(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!

reprise — sucking in the 70s

Happy day, reader! I hope you’ve had a delightful weekend.

After kicking out a lengthy jam to the tune of 1100 words last weekend, I want to keep things shorter and sweeter this time ’round. Thank you for the nice feedback on that post, and one reader was kind enough to refer me to this NPR interview with Michael Walker on his new book, What You Want Is In The Limo: On The Road With Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, And The Who In 1973, The Year The Sixties Died And The Modern Rock Star Was Born.

What You Want Is in the Limo

Now a punk might argue that the title is as insufferably long as a John Bonham drum solo, but that could have been an editor’s decision, and shouldn’t detract from Walker’s argument, which ties the aesthetics to the economies of scale in rock: the excess in length of songs and solos was replicated in the length of limos, jets, tours, and lines of groupies backstage (and the lines of coke that awaited them). It was, he suggests, a thorough negation of the peace and love extolled in the sixties. (I will take issue with his claim that Alice Cooper’s “Elected” is “as far away from peace, love and understanding as you can possibly get in a single song.” To that end, I’ll take Nirvana’s effort to get away, any day:

 You can read an excerpt of the book here

The comments below the NPR piece are quite telling: it’s mostly boys of course, and fanatics defend Led Zep against claims of being aesthetically adrift after Houses of the Holy, extol the virtues of Presence (don’t know that I’ve ever listened to it), and celebrate various moments on Physical Graffiti (which seems reasonable). I am, of course, privy to one reader’s theological claim: “The Clash, Ramones and Sex Pistols are proof that God loved us once.” Amen.

Thanks for tuning in to radio K-SAT! Have a delightful week.