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Out of Step (with the world): Anderson Cooper’s 1995 News Segment on Straight Edge
10.10.2018
03:01 pm
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I’m a person just like you, but I’ve got better things to do…
 
Ian Mackaye never intended to lead the straight edge revolution. Songs like “I’m Straight” and “Keep it Clean” prove that the punks had restraint before the Dischord-boom. That being said, Ian’s high school band Teen Idles did put out the Minor Disturbance EP, their only release, with younger brother, Alec MacKaye’s valiant, X’d up fists on its cover. The X’s, now a symbol of the anti-inebriation subculture, was meant to signify that he was underage and therefore “incapable” of drinking. In 1981, Ian’s DC-hardcore band Minor Threat released its fundamental, self-titled debut EP - on it included the moniker song “Straight Edge.” During a time when being a punk meant sniffing glue (“Just Say No”), Ian wrote a forty-six second statement about how you could be “straight” and still be like everybody else. So yeah, Ian Mackaye pretty much is the Godfather of straight edge.
 

 
Bands like Youth of Today, SS Decontrol, Gorilla Biscuits, and 7Seconds helped promote the core values of straight edge. Those being that one could rebel through self-control and individuality. And for punk rock, which already was reactionary toward the excesses and hedonism of the boomer generation, being straight edge was yet another way to resist the mainstream. At least I can fucking think…..
 
In the mid-to-late nineties, straight edge caught wide appeal. By this point, newer variations of hardcore began to embrace a lifetime commitment to a substance-free existence. Vegetarianism and social justice issues were integrated into its list of convictions and newer, more radical takes on the subculture began to appear. Hardline was a faction of vegan straight edge that promoted its oftentimes conservative judgements through imposition and direct action, even if by any means necessary. “Hate edge” militant gangs and crews formed, most notably in places like Salt Lake City and Reno, where McDonald’s locations were being firebombed and fellow punks were getting jumped for smoking and drinking. So naturally, the parents of America got concerned.
 

Youth of Today - the most straight edge band?
 
Similar to its interpretation of punk a decade prior, the media had a hard time comprehending the straight edge phenomena. Described as a “strange development,” several local news outlets across the country ran investigative reports into the drug-free hXc lifestyle and what it meant for our communities. Should I be concerned if my son is a straight edger? Mostly no, according to multiple reports, although a few of them profiled the animal liberation guerrilla efforts of hardline activists and the growing wave of violence committed by them. Straight edge was soon the subject of an episode of America’s Most Wanted and even on the daytime talk show Rolonda, in 1997.
 
Back in 1995, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was a correspondent for ABC News. That same year, he traveled to Syracuse, NY to report on a growing youth movement known as “straight edge.” The segment is introduced with shocking new evidence that teenage use of marijuana and illegal drugs is on the rise. Notwithstanding, rookie newscaster Anderson Cooper had supposedly “discovered a small, but growing group of young people who are refusing to engage in such self-destructing behavior.” Among them were brothers Trevor and Justin, the center of our cultural probe, who came upon a drug-free lifestyle to protest the self-indulgence of their generation, and of those past. Cooper narrates the report, but can be seen around the two-minute mark, sitting within a pow-wow discussion group of X’d up hardcore teens.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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10.10.2018
03:01 pm
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The Adam Ant episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’
10.09.2018
08:29 am
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The cover of Crime SuspenStories #27, 1955; first publication of ‘Maniac at Large’
 
John Frankenheimer, the director of The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May and Seconds, got his start working in TV in the fifties. After a long absence, he returned to the medium in 1992 with this episode of Tales from the Crypt.

In “Maniac at Large,” Adam Ant plays a crime-obsessed nerd whose preoccupation with murder terrorizes the new librarian, Blythe Danner, who is all het up about a serial killer on the loose. Ant’s quite good; I’m puzzled that his acting career faltered after his promising debut in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, and he wound up in movies like Sunset Heat and Cyber Bandits. (Someday I’ll get around to watching Wayne Wang’s Slam Dance, just to see Harry Dean Stanton, John Doe of X and Adam Ant in the same movie.)

Frankenheimer’s psychological direction, which foregrounds the distorted perspective of one of the characters, transforms the public library where the story is set into a clammy tomb of terror. I got the fears!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.09.2018
08:29 am
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Dangerous Minds interviews John Lydon: Forty years of Public Image Ltd.
10.05.2018
07:24 am
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Photo by Paul Heartfield, courtesy Abramorama
 
Whatever else you can say about the dread year 2018, it is a sumptuous buffet for the PiL fan. The Public Image Is Rotten, the first officially sanctioned documentary on the group, tells its story with the help of Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Donut, Martin Atkins, Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds, John Rambo Stevens, Big Youth(!), Thurston Moore, Ad-Rock, Flea, Don Letts, and numerous other members of the band, its circle and its audience; the new box set The Public Image Is Rotten: Songs From The Heart collects singles, B-sides, 12-inch mixes, outtakes, alternate versions, videos, and TV appearances from four decades of high adventure; and PiL will embark on the U.S. leg of its ongoing tour next week, starting in New Orleans on October 9. I spoke with John Lydon on the phone one morning during the brief interval between PiL’s European and American dates.

How are you?

Not as mentally ill as Tom Arnold, but doing alright! I watched his show the night before. Two episodes. It’s hilarious! I highly recommend it, but by God, is he just out there. Oh, space cadet! But highly entertaining, highly entertaining. And I suppose that was the point of it anyway, I mean, what do you expect from a comedian but comedy? Alright, anyway, that’s an aside; I don’t know why I brought it up, but ignore me!

How was the European tour?

Oh, very, very demanding. That was something like 39 gigs in nearly as many days, with two weeks in the middle to attempt recording our third album, here, since our reformation. So a lot of hard work, and a lot of promo for the documentary, y’know, the film that’s gonna be doing the rounds, and various like press things that have to be done in advance of gigs. Very, very demanding, really exhausting, and not at all the happy holiday we were expecting. Harder than usual times three or four. And any one of the issues we’re involved with, really, should be a full-time job. But there you go, that’s PiL for you! Moments of relaxation in an intense industry!

Where are you recording?

We went back to the Cotswolds in England. A studio we like, ‘cause we like grabbing that on-the-road, live vibe.

I saw the movie last night. At the end, Lu Edmonds says this thing—he’s talking about the band with [Magazine/Siouxsie/PiL guitarist] John McGeoch, and how things have changed, and he says you’re different now than you were then. And he puts it down to [manager/lifelong friend John] Rambo [Stevens’] influence.

How very sweet of him! Doesn’t anybody ever give me credit? [Laughter] Well, that’s Lu’s opinion; you’d have to ask Lu. Everybody was given an opportunity—I mean everybody, friend and foe alike—to say what they felt, and there it is, and that’s the combination of all those juxtapositions. Of course the band’s very different from when McGeoch was in it. We were again, at that time, enduring record company pressure, which is never an easy thing to put up with, which is what created so much instability in us. The rumor-mongering, all of it, you know, and just the sense of chaos, and trying to maintain any grasp of control, was extremely difficult. And Lu should know that, ‘cause he was one of those difficult people at the time! [Laughter] But through all of that, these are my friends, and we argue all the time about everything. But now look at us: we have a stability, we’re into the making of the third album. Fantastic. And it’s all without record company pressure, or them controlling the purse strings, which is what leads to arguments in the first place.

Well, one thing about the movie, seeing so much time compressed into an hour and a half—

I know, it could quite easily have ended up like War and Peace, but what’d be the point of that?

You could do a whole movie just on the drummers that have gone through PiL. Tony Williams—

[Laughs] It’s a lot of members!

I don’t know if it’s because of the precarious money situation or not, but maybe that made it possible for an amazing group of people to pass through the band.

Yeah, and some of them sorely missed, others glad to be rid of, and then of course there were the blackmailers: “Oh, if you don’t pay me extra, I’m not going to go on tour.” Y’know, that brigade. Very, very difficult times when I look back at it now. It’s like, Jeezus, how did I have the perseverance? ‘Cause there were definite times in PiL history where I thought, I just couldn’t take much more of it. The continual ugly pressure of having to maintain some kind of sense of stability in all this, it does wear you down.

By the time I got to, say, making the album Album, and a very young band I was with, put together quite a lot of the songs on Album with, they just could not cope with the studio, and I couldn’t cope with the budget we had, so I couldn’t afford to keep them in New York until they… got up to par, shall we say. And so put out phone calls, really, not expecting anyone to be too eager, really take anything that said yes, and just absolutely stunned and shocked with the quality of people that were more than willing to help on this album, and no squeak about money or anything like that. I tell you, that really changed my mind, it was like an affirmation that I absolutely needed at that point in my life, and I hope that comes across in the documentary. I’m not sure it does too well.
 

Still from ‘The Public Image Is Rotten’
 
Well, then there’s that story about McGeoch getting hit in the face with a bottle—

Oh, all that stuff! That’s nothing to do what I’ve just said, is it?

Well, the adversity you were facing.

Yeah, the adversity I’m particularly pointing out is inter-band-members, right? Some being ridiculously spiteful for no reason, and just continuing a negative approach in the ranks, and spreading all manner of, like, stupid lies. That kind of adversity. I had that in the Pistols, and I did sort of presume that that’s just the way all bands were. Well, I’m finding out in the making of this third and the previous two albums that’s not the case at all. We’re very, very, very good friends with each other. We have a sense of empathy. And that was always missing in the past. It’s always what I was seeking. But I suppose you can’t have a major record label in there, interfering. Interfering in the thought processes and the purse strings. ‘Cause adversity and animosity is what you end up with.

This is the longest stable lineup of the band, right?

Yeah! Yeah. Very noted. The second we were able to declare independence from any label, we set up our own outlet, and here we are now today. Stable! Financially risky, but bloody hell, is it enjoyable to wake up and know that you’re responsible for your own downfall, and not somebody else. A reward.

Can you tell me about the set you’re playing?

It’s one mostly the band picked, numbers that they enjoy doing, so there it is. And they flow well with each other, they jump all over the place time-wise, career-wise, but that’s fine. They connect somehow. There’s a flow in them. There are lines that interconnect. The thought process is there; it’s really just about trying to understand emotions. And that’s what Public Image do: try to understand. Try to understand each other, y’know? And make a bloody good effort at the rest of the human race. And I don’t suppose there’s any other way but through music to share those experiences and learn from them. One of the greatest things about this tour is the small venues we picked, because I can see eye to eye with just about everybody in the building, and that really helps formulate and solidify the songs into the emotions that they’re trying to express. It’s very, very, very rewarding. You can see it in people’s eyes when you’re hitting the right tones emotionally with them. It’s not like—we don’t do cruise ships or bar mitzvahs, I’m not standing there waiting for requests. It’s done on an emotional level. It’s fantastic. And all shyness, gone. I feel so confident with the people I work with now. There’s no sense of the temporary about it, and that’s a wonderful sounding board. Three albums, now, it will be, when this one’s done. That’s an amazing achievement for PiL! ‘Cause rightly or wrongly, earned the reputation there of never the same people twice. Not through choice.

I know the gigs are selling out. You had to change venues in Los Angeles.

You have to up it when it sells out too much, but there’s a limit to us. We won’t go into the ten thousands or the five thousands, not really interested in that, because you lose that emotional response. Or you can, but it’s like a harder struggle, and this is a struggle enough! And if we want to be celebrating our year, this is the way we want to do it. As I say, up close and personal.
 

 
So this box looks really wonderful—

Yeah, very proud of that. Yeah.

I’ve always been especially fond of your singles and 12-inches; I feel like you put a lot of care into those.

A lot. A lot. And using the highest quality recording we can, and also the highest quality materials we can, and to try and keep the price down. It’s a thing of love. That’s 40 years of work, there. I don’t want it to go out in a brown paper bag. Although I could the novelty in that too! [Laughter]

But I meant specifically your singles, all along it seems like you’ve put a lot of work into the singles and preparing special mixes for the 12-inches—

Yeah. Well, listen, pop music is my centrifugal force. I’ve always loved pop music, always will. Sharp simplicity, straight to the point. Sometimes songs I do can be longer than a single would need to be, and involve a hell of a lot more words, because you’re involving yourself in a hell of a lot deeper way, but both ways work for me fine. I do like the simplicity of pop a lot. And always those are the singles, they’re made for that. Not specifically structured as a single, but they happen, chance, in the way we record. There’s no rule book with us. If we’re involving ourselves in an emotion, we’ll involve ourselves fully, and that’s what each song is about, really. Trying to understand ourselves as human beings, and thereby, like I said, deal with the rest.

And there’s a proper version of “Kashmir” on there, too.

Yeah, which I was supposed to sing live! But I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I thought it would be sacrilege! Go to all the effort of recording it… which is a glorious tune, it really is, and Led Zeppelin I adore! Physical Graffiti is one of my favorite albums, and “Kashmir” is one of my favorite songs, and I didn’t want to bugger it up. We were gonna start live sets with that, but I thought I’d be letting it down somehow. I really don’t need to be competing with Robert Plant, there, I think he did an excellent piece of work, and there you go. All accolades to.

There’s a few unheard things, too, on this box set, and a lot of film footage.

Yeah, the TV stuff, all the TV appearances.

Yeah, which I thought would be nice for people to have, in one lump sum. And forever; not down to the whims of YouTube.

And better quality.

Oh, by miles, I hope!
 

Photo by Duncan Bryceland, courtesy PiL Official
 
That reminds me of something else. Watching the documentary last night, I’d heard there was video shot of the famous Ritz show—

[signal breaks up] because we were in charge of the cameras. That show was supposed to be us experimenting with their new camera technology, and, hello, one thing led to another, and before you know it, the world’s best soft riot took place! [Laughter]

So no video survived?

Well, there’s bits and pieces, but nothing that would make any sense.

Oh, ‘cause it’s all from your points of view.

Yeah, you know, from where we are, we’re behind the canvas. So you just see a canvas ruffle. There’s not much you can make from that. Another one of those Public Image moments where fiasco becomes something adorable and memorable. You know, a negative becomes a positive. Just the way it is, I suppose; we’re brave enough to take the situation on, and thank you all for noticing.

Yeah, the American Bandstand appearance is one of those moments.

Oh, yeah. My God, asking us to mime! Ha ha! To a song we improvised in recording, it’s like, wow, where do we begin with that? So we just ran wild, and it worked out to the benefit of everybody. Made for a better TV show.

Oh, it’s wonderful TV.

Even Dick Clark said so!

He did? He knew good TV, right?

Oh yeah, he had a list of all-time greats, and we’re up there. We’re well up there. Of all-time greats on his show. Lovely. Us and a bunch of mime artists! Ah, ha, ha.

Is it true, John, that “Annalisa,” a song that’s as relevant today as it ever was—is it true you saw that on a TV show?

Yeah, it was a real story about a young girl, in her coming-of-age early teens, and the parents, like, being far too religious for their own good, assuming she was possessed by the devil. And so in came the exorcist, and the end result was she was starved to death, really. It’s a really, really sad story, a true story. They put a film out of it a couple of years back, you know; I was a bit annoyed they didn’t approach us, ‘cause it would’ve been a wonderful theme for it.

Like a dramatic movie, with actors?

Yeah, like a proper film release, it was quite astounding. And horrific! When I watched it, it just brought tears to my eyes. You could see that this girl just didn’t stand a chance with that zealotry. Cold, indifferent parents, much more into their crucifixes than they were the life of their own daughter.

Sexuality is a strange thing to the religious. For my making [?], that’s what the root core of the problem was.

I imagine you’ve been following the Catholic abuse story with interest.

Ha, ha! All my life! [Laughter] Spent most of my life deliberately avoiding priests. Right up to day one in the Pistols, never even considered singing! I just thought, “No no no, that’ll get me back closer to the priests. It’s not what I want.”

Wasn’t “Religion”—

In fact, wrote “Religion,” a PiL song, while I was in the Pistols, but I knew they couldn’t handle it. Just another reason, really, to have to move on. But PiL was well-adapted to that sort of focus.
 

 
What can we expect in the near future? How far are you on this new record?

Well, we’re quite a few tracks in, but have yet to put vocals on any of them. There are many issues going on that are slowing down the work, one of them being a domestic issue that’s really, really challenging and frightening to handle for me at the moment. And it is coming right in the middle of all of this workload, so it’s, like, it’s taking its toll on me. It’s 24/7 having to be alert, and I’m having to find ways of stopping that. It’s very, very, very punishing, that’s all I can tell you. The second half, the American half, I’ll have to do that alone.

Continues after the jump….

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.05.2018
07:24 am
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‘Urban Struggle’: Classic documentary on Black Flag and the Orange County punk scene
10.03.2018
11:04 am
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The first show Henry Rollins ever played in the Los Angeles area as a member of Black Flag took place at the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, on Friday, August 21, 1981. It was a 3 p.m. show, as the flier above indicates. Black Flag were the headliners, with Wasted Youth and Circle One, two hardcore bands from the O.C., serving as openers.

Purportedly the location of the first-ever slam pit, the Cuckoo’s Nest was open from 1976 through 1981, and even that run was only possible because owner Jerry Roach was constantly in court trying to keep the joint open. Every L.A. punk band of note played there, as well as a large number of notable acts passing through (The Ramones, Bad Brains, Violent Femmes, et al.).

In 1981 Paul Young released a short documentary about the club called Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest. Much like the club, the movie has also had its share of turmoil in the legal system. In 2010 Young sued Jonathan W.C. Mills’s documentary We Were Feared, which is also about the Orange County punk scene.
 

 
An important aspect of the Cuckoo’s Nest was its hatred-fueled relationship with the bar next door, named Zubie’s, which catered to suburban cowboy-wannabes. The place actually had an electric bull! The intense fights between the Zubie’s shitkicker crowd and the punks at the Cuckoo’s Nest became the stuff of legend. The Vandals immortalized that conflict in a song called—not coincidentally—”Urban Struggle.”

According to Stevie Chick’s Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag, Dave Markey filmed the show when Rollins made his SoCal debut and took some footage with his 8mm camera: “Everyone was like, ‘Black Flag’s coming, they got a new singer, some kid from D.C.’ Henry had gotten the Black Flag bar tattoos done the day of that show, and when you looked at his arm, you could see how fresh the ink was.” Unsurprisingly, the great photographer Glen E. Friedman was also at the show—any sweet b/w pics you find of Black Flag at the Cuckoo’s Nest come directly from him.

Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest is a terrific document of one of the country’s most important punk scenes. It features killer footage of Black Flag playing “Six Pack” (you can even see Henry’s new tattoo) as well as performances by Circle Jerks and T.S.O.L.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.03.2018
11:04 am
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Dave Greenfield’s pre-Stranglers bubblegum single
09.28.2018
07:48 am
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The Italian sleeve of the Blue Maxi’s 1970 single (via Discogs)
 
Keyboardist Dave Greenfield had been playing in rock and roll bands for over a decade when he joined the Stranglers in 1975. I have not yet managed to hear the pre-Stranglers groups the Initials (pictured below), Freeway or Credo, but Greenfield’s old prog band Rusty Butler, whose name suggests a particularly arcane and challenging sex act, has a few tracks up on this YouTube channel, and a record survives by a combo called the Blue Maxi.
 

The Initials in Germany, 1967; Dave Greenfield on organ at far right (via SMART)
 
Here’s what the Stranglers’ “authorised,” “uncensored” and way out-of-print biography No Mercy has to say about Greenfield’s early years in music:

Dave left school at 17 before his A levels, and spent the whole of his 18th year in Germany playing covers at gigs in American bases and civilian clubs. The next half-a-dozen years or more were spent travelling to and from the continent, working in England to raise the capital to finance a music career in Germany. In the late 60s and early 70s, Germany was home to some of the greatest talents in the pantheon of rock – Kraftwerk, Can, Faust, Cluster and Tangerine Dream . . . But Germany was also an important market for more mainstream pop acts and had a booming club circuit, ideal for both the journeyman professional or the ingénue keen to learn his or her trade. Back in Brighton in the frequent gaps between tours, he earned some extra cash tuning piano and mastering the now out-of-date technique of compositing for his Dad’s printing firm. Like JJ, he also developed something of an infatuation with motorcycles, although his interest has not maintained the Burnel proportions of idolatry still in evidence to this day. Dave was the only one of the band who was a true musician before becoming a Strangler and, in his spells in the UK had worked professionally in groups such as The Initials, Rusty Butler, and Credo.

 

The French sleeve of the single (via Discogs)
 
In 1970, Greenfield played on the Blue Maxi’s lone 45, a bubblegum (psych-pop?) cover of Jerry Keller’s 1958 teenage idyll “Here Comes Summer,” released on the Major Minor label. Greenfield’s organ is lower in the mix than it is on the Stranglers’ records, but that’s unmistakably him pictured on the sleeve of the French single, third from the left, flashing a peace sign. To my ears, the Blue Maxi sounds like it would have been at home on Buddah Records. Enjoy its sunny, uncomplicated groove below.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.28.2018
07:48 am
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Before they were Black Flag: New book unearths shots of Panic in 1978
09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Forty years ago, the ink was still wet on Bomp! Records’ deal with a South Bay punk band called Panic. Several months would elapse before the group played its first real show at a Moose Lodge on the Pacific Coast Highway, but Panic had already committed eight well-rehearsed songs to tape, and Bomp! had agreed to release half of these on a seven-inch record before Thanksgiving. “Nervous Breakdown,” “Fix Me,” “I’ve Had It,” “Wasted”: all pure expressions of the Southern Californian desire for an immediate, total brainectomy.

Bomp! sat on the Nervous Breakdown EP. The 60-day period stipulated in the contract came and went. By February ‘79, when guitarist Greg Ginn released his band’s debut record through his ham radio mail-order company, SST, they had changed their name to Black Flag. But in October ‘78, when they were still called Panic and still expecting Bomp! to bring Nervous Breakdown into the world, Ginn sent the label a packet of photos and negatives for promotional purposes. These sat in a filing cabinet until about 2007, when they turned up in the excavation of the Bomp! warehouse that followed the untimely death of label boss Greg Shaw. Now, Ryan Richardson has collected them in the handsome hardcover volume PANIC!
 

 
It’s a mystery who shot these photos of Keith Morris, Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski and Robo. The letter Ginn enclosed with the pictures in ‘78 indicates they are the work of two different photographers, but Richardson tells me none of the band members recalls who they were. Producer and shutterbug Spot disclaimed the shots, Richardson says; Morris guesses that Ginn’s then-girlfriend (and co-writer of “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Room 13”) Medea Jones might be responsible for some of these pictures, or maybe not.
 

 
A few more shots, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Jello Biafra drumming in a punk band, 1979
09.14.2018
06:35 am
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Jello Biafra came to the aid of fellow punks at a show in 1979. For one song, captured on videotape, he manned the 4 Skins’ drum kit.

As will be immediately apparent, these are not the 4-Skins of Oi! fame, but an unrelated outfit from Portland, Oregon. Everything I know about these 4 Skins and their performance with Jello comes from the notes provided by the person who posted this on YouTube: Eddie Morgan, whose copy editor must be on vacation.

1979 the 4 skins opened for the dead kennedys,but there drummer at the time never showed up so jello biafra played the drums,,,,4 skins where a crazy young punk band from portland oregon ,with mark bar,Phil meanie and eddie jetson and the great sam henry on drums….sam played with the wipers,eddie started a band in san francisco called condemned to death,phil moved to new york ,,,and mark bar stayed in portland and played in many great bands…..video by Mike Lastra.

Given the striking resemblance of the backdrop and Biafra’s outfit in this clip to those in the widely bootlegged video of the Dead Kennedys’ Earth Tavern show in Portland on November 19, 1979—also directed by Mike Lastra of Smegma—I think we know when and where this was shot. It would also be a shocking coincidence if the Eddie Morgan who posted this on YouTube turned out to be a different person than the Eddie Morgan who sang in a Portland punk band under the name Eddie Jetson.

Incidentally, have you ever heard David Thomas of Pere Ubu play guitar on the Pagans’ “Boy Can I Dance Good”?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.14.2018
06:35 am
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Billy Idol and Dr. Timothy Leary jamming in the studio
09.13.2018
08:30 am
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“Outlaw Tech. Rebel Science. Information is the ammunition, your mind is the target.”

Cyberpunk entered the world borne on gusts of hype. Billy Idol’s previous three albums and the greatest-hits comp Vital Idol had all been certified platinum, and the term “cyberpunk” was strained by heavy use in 1993, invoked to explain such disparate cultural phenomena as Ministry, Freejack, the Bomb Squad, white-guy dreads and the 14.4K modem. Maybe Mr. “Eyes Without A Face” could square this circle. Who better to explain cyberpunk’s continuity with paleopunk? After all, hadn’t his first band been called “Generation X,” another buzzword of the day? If you’re a record executive, you’re going to let Billy have all the binaural recording equipment, Stan Winston special effects and rails of GHB he wants.

Except for those nine dance versions of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin,” Idol’s instincts were solid. The CD and its accompanying interactive press kit on 3.5-inch floppy incorporated the talents of some heavy hitters. However, despite the cover art by bOING bOING’s Mark Frauenfelder, the bass playing by Doug Wimbish, the remake of Blue Pearl’s “Mother Dawn,” and the participation and blessing of arch-cyberpunk Timothy Leary, Cyberpunk sank like a Macintosh Performa tossed on a leaky waterbed. (Don’t let anyone tell you it’s Billy Idol’s worst record, though.)

A couple GHB overdoses later, Billy lost the white-guy dreads and returned to his former shtick; a decade passed before he issued a new LP.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.13.2018
08:30 am
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That time Robert Fripp and Peter Hammill played in the Stranglers
08.24.2018
08:44 am
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JJ Burnel, Richard Jobson and John Ellis on the cover of ‘The Stranglers and Friends Live in Concert’
 
Busted for possession of various drugs late in 1979, Hugh Cornwell was tried the following January and sentenced to an eight-week stretch in Pentonville. The sentence was bad news for Hugh, and it was bad news for ticketholders to the Stranglers’ upcoming engagement at the Rainbow with opening acts UB40 and the Monochrome Set (night one) and Joy Division and Section 25 (night two).

The Stranglers rallied. Instead of canceling the Rainbow dates, they put together a special set with guests from the Cure, the Members, Steel Pulse, Hawkwind, Stiff Little Fingers, Dr. Feelgood and the Vibrators. Hazel O’Connor, Toyah Willcox, Ian Dury and Richard Jobson took turns at the mike, and the missing singer and guitarist was hung in effigy to mark his absence. 

Best of all, they got Peter Hammill to sing two songs from The Raven, the title tune and “Shah Shah A Go Go,” along with the crowd-crushing first track from Black and White, “Tank.” On the second night’s performance of “Tank,” they managed to reunite Hammill with his sometime collaborator, the good, great and excellent guitarist Robert Fripp. “Tank” was the only number to feature both men; Fripp also played on the evening’s versions of “Threatened” and “Toiler on the Sea,” the latter sung by Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels.
 

JJ Burnel and Ian Dury onstage at the Rainbow (via Aural Sculptors)
 
There are fewer photos of these shows floating around than I would have thought, considering how many and how vivid are the images they conjure before my mind’s eye. One concertgoer remembers that when Billy Idol tried to join the company onstage for the second night’s encore, he “was promptly put on his arse by JJ Burnel.”

Highlights of the second night at the Rainbow appeared (at least semi-officially?) on the CD The Stranglers and Friends Live in Concert, and a bootleg with additional tracks exists. Cornwell wrote about his time behind bars in the booklet Inside Information, which is reprinted in his autobiography, A Multitude of Sins. Below, hear the angelic sounds Hammill and Fripp made as short-term Stranglers.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.24.2018
08:44 am
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Boy George presents Captain Sensible and Lene Lovich in grossout animal rights film ‘Meathead’


 
The bad news first: the episode of Boy George’s nineties talk show Blue Radio on which Poly Styrene appeared, though she said she almost didn’t make it because of a close encounter with a spaceship, has not yet entered the worldwide digital video stream. Pair that with Lora Logic singing “Bow Down Mister” and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a quality Dangerous Minds post!

But while scouring the intertubes in search of material for the Boy George/X-Ray Spex/Hare Krishna ultramegapost already inked in the book of my dreams, I came across this curiosity. Half of Meathead is like every other animal rights movie you’ve ever seen—emetic camcorder tape of fowl, ruminants, canines and hogs trudging through their relatives’ offal in cramped pens, proceeding inevitably toward the animal-snuff-film equivalent of the money shot—but half of it is a black-and-white narrative about a rich guy with an insatiable hunger for gore, fed by his maid (Lene Lovich) and a hamburger-juggling clown (Captain Sensible). If you make it to the end without hurling all over your keyboard, you’ll see Boy George’s interview with director Gem de Silva. Beware: you may blow chunks.

Never having listened to Captain Sensible’s 1995 double album Meathead, I can’t say if the connection between the CD and the film extends beyond a shared disgust with flesh food. But I guarantee the film is much shorter.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.16.2018
08:56 am
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