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‘122 Hours of Fear’: The Screamers’ classic covered by teen organ-punk phenoms Archie & the Bunkers
04.11.2018
08:12 am
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As I’ve written in these pages probably a few too many times by now, one of the great joys of living in Cleveland, Ohio is a tight-knit music scene bursting with exceptional talent. From the Ur days of the eels and Rocket to the current scene that’s home to Cloud Nothings and Obnox, there’s always been enough great stuff happening that choosing what to do with one’s night out can be a FOMO-laden roll of the dice. But for the last few years, we’ve had something no other scene can boast—Cleveland music fans have had a front row seat to watch the evolution of Archie and the Bunkers.

The band—a garage-punk duo of brothers Emmett and Cullen O’Connor—first started turning heads in 2014, when they played WRUW FM’s annual Studio-A-Rama festival, a long-running event that’s served for decades as an at-a-glance picture of what’s up in Cleveland’s underground. Drummer Emmett was fifteen years old at the time, and organist Cullen was just thirteen. While curation of that fest is pretty stiff, due to their ages, expectations for Archie & the Bunkers’ set were modest, but they exceeded them wildly, kicking some pretty high ass and becoming the talk of the show. Since then, their popularity has increased exponentially, leading to opening slots for the likes of The Sonics and Iggy Pop, and releases on prestigious and storied labels like Norton, Third Man, and In The Red. They’ve logged more miles in the van than many bands twice their age, and they can’t even legally drink yet. Their major releases so far are a self-titled debut LP, the Mystery Lover EP, and the forthcoming Songs from the Lodge, on Dirty Water Records.

While the not-actually-a-gimmick gimmick of their youth can account for some of their novelty appeal, there are LOTS of bands made up of high-schoolers, and of course few of them are worth discussing—A&TB wouldn’t be on this trajectory if they didn’t merit the attention for any other reason. Their live sets are every bit as energetic as you’d expect; Emmett is a large ham, and even the more taciturn Cullen is as Iggy as one can possibly be when tethered to a keyboard. But what’s really exciting about them, beyond just their prodigious instrumental gifts and compelling shows, is watching talented kids responding creatively to music they’re still discovering, at the age when those discoveries feel the most Earth-shaking.
 

 
Much, much, MUCH more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.11.2018
08:12 am
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‘Toy Porno,’ the video the Frogs made for Kurt Cobain
04.06.2018
08:55 am
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Dennis Flemion, Mark Arm, Kurt Cobain, and Jimmy Flemion (via Matador)

When Everett True recalls watching “videos of puppet sex created by insane Midwest band The Frogs” on Nirvana’s tour bus, he means Toy Porno, this two-hour video the Flemion brothers made for Kurt Cobain in 1993. It depicts the erotic adventures of a group of polysexual knickknacks, which are intercut with live performances by the Frogs. There is no mistaking the brothers’ sensibility: both the toy porn and the rock numbers delight in jokes that are in questionable taste, especially if you happen to be Rich Little, or the estate of Joseph Cotten.

The Frogs, of course, are famous for their homophile Homestead LP It’s Only Right and Natural, an enduring statement of gay supremacy.

I don’t believe this movie has ever been officially released, though the Frogs once sold the soundtrack on a C100 tape.

Toy Porno is NSFW in every single way. RIP Dennis Flemion.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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04.06.2018
08:55 am
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Ian MacKaye’s article on DC skateboarding for Thrasher magazine, 1983
04.04.2018
09:04 am
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All photos by Glen E. Friedman
 
A few months ago, I told you about the Cedar Crest Country Club and the importance it played within DC’s skate punk scene. The political climate of the capital in the early eighties inspired a revolution significant of the times, one that would continue to influence underground culture up until present day. And we have Ian Mackaye to thank for much of it.

The origins of skateboarding are rooted in Southern California surf, but many can say its attitude came from DC punk. Bands like Government Issue, Bad Brains, SOA, and of course Minor Threat, brought a much needed edge to the sport, substituting the sunny beaches with grit and concrete. The only issue was, in DC there was nowhere to skate. So, the punks had to improvise. Later in 1986, the ramp at Cedar Crest Country Club opened, a steel halfpipe oasis just an hour outside the city.

In October 1983, Ian MacKaye, founder of Dischord Records and frontman of Minor Threat, Fugazi, Embrace, and Teen Idles, penned a “scene report” for skateboarding magazine, Thrasher. The article, set to describe the skate vibe of the nation’s capital, characterizes Ian not as a hardcore punk legend, but rather as a DC kid who lives to skateboard. The young MacKaye was a member of ragtag boarding crew Team Sahara, along with another punk forefather, Henry Garfield (now known as “Henry Rollins”). Ian’s piece is a nice little snapshot of the spirit of skate culture during the era; his feature goes on to describe the team’s favorite ramps, a legendary wipeout by Rollins, their first empty pool, and an infamous team session at the Annandale halfpipe. Also in the issue is a photo spread of vertical sequences, a story on a Swedish skate camp, competitions in Del Mar and Oceanside, and a music piece on a punk band called The Faction.

Read Ian MacKaye’s article in Thrasher magazine, along with a complete transcript below:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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04.04.2018
09:04 am
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What if all the great American punk heroes had their own classic comic book titles?


 
Not long ago a Brazilian artist going by the name W. Loud cooked up some excellent punk rock/Marvel mashup covers. W. Loud’s graffiti-style signature cleverly transforms that “W” into a little crown on top of the word “LOUD.”)

Loud dedicated one image each to covers for the Descendents, Black Flag, the Misfits, the Dead Kennedys, and Minor Threat (whom we’ll count as “punk” for the purposes of this exercise). Loud appears to favor the U.S. variety of punk rocker, there ain’t a Brit in the bunch. For the most part, the covers are freely invented, not 1:1 homages,  but Loud was sure to sprinkle in lots of clues to transmit his enthusiasm for both Marvel lore and the bands. He made sure to work in the familiar band logos and slogans (“EVERYTHING SUCKS TODAY!”) as well as the pivotal first year of the band’s existence.

So you have Milo popping up on the outfits of two members of the Descendents, the familiar Alternative Tentacles logo occupying a corner of the Dead Kennedys cover, and devilock’d Jerry Only and crew backing up Danzig as was their lot in real life.

You can get prints and T-shirts of these images at the Touts website.
 

Henry Rollins with the chest logo and fiery paw of Iron Fist
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.30.2018
09:35 am
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William S. Burroughs on the cut-up technique and meeting Samuel Beckett & Bob Dylan
03.22.2018
09:35 am
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“It’s the stink of death, citizens!” (Photo by Peter Hujar)

This hour-long BBC Radio special opens with “Old Lady Sloan,” the Mortal Micronotz’ interpretation of a Burroughs lyric about a happy pedophage, a record the host, John Walters, borrowed from John Peel for the occasion. If the program starts out sounding like a clip-show tribute to Burroughs’ cultural influence, it’s more than that. Aside from a chat with future WSB biographer Barry Miles (identified only by his surname), a little music, and Burroughs’ performances of the now-classic routines “The Do-Rights” and “The Wild Fruits,” the broadcast is given over to Walters’ lengthy interview with the author, champion of apomorphine, and devotee of the Ancient Ones.

Burroughs tells Walters about his years in England, and meeting Samuel Beckett and Bob Dylan; he observes that certain American politicians boast of their ignorance and stupidity. His (camp, I think) misogyny has softened by ‘82. What really sets the interview apart, though, is Walters’ enthusiasm, his openness, his willingness to risk sounding uncool. Here he is grappling with the implications of the cut-up technique:

Walters: What always attracted me when I first heard about that—I suppose, a lot of students at the time—it seemed to introduce a random effect, a found work, do you know what I mean? I wonder if it was so random as all that.

Burroughs: Well, how random is random? Uh…

Walters: Well, let’s put it like this. I was in a pub in Charlotte Street, of all places, in Soho, and a mate of mine had read Nova Express—this was ‘64, ‘65—was talking about this, “You must buy this book,” and started to try and explain to me his interpretation of cut-up and fold-in techniques, which he probably got wrong. And I couldn’t remember the name of the book when I got outside, and then an Express Dairy van from the Express Dairies came by, and I thought, “Express, Nova Express!” And I thought, “That’s what he’s trying to tell us. Random events can have a hidden meaning. We can get messages.” But I don’t think that’s what you see in it, is it?

Burroughs: Oh, exactly. Exactly what I see in it. These juxtapositions between what you’re thinking, if you’re walking down the street, and what you see, that was exactly what I was introducing. You see, life is a cut-up. Every time you walk down the street or look out the window, your consciousness is cut by random factors, and then you begin to realize that they’re not so random, that this is saying something to you.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.22.2018
09:35 am
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‘Quantum Path’: New music from The Messthetics, featuring Fugazi’s Joe Lally and Brendan Canty
03.07.2018
09:43 am
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If, in 1988, someone told you that the guy who invented emocore had started a band with the guy who invented straight edge, you could probably be forgiven for imagining that might be kind of cringey, but that band, Fugazi, were not just good, not even merely great, but transformatively, epochally amazing. Their anti-corporate ethos and their famous insistence on $5 covers for live shows often tended to overshadow their music, and that’s saying a lot, because post-hardcore masterpieces like In on the Kill Taker, Red Medicine, and their swan song so far The Argument are fucking hard albums to overshadow. Over the course of the ‘90s, they matured from a way-better-than-average hardcore band into a thoughtful, innovative, and insightful independent rock standard-bearer.

And I doubt it would be controversial to point out that they may well have ended up just another okay hardcore band if not for the brilliance of their rhythm section.

Brendan Canty’s drumming was effortlessly propulsive, but always bottomlessly inventive—even in his earliest days in Rites of Spring, he saw farther than most, resisting the simplistic polka beats that punctuate many of hardcore’s least inspired moments. Bassist Joe Lally favored wonderfully molten, dubby grooves that, intentionally or not, served as a conspicuous antithesis to standard-issue hardcore bass playing, and even if all he’d ever done was “Waiting Room,” he’d still be an underground immortal. A rhythm section like that is a foundation for growth, and accordingly, Fugazi’s first two EPs draw one of the clearest lines in the sand between hardcore’s past and post-hardcore’s future, just as Wire’s Pink Flag served as the bellwether for post-punk.

So imagine if you could just call up that storied rhythm section and get them to play on your album?

D.C. area guitarist and totally lucky bastard Anthony Pirog was able to do exactly that, and the resulting trio is called The Messthetics. Pirog is a versatile player, as comfortable in a free jazz improv milieu as he is playing roots rock or noise. His C.V. is pretty staggering, to the point that it’s frankly kind of amazing he isn’t better-known. His compositions on The Messthetics forthcoming self-titled debut LP are a kinetic tempest of noise, jazz, prog, dub and punk influences. The album is out later this month, and you can hear a couple of pre-release tracks below, including “Quantum Path,” which is making its debut here on DM today. But first, we talked to Joe Lally about how the new band came together, and his impressions of their new music.
 

 
Dangerous Minds: How long has Messthetics been a thing? The last band I recall you doing other than Fugazi was The Black Sea, and that was a WHILE ago.

Joe Lally: That was a really long time ago, yeah. I never even played out with them, and I think they changed their name when the record came out. I’d just had my daughter, and Fugazi wasn’t doing much, and Shelby [Cinca, gtr/vox: Frodus, The Black Sea, Decahedron] was just coming over and playing, and my daughter, who was just a baby then, would watch us play. It was just a project. Then I put out three solo records sometime after that, starting in 2006, I want to say? I guess the last one was 2011.

So I was living in Italy from 2007 ’til 2015, when we came back here. That’s kind of where this story begins, I moved back here, and I hadn’t really been playing for a while. My solo stuff wasn’t really entering a phase that I’d wanted it to, I’d had some instrumental stuff I’d worked on in Italy, but I didn’t really want to put lyrics to it, and I wasn’t that focused on it. It really didn’t matter. I moved back here, and I had songs to play, so that was a reason to get together with Brendan and play. He had done a show with Anthony, so when he was going to get together with me, he told me he had a guitar player who could get together with us, so I said “great!”  Once we got together and played, I was like why would we play MY songs when this guy can play that way? My songs were supposed to be quieter, and it was turning into such a totally different thing—which was nice, I was ready to do something new and do something as a group, but none of that was really on the table at the time. It didn’t really go beyond that practice.

Later, Anthony contacted us and said he wanted to make a record and he was looking for a rhythm section. Brendan and I were TOTALLY in, and I think it was the fall of 2016. The first show we played was May of 2017. But those guys both have projects—Brendan’s always leaving town to go play live film-scoring—but we managed to do a show in May, and Ian [MacKaye, vox: Minor Threat, Pailhead, Fugazi; founder/honcho: Dischord Records] was at the show, and he said our stuff would be great for a Dischord release. So then, whatever Anthony had in mind about who would releasing it, once he knew that Ian was happy with it the way it was, he knew he could keep doing what he wanted. We were recording the music where we practice, over the summer, we got it finished by September/October.

DM: So on the new album it’s Anthony’s compositions, none of the stuff you were working on? 

JL: No, it wouldn’t be, because the idea was Anthony was making an album. It wasn’t meant to be a band at first, as far as I knew it was going to be an Anthony Pirog solo record that we played on. We gave him the time, we were very relaxed about him taking the time he needed to write, so he appreciated that, and I think he took a longer time than he might have if he’d used a rhythm section he had to pay. So were were just happy to be playing with him, and we let the songs take shape, and over that time, we started to really become a band, and Anthony started to look at it as a band. I’d had music—we played a show in August, and it was going to be a longer set than we were used to at the time, so I kind of threw in some of my instrumental ideas at that show, but even at that time, we were already set on what the album was going to be. So anything we did like that is going towards the second record.

DM: How have older fans responded? With two members from Fugazi, I’m sure there must be sky-high expectations. 

JL: I guess so. I kind of throw all that aside when I do my own music. I am from that band, so people are going to expect some stuff but I have to do my thing and not really pay too much attention to that. If people like it, great. If they don’t, well, it’s definitely not Fugazi so I can see why. Brendan and I are who we are and we play the way we play, and we definitely brought ourselves into what Anthony was writing, and we retain our musical personalities with this music. But it is obviously something different, and it’s been so long since 2002 when Fugazi last played, there are people who come to see us now who were children then!

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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03.07.2018
09:43 am
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The Ramones vs. the Sex Pistols: ‘These guys ripped us off!’
03.06.2018
08:44 pm
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On the very first day of recording sessions for their third album Rocket to Russia—August 21, 1977 to be exact—Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone showed up at the former Episcopalian Church that housed Media Sound Studios in Midtown Manhattan, bringing with him a copy of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” single. He was pissed off, complaining that his band had been “robbed” by the infamous British punk group’s ferocious buzzsaw sound. Johnny told Ed Stasium, their audio engineer, that the new Ramones album needed to have sharper production than the Sex Pistols.

“These guys ripped us off and I want to sound better than this,” he said.

Rocket to Russia was the group’s third album in less than two years, and came hot on the heels of Leave Home, released in January.  Both were produced by Tommy Ramone and Tony Bongiovi, the cousin of Jon Bon Jovi. Although Rocket to Russia was the band’s highest-charting album to date, reaching number 49 on the Billboard 200, its sales were still considered a disappointment as the album had been heavily hyped, there was a massive interest in this new thing called “punk rock” and the reviews were nearly unanimously positive for its hook-laden tunes. Although the group was an incredibly popular touring act—their appearances almost single handedly starting new punk scenes overnight in cities across America—one of their best songs, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” was only able to reach #81 in the Billboard singles chart.
 

 
The summer of 1977, when the “Sheena” single was released, was when the mainstream American media first started taking major notice of punk. Downtown New York bands were getting signed left and right by major record labels and Max’s Kansas City and CBGB were packed to the gills most nights. However, the punk stories that got the most airplay were obviously the most notorious, involving violence at shows, “gobbing,” rioting, hard drugs and so forth. Not only did the members of the Ramones see themselves as “robbed” by the Sex Pistols’ guitar sound, they even blamed the Sex Pistols for their own lack of record sales, believing the British group’s loutish behavior had caused the public to see punk as an alarming development, tanking Rocket to Russia‘s potential for breaking them in America. 

In Brian J. Bowe’s 2010 book, The Ramones: American Punk Rock Band, Punk magazine’s Legs McNeil seems to agree with this notion:

“Safety pins, razor blades, chopped haircuts, snarling, vomiting—everything that had nothing to do with the Ramones was suddenly in vogue, and it killed any chance Rocket to Russia had of getting any airplay.”

Rocket to Russia was the final Ramones album to be recorded with all four original members, as Tommy Ramone would depart his drum stool in 1978 to work with the band behind the scenes.
 

 

 

Ferocious live footage of the Ramones at the State Theatre in Minneapolis from ‘Wylde Rice,’ a super-hip Minnesota PBS show of the time. Backstage, the boys discuss the punk scene in England, dismiss the notion of punk “politics” and the reporting of violence at punk gigs as overblown. They start off with a great “Rockaway Beach” and later rip through “California Sun” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Shot on January 21, 1978 as they toured in support of ‘Rocket to Russia.’ None other than the Runaways were their opening act!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.06.2018
08:44 pm
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‘Bare-ass naked’: The KLF and the live stage production of Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’


Prunella Gee as Eris in ‘Illuminatus!’ (via Liverpool Confidential)

In 1976, the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool mounted a 12-hour stage production of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was a fateful event in the life of the show’s set designer, Bill Drummond, for reasons he’s detailed in the Guardian: for one thing, it was in connection with Illuminatus! and its director, Ken Campbell, that Drummond first heard about the eternal conflict between the Illuminati, who may secretly control the world, and the Justified Ancients of Mummu, or the JAMs, who may be agents of chaos disrupting the Illuminati’s plans. (Recall that in Illuminatus!, the MC5 record “Kick Out The Jams” at the behest of the Illuminati, as a way of taunting the Justified Ancients—or so John Dillinger says.)

Before they were known as the KLF, Drummond and Jimmy Cauty called themselves the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, appropriating the name for the eschaton-immanentizing hip-hop outfit they started in 1987. Over the next few years, they seized the pop charts and filled the airwaves with disorienting, Discordian hits, until a day came when you could flip on the TV and find Tammy Wynette singing “Stand By The JAMs,” or Martin Sheen narrating the KLF’s reenactment of the end of The Wicker Man.
 

Bill Drummond in Big in Japan, live at Eric’s (via @FromEricsToEvol)
 
After the Liverpool run of Illuminatus!, Drummond rebuilt his sets for the London production, but he suddenly bailed on the show, walking out hours before it was to open. I guess he missed the nude cameo appearance Robert Anton Wilson describes in Cosmic Trigger, Volume I:

On November 23, 1976—a sacred Discordian holy day, both because of the 23 and because it is Harpo Marx’s birthday—a most ingenious young Englishman named Ken Campbell premiered a ten-hour adaptation of Illuminatus at the Science-Fiction Theatre of Liverpool. It was something of a success (the Guardian reviewed it three times, each reviewer being wildly enthusiastic) and Campbell and his partner, actor Chris Langham, were invited to present it as the first production of the new Cottesloe extension of the National Theatre, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.

This seemed to me the greatest Discordian joke ever, since Illuminatus, as I may not have mentioned before, is the most overtly anarchistic novel of this century. Shea and I quite seriously defined our purpose, when writing it, as trying to do to the State what Voltaire did to the Church—to reduce it to an object of contempt among all educated people. Ken Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe). The thought of having this totally subversive ritual staged under the patronage of H.M. the Queen, Elizabeth II, was nectar and ambrosia to me.

The National Theatre flew Shea and me over to London for the premiere and I fell in love with the whole cast, especially Prunella Gee, who emphatically has my vote for Sexiest Actress since Marilyn Monroe. Some of us did a lot of drinking and hash-smoking together, and the cast told me a lot of synchronicities connected with the production. Five actors were injured during the Liverpool run, to fulfill the Law of Fives. Hitler had lived in Liverpool for five months when he was 23 years old. The section of Liverpool in which the play opened, indeed the very street, is described in a dream of Carl Jung’s recorded on page 23 of Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The theatre in Liverpool opened the day Jung died. There is a yellow submarine in Illuminatus, and the Beatles first sang “Yellow Submarine” in that same Liverpool Theatre. The actor playing Padre Pederastia in the Black Mass scene had met Aleister Crowley on a train once.

The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” under the patronage of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by Crowley before I was even born.

 

Robert Anton Wilson (via John Higgs)
 
In 2017, 23 years after they split up, Drummond and Cauty reunited as the JAMs. Instead of a new chart-burning house record, they released their first novel…

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.27.2018
10:08 am
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Killer early footage of Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics tearing up CBGB
02.09.2018
07:02 am
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A recently uploaded video features some of the earliest footage of Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics, performing March 1st, 1979 at CBGB, doing their song “Tight Black Pants” from their first LP, New Hope For the Wretched.

The video below comes to us from Paul Tschinkel, who recorded it for his punk and new wave cable TV show, Inner-Tube, which ran for ten years on Manhattan Cable. We’ve written about Tschinkel and Inner-Tube here before.

Though the upload bills this as the “earliest performance of the band,” the band had been performing for some months prior. We wrote about their actual earliest recorded performance, from July 26th, 1978, HERE.

The Plasmatics, formed by lead singer Wendy O. Williams and manager Rod Swenson in 1977, were at the forefront of American punk, getting their start at the legendary CBGB. Their taboo-busting stage show gained them a huge cult following through the early 80s, featuring the shock antics of Williams, who was prone to wearing little more than electrical tape over her nipples and short school-girl skirts, while chainsawing guitars in half and blowing up cop cars onstage. Wendy O. Williams, who sadly passed in 1998, was one of rock’s all-time ballsiest performers, and her act lead to 1981 obscenity arrests in Cleveland and Milwaukee, where she was also beaten by police and received a charge of battery to an officer (which was later dropped, along with the obscenity charge).

In the clip below, we see, first, a recording of a TV playing an extremely rare music video for the song “Concrete Shoes.” The video is rather racy, featuring a close-up of Wendy doing some over-undie masturbation. When the video ends, Wendy sets up some transistor radios tuned to different stations on a small table and then procedes to smash them all to bits. The band then kicks in with a blistering version of “Tight Black Pants.” Wendy is in a stunning skin-tight pink and black-striped bodysuit that seems to be in danger of falling off of her at any second. At this point, she did not have her signature mohawk—though guitarist Richie Stotts was sporting the Mohican look.

This is priceless historical footage and after watching I find myself saying the same thing I say after viewing any of Paul Tschinkel’s amazing YouTube uploads: “please show us the rest!”
 

 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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02.09.2018
07:02 am
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Comic books & science fiction: ‘Flying Saucer Attack’ collects the Rezillos’ complete recordings
01.30.2018
10:34 am
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Sire’s “Plundering the Vaults” reissue series got to the Rezillos in 1993, as if in karmic compensation for my first year of high school math homework. Sweating over the compass, protractor, and other cheap plastic tools of the geometer’s trade was almost pleasurable with Can’t Stand The Rezillos: The (Almost) Complete Rezillos set to ∞, turning my teenage bedroom into a future-retro outer-space dance party.

Formed in the mid-Seventies by Scottish art students, the Rezillos’ love for comic books, science fiction, and bygone fads reminded me of the B-52s, though the two sound nothing alike. When the Rezillos called themselves a “new-wave beat group,” I think it referred not just to the songs by the Dave Clark Five, Freddie and the Dreamers, and the Kinks in their repertoire, but also to their musical proficiency and well-rehearsed live show. Jo Callis, later of the Human League, wrote most of the Rezillos’ originals (one of which he took with him when he left, along with the rhythm section, to form Shake); his guitar and the incredible bass playing of William Mysterious (né Alastair Donaldson) on Can’t Stand the Rezillos set the group apart from punk and non-punk contemporaries alike. As the Rezillos’ first bassist, Dr. D. K. Smythe, writes of the band’s earliest shows:

In contrast to the laid-back, casual, self-indulgent ethos of rock bands in that era, we were slick, highly professional, well-rehearsed, and offered 60 minutes or so of frantic, non-stop fun rock looking back to the late 1950s.

 

The Rezillos c. 1977
 
Because I’ve spent so much time with the Sire CD over the last 25 years, its deficiencies are plain. Yes, it fit the studio album Can’t Stand the Rezillos, the masterpiece single “Destination Venus,” and the live album recorded at their farewell show, Mission Accomplished… But The Beat Goes On, on a single disc, but at what cost? I’ll tell you at what cost: by doing violence to one of the all-time great punk/wave songs, not once, but twice! In a blood orgy of rapacity, record men amputated the live version of “Destination Venus” that ended Mission Accomplished and sent the album out into the world mutilated. Worse yet, on the single version of “Destination Venus,” there was a maddening dropout at around 1:26. Imagine if the engineer had just decided to wipe his nose with the master tape a minute into “Sonic Reducer” or “I Got A Right.” For this, I paid the MSRP of $13.98? An outrageous and intolerable state of affairs!
 

 
At last, Cherry Red has done the Rezillos proud with a handsome two-CD set, Flying Saucer Attack: The Complete Recordings 1977-1979. In addition to righting the wrongs I have enumerated, it appends the single versions of “I Can’t Stand My Baby,” “(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures,” “Flying Saucer Attack” and “Top of the Pops,” all substantially different from the album tracks; plus the B-sides “20,000 Rezillos Under the Sea,” which is the William Tell Overture played as a surf instrumental with the honking lead sax of William Mysterious carrying the melody, and Lennon-McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man”; plus a few other live and compilation tracks that have never appeared on CD before.

After the split with Callis, singers Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds continued as the Revillos, who also attained Olympian heights now and then. Minus Callis and Mysterious, the Rezillos reunited in 2002, and released a second album, Zero, in 2015. Go see them when you can.

Flying Saucer Attack will be available on February 23 from Cherry Red and on March 2 from Amazon. Below, the Rezillos play “Top of the Pops” on Top of the Pops.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.30.2018
10:34 am
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