with that sort of thing now, and they’re a ton better at it.

Death of Samantha had an NYC show scheduled in 1990, but their breakup came before it happened. Their next show, fittingly, is at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Thursday, May 29. Here are some tastes of what you might expect to see and hear.
 

 

 

 
The author of this piece would like to thank Boy George for releasing a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Death of Samantha” in time to make web searches for this story kind of irritating to sift through. That being said, his version actually IS kind of awesome.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘23 Minutes Over Brussels’: The legendarily confrontational Suicide concert, 1978
05.20.2014
07:17 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Suicide
Alan Vega
Martin Rev


 

“SHUT THE FUCK UP! THIS IS ABOUT FRANKIE!”
—Alan Vega

“23 Minutes Over Brussels” is a recording of an incendiary performance given by Suicide in Brussels, Belgium on June 16th, 1978. Martin Rev and Alan Vega were opening for Elvis Costello and the audience, let’s just say, didn’t like them very much. In fact, they hated their fucking guts and let them know it in no uncertain terms, including booing loudly, snatching the microphone from Vega’s hands and even breaking his nose!

Suicide hated them back and the result was performance art meets a full-scale riot, perhaps the most legendarily confrontational ur-punk moment this side of Iggy and The Stooges’ Metallic K.O. After Suicide escaped with their lives, Elvis Costello and The Attractions came onstage, but Costello was furious at how the crowd had treated Suicide and played an extremely short set that was also short on pleasantries. The crowd went nuts when they refused to return for an encore and the riot cops were called in armed with teargas.

All in a day’s work for Suicide. When the band toured with The Clash that same year, Vega was physically attacked several times:

“I got my nose busted in Crawley… In Glasgow someone threw an axe by my head! In Plymouth The Nazis got me in the dressing room.”

The Brussels set was recorded on cassette tape by a friend of the duo and it was released as a legit bootleg (with a Berlin show from same tour) and as a flexi-disc. Eventually it got released on CD as a bonus track. Vega and Rev once referred to their music as “punk, funk and sewer music.”
 

 
Below, Suicide on Paul Tschinkel’s legendary InnerTube cable access program doing “Ghost Rider” in 1978:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The legendary X-rated Butthole Surfers show at Danceteria
05.16.2014
02:39 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk
Sex

Tags:
Butthole Surfers
Danceteria


 
The Butthole Surfers show at Danceteria in early 1986 has become the stuff of legend, but as is often the case, “legends” can be imperfect and are often reported on by someone not even born when the event in question transpired or by someone who didn’t bother to even check a single source other than Wikipedia.

Here’s Gibby’s version, as told to Option Magazine in 1993:

At the legendary Danceteria in New York during the early days of the Butthole Surfers, Gibby got caught drinking and tripping with his pants down. “Ten minutes into the show, I’d put on ten dresses - you see, I used to put dresses on and then tear ‘em all off,” he explains. “But I’d gotten so trippin’ and so drunk. I forgot to put on my underwear. So I got down to my last dress” - he pauses for a well timed hiccup - “and, goddamn it, I was naked. “I looked over at [band members] Cabbage and Kathleen: Cabbage had come out from behind the drums and she had this Fred Flintstone plastic baseball bat filled with urine and was sprinkling it on the crowd. Kathleen was totally naked and bald. And all of a sudden it became like this sexual thing, and there I was with a semi-erect penis onstage, in between this girl’s legs, and about to do this thing. Then it kinda suddenly dawned on me what was going on and I was like, Whoa!”

After the show, the mentally and physically impaired Gibby caused some more trouble. “They tried to pay me and I tore up the check and threw it at the guy,” he says. “And I almost got in a fight with this gigantic doorman who would’ve just thumped me.” He pauses for a well-timed sheesh. “There’s just so many of those kinda things. “But really,” he adds, like a surgeon general, “before anybody goes out and takes a bunch of psychedelic drugs, they should first go and visit Roky Erickson down in Texas. He’s a casualty. That can happen, too, you know.”

 

 
Guitarist Paul Leary told the tale this way to the Phoenix New Times in 1991

The frenzied peak of this touring period came during a gig at New York’s Danceteria club in 1986. The show started out predictably enough. Lead singer-guitarist Gibby Haynes—with economy-size bottle of lighter fluid in hand—was up to his usual pyrotechnics. But then the onstage shenanigans got out of hand—even by Butthole standards.

“I walked around with a screwdriver and started playing samurai with every single speaker,” Leary says without a note of either pride or regret. “And then Cabbage, our drummer at the time, and our dancer Kathleen were taking turns peeing into the tiny hole at the end of this plastic Fred Flintstone baseball bat. They filled it with piss and were shaking it around everywhere.”

By the end of the gig, almost all of the Buttholes were naked, including Gibby and Kathleen, who were fornicating at the foot of the stage with the casualness of X-rated movie actors. Maybe more went on, says Leary, but time—and over consumption of acid—has blurred his memory of many of these seamier shows.

In Paul Young’s book L.A. Exposed: Strange Myths and Curious Legends in the City of Angels, it’s said that Haynes was copulating with a female audience member. Kathleen Lynch, says that no actual fornicating took place. She ought to know (but the video evidence seems less certain…)

Then again, there is Kramer’s account, as told via his pal Macioce in Michael Azerrad’s book, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. He was playing bass onstage that night:

In early ‘86 they drove from Los Angeles all the way to New York just to play two lucrative weekend shows at the Danceteria club, only to arrive to find that the second night had been canceled. The band was livid; Haynes got quite drunk just before show time. “During that show it was just complete bedlam,” says Leary, a man who knows from bedlam. After only a song or two, Haynes picked up a beer bottle and viciously smashed Leary over the head with it. Leary’s eyes rolled back in his head as he crumpled on the floor. Then he quickly got up and resumed playing. It was a stunt bottle, made out of sugar. Then Haynes picked up a real bottle and heaved it the length of the room, where it exploded above the exit sign. Soon Haynes had set fire to a pile of trash in the middle of the stage. “And you’re really thinking, ‘Should I get out of here?’” says Michael Macioce. “That was the type of feeling you had - you were* in danger* at one of their shows.”

Then Lynch jumped onto the stage from the audience and began dancing. Macioce then left - it was about three in the morning by this point - but he called his friend Kramer the next day to see how the rest of the gig had gone. “That girl, she pulled down her pants and Gibby started sticking his thumb up her ass!” Kramer told Macioce. He was fucking her with his thumb just back and forth and this went on for like a half hour or forty-five minutes, just like that!” And that was only the beginning. The band had played only five shambolic songs before Leary leaned his guitar against his amplifier, producing ear-splitting feedback; the strobes were flickering, sirens were flashing, the films were rolling, and through the dry-ice fog a couple of open fires burned brightly. “Gibby filled up a plastic whiffleball bat full of urine - he managed to pee in the little hole in the end of the bat,” says Leary, “and made this ‘piss wand.’” Haynes then began swinging the bat, spraying urine all over the crowd. But it didn’t stop there - Lynch, now completely naked, lay down on the stage and Haynes, in Leary’s words, started “mounting’ her. Later Leary saw video footage of the scene. “Her legs are up in the air and there’s Gibby’s pumping butt in the strobe lights and the smoke,” says Leary, chuckling. “it’s really fuckin’ hideous, man.”

In the midst of the chaos, Leary went around discreetly poking screwdriver holes in every PA and monitor speaker in the place. After the show there was a tense confrontation between the Danceteria management and the band. The Buttholes got paid, but they literally walked out of the place backward as the club’s hired goons not so subtly showed them the door. “You’ll never play New York again!” the club’s manager screamed after them. “And we were playing CBGB within two weeks,” Leary crows, “*for more money!”

 

 
Someone on the Internet named JoJo Jones writes:

at danceteria, gibby came out in a bloody dress with a pregnant belly that soon exploded and cockroach confetti sprayed everyone…then he had sex right on stage in the fog with some buxom lass…then get up and ranted on the bullhorn then went back down in the fog…totally nude…blood and roaches. Anyone who says these were not one of the most amazing live shows really knows nothing about the infamous late 80’s nyc shows. There is more to a “show” than music my friend. Danceteria had some license problems after word got out about the live sex. They were soon banned by many clubs and had bouncers all over them at the Cat Club show.

I was actually at this gig myself, but more or less by accident. I wasn’t there to see The Butthole Surfers—I had never heard of them—Danceteria was just where I hung out at that age, so I happened to be there. At a certain point during their set, the buzz about the (literally) balls out lysergic Dionysian insanity that was going on the first floor of the club started to climb the steps and I went down to check it out. My memory of this gig is that Gibby Haynes had his feet and calves up to the knees covered in clay like he was a tree with roots going into the floor and that he was naked otherwise. Maybe he was standing in a potato sack?

Or maybe not. It would appear that my own standing-in-the-audience memory is a faulty one, too, but apparently no more faulty than the conflicting reports and the Rashomon-ish variations in the tale as told by band members themselves and people who, like me, were there that night

I was at the Cat Club show, JoJo mentions, too and it was equally demonic. I saw the Butthole Surfers many, many times in their heyday. The first time was this Danceteria gig. For several years, the era when the drugs were still working for them, rather than against them, the Butthole Surfers were the most fearsome live act in rock, bar none. Their NYC shows were the sort of events you had your drugs sorted out for well in advance!
 

 
Here’s Gibby Haynes telling the story again in 2011:

Ah, there are so many, but one of them was that we were playing in the Danceteria, one of the first of the big shows in New York here, and we went on about 4 o’clock in the morning and we were waaaaasted! The first band had played for about 3 fucking hours and we were ready to play at midnight man! So we had just kept drinking the hard stuff, oh man, we were wasted, and we went on stage and we immediately just took off all of our clothes and just started making noise! I tried to burn one of our amps and it wouldn’t stop working, it was just burning! And I tried to kick it with a bare foot and stubbed my toe! I was totally naked and I remember looking over at Paul was behind the drum kit without any clothes on with 2 drum sticks playing with his dick!

And then I started dancing with Kathleen our dancer and I grabbed her and was like humping her between her legs, and then my dick started to get hard and I was like “whoah this shouldn’t happen!”, so I put her down, and she was like “whoah!” and I walked back to my gear to fuck around with the delays or something and I looked up and there was this guy with a 16mm camera filming this and he was freaking out, and when I was walking towards the camera, my dick was sooo big, I looked like a God! (haha!) That was a crazy night!

Indeed it was, no matter how few brain cells any of us who were there that night have left…

Another account from SPIN, 1990.

Below, you can see a bit of the Butthole Surfers at Danceteria in Jem Cohen’s short film “Witness,” which was also shot in Texas and in San Francisco. Be warned, at the 8:15 mark it might get a little uncomfortable if you’re watching this at work… (Part II is here).
 

 
Thank you kindly, Ken!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Skinhead Darby and Mohawk Ben,’ hilariously ‘insider’ punk Barbie doll parody from 1982
05.16.2014
09:37 am

Topics:
Amusing
Punk

Tags:
Barbie


 
The only information on this video is “From the show Cheeseball. From 1982 - beta.” In spite of way more time than was merited spent in searching, zero other data has been forthcoming. (YOU try googling “cheeseball” and see what you get.) But I really wish I could find something. If this is representative, “Cheeseball” must have been a great show. Who was doing anything even remotely like this in 1982?

This has it all—white rap, detournéd toys, downward spirals, teen prostitution, ladyscaping, The Motels, social diseases, pill popping, doll abortion, threeway sex—all in rhyming, metered stanzas. LA-based DM readers might hear a few local dog whistles.

It’s pretty brilliant. If anyone reading this can help nail down a source, please don’t keep it to yourself, use the comments section.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The new Obnox video might get you really really baked just from watching it
05.14.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Cleveland
Obnox


 
Ohio garage/soul band Obnox is kicking up a hell of a ruckus this year. On the heels of his latest LP Louder Space the band’s only full-time member Lamont “Bim” Thomas has been on tour damn near constantly, and has been racking up rave review after rave review.

(Here’s a big pile of disclosures: Thomas is an old friend of mine. I’ve played guitar on one of his E.P.s, and written two promotional bios for his label, and was, in all cases, compensated in Irish whiskey. I’m not even going to pretend to be an objective voice here—Bim’s a beautiful cat and Obnox fuckin’ rocks.)
 

And I’m hardly alone in thinking so.

Thomas was previously known—to the degree that he was known at all—as a drummer in Columbus and Cleveland punk and garage bands like The Bassholes, Puffy Areolas and This Moment in Black History. He began dabbling in writing his own songs very recently, as the stay-at-home dad of a school aged girl, and in the mere three years since he released his uncommonly headstrong and passionate debut LP I’m Bleeding Now, the absurdly prolific 42-year-old has released two more albums of his remarkable skillet-to-your-damn-face R&B/punk hybrid, including the acclaimed 2XLP Corrupt Free Enterprise, and well over half a dozen singles and EPs. His recordings tend to be heavily layered and drenched in lo-fi filth, almost recalling the “Shitgaze” “movement” that emerged in Columbus about a decade ago. This was partly a consequence of his extremely direct recording process—everything was done quickly, on an elderly 16-track tape machine set up in the living room of a punk flophouse. Somehow, instead of obfuscating his ideas, all that grime imbues his recorded work with a remarkable depth, an earthy quality Thomas has retained despite using a proper recording studio for Louder Space.
 

 

 
A couple of weeks ago, he released a video for the songs “Molecule” and “How To Rob (the Punk Years).” In it, he does the laundry, gets high, smashes records, does the dishes, gets high, raps, gets high on the stairs, shaves his head, gets high in a recording studio, dances, and gets plenty fuckin’ high.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Fall’s Mark E. Smith predicts ‘The Clash are going to be very big,’ 1976
05.12.2014
07:39 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Clash
Mark E. Smith
The Fall

Mark E. Smith
 
In this fascinating document we can see the endlessly amusing and enigmatic mind of Mark E. Smith, founder and resident genius of The Fall, not even 20 years of age and several months before the Fall’s first gig in May 1977.

The date is December 20, 1976. Smith is writing a letter to another founding member of The Fall, bassist Tony Friel—Smith refers to “your ‘bass’ pop guitar.” (Friel would remain in the band only for a few months.) Smith is referencing a gig held at the Electric Circus in Manchester on Thursday, December 9, 1976, featuring The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and The Clash—quite a lineup! (Which DM reader wouldn’t give about three toes to have seen that show? Then again, maybe one or two of you were there.....) The din of the show must have still been ringing in his ears—Smith starts the letter with a snippet from “Chinese Rocks,” the legendary Heartbreakers song jointly written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell.
 
Anarchy Tour
 
The main purpose of the letter, in addition to waxing hilarious and weird in a way only Mark E. Smith was ever capable of, was to affirm his enthusiasm about this new band The Clash, who clearly made a huge impression on Smith: “New pop group the CLASH are going to be very big,once they do a tour of the Village,and then signed on to Village records Ltd.” But he wasn’t telling Friel about the band, surely. Smith and his buddy Friel had quite probably discussed The Clash already, both having most likely seen them at the Electric Circus. Indeed, later on he adds, “Combined, The Heartbreakers and Clash were better than Sex Pistols, doncha?” As in, “Right? You agree? You who saw them too?” Smith was putting on his oracle hat and predicting great things for The Clash. Seems like he hit that one on the head.

The postscript is a snippet of dialogue (real or imagined?) from the immortal 1960s TV series The Prisoner.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

? Dec. 76

for: No. 505048A99FU
from: the new number 2

Dear Above,

‘I’m livin on a Chinese rock/all my clothes are in the pawn shop’ WRONG.

And today, the new number two is wearing a ‘Healthiflex non-restricti Collar’ dark blue in colour.

New number two says “New pop group the CLASH are going to be very big,once they do a tour of the Village,and then signed on to Village records Ltd.”

Please find attached a rough ‘set’ for the Outsiders.Apologies for any ommissions. Also find attached a little pres for you,a sticker for your ‘bass’ pop guitar.Last night I did not notice any “plain clothes policemen in pop gear” did thou?

You had better stick the fucking syticker on your ““bass”” or your ass.Or I will tell news agency Tass.

I did not get any sleep last night as i was speeeeding maaaaaan.

Combined,The Heartbreakers and Clash were better than Sex Pistols, doncha? Je tres fatigue - non dormir!

too incoherent,sorry.

be seeing you,

the new number 2
20.12.76

No6: “How did that typewriter get here ? At night ???”
No.14: “I am not allowed to answer that.Be seeing you.”
No.6: “Moron”.

 
Here’s the letter (you can see a much larger version here):
 
Mark E. Smith letter
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Piss Factory: Patti Smith performing at Max’s Kansas City, 1974
05.09.2014
12:19 pm

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Music
Punk

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Patti Smith
Max's Kansas City


 
Recently I posted what is surely the earliest professionally shot full concert by The Patti Smith Group, a gig taped in Stockholm in 1976 for Swedish television, but a few days ago some even earlier Patti footage surfaced. It’s not exactly professionally shot (it’s likely to have been lensed by rock photographer Bob Gruen), but taken as a whole the clips might represent the entire performance.

Smith, then 27, performs nine numbers backed by Lenny Kaye and Richard Sohl, including both sides of her “Hey Joe/Piss Factory” single as well as Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground covers. Within a year Clive Davis would sign The Patti Smith Group to Arista Records and they would be recording Horses with producer John Cale.
 

On record, Smith’s cover of “Hey Joe” begins with the addition of a spoken word bit about Patty Hearst (“Patty Hearst, you’re standing there in front of the Symbionese Liberation Army flag with your legs spread, I was wondering were you gettin’ it every night from a black revolutionary man and his women?”) but this was before that became a part of the song.
 

“Piss Factory” is a powerful soliloquy about Smith’s horrible job working on a baby buggy assembly line when she was sixteen and dreaming of what her life was going to be like in New York City..
 

“Paint It Black”

You can see the rest at Historie du Rock.

Below, in this brief (mildly NSFW) clip from the Kino Library, we see a typical evening at Max’s Kansas City with the likes of Candy Darling, a topless, insane-looking lipstick-smeared Brigid Berlin, Paul Morrissey, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Taylor Mead, Ray Johnson, Marisol and others. That’s Warhol’s Factory assistant Gerard Malanga who we see smoking as the voiceover reader says the word “pretentious.”
 

 
Via E.O.M.S.

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