Two things: 1) I’m having butt surgery (a removal of non-cancerous polyps from my anus) tomorrow (Friday), salve so this megapost will have to suffice for a week or so; and 2) I might’ve just had a hard drive fail on my the other day. It wasn’t the one with my iTunes library (which is already backed up, cheap thankfully), sovaldi but rather the one that held 250GB worth of stuff I had YET to put into iTunes. Either someone needs to help me figure it out, or I have to pay $$ for data recovery services. Yeowch.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – “THE BEST OF NEW WAVE THEATER” (1981-83)
To quickly sum up, “New Wave Theater” was a brilliant cable TV stewpot of West Coast punk and post-punk bands, Dadaist theater sketches and lightning-fast stock footage montages. It lasted all too briefly, for host Peter Ivers was murdered in 1983; the case remains unsolved to this day. Rhino Records put out a two-volume best-of video compilation, but it’s been out-of-print for at least fifteen years now.
The two video volumes were one of my first real introductions into this whole world I blog about now, and I was ecstatic to put together a CD version, a best-of the best-of, as a public radio fundraiser premium for my KXLU radio show in 2001. Here is that CD in its entirety, featuring 45 Grave, Fear, Suburban Lawns, The Blasters, Legal Weapon, Circle Jerks, The Plugz, Wet Picnic, Angry Samoans and more…
45 GRAVE – live at the Hong Kong Cafe, Los Angeles, 9.15.80
45 Grave, emerging in the early ’80s, were the perfect mixture of proto-goth overtones, punk undertones and general overall silliness. At its beginning, the band featured ex-Germs drummer Don Bolles, ex-Screamers keyboardist Paul Roessler, wunderkind guitarist Paul Cutler and the shrieky, spidery vocals of the intimidating Dinah Cancer. Their brilliant track “Evil” remained a goth club anthem for two decades here in Los Angeles, and their album “Sleep In Safety” remains one of my favorite ’80s Los Angeles post-punk records. Apparently, Cancer has recently reformed the band, although she’s the only original member in it.
This gig, recorded before Roessler joined the band, is pretty good, although the sound quality isn’t so hot.
BLONDE REDHEAD – live, Louisville, KY, 7.21.99
At the date of this gig, Blonde Redhead were touring for one of their greatest albums, “In An Expression of The Inexpressible” (containing my favorite song of theirs, the powerful instrumental “Futurism Vs. Passeism Part 2″).
TUXEDOMOON – live in Haifa, Israel, 10.31.85
I em>still haven’t heard this one yet. There’s just not enough hours in the day sometimes — let me know what you think in the “comments” section for this one, because you’ll probably get to it before I do.
THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS – live in London, 1984
If you’ve downloaded this one from Post-Punk Junk before, now it has proper track listings; before, nothing had song titles. Yadda-yadda-yadda whoopity-doo!
THE SOFT BOYS – “A CAN OF BEES” (1979)
Just found out that the Rykodisc re-issue of “A Can of Bees” has been out-of-print now for years, alongside the deleted-ness of the Two Crabs CD version as well. Again, like with the Chrome and Howard Shore material found elsewhere here on PPJ, it’s criminal that it’s so expensive to get to. “Bees” is much tougher, meaner and rocking than the usually-lauded (and still deserved of the praise, mind you) “Underwater Moonlight”, and it’s what I found first in my youth, lent to me on vinyl by a dear friend and co-worker.
Of all places, I found this wonderful and apropos description of the album on its page on Half.com, from an anonymous author whose thoughts I closely echo:
“The Soft Boys’ debut album comes roaring out of the gate with ‘Give It To The Soft Boys,’ a song that kicks off with the opening line of ‘Feel like asking a tree for an autograph.’ Robyn Hitchcock’s twisted imagery is given full throttle with the band’s jagged rhythms and chiming guitars. More idiosyncratic in every regard than the band’s classic ‘Underwater Moonlight’, it is nonetheless a formidable set to have sprung upon the unsuspecting world at large (who, outside of the UK, paid little heed at the time of its release in 1979). Of particular note is the combined guitar-work of Hitchcock and Kimberly Rew. They easily traverse the distance from the twisted proto-blues of ‘The Pigworker’ to the relatively pastoral ‘Human Music.’ Catchy hooks abound–once ‘Leppo And the Jooves’ is in your head, it’ll always be there.”
This album is a thrill ride top-to-bottom, and made certain periods of my freshman year of college a brighter time.
VOICE FARM – “THE WORLD WE LIVE IN” (1982)
Voice Farm were part of the San Francisco synth-punk family, which also included Tuxedomoon, Factrix, and The Units. Not having listened to it much when I had my LP copy years ago, my guess is that I originally picked it up for its cover, figuring that any record with two cute boys in their underwear that wasn’t some shitty house or techno record had to be alright. Listening back to it now, I was pretty on-track.
Trouser Press’s Ira Robbins wrote a great review of this record:
On ‘The World We Live In’, San Francisco’s Voice Farm was a trio â€” two guys who appear on the front cover dressed only in their underpants, and a less-exposed female â€” employing synthesizers, vocals and acoustic percussion to weave moody instrumentals, some of which are paired with incisive, intelligent (and, in one case, horrifying) lyrics. The band’s dynamic range, from hauntingly beautiful to startlingly intense, and stylistic variety â€” encompassing movie-music vagueness, machine noise and disco bump, as well as direct song forms â€” surpasses many other all-electronic bands, and makes this a totally fascinating album with nary a dull moment. Producer David Kahne did his usual ace job, and whoever thought of covering the Jaynetts’ venerable “Sally Go Round the Roses” also deserves a compliment.”
NIGHTMARES IN WAX – “BIRTH OF A NATION” 12″ (1980)
Here’s one reason why I started Egg City Radio: so that I could share this particular record.
To my knowledge, the very, very short-lived Liverpool band Nightmares In Wax were the only openly gay post-punk band in all of England during the classic period (sure, “Rip It Up And Start Again” author Simon Reynolds includes Frankie Goes To Hollywood as a post-punk band, but I think that’s a stretch). The band happened to be fronted by Pete Burns, who, after less than a year under the NIW moniker, would change the band name to Dead Or Alive and subsequently churn out ’80s dance pablum you’ve problably heard, such as the club hit “You Spin Me ‘Round (Like A Record)”.
I’m not sure what the intentions of the band were, if they were aiming to push already-strained late-’70s British social boundaries, or if they were merely taking the piss — for according to this poncy website: “After the demise of the Mystery Girls Burns returned in February 1979 with Nightmares In Wax, whom he described as ‘pure rubbish – one-note songs for ten minutes’. Nightmares In Wax’s sole aim was to be the worst group in history. ‘We started the group because we had a stolen keyboard and thought we had to do something with it’, Burns recalls.”
Regardless of the band’s intentions or doubts about their own abilities, they managed to craft a wicked three-song EP of heavy proto-goth Bauhaus-esque queerosity. “Black Leather” is all about greasy leather predilictions, “Girl Song” is a wail against an over-possessive boyfriend, and “Shangri-La”, the real gem, is a plaintive plea, a doomed wish for a more tolerant society.
If anyone’s got info on other queer bands, from ANY country, from the late ’70s and early ’80s scene besides the already-known stories of Husker Du or The Big Boys, lemme know.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – “FRONT ROW FESTIVAL” (1978)
The Hope and Anchor was one of the leading London pub rock venues in the 1970s. As pub rock went through its period of decline, and punk rock exploded in its place, the Hope and Anchor was a hotbed of activity for the overlapping scenes, both of which were captured in the “Front Row Festival” double-LP, recorded at the three-week event of the same name, held during November of ‘77. It’s rare that such disparate acts like Dire Straits and X-Ray Spex would ever appear on the same record, but here you have it…
For me, the standout punk tracks are The Saints’ “Demolition Girl” and “I’m Bugged” by XTC, and the best of the pub rockers are “Zero Hero” by Roogalator and “Don’t MÃ¼nchen It” by the Pirates. Of note is the fact that Steel Pulse also appears on the record; this is the third similar compilation appearance I know of with them on it, the other two being the “Live At The Electric Circus” EP (1978) and the soundtrack to “URGH! A Music War” (1980).
RODRIGUEZ – “COLD FACT” (1970)
I’ve never been much for street protest singer-songwriter stuff, although I don’t mind it whenever someone else puts on Richie Havens at a party or something. One record that did catch my ear that I liked, though, recently was “Cold Fact” by Rodriguez; I was enamored of it because the songs are really short, and pretty catchy. Allmusic has a pretty funny review of this record:
“There was a mini-genre of singer/songwriters in the late ’60s and early ’70s that has never gotten a name. They were folky but not exactly folk-rock and certainly not laid-back; sometimes pissed off but not full of rage; alienated but not incoherent; psychedelic-tinged but not that weird; not averse to using orchestration in some cases but not that elaborately produced. And they sold very few records, eluding to a large degree even rediscovery by collectors. Jeff Monn, Paul Martin, John Braheny, and Billy Joe Becoat were some of them, and Sixto Rodriguez was another on his 1970 LP, ‘Cold Fact’. Imagine an above-average Dylanesque street busker managing to record an album with fairly full and imaginative arrangements, and you’re somewhat close to the atmosphere. Rodriguez projected the image of the aloof, alienated folk-rock songwriter, his songs jammed with gentle, stream-of-consciousness, indirect putdowns of straight society and its tensions. Likewise, he had his problems with romance, simultaneously putting down (again gently) women for their hang-ups and intimating that he could get along without them anyway (’I wonder how many times you had sex, and I wonder do you know who’ll be next’ he chides in the lilting ‘I Wonder’). At the same time, the songs were reasonably catchy and concise, with dabs of inventive backup: a dancing string section here, odd electronic yelps there, tinkling steel drums elsewhere. It’s an album whose lyrics are evocative yet hard to get a handle on even after repeated listenings, with song titles like ‘Hate Street Dialogue,’ ‘Inner City Blues’ (not the Marvin Gaye tune), and ‘Crucify Your Mind’ representative of his eccentric, slightly troubled mindset.”