We Were Pretty Much Near Corndogs….

A couple o’ things here :

1) The movie American Hardcore is out and though I haven’t seen it, I will via Netflix at some point (it’s showing for one night only here. Heck, movies like the Decline of Western Civilization, Urgh! & Rude Boy all at least showed for a week in Atlanta. Repertory film theatres must not have as much leeway as the early 80s, but we digress.) Anyway, I’ve seen two reviews in local rags (Creative Loafing, Gwinnett Post) and had problems with both. The Loaf reviewer has a big problem with Husker Du not being in the film, but I really didn’t think they were hardcore at the time. Bob Mould even corrected me as such because, my not having heard the first two Huskers 45s, I was first aware of the band via Land Speed Record, which IS a hardcore record. I did a phone interview with Bob in 1985 where I asked him about their progression from Land Speed to the more melodious New Day Rising (their most recent release at that point) and he stated that they had begun pop and sped up so that records like Zen Arcade and New Day were actually moving back to their starting sound. The Loaf also has a picture of Corrosion Of Conformity to accompany the interview and I always figured them (along with D.R.I.) to be more of a crossover (aka speed metal) act. The band that spawned COC, No Lables were more of a punk band and opened the Dead Kennedys show at 688 in May of 1983.

The Gwinnett Post review notes, inaccurately, that the bulk of hardcore fans “didn’t drink or do drugs”. Sure, whatever. Their review also laments an over focus on Bad Brains and Black Flag, called “the only two relatively successful hardcore punk bands”, when the Dead Kennedys probably outsold both of them. (and the DKs, as the Loaf review notes, aren’t in this thing.) You could probably throw X in the mix as a successful hardcore band as well. I’m sure there’s other hardcore bands (Bad Religion anyone?) that easily outsold Bad Brains as well.

By the way, the title of the post refers the the censored version of History Lesson, Part II as sung by Minutemen on WREK broadcast of 11/30/85.

Second thing : Linda Perry last week called Courtney Love a great American songwriter who should be ranked with Bob Dylan in greatness. I guess when you’re a hack like Linda Perry and songwriters like Kenny G look good compared to you, maybe CLove does deserve the compliment…….

It was 20 years ago…..

CBGBs has closed. Big deal. It was one of the breeding grounds of the early American punk scene but other scenes since have had as big, if not bigger impacts on modern music. They’ve built this big shrine making CBGBs a Mount Olympus, but I seem to remember reading of the impact of places like the Mercer Street Center and Max’s Kansas City on that same scene (and later the Mudd Club and the Knitting Factory. Hell, it could be argued that whatever early hip hop clubs sprang from NY had a much more earth shaking effect, but I digress.) Which leads to me to two topics:

1) One of the groups that put CBGBs on the map was the Ramones. I’ve recently read where they are thinking about making a movie about the band based on a soon-to-be-published book by Joey’s brother. The biggest question is why? If you’ve ever watched most of the movies based on bands (I’m thinking Beatles, the Doors, the Monkees & Def Leppard right off the top of my head), they usually are the worst, most clumsily acted things you’d ever want to see. And super cheesy. (oddly enough, the ones based on individuals (Buddy Holly, Tina Turner, Kurt Russell as Elvis) are not bad.) Plus this one has the added factor that you know who it’s probably gonna be heavily biased in favor of (Joey) and against (Johnny). I’ve never heard much good about Joey’s bro. The records he used to make were certainly not any good.

But the Ramones industry (ala Jimi, Tupac & Jeff Buckley) must have new product. Too bad this money couldn’t have been pushed the band’s way when most of them were alive and could enjoy it. This goes the same way with commercial radio airplay. That band beat their heads against the wall from the late 70s to the early 90s trying to get a hit. Now DJs that were probably cranking out Molly Hatchet and Journey and Pearl Jam on the radio (at that point in time) have featured segments where they play the bruddas. Whatever. I once got to drive Joey around trying to get his penicillin prescription refilled (he got sick at an outdoor show in Florida) and had to tell Dee Dee when wrestling was on. Those moments are in my Ramones movie…..

2) Once again, CBGBs is kaput. Don’t care that much because I never went there. Had I gone there any time after that initial 1975-1978 burst I doubt I’d think any differently. There really wasn’t much of CB’s scene after that point (the NYC hardcore bands just weren’t very good.) Where I did go was an Atlanta club called 688. 688 closed 20 years ago this month. I once figured out that I went to something like 360 + performances at the venue, most of those in about a 3 1/2 year span (May 1983 – October 1986). Because of the dumb concept of drinking age admission (I never cared anything about alcohol, I’ve never been drunk in my life), I missed a number of great shows at the club before I turned 19 in April of 1983. Siouxsie. Gang Of Four. Richard Hell. The Professionals. The Method Actors. The Stranglers. Echo & The Bunnymen. REM. 999. Johnny Thunders. Wall Of Voodoo. Billy Idol. The Fans. Vietnam. Jim Carroll. Anti-Nowhere League. Psychedelic Furs. But I got to see some amazing ones as well. Iggy Pop with Chrissie Hynde joining him on-stage (at a “teen” show.) The Brains, The Basics. The Heathen Girls. The Go Gos (all of these also at “teen” shows.) Dead Kennedys. Circle Jerks. Pylon. The Bongos. Guadalcanal Diary. Marianne Faithfull. Black Flag. Meat Puppets. The Gun Club. Violent Femmes. Hoodoo Gurus. Red Hot Chilli Peppers (who sucked both times I saw them there.) Lords Of The New Church. Eurogliders. Minutemen. Drivin N Cryin. Nightporters. NRBQ. Mutabaruka. Afrika Bambata. Flipper. Jesus & Mary Chain. 86. Husker Du. Soul Asylum. Peter Tork. The Bluebells. Jason & The Nashville Scorchers. Specimen. Chris Stamey. The dB’s. Let’s Active. The Residents. Glen Branca. The Three O’Clock. Green On Red. The Rain Parade. The Blasters, The Dream Syndicate. Nick Cave. Sheer Thursday. The Church. Subhumans. The Exploited. Scream. UK Subs. The Restraints. The Bangles. The Suburbs. The Replacements. plus more I can’t think of right now. 688 was a place to go when nothing was going on because you knew some one you knew would be there. You might fall in love there (this may have happened to the author with not so great results). You might see Phreddy Vomit fall through the roof there. You might have one of the Nightporters tell you how he hoped he’d soon hit it big so that he could quit selling drugs. You might run into members of the Clash (they stopped by in 1982). Or Marco Pirroni (early Banshee and member of Adam Ant’s band. later with Sinead O’Connor as well.) You might nearly physically run over Susanna Hoffs (she was at a True West show and I nearly plowed right over her short self.) You might see skinheads attacking a pick-up truck on Spring Street. You probably weren’t going to be bored. (unless it was that one Meat Puppets show.) So I do understand the feelings people like Debbie Harry, Patti Smith and Richard Hell had about CBGB’s closing because I can empathise. My CBGBs closed 20 years ago.

Dynamic Duos (and why the critics lavish praise on the wrong ones..)

First, a quick addendum to the Police DVD review. Watched it with Andy & Stewart’s commentary and there are actually two shots of the Atlanta skyline, both of which Stewart recognizes. The first seems to show that apartment building that’s on the corner of North Avenue and Peachtree. The other shot looks to be entering the city on 75/85 from the south. Sting is looking at a map and mutters that “the Agora is over there.” On the commentary, Stewart says “this is Atlanta again”, to which Andy quips “We only ever played Atlanta. All the rest was just driving around to get back there.” (or something to that effect.)

A real quick treatise on the similarities between the Beatles and the Clash. Both heavily lauded and influential, both with a main band member dying young, both with that band member subsequently lionized….. Not I don’t mean to demean either John Lennon or Joe Strummer. I enjoy heavily much of their recorded work. But those two weren’t my favorites in their respective bands.

First, I was always a Paul fan most in the Beatles. Paul McCartney is probably the main reason I actually started listening to pop music at age 12. In those few years between when I began following the music scene and when Kim Turner’s old camp counselor killed John Lennon, I always bristled when the critics would go gaga over John and trash Paul. As I said, I LIKED John’s contributions. I just like Paul’s more. Then John died and it seemed as if criticism was beyond reproach. And this was especially true regarding John’s Beatles work. Remember, JOHN was the REVOLUTIONARY one. Ok, maybe in thought, but musically? “Yer Blues”? “Come Together”? Paul was the one listening to Cage and other 2oth century composers (and also funding underground UK newspapers for that matter.) I always got the feeling John would have been happy regurgitating Chuck Berry licks for the entirety of the Beatles if Paul hadn’t pushed him otherwise. And then the most abrasive punk rock thing the Beatles ever did was a Paul tune, “Helter Skelter.” So Paul, alien that he is, ranks as my fave. Go listen to “For No One” now.

Now, regarding the Clash, a similar thing happened when Joe had his heart attack and passed, You’d have thought that Mick/Paul/Topper/Terry were mere sidemen along for the ride as Joe was mad out to be THE Clash. Funny how Mick was trying to expand the band to new ideas and Joe, when Mick left, reverted back to sub-ramalama punk shouting. “We are the Clash”? No, you weren’t. In case you’ve missed the bit, Mick Jones was my fave Clashman. I always preferred his voice (if not his songs). One of Joe’s better songs, “Lost In The Supermarket”, is one of his most personal and he wrote it about what he thought Mick’s life was like growing up, with the intention of Mick singing it. Again, I love much of Joe Strummer’s music, I just prefer Mick Jones’ more. Go listen to “Gates Of The West” now.

So no more downplaying the music of Paul McCartney & Mick Jones, ok?

Coming soon, why Courtney Love would be better suited to share vocals in a band rather than howling them all and why Lynyrd Skynyrd were more daring songwriters than the “voice of a generation”, Kurt Cobain…..

Rent To Not Own

Last night I watched the Stewart Copeland documentary on the Police, Everyone Stares. Now old Stew shot this over the band’s entire history (not just 1978 like the 99x DJ kept saying last week when giving them away) and there’s some interesting stuff. Though I saw neither show it would have been odd if footage had shown up from either their first NY shows (where Atlanta’s legendary the Fans reportedly blew them off the stage) or their first Atlanta show at Rosa’s Cantina (which later became 688.) The whole thing is kind of short (73 minutes) and I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve watched it with Stewart and Andy’s running commentary. You would think a guy actually IN the band wouldn’t have made two big factual errors. Number one, he shows footage HE SAYS is from July 16, 1981, but the band are in the recording studio working on a Zenyatta Mondatta track that would have been released in 1980. Secondly, footage from the US Festival is shown with a credited date of 1982. US Fest was in 1983.

Quickly, a couple of my Police experiences. First saw them on 12/6/80 at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on the Zenyatta tour. We had bought tickets that were the last three seats on the far part of the front row. Great sounding, but not very good tix. My friend Mike and his girlfriend moved down to the front center section during the opening band. “Big deal,” I remember saying. “Front row center for R.E.M.” Have always held a bit of a grudge against the REMs in that everywhere else on that tour seemed to get XTC as an opening act and I never got to see them live. Anyway, we traded places with some other folks who wanted their friends to come down and thus ended up on the far left (facing stage) but on the aisle. Still front row, I still couldn’t see Stewart the whole show (they still left the orchestra pit empty at the Fox then meaning angles were not as good up close) but a better experience than where we were supposed to be. When the Police came out for the encore, Sting announced “All I Wanna Be Is..” and I muttered under my breath “Next To You” as the audience, apparently not knowing that one, stayed fairly unresponsive. So Sting again says “All I Wanna Be Is Next ..” and I yelled out “To You” at which point Gordo pointed in my direction. My conversation with Sting.

The next time the Police came through, January of 1982, the hot young GoGos were the opening band for their Omni show. A rumor went around my high school that day that Belinda Carlisle had OD’d. I didn’t believe the rumor but, hey, I’d already seen the GoGos at 688 in August of 1981 before they became the phenomenon.

Anyway, the DVD does remind one of what a fine band the Police were (and how dull Sting’s solo career has been), but you’d be better served to get the DVD with all the promo videos.

Thank you. Drive Thru…

Oops!

2 things : My last post mentioned how I was in a weird way and it’s not because of my health. The tests are back and I’m not pregnant! Actually, my mom was being sent to see her surgeon again by her cancer doctor but it looks like this may just be a precaution thing and everything may be relatively ok.

Also, I forgot the former Turtle’s Rhythm & Views (later Blockbuster & Wherehouse) on Peachtree just above Benihana’s. The building is now a Whole Foods but actually once hosted a ridiculous in-store featuring Prince (on the last tour before he changed his name to either Lenny or Squiggy. or Squiggly. or something.) I drove by the place that day and the line stretched what seemed to be halfway to Chamblee. and this was in worsening weather as one of the bigger snowstorms in recent memory (for those who remember, we’re talking March of 1993) hit that night. This store was also the scene of two of the craziest tent sales I’ve ever bought too much stuff at……

Sometime I’ll get into talking about other odd defunct record stores around town but I’ll leave with an anecdote about when Rich’s used to be a SEATS ticket outlet. Now, most stores today that sell tickets have the booth up near the front of the store. At this point, in 1977, Rich’s sold tickets but had their booth in the middle of the store near customer service. Rich’s opened at 10 AM at Lenox. Tickets went on sale at 10 AM. Uh-oh! My sister’s friend went to purchase Led Zeppelin tickets and said that when the doors to Rich’s opened, kids were knocking things every which way scrambling to get to the SEATS booth. I can proudly say I bought my tickets to see Iggy Pop at 688 at the Perimeter Mall Rich’s. Didn’t have to knock anything over but we probably should have just for the spirit of the Ig…….

If You Have Ghosts…

We all face life and death everyday (I’ve already had two times in my life where I was only given a 50/50 shot at survival) so a store closing shouldn’t be a big deal. Tower Records is going belly up and it bothers me in a way. Not that there’s not gonna be other places available for me to purchase whatever (though there is one magazine they stock that I know of only one other store in town that carries it), it’s just there’ll be one place less. Being able to go back into Tower Records after being in the hospital for two weeks meant a lot to me just because it felt like a sense of normalcy returning. But now they’re going and there’s one less place to go shopping 365 days a year (Tower livened up some boring Thanksgiving days!) But you want internet shopping/burning CDs/downloads, you got it. Just one more memory soon to be. I drive by ’em everyday. Let’s take my commute from Duluth to work near the Brookwood Station. If I come up Peachtree Parkway, I first go by what used to be Murmur Music (open from I think 2003-2006). A mile or so up, I pass the building that once housed Musicdrome (the former Norcross Chapter 3. This opened up sometime in the late 80s and stayed until around fall 2001. The store moved to Lawrenceville where it died an ignoble death around six months later.) My next former haunt that I pass is on Pecahtree Industrial Boulevard and is the former Turtle’s/Blockbuster Music/Wherehouse Music in Chamblee Plaza. This store opened in 1983 and lasted through various incarnations until 2003, methinks. A former employer of both Jeff Clark and Thomas Peake, it also hosted a memorable Wall Of Voodoo in-store that I attended. Next on our gruesome tour is Atlanta CD in Brookhaven (opened in 1986, closed about 1992 or so.) Kevn Kinney & Peter Buck did an in-store there that I missed because I totally fouled up my textiles lab. On our left, as we head up the road a piece, is the former site of Oz (roughly where Borders stands now.) (opened in 1975 or 1976. Closed in 1982 or so.) Didn’t see the PiL 1980 in-store but did see the Ramones that same year there. I think I bought my third and fourth albums ever there (vaguely recalling the Eagles’ Greatest Hits and Beach Boys’ Endless Summer.) Definitely bought my first concert ticket there (Eagles at the Omni, June 1977.) Oz was a former employer of both David T. Lindsay and Brad Syna. Next on our graveyard visit is Lenox Square, former home of Frankin Music/Record Bar/Camelot/HMV. Yes, Sam Goody/FYE/whatever is a descendent of some of these, but the current store there has about the selection of Best Buy, so…  Attended memorable in-stores from both Drivin N Cryin and the Plasmatics at Record Bar and paid too much money for the Gun Club’s  Fire Of Love album there as well. Also, at Around Lenox is the first site of Atlanta’s Tower Records (1989-2002). It was here that I won the local version of the Rhino Music Trivia contest back in 2001. If I had won for the whole world (and the ultimate winner was on-line where he could cheat and look things up), I would have received every CD Rhino released for the life of the label. As it is, I think I figured out I finished about 5th in the world and I got bunches of box sets. As we continue up Peachtree, we hit the current Tower Records, where the 10-30 % wake is in progress (and I’m gonna miss most of the checkout girls there too!). This is also, basically, the former site of a Media Play, one of the first to close in the late 90s. Then, on our left, we hit the former site of Coconuts Records (1984? -?). Not much memories here, but Arthur Davis’ grandmother used to own a house behind it. Arthur had a roommate he hated and one day I arrived just as he had finished spray-painting the bushes. He also sprayed “Agnostic Front Skinhead Army” across the top of his kitchen hoping the guy would move out. Just up from here, on the left, is a strip mall that once housed a used CD store when those were in vogue back in the late 80s. Can’t remember the name. A little further up Peachtree Road in Buckhead and we hit the site of the first Atlanta Chapter Three. I only went in there once and I remember looking at an import Elvis Costello single which I thought was too pricey. Sort of across Peachtree is the former Jim Salle’s. They had tons of old records and sheet music back in the late 70s that would probably bring a fortune now on EBAY. Moseying up past Fantasyland (still reasonable healthy since either 1976 or 1977. I first shopped there in early 1978), we next come upon what was the flagship store of Peaches Records. Bought Who tickets here in 1980, camped out for Clash tickets in 1982, but didn’t buy much vinyl here. Too expensive, though I seem to remember getting a couple of Boomtown Rats singles here. They used to have their version of “Graumann’s Chinese Theatre” out front where folks like Patti Smith left their handprints. Tony Paris used to work here. Also in this same shopping center there used to sit a CD Warehouse store. Across the street from this stripmall, there resided a used CD store whose name I can’t remember. This was early to mid-90s. Our last ghastly visit is on the right and is the former home of American CD. Can’t think of ever buying anything here.

So, if you read through that, God bless you. That’s my commute, pretty much. Hell, I miss non-music stores that have gone under, too. I miss the Frito-Lay plant and the Buddy’s next to it that’s just closed. There was a Dairy Queen on Buford Highway near Pleasantdale that I’ll always associate with going to Little League when I was a kid. It finally closed shop a few years ago.

But cherish what you’ve got while it’s there. Be thankful we still have stores like Fantasyland, Wax N Facts, Wuxtry, Low Yo Yo Stuff, Ella Guru, Criminal, Decatur CD and Full Moon. Patronize them.

Sorry for the ominous missive. I have other stuff going on that’s bothering me right now. Hopefully it’s worry over nothing. More happy-go-lucky stuff later in the week.

Ta.

In The City

Coming into work this AM I noticed water gushing on Peachtree causing a back-up going north. Funny how the city supposedly fixed that problem the other week.

Listened to several re-issues this week. One was the newfangled double disc of the Cure’s “The Top”. I always liked a couple of songs of this one but listening to it I realized it was better than I remembered. The demo of “Give Me It” ranks with anything Robert did (I use the past tense as I don’t expect much out of new Cure releases.)

Also listened to Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” and “All Shook Up” re-issues. At one point, Cheap Trick were probably my favorites. The show at the Fox on 4/16/79 supporting the Budokan album was as hot as it gets. But the Budokan phenomenon delayed the release of “Dream Police” and may have hurt it a bit (and it still did quite well, don’t get me wrong.) I was pondering the alternate universe where that live album wasn’t released and superstardom didn’t delay another fine studio album. Maybe that would have prevented “All Shook Up”. I figured it out back then, mind you, as I immediately didn’t much care for it. Funny, because the last new material before that, a song for the Roadie soundtrack called “Everything Works If You Let It” is absolutely one of their best. And George Martin was producing. But… No good. “Who D’King” was dreadful then and reeks now. I later found out that “Baby Loves To Rock” was pretty much a straight cop of the Yardbirds’ “Psycho Daisies”, which I’m not sure the band have ever acknowledged and they certainly don’t in the new liner notes. Still, Cheap Trick are a national treasure, what I’ve heard of their new album “Rockford” seems ok, and they really should be in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame (along with Kraftwerk/Roxy Music/Iggy & the Stooges/Patti Smith/ELO/The Nuge/etc…) Instead, that institution honors Jackson Browne and any recording/act tormenting the earth that features Eric Clapton.

Which at least reminds me of Dave Slusher’s great variation of Layla that honored the late great African musician Fela Kuti :

Fela, You got me on my knees

Fela, You’re in The A.N.C.

(It loses some with the passage of time but I still like it.)

Must go now, sleep beckons. Maybe it’s time to listen to one of those riveting Clapton solos to get me there faster……

On A Sundry

Only heard part of the U2/Green Day collaboration last night and of course I missed the Skids cover. Two groups of old punks with the older band still attempting reasonable music and the “young” bucks slowly gravitating towards James Taylor territory. The overwhelming vibe apparently stunned the Falcons who reverted back to looking like a Marion Campbell coached team.

Listened yesterday to The Oblivious’ album from a few years back called “America”. This was a project of Holly Vincent (ex-Holly & The Italians) that came out on Amy Ray’s Daemon label. I think it must have sold about three copies because local stores have always had folks’ promo copies in the discount area. That’s where I probably paid 50 cents or less for mine at Book Nook for what was apparently “Noriko’s copy”, whoever she might be. 🙂 Anyway, there’s hints of a decent update of new wave (Holly was around circa 1980-82) except for the fact that the songs take on Grateful Dead-like lengths. Really, that type of music should average out at around 3:30 per song. Instead, the 14 songs (the hidden 15th track is just gimmickry) time out at over 62 minutes which comes out around 4:30 per. Editing could have helped and maybe more folks would have heard it.

If you can figure out why traffic slows to a near stop during rush hours I’d like to know. I understand some slowing because of volume but, outside of a wreck blocking a lane, there should always be flow. My morning commute from Duluth down Peachtree Industrial slows to a near crawl for close to two miles because two lanes stop trying to exit onto 285 West. Now one lane, I understand. The second lane over, the center lane, generally slows because bastards that decide they’re more important than you wait until the last moment to try to get over TWO LANES into the exit lane. I need to get a tank…..

Watched the Lisa Suckdog “Suckumentary” last night. The more recent comments (circa 2005) from Miss Carver and associates did offer insight but there wasn’t enough. After a few eye-opening performances at the beginning (including one I’m fairly sure was from the 1989 Destroy All Music Festival), it degenerates into silly, less interesting stuff. Also watched part of the video Ryko released that has footage from Graham Chapman’s 1988 tour of colleges. I’m fairly sure some of it consists of his Georgia Tech performance (there’s been a quasi-legit CD of that show floating around for years) but there’s no credits to verify. Thought I might see myself or someone I knew in a crowd shot but the only ones present appear to be from Brown University and they re-use the same shots for what becomes a very cheesy effect. Oh well.

“Turn off the computer, you can learn more” – paraphrase from Pylon circa 1980

Quick Music Run-Down

Went and saw We Are Scientists and Art Brut the other eve with maybe 150 of my closest friends. WAS were better than their album but no big deal. Art Brut actually had several decent songs once you got past the what the fuck am I watching phase. Can’t imagine they’ll have a stellar career, but Mark E. is still rollin’ after so long (we heard some Fall type stuff in Art Brut’s sound) so who knows. More power to them.

May be heading over to Ladytron/CSS momentarily at th Variety Playhouse. Probably going to skip out on going to see my buddy Fred LeBlanc and Cowboy Mouth tomorrow as I have to go to a birthday party (big 4-0) for my friend Scott then and I have to write my Pere Ubu article for Stomp & Stammer at some point. Sorry Fred.

I’m not sure why you’re reading this, but thank you, I guess. You could have wasted these moments of your life using the restroom or reading Chunklet, pretty much the same experience though one is involuntary and I’d really have to strain to do the other……