(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!

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post-punk gems, v. 37 — Dalek I Love You

Welcome back to Radio K-SAT, where on Wednesdays I track down lost gems from the punk and post-punk era. Many of these underheralded tunes come from bands whose members you know from their associations with other bands — you might recognize the lead singer of Graduate, who later formed a band called Tears for Fears, which you may be familiar with (smile).

Dalek, I Love You was the brainchild of young gents out of Thingwall, and included (eventually) Alan Gill (of Big in Japan & Teardrop Explodes fame) and Andy McCluskey (who’s still kicking around with a unit called Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark). The moniker represented an amalgam of Dalek, the Doctor Who cyborgs, and Darling, I Love You. It’s a unit that takes the notion of Bernard Sumner (of Joy Division and New Order fame), upon seeing the Sex Pistols for the first time, to its next extension: “I saw the Sex Pistols. They were terrible. I thought they were great. I wanted to get up and be terrible too.” It’s a raucous, synthetic aesthetic, and on “You Really Got Me” (a Kinks’ tune, yes), from May 1980, they drain it dry of the Van-Halen-infused virility from just a couple years before.

I would argue it even heralds the lounge-act qualities that David Lee Roth would embrace following his departure from Van Halen–which, as readers of *Stealing All Transmissions* know, was a key band in my youth, since they seemed to be the mirror image of The Clash, and represented all that was wrong with popular music. So, when Aztec Camera’s cover of “Jump” hit the radio in the US, it was the object of much DJ ridicule on the classic rock stations, but I savored every bar of it, even though Roddy Frame’s hair was only slightly less ridiculous than DL Roth’s mane at that point.

I dig the tuning of the lead guitar on this track, along with the sensitive piano comping during the chorus. Fun stuff!

I appreciate your checking in today, and hope to see you again on Sunday. Enjoy the week!

“She has important hair” — and so does he: notes on the genius of DeLillo and important rock ‘dos

Hello, readers! I hope you had a fine weekend, and that the rising threat of nuclear annihilation isn’t getting you down.

After dedicating Wednesday’s underheralded gem to Graduate, the precursor to Tears for Fears, I got to thinking about hair, its importance, and Don DeLillo. DeLilllo and George Saunders are the currency, and the latter’s about as punk as you can get and still get paid to publish in the New Yorker. (More on Mr. S. in the next few weeks.)

I got started on DeLillo through White Noise (1985), worked my way through Mao II (a prescient commentary on political leadership and terrorism) and Libra (fictionalized bio of L.H. Oswald), and then was blown away by Underworld (1997). A tour de force with few peers, and the hardcover is cheap used, and it’s laid out gorgeously.

So, in White Noise, our protagonist is a professor of Hitler Studies who can’t speak German, and his wife is Babette, who’s general presence has left quite the impression on his colleague Murray:

“Your wife’s hair is a living wonder,” Murray said, looking closely into my face as if to communicate a deepening respect for me based on this new information.
“Yes, it is,” I said.
“She has important hair.”
“I think I know what you mean.”

Rarely, if ever, in White Noise, does one character know what the other means, in part because of the white noise of the media–and this was in 1985.

In the world of rock, of course, plenty of people have important hair, and sometimes that hair was seemingly more important before their moment in the brightest lights of the music industry.

We begin, of course, in 1962, the year Richard Starkey abandoned Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to take over for the recently deposed Pete Best.

starkey -- pre-B    Ringo Starr, 1st US Concert, Feb 1964

And here’s his bandmate before his hair, too, was disciplined by the tyranny of Brian Epstein.

Chronologically, we check in with The Delinquents, whose lead guitarist, second from the left, encountered “good hair days” less frequently than his Beatle predecessors. (On the right he’s accompanied by Viv Albertine and Keith Levene.)

jones -- delinquents   

His eventual fellow-front man, stage center, drew upon Elvis’s up-style before dismissing him in 1977.

mellor -- 101ers  

Before she joined Dragon’s Playground, which was followed by The Tourists, Ms. L.’s ‘do bided its time, waiting for just the right moment.

lennox -- early  

Fellow moptops-with-unrealized potential occupied duties in Graduate (1 & 2, L to R), before morphing into the well-moussed purveyors of “Cold Shelter” in a “Mad World.”

graduate -- smith orzabal     

Okay, then. It’s been fun keeping things light (or lightly gelled) this week, and I look forward to sending out more tweet tributes to The Clash’s debut LP (@stealingclash) over the next two weeks. Enjoy!

post-punk gems, v. 13 — Graduate

Whoa. My little project honoring the anniversary of the April ’77 release of The Clash on twitter @stealingclash kept me busy this morning, and I forgot it was Wednesday and time for post-punk gems!

Graduate emerges from the Two-Tone scene in Coventry, gets a nice review in NME for this track, their second single, and release a full-length LP in 1980 on Precision Records. The quintet abandons the second LP, breaks up, and the bassist and guitarist get important haircuts and seek success as an uptempo, melancholy duo called Tears for Fears. You may have heard of them.

Here’s Graduate, lipsynching ferociously on their first single, “Acting My Age.”

Thanks for tuning into SAT radio, where it’s all modern music, every Wednesday! If you have any requests, do drop me a line.