No Beatles in ’77, but two years later …

My, oh my, it’s June, so I’m moving on to ch. 6 in Stealing, and the second trip of The Clash to the US in late summer/fall.

On the night after Paul Simonon’s iconic impersonation of Paul Bunyan, at the Palladium in NYC, on 20 Sept 1979, The Clash played the Palladium again, and the show was broadcast live on WNEW-FM. This transmission was the source of the *Guns of Brixton* bootleg, during which you can hear Joe Strummer riffing between songs on the headline in the NY Post.

Stealing All Transmissions, p. 95.
From Stealing All Transmissions, p. 95.

And, while the show never did materialize, it wasn’t so far-fetched, given recent events among the former Beatles. McCartney, to begin, in his new contract with CBS, included a clause allowing him to make any recording with “John Lennon, Richard Starkey and George Harrison recording together as The Beatles.” The industry could get weird about stuff like this (recall reedist Eric Dolphy playing with John Coltrane under the name “Harold Land” on the *Ole* LP), so this clause was a big deal.

In 1976, promoter Sid Bernstein offered the not-quite-lads a cool $230 million to reunite for an American tour. Lorne Michaels of SNL fame offered the band $3,000 to reunite for three songs on the show. And, in 1979, Bernstein took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to invite The Beatles to reunite for a concert to benefit Vietnamese refugees. Again, they took a pass. See here for more info.

Also, for folks in the SF Bay Area, Randal Doane Clash Oakland posterI’ll be reading at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland, 7pm, on 20 June. I don’t know that a cover band has been confirmed, but please put it on your calendar. It should be a gas either way. For those of you linked to something called facebook, you can find the event listing here.

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#postpunk gems, v. 27 — Heaven 17

Well, finally, the Heat Miser has taken his wares elsewhere. He chased us out of Ohio, up to Ontario, and even to Quebec City. Merci, but no merci, Mr. Miser.

As you may know, Heaven 17 included Human League ex-pats Martin Ware and Ian Marsh, and the band took its name from the fictional pop group mentioned in passing in A Clockwork Orange. As reported in NME, the inspiration for their debut 7″ came from an afternoon of persuing Record Mirror, “picking out all the words from those absurd disco song titles. We were laughing at those phrases, thining they’re pretty good and then we just chucked in ‘How Much Longer Must We Tolerate This Fascist Groove Thang.’ We were pissing ourselves for days.”

Following the single’s spring 1981 ascent to #30 on the UK charts, the BBC found it considerably less funny, and dropped it. Why? Their legal department deemed it libelous to say “Reagan, Fascist guard.” So, they recorded another version substituting the phrase “Stateside cowboy guard.”

Like Elvis Costello’s SNL appearance in 1977 (in place of the Sex Pistols, who couldn’t get visas), when he launched into “Radio, Radio.” Lorne “they broke their promise” Michaels banned EC from SNL for 12 years. I love these moments when “the man” feared popular music, offered testerical reactions, and confirmed for all of paying attention that this music deserved closer attention. Fun times! And definitely way more fun (and political) than wardrobe malfunctions.

Here are the gents, avec La Roux, at it more recently at Abbey Road:

Have a dance-worthy week!