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.