Punk Flak

September 25, 2016 at 08:49

25 SEPT 1976. The new Melody Maker today features a review and interview with the band that many in the music press were talking up as the next big thing – Eddie and the Hot Rods. Because the Rods played short, fast, and (sometimes) loud, they – like many other new bands appearing this year – tended to be lumped in with punk.

008120_EDdieathehotrods_LGBut they did not want to stoop to that level of incompetence, and sent their Island Records rep, David Betteridge, to explain the situation to Melody Maker’s Chris Welch:

“They’ve recently been copping a lot of this punk flak and I don’t think they really want to be associated with that sort of music, because ‘Punk’ in England at this moment seems to mean the Sex Pistols, and the Clash and the Buzzcocks and other bands who really can’t cut it when you put them alongside the Rods because they don’t have that energy and vision.”

That didn’t stop Eddie and the Hot Rods being caught up in the media’s growing interest in punk. Perhaps fans across the country – influenced by posters like the one below – went along to see Eddie and the Hot Rods just to see what this new punk thing was all about …

“The Rods could be termed as punk, but they are not a ‘Punk Rock Band’,” their PR man said, further confusing matters. “And they don’t want to get involved with Sex Pistols because it’s just more press for THEM …”

Elsewhere, on the letters pages of this week’s Sounds, was a rant from a disgruntled teenager in Manchester going by the name of Steve Morrissey. He bemoaned the attention that the new punk bands had lately been receiving, saying that it was “a joke that the New York Dolls should be compared to such notorious no-talents as the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.“

Well, touché … “Steve” …

Nagging

September 2, 2016 at 09:17

02 SEPT. 1976. This evening, the Sex Pistols played at the Nag’s Head in High Wycombe. Video of the show (with audio from another source slapped on top) has appeared on – where else – YouTube.

 

Performance

August 27, 2016 at 21:14

Donald Cammell was hailed by some as a genius, but aside from Performance (dir. Donald Cammell and Nic Roeg), he only made another two films. This BBC documentary traces Cammell’s career from his early years as a portrait painter in 1960s London to his final days in Hollywood. Cammell himself, filmed shortly before his death, discusses his work and the constraints he faced in the film industry. Originally broadcast as part of the BBC TX series in 1998.

Youth and Chaos

August 21, 2016 at 09:09

Wild Youth. Continuing with our focus on Britain forty years ago, in today’s New Musical Express, 21 AUG. 1976, Eddie and the Hot Rods are once more touted as leaders of this new thing called Punk. Reviewing their ‘Live at the Marquee’ EP, the NME‘s man in the listening booth, Bob Edmands, declared that it was:

Hot-Rods-singles“Proof positive that Britain is the home of punk rock. They don’t really have punks in American rock — only punks’ dads. You’ve only got to look at the Ramones. Too knowing, too jaded, too weary, too defeated. More hackneyed than acned. Displaying the sullen aggression that’s no more than the tired reflexes of losers.

You’d never catch Joey Ramone turning cartwheels like the Rods’ singer Barrie Masters. His switchblade, welfare card, and Sanatogen would fall out of his pocket as he was going over. The essence of punk is brash assurance fuelled by a high octane mixture of youth and ignorance. That’s Eddie and the Hot Rods on this E.P.”

If the Hot Rods were the face of punk, and the Ramones were duds, what was going to be the next happening thing in the USA? Well, punk, or something, it seems – according to the paper’s ‘Teazers’ column:

“The Future Of Rock’n’Roll Part 97: Definite buzz for Los Angelean punk Tom Petty; his first album, on Shelter and produced by Denny Cordell, due out in States any day now. Tom’s such a punkoid punk that he and his band have been rehearsing in front of mirrors.”

Tom Petty was really from Florida, and had been flogging it around since the mid-to-late 60s, but – well – he was new in LA. What we can see is that the spectre of punk was clearly in the air. Even Bruce Springsteen – on account of the leather jackets and songs about street culture – was touted as a punk in these months. But, next up on the singles review for Ben Edmands was a 45 by Black Oak Arkansas, the band named after the town that spawned it, and led by the raspy-voiced purveyor of the sleazy stage rap, Jim Dandy. ‘Fistful of Love’, this single was called, but this wasn’t quite punk – or Jim himself wasn’t a punk:

NME-BoC-76“Jim Dandy is not so much a punk rocker as a slob-rocker. Slob rock could be the next big thing – there are plenty of exponents already in the field. None are more adept at the style than Jim. He has to be rock’s smuggest chauvinist. As butch as a lamb chop. He dances about the stage like a navvy who secretly envies Nureyev, like a flasher who can’t quite achieve a breakthrough. He wears his genitals on his sleeve. He’s the sort of man who walks down the street with a 20 stone German shepherd to bolster his vanity. You can’t help but like him.”

Elsewhere, the paper’s cover story on the Blue Oyster Cult by Max Bell, was adorned with a headline intended to sum up the story’s main point, which seemed to be that the BoC were “the only heavy metal band capable of leading an audience over the killing floor and putting their brains through some kind of intellectual fitness programme”:

Nectar of strychnine! Seminal Psychedelic trip-wire rock’n’roll! Geometric chaos! Neo-nuclear Pearl Harbour precision! Flash-pod explosion! Blood-on-snow controlled fury! Boot-heeling dangerous!

‘Who is this fucking hippie?’

August 10, 2016 at 14:19

10 AUG. 1976. Sex Pistols at the 100 Club. Mark Perry recounts his interesting conversion experience in an interview with the blog Perfect Sound Forever:

“Caroline Coon was the one who told me about the Sex Pistols. She asked if I’d seen them and told me to come to a show. So about a week later, I saw them at the 100 Club in late July, early August. It was fucking hell, I’d never seen anything like that. There wasn’t even that many people in there. I turned up to this gig with long hair, down to my shoulders, with a brown satin jacket. Caroline said ‘You got to meet some people.’ So I met Malcolm, Viviene and Sid Vicious, who had a shaven head and tissues hanging off him like ‘who’s this fucking hippie?’ Caroline said ‘I want to introduce you to Mark – he’s done this fanzine about punk.’ I remember that Sid picked it up and said ‘Fuck it’ and he threw in on the floor. Some hard dude that is! Later on, I realized he was a powder puff, it was just a big show.

Sniffin_glue_1_coverThen when the band come on, it was just phenomenal. I had my suit ripped off ’cause of the pogo and all that. It was almost symbolic. ‘Right, let’s get rid of that.’ Within a week, the hair had come off, just cut it all off myself.

Q: So that really had an effect on you?

It was a life-changing experience. Within a month, I completely changed my life. I put out the second issue and it mentioned the Pistols, the Damned. I was attracting interest myself. ‘Oh, here’s the guy that does that magazine.’ The scene was so small then. It was so easy to get into. You had to have a great idea to get into it but once you were in there, you knew everybody.”

The Procurer

March 18, 2016 at 09:20

Performance

Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’roll Underworld ‘opens with its horrible subject, coming round after a severe beating. He is naked, bleeding, has had his head shaved and is bound to a chair which is in turn secured to a fifth-floor balcony railing above Kensington High Street, along which a CND march happens to be passing. He struggles free, staggers through his vandalized flat and, one suspects, immediately starts to work up the story to amuse his friends. Keiron Pim reveals that the man behind this brutal punishment was the artist Lucian Freud, with whom Litvinoff had fallen out.’

Read more here and here

Undead

March 15, 2016 at 17:31

Los_angeles_memorial_sports_arena3

Poor old Bruce Springsteen. The longer he keeps going, the more of the old venerable arenas that serviced rock during its peak years he ends up closing down – last old rocker standing as the buildings around him crumble – as the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The latest closure in this trend is the Los Angeles Sports Arena, a venue that has played host of live rock music since the sixties.

Those interested in a potted history of the development of arena touring in the US during the late-60s and early 70s, should take a look at my own Easy Riders, Rolling Stones: On the Road in America, from Delta Blues to 70s Rock. Here, below, is a short excerpt about the explosion of live albums in the 1970s, a trend that was closely linked to the rise of the arena show as a staple of rock culture in those days. Perhaps, in the end – however far down the line that is – all that will be left of the culture of rock touring from that era will be documents such as the live album.

• • •

Excerpt from Easy Riders, Rolling Stones by John Scanlan

It was the connection to something more real than was apparently captured on studio recordings – the pursuit of authentic experience – that marked the arrival of so many of the live albums that appeared in a flood during the 70s.

Ten-Years-After-2

A 1974 industry report on the phenomenon for trade weekly Billboard declared that it was one of the major trends in the music world, and that it ‘was not uncommon now to find between fifteen and twenty live albums on the charts at any given time.’ These products may have served the function for the record companies of being cheap options that, in the service of easy profits, they were eager to keep on knocking out, but they were more than that. It is true that the record companies had, as a by-product of trying to counter live concert bootlegs, hit on a most profitable formula: here was a product with minimal recording costs attached to it, and with the high consumer appeal of tracklistings usually composed of well-known songs, and so likely to be popular with buyers.

But it was an era when these releases also worked to the artists’ advantage, because they offered a vehicle through which musicians felt they could express their connection to the real nitty-gritty of their existence as a road band.

1976-Blow-Your-Face-Out-LP-1Just look at the titles of some of these albums – Live and Dangerous, Kick Out the Jams, On Your Feet or On Your Knees, It’s Alive, Rock’n’roll Animal, Undead, Blow Your Face Out. As the recording manager for the most successful mobile recording unit of the era, Wally Heider Recording of San Francisco, said at the time, the musicians were – by the turn of the 70s – much better players than they had been before, ‘particularly those that had been around a while and perfected their stage show.’ And one particular appeal of the live album for performers and consumers alike was the sound of ‘the feedback and energy from the audience’ that came over on the best of these recordings.

To get the ‘live’ version of your favourite band was to get the most in your face, uncompromising, and raw version – the truest apparent representation, which is one reason why the sound of the audience on these albums is so important; it testified to excitement and alive-ness of it all.

[…]

For about ten years, up until the turn of the eighties, the live album was a staple part of how record companies, artist management and the industry, in general, perceived artistic development. But, it also became a cheap option for a quick return, if not the easiest way to fulfill contractual obligations for artists who had moved on to new labels. Fans, nonetheless, lapped up these products, and artists were usually happy to be involved with them. And, purely in performance terms, the widespread existence of the format suggested that rock music had assumed a level of seriousness about performance and musicianship that had been more commonly associated with jazz, where the live album format had long been a staple of the recorded output of most artists.

OUT-NOW-Easy-RidersYet, despite the peak era for live albums having long since passed, recent years have seen a glut of releases that aim to comprehensively document the performance career of long-established ‘heritage’ artists, particularly those from the 60s and 70s. This is evidence, if nothing else, of the extent to which live recording became routine for touring bands in that era. From long defunct bands like The Doors, whose Bright Midnight series has been releasing bootlegs under an official imprint since the turn of the century (more than a dozen to date), to artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who maintain a steady stream of releases from their own vaults, the live albums keep on coming and now free from the constraints of the vinyl medium. But, these all represent – for the most part – the surfacing of performances that were recorded in the days of the live album’s ‘natural’ lifespan. In truth, the format, as a means of contemporaneous documentation of life on the road began to fade from existence in the 1980s.

It reached some kind of end in the over-the-top form of Bruce Springsteen’s exhaustive five-album set, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band: Live 1975-85. Springsteen was regarded as one of the most exciting and unpredictable performers of the 70s, and had long been bootlegged. He was known to drop unreleased songs into his set that never made it onto his albums, as well as numerous cover versions, all of which helped to sustain and pace marathon stage performances that could last up to three and more hours. But when he finally got around to releasing his long-awaited live album, for many it lacked something of the bootleg experience that had helped to seal his legend as a stage performer. Rather than being a presentation of a single continuous concert, it was comprised of songs recorded at a variety of locations over a ten-year period, covering different phases of the life of his band (as club band, as arena and stadium giants, and so on).

And, as such, it was a move away from the singular concert experience that had been first provided by live bootleg recordings in the sixties, which in turn spurred the record industry into releasing live albums in the first place – as documents and mementos of one-off events.

 

Jack ‘n box

March 7, 2016 at 21:09

The first installment of The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, released in late 2013, featured 800 remastered tracks from 172 artists, all recorded between 1917 and 1927. Also included in the box set were more than 200 restored advertisements and images, six heavy duty LPs, a 250-page clothbound hardcover art book, and a 360-page “encyclopedia-style” field guide with information on the artists.

Jagger on film

February 8, 2016 at 01:49

Jagger-Performance

Mick Jagger has been in more films than you might think – or want to remember. Here, from The Guardian, ‘Gimme celluloid: a history of Mick Jagger on film’, a look at his small screen and big screen exploits, which range from a terrible Ned Kelly to a sterling Performance.

Out There #3

October 28, 2015 at 13:58

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