I spent a fair amount of the holidays rediscovering the timeless genius of Wire’s late 70’s punk/post punk/art rock triptych of Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154 and I’d have to say, those three albums will never get old for me.
This 1979 set for the German TV series RockPalast, taped between Chairs Missing and 154, is the only professionally shot record of Wire during their (first) glory days and it kicks ass so hard. If you’re a fan of the band and you’ve never seen this before, prepare to be blown the fuck away.
1 Intro + Another The letter
2 The 15th
3 Practice Makes Perfect
4 Two People In A Room
5 I Feel Mysterious Today
6 Being Sucked In Again
7 Once Is Enough
8 Blessed State
9 A Question of Degree
10 Single KO
12 Forty Versions
13 Former Airline
14 French Film Blurred
15 Men 2nd
16 Map Ref. 41°N 93°W
18 Pink Flag (encore)
From the looks of things, the audience of long-haired German stoners had no idea what had just hit them!
And lookat ‘em! They’re like little twin baby Richard Hells!
I’m a total sucker for anything from Burger Records. It seems like every few weeks I can pop in and find a new awesome band. Their bread and butter (and what initially drew me to the label), tends to be a lot of self-referential punk and/or garage, so when I first heard The Garden, I was taken aback by the jarring earful of bass and drums.
Brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears manage an odd balance of murky, spastic, and mean. The vocals flux from convulsive to crooning, sometimes in the same song (most of which are under 60 seconds long).
It’s like if a minimalist David Byrne got into hardcore and surf… or something. The effect is jarring, but cool. Like, Karen O cool. Like, Bauhaus cool. Borderline too cool. I mean, I don’t look good in black and I’m not very good at “careless indolence” these days, but damn if it doesn’t get you in the mood to try!
They’ve got a few tracks up on YouTube, and are soon to release their second cassette on Burger, which I eagerly await.
Jean Genet wrote Our Lady of the Flowers while in prison in 1942. It was published anonymously the following year, and sold around 30 copies. It wasn’t until after the Allied Forces liberated France in 1944 that the bulk of the copies were bound and sold.
Due to its sexual content Our Lady of the Flowers was sold as high class erotica, but Genet never intended it as such. It would take until the book had been revised and reprinted by Gallimard in 1951 that Our Lady of the Flowers received the critical accolades it richly deserved - even if Jean-Paul Sartre described it as “the epic of masturbation.”
‘I’d just rented a little cottage, a country retreat, in Hungerford in Berkshire, and my next door neighbor - it was one Sunday morning and we were listening to Round the Horne, we all did on those Sunday mornings - and my neighbor across the fence leaned over and said.
“Oh hi, I think this book might interest you.”
And it was Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers. And I began to read it, and as soon as I began to read it I could already see it on the stage, and I could see myself as Divine, the central character. And two weeks later, we opened it.
Only someone of Kemp’s incredible talents and vision could have produced Flowers, and the production put Kemp and his dance company literally “on the map.” Since then, Kemp and Co. have performed Flowers all across the world to incredible acclaim.
In 1982, a video was made of the Lindsay Kemp Dance Company performing Flowers at the Teatro Parioli, Roma. It is rarely been seen since, and the video is a incredible treat for anyone interested in dance, performance and theater.
Chuck Berry interviewed by punk zine Jet Lag in 1980. Berry shares his thoughts about “what the kids are listening to these days.”
The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”:
What’s this guy so angry about anyway? Guitar work and progression is like mine. Good backbeat. Can’t understand most of the vocals. If you’re going to be mad at least let the people know what you’re mad about.
The Clash’s “Complete Control”:
Sounds like the first one. The rhythm and chording work well together. Did this guy have a sore throat when he sang the vocals?
The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”:
A good little jump number. These guys remind me of myself when I first started, I only knew three chords too.
The Romantics’ “What I Like About You”:
Finally something you can dance to. Sounds a lot like the sixties with some of my riffs thrown in for good measure. You say this is new? I’ve heard this stuff plenty of times. I can’t understand the big fuss.
Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”:
A funky little number, that’s for sure. I like the bass a lot. Good mixture and a real good flow. The singer sounds like he has a bad case of stage fright.
Wire’s “I Am the Fly” and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures:
So this is the so-called new stuff. It’s nothing I ain’t heard before. It sounds like an old blues jam that BB and Muddy would carry on backstage at the old amphitheatre in Chicago. The instruments may be different but the experiment’s the same.
Somewhat lurid New York cable access interview with a booger-flicking Sid Vicious and a quite talkative Nancy Spungen from 1978. Also on hand are Dead Boy Stiv Bators and his then-girlfriend, Cynthia Ross, of the all-female Canadian punk group, B Girls.
I never got the whole Sid Vicious “icon” thing. I always look askance at a kid wearing a Sid Vicious tee-shirt, especially ones where Sid is pictured sporting a tee-shirt with a swastika. What a role model. He’s one step above G.G. Allin, if you ask me. An icon of stupidity, heroin addiction and… murder?
Nancy’s assertion that Sid is a feminist around the 10.40 mark is kind of ironic, all things considered, as she was dead less than a month later. When a female caller flirts with Sid, she gets her dukes up: “You better keep your fucking hands off him, dearie, or I’ll kill you!”
And what’s with her fake English accent? Christ, look at these two. Who would want them around?
In 1993, Rough Trade records put out Lipstick Traces, a “soundtrack” to the book by Greil Marcus. It’s one of my favorite CDs of all time, with tracks by The Slits, Essential Logic, The Raincoats, The Mekons, Buzzcocks, The Gang of Four, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, Situationist philosopher Guy Debord and others. It’s an amazing collection, but one track in particular stands out from the rest, a recitation by none other than Marie Osmond, of Dada poet Hugo Ball’s nonsensical gibberish piece from 1916, “Karawane.”
Hugo Ball was a follower of anarchist philosopher Mikail Bakunin and became one of the founders of the Zurich nightclub, Cabaret Voltaire, the nexus of the Dada art movement. He would go onstage dressed like this and basically, uh, do avant garde things:
Here’s the story behind this, I think you’ll agree, most excellent clip. From the Lipstick Traces liner notes:
As host of a special (Ripley’s Believe It or Not) show on sound poetry, Osmond was asked by the producer to recite only the first line of Ball’s work; incensed at being thought too dumb for art, she memorized the lot and delivered it whole in a rare “glimpse of freedom.”
When I mentally tally up all the shows I’ve seen in my lifetime, I think the band I’ve seen the most times is/was Pussy Galore. I must have seen them playing around New York City anywhere up to twenty times in the 80s, including once in what seemed like a squat in the East Village (with Richard Kern’s band, The Blacksnakes) where everyone was given a tab of acid when they walked in with the admission fee. I confess to taking mine (The handbill, below).
Pussy Galore were the band with the heaviest GROOVE I’d ever experienced, an almighty LOUD GROOVE, that moved entire audiences as one piece. They were what I’d call a body band. You really felt them in your gut. Their shows were normally so loud that you were helpless to resist that fucking insane GROOVE. You and everyone else in the room. The drum kit was embellished with a gas tank and trash cans. It was quite a yowling racket they made.
But Pussy Galore never got even close to capturing their live sound on record. It was always a tinny approximation of what their live shows sounded like and their albums were annoyingly low-fi and deliberately annoying at that. Nihilistic ear bleeders, their albums were. I could never play their records. But live it was a totally different story. They almost bordered on funky live!
The Xtrmntr blog has a neat Pussy Galore rarity and that is the cassette only ironic cover version they made in 1986 of every song on Exile on Main St., with just 550 copies produced. I bought mine at the legendary East Village fanzine store See Hear (I lived down the block and stopped in there frequently, almost on a daily basis, for years. I’d often see Thurston Moore who seemed to show up there as much as I did). Apparently Pussy Galore got a cease and desist letter from the Stones’ lawyers and it became an instant collector’s item. Now, of course, in this age of consumer enlightenment, you can download it all over the Internet.
Below, the “Maximum Penetration,” a Pussy Galore video compilation that came out in 1987. I always thought this was better than any of their albums.
1. Pig Sweat 2. White Noise 3. Just Wanna Die 4. Nothing Can Bring Me Down 5. Biker Rock Loser 6. Constant Pain 7. Rope Legend 8. Pussy Stomp 9. NYC: 1999! 10. Cunt Tease 11. When I Get Off 12. Get Out 13. Pretty Fuck Look 14. Trash Can 15. Die Bitch 16. Spin Out 17. Kill Yourself 18. No Count 19. Fuck You, Man 20. Alright [Cut]
Jon Spencer (guitar, vocals); Julie Cafritz (guitar, vocals); Kurt Wolf (guitar); Neil Hagerty (guitar); Bob Bert (drums)—you’ll notice that there was no bass player. Pussy Galore were a distinctly trebley band
Considering what they were all about, The Fugs are one of those 60s groups you don’t expect to find many vintage clips of on YouTube. What TV station or network would have allowed THEM to be beamed into unsuspecting living rooms? Answer: A Swedish one! (Perhaps one where no one employed there spoke any English? Actually the clip is subtitled, so this wasn’t the case).
As you watch this clip from Swiiisch—especially the parts with Ed Sanders’ rap about being into “astral perversion” and getting sucked off by ring-tailed fruit bats, when they sing “Super Girl” or hell, any of it—try to picture what sort of conniption fit Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover would have had if this had run on American television. I mean, there’s no way, but imagine if that did happen.
The Fugs would have been put in jail, probably. It would be interesting to read what their FBI file said about this television appearance.
The YouTube poster has the year as 1966, but that’s obviously incorrect as Tenderness Junction, which came out in 1968, is referred to as “our new album.” The also play “Crystal Liaison” which is from the album after that, It Crawled into My Hand, Honest.
Dig Tuli Kupferberg’s ultra rad(ical) go-go dancer moves.