(post) punk gems, v. 35 — The Raincoats

Happy Wednesday, blog-o-crats! There’s lots of fun under the sun in Clash-land, with the box set, the revival of the Strummer mural in the East Village, and Misters S., H., and J. making the rounds reminding folks of the glory days of rock fandom.

I’m sympathetic to folks who want this depiction of Mr. Strummer to be a tad more handsome, but I’m simply delighted to see that it’s back. And hey: to those folks who are frustrated: grab some spray cans and DIY!

Briefly, today, the loosest of Strummer & Co. connections: I’m digging this mid-career track by The Raincoats, who were DIY exemplars: Palmolive left The Slits, got together a quartet of gals and released “Fairytale in the Supermarket” on Rough Trade back in May 1979. The sleeve, label, etc., appeared hand-printed–in true DIY style. Their debut LP came out in December 1979 (available here in lo-fi), Palmolive left shortly thereafter and, after 1981’s Odyshape (LP), they released on cassette, a la The Replacements’ The Shit Hits the Fans, The Kitchen Tapes, from a performance at the Kitchen in New York City. Richard Dudanski of 101ers’ fame and Clash comrade Derek Goddard provide percussion.

As you may recall, Kurt Cobain took a keen interest in The Raincoats and helped get DGC to re-release key bits of their catalog years later. As Cobain noted, “When I listen to The Raincoats I feel as if I’m a stowaway in an attic, violating and in the dark. Rather than listening to them I feel like I’m listening in on them. We’re together in the same old house and I have to be completely still or they will hear me spying from above and, if I get caught – everything will be ruined because it’s their thing.”

The influence, of course, can be felt throughout the Nirvana catalog–which expands next week with the anniversary release of In Utero, in $125 and $22 packages. Krist and Dave provide a preview here.

Thoughts on mini-Sound System on Sunday. See you then!

(post) punk gems, v. 33 (1/3) — Skafish

Thanks for checking things out here at stealingalltransmissions. I’m hoping my book sales may spike once again with next week’s release of The Clash’s *Sound System* (yeah!)–not for the money (which I like as much as anyone), but the glory.

Back in 1976 (or so), Jim Skafish gathered a sextet of friends to form Skafish, which makes an early appearance opening up for Sha Na Na–a show that is written up in the pages of Billboard magazine.

Their first single, “Disgracing the Family Name,” helps the band land a gig on a UK tour with The Police, XTC (when they still toured), English Beat, UB40, and Steel Pulse. In the pages of Sounds, “Disgracing” is characterized as having a “wheezing, tinny organ sound, bobbysox girlie chorus … all the devices we’ve come to associate with every new arty US band from Devo to the B-52’s, but somehow it works, building up to a dense, handclapping little epic of garage rock.” 

Skafish is also the featured act at Hurrah on December 5 when Sid Vicious, recently out on bail following his arrest for the murder of Nancy Spungen, attacks their drummer, Todd Smith, kid brother of Patti Smith. Vicious had made a move on Todd’s girlfriend and, upon Todd’s intervening, Vicious brandished a Heineken and opened up a wound that required five stiches to close. Vicious was remanded to Riker’s Island and, upon his February release, overdosed and died. Mercy.

Okay–the office awaits. Do tune in on Sunday for another installment of The Clash feature in Punk from ’79.

Coda: I came across this item on YT: aesthetic perfection!


post-punk gems, v. 20 — au pairs

Hello readers all over, and welcome back to radio-SAT! It’s Wednesday, and it’s underheralded post-punk gems time again. The Au Pairs got their start in Birmingham in 1978, and released their first single on 021 Records. It featured “You,” “Domestic Departure,” and “Kerb Crawler.” As other bands did back in the day, they have a bit of fun with the format, and scratch “sink into his arms” and “arms in the sink” into the vinyl.

NME’s Paul Morley caught their 2 Sept 1980 gig at the London ICA, and offered prose that echoed earlier impressions of The Clash: “The group are out to shatter prejudices, challenge your sanity, patience, complacency. They perform with an almost mad commitment that makes all their songs riveting.” Their debut LP, Playing with a Different Sex (May 1981), includes a re-recorded version of “It’s Obvious,” and draws rave reviews. Sounds’ Dave McCullough regarded the LP as “a truly sensuous didactic record … [it] strikes a magic modern chord of common sense.” Playing climbed to #33 on the UK charts, and “It’s Obvious” reached #37 on the club play singles in the US. The album itself remains a real post-punk gem, and is worth checking out on the anthology of all their recorded output on the Au Pairs anthology on iTunes. iTunes may be an imperfect distribution system, but I give them credit for dealing with all the necessary lawyers to get a package like this to the marketplace.

Here’s a taste of what they were capable of live, where they really solidified their reputation. While the sound isn’t bad, it’d be great if some punk-o-phile sound engineer could get ahold of the Hurrah masters and clean things up just a tad.

Have a reverb-filled week, and we’ll see you Sunday!

(post)-punk gems, v. 19 — Pylon, from Athens, GA (our own Liverpool)

Good morning, punk-o-philes! It’s already Wednesday in the states and, with Monday’s holiday-and-all, I’m feeling a bit like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time. It was Vonnegut, too, who’s smart riff on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the loss of Armistice Day remains timely.

But on with the music. It’s a warm a.m. west of Pere-Ubu-land, and I’m thinking about summers of yore in Athens, GA, the American “Liverpool of the south,” with The B-52’s blazing the trail, REM mumbling their way up the charts, and the underheralded combos of Guadalcanal Diary and Pylon. Pylon They also emerged out of the U. of Georgia scene, gigging at the 40 Watt Club, and catching the interest of members of The B-52’s, who helped land them a spot at NYC’s Hurrah, which was made famous in part by DJs extraordinaire Meg Griffin and Jane Hamburger of WPIX fame.

You may recall REM’s dustbin-of-history tracks that comprised Dead Letter Office, including the bouncy “Crazy,” which was the b-side of “Driver 8,” and a Pylon track on which Vanessa Briscoe channels a bit of Nina Hagen–check out the odd pronunciation of “fun-knee.” On both tracks below, guitarist Randall Bewley demonstrates his affinity for the guitar sonics that characterized the Americana of modern rock.

I dig the earlier single, too, called “Cool,” which shows a bit more affinity to the vocal style of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson.

Keep your eye on the good beat, and have a fantastic rest of the week!