U2’s “The Miracle”: Homage or Requiem?

The good folks at Louder than War picked up this post — check it out here. Thanks!

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DJ Aphasia, 18 Sept set

Happy Wednesday readers! After close to eight years away, I got back in the DJ booth last week at WOBC, our local college and community radio station, for an hour of “The Spirit of ’77.” I’m rusty, and It’s a mixed bag, of course, with great tracks from ’77 and after, some of the tracks that inspired all that gorgeous noise in ’77, and a few foils, too, just to remind us what that joyous ruckus was about.

 

Do get past the first 45 seconds certainly, which is a non-punk prelude, and then you’ll encounter a host of fun items without DJ patter this time, including The Au Pairs, the Dolls, Costello, The Clash, Scritti Politti, Pixies, Public Image Ltd., Patti Smith, Lorde (yes Lorde!–outside of hip hop, she’s best we’ve got today on social class), Television, Sleater-Kinney, and Gang of Four. Send me a note if you need info on any particular track. I’d post them in order, but that prevents a bit of serendipity, yes?

And here’s a link to a show that just went up in NYC, with great images of the Beasties, Madonna, and others, as just kids. And some of The Clash in various iterations, too.

BAD --
image by Josh Cheuse, used without permission.

Thanks for tuning in. I’m back on the air Thursday, 5-6pm, EDT, at wobc.org, and 91.5 FM in Northeast Ohio. Thanks for checking in!

Can you keep London Callling’s secret?

Happy Saturday folks! I’ll be keeping my Sunday and Wednesday posting routine through the fall, but today’s post is rather timely. I figure many folks on twitter and elsewhere are bound to be posting pix of Paul Simonon in flagrante delicto (delicio?) tomorrow in celebration of the alleged anniversary–and, alas, they’ll miss it by a day.

The anniversary of his impersonation of Paul Bunyan is 20 September, actually, and I’ve shared here four items toward that end:

  • two pages of a four-page section in Stealing All Transmissions (due out 15 October in the US, the following month in the commonwealth)
  • a still from a video clip from the 9/21 show, in which it’s clear that Simonon’s playing a bass lacking the “pressure drop” sticker preserved in the rocknroll hall of fame
  • the video itself, and
  • the audio file from the coda of the 9/20 show.

This evidence, I understand, is not definitive, and may be only of interest to the most bona-fide nutters, but it may jump-start a conversations or two, and set a-lit the hot-foot of a hater or two. (Much gratitude is due to Dave Marin — follow him on twitter here — for bringing this item to my attention and helping compile much more evidence than I’ve presented here.)

Stealing snippet

Here’s the video that’s been synched up with the Guns of Brixton bootleg audio track, along with a still from that video.

Simonon -- Palladium

And here’s the audio clip of perfectly punk quality from the 20 September show, in which you can hear quite a ruckus at the end. (The 21 September show has nothing of the sort.)

 

Again: it’s simply a fun stir of the pot here, which I hope you’ve enjoyed.

(post-) punk gems, v. 40 — Bad Manners

The autumn equinox has been a rich one in terms of music history, and punk history in particular. Patti Smith first retired in mid-September 1979, at age 32, after playing before 85,000 people in Florence, which nearly coincided with the dissolution of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the first single of Graduate (see here), who eventually morphed into Tears for Fears.

A mere 34 years ago this week, Bad Manners served up “Special Brew” (backed with “Ivor the Engine”) on 7″, and it became one of the biggest hits.

And really: if you’re going to lip-sync (which is fine by me), why not have a fun go of it and wear grass skirts? I do miss the horn sections of BM and their brilliant brethren.

Tomorrow, 18 Sept, 5-6pm EDT, I’ll be hosting “The Spirit of ’77” and spinning discs at http://www.wobc.org, 91.5 FM in Northeast Ohio. Send any requests to @stealingclash. Cheers!

#Replacements on my mind // the once bashful Tommy Stinson

Happy Sunday, reading people. Twitter’s abuzz with the enthusiasm over last night’s show by The Replacements – their first in 23 years in their hometown of Minneapolis. (Check out this lovely review, by Andrea Swensson, and don’t miss the fabulous photos beneath by Nate Ryan/MPR– here’s a teaser.)

tommy

I picked up Tim based on a single review, and then converted dozens of friends to its virtues, with little proselytizing. In the summer of 1987, we drove through the valley heat into SF for their performance at Fillmore and, just before the end (spring 1990, I figure) at the campus gym at UC Santa Barbara. They were great, drunk, and ever-satisfying, and in the pic for Musician magazine, taken from the back of the stage, you can see my head just beyond Paul’s knee.

My favorite memory, though, of Mats live was at Slim’s in SF, when the Tommy-led Bash & Pop appeared in 1994 (or so). I figured the name “Bash & Pop” echoed the punk ethos of getting our noise on the radio. While their debut LP, Friday Night is Killing Me, was uneven, there were a handful of gems there, and how I wish I could find that damn CD. (Timmay, do you still have it?)

Upon taking the stage, though, I realized that echo was rather distant. Rather than the “I-don’t-give-a-toss” indifference Johnny Rotten perverted from Iggy Pop, T. Stinson entered the limelight as a frontman reluctantly: much more bashful than bashing, and we were old enough in mid-twenties to appreciate the desire for affection–“never disappointed by a show of hands,” in the words of Game Theory, and why should they be? “Never Aim to Please” was a song inspired by the past, but was fully reckoned with on stage. Fun times.

Holy cow, is that a non-punk fade-out at the cadence. Maturity, like death & taxes, is inevitable, to some degree.

I’m on the radio for the first time in six years Thursdays this fall, 1700-1800, EDT, @ http://www.wobc.org/, with my show, “The Spirit of ’77.” There’ll be some punk, and oodles of fun (and errors, I’m sure. Bear with me.) I’ll check @stealingclash this week if you have any requests. Have a fantastically rockin’ week!

musicians are workers, too // the pleasure of yearning

Happy Sunday, folks! One of the real joys of writing about The Clash is catching up with the great characters who played key roles in their success back in the day. Yesterday I had a delightful conversation with Howie Klein, former head of 415 Records out of SF circa ’79, when The Clash first made it to the west coast, and eventual head of Reprise Records. (He’s a political blogger now @ http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/.)  It’s possible, I suppose, if I had written about KISS, for example, people in KISS-de-camp might now be just as generous with their time, but I’d like to think The Clash’s politics (and aesthetics)–and Strummer’s delight in talking with all sorts of folks deep into the night–has something to do with my comrades’ generosity of time and spirit.

simmonsSpeaking of KISS: Gene Simmons is making a splash these days with his “rock is dead” pronouncement in Esquire. Simmons is good businessman, probably always has been, and he’s after something big here, which I hope is not lost in the “poptimistic” backlash: back in the day, musicians with label support could hone their craft in no small part because they didn’t need day jobs. They had oodles of free time. They wrote songs, and neither tweets nor blogs–which are both cool, don’t get me wrong, but the structures of time and days, then and now, are remarkably different. This moment is still unfolding, so it’s perhaps too early to proclaim death and all–but things have certainly shifted, and it might not be premature to mourn the loss of yearning in fandom.

I wish I had seen this brilliant piece by Simon Reynolds a few years back, as I would have cited it in the afterword of Stealing, where I make a similar argument about analog fandom. Reynolds’ requiem for the British music weeklies during the punk and new wave years is equal parts eloquent and forceful, and absolutely right on regarding anticipation and pleasure back in the day. As that so-called hero of new wave (!) Tom Petty noted, “the waiting is the hardest part”–and yet the consummation of literary and musical desire was ever so sweet. A long-form journalism piece worthy of an extended period of your attention.

Have a delightful week!