The greatest band you never heard of

A look behind the scenes at the Cramps. First, a cpl-three of my personal favorites.

Yes, I’m aware that the Cramps’ bare-bones, raw, stripped-to-the-primer sound; the shock/schlock vintage horror-movie sensibilities which are shot through both their recordings and their onstage presentation; and Lux Interior’s more-shouted-than-sung vocal style isn’t going to appeal to all of y’all CF Lifers—let alone the bizarre way he prowls and flings himself around onstage, the outré antics, the in-your-face freaky-deakiness. I can see how that might be off-putting to those who didn’t come of age during the mid-70s punk rock explosion like I did, and that’s cool. In consideration of more-restrained and/or genteel tastes, I’ll do y’all a favor and just tuck the rest of this post away beneath the fold.

Continue reading “The greatest band you never heard of”


Clown act

Our last Halloween post until next year, I’m thinking.

It’s Halloween Everyday With Cross Dressing, Clowns & Freaks
This week we took a look at some crazy Halloween costumes that many people on the left were wearing. The scary part was that many people on the left wear Halloween costumes daily! Whether it’s in cross-dress, in baby diapers, as clowns, or freaks, the left seems to give me the creeps every day.

We start out this week by seeing a grown man dress up in what looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid outfit drinking milk from a baby bottle at the mall. I’m so grateful that he was bottle and not breast fed.

Next is a lady who begged viewers to donate to her so that she could provide more LGBTQ books for her students to read in school. She was a groomer dressed up as a teacher apparently.

After that is a biological man who, over and over and over and over, corrected restaurant servers when they referred to him as “sir.” Newsflash mister, you ARE a sir!

That same dude claimed he’d rather be stuck in an elevator than referred to as a sir. Hey, if keeping him stuck in an elevator keeps him and his narcissism away from all of us, I can’t say that’s the worst idea!

After his clown show came a different clown show from a woman who claims that white women need to “listen exclusively to black, brown and indigenous women, femmes, and non men.” Isn’t placing races over other races considered racist? I guess not for her. I mean after all, I think she was trying to pass as a fool for this year’s Halloween.

Speaking of fools, two people proclaim how much they like Hamas terrorists. One even admitted that he didn’t care about the innocent Israeli lives being taken away and instead that he “love[s] Hamas.”

These people are evil for supporting such vile animals!

While we’re on the topic of animals, a crazy lady pretended she was a dog by barking and howling at a man on a public bus and a drag queen dressed up as the devil only her fit wasn’t exactly for Halloween.

I get that Halloween is about dressing up as things that you’re not, like as a fairy or as a firefighter or a ghost, but these freaks seem to think that everyday is Halloween and dressing up and living delusions is just a part of everyday life.

Puts me in mind of a song from the best album the Dead Kennedys ever did, Plastic Surgery Disasters.


It all sounds the same

Thought I’d throw out some more fallout from that rabbit-hole deep dive of mine yesterday, just to bring my point about the great stylistic diversity of said genre fully and firmly home via two of my perennial faves from way back then. Take it away, fellas.

Annnnd the counterpoint.

All alike, sure. About like ripe, juicy pears and scorpions are.


Punk AF

So I just spent the last two-plus hours diving deep into yet another musical rabbit hole, this time a first-wave punk rock one. Naturally, inevitably, and as per usual, I enjoyed it enough that I decided it might be worth sharing with you fine folks, via a song apiece from Ulster’s top two local-hero bands: Stiff Little Fingers and the Undertones, two bands that sound nothing whatsoever alike and who, quite famously, did NOT get along At. All.

Next up, my own personal SLF fave.

And now, just to blow right out of the water as self-evidently bogus the most common complaint from the early naysayers of the Punk Rock Revolution, that “all that crap sounds the same”: lads and lassies, I give you The Undertones.

Ahh, my youth; where DID it go, pray tell, and why did it have to be in such an all-fired hurry about leaving?

As even a punk-rock neophyte can readily discern, though these two bands shared not just a common home nation, province, and city (Belfast), but a common freakin’ section of said city, the hard-hitting, dark, and rough-edged sound of Stiff Little Fingers contrasts quite sharply with the Undertones’ brighter, more tuneful power-pop, don’tchathink?

Of course, one of the primary appeals that 70s punk had for devotees of the genre was its tremendous diversity of style, approach, attitude, and sound. They all did have certain things in common to be sure, but still, nobody with an ear and an open mind could possibly have found it the least bit difficult to distinguish betwixt, say, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Jam, the Buzzcocks, Patty Smith, and Television.

Now, about that little conflict I mentioned before.

SLF’s decision to write songs about the experiences of young people growing up in The Troubles proved controversial. Some Northern Ireland punk bands felt songs about the Troubles were exploiting the sectarian conflict. There was also criticism and suspicion over the involvement and influence the management team, especially Gordon Ogilivie, was having on the band. The political differences were reinforced by musical differences as SLF’s rockier punk sound contrasted with the more melodic pop punk of The Undertones and Rudi. Some of the criticism was simply down to band rivalries and jealousy.

There were a number of well-publicised arguments; The Undertones accused Stiff Little Fingers of sensationalising the Northern Ireland conflict, while they retorted that The Undertones ignored it. Michael Bradley, The Undertones bassist, tells of a confrontation in 1979 between The Undertones’ John O’Neill and SLF’s Jake Burns: “He launched into Jake, not physically but verbally. Slagging his records, slagging the journalist writing the songs and slagging the band.” Michael Bradley now describes ‘Suspect Device’ as “a great record, although at the time we weren’t impressed, probably because they’d made a record before us.”

Terri Hooley, Good Vibrations records, also says: “SLF were really starting to make waves beyond Northern Ireland, and I always see them as the ones that got away. I know I have always said I never rated them, but that was probably jealousy on my part. I actually think they are a great band and deserve their success.”

I’d have to say that Bradley and Hooley, by attributing their animosity to simple jealousy, probably had the right of it—eventually, anyway.

One for Arthur

I won’t bother going into it, you can go read his post for all that; it’s the utterly loathsome Sheila Jackass Lee, a dumbass among dumbasses, and therefore comes as no real surprise. I just wanted to seize the opportunity to embed this fine Minor Threat vidya, that’s all.

Lyrics, just for the sheer hell of it:

Oh, I’m sorry
For something that I didn’t do
Lynched somebody
But I don’t know who
You blame me for slavery
A hundred years before I was born

Guilty of being white
Guilty of being white
Guilty of being white
Guilty of being white

I’m a convict (Guilty!)
Of a racist crime (Guilty!)
I’ve only served (Guilty!)
Nineteen years of my time

Update! And just like that, down a major Minor Threat rabbithole I go. I’d almost forgotten how much I loved that band back in my misspent punk-rock youth. Here, have another.

Minor Threat’s singer…uhm, shouter, Ian MacKaye, later went on to form another band, the sorta art-rock-y Fugazi, which carried MacKaye right up to the ragged, jagged edge of real fame and music-biz success. Not to my particular taste, really, but Minor Threat damned sure is.


Neat neat neat!

So a good friend put me onto this teewee channel I didn’t know about before, not having even turned the danged thing on in about three years or so: Tubi, which has a damned near miraculous cornucopia of documentaries chronicling the rise of the first-wave punk rock bands of the late 70s. Now, I’m finding it impossible to turn the dang thing off.

For those not previously into this sort of thing, that’s one of my all-time faves, a Brit punk outfit yclept the Damned, slashing ‘n’ burning their way through one of their classic tunes*, “New Rose.” Their Tubi doc is called The Damned—Don’t You Wish That We Were Deadand it is filled to brimming with some mighty toothsome stuff.

There’s a crap-ton of these things available on the Tubi channel, featuring bands from the Ramones to the Dead Boys to Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers to…well, you name it, they got it, pretty much. Here’s a latter-day version of “Neat Neat Neat” from 2009. See if that bassist doesn’t look a mite familiar to ya’s.

Yeppers, that there would indeed be the god-like Lemmy Kilmister, who stepped in to tour and record with the Damned for a spell after OG (Original Guitarist) Brian James had left the band and Captain Sensible had moved over from bass to guitar. As much as I’ve always loved the Damned, from back in 77 up until right this very minute, I never knew that Lemmy had filled in with ’em as bassist, a tidbit I gleaned from the documentary.

An additional nugget of fascinating Damned lore: the original-original guitarist (well, kinda-sorta) was Chrissie Hynde, who would go on to great fame with a little combo called the Pretenders. According to Ms Hynde herself, she had three rehearsals with the embryonic punk icons, after which “they never got back in touch with me, I don’t know why.” Ahh, but I do: not to put TOO fine a point on it, but Chrissie never was anything much to brag about as a lead guitarist; after the band had gotten James into the slot—who IS a good lead git-fiddlist, and very much so—the lads had no real use for Miss Hynde anymore.

A pretty comprehensive record of the Damned’s long and storied career is perusable here; it reads like a who’s-who of OG punk rockers from the UK, and encompasses pretty much the whole history of first-wave punkdom across the Pond.

Another Tubi documentary I’m very much looking forward to viewing covers one Stiv Bators and his band, the forever-notorious Dead Boys. These guys are another of my perennial faves; they actually played the old Milestone Club in Charlotte in, oh, 79 or thereabouts, maybe? To my undying regret, I missed that show thanks to what felt to me at the time as if it might turn out to be a fatal case of the Green Apple Strut, dammit.

I later heard that Bators had indeed performed one of his signature stage moves that night: he would wind his way-long mic cable around his neck three or four times, toss the rest up over a beam or rafter or whatever else was handy and looked to be sturdy enough to bear his weight (which couldn’t have been much more than a buck-twenty or so, the skinny little git), then pull up the slack until he was literally hanging himself by the neck from the ceiling several feet off the stage. Which, with the creaky, decrepit old Milestone, was an act of profoundest faith, believe you me.

Tragically, Bators died in 1990 after being clobbered by an errant taxicab in the streets of Paris. Somewhere around here I should still have a photo I clipped from Creem or Circus or some other one of several 70s rock and roll mags I devoured as sustenance for the soul back in my wayward youth, featuring Bators with his pre-Dead Boys band: a Mark 1-Mod 0 Longhair, Boots, ‘n’ Spandex agglomeration hailing from Stiv’s own home-base of Cleveland, calling themselves Frankenstein. As a preview of what was coming, that pic was about as off as off can possibly get. My own sudden artistic swerve from the comparatively sedate metal/hard-rock byway and into the punk fast-lane was every bit as aggressive and extreme as Stiv’s was.

Here’s a blast of some typical Dead Boys mayhem, from 1977 at the hallowed CBGBs.

Those were the days, my friends.

* NOTE: I originally had an early live clip of “Neat Neat Neat” in this space, but decided to swap it out for “New Rose” since I definitely wanted to include the  “Neat Neat Neat” with Lemmy in it, and didn’t see the point of having two versions of the same dang song up there.

Sick, boys!

One for my boy Big Country.

I’m thinking BCE might not have found that as amusing as I do a cpl-three days ago, when he was deep in the throes of I-wish-I-was-dead-itude. Now that he seems to be on the mend, though, hopefully he’ll get a small chuckle out of it.

Meanwhile, I also ran across a somewhat less recent live Social D vid, this one from all the way back in 1997. As it happens, the BPs opened for ’em on the CLT date of that tour, which took place at the long-since defunct and demolished Tremont Music Hall. After our set, we were hanging with a few buds of ours in our green room when Ness—with whom I had become good friends back when he spent a few months mastering their huge breakthrough release White Light White Heat White Trash in NYC—came crashing in to bitch at me about nobody having informed him we were the support act that night.

“Okay, well, you guys are doing support tomorrow night in Atlanta, right? And then the night after in Birmingham?” “Ummmm, no, Mike, we ain’t on either of those bills. It was just tonight, and we’re done with that already. Sorry, buddy.” He seemed to be genuinely upset at having missed us, even though he’d attended all of our shows at Rodeo Bar in NYC with my friend Kendra in tow over the months he was in residence in the Big Rotten Apple, so was presumably every bit as familiar with our act as we were our own selves.

This recording is old enough to include what to most Social D fans will always be thought of as the “classic” lineup of Ness, the late Dennis Danell, John Maurer, and a man who is probably the greatest punk rock drummer of them all, Chuck Biscuits. If I remember right, it was the first and biggest of several new-rock radio hits yielded up by White Light White Heat.

Biscuits, a real hard-hitter if ever there was one, got his start with the seminal Canadian punk outfit DOA, following that up with stints with California hardcore icons Black Flag and the Circle Jerks before landing in a little ol’ band called Danzig, a move engineered by producer Rick Rubin at the specific behest of Glenn Danzig himself.

Since I’ve put myself in mind of all that good ol’ punk stuff I used to love so much, might as well subject y’all to one of DOA’s best.

Hard to believe now that we were ever that young.


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