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We Dance On Your Grave Every Night: Nation of Ulysses live in DC 1991


 
There was a time when Nation of Ulysses was the most influential underground rock band in the world. It may not have been for a very long time, and it may have been 20 years ago, before Nirvana took punk aesthetics into the heart of the mainstream, but for a while it seemed like everyone who heard or saw this band just couldn’t shut up about them. It’s not hard to see why Nation of Ulysses drew such cultish adulation - they were always about much more than being a simple band. They had a defined visual aesthetic that drew more from jazz and Soviet art than hardcore. They spoke politics. They worse suits. They described themselves in statements that by today’s standards would spell career suicide for a rock band:

We’re not only a political party, but also a terrorist group. The imperative started with the recognition of the colonialization of youth culture by youth imperialists and the establishment. It was initially formed as a response to that, but now we’ve broadened our breadth to encompass a complete destruction of the American legacy. We understand the workings of oppressions big and small.
...

At the time [they formed] was Ulysses Speaks your primary medium?

Yeah, we were mostly just proliferating literature and bombing buildings, and then we realized the medium of noise not only creates a perfect cover for our organization but it also creates a camouflage for maniacal riotous behavior and provides a context for acting like an idiot and going beyond the structures of everyday behavioral codes. When you see a show, everybody is jumping up and down screaming—if it’s good—and that’s because they’ve been allowed to step outside the boundaries of regular behavior. We want to go one step further. It’s absurd behavior—dancing is incredibly absurd—and we want to take that one step beyond, and that’s why we have so much violence on stage; we’re trying to bring it to the next level. We’re fighting a war there in the room…the room that we took over.

Since you began this mission, have you become more optimistic that you can effectively utilize the facade of populist entertainment to convey the party message?

Yeah…our message is visual, it’s aural, and it’s olfactory. Our message couldn’t be progenitated properly just with sound. We see the whole idea of music as a sound phenomena as really bogus and an idea which has only taken root since the proliferation version of recorded medium, like records. Before then, nobody would have ever thought, “this is only attacking my ears”, because there’s always a visual side to that whole phenomenon. We’re into the true experience, and that’s why the whole idea of music has really aligned us. What we’re wearing on stage and the way we move on stage has just as much to do with the idea that we’re getting across as the sound that we’re putting forth.
...

Have you been able to stir up as much antagonism as you might have hoped for?

Yeah, you know - the old order; people who sense the dissolution and the proliferatrion of new ideas. There’s a Kill Ulysses conspiracy - It’s called the Kill Ulysses National Workers Socialist Party; they’re just trying to destroy us. Rock and Roll is trying to destroy us.

From The New Puritan ReView, 1991 - read the whole interview here.

Still, for all the word-of-mouth hype that surrounded Nation of Ulysses in their brief but dazzling career, for kids like me who lived in the sticks their music was harder to come across than hen’s teeth - another situation that seems impossible by today’s standards. Back in the days when you had to travel to a big city and visit a specialist record shop in the hope of picking up an import 7”, it was easier to find releases by Ulysses’ UK adherents like Huggy Bear than it was the band’s own originals. Thankfully, the hardcore NoU fan base still exists and has been doing a pretty good job of disseminating footage and material on the internet, ensuring the band’s legacy will live on and attract more fans. Sure, Nation of Ulysses weren’t the first punk act to adhere to hardcore left-wing politics, or to have a well defined look and outlook, but no-one did it with this much goddam style

Nation of Ulysses “Introduction/Spectra Sonic Sound” live 1991
 

 
OK, so the audio quality in that clip was pretty poor, but it gives you an idea of what their shows were like. Plus, I do love that washed out, third-generation VHS-copy look. Here’s another clip of NoU live from 1991 (minus suits):

Nation of Ulysses “A Comment on Ritual” live 9:30 Club, 1991
 

 
You can now buy the Nation of Ulysses back catalog direct from Dischord.
 
After the jump, even better quality footage of NoU live in DC circa 1991, including a further 30 minutes of that 9:30 Club show above (in color)…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Television on MTV Brazil
09.20.2011
08:23 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Television
MTV Brazil


 
Interviews with Television are few and far between. Here’s one which aired a few months ago on MTV Brazil

There’s an amusing bit where a visibly pissed-off Tom Verlaine responds to a clip in which a member of Gang Of Four condescendingly describes CBGB and the Seventies New York City rock scene.

The guy doing the interviewing is Chuck Hipolitho of Brazilian punk band Forgotten Boys. He’s clearly thrilled to be in the presence of musicians he obviously loves but the band is about as warm and fuzzy as a school of Coney Island white fish floating down the East River during the dead of winter. Comeon guys, give the kid some love.

Tom Verlaine, Billy Ficca, Jimmy Rip and Fred Smith together again. When’s the tour?

Paging Richard Lloyd.
 

 
Part two after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Outrageous: Kim Fowley part 2
09.16.2011
02:49 pm

Topics:
History
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Kim Fowley

Another installment with cult figure Kim Fowley, record producer, rock impresario, songwriter and musician. Manager of The Runaways, “animal man” and the original Mayor of the Sunset Strip. “One of the most colorful characters in the annals of rock & roll.” Thrill to gossipy stories of Sly Stone and Doris Day; Sonny and Cher; Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, Gene Vincent and more.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Johnny Ramone died seven years ago today: Here’s something to remember him by
09.15.2011
05:33 pm

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Johnny Ramone
The Ramones live at the Rainbow


 
If you’re a regular reader of Dangerous Minds, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a huge Ramones fan. One of the reasons I started my own punk band in 1976 was a result of hearing The Ramones’ debut album and my love for the group hasn’t diminished over the years. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the best rock band to appear in the past four decades. They were essential in the re-birth of rock and roll in the Seventies and their influence has been enormous on virtually every hard rock band to arise since the boys erupted on the Bowery in 1975.

Today is the seventh anniversary of Johnny Ramone’s death at the far too young age of 55. Without question one of the best rock guitarists of all-time, Johnny never really got his due during his lifetime. Fortunately, that’s changing.

Here’s some of my favorite live footage of The Ramones. Performing in London, where they were far more appreciated than in their home country, the band tears it up at The Rainbow in 1977. 26 minutes of pure unadulterated R&R.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten’: Watch it now
09.15.2011
03:53 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Movies
Punk

Tags:
Je Strummer:The Future Is Unwritten


Mural at 112 Avenue A in NYC.
 
Here in it’s entirety is Julian Temple’s very fine 2007 documentary on Joe Strummer.

Featuring members of The Clash, Don Letts, Jim Jarmusch, Bernie Rhodes, Joe Ely, John Cooper Clarke and many more.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten
does justice to a complex and brilliant man who was constantly grappling with his fans’ expectations, his own demons, while all the while trying to age gracefully as the face of rebellion and punk rock music.

In English with Spanish subtitles.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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American TV news segment on punk rock 1979
09.15.2011
12:53 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
Television
Punk
2020
New wave


 
This piece on new wave and punk rock appeared on TV show 20/20 in 1979. It’s actually pretty level-headed and contains some nice vintage footage of Talking Heads, Blondie, The Clash and more.

The clip cuts off mid-way through a short piece on Klaus Nomi. You can see the rest after the jump.
 

 
Klaus continued after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Jello Biafra on Canadian TV
09.14.2011
12:00 am

Topics:
Politics
Punk

Tags:
Jello Biafra
The Hour


Joey Ramone and Eric Boucher (aka Jello Biafra) in Denver, Colo. 1977
 
Here’s a clip of the always witty, acerbic and insightful Jello Biafra on Canadian TV show The Hour.

I’ve known Jello since he was an 18-year-old hippie in Boulder, Colorado.  He was one of the smartest kids I’d ever met with an incredible knowledge of rock and roll and a radical, edgy sensibility. At a time when most longhairs where luxuriating in the Rocky Mountain High vibe, Jello was busy inhaling vinyl and sniffing grooves. We first met in a used record store. I think he was buying some Roxy Music and T. Rex.

He was one of a handful of Boulder teenagers who supported my punk band in 1976. He’d help carry my group’s equipment at gigs so he’d get into clubs that had a 21-years and older door policy. I’m not sure but that might have gotten him into his first Ramones’ show when I opened for them in 1977 in Denver.

I’ve literally watched Jello grow from a brilliant kid into a brilliant adult. I love the fucker. He has stayed true to his core beliefs while many aging punks have sold out and played it safe.
 

 
Photo: Don Fleming

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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The Ramones rehearsal footage from 1975
09.12.2011
08:44 pm

Topics:
Art
Punk

Tags:
The Ramones
Arturo Vega


Arturo Vega painting a banner with The Ramones’ logo, one of the most enduring brands in rock and roll history.
 
When I first came on board here at DM, I posted a couple of clips of The Ramones rehearsing in 1975 in the loft of their artistic director Arturo Vega. The links to the clips are no longer current, so I thought I’d offer an update with some extended footage and a bit more history regarding Vega and The Ramones relationship.

As the ‘creative director’ for the Ramones, Arturo Vega played a key role in developing the visual style that was integral to the band’s image. His most well known creation is the Ramones’ eagle logo that he based on the great seal of the United States. He replaced ‘e pluribus unum‘ with ‘Hey Ho let’s Go‘ and swapped the arrows in the eagle’s talons for a baseball bat. The logo went on T-shirts, which during the early years of the band frequently rivaled the record sales. Arturo also housed Joey and Dee Dee for many years. His loft was the Ramones headquarters, rehearsal space and crash pad.”

24 year old Vega arrived in NYC from Mexico in 1971 to perform in musical theater. He eventually ended up in the East Village where he transformed an old plastic flower factory into the loft that became the mid-70s punk version of Warhol’s Factory..

In 1975, both DeeDee and Joey lived with me at “The Loft”, which is around the corner from CBGB, so every night after CB’s closed the party would move on to my place, which is on a second floor. Most people didn’t bother ringing the bell they would climb the metal gates from the store at the street level and come through the windows, which is what three guys that came together did to nobody’s surprise. In those days New York City was on a loosing battle against crime, the city was at one of it’s lowest points ever neighborhoods like the East Village were heroin supermarkets, the Bowery was “free for all” territory, we liked it. Any way these three guys came back to the loft a few times after that, and one day one of them confessed to me that the first time they came in they intended to rob everybody, but found the party so cool they decided to join us instead. SEE! PUNK ROCK DOESN’T PROMOTE CRIME, IT STOPS IT!’ – Arturo Vega

This footage is raw, which is exactly as it should be.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Butthole Surfers live in Austin September 11, 2011
09.12.2011
03:06 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Butthole Surfers
Austin
Emo's


 
Emo’s, Austin’s venerable, historic and aging rock venue, has opened a new state-of-the-art space that launched last night with a classic performance by the Butthole Surfers.

In the early 80s, BHS formed in San Antonio, an hour drive from Austin, and drew inspiration from Austin’s psychedelic musical past, particularly from the Crown Princes of Texas-style mindbending rock and roll Roky Erickson and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. It seemed karmically ordained that BHS should christen Austin’s newest church of rock.

At tonight’s gig, BHS did what they’ve been doing for the past 30 years: creating sonic shamanistic magic with Paul Leary’s acid-infused guitar licks, looped feedback, gut rattling rhythm from Jeff Pinkus and King Coffey, and lead singer Gibby Haynes’ Echoplexed and bullhorn-mutated vocals. Throw in a diabolical light show and you’ve got a Devil’s brew of rock and roll voodoo.
 

 
Last time I visited with Gibby, he was 30 pounds heavier, I was 30 pounds lighter and we were both 20 years younger. In my case, the weight difference could be the hair.

 
I’m excited by the new Emo’s. It raises the bar for live rock and roll in Austin. It’s got great sound, air-conditioning, a huge dance floor and a stellar staff. I predict that bands from all over the planet will embrace this fabulous new club that offers both the artists and the audience a perfect environment to exult in the power and glory of rock and roll.

Despite the sentimental notions of a bunch of punk rock nostalgists, playing in shitholes doesn’t give you hip cred, it gives you the crabs.
 
I shot this video expressly for Dangerous Minds’ readers and I hope you dig it. Watch it in high definition. And crank up the fucking volume!
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ for your viewing pleasure
09.11.2011
02:51 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Great Rock And Roll Swindle


 
Julian Temple’s 1980 mockumentary The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle attempts to drain the last bit of blood from the corpse of The Sex Pistols. With Pistols’ Svengali Malcolm McClaren as his accessory in this crime against historical fact, Temple depicts the Pistols as a sham act with little or no bona fide talent foisted on an easily manipulated youth culture. Of course, he was wrong and would later do penance by directing the far more accurate documentary The Filth and The Fury 20 years later.

McClaren may have constructed The Sex Pistols but once his monster was out of the lab it was a genuine force to be reckoned with. The Pistols influence is as potent now as it was the day they were born. McClaren had a genius for promotion and anticipating/creating trends, but he was mad for thinking that the Pistols were solely a product of his own ego-driven machinations. The raw material was already there.

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle may have been intended as a joke, but the joke ended up being on its creators, not the band or its fans. Temple may have been trying to make a satirical film about a rock band as pop culture product along the lines of Bob Rafaelson’s Monkees’ flick Head, but he did so without any of Rafaelson’s imagination, wit or charm. While Head was a surreal and entertaining romp, Swindle has the stench of something gone sour.

Chaotic, tiresome, but not without moments of brilliance (Temple is no hack) and great live music, here’s TGR&RS in its entirety. Very nice quality.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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