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Saturday, October 3, 2015

GRB - Estoy Tan Contento! EP

Label: Self Released; Year: 1986; Format: 7" EP

GRB hailed from Catalonia's capital of Barcelona, and formed out of the ashes of Ultimo Resorte and Frenopaticss. While I am a huge fan of Ultimo Resorte I cannot say I am equally enthusiastic about GBR. This EP is by no means a bad record, but at the same time it is not a Spanish hardcore punk classic. The band surely played a major role in establishing a new hardcore scene along with bands such as the Subterranean Kids but to me this record sounds like a weird combination of hectic hardcore punk played as fast as possible with some flashy guitar parts thrown in. The result sounds like a mixture between Negazione and Iron Maiden with a poor production. The best song on this EP is by far the one where the band steers away from any Metal influence and delivers a tuneful mid-paced hardcore punk track. A shame not all seven tracks are like that, and my review would have been quite a different story. Not a horrible record per se, but just because it's rare don't be under the assumption that it's a must have.
Angelic Upstarts - Live LP

Label: EMI Records; Year: 1981; Format: Vinyl LP + 7" Flexi Disc

Once this blog of mine will have established itself, and I will have gotten off my lazy arse more often in order to write about music I love and own, you will notice that there will be bands that will appear more often than others, and quite frankly for a good reason. Rest assured that the Angelic Upstarts will make future appearances on this blog since they are one of my favorite bands, or at least their early material. This LP recorded live in June of 1981 at City of London's Polytechnic University is a rare example of a great live LP. I am sure EMI was able to provide the band with the necessary technical know how to make a live LP sound great, and it sure does! At this point in their career the Upstarts have just released "2'000'000'00 Voices" so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are quite a few tracks off said record to be heard on these live recordings which in my opinion is a good thing as I personally love that LP. Of course you'll also get to hear some of their early classics such as "Teenage Warning", "Police Oppression" or "I'm an Upstart" to name a few. If you are an Angelic Upstarts fan then you will most likely own this record, but if you're not that familiar with their back catalogue then track down a copy of this, preferably with the free flexi disc. Enough said, stay tuned until another Upstarts entry in the future.  
Panx Romana - Antartes Poleon LP

Label: Wipe Out! Records; Year: 1989; Format: Vinyl LP

There is really not all that much I know about the Greek punk rock scene, and that is truly a shame. While I have heard some of the bands from the '80s, and am well aware that Greece always had a politically minded active punk scene, it has to be said that the records released in this southern European country were hard to get. Somehow many years ago I managed to get a copy of Panx Romana's 2nd LP in a trade, and I'm glad I did. There are just records that you haven't placed on the turntable in a long time but you remember damn well that you've always liked this record. Well, this is a prime example for one of those records, and let me tell you that the more one listens to this record the more it grows on you. Thirteen songs (one of them a Ramones cover) full of '78 punk inspired songs, and very much influenced by the likes of The Clash or Angelic Upstarts, this quartet sure knew how to write catchy yet aggressive and tuneful punk songs. The melodies are addictive, the greek language suits punk rock very well, and these guys were very gifted songwriters. The little bit I was able to learn about the band told me that Panx Romana originally started out in 1982 and the singer came from another fairly well known punk band named Stress. Panx Romana continued to record after this LP but I have never heard their '90s material. For now my aim will be to track down a copy of their 1st LP, and for all of you out there who don't own this little gem here, don't waste time and get it! Oh yes, and I nearly forgot to say that the LP comes with a nice zine, albeit in greek language.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Steve Miller - Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock'N'Roll in America's Loudest City

Publisher: Da Capo Press; Year: 2013; Format: Book

I am glad to have found this book very recently for close to nothing at a place I've never been to before in Manhattan. Rest assured though that the price tag does not reflect the quality of the contents in this book. I have heard about Steve Miller's book a while ago, and I certainly wanted to improve my knowledge of Detroit based Rock'N'Roll so having to read this one book one day was definitely inevitable. Many of you will know Steve Miller as the vocalist for much famed Lansing, MI hardcore punk band The Fix, or as the editor of the Touch and Go book that was published a few years back. Some of you might not know that he's actually a veteran when it comes to investigative journalism, and author of several books outside the music genre covering real crime. Needless to say that for a massive project such as writing on the rich history of Rock'N'Roll out of Detroit he was the right person to succeed at it. There are not many books that manage to cover as much ground as this book does, and let's be honest which other book will give you the pleasure to read about bands and artists such as MC5, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Mitch Ryder, Destroy All Monsters, Negative Approach, Laughing Hyenas, The Gories or the White Stripes, all at the same time? My guess is as good as yours, ladies and gentlemen. What I find really fascinating about this book is the fact that Steve has not only found a way to describe many anecdotes for the reader to feel like one is right there in the middle of the chaos, but at the same time he has done an outstanding job when it comes to the chronology of the debauchery that took place in Detroit and its surrounding towns. The only part I didn't really enjoy in this book was about Bob Seger, and this was when he was already a well known act on the national circuit. I yawned a lot through that part only to be awaken by more crazy stories from Wayne Kramer and other luminaries that were fed up with the status quo, and were starting to form new bands. And believe me, that was the only slow part in this book as the rest of it will take you through clubs such as Bookie's and bands associated with that scene, the early '80s hardcore punk explosion with Negative Approach on the forefront, the aftermath of hardcore and some crazy drugged stories involving John Brannon and Larissa Strickland of Laughing Hyenas, and the start, or shall we say return to garage rock from Detroit with The Gories and bands and scenes that evolved out of that time including Bantam Rooster, White Stripes or Von Bondies. Have I told you this book covers a lot of ground? Okay, there are two omissions I was disappointed with. For whatever reason the bands Death and Cinecyde get very little to no mention at all, and members from those two bands contributed little to nothing for this oral history. That sucked but still, it takes very little away from what this book gives the reader, and that is a detailed and at times mind blowing account of what was happening in Motown. This is widely available, and even your local library has probably a copy of this book, hence I really don't see an excuse for any of you out there for not reading this!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Craig Ibarra - A Wailing Of A Town - "An Oral History Of Early San Pedro Punk And More 1977 - 1985"

Publisher: END FWY Press; Year: 2015; Format: Book

First and foremost I'd like to point out that this book is almost hot off the press, and was published not all that long ago, and therefore I am excited to not already having finished reading it, but also reviewing it after having purchased it a couple of months ago on my quick visit to Southern California. When it comes to the punk history of Los Angeles then much of it has been covered extensively by having covered the Hollywood scene with the bands and scenesters associated with the more glamorous side of punk rock made in L.A. This book here concentrates on the South Bay of Los Angeles, and in particular the seaport town of San Pedro. Trust me, I too had to look up where exactly San Pedro is located in the Los Angeles area. When I first heard about this book, I already liked it, and I tell you why. I too was once a young kid discovering punk rock and hardcore, and I was also living in a suburb albeit thousands of miles away from San Pedro. Still, I can truly associate with the scene, and its people as the stories to be found in this book resemble in so many ways my personal story. This book does not talk about people sporting punk fashion, frequenting famous punk clubs or taking in an immense amount of drugs. Instead this book concentrates on real DIY ethos, and how a few people were able to create an open minded community that helped each other with putting on gigs, doing flyers, recording and distributing records, and so on. I have to admit that I don't own a single record by the Minutemen - whom hailed from San Pedro - but after having read this book I will need to change that. Sure, many pages in this book do deal with the history of the Minutemen and in particular the sadly deceased D. Boon but they also cover the very beginnings of punk rock in San Pedro with the Reactionaries, as well as later acts such as Saccharine Trust, Hari-Kari, Mood of Defiance and others. This book also covers crazy stories involving a certain Jimmy Smack, a talented local dancer who was tremendously helpful with putting on punk gigs, many accounts involving Black Flag and SST Records and their help getting the San Pedro scene off the ground, venues that opened their doors to punk rock, and the eventual arrival of big bands such as the Dead Kennedys making it to San Pedro and putting the town on the punk rock map. Craig has done a fabulous job by covering every little detail of this town's rich history of punk rock and beyond, and can only be congratulated for his efforts. One can only hope that more books of this kind will start to spring up, and people in different parts of this country and far beyond will start writing about their own punk rock adventures beyond the lights of hip inner cities. This is a true must read!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Germs - Cat's Clause Ten Inch

Label: Munster Records; Year: 1993; Format: Vinyl 10"

I intend on spending much more time talking about Paul Beahm, aka Darby Crash, when reviewing the book about his person, and the Germs. Tonight it honestly also dawned on me why I have bought this 10" in the first place all these years back because quite frankly it could not have been for the quality of the recordings to be found on this piece of wax. The prime reason of this purchase was an elaborate 20 page booklet with plenty of nice photos, flyers, anecdotes and a brief history of the Germs. Back in the early '90s in the pre internet days this was something quite special, and far more appreciated than these days. As for the packaging of this record, I love it. As for the sound quality of the live recordings on this record, I just cannot be equally enthusiastic. Side 1 was recorded at the Starwood in Hollywood and the sound quality is somewhat decent and listenable while the three songs on Side 2 taken from a gig at the Hong Kong Cafe are just pure noise. The highlights are "Circle One" and "Strange Note" which were both taken from rehearsals at the Canterbury house where many early LA punk rockers lived. By no means is this a must have, but if you're a die hard Germs fan then you'll want this, and if you're not than having read this blog entry will suffice.

Blanks 77 - Up The System Ten Inch

Label: Quality of Life Inc.; Year: 1993; Format: Vinyl 10"

I don't know how you feel about the '90s when it comes to underground music but I remember it being a rather dull and boring decade. Looking back though there were certainly some highlights, and some retro scenes really managed to spit up some great bands that were worth paying attention to. The whole UK82 punk rock sound enjoyed a fine revival, particularly on the US East Coast. New Jersey's Blanks 77 were one of the earliest purveyors of that retro sound, and were part of a whole new generation of punks and skins that celebrated long forgotten UK acts such as the Ejected, Abrasive Wheels or the Partisans to name a few amongst the many that have appeared on leather jackets around the world. In the early '90s the Blanks started to release a whole slew of 7"s while this fine 10" was released in 1993. The funny thing about this release here is the fact that I have not pulled this record off the shelve in a long time but when I put down the needle on this record tonight with a beer in my right hand while rocking back and forth in my recliner chair, I all of a sudden remembered each one of the eight songs on the record. Sure, some might say that bands like the Blanks 77 didn't create anything new and lacked in originality but rest assured that any lack of creativity on behalf of the band was made up for with plenty of enthusiasm, dedication and the deliverance of some great fucking pogo punk. There is really nothing negative I can say about this little 10" as it is a fun listen. Now, get your pogo stick out, and up the system!

Cro-Mags - Age of Quarrel Ten Inch

Label: Fan Club; Year: 199?; Format: Vinyl 10"

I never thought I’d be living in New York City one day, and here I am living in the Big Apple grinding away, and trying to pay all those bills while still having some fun. Before this city turned into the gentrified amusement park it often represents today, it was a city where survival of the fittest was on the daily picking order. The Lower East Side wasn’t a hip place to go to but instead offered space for artists and musicians to pursue what they enjoyed the most. I have to further admit that I was also never a huge fan of New York Hardcore with a few exceptions, and Cro Mags would never make it onto any of my lists of Top Bands. Still, if there was one 10” I would be allowed to take with me to a lonely island, it might as well be this one here. Before “Age of Quarrel” was recorded and released as an LP in 1986 a demo tape of all those songs was recorded between late ’84 and early ’85, and subsequently must have made the rounds in tape trader circles. Back in the tape trading days demos often ended up in various countries, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the early ‘90s someone came up with the idea to press the “Age of Quarrel” demo onto a 10”. While I have heard the more metallic sounding LP version in the past it just never grabbed me the same way as this much more raw and more brutal demo version. Everything, and I really mean everything is perfect about these recordings, as these songs just can’t be beaten when it comes to NYHC straight out of the gutters of the Lower East Side. The loud bass guitar, the screaming vocals, the speed, and above all the sheer brutality of these songs cannot be put into words, you just have to hear them! Essential listening for your bleeding ears!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

V/A - Rough Mixes From Switzerland Ten Inch

Label: Konnekschen Records; Year: 1981; Format: Shaped Vinyl 10"

The older crowd amongst the readers of this blog will be in the know that Switzerland had a very active and interesting punk scene in the late ‘70s despite being a country in the middle of Europe surrounded by mountains and not much to do, but maybe that sheer boredom enforced everything even more. Zurich’s Nasal Boys really got the ball rolling in 1977 by releasing a fabulous single that many punk rock scum collectors would love to have the original of. In 1981 even the good ole’ Germans caught on that their southern neighbors were not just yodelers and fond of chocolate and cheese, but could deliver some pretty hefty punk rock tunes too. Konnekschen Records from the northern city of Hamburg released this wonderful piece of wax collecting three swiss punk records originally released in 1979 on one nice shaped and colored 10”. If you don’t want to shell out big bucks for the Sick/Chaos Split 12”, the Sperma 12” and Rudolph Dietrich’s BOF’s 7” then do yourself a favor, and pick this one up as you will not be sorry. If there is a winner amongst the three, then it is the Sick/Chaos split that would be my pick. In all fairness to the Austrians it should be noted that Chaos were actually an Austrian band from a border town near Switzerland but very active on the swiss scene at the time. If you like your ’77 punk upbeat with lots of hooks and choruses then you won’t be disappointed. Second in my book is Rudolph Dietrich with his BOFs 7”, a punk rock gem with saxophone in the background and intelligent song writing. Sperma’s 12” might be a very sought after record but at least in my opinion it is not one of the top swiss punk records at all, but still a decent record. For folks out there unfamiliar with early swiss punk rock this is a nice way to start your collection.

Testors - Original Punk Recordings New York City 1976 - 1977 Ten Inch

Label: Incognito Records; Year: 1995; Format: Vinyl 10"

There are truly not that many original punk rockers still touring the world, year in and year out. Sonny Vincent is one of the rare human species that is not only still doing that, but is still rather damn good at it too to this day. Back in 1975 Sonny formed the Testors in NYC with a guitar in his hand and lots of anger in his stomach. The band named itself after the Testors glue company, which would eventually get them into legal trouble, and set out to provoke the audience, sonically and physically. They did that with two guitarists, a drummer, and no bass player, and that seemed to work fine at venues like the CBGB’s or Max Kansas City but at one point Sonny got himself even arrested in Philadelphia for inciting a riot. The band never had any ambitions to record so thank god Incognito Records from Germany unearthed the recordings of this wild bunch that created some damn fine noise all these years back. Four studio songs, and two live songs are to be found on this 10”, and they not just kick ass, but are delivered with such furiousness and aggressiveness that many hardcore punk bands years later must have taken note of. The liner notes were penned by Cheetah Chrome and a second volume with more madness from this trio was also released on 10”, and will be reviewed in the not so distant future. 
Ramones - L.A. Explosion Ten Inch

Label: Fan Club; Year: 200?; Format: Vinyl 10"

In August 1976 the Ramones played for the first time in Los Angeles, and two of those shows took place at the Starwood in West Hollywood – a club that would be instrumental in forging many musicians’ careers in the years to come. Many moons later some bootlegger has managed to get their greedy hands on decent sounding recordings of the show from August 16 of said year, and a bootleg 10” was born by the name of L.A. Explosion. Make what you want of bootleggers but I for one am grateful for this piece of wax as it delivers twelve tracks of the Ramones in their early days yet sounding like a well-oiled machine already. The probability of these recordings to have ever appeared somewhere legitimately has always been very slim, and in this day and age with all four of the original members unfortunately no longer with us it is simply out of question. Rest assured that when putting down the needle on this little treasure you will not only feel like you are traveling back in time by nearly forty years to a period in time when the term punk wasn’t even coined, and Los Angeles was waking up from an overdose of English disco and glam rock but that you feel like you are actually witnessing a time when kids couldn't wait any longer for something new to kick off, and the Ramones had all the answers for them. We all know that it wasn't just LA that needed a proper kick up its arse, and that these four New Yorkers really got the ball rolling for which we ought to be grateful to this day. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Sevens - S/T LP

Label: Feathered Apple Records; Year: 2005; Format: Vinyl LP

Sixties garage rock has started to grow on me a number of years back when I developed a strong interest in pre punk bands and the various styles of music dating back to the '50s and '60s in particular. The Sevens hailed from the wonderful border town of Basel in Switzerland, ideally located next to Germany, and France. I am not surprised that the original of this LP is on many wants lists, and can fetch several hundred dollars. Fact is that this LP is a superb collection of songs which were for the most part written by the Sevens bar three great cover versions thrown in. Thank god music fanatics started to take things into their own matters, and invested their hard earned money into reissues of records they wanted the world to hear as presented here by Switzerland's own Feathered Apple. Originally released in 1966 on the Layola Records this 2005 reissue comes with a huge and incredible two sided poster with the history of the band, and some fabulous shots from way beck when. Not only is the packaging outstanding but it is the music itself that will get you off of your lazy ass, and dancing in your living room. Each one of the original nine songs is a hit on its own, whether it be a faster garage rock smasher, or a slower and more poppy song, they are all recorded to the highest quality and will have you want to play this record over and over. Sixties garage punk aficionados consider this LP as one of the best of said genre, and I can see why. Highly recommended!
Cheetah Chrome - A Dead Boy's Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock

Publisher: Voyageur Press; Year: 2010; Format: Book

Every fan of first generation punk rock will be familiar with Cleveland's Dead Boys and their guitarist Cheetah Chrome, no doubt. Even though throughout the years I have read many stories linked to the history of this notorious band, I was over the moon when I heard this book announced a few years back. As a matter of fact I had my then girlfriend turned wife go to one of his book readings here in New York City, and have her buy and sign the book for me while I was still lifting ales in good ole' London. But that's beside the point here, and I have just recently finally gotten around to read this tomb. And yes I do have a habit of buying a fair amount of books without reading them immediately, in case you wonder. Eventually I'll get through them all, or so I hope at least. Cheetah's book certainly didn't disappoint, and as one can only imagine it is filled with crazy, drunken and drugged up stories on life on road with the Dead Boys, as well as the numerous bands and projects Cheetah has been involved with over the years - before (Rocket From The Tombs) - and also after the demise of the Dead Boys. As with many rock autobiographies though I must say that I probably enjoyed the pages about Cheetah's childhood and his becoming an adult the most. Cheetah spent his early years in rough parts of the industrial wastelands of Cleveland where he wasn't able to find many friends until he discovered the magic of rock'n'roll. The fact that Cheetah's mother has always been generously supportive of her son shines throughout the entire book, and for that he adored and loved his mother up until she passed away which was towards the end of the book. One other person that Cheetah had unlimited love for was his good buddy and partner in crime Stiv Bators. Even though their friendship took many hits and had at times a very bumpy road ahead of them, Cheetah and Stiv had a mutual admiration for each other, and as we all know unfortunately Stiv has departed this world way too early. As for the author's alcoholism and drug abuse, you will find him openly talk about his problems, and how he eventually became a clean and sober man. I find it a great pity that Cheetah - like many other talented musicians - paid a high price by being an addict, and could quite likely have had a more fulfilling career had he not chosen that path. Still, he will always be remembered as one of the greats of punk rock, and so will the Dead Boys. The only minus of this book is the fact that the editor must have been either dead tired or dead drunk when editing this book as there is a fair amount of absolutely unnecessary grammatical mistakes. Never mind though as it won't take away from the quality and the honesty with which Cheetah has written this book, and I applaud him for that. Great read!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Motorhead - Pussies & Beer - Rock N Roll Tour LP

Label: Fan Club; Year: 199?; Format: Vinyl LP

So, ladies and gentlemen here is the fiftieth entry on this blogspot, and my intention was to celebrate that with an entry of Motorhead, my favorite band. I didn't want to bore you with an entry of one of their regular albums though, and believe me those will follow in the future, but instead I opted for something more special for your amusement. What we've got here is a bootleg LP of a show Motorhead played in November 1987 (Line-Up: Lemmy-Wurzel-Phil Campbell-Phil 'Animal' Taylor) at the Fryshuset in Stockholm/Sweden. If anyone can fill me in who came up with the outstanding artwork for this LP, I would be very grateful. I have tried finding information pertaining to this particular bootleg online, but to no avail. Judging by the fact that the LP was not included in 1994's Collector's Guide to Motorhead, I would assume that the record came out no sooner than the mid '1990s. Anyway, that's all collector scum talk, let's get to the bare basics here. Eleven songs are to be found on this platter, and if one looks at the song titles it just seems weird to not see certain song titles, but considering this was taken from their 1987 tour let's not forget that they of course had a far smaller repertoire to chose from. Still, all their classic albums were out by that point and so it should come as no surprise to find certain all time classics on this live recording, which for a bootleg actually boasts very decent sound quality including great comments by Lemmy between the songs. Hey, you can't go wrong with the artwork, Motorhead's timeless classics, and drunken Swedes shouting "Lemmy, Lemmy, Lemmy.." on top of their lungs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Humpers - My Machine LP

Label: Slusaj Najglasnije; Year: 1990; Format: Vinyl LP

Many people out there are probably familiar with the Humpers' output on Epitaph Records, due to said labels' international distribution deals and high sales volumes. Before being signed to one of the best known labels in punk rock, the Humpers' beginnings were far more modest though, and after The Suicide Kings' break-up (pre-Humpers '80s band) the band got together in 1990, and in the same year recorded this magnificent piece of a debut full length for the underground Croatian record label Slusaj Najglasnije (Listen Loudest). In fact, the bands' second full length from 1991 entitled "War is Hell" was released on a cassette on the same label as well, and then again as a CD-R in the early '2000s after people in the war-torn regions of the former Yugoslavia were able to start new lives. At some point I will also review the 2nd album, for sure. Now back to the origins of this album, the Humpers' debut, which contains twelve songs recorded live in one day, resulting in a true garage sounding production which only adds to the greatness of this album, and will most definitely kick your ass. All songs are just pure dirty and unfiltered punk'n'roll hits, filled with great guitar leads and hooks, and of course Scott Drake's incomparable vocals. Anybody out there reading this that is interested in the early stages of this bands' output should try getting a copy of this killer album even though it has become rare and hard to get. Even better, some label should really reissue this as I am sure many more people would just love to hear this one!