During my recent and ongoing obsession with Aliquippa Pennsylvania's favorite son, the one and only Pistol Pete Maravich, I uncovered these gems from the early 70's. Even during the "afro mandatory" ABA era, at least the suits at Vitalis thought that Pete had the "best hair in the League." I wonder what the good folks at Afro Sheen would have to say about that?
Sure, Ike Turner's soul left this spinnin' ball o' mud we call the planet Earth a few years ago, but that's no reason not to remember this R&B badass on his birthday. This pic seems to say, "We got Soul, fuck you" and somehow, I couldn't agree more.
The raw version of the next Gearhead cover: all hail the genius of WEESNER!
Before there was the Angry Samoans, there was VOM. Featuring two future Samoans (Greg Turner and “Metal” Mike Saunders) and rock critic Richard Meltzer on vocals, they only released one EP in 1978, but damn did they make an impression. I could go on for hours about this band (no kidding, I really could) but I’ll just say that they are probably one of the best examples of what this "crazy new thing called punk rock” was before the “rules” about virtually everything slowly fell into place. Lines like “so retarded they were genius” actually do them a disservice, so I think I’ll just settle for “genius” and leave it at that. Enjoy.
Well you come to the letter “U” and you think, I could get cute with this, The Users, UXA, UXB, Urban Waste, The Unnatural Axe even, but to not post a clip of Northern Irelands finest, The Undertones, would be downright blasphemous. I don’t need to say too much about these guys, as they have rightfully established themselves as one of the all time great bands in several genres really, and despite the departure of singer Feargal Sharkey in 1983, in 1999 they reformed and are still at it. This clip falls under the “way too great not to share” category, it’s them in 1978 actually recording their most enduring song “Teenage Kicks,” which somehow never sounds dated. Have no fear blog readers, the letter “V” will be much more obscure.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'll fight anyone who doesn't give the Jackson 5 the respect they deserve, and I've been that way for decades. I can't speak on how Michael behaved as an adult, or the things he did or didn't do. All I know is, from 1969 to 1979 there was THE VOICE, and now it's silent. Luckily there is the music, the videos of the TV appearances, even the Rankin-Bass produced J5 cartoon had soul. It's all a huge part of my life, and probably is for anyone that grew up in the 70's. How much cooler were the Jackson 5 than the Osmond Brothers? There is literally no comparison, they stood alone, and we stood in awe.
I never met the guy, but I always believed Lisa Marie Presley when she said he was a completely different person in private. A guy who drank, swore and joked around a lot, just like any other guy in his 40's from Gary Indiana. The world will never really know for sure, and he'll always remain an enigma, but I for one will miss him. Rest in Peace bro, you earned it.
Among punk rocks many spin-offs and subdivisions (horror punk, funky punk and Christ-knows-what-else punk, etc.) perhaps no movement is as simultaneously obscure and awesome as Medieval Punk. Of course, when there is only ONE band in this beyond-exclusive genre, it not hard to figure out why it was obscure, but I’m here to tell you why it was also awesome. While anyone who has ever seen the 1978 Sex Pistols film The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle knows exactly who Eddie Tenpole is, the story of this band goes way beyond that of a crazy guy screaming “Who Killed Bambi” into a vacuum cleaner. Formed in 1974 while bands like The Sweet and Slade still ruled the UK charts, a young Edward Tudorpole (you can’t make something like that up folks) put together the wildly entertaining Tenpole Tudor, a bit pub, a bit pop, and although their wasn’t a word for it yet, a bit punk. Known for performing in period garb, with Eddie himself in a full chain mail suit, their unique brand of Middle Age madness is perhaps even more apparent in the video for "Wunderbar" but I couldn’t find a clean copy of it, so here is "Swords of a Thousand Men," released on Stiff Records in 1981. The old saying “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore” barely applies here, because in the case of Tenpole Tudor, they never made ‘em like this before or since!
God only knows why Beatles engineer Norman Smith, who also produced such top notch UK acts as The Pretty Things and Pink Floyd, decided to step out from behind the mixing board one fateful day in 1972 and re-invent himself as "pop star" Hurricane Smith. Why Lord?
This is the guy that turned the knobs on total classics like S.F. Sorrow and The Piper at Gates of Dawn fer Christsake! What I'm saying is, HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER! This horrible song absolutely haunted me throughout my childhood... I mean, it was everywhere, and looking back, I bet that no one was more surprised that it became a huge international hit than old Norman himself. Interestingly enough, the best and worst things I will ever post were recorded within a year of each other. It just goes to show what a totally haphazard and arbitrary time the early 70’s actually were. No wonder the muscle car died out and Detroit was never the same… can you blame it?
It pains me to post this, but if we've learned anything from Newton, it's that "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" so if I posted that genius and long lost Sparks footage, I simply have to post this... sorry, but I can't break the third law of motion, not even for this blog!
Look, I’ll be the first one to admit that I am prone to exaggeration. For some, it is a part of my “charm” and for others it’s a minor annoyance they put up. But I assure you that I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this is the greatest thing I will ever post. Why? Let’s start with the fact that I first saw this clip THIRTY FOUR YEARS AGO on the long forgotten late night ABC TV show In Concert, and it’s not a stretch to say that it totally changed my life. I only saw it once, but it set off a life long… shall we say “obsession” with the band Sparks that continues to this day.
Before seeing this, I never knew that rock and roll could be so clever, both ingenious and totally ass-kicking at the same time. Even among the slew of so-called “glam rock” bands that Ron, Russell and the boys were inevitably lumped in with, they were entirely unique, and I don’t think that’s ever been better illustrated than in this footage. Clearly they had fans in high places, besides the mob of screaming teens, you see none other than Keith Moon and Ringo Starr teaming up to introduce them. In all seriousness, I remember this clip like I saw it only yesterday; no other musical performance ever made such an impact on me. Do yourself a favor and stick with it until the end, because after they do “Something for the Girl with Everything” they break into a killer version of “Talent is an Asset” that still has me jumping around like I did when I was nine years old. Enjoy.
Did you ever wonder what goes on at an NBA playoff game during a TV time out? Well, since your boy MLV was there and my trusty Casio Exilim digital camera can make short Quicktime movies, I thought I'd share... cover your ears!
My first ever NBA playoff game was everything I ever imagined it could be... and more! The amazing intro! Toni Kukoc in the house! The roar of the crowd when homeboy Derrick Rose hit the court! TRIPLE overtime! Ray Allen puts up 51 points in a loss! All that and... Joakim Noah! Lord knows I love the Golden State Warriors like I love my own mother (flaws and all) but... THE BULLS! This is what the NBA is all about baby!
Been chillin' with Alexei in Chicago for a few days now... Drink, talk, eat, drink, repeat! We got tickets for Game 6 of the Bulls vs. Celtics tomorrow, I'll definitely let you know how that goes...
Oh yeah, about this picture: Did you really think that I could walk by the Biograph Theater where John Dillinger was gunned down in 1934 and NOT do this?
Yes, Gearhead Magazine #18 is actually here, actually for sale on the website, and is shipping right now. So friends, I gotta check out for awhile so I can ship the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of copies (this was just one days shipment, about 1600 pieces) to fine folks like yourself all over the globe. So subscribers, you’ll get yours soon… advertisers, that goes for you too. And stores, if you haven’t ordered yours yet, please feel free to do so… seriously please do! I’ll be back ASAP, but right now, I have a several weeks long date with a box cutter and a tape gun… see you soon. Did I mention that it’s THOUSANDS of copies?
Arguably the coolest thing that ever came out of the lonely town of Perth, Western Australia, this totally genius band lead by Kim Salmon formed there in 1978 before taking off for Sydney in 1981, where they stayed until they relocated to London in 1984. They finally called it quits in 1987 after nearly a decade of kicking out some of the finest jams since… well since The MC5 first showed the world what kicking out the jams was all about. Just freakin’ killer stuff.
In the 80’s, my friend Frank Pappagallo (he of Where’s The Pope? Fame) from Adelaide, regularly sent me the latest Scientists releases in trade for American stuff like D.R.I. and Pleased Youth. I'd say I definitely got the better of that deal, but the point is, I’ve been a fan of The Scientists for over 25 years now, and I’m sometimes shocked that people that should definitely know about them still don’t. Well, if seeing them here in 1980 on an Australian TV show called Countdown doing the classic track “Last Night” doesn’t hip you to these guys, I guess nothing will.
"I have no idea when the new Gearhead with me and Roger Miret on the cover will be out!” Well you can finally relax Alex, it’s at the printers now…
Again we fall back to the glory days of UK punk for our next entry, The Ruts. Formed in Southall, West London in 1978, their career was tragically cut short when singer Malcolm Owen died of an overdose in 1980, although they did go without him foe awhile as Ruts D.C. They did manage to release one brilliant LP called The Crack, which is easily as pivotal and important as Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, although you probably won’t be hearing Anthrax or Megadeth covering their songs anytime soon. No matter, The Ruts were hugely influential on the whole DC punk scene in the 80’s, in fact it was a young, still in Government Issue Jay Robbins that turned me on to them in the mid-80’s, sometime before Dag Nasty famously covered “Staring at the Rude Boys.” This video is for the track “Something That I Said” which is just about as perfect a song as has ever been written in any genre. It has everything, the melody, the big hook… and that’s why it still sounds great today.
And what a fine game it was! My infamous cousin Beato got into town just in time to get over to Roaracle to see The Warriors easily knock off the Philadelphia 76’ers, despite the fact that they are right in the mix for the playoffs in the East while our bloodied but unbowed b-ball boys have been mathematically elimined from the post season. You’d never know it from this game though; they played ‘em so tough. Hopefully this event will be the first step in weaning Beato away from those other “N” leagues (NFL, NHL) but somehow I doubt it… unless of course they bring back the Pittsburgh Pipers!
Every so often, my beloved NBA team the Golden State Warriors have these "Road Game Viewer Parties" at various spots around the Bay Area during the regular season. I'd never checked one out before, but I always wanted to as they feature great prizes (tickets to games, autographed basketballs, etc.) and, perhaps more importantly, The Warrior Girls! So imagine my surprise when I heard that one was being held tonight at Tiki Tom's, a bar that is ONE BLOCK FROM MY HOUSE! No way I was going to miss it, and I gotta say that even though I couldn't get anyone to go with me, it was a blast. Yes sir, that's me with none other than Team Caption Alexis, who, along with the very charming Leah, hung out with me for longer than I could have ever imagined... I guess that despite my rapidly advancing age, I can still hold my own in the talking department anyway, which is good to know. Go Dubs!
Ah, the letter “Q.” I knew that this would be a tough one, but lucky for us, for the past 27 years The Queers have roamed the earth in one form or another. I was hoping to unearth some early footage from the legendary ‘82-84 line-up featuring original singer Wimpy, but alas, all my searching turned up nothing before the band reformed with guitarist Joe King (Get it? Jok-ing?) at the helm in 1990. So what the hell, here is the video for perhaps their best-known song “Punk Rock Girls.” I picked this because I was actually there at the Trocadero in S.F. in 1996 when this was filmed, and I have nothing but good memories from that whole era, so there you go.
Interesting 90’s punk rock footnote: This was not the only punk video shoot that I just happened to be at. I was also at Gilman when NOFX made the video for “Stickin’ In My Eye” but pretty much all I remember was how pissed off Fat Mike was at Eric Sandin for pushing that piano off the stage, because it was a rental! In hindsight, I wonder what Mike thought he was going to do with it? I mean, he couldn’t play it, obviously he was thinking about smashing it… but I digress. I used to hang around with those guys a lot back then, in fact I actually sing on the White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean LP. Don’t believe me? Check the liner notes punky.
Labels: Top 5
What a simple but effective stroke of marketing genius. You can almost hear the conversation at the Serta, Inc. board meeting...
First Guy: “Well boys, we’ve got a lot of mattresses to sell.”
Second guy: “Who is the sexiest broad on earth?”
First guy: “Joey Heatherton, hands down.”
Second guy: “Let’s get her then, whatever it costs”
CEO: “Good job boys, 10% raises across the board.”
To this day, whenever I think about a mattress for any reason, I also think about Joey Heatherton. Talk about a successful advertising campaign… damn.
Perhaps the greatest marriage of pure power pop and punk rock energy ever, Vancouver B.C.’s The Pointed Sticks are definitely one of my favorite bands. Although they existed for a relatively short time (1978 to 1981) they did manage to record quite a bit, and although their vinyl releases were hunted down to near extinction, in recent years everything (and more!) is available again through Sudden Death records. You can’t go wrong with anything they’ve ever done, but if you’ve never heard them before, the compilation Waiting For the Real Thing is a great place to start... and of course who could forget their performance in Dennis Hopper's cult classic Out of the Blue? If you haven't seen that, trust me it's worth checking out as well.
These guys have actually been playing again on and off since 2006, and are reportedly releasing an LP of new material in June. I normally run away from reunions of anyone from the “wheelchair and iron lung” set, but since it’s these guys, I’m actually keeping an ear out for it.
Did you really think that if I posted a picture of two busty beauties one day, that a picture of a shirtless fat guy wasn’t right behind it? Seriously now, another successful benefit for Scarlett has come and gone, and once again I can’t think of a better way to spend my time and money… even if it meant flying halfway across the country just to be there. This year was especially rowdy and rightly so, especially with situations like Rich of Blazen 7 saying things like “I’ll strip right now for 40 bucks!” Now normally you might not expect that to get a stampede of people with fistfuls of twenty dollar bills running to the stage, but remember, all the proceeds go to Scarlett and to raise money for Rett Syndrome in general, so in this club packed full of big hearted people, anything can happen… and often does. It's always great to see plenty of old friends, and new ones like Nicky the Barber making the scene as well.
I gotta say that the bands were all really good this year, especially the unfortunately named Mofo Party Band from Fresno, CA. These guys are easily one of the most powerful and energetic blues bands I’ve ever seen, so maybe we should hold a contest to get them a better name or something! If you ever see that they are playing anywhere near you, don’t miss them, bad name notwithstanding. You’ll be glad you went, take that from me, a guy recently diagnosed as “near agoraphobic” (by my friend Lee anyway.) I’m already looking forward to next years event, and I plan on getting even more involved in the future. It’s a great feeling to know that your efforts are actually making a difference, and that’s a feeling that’s too good to keep to oneself.
Today could honestly be classified as a “whirlwind” as I woke up in Ann Arbor, hopped a plane in Detroit to San Francisco, attended the 3rd annual Scarlett Fever, then finally hit the sack in Oakland. I’ll be back tomorrow with a little wrap up of this most excellent event, but for now, I’ll just give you people what you want… boobs! Yes friends (or should I say fiends?) whenever Asia and Greta get together, it is nothing short of a pure celebration of chesticles… aren’t you glad I always have a camera on me?
My old pal Jon Clark, who is officially known around these parts as “the guy who saved Gearhead” (although that is a story for a different time) proved to be one hell of a host! In less than two hours, he took me through the entire show (stopping just long enough to take this photo of me with the legendary Norm Grabowski) then proceeded to drive me on tour of Detroit that included the original home of Motown Records, the Highland Park Ford plant where the first Model T rolled off the line in 1913, and the giant tigers of Comerica Park, all before treating me to a “Coney Island” at The Lafayette….whew! By the way, that’s Jon’s A-100 Dodge van in the post from 3/5, and I should mention that it won First Place in the “Conservative Van” category. Not bad for it’s first show!
Although I spent most of my time in the ol Acme/Gearhead/No Fun booth, (where I did end up signing lots of autographs – thanks for the luv Detroit!) I also managed to meet artists like Tuck, the boys behind Lowbrow Customs, and to behold the genius that is Speedcult! These guys can make ANYTHING out of scrap metal, and if you don’t believe me, just witness the sheer brilliance of the Crapmaster 3000! A combination magazine/toilet paper holder that no respectable bathroom should be without! I was so impressed by it that I had to donate a set of Gearhead mags to their display one, although I still wonder if any tome is worthy of this magnificent invention! I’d like to thank my new friends Matt and Brenda Pomroy for making my visit to this huge and visually overwhelming booth a very memorable experience. Damn, I wish I had more time here in the Motor City, but Scarlett Fever is tomorrow and in just a few short years it has become the ultimate “be there or be sorry” event in the Bay Area. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be back in Detroit much sooner than later though… I mean, now that I’ve witnessed just some of what this town has to offer, how could I ever stay away?
I also want to mention that this post marks the one-year anniversary of LaVella-blog! and I gotta say that doing it has been a fairly fascinating experience. I’m still figuring out what type of content most people are interested in seeing, but based on the feedback (actual comments on this blog and the ones I’ve gotten in real life) it really is a mixed bag, so I suppose I’ll just keep posting a combination of what I’ve been doing mixed with things that I find entertaining. 165 posts in my first year ain’t bad, that averages out to a little more than three a week...and to think that ol’ Jer was worried that I wouldn’t keep up with it after he helped me set it up. Yes, I had help! I’m 44 years old people, I still think that color television is an amazing new invention. Anyway, thanks for reading.
I’m not sure what I expected to see in Detroit, but any notion I had that California car builders are somehow “ahead” of what’s going on in the kustom kulture world quickly disappeared after one quick look around. I could (easily) write a hundred different posts about a hundred different cars because the amount of creativity and skill that I saw laid out before me at Cobo Hall was truly inspiring. My erstwhile “tour guide” around the layout of this brave new land was Jason Poirier from the Detroit chapter of the Road Devils. Yes, this is a peak under of the hood of his immaculate 1955 Pontiac Chieftain, and like the title of this post promised, they really are doing amazing stuff with louvers here! I was thankful (to say the least) that Jason took the time to introduce me not only to his club, but to the members of the local chapters of The Poor Boys, The Rumblers and the Deadbeats, to name but a few. He did such a damn fine job (and kept the Black Label flowin’ all day) that I felt compelled to make a name tag proclaiming him “The coolest fuckin’ guy in Detroit.” Much to my surprise, he actually wore it. Stay in touch pal!
Well, here I am at the birthplace of the two things I love the most: 1) Rock and Roll (as we know it, MC5, Stooges, etc.) and 2) The Automobile. I haven’t been here since 1987 when Half Life played at the Graystone, and now all I can do is wonder why I haven’t been back sooner. Why? Because this place rules! Detroit is obviously ground zero of all things cool, from Motown to Dodge Main, from Funkadelic to The Pistons. One quick look around is all it took for me to realize that this is the only other place outside of California that I could do Gearhead from. In other words, this town lacks nothing. It has the cars, the builders, the clubs, the artists, the tattoo parlors, the garage bands, the venues… if it wasn’t for this crazy thing called “snow” that people kept warning me about, I’d have thought I landed in paradise. Like my beloved Oakland, this town gets a bad rap, but hey, it’s all about attitude, and this place has plenty of that.
I’m here because of my friend Nina who owns Acme Mercantile in nearby Ann Arbor. Long story short, she went to the Autorama last year and noticed that no one was selling Gearhead. Seeing an opportunity to right a great, great wrong, she took it upon herself to make sure that Gearhead was in fact a presence at Autorama in the most obvious way possible, by flying me in! To complete the picture, she also invited Claudia from No Fun Records to share the booth with us – and what a booth it is! Between Nina’s Rat Fink-heavy store stock, all the Gearhead Magazines and Apparel, and the No Fun discography, we got a winner here folks. Thanks Nina, I owe you one. I’ll keep you updated daily from here until I once again go West…
I’m gonna keep this short because I’m on my way to Detroit, and besides I’m sure that most anyone reading this is already familiar with The Only Ones, and their best known jam “Another Girl, Another Planet.” This video however is a different story, I didn’t even know that it existed until very recently, so I thought I’d post it for all of “yunz “ (as they say in Pittsburgh) to enjoy.
Well folks, I'm off to Detroit for the Autorama. I'll be in the Acme Mercantile booth, where you'll be able to buy Gearhead Magazines and related apparel, right alongside all of the great stuff they always have in stock. We'll have copies of the Cole Foster and Robert Williams books I co-authored there as well, so if you're planning on attending the mother of all car shows, plan on swinging by the Acme booth and saying "Hey, when is the new Gearhead out?" I'll actually have a good answer for you!
It is once again time for the benefit show that is actually the best party of the year! Many of you read about Scarlett Fever in issue #17 of Gearhead, but for those of you that didn’t, it is a annual event held at the DNA Lounge (375 Eleventh St. in San Francisco) that benefits Miss Scarlett, the 15 year old daughter of Road Lords CC president Bob James who has Rett Syndrome. This year’s event will be hosted by Asia Devinyl, and feature performances by The Del Bombers, Three Bad Jacks, Mofo Party Band, Stigma 13, Not For Not and the Faraway Boys. There will be a raffle with lots of great stuff donated by everyone from Mike Ness to Cole Foster, and plenty of rods & customs parked right out on 11th street. Co-sponsored by our pals at Gambino Customs and Gearhead Magazine ('natch) a good time is guaranteed to be had by all, and of course it’s for a great, great cause. Plenty more info on Scarlett and the event can be found right here. And yes, I will make it back from the Detroit Autorama in time to attend, so see you there!
I have a really cool video of The Nils from Canada that I had planned on posting for “N” but then I came across this gem from 999 (which, while technically a number, does begin with an N and was therefore deemed eligible) and I figured that I’d be doing the world (or at least the few hundred people on it that regularly read this blog) a great disservice if I didn’t post it ASAP.
Formed in London during that mythical year of 1977, 999 are definitely one of the all time greats. Today’s so-called pop punk bands owe them a great amount of gratitude, if they realize it or not. Back when bands were either very political or almost comically nihilistic, Nick Cash and the boys provided the blueprint for very listenable and melodic punk rock that still sounds great today…. So let’s take two minutes and forty-two seconds out to celebrate them here. This video is for the song “Emergency” which was their fourth single, released in June of 1978.
I recently came across this record while I was going through my boxes of punk singles, which I do from time to time when I need to sell a few on EBay to supplement my “income.” I was amused by this message written by Dead Boy’s guitarist Cheetah Chrome back in 1986, so I thought I’d share it with you. While there hasn’t been much written on the subject of Mr. Chrome’s clairvoyant abilities, I’d say he nailed this one right on the head. For a mere 22 years later, I was laid up for a while there last summer with diverticulosis (and if you don’t know what that is, do yourself a favor and DO NOT look it up!) It took a CT scan to figure out exactly what was (or in my case, wasn’t) going on down there, and once we knew, there was only one cure: “You need more fiber in your diet” – spooky! So, I now have a regimen that insures that I get at least 25 grams of fiber everyday (Tip: Fiber One products are a Godsend for the defecationally challenged) and I’m happy to report that my problems are now all behind me, pun intended. Thanks Cheetah, I know should have taken your advice sooner, but “better late than never” I always say.
Devo (New Traditionalists tour 1981, on the treadmills)
The Clash (twice in 1982, with Terry Chimes drumming)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1982, original line-up: epic!)
Gang of Four (three times between 1981 and ‘83)
The Pretenders (original line-up, 1981)
Labels: Top 5
With this post, I managed to not only stay in France, but also get back to the original punk rock era, which can only mean one thing: Métal Urbain! Compared to the rest of Europe, our beret-wearing, bicycle-ridin’ French brethren produced far fewer punk bands than other countries, but if these guys are any indication of what France was capable of, maybe you only need one great band to represent the disenfranchised masses!
Described as a cross between The Sex Pistols and Lou Reed’s infamous Metal Machine Music LP, these guys were obviously an influence on everyone from Big Black to The Jesus and Mary Chain. I have no idea why they aren’t a household name (after all, it’s not that hard to pronounce) like their peers The Clash and the aforementioned Pistols, but I for one hold them in similar esteem… perhaps more so, if only for their originality. Par excellence!
This is my new pet rat, Illya Kuryattus, The Rat from U.N.C.L.E.
About 5 years ago, a promo CD in a plain white sleeve arrived at my P.O. Box. A Band of Bees? I never heard of them, and almost didn’t play it, but eventually I did and was blown away, as I always am when I hear a bunch of hillbillies play with so much soul. So, "I had to do some investigating" as my friend Rob Tabachka would say. A little later on, an early You Tube search turned up this amazing and quite ingenious video, which only fueled the “who in the Hell are these guys” fire. Five years later, I still don’t know, but this is definitely worth a look. Just try not to groove, I dare ya!
Hailing from Angers, France and existing from 1983 to 1999, Les Thugs are easily one of my 25 favorite bands of all time. Despite being French, they were truly the kings of the “great American riff.” With powerful vocals added by diminutive front man Eric Sourice (and amazing harmony vocals provided by his brother, Thugs drummer Christophe, that would give any Southern California band –from the Mama & Papas to Bad Religion– a run for their money) I was lucky enough to catch them many times in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Although we never actually spoke, I’m sure they would remember me, as I was the guy screaming “Tres bien, music fantastique!” after every song, much to the bemusement of Tim Yohannan and anyone else standing near me.
Speaking of the dearly departed Tim Yo, he was a bigger fan of these guys than I was, if that’s possible. I remember one time at the Covered Wagon Saloon we were watching them and a huge smile came over his face as the Thugs tore into one particularly driving song. He leaned over to me and said very matter-of-factly “There it is, the Velvet Underground New York subway rhythm.” Since Tim was the only person I’ve ever known who actually saw The Velvet Underground, I was happy to take his word for it.
For this post I chose the video for the track “Never Get Older” from 1986, but honestly I could have just as easily picked any of about 150 remarkable songs from the bands rather large (but still possible to acquire) discography. If you don’t know about these guys do yourself a favor and look them up, you won’t be sorry.
No, I haven’t misplaced my calendar friends. I know that the holidays are behind us and that summer is still months away. I’m talking about my favorite time of the year: Now. Why you ask? Because football is over and baseball hasn’t started up yet, so for a few wonderful weeks it’s all about the NBA. Baring some sports legends death or a drug/sex scandal, basketball scores and the days top plays are always the lead in stories on SportsCenter, and talk about player movement or the standings and whatnot dominate other ESPN shows like First Take and it’s spin off 1st and 10. Add that to the 24/7 action available on NBA TV, and I’m all set until the final game of the playoffs… so see you in July when I re-emerge and slowly work my way back into society, at least until the season starts again in October.
I’m going to move out of the late 70’s and into “my era” for a bit, which is the early 80’s and the birth of what became known as hardcore punk. By 1981, there were bands that existed only to play as hard and fast as possible, but the ones I find myself still listening to are the groups that paid tribute musically to the original punk bands that came before them, that is the ones that never sacrificed a good melody for pure speed. A good example would be Kraut, one of the first bands to emerge in New York City right on the heels of late 70's bands like The Stimulators, but a little bit before better known groups like Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law came along.
Kraut’s place in hardcore history is undeniable. Their first two EP’s are genius (and highly collectable) and their first full length LP, 1982’s An Adjustment to Society, is a bona-fide classic, but to this day, they are best remembered for this video. Why? Because in the very early days of MTV, long before Billy F. Gibbons and the boys famously re-invented themselves for small screen mega success, the fledgling network had to play whatever videos were available to them, and the majority at that time were UK pop and new wave acts, and this video for “All Twisted” which gave Kraut the distinction of being the first independent band ever played on MTV. The fact that it was shown at all still boggles the mind, but it was, and pretty damn often. I was only 17 years old when I first saw this, and while my own future was still uncertain, this group of my peers pointed out the path I was to take for the rest of the decade and beyond. So thank you Doug, Davey, Don and Johnny; wherever you are, I hope you’re still fighting the good fight.
For the second time in only four years, my hometown team the Pittsburgh Steelers are once again Super Bowl champions. It’s starting to feel like the 1970’s, that preposterous decade not so long ago when it seemed like the “Stillers” couldn’t lose. As far as this year’s game is concerned, it reminded me a bit of Super Bowl XIV where, after The Rams played Pittsburgh tough for 3 quarters, they (say in John Fucenda voice) “Achieved a dignity in defeat that they never had in victory.” What I’m saying is, no one will ever think of the Arizona Cardinals as a bunch of pussies ever again. Great game.
Last March I did a post called “5 Favorite Bands of All Time, if I absolutely had to pick only 5.” I remember laboring over that for about a week, mostly because it simply felt wrong to post such a list without including The Jam. Since the moment I first saw them on the late (and unbelievably great) TV show Fridays in July of 1980, I was hooked, and I’ve “rediscovered” them at various times in my life more than any other group in the last 28 years or so. They are always there when you need them, and remarkably, their music never sounds antiquated. Their discography is relatively concise, that is they only released 6 full-length albums between 1977 and 1982, but if the saying “all killer – no filler” ever applied to anyone, it’s these 3 incredibly talented Brits. What I’m saying is, if I ever expanded that list to 10 bands, they would make it easily.
Since this is a “punk rock” history lesson, I decided to focus on the band early in their career. Their later, more soulful stuff is equally brilliant, but when I came across this footage of the band doing “In The City” live at The Circus that ran on Tony Wilson’s show in 1977, I knew I had a winner for ya. Check out the very young Poly Styrene sitting in the interviewers chair before Tony gets up to introduce this footage… hopefully I can scare that up before we get to the letter X.
Labels: Top 5
As tempting as it was to go with Icons of Filth, Iron Cross or even the Inca Babies for the letter I, the recent passing of Stooges founding guitarist Ron Asheton sealed the deal; so Iggy and the Stooges it is.
This footage of the band playing at the Cincinnati Pop Festival in 1970 has made its way around ye olde internet to be sure, but if there’s even a chance that someone on earth hasn’t seen it yet, then it’s definitely worth posting here. Rumor has it that a young Stiv Bators gave Iggy the now infamous jar of peanut butter that he saw fit to spread all over himself. That's feasible I guess, after all it is a small world, or more specifically, Ohio is a small state when it came to rock n’ roll 39 years ago.