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The Illuminati of rock and roll: Remembering Pat Fear, a real-life Robert Anton Wilson character

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It was recently the birthday of one of my lifelong best friends, Bill Bartell (1961-2013)

Bill aka “Pat Fear” was a walking, talking anomaly, a living Robert Anton Wilson conspiracy theory, a wisecracking character out of a Firesign Theatre sketch, a Discordian trickster imp of the perverse. His credit card even said “The Illuminati” under his name (for real, I swear!). Bill also went by the names “Kixx”; “Sitting Bill”; “Pat ‘Slowhand’ Fear”; “Billy Jo Gun Rack,” etc., etc., and these are just the ones that he used on records! I can’t even imagine the secret pseudonyms he used “off stage.” I also can’t actually believe that he is not still alive. It seems like some kind of shitty cosmic joke. The world that doesn’t get to know Bill is a sad world.

Bill did so much for our culture, mostly by ridiculing it. He was a super mega ultra fan of so many disconnected things. He lived to tear down so many idols. His band White Flag was formed originally solely just to piss off Black Flag (one of his favorite bands). Bill pissed many people off, which was his life’s mission or so it seemed.
 
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He was just SO good at it!
 
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Bill’s side project, but really his life’s work as it was so open-ended was a grouping called Tater Totz. This project dealt with Bill’s obsessions. As it grew, many people from his obsessions wound up on Tater Totz records. Who? Man, so many! Always Redd Kross of course, but also members of the Runaways, Germs/Nirvana, Partridge Family, Sonic Youth, Lovedolls, Tesco Vee, El Vez, The Zeros, The Posies, Jimmy McNichol (!!??!!), Hole, Sator, Starz, Zeros, Melvins, Shonen Knife, Go-Go’s, Adolescents, Pandoras, Roman Coppola, Circle Jerks, Frightwig, Chemical People, Sin 34/Painted Willie, myself and just about everyone else who came into Bill’s orbit. The main focus of Tater Totz was Bill’s Yoko Ono obsession, followed closely by his interest in Os Mutantes, the Beatles, Blue Oyster Cult, even a mashup of John Lennon and Queen. Their greatest moment, in my opinion, was when they showed up at a Beatlefest convention and did all Yoko Ono songs, driving the Beatle nerds to violence and riot! They literally chased them out of the building and down the street like the villagers did to poor Frankenstein’s monster! Part of this is on YouTube and can be seen here on Dangerous Minds (link at bottom of this post). Bill, of course, immediately put it out as a double seven-inch bootleg EP called Live Hate at Beatlefest, one of the best titles ever, obviously.
 
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Bill Bartell also single-handedly turned the entire world onto Os Mutantes, a bizarre Brazilian band from the 60s whose first LP his sister, an exchange student there, brought back to him in the Sixties. Bill went around throughout the 80s with a Walkman with Os Mutantes on it and plopped the headphones on to everyone he met.

This is in fact, how I met him.
 
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He also did this to his buddy Kurt Cobain who, when he got famous, and toured in Brazil, went on the news and asked where Os Mutantes were, and said that his friend Bill who “has a mustache” told him about them. He then held up a drawing he did of Bill. This, from the then biggest rock star in the world! Os Mutantes, who had broken up for decades have publicly stated that their resurgence was totally due to Bill and they came from Brazil on their own dime to play at his memorial in LA.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.13.2017
11:06 am
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The Black Flag tour machine grinds to a halt in ‘Reality 86’d’
02.17.2017
12:08 pm
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To support what would prove to be its last studio album In My Head, Black Flag did a full national tour in the autumn of 1985 and then basically repeated the process in the first half of 1986. For that second go-round—Black Flag’s last tour—they were joined by Painted Willie and Greg Ginn’s new side project Gone, which featured future Rollins Band members Sim Cain and Andrew Weiss. (Hard-hitting Cain was a sorely underrated drummer, while Weiss has production duties on several Ween albums on his resume.)

The drummer for Painted Willie was named David Markey, one of the founders of the punk zine We Got Power! and he took along a video recorder and took a copious amount of footage during the several months. By this time Kira was gone, replaced by C’el Revuelta, and Anthony Martinez had taken over for Bill Stevenson.

The result of Markey’s filming was an hour-long movie called Reality 86’d. The movie has enjoyed a contentious backstory. According to James Parker’s Turned On: A Biography of Henry Rollins,
 

The results of [Markey’s] on-off filming were edited together as the tour movie Reality 86’d—still unreleased, owing to the opposition of Greg Ginn, who owns the rights to much of the music featured in the film. (Ginn was invited to attend a private screening of Reality 86’d shortly after it was completed, but walked out halfway through.)

 
In 2011 Markey put the video up on Vimeo but today there is a notification indicating copyright infringement. Today it’s easy to find on YouTube and Vimeo.
   
Ginn and Rollins were the last gasp of the classic Black Flag impulse, and they were growing apart. Ginn was veering towards instrumental jam music, and Rollins was sticking to his harder ethos. In Parker’s book there is a telling anecdote, according to which Ginn had requested the construction of a box that could be fitted into the back of the tour van so that he could crawl inside and put on his headphones and just “be totally alone.” The split between Ginn and Rollins was accentuated by the presence of Rollins’ close friend Joe Cole, who wrote about this tour in Planet Joe, published after his tragic 1991 death at the hands of armed robbers in Venice Beach.

There’s an odd moment about a quarter-hour in when a shirtless Henry—although come to think of it, when was he not shirtless?—jokes in a swishy way about getting into rock to meet buff skinhead boyfriends. In the second half there’s a wonderful bit where a bunch of the guys sing the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” at the top of a picturesque mountaintop. This is followed up a silly rendition of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” which is a good indication of their location.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.17.2017
12:08 pm
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Black Flag: Scorching multi-camera pro-shot concert, live in San Francisco, 1984
12.01.2016
03:29 pm
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Here’s an outstanding specimen of Black Flag as a galvanizing live act. This was one of Black Flag’s strongest lineups, Greg/Henry/Kira and Descendents stalwart Bill Stevenson on the drums.

This was recorded on August 26, 1984, at the Stone in San Francisco for the explicit purpose of making an official SST live album and video. The album came out—its title was Live ‘84—but the VHS release never happened. The Jettisoundz VHS release known simply as Black Flag is not the same show, that set was recorded in Bradford in the UK a few months earlier.

Black Flag start the show with an 8-minute-plus version of “The Process Of Weeding Out” that (even though it sounds good) had me in the mind of making a Spinal Tap “jazz odyssey” joke, but wouldn’t you know, the next three songs are “Nervous Breakdown,” “I Can’t Decide,” and “Slip It In” and the unmistakable Black Flag fury is fully present and accounted for. Kira is in excellent form during this entire set.
 

Setlist:
The Process Of Weeding Out
Nervous Breakdown
I Can’t Decide
Slip It in
My Ghetto
Black Coffee
I Won’t Stick Any of You Unless and Until I Can Stick All of You!
Forever Time
Six Pack
My War
Jealous Again
I Love You
Swinging Man
Three Nights
Nothing Left Inside
Fix Me
Wound up
Rats Eyes
The Bars

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.01.2016
03:29 pm
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Attention lefty hipsters: Stop it with the dumb f*cking Black Flag T-shirts celebrating Jill Stein
08.31.2016
10:10 am
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I’m writing this from Austria, where the Green Party routinely achieves 10-15% of the vote and a similar proportion of the seats in the legislature. Due to the vagaries of runoff voting systems, Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received a narrow majority of the votes in May to become the nation’s president (an almost entirely ceremonial figure), but the Austrian Constitutional Court annulled the result based on suspicion of tampering, resulting in a re-do of the election, in which it is devoutly to be hoped that Van der Bellen wins a second time, because the alternative is a far-right type named Hofer with vaguely Trumpy (i.e. anti-EU) views.

So that’s Austria. They have a real, functioning Green Party that provides actual services to residents just like regular elected officials do. In our two-party system, we unfortunately have a Green Party that seldom gets more than 1% of the vote in presidential elections and currently has a woman named Jill Stein running. Unlike Alexander Van der Bellen, Stein has somewhere south of zero of ever being elected POTUS.

All this is to explain why this rash of Black Flag T-shirts remixed to celebrate Jill Stein kind of piss me off. Say what you will about Black Flag’s take on punk, Jill Stein just has nothing to do with it, or them, in any way shape or form. Not tangentially, not at all. These “Green Flag” tees are not creative or witty mash-ups, they’re fucking stupid.

As a service here is a photograph of Dr. Jill Stein:
 

This picture reminds me of that time in 1980 when the Hermosa Beach cops kicked Black Flag out of town
 
Sorry to be so hard on Dr. Stein, but this was just the last straw. I’d love for the Greens to be putting up a really good candidate, but Stein just isn’t it. And I simply loathe these dumbshit shirts.

Here are some more pics of deluded hipsters (well, models) wearing these awful Black Flag shirts. Why are there so many varieties to choose from? Has anyone seen these out in the wild?
 

 
More nauseating “Green Flag” T-shirts after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.31.2016
10:10 am
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What the actual fuck? Barney’s is selling Black Flag shirts for $265
08.03.2016
01:26 pm
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Look, right up front, I absolutely despise alterkaker getoffmylawning about how “PUNK DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING ANYMORE” blah blah blah. Punk is 40 fucking years old, it maybe doesn’t have to mean the same thing it used to. There’s more than one way to rebel, and if thekidstoday™ aren’t doing it in a way you can recognize, that might be on you.

Furthermore, handwringing about commerce ruining everything that was once pure and holy is some goddamn Baby Boom narcissist bullshit. Music was forever tainted by commerce the day someone first printed and sold sheet music. Without commerce, your favorite band doesn’t survive.

But all that being said, JESUS FUCK, THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT:
 

 

The pants—are those knickers? Is that a thing now?

Crafted of black brushed Japanese cotton-cashmere jersey, R13’s T-shirt is printed at front with white “Black Flag” lettering and graphics and styled at sides with decorative elongated zippers.

Yep, Barney’s, that NYC department store for assholes who have too much money and want everyone to know it, is selling Black Flag shirts for $265 (not even gonna link it). Even if the band gets a cut of that, well which band? The embarrassing and awful Greg Ginn version that wouldn’t exist if anyone involved had any goddamn sense? Ugh.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.03.2016
01:26 pm
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Three mega-rare Black Flag videos see the light of day—watch them here now
12.16.2015
09:15 am
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Greg, Anthony, Kira and Henry of Black Flag
 
Black Flag was the band that got me into punk, or “hardcore” if you insist (back then the terms were interchangeable).

My War is my go-to record to this day when normal life goes to shitsville. In what I hope wasn’t too fanboyish of a moment, I once told Rollins to his face that I’d gladly toss every one of the records in my (stupidly extensive) collection if I were allowed to keep My Warand I wasn’t lying. It’s simply a record that was there for me every time I needed it. Sometimes a record finds you at the right place and time in your life, and you make an emotional connection with it—for me My War was that record and Black Flag was that band.
 

 
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I got heavily into the VHS tape-trading scene and was able to acquire pretty much everything that existed as far as live documentations of Black Flag—or so I thought. With the advent of YouTube, so much more has come to the surface. I’m constantly surprised by what bubbles up.

I recently ran across three killer live Black Flag videos I had no prior knowledge of. The videos are from May 31st, 1982 at “My Father’s Place” in Roslyn, New York; April 9th, 1984 in Richmond, Virginia; and October 19th, 1984 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Shout out to Internet saint anonym0us2112 for uploading these and a number of other excellent music videos.

The quality varies a bit on these shows; the sound is OKayyyy for ‘80s video recordings, but the picture quality is decent. The Richmond show, in particular, looks as if it’s from a fairly low-generation source. These certainly wouldn’t be the ideal introductions to the group for a first-time listener, but for die-hard fans this is pure gold.

Black Flag’s guitarist, Greg Ginn, is notorious for having content removed from YouTube so watch these while you can—soak in every Rollins pelvic gyration and brow furrowing before the YouTube police get involved. Incredibly, these videos have been online for seven months, but as of this writing the three clips have less than 2,500 total views combined. I suspect that’s going to change today.

All three after the jump. Watch ‘em while you still can…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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12.16.2015
09:15 am
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Feminist performance art VS Black Flag, Sabbath, and other culturally masculine institutions


 
Jen Ray’s paintings of “sparring Amazonian women who inhabit decaying, semi-surrealist and strangely beautiful wastelands” evoke the late ‘70s avant-post-psychedelic science fiction worlds one would associate with Heavy Metal (the magazine, not the music), but with a decidedly feminist bent—both in subject matter, and, some might argue, in form as well. Angry, jagged, “masculine” lines are filled in with soft, “feminine” washes of color—that is if colors and lines can even be described as “masculine” or “feminine” in the 21st century.
 

Untitled. 2007. (Detail)—Click on image for larger version.
 
Ray seems to delight in playing with gender stereotypes, and it’s all the more obvious in the exceptional performance pieces she constructs to augment her magnificent large-scale works of fine art.

North Carolina born, Ray was based out of Berlin for nearly a decade before recently returning to her home state. Her exhibitions of painting and performance have been presented in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Wolfsburg, Paris, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Amersfoort (Netherlands), and most recently, at New York’s Albertz Benda gallery

Ray’s newest exhibition, Deep Cuts, runs at Albertz Benda until November 7th. The presentation which accompanied the opening, directed by Ray, featured a performance by Honeychild Coleman and Amor Schumacher along with a chorus of women backing up détourned renditions of Public Enemy’s “Countdown to Armageddon” and The Guess Who’s “American Woman.”

In a world where the mere mention of the phrase “performance art” sends eyes rolling with assumptions of self-indulgent, pretentious, mess-making (and add the word “feminist” to that phrase and you’ll likely lose even more dudebro interest) it’s remarkable how entertaining, as well as conceptual and thought-provoking, Jen Ray’s productions are. It’s very nearly as populist as it is powerful in its approach.

Give it a couple of minutes to ramp up and stick with it till the end… this is killer:
 

 
The first of Jen Ray’s performance works that I viewed (and still my favorite) was Hits which takes Black Flag’s tongue-in-cheek 1987 macho party-anthem “Annihilate This Week” and turns it on its ass. My remark upon first viewing this piece was “this is more interesting than any (punk band’s) show I’ve been to in the past five years.” The sterile atmosphere of the gallery space and its attendees being invaded by singer “Mad Kate” out-Rollins-ing Rollins somehow makes the proceedings even more “punk.”

This may not be safe for some work environments:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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10.27.2015
08:50 am
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This Japanese Black Flag fan is really dedicated to Instagram and his ‘My War’ shirts
07.07.2015
09:33 am
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Yuichiro Tamaki is a 30-year-old artist living and working in Tokyo. He’s produced conceptual installations, including one where he silkscreened an image of his sleeping self onto a bed with his own blood as ink. (I’d love to say “JAPAN, WTF” right about here, but that’s a big old fistful of art school no matter where you live on the globe.) His portfolio can be found at his blog and in this age-restricted YouTube video, and while some of it is NSFW (suggested dongs, ladynipples), there are zero naughty bits in the works that concern us today.
 

 
For about half a year now, Yuichiro has been posting a daily self-portrait to an Instagram account he maintains under the name “Mywar Yuichiro”—as if to combine the enduring tradition of the long term internet time-lapse with the infamous “The Same Photo of Glenn Danzig Every Day” Facebook group, every single photo features him in a Black Flag My War shirt. And he clearly has a lot of them.
 

 

 

 
Way, way more “My War” Instagram fun after the jump!

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.07.2015
09:33 am
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Wendy O. Williams, The Misfits, Black Flag—collect ‘em all with these vintage punk trading cards!


 
Totally in love with these cheap little vintage punk rock trading cards. Today we truly live in a post-punk world! Chain gas stations sell Misfits Zippos to oblivious rednecks! Hot Topic has monetized every band under the sun by slapping their logos on everything short of your first-born! Isn’t there something kind of quaint about this modest old school attempt to capitalize off punk fandom? The awkward little captions, the trademarks and copyrights over what I’m almost sure are fair-use press photos—it was a more innocent time of hucksterism!

I assume the cards didn’t move that well, considering these all came from 1981/82 editions of Punk Lives magazine (forget the copyright, most of these bands didn’t even exist in 1978). Perhaps whoever thought them up overestimated the archivist tendencies of early punk rocker, but I like the kitsch of such obsolete tinpot swag. Note early incarnation of The Cult with fresh-faced Ian Astbury; and Mark Chung and FM Einheit, later of Einstürzende Neubauten, back when they were in the Abwarts.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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03.26.2015
10:03 am
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‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ trilogy gets a DVD/Blu-ray release - WITH LOADS OF EXTRAS!


 
Penelope Spheeris’ brilliant Decline of Western Civilization is an infamous document of the early ‘80s LA punk scene featuring interviews and mind-blowing performance footage of The Germs, X, Fear, Circle Jerks, and Black Flag, among others. Her follow-up, Decline of Western Civilization Part II - The Metal Years, follows the mid-‘80s LA glam metal scene and features Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Mustaine and Paul Stanley along with some amusing lesser-known hair-bands. It also famously features one of the most depressing interviews ever caught on film - a brutally pathetic poolside chat with alcoholic WASP guitarist, Chris Holmes. The third film in Spheeris’ trilogy, The Decline of Western Civilization III, is lesser known, but a fascinating look at the crusty squatter-punk scene of the mid-‘90s featuring musical performances by Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance.

Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization trilogy has been at the top of countless fans most-wanted DVD lists forever. I’ve personally been trying to replace my well-worn VHS copy since the dawn of the DVD format. Over the years there have been many hints that the films would get a proper digital video release. As far back as the late 90’s there was a website promising an “upcoming” release of the trilogy. As these films, particularly the first installment, have been at the tip-top of my must-have-list, I’ve followed the progress with an eagle eye. Spheeris has dropped hints on her Facebook page for years—at times promising a deluxe set loaded with extras. There were rumors that Black Flag’s notoriously difficult Greg Ginn was holding up the process. Though those rumors are unconfirmed and were never actually put forward by the Spheeris camp, it’s well known that Ginn has prevented film maker Dave Markey from releasing the Black Flag documentary Reality 86’d, as well as forcing him to remove the Black Flag footage from Markey’s other film The Slog Movie—which is itself sort of a low-rent version of the first Decline movie.
 

 
A lot of punk and metalhead DVD prayers got answered when, without fanfare or a press-release, a box set of the trilogy showed up for preorder on Amazon.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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03.24.2015
09:20 am
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‘Records Collecting Dust’: New doc on collecting vinyl with Jello Biafra and other fanatatics


 
As record collecting’s resurgence continues to grow, so does the sub-industry of proffering opinions about the phenomenon. Annual pro- and anti-Record Store Day think pieces seem to proliferate at a faster pace than vinyl sales themselves, the photo book Dust & Grooves is slated for a third printing this summer, and documentary films on the vinyl collecting hobby are growing in number, as well. That micro-genre’s 21st Century godfather is 2000’s Vinyl, noteworthy for predating the vinyl renaissance by several years, also noteworthy for painting a dismal picture of record collectors as sad old men who, having failed to connect with human beings in their pitiable lives, turn to hoarding media to fill an emotional gap or grasp at a sense of purpose. I frankly and flatly reject the implication that a love of collecting music lumps one in with doleful and socially isolated alterkakers who need suicide watch more than they need turntables. In mitigation, Atom Egoyan and Harvey Pekar are among the collectors interviewed, and that’s damn cool. Watch it here, if you like.

A more recent offering, 2008’s I Need That Record! offers a view of the obsession from a different sociological perspective, looking at the thinning of ranks in indie record stores (that retail niche has obviously rebounded since), seeking input from indie-famous crate diggers like Ian MacKaye and Thurston Moore, with a helping of righteous corporation-slapping from Noam Chomsky. And it offers a much more upbeat view of the collector.

And there is a new contender: Riot House has released musician Jason Blackmore’s (Sirhan Sirhan, Molly McGuire) hour-long Records Collecting Dust, which asks a laundry list of punk and indie luminaries questions like “what was the first record you bought?” “What was the last record you bought?” “If there was a gun to your head and you had to pare your collection down to five albums, what would they be?” It’s a really fun watch, and not just for the trainspotting. It’s a gas to see Keith Morris extol the virtues of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to see Jello Biafra wax rhapsodic about Space Ritual, Mike Watt raving about American Woman, and David Yow talking about baffling his teacher and fellow schoolkids when he brought the Beatles’ trippy, bluesy b-side “For You Blue” to show and tell. One truly wonderful sequence joins Rocket From the Crypt/Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes guitarist John “Speedo” Reis in showing off his favorite children’s LPs on a toy turntable, and there’s even a segment with Dangerous Minds’ own Howie Pyro. I always enjoy tales of musical discovery, all the more so when they’re told by people who’ve made the music that warped me, and Records Collecting Dust is FULL of that, plus live performances by Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, the Locust, and Big Business.
 

 
Though enjoyable, the film has its imperfections. It suffers from an abiding and ultimately irritating L.A.-centrism. I’d love to hear more tales of life-changing finds from people who hail from more culturally isolated areas, and so couldn’t just go to someplace like Wherehouse or Licorice Pizza whenever they felt like it, and had to really work for their scores. One other thing screamed out at me, though it’s not a flaw in the film as such, but more a consequence of the hobby’s demographic: the levels of vinyl-stockpiling depicted seem overwhelmingly to be a male phenomenon, so out of 36 interviewees listed in the credits, exactly two women appear, namely former Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler, and Frontier Records’ Lisa Fancher. Roessler makes one of the funniest observations in the whole doc when she describes how record stores magically cause men to shop in a manner stereotypically associated with women.

Another of the film’s truly brilliant moments is this fabulous sermon from Jello Biafra, which I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing in its entirety, because I 100% agree with every damn word of it:

I think part of the magic that vinyl, and records, and blundering into cool music you never knew existed still holds for me. I’m still a fan, and keep in mind “fan” comes from the word “fanatic.” I love to keep exploring, and even though I’ve got way too many records, I never buy one unless I intend to listen to it when I get home—I don’t always have time to listen to ‘em all now, but that’s the idea. I don’t buy it to scam or speculate, I buy it to listen to it. And there, that way, I never run out of cool music to listen to. I have no patience for these people who say “Oh, the whole scene died when Darby Crash died,” or “yeah, there’s no good bands anymore.” WROOOOOONG. Good sounds are where you find it so start looking, OK? Don’t be afraid to blunder into something cool. You never know what it might do to your life, or even your own music, or your band may finally start sounding different from all the other bands you like.

Records Collecting Dust began screening in California this month. Remaining showings though March are listed on its web page . If you’re on the fence about checking it out, perhaps these trailers will help nudge you one way or the other.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.26.2015
11:54 am
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Images from the L.A. rock scene of 1978 to 1989


Demonstrating for Quiet Riot, 1979. Photo: Ken Papaleo
 
As a New Yorker I’ve sometimes asked myself why Los Angeles often didn’t appear to produce as many good musical acts as its size might lead you to expect. This was in the 1990s and after, when the closest answer to “What’s L.A.‘s answer to the Pixies?” might well have been “the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” which isn’t a great answer. My indie-rock bias and physical distance from the L.A. scene aren’t the only factors that would lead me to underrate what the city has produced, another one would be time. If you jump back just a decade or two, L.A.‘s music scene was as vital as anything the country had to offer, what with Minutemen, Black Flag, the Go-Go’s, RHCP, X, and the Dickies, not to mention such hard rock stalwarts as Van Halen, Faster Pussycat, Motley Crüe, and Guns ‘n’ Roses. And that only scratches the surface, as an invigorating new photo exhibition suggests.

Opening yesterday, the Los Angeles Public Library has a remarkable exhibition dedicated to throwing open the library’s Herald Examiner archives (as well as the Gary Leonard collection) for the years 1978 to 1989. The show features iconic shots of talents as diverse as Eddie Van Halen and Eazy-E as well as countless other important vital contributors to the L.A. music scene. At its best, L.A. music possessed a theatricality and immediate legibility that other cities may have lacked. Not sure what exactly that quality was, but the word “glitz” has been used so often to describe L.A. that we’ll just go with that one. And yet glitz had nothing whatsoever to do with the trenchant and incendiary punk of Minutemen or Black Flag or Descendents. Los Angeles is 100 neighborhoods in search of a city, and its music scene reflects that too, in a good way.

The exhibition is called “From Pop to the Pit: LAPL Photo Collection Celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene, 1978-1989,” and it can be visited at the History & Genealogy Department of the Central Library location at 630 W. 5th Street through June 28. In addition to the acts shown here, the exhibition covers such diverse musical talents as Jetboy, All, the Runaways, Burning Tree, Faster Pussycat, the Nymphs, X, and the Unforgiven.

The show features an attractive catalog that runs a very affordable $13.75 on Amazon.
 

Dream Syndicate, ca. 1982. Photo: Dean Musgrove
 

Minutemen, 1983. Photo: James Ruebsamen
 

The Go-Gos, 1981. Photo: Anne Knudsen
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.09.2015
11:46 am
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‘If Heaven was real’: OFF!, Melvins and Dinosaur Jr. interviews by a 10-year-old kid


 
Last spring, we told you all about Kids Interview Bands, a web series featuring two young ladies from Central Ohio talking to members of Mastodon, Slayer, the Pixies, and even ICP. Well, perhaps predictably, the boys are on the case too: a young fellow named Elliott conducts musician interviews for littlepunkpeople.net, and he’s doing a fine job. (He’s the son of the site’s masterminds, Daniela and Justin Fullam—the site is basically a family art project. Cool family, I must doff my cap to them!)

Here he is getting Keith Morris of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and OFF! talking about the go-for-it ethos of early So-Cal hardcore, what he’d do if he were President, and other critical subjects like “the government or Dracula?” And Morris is plenty awesome here.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.07.2014
02:24 pm
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Hail Satan: Venom at City Gardens, Black Flag roadie’s legendary tape
10.21.2014
10:44 am
Topics:
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When Black Flag opened for Venom at Trenton, New Jersey’s City Gardens on April 2, 1986, there was not an abundance of goodwill in the backstage area. Henry Rollins and his close friend Joe Cole, who roadied for Black Flag, made Venom a figure of fun that night, mocking them to the audience, to their entourage, and to their faces. (It actually makes the story of Slayer’s Tom Araya pissing on Cronos’ head seem not so bad in comparison.) Black Flag had been touring America since January, and was two months away from breaking up, which probably contributed to the vibe.

Afterward, Cole took a tape of Venom’s set from that night, cut out the songs, and spliced together what remained. The result was a collage of singer/bassist Cronos’ between-song patter, a manic, Satanic stand-up routine that is eminently quotable. Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! put it out as a seven-inch in 1991, and the Beastie Boys sampled it on Check Your Head.
 

 
Both Cole’s and Rollins’ diaries from the 1986 tour have been published, so it is possible to reconstruct something of the historical circumstances. Joe Cole describes the show in a diary entry from Planet Joe:

4.2.86 Trenton, NJ: Tonight’s show with Venom was like living Spinal Tap for real. They play “Black Metal.” Satanic rock stars! They acted like they were playing Madison Square Gardens [sic]. The drummer, Abadon [sic], had a drum roadie by his drum set holding a fan on him so that his hair looked like it was blowing in the winds of Hell. The guitar player, Mantas, kept playing these cheesy metal leads and then pointing at the crowd making evil possessed grimaces to let them know he was at war with Satan. The most Spinal Tap of all though was the bass player singer, Cronos. He kept telling the crowd that they were wild. “Aaaaaahhhh, aaaaaaahhhh!!! You guys are wiiiiiiillld! You wanna hear something that will kick yer balls off? The name of this next song is called Love Amongst The Dead. Pretty sicky, eh? If you’ve got any lighters, you can get them out like this guy here! Oookaaaay! Here we go!” I don’t think Cronos could even play his bass. He mostly flexed his muscles, stuck his tongue out at the crowd, gave them the Hail Satan sign while telling them how wild they were. He was delivering the goods and was an awesomely evil rock n’ roll animal. Rollins, [late-period Black Flag bassist] Cel and I drew pentagrams and 666 on the palms of our hands like Richard Ramirez and flashed them at the band members so they could see that we too were at war with Satan. I was over Mantas’ guitar monitor flashing my pentagram, giving him the hail Satan sign while he was in the middle of another cheese lead. He looked up at me, pointed, smiled and winked. At the end of the night we were walking around saying “Hail Satan” to everyone. We are now born again Satanists. “Hail Satan!” has become our new greeting.

 

 
And here are the relevant passages from Rollins’ Get in the Van:

4.2.86 Trenton NJ: [...] Now we’re in Trenton. We’re playing with Venom tonight. Joe, C’el and I drew big pentagrams on our hands and every time we see these metal guys, we flash our palms and say, “Hail Satan.” Good fun.

The Venom boys aren’t here yet. Last night in Atlanta, they refused to play their gig. They missed their flight to Trenton. We’re waiting around to play.

[...] Got very little sleep last night and I’m feeling it now. This is an early show. We’ll be done with our set by about 8:30. The only drag is that Venom is using our PA so we have to wait around until they’re done.

4.3.86 Morgantown WV: Played that show with Venom last night. I thought we played real good. When I came out onstage, I did some Satan raps and shit. The best one was “Give me an ‘S’!... Give me an ‘A’!... etc. What does that spell?... Satan!!” It was hot. The crowd was into it. I said, “Hail Satan! Party hearty and surf naked!” We dedicated a few numbers to Satan and had a wicked good time.

Venom took almost an hour to get onstage. They had roadies tuning their guitars and shit. Finally, they hit stage. They were hilarious. It was like seeing Spinal Tap. The drummer had a guy that held an electric fan next to him and kept him high and dry. The singer/bass player was named Kronos [sic]. He had some great raps. He got the crowd to chant what I thought was “Black Funky Metal” over and over which I thought was pretty cool and then I thought that maybe I was wrong about these guys. I found out later that it was “Black Fucking Metal.” Oh, excuse me. I expected them to go into “Sex Farm Woman” at any second. The guitar player was so bad it was painful. I had a great time. Joe, C’el and I were hanging in back saying “Hail Satan” to people and prancing around like idiots. What a night. The bass player was hilarious. He would wiggle his tongue and roll his eyes. But he also would fix his hair every fifteen seconds or so.

After an hour of “I can’t fucking hear you!” they said, “Good fucking night, New fucking Jersey!” and ran for the dressing room.

As Kronos was going to his motel destined ride, Joe jumped in front of him and laid a “Hail Satan” on his ass. The drummer came into our dressing room and asked [late-period Black Flag drummer] Anthony if he knew who was responsible for the drums being fucked up. He also said they were having problems with their wardrobe.

Load-out was great. All the Venom management and roadies were there and we were staring at them — laughing and doing Spinal Tap/Venom raps. They bummed out real bad, but they didn’t say anything. I have a feeling that there will be Venom raps going around our camp for a long time now.

Venom is weak. Everything about them is weak. They can’t even play. They had a bunch of roadies to do everything. Weak, weak, weak. I would love to play with fucking “heavy metal” bands more often. It was fun crushing them. It’s all lights and makeup. What bullshit. Venom suck. They are so full of shit. What a bad joke. They don’t sweat and they probably don’t even fuck.

To see Joe Cole rise from the grave and lay a “Hail Satan” on you, skip to the 51-minute mark in Dave Markey’s tour documentary Reality 86’d.

Wild, man, wiiiild!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.21.2014
10:44 am
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Black Flag is for the children!
06.10.2014
01:58 pm
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Increasingly notorious and tedious Black Flag honcho Greg Ginn may have found a redemptive moment to counter his ongoing quest to debase the name of his second greatest contribution to the world (the greatest being SST records, in case you actually had to ask). At the end of last week, the news began to spread that the band, now made up of Ginn and former pro skater Mike Vallely, will perform a “stripped-down” show of Black Flag songs—for kids.
 

 
The all-ages (duh) show is on Tuesday, June 17, at 6 pm, at Reggie’s in Chicago, and I really wish I could be there! Imagine relatively quiet, kid-friendly versions of “Rise Above,” “TV Party,” “Black Coffee,” “Police Story,” “Slip It In”… well, I guess probably not those last two. Who knows, maybe in bare-bones form, the piss-poor, Black-Flag-in-name-only dross from last year’s reunion abortion What the… might not totally suck.

Here’s some live footage of Black Flag when they mattered, a late Rollins-era performance from the Michigan cable program Back Porch Video.
 


 
Previously:
What the… Ron Reyes out of reconstituted Black Flag

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.10.2014
01:58 pm
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