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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 Back in Brighton in the frequent gaps between tours, he earned some extra cash tuning piano and mastering the now out-of-date technique of compositing for his Dad’s printing firm.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…

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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’
08.16.2018
08:56 am
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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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Apocalypso: Watch Stiv Bators & the Lords of the New Church implode during their infamous final gig
07.30.2018
06:10 pm
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Although they never really seemed to quite enter the posthumous pantheon of great late and lamented post-punk bands like, say, the Gun Club, and are unlikely ever to inspire any sort of critical reappraisal, the Lords of the New Church—a “supergroup” formed in 1981 by Dead Boys vocalist Stiv Bators, original Damned guitarist/songwriter Brian James (he wrote “Neat Neat Neat,” “New Rose” and most their first two albums) and the insanely tight and powerful rhythm section of former Sham 69 bassist Dave Tregunna and ex-Barracudas drummer Nick Turner—are, in my opinion, pretty worthy of it. Well at least their first album is.

The group’s rhythm section originally consisted of Generation X bassist Tony James (later of Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and two-time Clash drummer Terry Chimes (he was a member of the only band that matters both before Topper Headon joined and after his sacking) and the Damned’s Rat Scabies had also played drums for a single gig before Turner replaced him. The classic line-up of the Lords, a brash, trashy punk tornado of a band in the mold of the Stooges and the Dolls had all the subtlety of a flame thrower. I saw them live on their first tour and they were utterly awe-inspiring. Their messianic revolutionary street gang warlord “message” was original for the time and spoke to kids like me who were tired of their parents’ religion during the early Reagan years, an epoch that felt like the end of the world was just around the corner from a nuclear attack launched by a senile Republican president…

Perhaps sniffing something similar in the air, the first Lords of the New Church album was re-released by Blixa Sounds Records last week as a deluxe two CD edition along with a blistering 1982 live set included. I’ve had a review copy for about the past two months and I must say, hearing that album again for the first time after… what… 36 years… every single note and every word was still etched in my memory like something by the Stones or Led Zeppelin. That album—practically every single song—is fuckin’ catchy. These riff-heavy songs stick in your craw like the catchiest things on the Nuggets comp and indeed they cover Balloon Farm’s “A Question of Temperature” so this isn’t exactly a coincidence that one might note this. After all those years, it sounded really really good to me and once The Lords of the New Church went into my car’s CD player several weeks ago, well, I still can’t find any reason to hit eject on it. It’s a short album—just over 30 minutes and a frantic burst of energy from the start to finish—and I’ve played it over and over and over again and I’ve yet to grow tired of it. If you fondly recall this album like I do—I mean, to be honest I had practically forgotten that it had ever existed—or even if you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend it to you either way. It’s an unsung classic and it’s really fucking good…

After that first one the Lords got a bit too Billy Idol meets Hanoi Rocks for me and I stopped following them.
 

 
Now here’s a tale about the end of the band: The Lords were dropped by their record label, IRS, in 1986. They got a new drummer and continued gigging around England and Europe sporadically for a few years. During one show at London’s Astoria Theater, Stiv—a physical performer who once became unconscious and nearly died after a theatrical onstage “hanging” went awry—badly injured his back. The band was set to play another show at the Astoria on May 2nd of 1989, but Bators was apparently not being very cooperative and Brian James placed musician wanted ads in various UK music papers to find someone to replace him.

Bators heard about the “NAME BAND” help wanted ad and he was furious. With a black felt-tipped marker he reproduced the ad large on a white tee-shirt, and agreed to perform with the band at the Astoria not letting on that he knew about the move to turf him from the group he led.

During the encore, Stiv comes out with the tee-shirt on, making sure that both the audience and his fellow band members can clearly read it.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.30.2018
06:10 pm
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The Gun Club, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer on ‘Art Fein’s Poker Party’
07.24.2018
08:28 am
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Art Fein, Bull Moose Jackson and Paul Body, 1985 (via Another Fein Mess)
 
You know what they say: “Ain’t no YouTube rabbit hole like an Art Fein’s Poker Party YouTube rabbit hole, ‘cause an Art Fein’s Poker Party YouTube rabbit hole goes deep into the bowels of the internet for a very great distance.” It is whispered in some corners of the web that there are as many episodes of Art Fein’s Poker Party as there are stars in the universe.

Fein, the onetime manager of the Cramps and author of The L.A. Musical History Tour, hosted a freewheeling talk show on public access during the eighties, nineties and nothings. Art Fein’s Poker Party was broadcast from sea to shining sea; John Peel watched it. The show presented its guests—Arthur Lee, Nick Lowe, Brian Wilson, Al Kooper, Peter Buck, Randy California, Willy DeVille, Tav Falco, Dion, Pearl Harbour, Willie Dixon, Chris Spedding, P. F. Sloan, Peter Case, Ike Turner, Mojo Nixon, Carlos Guitarlos, Jerry Cole, Peter Holsapple, Dr. Demento, Dwight Yoakam, Brendan Mullen, Harvey Sid Fisher, Steve Allen, et al.—as you might have encountered them over a meal or a drink, telling jokes, obsessing over favorite records, trying to one-up each other’s road stories. They sang and played real pretty sometimes, too.

Below are clips from appearances by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Joe Strummer. Art Fein, please upload the Arthur Lee episode of Poker Party to your luminiferous YouTube account.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Paul Body:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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07.24.2018
08:28 am
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Brian Eno, Debbie Harry play movie soundtracks on ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell’s internet radio show
06.28.2018
08:18 am
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The March 3, 1979 issue of ‘Record Mirror’
 
Last summer, I posted clips from MrDeMilleFM, the new internet radio venture of former Stranglers singer and guitarist Hugh Cornwell. It’s devoted entirely to movies and their music, and it’s fun. Hugh’s got specials on William Wellman, John Frankenheimer, Lana Turner, Gloria Grahame and Steve McQueen; he’s got interviews with Ken Loach, John Sayles, John Altman, Peter Webber and David Puttnam. Behold his mighty hand!

Since that time, two episodes of Cornwell’s old internet radio show, Sound Trax FM, have surfaced in the MrDeMilleFM archive. These will interest DM readers, because Hugh’s guests are Brian Eno and Debbie Harry, playing and talking about their favorite movie music.

Among the records Eno spins during his 80-minute visit with Cornwell are Samira Tewfik’s “Hobbak Morr,” the source for “A Secret Life” on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and “I’m Deranged,” the immortal track from Bowie and Eno’s Outside that David Lynch took as the theme for Lost Highway. Speaking about which, Eno praises the still unreleased album-length improvisation he and Bowie recorded at the beginning of the Outside sessions:

In a room together, we played for 72 minutes a kind of suite, really, which he improvised the singing over, and it turned into this amazingly complex and interesting story which finally became something called “Leon,” which sort of became the backbone of the album Outside. But the original improvisation, which I listened to not very long ago, is absolutely incredible! You think: How could anyone do this without having a plan in advance?

 

 
Debbie Harry’s episode is too short at 47 minutes, but she brings along the best song on the Performance soundtrack and talks about working with David Cronenberg on Videodrome and John Waters on Hairspray.

Tracklists and the shows, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.28.2018
08:18 am
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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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