A year on from the release of The Sex Pistols first single “Anarchy in the U.K.” and their infamous appearance on the Today show, Steve Jones and Paul Cook gave their first interview to Australian television.
Lest we forget, it was Jones, more than Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious, who launched the Pistols into the headlines with his stream of abuse at TV presenter Bill Grundy, and certainly without Cook’s disciplined drums and Jones’ era-defining guitar (together with Glen Matlock‘s bass) and their song-writing talents Never Mind the Bollocks would have been a much lesser album.
In this interview from 1977, Jones and Cook talk about the Pistols’ back history, records, and their appearance on the Today show:
Jones: If someone wants an argument, you give them an argument back, don’t ya? He started it. He said, “Go on, you got another 5 seconds.”
Cook: What did you say, Steve?
Jones: I fucking gave him a load of abuse. He asked for, didn’t he? It was pretty funny. It’s like, you know, they put all that on the front-fucking-page for all that. Just for swearing on television. Stupid.
Cook: We forgot about the whole thing, a couple of hours after, we didn’t expect nothing to happen from it.
Chuck Berry interviewed by punk zine Jet Lag in 1980. Berry shares his thoughts about “what the kids are listening to these days.”
The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”:
What’s this guy so angry about anyway? Guitar work and progression is like mine. Good backbeat. Can’t understand most of the vocals. If you’re going to be mad at least let the people know what you’re mad about.
The Clash’s “Complete Control”:
Sounds like the first one. The rhythm and chording work well together. Did this guy have a sore throat when he sang the vocals?
The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”:
A good little jump number. These guys remind me of myself when I first started, I only knew three chords too.
The Romantics’ “What I Like About You”:
Finally something you can dance to. Sounds a lot like the sixties with some of my riffs thrown in for good measure. You say this is new? I’ve heard this stuff plenty of times. I can’t understand the big fuss.
Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”:
A funky little number, that’s for sure. I like the bass a lot. Good mixture and a real good flow. The singer sounds like he has a bad case of stage fright.
Wire’s “I Am the Fly” and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures:
So this is the so-called new stuff. It’s nothing I ain’t heard before. It sounds like an old blues jam that BB and Muddy would carry on backstage at the old amphitheatre in Chicago. The instruments may be different but the experiment’s the same.
I miss Tony Wilson. I miss the idea of Tony Wilson. Someone who had an enquiring mind and was full of intelligent enthusiasms, like Tony Wilson. And who also didn’t mind making a prat of himself when he got things wrong. Or, even right.
I met him in 2005 for a TV interview. He arrived on a summer’s day at a small studio in West London. He wore a linen suit, sandals, carried a briefcase, and his toenails were painted a rich plum color - his wife had painted them the night before, he said.
Wilson was clever, inspired and passionate about music. He talked about his latest signing, a rap band, and his plans for In the City music festival before we moved onto the Q&A in front of a camera. He could talk for England, but he was always interested in what other people were doing, what they thought, and was always always encouraging others to be their best. That’s what I miss.
You get more than an idea of that Tony Wilson in this compilation of the best of his regional tea-time TV series So It Goes. Wilson (along with Janet Street-Porter) championed Punk Rock on TV, and here he picks a Premier Division of talent:
Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunder, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine….. The tape fails there!
The uploader ConcreteBarge has left in the adverts “for historical reference” that include - “TSB, Once, Cluster, Coke is it, Roger Daltery in American Express, Ulay, Swan, Our Price, Gastrils, Cluster & Prestige”.
So, let’s get in the time machine and travel back for an hour of TV fun.
As part of the The Sex Pistols brief and notorious tour of the America (mostly through the South), one of the venues they played was Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they got a decidedly less than warm welcome. In this entertaining and fascinating video, several Tulsa locals who were involved in the Pistols’ show reminisce on what it was like to be in the middle of the punk rock tornado that touched down on T-Town one night in 1978.
Bliss was the opening act for The Pistols at Cain’s. A longhaired rock band with more in common with REO Speedwagon and Kansas than punk, one can only imagine what Mr. Rotten and the boys thought of this extremely odd pairing.
One of the more interesting outcomes of The Pistols’ performance at Cain’s was that it prompted the club to expand its booking policy from mostly country and western and classic rock to include punk and new wave. Cain’s is currently one of the best music venues in the USA and there’s an argument to be made that The Pistols helped trigger the evolution of the joint from something conventional into something much more adventurous.
Another thing I like about this video is the complete and utter coolness of the men being interviewed. They recognize that they didn’t quite “get” The Pistols back in 1978, but are more than willing to give the Brit punkers credit for bringing some much-needed change to rock ‘n’ roll and I think they respect the balls it took for Lydon and company to do it on such hostile turf.
The video is nicely done by the folks at This Land Press. Your host: Lee Roy Chapman.
Live footage of The Pistols at Cain’s after the jump…
Who Killed Bill? is a Sex Pistols for Dummies, bargain-bin video, consisting of a mixed collection of original archive news stories (mainly culled from London Weekend Television) and documentary footage, which tells the rise, demise, and return of the legendary band. It’s worth watching for the first fifty minutes or so, before the film veers off into a section on Vivienne Westwood’s fashion, then returning for the Filthy Lucre tour of 1996, and then beyond.
As it’s all original TV archive, there are some classic moments, including the early Janet Street-Porter interviews with the Pistols, and then with Lydon after his spilt, as well as coverage of the public’s fury for the band, and one disgruntled councillor who riffs off a long list of adjectives to describe his distaste for Punk Rock, before finishing with:
“Most of these groups would be improved by sudden death.”
There is also sections on Sid and Nancy the tragic couple and Alex Cox’s film. What’s quite startling is how The Pistols all look so young, and Lydon comes across as a shy, tense, nervous individual who seems ill at ease with his celebrity, describing its affects:
“It ain’t the person who changes, it’s people’s attitude towards them.”
Sadly, no classic tracks, just bogus lift muzak interpretations of a rhythmic Punk guitar. And the Bill of the title is, of course, Bill Grundy, he of the infamous launch-pad, “Filth and Fury” interview.
It’s been described as one of the most important gigs of all time, one that saw hundreds, even thousands of people claim they were there. In truth only around 30-40 people saw The Sex Pistols perform at the Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4, 1976. But of those who did, most went onto form a generation of legendary bands - The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Smiths.
Also, allegedly in the audience were such future ambassadors of taste as Anthony H. Wilson, who would co-found Factory Records and the Hacienda nightclub, and nascent journalist/writer Paul Morley.
Culturally, it was an event akin to the storming of the Bastille, for it unleashed a revolution.
I Swear I Was There tells the story of that now legendary night, and talks to the people whose lives were changed by The Sex Pistols.
England: Thirty-five years on from Punk, and what the fuck has changed? The Queen is still on her throne. Celebrations are underway for another jubilee. The police continue to be a law unto themselves. The tabloid press peddles more smut and fear. The Westminster government is still centered on rewarding self-interest. And Johnny Rotten is a popular entertainer.
The promise of revolution and change was little more than adman’s wet-dream. All that remains is the music - the passion, the energy, the belief in something better - and that at least touched enough to inculcate the possibility for change.
Raw Energy - Punk the Early Years is a documentary made in 1978, which details many of the players who have tended to be overlooked by the usual focus on The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Here you’ll find Jordan (the original not the silicon pin-up and author) telling us, “it’s good females can get up on stage and have as much admiration as the male contingent”; the record execs explaining their dealings with The Pistols, The Clash, The Hot Rods and looking for the “next trend”; a young Danny Baker, who wrote for original punk magazine Sniffin Glue, summing up his frustration with “all you’re trained for is to be in a factory at the end of 20 years, and that’s the biggest insult…”; the comparisons between Punk and Monterey; the politics; the violence against young punks; and what Punk bands were really like - performances from The Slits, The Adverts, Eddie and The Hot Rods, X-Ray Spex, and even Billy Idol and Generation X.
This Dutch TV documentary from 1977 captures some brilliant performances by The Stranglers, Blondie and The Sex Pistols. The bands are firing on all cylinders as they perform in Amsterdam.
In 1977, this is what was moving my world. I had just arrived in New York City and I felt like a sail in a hurricane. Slept all day and hit the clubs at night to see a rock revolution in the making.
The Stranglers at the Second Avenue Theater were particularly awe-inspiring. Unsung heroes of rock and roll, which is probably as it should be - no more heroes. Though, I have my share.
The Stranglers - No More Heroes, Something Better Change
Blondie - Detroit 442, Love at the Pier
Sex Pistols - E.M.I., Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the UK
The video quality is pretty rough, which seems appropriate - like an underground transmission from the distant past. It’s also in Dutch without English substitles, but it hardly matters. The music speaks for itself.
According to editors at Record Collector magazine a rare recording of The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” has gone on sale for $16,000 (£10,000).
It is said the A&M recording of the song is the most valuable piece of vinyl in the world, because the band was dropped by the label before the track’s release, and the bulk of copies were destroyed. The disc is on sale at 9991.com, where it is described as:
“SEX PISTOLS God Save The Queen (Well, this certainly shouldn’t need any introduction. Quite simply, a MINT unplayed copy of the legendary withdrawn 1977 UK original A&M 7” b/w No Feelings, in the A&M company sleeve. Obtained from an ex-industry source with impeccable credentials, this is not only one of the rarest records in existence but is certainly the most sought after and no serious record collection is complete without it, regardless of your thoughts on the band or indeed the music itself. A period piece of punk/musical/social/history. I hope this goes to someone who will love and cherish it as much as i would. Be quick before the original reluctant seller wants to buy it back…).”
When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Top of the Pops was essential, nay compulsory viewing. You see, for a certain age group TOTP was the only music show on British TV. Yes, there was the excellent Old Grey Whistle Test with “Whispering” Bob Harris, which had Zappa, The New York Dolls, Deep Purple and alike, but that went out long after sundown and well past most young uns bedtimes. It would really take until the arrival of the pop promo for music shows to become ubiquitous, which meant back in the days of mop tops, glitter and platform boots, Top of the Pops was King.
Top of the Pops was the BBC’s legendary, Top 40 chart run-down show. It ran between 1964 and 2006, when it was pulled by the Beeb bosses due to a lack of viewers or, too much competition - depending who you read. It was an inevitable demise for music had changed after Rave, and the diversity and choice available meant what most youngsters listened to was rarely reflected by a show centered around the record sales of bland and talentless groups squeezed out by music industry execs.
Moreover, because TOTP was a chart run down show, you were likely to see David Bowie in the same studio as The Osmonds or, The Sex Pistols on the same show as Hot Chocolate. Even so, there was always moments to treasure from Jimi Hendrix, to Bowie’s “Starman”, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, The Smiths with a gladioli-waving Morrissey singing “This Charming Man”, to Blondie “Dreaming”.
And yes, there was The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Move and so on, right up to The Damned, The Jam, Marc Almond, and even Nick Cave. But for all the great and the good, there was always a lot of shit. Something that is more than apparent in this 2-hour compilation of forty years of Top of the Pops. It’s an odd mix with some great, and some inexcusable songs, and a lot of brilliant ones missing. Yet, for all the good, the bad and the ugly, it does tell a story of how music has changed for better and worse over the past four decades.
Top of the Pops 40th Anniversary 1964 - 2004
1964: Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas - “Little Children”
1965: Sandie Shaw - “Long Live Love”
1966: The Seekers - “The Carnival Is Over” (Performance was from 1965)
1967: Procol Harum - “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
1968: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - “Fire”
1969: The Hollies - “Sorry Suzanne”
1970: Free - “All Right Now”
1971: T.Rex - “Get It On”
1972: Roxy Music - “Virginia Plain”
1973: Slade - “Cum on Feel the Noize”
1974: The Three Degrees - “When Will I See You Again”
1975: Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)”
1976: The Real Thing - “You to Me Are Everything”
1977: Queen - “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”
1978: The Jam - “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”
1979: Ian Dury & The Blockheads - “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”
1980: Adam and the Ants - “Ant Music”
1981: The Human League - “Don’t You Want Me”
1982: Culture Club - “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”
1983: UB40 - “Red Red Wine”
1984: Wham! - “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
1985: Eurythmics - “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”
1986: Pet Shop Boys - “West End Girls”
1987: Bee Gees - “You Win Again”
1988: Yazz And The Plastic Population - “The Only Way Is Up”
1989: Lisa Stansfield - “All Around the World”
1990: Sinéad O’Connor - “Nothing Compares 2 U”
1991: Seal - “Crazy”
1992: Stereo MCs - “Connected”
1993: New Order - “Regret”
1994: Blur - “Parklife”
1995: Take That - “Back for Good”
1996: Oasis - “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
1997: Spice Girls - “Wannabe”
1998: Manic Street Preachers - “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”
1999: Ricky Martin - “Livin La Vida Loca”
2000: Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Spiller - “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”
2001: Texas - “I Don’t Want a Lover”
2002: Status Quo - “Rockin’ All Over The World”
2003: The Darkness - “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
2004: Michael Andrews Featuring Gary Jules - “Mad World”
The student riot is a great British tradition. From Oxford’s St Scholastica Day, on February 10 1355, when a couple of undergraduates complained about the quality of beer served in their local hostelry, leading to an all out battle that left sixty-three students and thirty locals dead. Through to 1968, when plucky youngsters attacked the American Embassy over the Vietnam War, with eighty-six people injured and over two-hundred arrested. To the Poll Tax Riots with its famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1990, which left 113 injured, and 339 arrested.
Today in London, Britain’s great students have been protesting against the triple hike in tuition fees, leading to running battles with the police, vandalism of property and an attack on a car containing HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, as the Daily Telegraph reports:
Demonstrators kicked the Rolls-Royce as it travelled to the Royal Variety Performance in central London. White paint and bottles were thrown over the car and a window shattered.
The Prince and Duchess were “unharmed” and continued with their engagement at the London Palladium, a Clarence House spokesman said.
The attack occurred on Regent Street at the end of a day of protest that turned into a riot and left 10 police officers injured, six of them seriously.
Matthew Maclachlan, who witnessed the attack on the Prince’s car, said: “The police cars at the front of the convoy drove straight into crowds at the top of Regent Street. They got trapped in that mob and it meant that Charles and Camilla were on their own further down the road except for a Jaguar travelling behind them.
“Charles and Camilla’s car ran into such a concentration of people that it had to stop. It was stationary for a lot of the time, then would squeeze forward an inch. They had just one bodyguard in the car with them and a chauffeur.
“We couldn’t believe it. The car had really big windows so Charles was very much on display. People were trying to talk to him about tuition fees at first but when more people realised what was happening, the crowds swelled and people were throwing glass bottles and picking up litter bins and throwing them at the car. You could hear all this smashing.
“There was one protection officer in the Jaguar behind, dressed in a tuxedo, and he was opening the car doors and using them to bash people away. His car took a real pummelling.”
No, not quite anarchy in the UK, but good to see students carrying on a great tradition, which gives me an excuse to blast this olde favorite.
Last month in London, it was announced that the legendary 100 Club was to close after sixty-eight years of promoting live music in the same location at 100 Oxford Street. The venue was originally a restaurant called Mack’s, and live music first played there, when British jazz drummer, Victor Feldman’s father hired the venue for a regular Sunday night showcase, to promote the talents of his sons and their bands. Gradually word spread of a new jazz haunt, and it soon became the hot spot for British servicemen and visiting American G.I.‘s. Amongst the early performers to play at the venue were Glen Miller, Ray McKinley, Mel Powell and Peanuts Hucko.
By 1948 the venue was called the London Jazz Club and it was the centre for Jitterbug, Swing and then Be-Bop as well as promoting new forms of music. The Feldmans then gave up ownership and the Wilcox brothers took over the now thriving club. In the 1950s, the lease changed hands again and it was taken over by Lyn Dutton, agent for popular jazz trumpeter, Humphrey Lyttleton, who renamed the venue to the Humphrey Lyttelton Club, giving Lyttelton residency. The club scored a major coup when Louis Armstrong played there in 1956, and it later became the venue for Trad Jazz throughout the 1950s.
With the arrival of The Beatles in 1963, British music changed, and the club was given over to the next generation, and renamed the 100 Club. The policy was still the same - a venue to promote new music. Soon the 100 Club was spearheading the R’N'B scene with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and B. B. King all taking to the stage, along with new acts such as Rod Stewart, Alexis Korner, Julie Driscoll, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Animals. The rise of Beat music brought in The Who, the Kinks, The Pretty Things and The Spencer Davis Group.
The success of the Sixties was but a memory by the 1970s began, as the club struggled through a variety of work-to-rule measures and energy black-outs enforced by the government of the day. This all changed when the 100 Club launched the first festival of Punk:
On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st September 1976 the 100 Club was host to the first ever Punk Rock Festival. Seen for the first time, certainly in London, on the 100 Club stage were the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie & The Banshees the Buzzcocks the Vibrators and Subway Sect. No one outside of a select few had heard of any of the them and all of them were unsigned. The Melody Maker’s opening line of its review stated ‘The 600 strong line that stretched across two blocks was indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin.’ It was to be one of the most famous events in the club’s history. The Punk festival of ‘76 also had an enormous effect on music in general. It changed the club’s fortunes and its image indefinitely. As no other venue wanted to put on Punk at all, it stayed at the club on and off for the next eight or nine years incorporating its second wave with bands like U.K.Subs, G.B.H., ADX, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, The Exploited and Discharge. The 100 Club is still the spiritual home of the Punk movement.
At the same time the 100 Club was also promoting Reggae, with Steel Pulse and The Might Diamonds, and Northern Soul, with Terry Callier, Doris Troy, The Flirtations and Tommy Hunt.
In 1980s, African Jazz / Township Music became the focus for the club:
Julian Bahula, the distinguished African drummer, decided to run a regular Friday night featuring authentic African bands. Many of the musicians he employed were political refugees isolated from their South African homeland because of the apartied laws and were members of the outlawed A.N.C. The weekly Friday nights became a whole movement for change and with the pulsating music on offer a whole new genre in the 100 Club‘s history was born. Great African musicians like Fela Kuti, Marion Makeba and Hugh Masekela appeared on the Friday night bill as did Youssou N’Dour, Thomas Mapfumo, Dudu Pukwana and Spirits Rejoice. It ran for almost ten very successful years until the release of Nelson Mandela, then the change in the political climate in South Africa meant the cause was over.
1992 was to see the start of the biggest era in popular music at the club since 1976. The club was once again going through a lean spell when a chance phone call from concert promoter, Chris York, inquired whether the club would be interested in showcasing one of his new bands. The band were called Suede and in September 1992 they kicked off the club’s successful period in Indie music.
Over the next four years Oasis, Kula Shaker, Echobelly, Catatonia, Travis, Embrace, Cornershop, The Aloof, Heavy Stereo and Baby Bird would be just a few of the names to play the club and right up to the present day, the club has seen gigs from Semisonic, Toploader, Muse, Shack, Doves, JJ72, Jo Strummer, Squarepusher, Ocean Colour Scene and The Webb Brothers.
Now, the venue that has been at the heart of new music in the U.K. since 1942 is about to close, and a campaign has been set up to Save the 100 Club. As the club has been in difficulty for a wee while (for various reasons), £500,000 has to be raised by November. If you are interested in saving the 100 Club or have a spare half-million to spend or just ten quid, then get in touch and be part of history.
If the money is raised, the club will stay open as a non-profit organisation, with its new owners being the donors. A Board of Trustees would be democratically elected by the donors to run the venue, and “your donation would entitle you to an equal say in these decisions, whether you are able to pay £10.00 or £10,000.” the ultimate aim is:
..restore the venue as a place where new bands can develop and existing bands can continue to thrive.
Look at it this way, if the 100 Club shuts down, your venue could be next.
Without a place for musicians to play live, the future of music will be in the hands of the karaoke-singing, bastard children of Simon Cowell’s X-Factor and American Pop Idol. Hyperbole aside - seriously. The choice is ours which way it goes.
Bonus Clips of The Sex Pistols and The Clash after the jump…
In The Conversation, Gene Hackman’s character, Harry Caul used an Ampex AG-350 and German-made UHER units to bug unsuspecting couples. The UHERs were similar to those used during the Nixon administration to bug the Oval Office. Bugging is more ubiquitous than we think, for example, though cinema may try and convince pay-phones are the best place to make that discreet call, they are regularly bugged by intelligence agencies. This was particularly true for the UK and Northern Ireland during the 1970s, when covert surveillance was carried out on paramilitary organizations, those of certain political affiliation, union leaders, Communist Party members and even John Lennon and The Sex Pistols. It therefore must have come as quite a shock to the powers that be, when it was disclosed MI5 had bugged the Prime Minister’s office, at 10 Downing Street, for 15 years.
Over at the Phantom Museum there is an impressive on-line collection of 117 reel-to-reel recorders and 50 microphones, plus an extensive history of reel-to-reel and recording advertising from the late 1800s to present day.
The Museum was established by Martin Theophilus, who has been involved in audio production since 1964, and now runs the multi-media company Phantom Productions. Theophilus says the on-line Museum, “is for people who want to look back and see how recording has evolved.”
...recorders were in use as early as 1877 but that the Edison Player, which initially sold for $20 (cylinders were 35 cents), was the first device available to the public. The Edison machine etched microphone vibrations into grooves on spinning wax cylinders. Historically, recorders have used wire, vinyl and other materials.
Theophilus said that commercial and private use of reel-to-reel magnetic tape to record sound, a technique first developed by the Germans during World War II, began in California in 1946 where two captured German machines were reassembled.
The vintage reel-to-reels in Theophilus’ collection were primarily used by singers, musicians and song writers who could not afford to hire professional recording studios.
Beginning in 1948, when portable reel-to-reel machines became available to cash poor artists, they used them to make demos. The demos were distributed to help the artists get jobs. By 1955, portable reel-to-reel recorders, such as the Ampex, reproduced a sound as good as the products of recording studios.