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Rude (but politely introspective) boys: The secret early life of Tears for Fears
05.23.2017
12:20 pm
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Graduate, with Tears for Fears founders Roland Orzabal (pictured bottom left) and Curt Smith (at the top left).
 
If you are a child of the 80s the English band Tears for Fears and the slew of monster hits that they put out during the decade probably still randomly get stuck in your head from time to time. I mean the minute you hear the twinkling notes that open 1985’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” your mind is probably transported back to images of the video for the song that was seemingly on infinite repeat on MTV. Even if 80s cable TV wasn’t the stomping ground of your youth, the likelihood that you know a few numbers from the Tears for Fears catalog is still highly probable. However, what if I told you that before Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal ruled the world by way of ridiculously catchy pop music, they were in a new wave ska band called Graduate with Orzabal on vocals? I’m pretty sure most people would have a deep, contemplative moment of “huh?” and then would want to see and hear proof. And if that’s what you want then today is your lucky day, rude boys and girls because I’ve got footage of Graduate performing on a Spanish television show in 1980 about a year before the duo became Tears for Fears.

Below is footage of Graduate performing three different songs, “Acting My Age,” “Bad Dreams,” and the insanely catchy “Elvis Should Play Ska” which is a bouncy homage to Elvis Costello, not the American guy. The band would put out only one album in 1980 with Pye Records (which was home to The Kinks and Status Quo in the 60s and early 70s), Acting My Age. A second record was shelved after both Orzabal and Smith left the band, but everything the band did during their short time together can be found on a remaster of Acting My Age from 2001 that also includes other rarities. I have to say that whenever Orzabal and the band get going with their special brand of “skanking,” I don’t ever want it to stop. Vinyl copies of Graduate’s debut record are rare and even a sealed compact disc of Acting My Age I found on eBay was listed at $199.99, just in case you were curious. Lastly, if you never got to see Tears for Fears back in the day, the band is currently on tour with Hall and Oates.
 

The fantastic cover of ‘Acting My Age.’
 

“Elvis Should Play Ska.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.23.2017
12:20 pm
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Meet ‘The Fred Banana Combo’ Germany’s first new wave punks
12.02.2016
08:56 am
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While the name of Düsseldorf band The Fred Banana Combo might sound more like something you’d come across in a bargain bin at your local record shop, don’t let their amusing moniker fool you as it appears the somewhat obscure band was responsible for releasing what has often been classified as “the very first independent punk/new wave single” to come out in Germany in 1978. The single contained two hot tracks, “No Destination Blues” and the in-your-face “Jerk off All Night Long.”

The band were one of many that played legendary Düsseldorf punk club the Ratinger Hof in the 80s, which also served as a rehearsal place for the band. The Ratinger Hof was a mecca for up and coming punk bands, many who gained a foothold thanks to the The Hof’s fertile breeding ground. Discovered by Krautrock king Conny Plank (who would produce the band’s first four records) Fred Banana’s sound, much like Plank’s, is rather unique. Purely punk at times FBC enjoyed infusing their sound up with new wave and power pop with most of their jams punching out in less than three minutes. The band’s first full-length album, 1981’s FBC was fast, loud and rowdy and when combined all eighteen tracks on the record clock in at just over 30 minutes. Like a lot of bands trying to cut their teeth FBC was fond of doing covers and have recorded a few great ones including Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and “Runaway” by Del Shannon. Both songs feature the fantastic vocals of FBC’s Nicolle Meyer—formerly the muse of influential French photographer and Man Ray protégé Guy Bourdin. The multi-talented Ms. Meyer also doubled as the timekeeper for FBC.
 

 
FBC were no more by the late 80s only to return with their original lineup in 2015 and a new record containing eleven fresh songs. One of them, the devastatingly cool “Splinters”  features the guest vocals of Sara Jay of Massive Attack fame. The Best of The Old Shit and The New Shit also contains twenty tracks from the band’s back catalog as well as a DVD featuring FBC appearances on Rockpalast. I’ve included two FBC live performances from 1980, their excellent cover of “Bird on a Wire,” plus the original song “I Don’t Know,” as well as “No Destination Blues” and “Splinters” for you to listen to below. I would have posted the masterfully weird “Jerk Off All Night Long” but it came along with lots of photos of topless ladies which while they pair perfectly with the songs title, was a little too visually stimulating to post here on a family publication like DM. You can “listen” to it here whenever you’re needing some alone time.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.02.2016
08:56 am
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1980s footage from a California new wave synthpop club is mesmerizing and awesome
09.20.2016
12:47 pm
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Isabella Ibarra at the Southeast Career Technical Academy deserves a big round of applause for these excellent compilations she put together featuring the patrons of the Stratus Dance Club in the San Diego area (actually Spring Valley) in 1986 and 1987 dancing their asses off.

This was East County, and Stratus was an all-ages club that catered heavily to the new romantic and goth crowds—these videos are all labeled “The Metro Beat and Club Sanctuary Nights” which was surely a regular rendezvous for the new wavers in the area. Jane’s Addiction actually played Stratus right during this period, in the spring of 1987.

This reminds me of the footage taken at the Xclusiv nightclub in Batley in 1984 we posted a while back. So what’s on the turntable—or CD player? Well, the clips start us off with the Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary,” there’s a good deal of Divine (I caught both “Shake It Up” and “Native Love (Step by Step)”) and Sexual Harassment (”I Need a Freak”) and Strawberry Switchblade’s version of “Jolene” and Trans-X (”Living on Video”) alongside more enduring faves like Blondie and New Order.

Spot the folks with chewing gum, it’s a sure sign of ecstasy use….

Continues after the jump, including a surprise appearance by Pee-wee Herman…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.20.2016
12:47 pm
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A Covers Album: Front covers of New York Rocker, 1976-1982
07.26.2016
09:44 am
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001New-York-Rocker-1.jpg
 
The New York Rocker was a punk/new wave magazine founded by Alan Betrock in February 1976. It was produced by a dedicated, tight-knit group of young men and women—a “remarkable breed” of contributors—who had a passion for music that was outside the mainstream. They wrote feisty, opinionated reviews. They took their subject matter seriously, giving it the respect the well-financed music press gave to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Eagles or any other stadia-filling corporate-backed band. The New York Rocker was hugely influential early on in identifying and promoting American indie rock.

A total of 54 issues were published between 1976 and 1982 when the magazine folded. It was briefly revived in 1984 but never achieved the same success.

Just looking at these covers for New York Rocker there’s a great sense of the history and in particular the incredibly high quality of new music that came out of punk and new wave each week during the late 1970s and early 1980s—the likes of which we may never see again.
 
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More covers from the New York Rocker, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.26.2016
09:44 am
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Punk Under Reagan: Texas in the 80s
01.13.2016
12:45 pm
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A scenester named Kevin Johnson (in the white glasses) dancing in the crowd at The Island in Houston, Texas 1982
A scenester named Kevin Johnson (in the white glasses) dancing in the crowd at The Island in Houston, Texas 1982
 
Houston-based photographer Ben DeSoto has been snapping photos in and around his nativeTexas for four decades. Back in the early 80s, DeSoto ended up interning as a photographer for the Houston Post. One of his favorite assignments was getting to take photos at a new club called The Island in Houston. Or, according to his editor, the place where they play that “new fangled” punk rock music. A place that already become a home away from home for the young DeSoto. The photos he took went on to become part of a documentary series called, Punk Under Reagan.
 
Female hardcore fans up in front of the stage at a Circle Jerks show in Houston, early 1980s
Female hardcore fans in front of the stage at a Circle Jerks show in Houston, early 1980s
 
Fans waiting for the Alien Sex Fiend show at Axiom, late 80s
Fans waiting for the Alien Sex Fiend show at The Axiom in Houston, Texas, late 80s
 
The Axiom in Houston, Texas back in the day
The Axiom in Houston
 
DeSoto has said that the experience of taking photos for the Post made him feel “uncomfortable in a comfortable way,” and I’m sure a large number of you reading this remember exactly what that felt like. Luckily for us, DeSoto soldiered on and came away with candid images that allow the viewer to step inside long-gone clubs like The Island, The Axiomand Raul’s in Austin, along with other spots whose walls attempted to contain performances by national acts like Fugazi, Black Flag and Nirvana, and the collective beer-soaked enthusiasm of Houston’s hooligan youth.
 
A punk band on the stage of Raul's in Austin, Texas, 1980
“The Next” onstage at Raul’s in Austin, 1980
 
Punks getting down at The Island in Houston, Texas 1982
Punks getting down at The Island in Houston, Texas 1982
 
Devo fans hanging out in Houston, 1980s
DEVO fans hanging out in Houston
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.13.2016
12:45 pm
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DEVO, Blondie, Talking Heads, Klaus Nomi on ‘20/20’ segment on New Wave, 1979
09.03.2015
12:45 pm
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At DM we often poke fun at impossibly stiff or clueless news reporting on the music of the past, but sometimes you run across a piece of news coverage that is much better than it has any right to be. In that category falls this detailed segment from ABC’s 20/20 on the rise of new wave music that aired in December 1979—impressively astute for a news segment on new music from one of the major TV networks. It was written by Thomas Hoving, whose primary competence lay in the world of high art, so he deserves extra credit for being able to assess new impulses in popular music in an intelligent way.

The piece links the new wave impulse with the recent stirrings of punk while also making sure to find precursors in figures of the past such as Buddy Holly. (DEVO’s cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is, naturally, enlisted to make plain these appropriations of the past.) The segment features live footage of Blondie, the Clash, and Talking Heads—it takes an effort of will to remember how weird David Byrne, here singing “Psycho Killer,” must have seemed to a mainstream audience in 1979. The reporting emphasizes the simple chord structures, youthful exuberance, and a stance of general skepticism as integral to the movement, such as it is.

Joe Strummer is shown in an unflattering clip, while Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison idiotically compares the fresh air of new wave music to Beethoven. Remarkably, the piece ends with a look at Klaus Nomi, before Hugh Downs avuncularly cites the 1958 Danny & the Juniors hit “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.”

The report, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.03.2015
12:45 pm
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ZE Records - the Sound of New York City


 
Are there any readers of Dangerous Minds in France? If you do live there, then I would recommend getting your hands on the next edition of the well known rock magazine Les Inrockuptibles, which comes with a free cover mount CD featuring the best of the renowned post-punk and mutant disco label ZE Records.

ZE has been a longtime favourite label of mine, since I first started getting deeper into collecting disco and realised not all of the genre was dripping cheese with a boner for a chart placing. The releases were smart, weird, original, sleazy, camp, funny and funky as hell. The records came in a distinctive sleeve featuring the label’s iconic logo and a graphic featuring a New York City taxi cab. You didn’t even have to listen to tell that they were dripping in the atmosphere of that place and that time - hell, it may not even have been real, it may just have been the disco/punk New York of my imagination, but it sure did sound great.

Founded in New York in 1979 by British entrepreneur Michael Zilkha and the French publisher Michel Esteban (hence the name), ZE specialised in releasing both “Mutant Disco” for the uptown set, and more downtown experimental sound of “No Wave”, both co-existing side by side in a way that kinda made perfect sense. What united them was an attitude born of not giving a fuck. ZE acts spanned the gamut, from the noise-fests of Mars to the ground-breaking Lydia Lunch, from the proto electro of Suicide to the more rock output of Alan Vega, from the twisted dance punk of James White & Blacks to the sassy boy-baiting of The Waitresses, from the new wave Euro pop of Lio and Garcons to the veteran Velvet drone-meister John Cale, from the geeky freak funk of Was (Not Was) to the dancefloor experiments of Bill Laswell and Material.

My favourite ZE associated act is one August Darnell, better known by his stage name of Kid Creole. He worked with many different acts and under a variety of different names, including Cristina, Coati Mundi, Gichy Dan, Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band and Aural Exciters, not to mention being the driving force behind two other seminal disco acts, Machine and Dr Buzzard’s Original Savanah Band. He brought to the music a heavy influence of golden era jazz and Cab Calloway. And it wasn’t just a a sly wink to the past - beneath his sometimes quite strange arrangements lurked classic Broadway songwriting chops and killer one liners (check “Darrio” below). I feel August Darnell has been overlooked in the history of popular music, and I hope to cover him more in depth in the future.

We have already covered a couple of ZE Records acts in the past few months here on Dangerous Minds, namely Cristina and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. it seems only right now to introduce the label to people who may not have heard of it, and/or to remind others who have of just how good it is. As I have mentioned before, it is worth signing up to the label’s mailing list to keep abreast of what they are up to (the next release is a remastered re-issue of John Cale’s Sabotage/Live LP recorded at CBGB’s in 1979 and featuring the Animal Justice EP). To sign up, visit the label’s official website. The entire ZE catalog (with info on how to obtain what is available) is on Discogs. This is the Les Inrockuptibles cover mount CD streamed from the ZE Records Soundcloud page - a pretty good summation of the label’s vast and influential output:
 


 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Is That All There Is?’: No Wave cult singer Cristina covers Peggy Lee in 1980
From Heaven With Love: Download the best of Lizzy Mercier Descloux for free

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.30.2011
09:00 pm
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Janelle Monae is the truth: Live & close-up in ‘07

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If you generally detest today’s pop music, you may be sick of hearing Janelle Monae’s name so much. And considering that she’s firmly inside the music industry machine, it’d be hard to blame you.

But unlike many women in the pop and R&B realm, the girl has pretty confidently determined and shaped her own music and visual style. Synthesizing new rock and traditional soul into the kind of futuristic brew her foreparents David Bowie and Grace Jones served up back in the day, Monae’s still got the aesthetic zeitgeist at her back.

Let’s hope she retains the integrity and panache shown below. This video is excerpted from an appearance she made in the summer of 2007, just as she released her first EP on her Wondaland Arts Society label. And even though she was already officially signed to the megalith Bad Boy label, she saw fit to play the independent Criminal Records store in the Little 5 Points district of her adopted Atlanta hometown with her guitarist Kellindo Parker. Aaaand she tore it up.

Whatever happens to Monae’s career going forward—sometimes it pays to brace for disappointment, sell-out fuckery, etc.—we’ll be able to recount a time when she seemed like the future of pop. Go girl.
 

 
More Janelle getting real after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.01.2010
09:59 pm
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‘Very close to salvation’: Birthday boy punk-daddy Stiv Bators vs. the Rev. Dr. Hands

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Steven John Bator (a.k.a.  Stiv Bators) and his Dead Boys blammoed out of the post-steel paradise of Cleveland and landed in New York’s East Village to help jump-start the punk movement in the bowels of clubs like CBGBs. Soon after the Boys broke up in 1979, Bators formed the post –punk supergroup Lords of the New Church with the Damned’s Brian James and Sham 69’s Dave Tregunna.

That was the band Bators was riding in 1983 when L.A. artist Jeffrey Vallance—who’d scored a miraculous gig as a host of MTV’s underground music showcase (yeah, something like that actually once appeared on MTV!!) The Cutting Edge—grabbed him to “debate” the head of the Southland’s Last Chance Rescue Mission, whose name happened to be, yes, the Reverend Dr. Hands.

As you’ll see, Bators took the path of least resistance, but this segment stands as a fun, somewhat campy artifact of the other side of the Reagan ‘80s. Seven years later, Bators will have become a literal dead boy at 41 after getting hit by a taxi in Paris.

He would have turned 61 years old today.
 

 
Bonus clip after the jump: the Dead Boys give CBGB’s the “Sonic Reducer” in ‘77…
 

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Posted by Ron Nachmann
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10.22.2010
06:36 pm
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