Pressed at Optimal Media, Remastered by Ed Stasium, EXCELLENT liner notes by Mr. Steve Albini. 4 sides of The Ramones, Live At The Rainbow Theatre, London, December 31, 1977 I won’t insult you be reviewing the music. The energy is palpable, anyone who’s seen ‘em live will relive some of those pogo-feels.
Subhumans “From the Cradle to the Grave” 1983. Bluurg Records. 80′s UK hardcore punk. From the Cradle to the Grave was Subhumans’ second full-length album (they had several EP’s from ‘81 and ‘82), released the same year as their first, The Day the Country Died. I’ve been putting together a mix of UK punk tracks from the 70′s and early-to-mid 80′s and realized that I didn’t really know much about Subhumans and haven’t listened to their music much at all. As I spin Side A, which is filled with mostly short-n-fast hardcore tracks like “Where’s the Freedom?” and “Reality is Waiting for a Bus” (but also some proto-grunge-metal-prog (kinda Black Sabbath-y)/punk songs like “Wake Up Screaming” which clocks in at over 5 minutes), it strikes me how different their sound is as compared to the other UK punk I’ve been listening today. Except for the British accent and word choices (ie “advert” instead of “ad” and mentioning the queen), From the Cradle to the Grave could have come out of the early 80′s SoCal hardcore scene. “Adversity,” my favorite song on the album, has an infectious beat that would have fit in any mosh pit then and even into the late 80′s/early 90′s grunge scene. Side B is one long song, the title track “From the Cradle to the Grave” which lasts a whopping 17 minutes: unheard of for most punk for sure and filled with tempo (lightning fast to relaxed), key (major to minor – lots of minor!) and style (punk to reggae to metal) changes. The Subhumans continued to evolve their sound for one more full-length after From the Cradle to the Grave before dissolving in ‘85 due to stylistic differences (and then, of course, got together for reunion shows and another record in 2007).
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Richard Hell and the Voidoids “Blank Generation” 1977. Today, October 2nd, is Richard Hell’s 70th birthday (b. Richard Meyers, 1949). A punk rock classic, both Richard Hell and Blank Generation solidified the tone – in style (punks are still imitating his look 40+ years later) and sound – of non-conventional rock: punk, art and experimental rock, post-punk, etc. Its title track, “Blank Generation,” even provided a punk rock anthem. (In an interview with Lester Bangs, Hell stated “To me, blank was a line where you can fill in anything … It’s the idea that you have the option of making yourself anything you want, filling in the blank. And that’s something that provides a uniquely powerful sense to this generation. It’s saying ‘I entirely reject your standards for judging my behavior.’” On a more nihilistic note, Blank Generation can also be interpreted as the meaninglessness and depressive state of the late 70′s youth, particularly in New York. Hell actually wrote “Blank Generation” back when he was with Television, around 1975. Other classics on Blank Generation include “Love Comes in Spurts” (so adolescent, so funny, so clever), “Liars Beware,” “Who Says?” and I even like their cover of “Walking on Water” by John and Tom Fogerty – and I can’t stand Creedence Clearwater Revival. I probably like Hell’s version because he and the Voidoids utterly destroy it.
The Germs “Live at The Starwood Dec. 3, 1980″ 2019. Today, September 26th, would have been Darby Crash’s 61st birthday (b. Jan Paul Beahm, 1958). This limited edition (1,970 copies) on white and blue marbled vinyl is the first time The Germs’ final concert has been issued in its entirety on vinyl (it was released on CD by Rhino Records in 2010). Included in the double-LP set is a reproduction of the concert flyer and a 4 page fanzine replica.
As an avid Germs collector, I have several tracks from this Starwood concert that appeared on other records: on Lion’s Share (bootleg, date unknown, Ghost ‘O Darb Records) and What We Do Is Secret (1981 and 2018 Slash Records) but it’s really cool to have the whole concert in one spot, even if it’s a hot mess of a show (most of the Germs shows were from what I’ve read). It’s purported to be one of their best, even though “Darby, as usual, rarely managed to sing into the microphone. It was a night of tinny wild, one-chord riffs, drums coming in with all the subtle finesse of a set of tom-toms kicked down a flight of stairs, and Crash howling, howling with all the–rage isn’t the word–the torment of a six-month-old baby plucked too soon from the breast, and he mumbles, screams, swallows his words…until, finally, with a hiccup, he runs out of air.” (Jonathan Gold)
The concert was a “reunion” show of sorts: the last show they performed before the Starwood gig was about a year earlier at The Fleetwood in Redondo Beach. According the Run Out Groove’s website (the label that produced this LP), “Crash contacted [Pat] Smear about doing a ‘reunion’ show to put punk in perspective for the punks on the scene. Smear has said that Crash told him privately that he only wanted to earn money for heroin with which to commit suicide. On December 3, 1980, an over-sold Starwood hosted a final show of the reunited Germs. At one point, Crash told the audience “we did this show so you new people could see what it was like when we were around. You’re not going to see it again.” Crash was correct – he committed suicide by intentional heroin overdose four days later. From the fanzine included on this release, “Even in the hot damp and the slippery fluids of The Starwood that night, you had to ask yourself when you were going to have the chance to see The Germs again. The correct answer, as it turns out, was never. As everybody in Los Angeles knows by now, Darby fixed himself a hotshot on Sunday, December 7, 1980, and got hand-stamped for that great Starwood in the sky, where the beer is free and the pills glitter like candy, and followers line up around the block to have Germs burns administered by the great man himself. Of course, even there, scroungy, little Germs heaven is forever in the shadow of the splendid marble edifice inhabited by John Lennon, who was shot the very next day, and who immediately wiped Darby Crash out of the minds of everybody but the misfits who were at the party in the first place.”
Buzzcocks “Singles Going Steady” released 40 years ago today, September 25th, 1979. One of the best comp LP’s ever, Buzzcocks released Singles Going Steady in the US (and then in the UK in ‘81) to highlight the band’s 8 UK singles (plus their B-sides) from ‘77-’79. It includes the punk/power pop classics like “Orgasm Addict” (1977, banned by the BBC for obvious reasons, I’m pretty sure it did not chart), “What Do I Get?” (1977, #37 UK), “Promises,” and one of my favorite songs ever “Ever Fallen In Love?” (1978, #12 UK, also on Love Bites). The B-sides are just as fantastic as the A-sides: “Autonomy” (the B-side to “I Don’t Mind,” 1978, #55 UK), “Just Lust” (the B-side to “Ever Fallen In Love?”), “Something’s Gone Wrong Again” (B-side to “Harmony In My Head,” 1979, #32 UK) and another one of my favorite tracks ever, “Why Can’t I Touch It?” (B-side to “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” (1979). Compilation albums often have a couple of really strong songs and a bunch of filler but Singles Going Steady is perfection from start to finish.
The Stranglers “6 Songs” 1986. Comp EP, Liberty Records, Greek import. Today, August 28th, is Stranglers’ vocalist/guitarist Hugh Cornwell’s 70th birthday (b. 1949). UK pub rock goes punk goes new wave/post punk, this EP is a collection of singles from the 70′s through 80′s. On Side A: “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy,” which went to #18 in the UK in ‘78 and appeared on their LP Black and White; “Strange Little Girl,” a single from ‘82 that hit #7 (UK) and was originally written back in ‘74, the year The Stranglers formed; and “No More Heroes,” one of my favorite Strangler songs, all swirly keyboards, which went to #8 and was the title track from the 1977 album No More Heroes. On Side B: “Golden Brown,” a decidedly unpunk single that hit #2 in the UK in early ‘82 (their highest chart hit), it’s a sweet Donovan-esque lilting number with baroque harpsichord, some psychedelic guitar and saxophone; “Hanging Around,” definitely more of a rocker which appeared on their 1977 debut Rattus Norvegicus; and “La Folie,” an ephemeral 1982 single from their album of the same name (released in late ‘81) which went to #47 in the UK and was sung in French by bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel.
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