Sunday, May 15, 2016

Show #147 April 9, 2016

This one's for Gabrielle and the great city of London!

Gabrielle- The Nips Gabrielle 7" 
London Calling- The Lambrettas Beat Boys In The Jet Age 
The Sun Never Sets- Cheap Trick Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello 
Turn Us Over- A Matter of Taste! Turn Us Over 
Girl Band- The Dahlmanns Girl Band - Single 
(Girl We Got A) Good Thing- Weezer Weezer (White Album) 
Come Close To Me- Artful Dodger Rave On 
Tinkertoy Tomorrow- Milk 'N' Cookies Milk 'N' Cookies
^London's Brilliant- Wendy James London's Brilliant 
*Drums Over London- Disco Zombies Drums over London 
*Towers Of London- XTC Fossil Fuel The XTC Singles 1977-92 
*London's Burning (Polydor Demos)- The Clash Sound System 
*Bombing Of London- The Last L.A. Explosion! 
*We Are London- Madness The Liberty of Norton Folgate 
Doomsday- Soul Asylum Change Of Fortune 
In My Dreams- The Trends In My Dreams 
Trust Me- Bleu Redhead 
*London- Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers Live at Max's Kansas City '79 
*London- Gobblinz London 7" 
*London- Critical Mass It's What's Inside That Counts 
*London Girl- The Jam Direction, Reaction, Creation 
*London Girl- Material Issue Telecommando Americano 
*London Girls- The Vibrators Pure Mania 
Pray for Rain- Bob Mould Patch The Sky 
Move It Or Lose It- Shoes Bazooka 
London Zoo- London Zoo London Zoo 7" 
>London Boys- T-Rex London Boys 
*London Lady- The Stranglers Rattus Norvegicus 
*London Bus- The Worms London Bus 
*London Dungeon- The Misfits 3 Hits From Hell E.P. 7" 
Postcard From London- Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde Postcard From London

^Power Pop Peak:  #62 UK Singles Chart 4/17/93

*SacroSet[s]:  London Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1976

There's no shortage of solid British police shows on Netflix.  Jaime and I have watched Luther, Broadchurch, Happy Valley and last week we discovered River.  Stellan Skarsgard plays the titular detective, a Swedish expatriate who despite serious psychological problems is very good at his job.  The show is set in London and the city looks really cool!  I was so inspired by River that I put together tonight's episode of ALL KINDSA GIRLS featuring songs about this great city.

One of my all-time favorite trips was to London in the Fall of 1988.  I flew over by myself and stayed with my Cousin Adam who lived in Seven Sisters, in the northern part of the city.  From the moment I got off the plane I was loving every minute of it.  On the tube from Heathrow there was a beautiful girl wearing a mini-skirt who introduced me to the alluring fashion choice of thigh high stockings.  It is a look I found quite fetching and still do to this day.  Seeing this Internet photo makes me lament the fact that the trend never really caught on in the U.S.  Anyway, London was amazing!  Well, everything but the food.  Once Adam told me to stick with the ethnic food I was fine- let me tell you a circa 1988 English "cheeseburger" is not something you want to tangle with.

Adam and his girlfriend Christine were working at the time so I had the days all to myself which meant... UNLIMITED RECORD SHOPPING!!!  In the 10 days I was there I think I went to every record store within walking distance of a tube station.  Before my trip I did some research on what was big in London and a name that kept popping up was prog rock band Marillion.  They never caught on in the states so I was able to find a bunch of their singles and albums really cheap.  I was dating a girl named Laura who worked for MCA records and she gave me some promo stuff as well, including an advance copy of Tiffany's second album which was called, I kid you not, Hold An Old Friend's Hand.  You may laugh but remember this is right after Tiff's
quadruple platinum debut which included "I Think We're Alone Now," "Could've Been" and "I Saw Him Standing There" (cringe).  Anyway, #1 on my want list those days was The Drones' Further Temptations album, a punk rock classic from 1977.  Cousin Rich had a copy he taped for me and I just about melted the cassette I'd played it so many times. 

The first record store I went to was called Record Exchange in Notting Hill.  This was a chain store but unlike our crappy chains, they had a huge selection of used vinyl that included- believe it or not- Further Temptations!

What's funny is Record Exchange didn't have any interest in the American punk records I had to trade or the US Marillion pressings but they were all over the Tiffany.  I ended up walking out of there with The Drones record, a Monochrome Set album and singles by Penetration and 999 in a straight up trade for a Tiffany album!  History has proven me the victor in that trade battle, and if you don't believe me I invite you to check out e-bay.

After a day of record shopping I'd meet up with Cousin Adam in a pub.  He was working on a television news crew and though he is Canadian by birth Adam  seemed to have no problem adapting to the English pubcentric lifestyle.  After that I'd head out to the clubs.  I went to the Town and Country Club in Kentish Town too see The Godfathers, then went back the next night for Richard Thompson, whose band featured Clive Gregson of All Kindsa Girls' mainstays Any Trouble.  That week Adam and I saw several local bands in Seven Sisters pubs as well.  I went out every night I was in London and every night the clubs were full of people who had come out to watch live music.   

Wish You Were Here!
I did manage to visit some tourist sights in-between record stores and music clubs.  The London Dungeon is a must of course.  It was a static museum of gore when I saw it but these days they have live actors doing a cirque du fillet type show, which puts it at the top of the list for my next trip.  I also went to the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, etc. and one of the things I kept seeing at all these tourist sites that really bugged me were "photo punks."  People would pay money to get their picture taken with a "punk."  Invariably the "punk" would be in leather and studs with a huge multi-colored mohawk or other pointy hairstyle.

Punks for Sale!  Git yer Punks for Sale!

This REALLY pissed me off.  I couldn't believe that people who professed to love the same music I did- music that changed my life- would whore themselves out so a Toledo paralegal could shock her co-workers back home.  What still bothers me today is that the aesthetics of what had come to define "punk" are driven not by the New York City of 1976 with The Ramones and Richard Hell or even the 1977 London of The Clash and The Damned.  No, "punk" for most people means 1979 London:  leather, studs and those ludicrous mohawks.
Everybody say "Anarchy!"
My friends Jim and Tom were the most "punk rock" looking guys in Duxbury High School- they had non-mohawk spikey haircuts, leather jackets and combat boots.  The rest of us aspired to more of a "New Wave" look with jackets, skinny ties, wraparound sunglasses and the like.  You could say we didn't have the guts to "punk out" but for me at least I knew that as an upper middle class suburbanite there was no way I could pull it off.  Plus it was the worst insult in the world to be called "poseur."  There was a guy outside our circle
The Exploited
named Victor who liked punk but his safety-pinned denim and green hair negated any common musical ground we shared.  And that applied doubly to those be-mohawked British bands of the time like The Exploited- we loved making fun of them (though I do think "Dead Cities" is a great song and I had to hide the single from my friends when I bought it).

So mohawks are here to stay- fine.  The reason I'm all het up though is that they are now being retroactively ascribed to times and places they shouldn't that actually produced good music.  Case in point, I just finished reading City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, a critically acclaimed novel about New York City in the late 70's.  There is a fictional punk band in the book called Ex-Post Facto who put out an album called Brass Tactics... in 1974.  Okay, that predates Television's "Little Johnny Jewel" and The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! by a year but that I'm willing to forgive.  What is unforgivable is that one of the band members pictured on the album sleeve is described as "the small guy in the leather jacket and Mohawk flashing the middle finger."  A freakin' mohawk!  In 1974!  Are you kidding me!   

Spike Lee's 1999 film Summer of Sam takes place in 1977 when Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz was terrorizing New York City.  Adrian Brody plays Richie a guy who gets into punk music and starts a band that plays CBGB.  Despite the fact that Spike Lee is a native New Yorker who lived in the city during the time his film covers he still gives Richie a freaking mohawk!  C'mon Spike, do the research!  It is just lazy.  Over the years I have spent a lot
Brody in Summer of Sam
of time reading about the mid 70's downtown NYC rock scene- most recently in the Show #145 post about ORK! Records.  I have never seen a picture of someone with a mohawk... NEVER!

Now, there is one instance of a legitimate 1970's NYC mohawk.  Admittedly, it is amazing yet has nothing to do with music.
Are you talkin' ta me?
In Martin Scorsese's 1977 masterpiece Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle sports a mohawk.  Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

When Bickle decides to assassinate Senator Palantine, he cuts his hair into a Mohawk. This detail was suggested by actor Victor Magnotta, a friend of Scorsese's who had a small role as a Secret Service agent and who had served in Vietnam. Scorsese later noted, "Magnotta had talked about certain types of soldiers going into the jungle. They cut their hair in a certain way; looked like a Mohawk ... and you knew that was a special situation, a commando kind of situation, and people gave them wide berths ... we thought it was a good idea."

Since I'm calling out Hallberg and Lee for getting punk rock "wrong," I've got to praise a recent example of someone who in my opinion gets it "right" (and to be honest this movie was the whole inspiration for this blog post in the first place).  Jeremy Saulnier's new film Green Room is about a DC punk band called The Ain't Rights who at the end of a disastrous tour in the Pacific Northwest take a last minute gig at in rural Oregon to get gas money home.

When the Ain't Rights realize they are playing for skinheads at a white supremacist compound they do an incredibly punk rock thing and open their set with a cover of the Dead Kennedy's "Nazi Punks F*ck Off."  Saulnier really nails it from the setting, to the music, to the look of the skinheads and even down to the band's punk rock t-shirts.  This is the guy who did the amazing Blue Ruin in 2013 so I knew he could make a good film but he is also is clearly a fan of punk rock.  Yes the movie features a Portland guy in the whole London 1979 mohawk/studs getup but the film is set in 2016 and let's face it, that look isn't going away anytime soon.

There are exceptions to every rule, like Deniro as Travis Bickle, so I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the other mohawk that I am quite fond of:
Riding B*tch
The bemohawked character Wez played by Vernon Wells in the 1981 film The Road Warrior is an absolute maniac.  The fact that Wes is gay blew my mind at the time.   The script calls Wez's lover above The Golden Youth- how perfect is that!  You don't expect to have your worldview broadened by a movie called The Road Warrior, but there you go.  (It's a crime that George Miller didn't win the Best Director Oscar for Fury Road this year- that man is a genius!)  To sum it all up, I guess my point is that artists need to do their homework.  Mohawks in mid 70's New York rock and roll?  WRONG!  But mohawks on Vietnam vet assassins, 2016 punks or post-apocalyptic raging psychotics?  YOU BET!

Links for this week's show are below, click to stream or to download, right click and "Save Link As"
Hour 1
Hour 2

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