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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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An Old Punk Kicks New Ass: The Bob Mould interview
10:49 am


Boing Boing
Bob Mould

bOING bOING’s David Pescovitz got a chance to interview one of his musical heroes—and that would be none other than Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü fame. They talk guitar gear, gay life, story-telling through music, what inspired his new album and the DIY spirit of punk rock. There are also several musical performances.

For 35 years, Bob Mould has been an icon of punk culture. In 1979, he and Hüsker Dü played their first show, paving the way for Nirvana, The Pixes, Foo Fighters, and really the entire realm of alternative rock. Hüsker Dü burned out in 1987, but Bob kept his creative fire burning, releasing more than a dozen albums as a solo artist and with his beloved 1990s band Sugar. Bob has always followed his own path, taking a brief detour as a writer for World Championship Wrestling, embracing his life as a gay man outed later in life, penning a funny and moving memoir titled See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, playing in the house band for the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and supporting numerous righteous causes at every turn. Everything Bob does, he does on his own terms. He is humble, yet takes his legacy very seriously. He is warm, funny, earnest, and wise and continues to inspire young musicians and artists pushing the limits of independent culture.

On the occasion of this month’s release of his latest album, the majestic Beauty & Ruin, Bob Mould kindly spent a day with Boing Boing to share his songs and stories. We are honored to bring that singular experience to you.

Take it away Pesco and Bob Mould…


Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Debbie Harry, Ramones, Nick Rhodes, Courtney Love and more on MTV’s ‘Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes’

In December of 2010, I visited the Andy Warhol Enterprises exhibit then being held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It was an excellent full-career retrospective, loaded with rare goodies, and generously tilted toward his early, pre-Factory commercial work, which I prefer to his more famous silkscreens (commence calling for my skull on a pike, I don’t care). But as much as I was enjoying the early books and the blotted-ink drawings of shoes, I was surprised by a trip down amnesia lane that came at the end of the exhibit, a video installation of one of Warhol’s last projects, the show he produced and co-hosted (with Debbie Harry) for MTV called Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes. The name of the show referred to Warhol’s famous quip “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Episodes of the program were actually 30 minutes in length. #themoreyouknow

Warhol with Debbie Harry, dressed by Stephen Sprouse.
I was an arty kid, so I knew perfectly well who Warhol was (some of my friends only learned of his existence from that show, believe it or not), and so I never missed it. Though it wasn’t too hard to catch them all—as the series was prematurely ended by Warhol’s 1987 death, there were only five episodes, the last of which was mainly a memorial. But while it was on, it was glorious. Although the program featured lots of marquee names, befitting Warhol’s obsession with celebrity and celebrities, it also highlighted NYC downtown fashion, art, and music phenomena. Mind-expanding stuff for a midwestern kid, and stuff which would have otherwise been entirely inaccessible, since Warhol’s previous television ventures, Fashion and Andy Warhol’s TV, were limited to NYC cable.

And unless you visit the Warhol Museum or a traveling retrospective, the program itself is now pretty well inaccessible. Few things have been more damnably hard to find streaming than episodes of 15 Minutes, and to my complete bafflement, the Warhol Museum store doesn’t offer a home video. Much of what little can be found is fuzzy VHS home recordings, but it gives an adequate taste of how deep the show could go—and remember, this was on MTV.


It gets a good bit better with this clip of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes taking the viewer on a tour of Manhattan nightclubs The Palladium and AREA (note future Twin Peaks actor Michael J. Anderson as the garden gnome.)

KONK were an amazing dance-punk band of the era. You may recognize the drummer, Richard Edson, an original member of Sonic Youth, and co-star of the Jim Jarmusch film Stranger Than Paradise.

This Ramones interview ends with a live, not lip-synced, performance of “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg.”

The last bit footage I’ve found is a jaw-dropper—an interview segment with a 21ish, pre-fame Courtney Love!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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See a young Björk rocking out in ‘Rokk í Reykjavík’
03:02 pm



Rokk í Reykjavík is an Icelandic film made for local television in 1982 that seems like a cross between Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization and Urgh! A Music War. Like Urgh! it’s a steady stream of band after band, nineteen total, some very good, some awful running the gamut from confrontational SoCal-style hardcore to Joy Division and Wire imitators to one group who look just like Loverboy! Like the Decline trilogy there are lots of interviews with incredibly nihilistic youngsters. (One pint-sized Darby Crash wannabe discuses how a meddling social worker made glue sniffing difficult in Reykjavik, but this led them to discover that gas huffing provided an even better high!)

Seen in Rokk í Reykjavík is Tappi Tíkarrass an incredibly tight punk/pop band led by a young (and super cute) Björk Guðmundsdóttir who have a Talking Heads meet B-52s meets ska meets Gang of Four vibe. Their name, should you be wondering, translates as “Cork the Bitch’s Ass!”

Also of note here is Purrkur Pillnikk, the punk band of Björk’s future Sugarcube bandmate Einar Örn Benediktsson. The old man chanting a poem at the start is Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson who was instrumental in forcing the Icelandic government to recognize the country’s pre-Christian Norse religion. Sveinbjörn can be heard performing Ásatrú marriage rites for Genesis and Paula P-Orridge on Psychic TV’s Live in Reykjavik double album.

For me, though, other than seeing the young (and super cute, did I mention that?) Björk in action, it’s the WTF avant garde antics of Bruni BB that steal the entire show. Directed by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Christ the Auction: Crass drumhead goes up for auction at Sotheby’s
12:20 pm

Pop Culture


A stenciled Crass drumhead is going up for auction as part of Sotheby’s rock and roll memorabilia event. The estimate is that it’ll go for between $15,000 and $20,000. The “Presley to Punk” auction will occur on June 24. When I saw this, I have to admit, the collector in me swooned.

It’s a pity that this will probably just end up in some rich asshole’s house instead of in an anarchist museum or some place like that. At least I hope that it’s Penny Rimbaud himself who’ll be getting the money for this (it appears that he signed it recently). If anyone deserves to cash in on their past in this way—I really mean this—God bless them, it’s Crass. No one’s selling out here, they’re just clearing out the garage!

The auction also has some amazing signed items from The Beatles, one of Sly Stone’s vests, a jacket worn by Jimmy Page, several drawings and paintings by Joni Mitchell, as well as guitar straps worn by Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. A naughty comic strip from a young Jim Morrison and a semi-pornograpic collage made by John and Yoko for Elton John’s birthday in 1975. Several gold records belonging to Mick Jagger, even the Grammy presented to Johnny Cash and June Carter for “Jackson.” There are 145 items in all being auctioned off.

Sly Stone’s beaded vest, as seen during his infamous stint as co-host of The Mike Douglas Show.

Crosby, Stills & Nash by Joni Mitchell

Gary Panter’s original rendition of The Screamers logo

Thank you Luhuna Carvalho!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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