Michael Moorcock’s TV special on ‘positive punk,’ featuring Siouxsie, 1983

Positive punks in the February 1983 issue of The Face
In 1983, Michael Moorcock, the science fiction writer who collaborated with Hawkwind and wrote the novelization of The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, hosted an episode of London Weekend Television’s South of Watford that investigated the new phenomenon of “positive punk.” Yer tiz.

In the frame story, Moorcock visits the Tribe to take in a bill of Blood and Roses and Brigandage and meet some of these positive punks of whom he has heard tell. But it feels like the story Moorcock really wants to tell is how punk rock fell short of its revolutionary ambitions, and he interviews several ‘76 alumni about punk’s failure to bring about “permanent change.”

Jon Savage, punk’s Herodotus, says everything that followed the Sex Pistols was a disappointment:

I remember Jamie Reid telling me that they all hoped—they all thought that they would just be the start. And what in fact happened is [the Sex Pistols] were the only punk group, and most of the other ones that came out afterwards were, if not pathetic, then sort of fatally flawed. I mean, the Clash, after being initially wonderful, turned into a bunch of social workers. Very successful, very honorable social workers, but social workers nonetheless. And, you know, the Damned and all the others were just sort of hyped-up entertainment, really. I mean, I’m not putting them down for that, but it meant that the original thing was diluted, and that sort of very pure expression of energy got diluted.

Identifying Siouxsie Sioux as the main inspiration for punk’s resurgence, Moorcock meets up with her and Steven Severin in a Camden shop about halfway through the show. As they tell it, punk 1.0 collided with a music industry “full of idiots” and a sclerotic media environment.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall
09:08 am
‘Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City’: Iggy Pop rocks the Cleveland local news, 1979

Not sure how or why this happened, glad it did: Cleveland-by-god-Ohio’s blandly caucasoid time-filler news magazine show Afternoon Exchange visited Iggy Pop during his rehearsal/soundcheck at the Agora Ballroom one day in November of 1979. Iggy’s touring band that year featured founding Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and guitarist Brian James in-between his stints in the Damned and Lords of the New Church. Further name-drop action: the video was posted by Zero Defex bassist turned Zen Master (I’m not kidding) Brad Warner.

This all-star band performed “Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City” from the then-forthcoming LP Soldier. Iggy being Iggy, he put on a full show for the local news cameras to benefit an afternoon audience of homemakers, unemployed, and shut-ins, all of whom surely changed their plans for that evening to come out for the concert. Iggy also gracefully endured the goofily clue-deprived questions from milquetoasty interviewer Bob “The Real Bob James” Pondillo, whose enthusiasm is appreciated, but seriously, safety pins in the cheeks? It’s amazing that so many suburban normals seemed to think that kind of thing was standard practice. And how weird is it that he couldn’t name-check the Dead Boys or Pere Ubu, but he knew who the Lepers were?

Iggy’s performance after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
04:08 pm
Videos from the Glen Matlock/Sylvain Sylvain tour are popping up, and now I’m sad that I skipped it
01:02 pm

Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain have been on an acoustic tour of the USA together this month. While the idea of an acoustic tour by two punk pioneers, famous for much more cacophonous music than acoustic guitars are generally associated with, might prompt a smirk or two in some circles, they’ve done this together before, and reviews have generally been quite enthusiastic, with much praise for the casual intimacy of the shows, and for Sylvain and Matlock’s easy humor and engaging storytelling. It would seem that with the tour being such a hit, and given the ease of recording such a stripped-down setup, a live album would be in the offing, but Matlock kiboshed the idea in a recent piece in the Michigan entertainment magazine Revue:

When asked whether or not they would be recording any of the shows for sale later, Matlock was more or less pretty sure that wouldn’t be happening.

“We’re just doing it for fun,” Matlock said. “If you want to hear it, you’ve got to come to the show.”

“Well, CRAP,” said this writer, having totally missed the tour’s stop in his city. But the fan videos being posted online tend to shore up the positive consensus. Check out Sylvain at Detroit’s Magic Bag, performing “Teenage News,” a never-recorded Dolls track that he made the lead-off song on his first solo album, posted by rawdetroit:

Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
01:02 pm
Wendy James: Previously unreleased track ‘Schneider’s Ride’ inspired by Michael Herr’s ‘Dispatches’

Michael Herr’s memoir on the Vietnam War, Dispatches has provided the inspiration for a previously unreleased track by Wendy James called “Schneider’s Ride.” 

“This song was provoked in me by reading, many years ago, and then re-reading Michael Herr’s incredible account of Vietnam: Dispatches,” Wendy tells Dangerous Minds.

“Vietnam is such a flashpoint for transformation around the world, whether viewed by the Vets that served time in it, or the cultural and political shifts that were happening around them and it and the world.”

The title comes from an incident during the War, recorded in Herr’s book, when photographer John Schneider:

“...fixed a white flag to his handle-bars and took a bike from the top of Hill 881 North over to Hill 881 South during a terrible battle, in what came to be known as Schneider’s Ride.”

Herr worked as War Correspondent for Esquire, and Dispatches was hailed (by John Le Carre) as the best book written on men and war In our time. It is the personal stories of the soldiers involved in war which appealed to Herr.

War stories aren’t really anything more than stories about people anyway.

Herr’s writing on soldiers, their lives, and the horrors witnessed, also the book also inspired Wendy James’s song-writing.

“I enjoy very much that team spirit, the brotherhood that arises out of the basic ranks of the Marine Corps, the ‘Grunts’. I think I could handle that stuff… and in Michael Herr’s book, stationed as he was into different postings around the occupation/invasion, he is eye witness to philosophical revelations and frankly, downright absurdist gallows humor. The cynicism the troops feel with the so called leaders in Washington and the full realization that these guys, most often black guys, would be water-hosed back in USA or set on by Strom Thurman’s dogs, are out there serving their country, facing death, and also yukking it up with rock ‘n’ roll and drugs and booze and pictures of sweethearts and far-away pin-ups. What else are you going to do?

“But still these guys, these soldiers, they are match-fit every call of duty. I cannot claim it for myself, but in any war, I imagine, facing death and witnessing the millisecond randomness of living and dying is a soul-changing experience. The one upside is the team spirit with your fellows that you bring home, and carry for life. Maybe the discipline, too.

“Anyway… this song strikes me as a perfectly beautiful moment, not necessarily attached to anything else, but existing in its own space… and so… here it is.”

After his time in Vietnam, Michael Herr returned to the US, then went on the road with Ted Nugent, writing the experience up for Crawdaddy. Dispatches was published in 1977, and Herr then wrote the narration for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), then co-wrote Full Metal Jacket (1987) with Stanley Kubrick, which contained elements of Dispatches.

Wendy James, meanwhile, is currently recording her latest album with an selection of famous and seasoned musicians.

“The line-up is Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols on Bass, Jim Sclavunos from the Bad Seeds and The Cramps on drums, for now I’m on rhythm guitar, but maybe Judah Bauer might come in after his Jon Spencer Blues Explosion dates, if not, then…TBA!  It’ll be someone fabulous!!!

“We’re recording down in the East Village so I can walk Broadway each morning, which is pretty magnificent in itself… New York City is my home-town now, no doubt, it embraces me, captures my imagination, captures my heart. I belong here.”

Wendy has also written eleven new songs (inspired by books, films and some of her favorite bands), which have been described as her best songs yet.

“My fingers are raw and calloused! My voice is pure and strong! My mind is fully charged and focused, and I am happy.”

Wendy then gives a breathless listing of what we can expect.

“Glen and Jim on rhythm section and so much more… these men are so, so talented,” Wendy begins.

“Songs ranging from down-home Howlin’ Wolf dirty blues, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins devilish raconteur-ing, heavy and bad-ass rumbles on guitar, stepchildren of the Stooges and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, a little Who-like odyssey at the top of the album, and journeying on through West Coast desolate surfer Dogtown and Z-Boys music inspired by Joan Didion’s short stories, when the waves are an act of ferocious and glorious nature and human life is tossed about at their will: No Guts, No Glory. Then comes a little Cowboy edge, out there on the high plains drifting with William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody! and my own little personal moment with a song called “Screamin’ Back Washington” which is so deep it cannot be explained… you know, an orphan child…

“Anyway… in a few weeks, it will be done, and then… I’ll be shouting from the rooftops in NYC… Eureka!!!”

And we certainly look forward to that!

Photo of Wendy James by Ricardo Gomes.

Bonus: Michael Herr explains why he went to Vietnam.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:24 pm
The Sex Pistols: Vintage interview with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, 1977

A year on from the release of The Sex Pistols first single “Anarchy in the U.K.” and their infamous appearance on the Today show, Steve Jones and Paul Cook gave their first interview to Australian television.

Lest we forget, it was Jones, more than Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious, who launched the Pistols into the headlines with his stream of abuse at TV presenter Bill Grundy, and certainly without Cook’s disciplined drums and Jones’ era-defining guitar (together with Glen Matlock‘s bass) and their song-writing talents Never Mind the Bollocks would have been a much lesser album.

In this interview from 1977, Jones and Cook talk about the Pistols’ back history, records, and their appearance on the Today show:

Jones: If someone wants an argument, you give them an argument back, don’t ya? He started it. He said, “Go on, you got another 5 seconds.”

Cook: What did you say, Steve?

Jones: I fucking gave him a load of abuse. He asked for, didn’t he? It was pretty funny. It’s like, you know, they put all that on the front-fucking-page for all that. Just for swearing on television. Stupid.

Cook: We forgot about the whole thing, a couple of hours after, we didn’t expect nothing to happen from it.

After The Pistols split, Jones and Cook formed The Professionals, and released the rather neglected album I Didn’t See It Coming.

Check more info at Kick Down The Doors: The Cook ‘n’ Jones site.

Bonus: Full Version sadly not available in US, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:29 am
Who Killed Bill?: The Sex Pistols for Dummies

Who Killed Bill? is a Sex Pistols for Dummies, bargain-bin video, consisting of a mixed collection of original archive news stories (mainly culled from London Weekend Television) and documentary footage, which tells the rise, demise, and return of the legendary band. It’s worth watching for the first fifty minutes or so, before the film veers off into a section on Vivienne Westwood’s fashion, then returning for the Filthy Lucre tour of 1996, and then beyond.

As it’s all original TV archive, there are some classic moments, including the early Janet Street-Porter interviews with the Pistols, and then with Lydon after his spilt, as well as coverage of the public’s fury for the band, and one disgruntled councillor who riffs off a long list of adjectives to describe his distaste for Punk Rock, before finishing with:

“Most of these groups would be improved by sudden death.”

There is also sections on Sid and Nancy the tragic couple and Alex Cox’s film. What’s quite startling is how The Pistols all look so young, and Lydon comes across as a shy, tense, nervous individual who seems ill at ease with his celebrity, describing its affects:

“It ain’t the person who changes, it’s people’s attitude towards them.”

Sadly, no classic tracks, just bogus lift muzak interpretations of a rhythmic Punk guitar. And the Bill of the title is, of course, Bill Grundy, he of the infamous launch-pad, “Filth and Fury” interview.


Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:50 pm