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Jazzercise takes on Sid Vicious. Nobody wins
09.01.2015
08:45 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious


 
The biggest-selling single the Sex Pistols ever put out wasn’t “Anarchy in the U.K.” or “God Save the Queen” or “Pretty Vacant” or “Holidays in the Sun”—it was “Something Else,” a cover of an Eddie Cochran hit from 1959 with Sid Vicious on lead vocals that was released more than a year after the breakup of the band—and three weeks after Vicious’ death at the Chelsea Hotel on February 2, 1979.
 

 
Americans probably aren’t very familiar with Legs & Co., an all-female dance troupe that used to brighten up the proceedings on Top of the Pops in the late 1970s. The U.S. equivalent would be the Solid Gold Dancers.

Sometime during its run in the Top 10 of the U.K. charts, Top of the Pops managed to convince Legs & Co. to do a sort of Jane Fonda/jazzercise routine to the song. The over-abundance of spandex, the nice shiny colors in the leotards and wigs—not to mention the strange approximation of a stock market chart in the set design—it all makes this clip seem a kind of harbinger for the shiny and materialistic 1980s that were just around the corner, even if nobody knew it.

At the outset you can hear the closing strains of Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Filthy lucre ain’t nothin’ new: there are Sex Pistols credit cards now.
06.09.2015
08:45 am

Topics:
Class War
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Virgin


 
As if the punk-is-dead crowd needed any further ammo, Virgin Money (yes, it’s a thing, and yes, it’s an offshoot of the record label/airline/cell phone provider/whatever) is issuing Sex Pistols credit cards. Because nothing says “ANARCHY” like a line of credit from MasterCard.

Quoted in The Mirror, Virgin Money exec Michael Greene had this to offer, evidently in total seriousness:

For a long time now, UK banks have all been the same.

In launching these cards, we wanted to celebrate Virgin’s heritage and difference.

The Sex Pistols challenged convention and the established ways of thinking, just as we are doing today in our quest to shake up UK banking.

Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson added:

The Sex Pistols are an iconic band and an important part of Virgin’s history. Virgin Money is a bank that can be proud of its past and I love the fact that the team have chosen to celebrate it in this way.

Even after nearly 40 years, the Sex Pistols power to provoke is undimmed.

 

 
Of course, given the band’s history it’s easy to argue that there’s nothing inappropriate about this at all, and that furthermore a credit card that has the word “bollocks” on it is, in a way, actually kinda punk as fuck. I’m unable to find any information on how much the surviving band members themselves make from this.

Here’s Branson, in what amounts to a hagiographic infomercial for the cards:
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Filth & the Fury’: Sex Pistols comic from 1984
06.03.2015
07:12 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Sex Pistols
comics
Smash Hits


 
Milestones on the road from terrifying societal scourge to mass-market-friendly cultural icons…. In 1984 Smash Hits put out a “yearbook” that contained this wonderful 4-page comic about the entire career of the Sex Pistols, from their origins in 1975 Chelsea to their final show in San Francisco in 1979. [Update: This was in 1978, of course; the comic had it wrong as well.] Flickr user Jon Hicks posted these a few years back—as he points out, the strip has no profanity at all.

The comic is signed by Arthur Ranson, whose art graced countless publications from the early 1970s up through as recently as 2013. The writer is Angus Allan, whose image (according to the above link) appears bottom left of third page, but I haven’t been able to figure out what that’s supposed to mean. (Maybe they mean the fellow who pops up in the “EMI” panel of the second page?)

Click on the images for a larger view:
 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Slits, Clash, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag in ‘Punk Attitude’


 
Okay it’s been nearly 40 years since I heard The Ramones debut album for the first time and that means I’m fucking old. But I ain’t dead. In fact, I’m feeling pretty damned good. And part of the reason I feel so damned good is I’ve been on a steady diet of rock and roll since I was a itty bitty boy. Rock and roll has been the one constant in my life that has given me something that others might call a religion. From the moment I first heard “Alley Oop” by The Hollywood Argyles when I was nine years old (sitting in a tree with a radio in my lap), I was hooked.

I’ve always been a seeker, looking for meaning in life, searching for answers to the essential questions of what are we doing here and where are we going? I’ve read everything from Jung to Chogyam Trungpa to Kerouac and Crowley in my yearning for clarity and spiritual fulfillment. Aside from a few reveries and insights fueled by psychotropics or the momentary flash of cosmic consciousness you get in those special moments when something suddenly opens up your brain - maybe it’s the way a shard of prismatic light bounces off your rear view mirror or a fleet of perfectly white clouds rolling above New Mexico - my “religious” experiences have been seldom and unpredictable. But one thing, other than fucking, that consistently pulls me into the moment where bliss and contentment co-mingle is listening to rock and roll music. It’s the closest thing I have to an artistic calling or spiritual practice and when the music hits me in the right place at the right time it can be divine. And it seems that loud, fast, and hook-filled works best. The music doesn’t need to be about anything spiritual, lofty or significant. It just needs to grab me by the balls and heart, rattle my cage, and move me.
 

 
There was a barren period in my rock and roll life in the early ‘70s. Not much I wanted to listen to. I mostly bought blues and jazz albums and later reggae. Then in 1976 I heard The Damned’s “New Rose” and shortly after that I got my hands on The Ramones’ self-titled first album. These were momentous events in my life that drove me back into arms of rock and roll. Talking Heads, Blondie, Mink DeVille, Pere Ubu, Patti Smith, The Clash and Television were the second wave of musical salvation to land on my turntable that changed my life.  Punk, or whatever you want to call it, defibrillated my rock and roll heart and inspired me to start my own band. And I wasn’t alone.

In this fine documentary directed by Don Letts (who knows a thing or two about punk rock) a bunch of aging punkers talk about the roots of the punk scene and their love of the music they make. There’s not much new here but it’s good to see Steve Jones, Pete Shelley, Howard Devoto, Siouxsie Sioux, Captain Sensible, Mick Jones Jones,David Johansen, Jello Biafra, Wayne Kramer, Thurston Moore, Legs McNeil and Tommy Ramone, among many others, wax poetic about the music explosion that was detonated in the mid-70s. It’s amazing how many survived. And deeply saddening that since this film was made in 2005 we’re down to zero original Ramones.

“Punk is not mohawks and safety pins. It’s an attitude and a spirit, with a lineage and tradition.” Don Letts.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Chillgroove to these 1978 ‘adult contemporary pop’ versions of Sex Pistols and Ramones tunes
04.08.2015
05:45 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Ramones
Paul Jones


 
We recently wrote about Bananarama doing a pop cover of the Sex Pistols’ “No Feelings,” but that cover is absolutely full-on-raging by comparison to this:
 

 
In 1978 RSO Records released this one-off single featuring ex-Manfred Mann singer, Paul Jones, crooning over adult contemporary pop arrangements of the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” and The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”  The “Radio 2 style arrangements” of these songs were considered a piss-take of the original punk motif, but hold their own as legitimate musical expressions of the light pop sound of the day. As punk may have been a reaction to the “soft rock” of the ‘70s, these Paul Jones covers can be seen as a meta “taking it back,” with tongue, we assume, planted firmly in cheek.
 

He did them HIS way.
 
We’re reminded of Pat Boone’s excellent 1997 album, In a Metal Mood—an artifact intended to have some fun sucking the shock out of a rough-and-tough genre, but with an end result that is interesting and well-played within it’s own musical idiom. Not merely a cranked-out goof, it’s clear a great deal of detail-oriented work went into the production of these covers, and particularly with “Pretty Vacant,” we get an insight into what great pop songsmiths the Sex Pistols actually were. One gets the feeling there’s nearly as much homage here as ballbusting.

The Ramones cover is slightly less interesting, mostly due to the sarcastic “out of touch old man” lyric changes in the intro, but the remainder of the track, especially the choruses, have a VERY late-‘70s-terrible-era Beach Boys feel. If you enjoy that sort of thing either ironically or legitimately, you may be impressed with the competence of its arrangement. “Pretty Vacant” is the hit here, though, with its James Taylor-ization of Rotten’s nihilistic lyrics.

Hear the cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Bananarama covering the Sex Pistols might be the punkest thing ever
03.30.2015
05:37 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Bananarama


 
Bananarama, the ‘80s UK female pop vocal group, were famous for their hits “Venus,” “I Heard a Rumor,” “Really Saying Something,” and “Cruel Summer.” Fans of the band’s bouncy bubblegum pop, might be surprised to learn the group once recorded a (completely awesome) Sex Pistols cover on an obscure 1982 soundtrack.

Stylistically, they may have been world’s apart from the UK punk scene, but actually it’s where they got their start.  According to their Wikipedia entry:

The trio were ardent followers of the punk rock and post-punk music scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s and often performed impromptu sets or backing vocals at gigs for such bands as The Monochrome Set, Iggy Pop, The Jam, Department S and The Nipple Erectors.

Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols helped Bananarama get their first record deal. In 1981 the members of Bananarama were living above Jones and Cook’s rehearsal room, and with their help, the group recorded their first demo “Aie a Mwana.” Further Sex Pistols connection came when Malcolm McLaren offered to manage them. McLaren’s proposal of sexually suggestive material did not fit with the group’s tomboyish image, and so Bananarama passed on McLaren’s management—probably a wise decision, as their later string of top ten UK hit singles would attest.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Shitastic 70s cover versions of hits by Bowie, Blondie, Kraftwerk, Sex Pistols, Kate Bush & more
02.11.2015
11:30 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Kraftwerk


 
In the few years before K-Tel and Ronco locked down the market segment dedicated to officially licensed compilations of recent rock and pop hits, there existed a demand for budget LPs with experienced session musicians reverse-engineering.recent hits to the best of their ability. If, as a listener, you are indifferent to craft and just want some recent chart-toppers pulsating through your stereo system, then why not buy an album like that, right? It’s 99% as good and costs less.

The world leader in this peculiar industry was, without much doubt, the “Top of the Pops” series put out by the budget Pickwick label between 1968 and the early 1980s, although their heyday was the mid-1970s. Listening to these tracks today yields an odd variety of delight, like watching a pirated DVD purchased on Canal St. or wearing an obvious knockoff of a Rolex watch.
 

 
As you can see, Pickwick’s strategy was pretty evident: Package together a dozen or so recent radio faves at the barest minimum cost and put a picture of a pretty girl on the cover. To put this into context, according to this affable enthusiast of these “TOTP” LPs, in 1970s England a full-price album cost about £2.10, and a 7-inch single ran 50p apiece. At 75p, the TOTP albums were a fantastic deal, and customers gobbled them up. They came out every six weeks or so.

The series was founded by a producer named Alan Crawford, but he quit after finishing work on Vol. 14 in late 1970. Bruce Baxter took over the project and was responsible for many of the most beloved/scorned volumes, taking care of the next 65 volumes, all the way into 1980. In its Sept. 2000 issue, MOJO Magazine took a look at the beloved old TOTP LPs, and Baxter was interviewed for that piece. These albums were recorded very quickly, usually in a week—Baxter would receive the dozen tracks to be recorded on a Wednesday, he would score the tracks for the session musicians on Thursday; on Friday the recording sessions would begin. By the next Wednesday, “in a state of abject knackeredness” he would deliver the completed tracks to the label. Baxter also mentioned that the session singers on these LPs usually were given no more than a quarter-hour to nail down their vocal track! Wow wow wow, that’s crazy. 

Most of the songs they covered constitute your basic classic treasury of disposable pop treasures. But every now and then they decided to mimic something more special, and the results are predictably jaw-dropping. Examples include David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn,” and the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant.”
 

 
Not all of the imitations are uniformly terrible—you can nod your head in a gesture of strained respect some of the time—but when they start trying to reproduce a dizzying track like Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” that’s when they get into trouble. For sheer awfulness it’s hard to top the Poppers’ versions of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” or Ian Dury’s “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.” The Kraftwerk cover is particularly striking—Baxter told MOJO that it was “very hard,” continuing that “I did it all myself on an ARP2500 synth. It took the best part of the day.”

We’ve embedded six YouTube videos below of these reverse-engineered tracks; I opted to focus on some Dangerous Minds favorites here, like Bowie, Dury, Bush, Blondie, and so forth. But there’s tons more out there, you just have to do a little research, which is very easy (YouTube search string “dancing queen poppers,” et al.). Many of these bizarre tracks are available on Amazon; all you have to do is put in the title and the word “Poppers” or “Top Poppers” and it will come up if it’s available (here’s an example). Here’s a basic general list; I’ve gone to the trouble of linking to Amazon for the six tracks that follow.
 
TOTP “Life on Mars”:

 
TOTP “Wuthering Heights”:

 
More of these sublimely ersatz “hits” after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sex Pistols and Smiths covers are way more fun in Ukrainian
02.10.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Smiths
Ukrainians
Wedding Present


 
Peter Solowka was the founding guitarist for the wonderful UK pop band the Wedding Present, and played with them on their first batch of releases up to and including 1991’s mindblowing and essential Seamonsters, after which he was shown the door. But during his tenure in that band, he was a mover behind one of the band’s more off-the-map projects—a series of Peel Sessions wherein TWP devoted themselves to interpretations of Ukrainian folk songs. That was a short lived phase for the Wedding Present, but it became Solowka’s career. Upon being jettisoned from TWP, he was able to devote his attention to a side project that grew from that Weddoes diversion, the Ukrainians. That band name is about as exactly-what-it-says-on-the-box as band names come: they play traditional Ukrainian folk music amped up with post-punk textures and aesthetic strategies.
 

 
The band’s somewhat narrow concept has proved remarkably durable—they’ve existed for 25 years now, and have not only been recording and releasing music fairly steadily, they are touring the UK in support of a new LP in May. But the works I’m keen to share today are two EPs, released ten years apart, that pay tribute to the music of the Smiths and the Sex Pistols. The Smiths covers EP, 1992’s Pisni iz The Smiths, is great fun while being reverently respectful to the source material. This doesn’t feel cheeky, just really robust. Even the originally dismal “Meat is Murder” kicks ass. Savour the flavour:
 

“Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again)”
 
Plenty more where this came from, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘They wanted to be rock stars’: Crass co-founder disses Sex Pistols and Clash in Positive Force doc
12.16.2014
08:13 am

Topics:
Activism
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Crass
Clash

Positive Force
 
Positive Force is a Washington DC-based activist collective that’s been around since 1985. The documentary, Positive Force: More Than A Witness; 30 Years Of Punk Politics In Action, explores the history of this organization, which often stages benefits with like-minded bands to promote various causes. There’s a wealth of archival performances in the film—including footage of Fugazi playing in front of the White House on the eve of the Gulf War—and this updated edition of the DVD has another 30+ minutes of rare live clips. The documentary also features interviews with such notables as Ian MacKaye, Kathleen Hanna, Jello Biafra, and Dave Grohl, who talks about his first-ever live gig, drumming for the band Scream at a Positive Force benefit.

One of the highlights of Positive Force is the interview with Penny Rimbaud, drummer and co-founder of the UK group Crass. Rimbaud’s band, which existed from 1977-1984, very much influenced the principles of Positive Force. Crass not only put out their own records and were critical of the mainstream, but they were also activists, believing that it wasn’t enough to just sing about social justice, you had to practice what you preached. In the clip, Rimbaud accuses the members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols of not meaning it, man, as he feels their drive to make it as rock stars came before all else.

If you have any interest at all in the history of American punk and/or activism, Positive Force is definitely worth your time. Pick up the new edition of the DVD via PM Press or Amazon.

All right, here’s Mr. Rimbaud:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Mashup fun with Derek Jarman’s 1976 Sex Pistols footage
10.24.2014
04:04 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Derek Jarman
Sex Pistols


 
So I was searching YouTube, like one does, for interesting obscure music stuff to watch (and post to DM, of course), and lo, laid before mine eyes in the related videos column to the right of a Sylvain Sylvain video was “Sex Pistols - 1976 02 14 Butler’s Warph (sic) Earliest Known Footage,” shot by no less a luminary than the legendary underground filmmaker Derek Jarman! Now, for all I know, there may be earlier extant Pistols footage, but one way or the other, I don’t care, as the stuff is captivating. The young band is captured here in its initial burst of brash glory at a time when punk was still too young for its tropes to have become tedious clichés, and a technical happenstance rendered the footage absolutely lovely—as the captions will inform you when you watch it, Jarman shot this on Super-8 film at a nonstandard frame rate, rendering the footage soft, choppy, gauzy, and otherworldly.

When I muted the sound to answer a phone call, I noticed something—absent the Pistols’ music, it kind of reminded me a little of the video for “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by the Sundays. (If you don’t know it, click the link and take a few minutes to check it out, it’s a very pretty pop song that begins to border on shoegaze. It was popular among the 120 Minutes set in 1990, and it holds up quite well.) So suddenly, I was on a mission. I opened some new browser tabs and tried playing a couple dozen shoegaze, indie, dream-pop and post-rock songs along with the silenced Sex Pistols footage.

There are far worse ways to kill an evening.

I found something out rather quickly—there’s such a thing as too slow. Stuff I tried by Slowdive, Mogwai, and Godspeed You Black Emperor just didn’t work well at all. The music that seemed to work most satisfyingly was dense and trippy, but still uptempo. I encourage you to do some searching on your own—and please post your wins in the comments, of course, as I’d love to try them out—but I included some embeds that I liked in the hope that might start things rolling. Oh, and tiresome punk purist fogies getting ready to agonize at me about how HORRIBLY WRONG it is to play a Lush song over this precious heavenly golden dewdrop of rebel history? It’s a bit of fucking fun, lighten the hell up. I MEAN IT, MAAAAAN.

Here’s that Pistols film, to begin with, and a pile of alternate soundtrack options follows. I don’t even have to tell you to try playing them all at once, right?
 

 
It continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Rumpole’ novelist John Mortimer defends Sex Pistols in ‘Bollocks’ trial, 1977


 
Nothing represents the Sex Pistols’ ability to push buttons as well as the choice of the word “Bollocks” to appear in the title of their first record in 1977. Unquestionably vulgar in an in-your-face way, the word was nevertheless not obviously obscene, or “indecent,” to employ the legal terminology used at the time. It was offensive enough that Her Majesty’s Government sought to suppress the display of the word in public—but not offensive enough for that position to carry the day in court. “Bollocks” clearly has some relationship to the word “Balls,” but it’s not a 1:1 relationship—it’s a little like the word “freaking” to substitute for “fucking,” but better and more vivid. Bollocks to that! “Bullshit” would be an a close synonym for American English. It’s the perfectly rude Sex Pistols word.

On Saturday, November 5, 1977, a policewoman named Julie Dawn Storey spotted the Never Mind The Bollocks display in the window of the Virgin Records store in Nottingham. She went inside, confiscated a couple of albums, and informed shop manager Christopher Seale that the appearance of the word “Bollocks” in the display violated the 1899 Indecent Advertising Act. Then she arrested him. For the couple of weeks before the trial, nobody could risk the legality of the album’s name—shop owners were forced to sell the album under the table, and a Pistols’ expensive ad campaign appeared to go to waste because no publications would dare to run it. Naturally all of this had the effect of adding to the Pistols’ reputation as the most controversial band in Britain.
 
Christopher Seale
Christopher Seale and the Sex Pistols’ immortal album art
 
On November 24, 1977, the court convened to rule on the fate of the shop owner, Christopher Seale, and Virgin Records. Defending the Sex Pistols was a fusty-looking chap who didn’t look like he belonged on the same continent as the Sex Pistols, much less the same courtroom. His name was John Mortimer, and by the time of his death at the age of 85 in 2009, his status as one of the most beloved attorneys and novelists in British history would be rock-solid.

Before the “Bollocks” trial, Mortimer’s primary claim to fame as a lawyer was his work on obscenity cases. He successfully defended the publication in Britain of Hubert Selby Jr.‘s Last Exit in Brooklyn in 1968, and three years later lost a similar case involving the scandalous Danish book The Little Red Schoolbook. In 1976, he defended Gay News editor Denis Lemon for the crime of publishing James Kirkup’s poem “The Love that Dares to Speak its Name” against charges of blasphemous libel; Lemon lost the case but it was overturned on appeal.

Although he would achieve much greater fame later, Mortimer had already been a writer of fiction for some years, which may partially explain his interest in obscenity cases. In the 1960s he had written A Voyage Round My Father, an autobiographical play about his relationship with his blind father (also a barrister)—it was later made into a TV movie with Laurence Olivier and Alan Bates. With his wife, Mortimer also wrote the script for Otto Preminger’s 1965 movie Bunny Lake Is Missing. In 1975 Mortimer began his lengthy series of bestselling comic novels revolving around Horace Rumpole.

In 1978, just a year after the Pistols trial, Thames Television launched Rumpole of the Bailey, its immensely popular series about a rumpled—if you will—and principled barrister who defends his clients against the weight of the Crown with everything he’s got. Rumpole was portrayed by Leo McKern, who became synonymous with the role—although DM readers might know him better as the heavy in the Beatles movie Help!.
 
Mortimer and McKern
Mortimer and McKern, in costume as Rumpole
 
As odd a fit as it may seem, Mortimer obviously had impeccable bona fides on free speech cases, which in fact made him a perfect choice to defend the Sex Pistols in court. The website 20thcpunkarchives describes Mortimer’s strategy:
 

John Mortimer raised the question of why Seale was prosecuted for displaying the sleeve while the newspapers that used the same image as an illustration were not. Mortimer continued to outline the history of the term “Bollocks” tracing it back to roots in the Middle Ages. Mortimer continued by bringing in a Professor Kingsley, head of English Studies at local Nottingham University. Kingsley told the court that the term had been used from the year 1,000 to describe a small ball (or things of a similar shape) and that it has appeared in Medieval Bibles, veterinary books and literature through the ages. He also revealed (not surprisingly) that it also served as part of place names throughout the UK. Eyebrows were raised when Kingsley said that the term had been used to describe the clergy of the previous century. In that connotation it was used in a similar fashion as the word rubbish and used to describe a clergyman that spoke nonsense. The defense continued to intimate that perhaps the prosecution was not interested in decency of the word in question but instead were waging war against the band themselves. After making the case clear, the judiciary deliberated for twenty minutes and felt compelled to dismiss all charges against Seale. The Sex Pistols’ cover was ruled as “decent” and set a precedent that would protect other shop owners who displayed the cover.

 
Johnny Rotten had attended the trial wearing a safari hat. As he exited the courtroom, a reporter solicited his comment—I remember hearing about this line when I was in high school, and it tickles me now just as much as it did then. Rotten was quoted as saying:

“Great! Bollocks is legal. Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘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.
 

Setlist:
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 | Leave a comment
Selling the Sex Pistols to Texas
03.24.2014
05:57 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious

1disxesynnhojslotsip.jpg
 
When the Sex Pistols played Dallas in 1978, Sid Vicious told journalist, John Blake that he was “frightened about playing” the city.

“They killed Kennedy there and everybody had warned us that the people are crazy.

“I think there’s a real danger that this is the town where I am going to be blown away.”

Vicious knew how to give good copy, but his “narcissistic attitude” was beginning to piss-off some of his fellow band members. They wanted him to play the songs, rather than plying the star.

As this was the Pistols first tour of America, their US record label, Warner Brothers, was keen to ensure the band’s success—which meant getting as much merchandise out as possible.

In December 1977, Ted Cohen of Artist Development at Warners wrote the following letter putting forward his sales pitch for the Pistols to WEA reps in Texas.
 
slotsipxesrettel111.jpg
 

30 December 1977

Bob Finer &
Paul Sheffield
WEA
1909 Herford Dr.
Irving, TX 75062

Dear Bob & Paul,

On January 10, Warner Bros. recording artists, The Sex Pistols, will be appearing at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. This will be the Pistols first appearance in your area. It is imperative that this appearance be supported to the fullest extent possible, as we are currently attempting to firmly establish Punk/New Wave music as a viable and saleable commodity.

The Sex Pistols are the “ground breakers” of a new musical “turf”. In England they have a following that has manifested itself in both a musical and social lifestyle. They are controversial, they are raw, and they illicit a response from audiences not seen since the early days of the Rolling Stones.

Enough hype; the Pistols can and will be a major act for Warner Bros., but not without your cooperation and support. There are various merchandising aids which will be sent to you under separate cover. Please take full advantage of these materials by obtaining high visibility, window and in-store display space.

I will be in contact with you very soon to discuss marketing and promotional ideas concerning this appearance. Thanks in advance for your help and cooperation.

Regards,

Ted Cohen
Artist Development

TC/deb

cc: Lewis, Nagel, Scott, Regehr, Dennis Young, Gerrity, Thyret, NY Publicity, Merlis, Johnston.

How much promotion the Pistols actually required is difficult to gauge as their reputation preceded them in a big way. Just read the copy for this ad for their Longhorn appearance that aired on Dallas Radio in January 1978:

“They said no one could be more bizarre than Alice Cooper, or more destructive than Kiss…They have not seen the Sex Pistols.

“Tuesday night, Stone City Attractions presents live, the Sex Pistols.

“Banned in their own home country….England’s Sex Pistols, denied admittance to the United States…the Sex Pistols bring the new wave to the Metroplex this Tuesday night, in the Longhorn Ballroom.

“They said it couldn’t happen, but it happens Tuesday night: the Sex Pistols, live.”

As was becoming apparent, a Sex Pistols concert was no longer about the music, but the chaos that ensued. London’s Evening Standard reported the Pistols appearance as “Girl fan punches Vicious on nose”:

Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious were both punched in the face by girl fans as the Sex Pistols performed today deep in the heart of Texas.

Blood poured from Vicious’s face as he was hit on the nose.

Instead of stopping the show the bass player rubbed blood over his face and chest so that he looked like a demented cannibal.

The girl who hit him was 20-year-old Los Angeles student, Lamar St. John.

She said: “I drove thousands of miles to see this show with other friends from L.A. I know Sid likes to get a positive reaction from an audience so I gave him one.

“I hit him as hard as I could in the face. I wanted to make his nose bleed.”

After the attack Vicious spat blood in the faces of Lamar and her friends, but they merely spat back.

According to the paper, the audience also gave Vicious a “positive” reaction, when he shouted:

“You lot are all faggots.”

Or perhaps it was:

All cowboys are queer!”

The audience threw “tomatoes, beer cans, bottles, lighted cigarettes and other rubbish at the band.” Vicious had to be dragged away, as he reportedly tried to attack people in the audience.

Although he contributed next to nothing musically, Sid knew he was stealing Johnny Rotten’s limelight, which was more important to him at that point.

Outside a SWAT were prepped and ready to quash any riotous behavior.

After a blistering version of “Anarchy in the U.S.A.,” the band left the stage, and, surprisingly, the crowd yelled for more.

As the band reappeared for an encore, Sid showed the audience an obscene gesture and Steve yelled, “You must be mad to want more of us!”

In the middle of “No Fun,” Steve confronted a heckler by throwing a couple punches and jabbing him with the headstock of his guitar.

The next morning, the Dallas newspaper read: “Most of the people last night came to see the people who came to see the Sex Pistols.”

And here’s what happened the night The Sex Pistols played the Longhorn Ballroom on Tuesday, January 10, 1978.
 

 
H/T If Charlie Parker was a gunslinger

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Videos from the Glen Matlock/Sylvain Sylvain tour are popping up, and now I’m sad that I skipped it


 
Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain have been on an acoustic tour of the USA together this month. While the idea of an acoustic tour by two punk pioneers, famous for much more cacophonous music than acoustic guitars are generally associated with, might prompt a smirk or two in some circles, they’ve done this together before, and reviews have generally been quite enthusiastic, with much praise for the casual intimacy of the shows, and for Sylvain and Matlock’s easy humor and engaging storytelling. It would seem that with the tour being such a hit, and given the ease of recording such a stripped-down setup, a live album would be in the offing, but Matlock kiboshed the idea in a recent piece in the Michigan entertainment magazine Revue:

When asked whether or not they would be recording any of the shows for sale later, Matlock was more or less pretty sure that wouldn’t be happening.

“We’re just doing it for fun,” Matlock said. “If you want to hear it, you’ve got to come to the show.”

“Well, CRAP,” said this writer, having totally missed the tour’s stop in his city. But the fan videos being posted online tend to shore up the positive consensus. Check out Sylvain at Detroit’s Magic Bag, performing “Teenage News,” a never-recorded Dolls track that he made the lead-off song on his first solo album, posted by rawdetroit:
 

 
Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
John Lydon’s rallying call to youth: ‘Learn how to beat this system intelligently’
02.24.2014
09:48 am

Topics:
Punk
Television

Tags:
Sex Pistols
John Lydon
Public Image Ltd.

nodylnhojlip.jpg
 
It started with a look.

John Lydon was wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt that he had modified to read “I Hate Pink Floyd.” It was this piece of anti-fashion that brought him to the attention of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, owners of the King’s Road boutique SEX.  Malcolm and Vivienne were conjuring up plans for a new band that would fuse fashion and music, and Lydon’s tee-shirt suggested the right kind of attitude the pair were looking for. Lydon was asked to audition for the band, so he mimed to an Alice Cooper number and won the role of lead singer with The Sex Pistols. He looked the part, you might say.

It may have started with a look, but for John it was never about the image, as he later explained to Melody Maker in 1978:

”The rest of the band and Malcolm never bothered to find out if I could sing, they just took me as an image. It was as basic as that, they really were as dull as that.

“After a year of it they were going ‘Why don’t you have your hair this color this year?’ And I was going ‘Oh God, a brick wall, I’m fighting a brick wall!’”

We all know The Sex Pistols, they were “a damned good band,” as Lydon recalls in this interview from That Was Then This Is Now in 1988, ten year’s after the band’s demise.

“And to be quite frank, how right it was we ended when we did, because it would have been really futile to have continued with it. We all knew that…

“When you feel you’re running out of ideas you must stop, and go onto something else, which is precisely what all of us did.

Lydon went on to form Public Image Limited with Keith Levene (guitar), Jah Wobble (bass), and Jim Walker (drums). PiL was “different,” and “experimental without being arty-farty about it.”

Their first release “Public Image,” partly written while Lydon was in the Sex Pistols, dealt with Lydon’s frustration at being only seen for the clothes that he wore. Lydon has always been aware that he is an individual, and as can be seen from his interview on That Was Then This Is Now—love him or loathe him—he has always been consistent in being true to himself, and saying whatever he thinks.

Such honesty makes Lydon good for quotable sound bytes, which fits well with the format of That Was Then This Is Now, where information was served up like the ingredients of a recipe.

For example, he tells us how he moved to America because of police harassment. His home was raided on four separate occasions, his belongings damaged or destroyed, his pet cat killed by overzealous police dogs.

While next, Lydon tells us how he considers himself to be an Englishman, and resents paying his hard-earned cash in taxes to pay for Fergie’s (Princess Sarah Ferguson) frumpy tents.

However, no matter how funny, amusing, insightful and inspiring the answers, having them all cut together, one-after-another, reveals the problem with That Was Then This Is Now: information is arbitrarily doled out as sound bytes, signposted by graphic captions, with no connective structure other than the answers given by the interviewee. It’s a nice research tool, and certainly one for future biographers and archivists, but the form lacks any sense of engagement between the audience and Lydon, as there is no possibility of knowing how rigorously he was questioned about his life or his beliefs.

Of course, there are plenty of highlights, including Lydon’s rallying call to the teenage viewer about intelligence:

“All kids should learn this in school—this is the weapon the Tories use against you.

“They want to keep you stupid. They want to keep you down.

“If you do not learn how to beat this system intelligently, you never will.

That is the only lesson really in life to learn. Period.”

Recorded in 1988, That Was Then This Is Now presented the great, the good and the oh-no of Punk, New Wave and the New Romantics, discussing their musical careers in entertainment.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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