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Jello Biafra and his father interviewed at the ‘Frankenchrist’ obscenity trial
06.22.2018
08:54 am
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Jello Biafra in court, 1987 (via Heather Harris Photography)
 
In December 1985, a Southern Californian teenager named Tammy Scharwath bought the Dead Kennedys’ latest album, Frankenchrist, from the Wherehouse at the Northridge shopping mall. Then her mother saw the poster of H. R. Giger’s “Penis Landscape” included with the record and lodged a complaint with the Los Angeles city attorney, setting in motion a series of events that culminated in the breakup of the Dead Kennedys and a 1987 obscenity trial for singer Jello Biafra.

The hysteria that surrounded rap and rock music 30 years ago is hard to imagine today, now that the anti-smut crusaders have elevated Mr. Obscenity himself to the White House, but the incoherent language of the reactionary right hasn’t changed much: at one point during the trial, in an ecstasy of outrage, the prosecutor compared H. R. Giger to the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. (Biafra discusses the PMRC “porn rock” panic and recounts the whole ugly Frankenchrist mess from his point of view on his second spoken word release, High Priest of Harmful Matter.)

During the trial, the Canadian TV show The NewMusic sent correspondent Erica Ehm to Los Angeles, where she interviewed Jello and his father at the courthouse. How cool was Jello’s dad?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.22.2018
08:54 am
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For an unbelievable trove of indie/punk bootlegs from the 1980s, the McKenzie Tapes has you covered
06.19.2018
08:55 am
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Any music fan from the New York City area knows what an important part of the city’s music scene Maxwell’s was, until recently located in Hoboken, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from the West Village. Yo La Tengo, the Feelies, and Sonic Youth are three frequently cited bands in connection with Maxwell’s but it was so much more than a regular venue for great local bands. I became familiar with the venue well after its true heyday of the 1980s but I still saw a ton of incredible bands there—the Wrens, Archers of Loaf, the Frames, Bobby Conn, Future of the Left, Os Mutantes, the Unicorns, etc. etc. For decades now, Hoboken has been on an implacable course of gentrification, of course, to the point that scruffy and legendary music venues can’t hack it there anymore. Sadly, Maxwell’s closed its doors for good in 2013.

One of the Maxwell’s employees back in the day was a fellow named David McKenzie, who cleverly recorded a huge number of gigs at the venue (and elsewhere). Recently he entrusted his buddy Tom to get them online in a responsible fashion, and the result is The McKenzie Tapes, a charming blog that features high-quality uploads of McKenzie’s, er, tapes. Every post includes a modest amount of context (just right, a couple of key facts but it’s generally just a paragraph) as well as pictures of the cassette, the ticket, and the show’s listing in the Village Voice, where available. It’s this last bit that has me so fascinated:
 




 
I learned via those listings something I didn’t know, which is that Maxwell’s used to show movies like Fritz the Cat and Los Olvidados and Rumble Fish.

The McKenzie Files covers approximately 1985 through to the early 2000s, and while most of the shows took place at Maxwell’s, you also get a nice cross-section of Manhattan venues of the period such as Brownie’s, Bowery Ballroom, CBGB’s, Irving Plaza, Coney Island High, and so forth. (City Gardens in Trenton also gets represented.) Once in a while you get a true outlier like a show from The Hague in the Netherlands but Dag Nasty at Maxwell’s (1988) is what the blog was constructed to provide.

The mid-1980s was an interesting period during which the grassroots fandom of indie rock had reached a groundswell of sorts (cf. Huskers jumping to Warner Bros.), with some of the no-fi champs from earlier in the decade showing impressive maturation (Sonic Youth). The blog features some incredible documents, such as SY playing a big chunk of Daydream Nation before the album’s release, the Feelies filming a set for a Japanese documentary crew, Frenz Experiment-era Fall, and Pixies right after releasing Surfer Rosa.

I mentioned much of this stuff happened before I was going to shows, so I was dubious I would find any gigs I’d been to, but damn if the blog didn’t deliver. I was present at this Rollins Band show at CBGB’s in early 1990, I positioned myself right at the main monitor and Hard Hank sweated on me for the whole show. To this day I don’t think the Rollins Band ever came close to topping Life Time, which is mostly what they played that night.
 
After the jump, listen to the Butthole Surfers play the Marquee in 1991…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.19.2018
08:55 am
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Sheffield Tape Archive, one-stop shop for the Gun Club, Rudimentary Peni, the Fall and Pulp


The 1985 compilation ‘Sheffield Calling’ (via Sheffield Tape Archive)
 
Sheffield Tape Archive collects demos and live tapes recorded in Sheffield and its environs between 1977 and 2007. Nick Taylor, the custodian of the archive, has assembled a bonkers array of musical goods: the 1979 demos of ClockDVA and I’m So Hollow, both recorded (at least in part) at Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works studio; a 1993 Rudimentary Peni gig in Derby that opens and closes with back-to-back performances of “Teenage Time Killer” and “B-Ward”; a Leeds show from Screaming Lord Sutch’s barnstorming anti-Thatcher campaign in 1983; the Fall, live at Hallam University, 1993 (with a great instance of typo-as-rock criticism: “Why Are People Grudgeful?” is mislabeled “Why Are People Grungeful?”); Eighties sets by Crass, Eek-A-Mouse, and Chumbawamba at Sheffield’s Leadmill; a typically flattening 20-minute Stretchheads set from 1990; and much else.

For the Pulp fan, the compilation Live at the Hallamshire Hotel 1981-85 mixes dour performances from ‘84 and ‘85 gigs with live material by the Membranes, Bog-Shed, Heroes of the Beach, and the Wacky Gardeners. Speaking of the Wacky Gardeners, many groups are featured here whose fame has yet to reach our benighted American shores, such as the Fuck City Shitters, Naked Pygmy Voles, the Wealthy Texans and A Major European Group.

Some of the material at Sheffield Tape Archive comes from the collection of the late Sheffield music journalist Martin Lilleker, who suffered from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease before his death in 2016. Taylor donates the proceeds from Lilleker’s tapes to charity.

Here’s Jarvis Cocker playing guitar in ‘82 in one of Taylor’s groups, Heroes of the Beach. They’re doing an original number called, ah, “Psycho Killer” (so named “because it had a bassline similar to the Talking Heads song,” Taylor explains):

 
Listen to some Gun Club. Crass and Clock DVA, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.15.2018
07:44 am
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Punk mystery solved: the face in the Discharge logo is Mark Stewart of the Pop Group
06.07.2018
06:51 am
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One item you might have missed in the neverending news tsunami of the past couple years: the quadrisected, photocopied face in the Discharge logo belongs to the great singer Mark Stewart.

That’s him staring back at you (or so it seems; I always assumed Discharge guy’s eyes were open but hidden by shadows, not closed as Stewart’s are) on the reverse of Discharge’s first seven-inches, “Realities of War,” “Fight Back” and “Decontrol,” not to mention all those T-shirts, back patches and leather jackets. The image comes from the print ad for the Pop Group’s debut single, “She Is Beyond Good And Evil” b/w “3’38,” released in 1979, when Stewart was still a teenager.


The ad for the Pop Group’s first single in the March 31, 1979 issue of NME (via Beat Chapter)


The back cover of Discharge’s first release, ‘Realities of War’ (‘thanks to no fucker’)

The Pop Group posted one Randulf Stiglitz’s astonished discovery of the Discharge logo’s identity on Facebook last year. I assumed it would pass immediately therefrom into the common fund of human wisdom, so I did not write about it at the time. As it happened, everyone was distracted by alarming signs of the human species’ descent into barbarism, with the result that news algorithms—today’s cigar-chomping J. Jonah Jamesons—buried this fun fact on the last page of the internet. So enjoy it again, for the first time!
 

 
After the jump, video clips of Discharge and the Pop Group…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.07.2018
06:51 am
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When Johnny Thunders endorsed Jesse Jackson’s presidential bid in song
05.18.2018
08:51 am
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Let it be said that I had this, at least, in common with Johnny Thunders: we both supported Jesse Jackson’s candidacy in 1988. I was just starting the fourth grade, and Johnny was getting ready to graduate from the planet Earth, but we were both willing to forgive Jackson’s offensive characterization of NYC as “Hymietown” and his prudish condemnations of “sex-rock.”

This video of Thunders’ impassioned plea to the American soul comes from September 4, 1988, the last day of the Hotpoint festival in Lausanne, Switzerland. The DNC had come and gone, with Bill Clinton’s windy nomination and Michael Dukakis’ narcotizing acceptance speech. No matter: Johnny Thunders still liked Jackson’s chances, and if he was discouraged by Dukakis’ nomination or Bush’s subsequent election, he gave no sign. He kept “Glory, Glory” in the set in 1989, and when he entered the studio in 1990, Thunders was still stumping for the Rev.

Here, weeks before the first broadcast of the Willie Horton ad, Johnny Thunders sounds like a schoolboy telling the Swiss festival crowd why he’s for Jesse Jackson. Then he “takes them to church”:

Okay! Well, I’m from America, and we’re having a presidental—presidential election. And I think, uh, the only person that I think is worthy of being a president of America is Jesse.

Oh, Jesse!

Oh, Jesse, Jesse Jackson!

Ooh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse! etc.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.18.2018
08:51 am
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New book collects every issue of the Crass zine ‘International Anthem’


The ‘domestic violence issue’ of International Anthem, 1979
 
This deserves more press than it’s received: a new book collects every issue of International Anthem: A Nihilist Newspaper for the Living, including two never before published. The volume is an official product of “the publishing wing of Crass and beyond,” the venerable Exitstencil Press.

International Anthem was Gee Vaucher’s newspaper, but denying its connection to the band would be a challenge. Its 1978-‘83 run coincided, roughly, with Crass’s (as opposed to, say, Exit‘s), and the Crass logo sometimes appeared on the paper’s cover (see above). Eve Libertine, $ri Hari Nana B.A., Penny Rimbaud, G. Sus (aka Gee Vaucher) and Dave King contributed to its pages.
 

Gee Vaucher collage from International Anthem #2 (via ArtRabbit)
 
The book contains scans of the originals (“bad printing, creases, mistakes and all”), reproduced at full size. If it is good to buy quality art books, it is better to buy them directly from the artist. Buddhists call it “accumulating merit,” and they say you want to do a lot of it in this life, so you don’t have to come back as Eric Trump. Below, consume two hours of Crass programming broadcast on Australia’s JJJ Radio in 1987, featuring some Crass texts read in Australian accents and contemporary interviews with Gee and Penny at Dial House.

Help Gee Vaucher collect 20 million hand-drawn stick figures for her World War I project.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.17.2018
08:47 am
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‘I Just Want Some Skank’: They made a punk porno based on Penelope Spheeris’ cult film ‘Suburbia’
05.16.2018
09:22 am
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Is punk dead? It seems that every few years we have a newer, more embarrassing reason to justify its denouncement. Be it fame, the man, yuppies, or Malcom McLaren’s son burning £5m of memorabilia, punk rock has died many deaths—and it will probably continue dying until the end of mankind. The culprit? The mainstream media and its appropriation and exploitation of the punk subculture and aesthetic. The ideology at its core will hopefully live on. The look/uniform of punk? Why not be a hippie? You’d be being “more different,” right?

The modern porno doesn’t require much creativity. It’s hard to say whether the target audience has much of a preference for creative expression within the conversational narrative. And by that, I’m talking about the various situational anecdotes in which penetration occurs. You know, like the ‘barely legal’ sexy school teacher scenario, the plumber who ‘fixes’ more than just a broken pipe, or the busty MILF who gets it on with her horny step-son. I haven’t seen every adult film, but I would say it probably feels special when there is at least some thought put into explaining how these people found themselves in these most peculiar of situations. Otherwise, why keep it in there at all? Obviously we’re all there to watch people have sex, but if you’re going to tell a story, tell it right!

“Alt-porn” is a form of adult entertainment intended for those who cannot relate to the staleness of your average Joe skin flick. Films often involve participants of underrepresented cultures, like goth or cyberpunk, and actors are often tattooed, pierced, and have colored hair. The SuicideGirls are probably the most well-known example of alternative pornography, although the style dates back to the early nineties. Underground filmmaker Nick Zedd’s Cinema of Transgression was thought to contain some early elements of alt-porn.

Back in 2002, adult film producer Jim Powers released his own fleshy homage to the punk rock archetype with the truly hardcore flick, Little Runaway. The hundred-minute X-rated film features a cast of tatted, studded, and mohawked misfits, as they fuck to a soundtrack of notable punk ‘bangers’ by the likes of US Bombs, D.I., The Stitches, Lower Class Brats, and The Sick. The best of all is that this porno is an adaptation film and is pretty faithfully based on Penelope Spheeris and Roger Corman’s 1984 cult classic—and one of the greatest punk genre films ever made—Suburbia.
 

 
Little Runaway opens with Rachel Rotten, a suburban punk girl who struggles with the unreasonable standards of her monotonous home life. Her father, your quintessential sleazy middle-aged male porn actor, has removed Rachel’s rock ‘n’ roll posters and replaced them with dolls and other girly paraphernalia. “Halloween is over,” Rachel’s father tells her, physically threatening his daughter to change out of her Black Flag t-shirt. Rachel accuses her father of having a sexual relationship with her step-sister, which he denies. Then, without even skipping a beat, a very graphic sex scene begins, involving the father and his underage step-daughter.
 

‘Fuck you dad!’
 

 
Rachel hitchhikes to a very early-aughts Hollywood Blvd and soon finds herself at a US Bombs show. It is not long before Rachel is drugged by a creepy dude at the bar and is eventually carried off by her punk savior, Rob Rotten. Rachel awakes the next morning at Rob’s crash pad and becomes witness to a vulgar threesome in the other room. Rachel’s voyeurism turns her on and she is approached by Rob, who initiates certain lewd acts upon her person and in her mouth. Rob has a tattoo on his dick that reads “POISON.” He also has a tattoo of a Nazi flag on the back of his leg. Yeah…. ‘alt-porn.’
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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05.16.2018
09:22 am
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Tricia Nixon’s wedding travestied by the Cockettes, 1971


via IMDb
 
Tricia’s Wedding, a 33-minute dramatization of the solemn rite that joined Patricia Nixon and Edward Cox in holy matrimony, was the first movie the Cockettes made. Per Kenneth Turan, it premiered at the Palace Theater in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco on the very day of the happy event, June 12, 1971. Not only is the Cockettes’ movie much livelier than the televised ceremony, it includes the all-too-brief screen debut of Tomata du Plenty, some five years before he formed the Screamers in Los Angeles.

Incredibly, the Cockettes’ movie was screened in the Nixon White House. In Blind Ambition, John Dean mentions watching it in the president’s bomb shelter underneath the East Wing, John Ehrlichman’s favorite spot for “monitoring” protests. There, Dean saw Tricia’s Wedding on the orders of H.R. “Bob” Haldeman:

I knew I wouldn’t use the shelter for monitoring demonstrations, although Haldeman had told me that that would be one of my responsibilities. The only time I ever returned there was for a secret screening of Tricia’s Wedding, a pornographic movie portraying Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Edward Cox, in drag. Haldeman wanted the movie killed, so a very small group of White House officials watched the cavorting transvestites in order to weigh the case for suppression. Official action proved unnecessary; the film died a natural death.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.10.2018
08:28 am
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Of Skank Kids, Germs and Circle Jerks: The influential punk art & comics of Shawn Kerri


A flyer by artist Shawn Kerri for the Circle Jerks from 1981
 

“I’ve never gotten the same thrill out of having one of my cartoons printed in a magazine as much as seeing one of my old fliers — something I did for a punk gig the week before — laying in the gutter. Seeing it all mashed and dirty thrilled me, because that was how I was living, too. It looked exactly like my life.”

—artist Shawn Kerri

Artist Shawn Kerri (Shawn Maureen Fitzgerald) spent most of her life growing up near San Diego before taking off to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Kerri was just nineteen when she showed up at the office of CARtoons magazine looking for work and quickly became one of the magazine’s only female illustrators for much of its entire run. A huge fan of hot automobiles herself, Kerri drove a badass 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air around LA hitting up shows and soaking in the city at every stop. Swept up in the furor of late 70s and early 80s southern California punk, Kerri’s artwork quickly became a favorite of bands like Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., the Germs and others which were used for show flyers, posters, and album art. Perhaps her most intrinsic contribution to the punk scene is the “Skank Kid,”(as originally drawn and named by Kerri), the high-stepping hardcore mascot of the Circle Jerks since the early 1980s. You know, this guy:
 

The Skank Kid skanking by Shawn Kerri in 1981.
 
Early on in her career, Kerri worked along with her then-boyfriend, another notable illustrator entrenched in the punk scene, Marc Rude, an artist some consider to be one of the fathers of underground punk art. They would collaborate on a zine called Rude Situation but would part ways. Kerri would go on to score work in tons of publications such as Cracked, adult magazines like Hustler,  Chic, and Gentleman’s Companion—as well as underground comix and zines like Cocaine Comix, Commies from Mars and Flipside. During her active time as an artist, she was wildly prolific, though not as well known as her peers like Rude, Pushead and fellow SoCal legend Raymond Pettibon. Perhaps it was because Kerri didn’t care to engage in copyright disputes. Such a situation presented itself in 1986 when the agent and record label for one of Kerri’s favorite bands, Circle Jerks, took it upon themselves to claim ownership of the Skank Kid image. Instead of engaging in a long and expensive legal fight, she allegedly signed over the rights to her image to Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris.

Another compelling piece of Kerri’s story are the rumors concerning her death sometime in the 1990s—which have been disputed by many claiming to know otherwise. According to this article, Kerri died shortly before her 40th birthday after falling down the stairs at her mother’s home in San Diego. And this is where we swing back to Kerri’s former boyfriend Marc Rude for what is likely the correct version of what happened to her. According to an article via Maximum Rock N Roll, Carl Schneider, the filmmaker behind the 2014 documentary on Marc Rude, Mad Marc Rude: Blood, Ink & Needles, paid a visit to Kerri at her mother’s home sometime in 2004 and confirmed the artist was still very much alive but in rather poor health. For what it is worth, Kerri’s Wiki page does not note she has passed, listing only the year of her birth which is 1958. Whatever the case, it would be my hope the talented, passionate punk is loved and staying strong somewhere in sunny SoCal. I know Kerri’s dedicated fan-base would love to know more about her current status, as would I. 

I’ve posted images of Kerri’s work below as well as a few images of her adult-oriented work published using the name Dee Lawdid. Some are NSFW. Skank or die!
 

The front cover of the 1980 album by Eddie and the Subtitles, ‘Fuck You Eddie!” by Shawn Kerri.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.08.2018
10:57 am
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All I Want is SNATCH: The amazing female punk duo that you’ve probably never heard of
05.01.2018
02:55 pm
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“I met Judy on the phone. I was having a transatlantic conversation on the phone with a friend in London. I was in NY at the time, and Judy was in his studio. When I came to London in about ‘74 we became good friends. We were trying our best to get something going, we were both creative chicks… We both had ideas of sorts.

For two foreign chicks living in London, what is there really to do? So that’s why Rock & Roll! It was the obvious thing to do out of boredom. We thought about forming a band together. We worked on basic lyrics and melodies and things. But it was hard trying to find people who understood where we were coming from. At that time all the punks were suddenly beginning to appear. Everyone was into saying, “I’m a punk. I’m cool, I’m aggressive, we’re going to change it” and all this shit. ”—from an interview with Jon Savage in Search & Destroy #8

Even the most hardcore rock snob has probably never heard of Snatch. If they have it’s usually in connection with Brian Eno, who they recorded an amazing song about the Red Army Faction with in 1978 (“R.A.F.” was the b-side of the “King’s Lead Hat” single). I discovered them when the striking picture sleeve of “All I Want” jumped out at me as I flipped through a well-curated box of 45s at my friend Nate Cimmino’s apartment in the East Village in the mid-1980s. The cover, scuffed and reproduced poorly here, was really something, gold-gilded text and faux silk portraits of hottie punkettes Patti Palladin on one side and Judy Nylon on the other. The way the printing is done on it, it’s like one of those Virgin Mary clocks they sell in Tijuana. “They sound like The Shangri-las if they’d have been crack smokers, I think you’ll really like them!” he said enthusiastically.

Nate certainly knew my taste in music. I promptly spent the next few years searching in vain for their ultra rare records. Eventually I found them all. And they’re on the Internet now, of course, so you can check them out for yourself. There is not a whole lot written about them that I can find. They were two expat American girls living in London and Greg Shaw of Bomp Records released their first single in 1976. They recorded sporadically until 1980 and their singles and some demos were collected on a compilation album in 1983.
 

 
Judy Nylon moved to London in 1970 and was a part of the orbits of both Roxy Music and the Sex Pistols. She was pals with Chrissie Hynde and John Lydon and was probably Brian Eno’s girlfriend at some point (I think we can safely assume that “Back in Judy’s Jungle” is about her, possibly even about her snatch). In addition to Snatch, Nylon recorded (she does the female lead vocal on “The Man Who Couldn’t Afford to Orgy”) and toured with John Cale and went on to make an album in 1982 with Adrian Sherwood and members of the New Age Steppers called Pal Judy. Patti Palladin worked with the Flying Lizards and later recorded an incredible album of cover song duets with ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders titled Copy Cats. This little-known album boasts some of the very best music Thunders ever made.

Judy Nylon is also credited by Eno as helping him accidentally “discover” ambient music:

“My friend Judy Nylon visited me and brought me a record of eighteenth-century harp music. After she had gone, and with some considerable difficulty, I put on the record [Eno had just been released from the hospital and was bedridden]. Having laid down, I realized that the amplifier was set at an extremely low level, and that one channel of the stereo had failed completely. Since I hadn’t the energy to get up and improve matters, the record played on almost inaudibly. This presented what was for me a new way of hearing music—as part of the ambience of the environment just as the color of the light and the sound of the rain were parts of that ambience. It is for this reason that I suggest listening to my pieces at comparatively low levels, even to the extent that it frequently falls below the threshold of audibility.”

The Snatch compilation that originally came out in 1983 was reissued as a limited edition vinyl LP by Light in the Attic for this year’s Record Store Day.
 
More more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.01.2018
02:55 pm
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