I dig these handmade tights that feature Siouxsie Sioux’s signature eye makeup. There’s no mistaking exactly who those iconic peepers belong to, is there? They’re made by Etsy shop Mass Media and sell for $22.00 each plus shipping.
According to the listing the eyes are only printed on white tights and must be hand washed in cold water and line dried.
This charming set of Christmas ornaments does a wonderful job of letting everyone in your circle know that you love St. Nick—and that the “Nick” in question is Nick Cave. Matthew Lineham designed them, and he’s done a wonderful job of working in “obscure Christmas memories and puns,” as he put it.
Many of his “obscure” references involve network Christmas programming from many decades ago. Siouxsie Sioux is transformed into Cindy Lou Who, the little girl from Whoville in Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Morrissey plays the part of “Snow Mozzer” and “Heat Mozzer,” the memorable characters from the 1974 stop-motion animated Christmas TV special from Rankin/Bass, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Former Oingo Boingo frontman and soundtrack maestro Danny Elfman appears as “Elfman on the Shelfman,” a reference to the 2004 children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. Robert Smith is perched atop Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and DEVO‘s familiar energy dome is cleverly done up as a Christmas tree.
Lineham calls the set “A Very New Wave Christmas” but he has sensibly gone where the name-puns and name recognition will take him rather than obey strict genre definitions. Bowie and Cave might not be your idea of “new wave” icons but they were active in the early 1980s, at least.
You can buy the rubber die cut bendable ornaments for $10 a pop (“Mozzer” pair $15), or $50 for the entire set, a significant discount. However, due to the unexpectedly high demand, Lineham wants purchasers to be aware that any ornaments ordered today will be shipped “sometime between Dec 21st & 31st,” so don’t bank on them being available for this year’s tree—however, there’s always 2017, 2018, 2019, and beyond to think of. These seem unlikely to go out of style anytime soon.
Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
I’m really into these sweet manga illustrations which were published back in the 80s in a Japanese music magazine called 8 Beat Gag. Written in Japanese, most (if not all) are likely by the the rather prolific manga artist Atsuko Shima—but she wasn’t the only artist that created the cartoons that featured popular musical acts in weird situations that Japanese youth were obsessing about.
The fantastic cartoon of Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which may have also been published in 8 Beat Gag, did show up as a surprise insert UK pressings of the band’s last record 1984’s Two Steps From the Move. Which makes me want to hunt a copy down just so I can have one of my own. When it comes to finding copies of 8 Beat Gag, good luck. As when they do pop up (which they occasionally do), they will cost you a tidy sum. The comic featuring The Cure (where Robert Smith Inexplicably morphs into some sort of goth Yeti. Because, Japan), follows in its entirety as well as a few others featuring Siouxsie Sioux going up against Girlschool in some sort of track event involving vegetables, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and 80s New Wavers Ultravox.
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
Photographer Ray Stevenson, the brother of former Sex Pistols’ road manager and early manager of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nils Stevenson (RIP), took some pretty remarkable photos of the punk rock movement back in the mid-70s. Many of his snapshots had punk players like Siouxsie Sioux, Johnny Thunders and fashion designer and icon Vivienne Westwood just hanging out being punks together.
Vivienne Westwood, John Lydon and model/muse Jordan, 1976
Thanks to some convincing from his brother, Stevenson and his camera often found themselves at parties held at the legendary Marquee Club and in Linda Ashby’s hotel room at the St. James Hotel. His images were among a few of the punk time capsules captured by the (then) young photographer showcased at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London just last week. Some of Stevenson’s remarkable photos can be purchased, here. Super snotty and beautifully candid images taken by Stevenson follow.
Johnny Thunders, Nils Stevenson and photographer/manager Leee Black Childers (RIP)
Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash on an elevator
Last week, when DM HMFIC Richard Metzger posted about Robert Smith and Steve Severin’s Siouxsie and the Banshees spin-off the Glove, it set me off on a kick. I’ve waxed rhapsodic on DM, probably more than once, but definitely once that I can specifically remember, about the surpassing excellence of the Banshees lineup with guitarist John McGeoch, also a vet of Magazine, The Armoury Show, and P.I.L. before his untimely alcohol-related death in 2004. When I listen to Siouxsie, it’s almost invariably one of the three albums McGeoch played on—Kaleidoscope, Juju, and A Kiss In The Dreamhouse.
But that’s kind of stupid, given that McGeoch’s tenure in the band was bookended by the two stints enjoyed by the Cure’s moonlighting poo-bah Robert Smith. Weirdly, as influential as both the Cure and the Banshees are/were, Smith doesn’t get a whole lot of accolades as a guitarist. Even Cure devotees know him more for his melancholic singing and his trademark hairsplosion. But the guitar stylings associated with that saturnine strain of UK post-punk that would become known as Goth owed as much to Smith’s deliberate and doleful playing as to the aggressive slashing of Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash, the disquieting Morricone-isms of the Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, or McGeoch’s heavily chorused, layered picking. Check out early Cure songs like “Three Imaginary Boys” or “The Figurehead,” and it’s plain that Smith can wring a lot of emotive impact out of comparatively few notes.
And so, after that post last week about Smith’s excursion in the Glove, I started giving more attention to his time in the Banshees, and in the process I found this fantastic TV footage of Smith during his first Banshees go-round, from the BBC2 show Something Else (I love the “Watch Something Else” banners decorating the set!) in 1979. They perform “Love in a Void” and “Regal Zone” from Join Hands, an album on which neither Smith nor the drummer appearing here, Budgie, actually performed. The prior guitarist and drummer left very shortly after Join Hands’ completion, so Smith and Budgie, a refugee from Big In Japan and the Slits, were recruited to fulfill tour obligations. Budgie went on to stay with the band forever, and even wed Siouxsie, but Smith only stayed in for the duration of the tour (the Cure were the opening act anyway), so his first shift with the band was as an interpretive player. Smith wouldn’t write music with the band or perform on a Banshees album until 1984’s Hyaena, but as this was the transitional phase of the Banshees’ career wherein the band straddled punk and goth, Smith makes an apt fit even though the compositions being played aren’t his.
Also, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the reading of a pretty damn funny letter from an unhappy London viewer who wanted his vigorous opposition to all this “punk” nonsense noted for the record.
I had no idea just how many Siouxsie Sioux makeup tutorials there were on the Internet. There are tons! Since Halloween is looming around the corner, I thought I’d help you get your Siouxsie makeup on with these handy tutorials. Practice makes perfect, right?
Some of these ladies nail it, while others just end up looking like Hot Topic mall goths or “punk” extras in the 1982 CHiPs episode “Battle of the Bands.”
‘New band, new mistakes,’ said Siouxsie Sioux in an after-show interview from this concert of The Banshees at De Meervaart Theater, Amsterdam in 1982.
Siouxsie was describing changes to The Banshees line-up over the previous 4 years, which had seen the arrival of drummer Budgie, and guitarist John McGeoch, joining Siouxsie and 1st Banshee Steven Severin.
As McGeoch explained it was the core dynamic of Severin and Siouxsie that made The Banshees work.
The Banshees were one of the most important and influential bands of the past 30 years, and while so many other bands from the sixties, seventies and eighties are getting back together and taking to the road again, it would be good to see The Banshees regroup, to take their rightful place at the top of the tree.
Sadly, any reunion would be without McGeoch, who died in 2004. McGeoch was classed as a Punk Jimmy Page, and had successful career with Magazine, Visage, The Banshees, and Public Image Ltd. I’ll leave it to McGeoch to describe performing with The Banshees in concert at De Meervaart:
‘It was great, because I felt like I was a teenager again, which was at least 20 years ago - and it’s nice to have memories like that.’
And o, what memories.
02. “Painted Bird”
03. “Arabian Knights”
05. Interview with band
07. “Happy House”
08. “Head Cut”
09. Interview Steven & Siouxsie
10. “Voodoo Dolly”
11. “But Not Them”
12. “Sin in My Heart”
When he moved back to Dundee, Billy Mackenzie didn’t have any recording equipment in his home, and would spend hours in the local ‘phone booth, singing his latest ideas down the line to his record producer. It was typical of the maverick singer and musician whose life ran like a series of connected film scenes, from his early marriage in Las Vegas, to the excesses and glamor of his career as one half (with the prodigiously talented Alan Rankine) of the perfect pop duo The Associates.
Starting out in the mid-1970s, The Associates went on to create a giddy, euphoric soundtrack, around Billy Mackenzie’s incredible voice, which thrilled throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. From the opening chords of “Party Fears Two”, a new world of sensation opened - a world of expectation, excitement, pleasure, hurt and despair - emotions that in time came to reflect Mackenzie’s life.
As their success grew, so did the money (reputedly millions) and drugs (there’s a story of Rankine and Mackenzie being kept on heart monitors for 4 days after ingesting excessive amounts of cocaine), and the fears about performing (a tour of America was canceled days before it was to take place). Rankine eventually quit the band. Mackenzie carried on. Until in the 1990s, the record label were no longer willing to pay for Billy’s unfettered genius. Told of their plans over lunch, Billy only asked for one thing, a taxi home. An account cab was booked, thinking Mackenzie was only returning to his London address, instead he took it all the way back to Dundee, in Scotland.
As Marc Almond points out in this documentary on Mackenzie, The Glamour Chase, Billy must have known genuine heartache to sing with such painful beauty. Tragically, it was such heartache, this time over his mother’s untimely death, that led Billy Mackenzie to commit suicide, at the age of 39, in 1997. Such a terrible loss that revealed the darkness at the heart of The Associates’ music.
With contributions from Alan Rankine, Paul Haig, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Almond, Martin Fry, Glenn Gregory and Billy’s family, The Glamour Chase is a moving testament to the scale of Billy Mackenzie‘s talent.
Happy Birthday Siouxsie Sioux - lead singer and co-founder (along with Steven Severin) of one the most important, brilliant and influential bands of the past 35 years.
Siouxsie was a pioneer in both music and as a role model, breaking down stereotypes and putting women on a par with men, “rather than just objects”. As journalist Jon Savage, once wrote, Siouxsie was “unlike any female singer before or since, commanding yet aloof, entirely modern.”
Siouxsie and The Banshees were, without doubt, the most audacious, artistically creative and musically ambitious band to have arisen out of Punk, who generated their own musical genres from a mix of Pop, Punk and the Avant Garde.
Punk may be long dead, but the interest in its music, ideas and artifacts continues.
Recently over at the Independent, writer Michael Bracewell introduces a selection of photographs by Simon Barker, a former member of the legendary Bromley Contingent, the group of original Punks that included Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, Jordan, Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, Tracie O’Keefe, and Billy Idol. Barker was a participant and witness to some of the key events during the 14 months, in 1976 and 1977, when Punk changed everything - as Bracewell explains:
[Barker’s] photographs share with Nan Goldin’s early studies of the New York and Boston sub-cultures of the 1970s, a profound and joyously audacious sense of youth going out on its own into new freedoms and new possibilities.
In this, Barker’s photographs from this period capture a moment when the tipping point between innocence and experience has yet to be reached. The model and sub-cultural celebrity Jordan, for example, is photographed as a self-created work of art – her features resembling a Picasso mask, her clothes more post-war English county librarian. The provocation of her image remains untamed and unassimilated, nearly 40 years later; and within her surrealist pose there is the triumph of art made in the medium of sub-cultural lifestyle.
Barker/Six was a member of the so-called ‘Bromley Contingent’ of very early followers of The Sex Pistols and the retail and fashion work of McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Other members would include the musicians Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin, and the writer Bertie Marshall, then known as ‘Berlin’ in homage to the perceived glamour and decadence of the Weimar republic. Originating from suburbia, but all determined to leave its security as soon as possible, the Bromley Contingent became the British sub-cultural equivalent, in many ways, of Andy Warhol’s notorious ‘superstars’ – volatile, at times self-destructive or cruelly elitist, but dedicated to a creed of self-reinvention and personal creativity.
It is this creed, as opposed to the swiftly commercialised music of punk, that Barker’s photographs from the period anatomise so well. At once intimate and forensic, austere and camp, documentary and touchingly elegiac, these photographs capture a milieu experiencing a heroic sense of being outsiders – a condition that has always been the privilege of youth, and which has long claimed many victims in its enticing contract with the thrill of taking an oppositional stance.
Read the whole article and see more of Simon’s photographs here.
Simon Barker’s book Punk’s Dead is available here.
The Banshees: Steven Severin, Kenny Morris and John McKay
I first met Peter Boyd Maclean about twenty years ago, when he was about 12, or so it seemed, as he was precociously young and at the same time incredibly wise, and most annoyingly Talented with a capital ‘T’. He had arrived from the ether to work at the Beeb as a top director / producer, having made a splash on that TV earthquake known as Network 7. He was funny, witty and always made work fun. I recall at the time Peter had just “Shot the shit” out of some island to placate his over-zealous exec, who repeatedly demanded “Pictures! Coverage! More pictures! More coverage!” every 10 minutes by ‘phone, fax and pigeon post. Since then m’colleague, has gone on to greater achievements and awards and hairstyles of interesting description.
He also made this rather super documentary on Punk, 1-2 FU with Jonathan Ross taking a personal odyssey through the music of his youth. It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K.”
Now here’s more of the same from the official blurb:
Jonathan Ross presents the ‘Memoirs of a Middle-Aged Punk’ in this authored documentary charting the rise and demise of the most nihilistic movement in the history of British music.
Jonathan delivers a fast and furious rant confessing his passion for punk and the lasting effect it’s had on everything, from music and fashion to art and television.
As a forty-something whose life has been defined by punk and all the anarchy it stood for, Jonathan sets out to discover if punk really changed the world or was it all overblown hype?
To fully explore the legacy of punk, Jonathan gets a Mohican and grabs Captain Sensible to join him as he transports an open-top bus full of punks on a tour around London’s most notorious punk hotspots.
Finally, it’s Jonathan Ross as you’ve never seen him before when he fulfils his ultimate punk fantasy performing with Vic Reeves as The Fat Punks for one night only.