Wednesday, June 27, 2007

All The Young Punks: The Story of The Clash Part One...Show #151

The Clash started out in 1976 with members Joe Strummer (vocals/guitar), Mick Jones (guitar/vocals) and Paul Simonon (bass). The band emerged out of a group of musicians that were involved in a new emerging music scene in the UK, punk rock. The intial startings of punk can be traced as far back as the late 60's with bands such as The Stooges and MC5. Joe Strummer (real name John Mellor) came from a pub rock group called the 101'ers (named after a place he and some friends were squatting in - it was a different time back then in the UK). Mick Jones and Paul Simonon would go to see 101'ers shows and after seeing Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer wanted to become a punk rocker. The Clash came together due to a series of events. One being the assembling of Sex Pistols by Malcolm McClaren. The Clash were in part put together by Malcolm's friend Bernie Rhodes, (who would serve as their manager, giving them direction in the early days of the band), and also by Mick and Paul who were always looking for people to play with, but never really finding the right front man. Mick and Joe would become song writing partners similar to the style of Lennon and McCartney and Jagger and Richards.

After quitting 101'ers Joe would go on to play with Mick, Paul, and Keith Levene (he would go on to play guitar in the post-punk/new wave group Public Image Limited) who was another guitarist in the early days of The Clash. The Clash always had problems finding a drummer in the early days, but eventually they got Terry Chimes to play for them. After playing for a few months and writing some songs, the band got better. The band would focus on the current happenings of Britain, and things of a political nature, as well as various other non-political topics. Labels started to get interested in the group as they did with other punk groups such as Sex Pistols and The Damned. The Clash signed to CBS Records in September of 1977.

The first Clash album would come out in 1977. The Self titled album was loud and energy fueled. The band also experimented with reggae on this album (Reggae was all over Britian during the time of punk). The song in particular was known as "Police & Thieves" (originally by Lee Scratch Perry), the song was reworked by Mick Jones and the band to have a Clash feel. The album also featured the song "Protex Blue" a song about a condom wrapper. Other songs included "White Riot", a song written after Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon were involved in the Noting Hill Carnival riot of 1976. The song is not racist, but a song about class economics. Other great tracks include "Career Opportunities", "I'm So Bored With The USA", "London's Burning", and "What's My Name", the only song in which Keith Levene is credited for (he left the group shortly before the album was recorded). Another fact about the first clash album is that drummer Terry Chimes is credited as Tory Crimes. The album also inspired Bob Marley to write the song "Punky Reggae Party". The album would not see US release until 1979, and featured a different track listing.

After the release of the bands first album, Terry Chimes would leave the group due to differences in the band. This move would turn out to be better then The Clash expected because they would get Nicky "Topper" Headon to take over on drums. Topper would become the bands more permanent drummer until he would be kicked out (in the late 1980's). Topper brought a different drumming style to the band. Having background in jazz and soul, he was also able to play reggae quite well. The bands next album which would be titled Give'em Enough Rope would come out in 1978. It would be produced by Sandy Pearlman, who is known for his work with Blue Oyster Cult. The album would contain ten tracks and would have a different sound than the bands previous effort, also it was their first official album to be released in the USA. The album contained tracks such as "Tommy Gun", a political song about how Strummer thought terrorists liked to read about their deaths as movie stars liked to read about their movie reviews. The song itself is a cleverly paced track featuring not only Strummers political yet sarcastic lyrics, but also drumming sounding similar to gun shots. "Safe European Home" was a song written by Jones and Strummer after going to Jamaica and wanting to be back in England. "Stay Free" stands out on the album as well. The track penned by Mick Jones is a song containing lyrics pertaining to his childhood friend; The music is similar to David Bowie with reggae/ska rhtythms. Regardless of how the album did chart wise (#2 in the UK, #128 in the USA), it is often overlooked by Clash fans as not their best work but, it does contain some great tracks and a different feel than the first album. Other good tracks included "Last Gang in Town" , "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad", and "All the Young Punks". The album also featured "English Civil War", a re-working of the classic war tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" with new lyrics concerning Britain. Nevertheless the band would keep evolving and keep getting better. The Clash who would record singles as well as albums, had quite a collection of material going by 1978.

Shortly after this album was recorded and in the middle of touring, the band would record The Cost of Living EP, which would come out in 1979. It would feature a cover song titled "I Fought the Law" (originally by The Bobby Fuller Four), "Groovy Times" an acoustic, melodic track, "Gates of the West" a reworking of a Mick Jones song originally called "Ooh Baby, Ohh", and "Capital Radio Two". "Capital Radio Two" was a reworking of a previous song that was recorded for a single about the radio station in London, that only played safe music. This version was faster and more energy fueled than the previous one. It also featured not only a new intro written by Topper Headon, but also different lyrics and fantastic drumming which outweighs the original. After this release the Clash would begin working on what is arguably their best album ever, London Calling. I will discuss the London Calling Years as well as the remainder of the bands history in next weeks post on The Clash..

here what was played:

1. The Jam – all around the world
2. Hollywood Brats – sick on you
3. Eddie & The Hotrods – 96 tears (live)
4. Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – city slang (original 1978 mix)
5. Zero’s – beat your heart out
6. The Gruesomes – get outta my hair
7. Ugly Ducklings – nothin’
8. Collectors – we can make it
9. Northwest Company – hard to cry
10. The V.I.P.'s - Jeanie
11. New York Dolls – trash
12. Sex Pistols – satellite
13. The Damned – fish
14. David Bowie – queen bitch
15. The Stooges – no fun (full version)
16. Black Sabbath – fairies wear boots
17. Ramones – have you ever seen the rain
18. The Saints – (I’m) stranded
19. Teenage Head – take it
20. The Sturgeons – punk rock virgins
21. Wire – a field day for the Sundays
22. Wire - EX lion tamer
23. Gore Gore Girls - sweet potato
24. The Beat – rankin’ full stop
25. The Clash – i'm so bored with the USA(1977 beaconsfield demo)
26. The Clash – complete control
27. Young Canadians - i hate music
28. The Vibrators - jumping jack flash (live)

Here's some cool early Clash vids:

Complete Control
Live In Munich 1977 (The Prisoner, Janie Jones, Garageland)
Tommy Gun (Live 1978)
(Whiteman) In Hammersmith Palais from Rude Boy
English civil War from Rude Boy

A series of two radio specials I did on The Clash can be found here:

The Clash (1976-1979)
The Clash (1980-1985)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do the Pop! The Radio Birdman Story and Show # 150

Radio Birdman were a punk band that came out of Sydney, Australia. The band who were classified as punk, took its influence from Detroit bands such as The Stooges, and The MC5; The band also had a surf rock influence. The name of the band came from a lyric in a Stooges song, "1970". The lyric is actually "radio burnin' up above", not "radio birdman up above", but nevertheless that's where the band got their name from. Deniz Tek who was one of the founders of the band was originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He would move to Australia in 1972. The band would be formed by Deniz Tek (guitars) and surfer Rob Younger who would do the vocals. After recruiting three more members Pip Hoyle (keyboards),Carl Rorke (Bass)(then Gilbert Warwick), and Ron Keeley (drums), the band would record the EP titled Burn My Eye in 1976. The EP was a rough sounding recording containing four tracks. The EP was quite different from the styles of Aussie rock at the time.

The band would record and release Radio's Appear in 1977. The album title came from a Blue Oyster Cult song titled "Dominance and Submission"; Blue Oyster Cult was another one of the bands influences. When Sire Records came to Australia to sign fellow Australian punks The Saints, Radio Birdman were also signed to the label. After getting signed, the band would record Radio's Appear again and release it under Sire in 1978 (known as the overseas version of the album). The album would feature tracks such as "Murder City Nights", "Do the Pop!", "Descent into the Maelstrom" and "Aloha Steve & Danno", which was a song about the cop-drama TV series Hawaii Five-O. The song showed the bands surf influence as well as punk ethics as did the majority of Radio's Appear. The original 1977 Australian release of the album started off with a cover of The Stooges song "TV Eye", the song is played twice as fast as the original, and is angry loud and vicious. In 2005 a CD re-issue of the album featured "TV Eye" as well as a few other bonus tracks.

Before Radio's Appear was even released Radio Birdman would play at a pub that would be named The Oxford Funhouse (taking the name from a place where The Stooges would play and live, called The Funhouse). The club would be a home for the Sydney punk scene, but as Radio's Appear took off commercially, the place would begin to attract crowds of gangs who would commit violent acts. Radio Birdman were blamed for the violence so around this time, the band took a little break. After a short European tour the band was dropped from it's label and were essentially over. In 1978, the band recorded Living Eyes, which would be their last album until recently. The album itself never saw release in the USA, and wasn't released until 1981. Following one more live show, the band split up in 1978.

Living Eyes the album, was originally released on and mastered from a cassette tape due to the fact that the master tapes were lost. In the 90's the tapes were found, the album was remixed properly and released. The album was re-issued in 2005 with bonus tracks as well. The album itself featured another band member Chris Masuak on guitar. Masuak who joined the band shortly after their first EP, is credited on Radio's Appear, but he is more prominent on Living Eyes. The album itself drew more from the Detroit sound of The Stooges and and less from the MC5, but the the band also had different attitude here. Examples of the new but still similar sound of the band are on tracks such as "Breaks My Heart" (a more melodic track), and "More Fun". "More Fun" is a surf influenced track with heavy drowning organs. The album ends with the track "Alone in the Endzone". A song featuring chugging guitar riffs and keyboards and a climbing bassline in the chorus. The album itself is just as good as its predecessor, too bad it didn't get the proper released when it should have.

After the band split members of the band would form other bands and projects. Rob Younger would form New Christs, Deniz Tek would from the short lived band, The Visitors with previous Birdmen, Ron Keeley and Pip Hoyle. Tek would also form another short lived live band New Race. The band consisted of Ron Asheton of The Stooges, and Denis Thompson of MC5. Warwick and Chris Masuak formed The Hitmen. After his New Race days Deniz Tek would become a surgeon, and serve in the Navy. In 1996 Radio Birdman would reform for some live shows, in 2006 the band recorded another album titled Zeno Beach. A tour followed, the band toured for the first time in the US supporting Zeno Beach, as well as some of their classics. In 2001, a greatest hits compilation titled, The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978 was releeased on Sub Pop. Radio Birdman were one of the punk originators in the Australian music scene. While they may not have been a huge commercial success, the band are known as Australian punk legends.

More Information:
1. Richard Hell & The Voidoids – liars beware
2. Rage Against The Machine – down rodeo
3. Sublime – same in the end
4. Buzzcocks – why can’t I touch it?
5. Iggy Pop – dog food
6. Modernettes – celebrity crack up
7. Marble Index – all that I know
8. Neil Young – shock and awe
9. Radio Birdman – hand of law
10. Love Me Nots – heart on a chain
11. Soundgarden – bleed together
12. The D4 – north shore bitch
13. Pearl Jam – hail, hail
14. Nirvana – frances farmer will have her revenge on seattle
15. Ride Theory – on fire
16. Hot, Hot, Heat – eyes ears mouth (demo)
17. Fiction Plane – two sisters
18. Dead 60’s – you’re not the law
19. Exploding Hearts – shattered (you left me)
20. The Subways – city pavement
21. Sloan – Iggy & Angus
22. White Stripes – bone broke
23. White Stripes – rag and bone
24. White Stripes – effect and cause

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Touch and Go The Magazine Story...Show # 149

Howard Devoto left his first band Buzzcocks after twelve live gigs and the release of Spiral Scratch EP in 1976. After getting a band together John McGoech (guitar), Bob Dickinson (keyboards), Barry Adamson (bass), and Martin Jackson (drums) the band Magazine was formed in 1977. The band would get a record contract with Virgin Records and Dickinson would leave the group. The single "Shot By Both Sides" was then recorded. The song was previously written by Devoto and Pete Shelley of the band Buzzcocks. The punkish single would crack the top 50, the band would have four early singles including "Shot By Both Sides". The others were "Touch and Go", "Goldfinger", and "My Mind Ain't So Open". The band would get a new keyboardist Dave Formula and then the band would record an album. In 1978, Real Life was released. The album was one of the first post-punk albums alongside with Public Image Limited. The album itself would feature nine tracks one of them being a re-recording of "Shot By Both Sides". The version on Real Life was less raw and more polished. The album also featured keyboards, odd lyrics courtesy of Mr. Devoto and music that could be at times gloomy, but also sharp, pointy, and arty. "The Light Pours out of Me" is an example of this. Other tracks that showed off the bands new post-punk, yet different style were "Motorcade", "The Great Beautician in the Sky" a winding circus-like song, and the strange pop song with piano, synthesizers, and a steady drum beat "Parade". In 2007, and expanded version of this album was released with bonus tracks (the four tracks being the early singles mention earlier).

Secondhand Daylight came next in 1979, the band also got a new drummer John Doyle (Jackson left the band shortly following the bands first tour). The album was not like their debut, it was a darker album featuring more keyboards, snyths, and darker lyrics. The album is an album that sounds very icy, songs such as "Feed the Enemy" and "Permafrost" illustrate this point perfectly. The album does have its moments, "Rhythm of Cruelty" is an upbeat song on this album. The song is closer to the sound of the bands first album Real Life. Overall, Secondhand Daylight was an overlooked album by most because of how different it was. 

The Correct Use of Soap was released in early 1980. This album showed the band returning to the earlier sound they once had with Real Life, but also combining elements of Secondhand Daylight. The album opens with the new wave-ish track "Because Your Frightened". The song is a features crunchy guitar riffs with melodic pull-offs. The song lyrically is more like original Devoto sarcastic and humorous, when the lines "Look What Fears Done To My Body" are repeated in the chorus. "Model Worker" is a more upbeat song musically featuring light piano in the background, synthesizer keyboards similar to Real Life in the choruses, solid drumming, chunky bass and clever Devoto lyrics, this time being about factory life. The album also featured a cover of the Sly & The Family Stone song "Thank You (Fallentinme Be Mice Elf Again)", the fast paced "Philadelphia", and "A Song From Under The Floorboards" (a song compared to "The Light Pours Out of Me"). 

In 1980 Play (a live album) was also released. McGeoch who had been involved with Siouxsee & The Banshees became a full member of that band, so Robin Simon was brought in as a replacement. After touring Simon would leave to be replaced by Bob Mandelson. Magazine would have just one more album before splitting up for good, it would be titled Magic, Murder, and the Weather. Released in 1981, the album did not do well, and most people do not even know it exists. Just after it's release Devoto left the group to pursue a solo career. In the 90's Devoto focused more on being a photo archivist. In 2001, Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley recorded an album together titled Buzzkuntz, under the band name ShelleyDevoto. The album is an experimental electronic album. In 2002, Devoto appeared in the film 24 Hour Party People, a film about a record label in Manchester (where Devoto is from).

In 2000, Magazine released a three CD box set titled Maybe It's Right To Be Nervous Now. This box set catalogued a large majority of material from the bands catalogue including B-sides, alternate mixes, and outtakes. On the third disc there is a collection of the bands BBC sessions done for John Peel. Included on the disc is also a re-working of a Buzzcocks song "Boredom" with organ. It is remade into a more Magazine sounding song. Also in 2000 a compilation/greatest hits type CD was released titled Where The Power Is. The album contains songs found on the box set. It is a great CD for people who are just getting into the band or for hardcore fans and completists. Finally in 2007, all of Magazine's studio albums were expanded and re-released with bonus tracks. In February of 2009, Magazine plans to reunite for some live shows in the UK.

Here's the Play List:

1. Pointed Sticks – its o.k.
2. Rich Kids – only arsenic
3. Public Image Limited – memories
4. The Stranglers – (get a) grip (on yourself)
5. Devo – through being cool
6. XTC – this is pop
7. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – moods for moderns
8. Gang of Four – damaged goods
9. The Police – on any other day
10. Teenage Head – ain’t got no sense
11. Young Canadians – don’t tell me
12. Arson – coho coho
13. Hot Nasties – secret of immortality
14. Wire – French film blurred
15. Talking Heads – new feeling (live)
16. Magazine – touch and go
17. Magazine – rhythm of cruelty
18. The Diodes – midnight movie star
19. Arctic Monkeys – the bad thing
20. The Strokes – whatever happened
21. Radio 4 – too much to ask for
22. Queens of the Stone Age – 3’s & 7’s
23. Mando Diao – tv & me
24. The Hives – uptight
25. The Hives – the hives meet the norm
26. The Gruesomes – I wish you were her
27. The Heatseekers – you been runnin

Here are some Magazine videos:

Shot By Both Sides (Top Of The Pops 1978)
The Light Pours Out of Me
Model Worker (Live 1980)
A Song From Under The Floorboards (Live 1980)
Permafrost (live 1980)
Definitive Gaze (OGWT)
I Can't Control Myself (Devoto reuniting with the original Buzzcocks members)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Television Addicts...Show # 148

The Victims stemmed out of another punk band called the Geeks forming in 1977; They came from Perth, Australia. The band who was a three piece consisted of Dave Flick (real name Dave Faulkner) on guitar/vocals, Rudolph V (Dave Cardwell) on bass, and James Baker on drums. The band would not last last long, from 1977 until 1979. Television Addict was the bands first single and debut, it featured the songs "Television Addict" and "I'm Flipped Out Over You". The song "Television Addict" was a menacing song with piercing chunky guitar parts and a bulky bassline, driven by a hard hitting drum beat. Lyrically the song is about a kid who shot someone, his lawyer blamed TV for all the violence and the reason for his actions. The song is a satirical and sarcastic one evident in cleverly worded lines such as "He claimed he was confused between fact and fantasy, It seems he's spent all his time in front of the TV screen", and "Just because I watch Dinah Shore doesn't mean I need a face lift, doesn't mean my brain has slipped".

Next in 1978, the band released their EP known as the No Thanks to the Human Turd EP. The EP would feature the songs previously mentioned plus others like, "TV Freak", "Disco Junkies", and "High School Girls". In 1979, the group split up. James Baker would go on to The Scientists and The Hoodoo Gurus, and band that Faulkner would also be a member of. The band has been featured on numerous Australian punk compilation albums such as All Loud on the Western Front, Tales from the Australian Underground and Do The Pop!.

Another Australian band featured on tonight's show was the Lime Spiders. Lime Spiders formed in 1979 and were influenced by 60's garage rock and psychedelic rock, but were labeled as a post-punk band. The band was formed by Mike Blood (guitar/vocals), Richard Lawson (Drums), Tony Bambach (bass), and Gerald Cohen (guitar). The band would go through numerous line-up changes throughout their span (the line-up mentioned here is from the 1983 version of the group, not the initial 1979 version). The band played a few live shows before breaking up, but they would reform in 1983. After winning a battle of the bands contest, the band recorded the single "25th Hour" in 1983. Next the band would have the single "Slave Girl" which did quite well for independent standards. The band would go through some line up changes and continue recording with "Out of Control" as a four piece group (an excellent cover version of this song can be heard on The D4's Out of My Head Album). In 1985, the band was offered a chance to record a single for the movie Young Einstein. The song they did was called "Weirdo Libido". The Cave Comes Alive! was released in 1987, being the bands first full length album. They would tour the US with acts such as Public Image Limited, and Iggy Pop. Two more albums would follow Volatile (1988) and Beethoven's Fist (1990). In 1990 they band would also break up yet again.

 Here's what was played:

1. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – let go
2. Count Five – psychotic reaction
3. Standells – dirty water
4. Velvet Underground – run run run (Norman Dolph Acetate 4-25-66)
5. Great Scots – lost in conversation
6. Ugly Ducklings – hey mama
7. Big Town Boys – august 32nd
8. 409 – they say
9. MC5 – thunder express
10. The Stooges – Mexican guy
11. Lime Spiders – 1 2 5
12. The Victims – television addict
13. The Saints – run down
14. The Adverts – safety in numbers
15. The Spys – underground
16. The Sturgeons – forward disorder
17. The Fits – bored of education
18. Ramones – bad brain
19. The Clash – long time jerk
20. X (Australia) - suck suck
21. Compulsive Gamblers – negative jerk
22. Compulsive Gamblers - way I feel about you
23. Green Day – walkin’ the dog (dookie demo)
24. Dirty Pretty Things – you fucking love it
25. Chris Cornell - poison eye
26. Viletones - kick out the jams (live)
27. The Stems - she's fine