mercoledì 9 luglio 2014

What we ask for...

From the Paul Lester biography "Damaged Goods": 

"...It could reasonably be argued that, among certain rock musicians, especially the ones who formed in the wake of the late Seventies post punk era, Gang of Four mean as much as the Velvet Underground did to a previous generation. They may not have sold that many records, but they sold to the right people: everyone who heard them went right out and formed a band. In Britain they pioneered the idea of the white rock band getting funky, making it possible for everyone form A Certain Ratio to Franz Ferdinand to make their dance music, their funk noir, their death disco. and in America, where they possibly mean even more and had an even greater impacty, Gang of Four are the third most influential punk period rock band after The Sex Pistols and The Clash, paving the way for hordes of funked up metal bands: Rage against the Machine, Korn, Limp Bizkit and the rest would, as one journalist recently put it, "be inimagginable without the territory that GOF feralessy staked out in a bold, visionary stance that few bands could have been taken".Back in the time of bands like the Gang of Four it seemed easier to find music that was as inspired. And they still sound great, brilliant as ever... If only there could be music like this nowadays...

For your listening pleasure:

domenica 15 giugno 2014

No wave in Pordenone

"The Great Complotto Pordenone" was a unique and historical punk, post-punk, new-wave organisation grown up in Pordenone (a city located in the North-East of Italy) during the early 80's. Sounds from a lost province, strongly influenced by uk postpunk and us no wave. A crazy bunch of guys who gave life to a series of organisations and to the first Italian punk wave....
Very well known during that early "Complotto" time were punk bands "Hitlerss and Tampax" but many other was following, purposing many diferent forms of music during that "golden age". This was the case of XX Century Zorro, especially with their interesting album "La Volpe du XX siècle"and with other legendary tapes. The music was quite original, a lot of ideas that the classic form of a song could probably not fit well... broken melodies full of nostalgia, dandy and gigolo fascination, black and white sounds, pre and post world war songs, music for an other era which will probably never come ... The weltanschauung of XXCZ is simply formidable and incomparable to anybody and anything, a unique experience out of time!

domenica 1 giugno 2014

A midmorning awakening

No doubt for me that 1981 was THE YEAR post punk finally emerged as  a style, an ethos and the sound that will influence music for decades.  It seemed to me the exact moment when that sound and way of looking at music spreading farthest without diminishing their punk intensity.  The heroes of the first wave were about to retire (like Wire, Buzzcocks, Joy Division of course) but still hadn’t lost a step, and so many others were at their peak and still many more greats just getting started. Many artist we like had their masterpieces in 1981... The Bunnymen, DAF, Comsat Angels, The Sound, The Cure, PIL, Japan etc. One album in particular was a real "punch in the stomach" that year... Clock Dva's first proper lp after some schizophrenic cassettes of distorted Sheffield Cabs alike sound. "Thirst", a milestone for the black-clad generation of white souls that couldn't believe that experimental music was only a P-Orridge incarnation. Thirst was the album I was waiting for since I heard "Brigade" for the first time, a sort of DVA's  perennial state in their never ending quest for knowledge. Songs like "4 Hours" soon became symbols of a whole generation of true believers in the possibilities of "real" free creativity. This was a long-selling work (80,000) copies made Clock Dva a very "hot" band for major labels too, and Polydor won the race in 1982 putting them under contract. After a couple of singles, Clock Dva recorded "Advantage", their second LP. Needless to say it's a good album too, cold poetry, noire stories and free jazz. But it wasn't the same. The road to success was wide open but Adi Newton was just loosing himself feeling quite uneasy: the direction that DVA's music was taking was too safe for his fulfillment so he left the band soon after. Clock dva tried to substitute him with a female singer, but the result was embarassing. Years after Adi came back starting a new phase more experimental but less interesting, nothing compared to their glorious Sheffield years...

giovedì 15 maggio 2014

Sisters with no mercy

Probably the most obscure band in this obscure blog, Scent Merci were an interesting italian post punk band of the eighties. It’s hard to know, as there is no entry on the official sites, only brief posts about them on a few lost blogs. Scent Merci never seems to get mentioned in the endless articles about the post punk/new wave period in Italy. One blogger rated their song "Secret of Joy" in the top ten best post-punk italian songs over the likes of Diaframma, Litfiba etc...  anyway, a lot of italian bands could also have been good candidates for a list of completely underrated bands, but Scent Merci is the one I’d never actually heard of until incidentally saw a youtube video by ex Wax Heroes guitarist and soon after this, the great blog Systems of Romance gave us the wonderful Treviso 1986 Compilation on cassette only "Treviso Underground". And between the others, Scent Merci are really interesting. It may require some patience to navigate their relaxing jingle jangle murky atmospheres, but is rewarding for any fans of those lost italian sounds. It seems also there is a renew interest in their music nowadays. They have a new Facebook page and finally an exhaustive page on with some good infos about their history and their discography too, from the ‘Cabaret du Chat Noir’ demo (1986) to their partecipation in various compilations like Amnesty International P.E.A.C.E. Benefit Compilation (1987). From their FB profile they recently promise good news about a possible compilation of old material... let's wait for them listening to their old tunes

lunedì 28 aprile 2014

Eric & the rabbits

Were they the best band on the planet? Possibly although it's really hard to remember now how much Echo and the Bunnymen meant. No doubt that Bunnymen were one of my top band in those days... ah the Liverpool scene, the shores of Lake Placid, the sound of a drum machine and those "pictures" on my wall... I think you'll find plenty of younger bands today will namecheck them and an influence. "The second best band ever to come from Liverpool", as Paul du Noyer once put it. Seen them many times playing live and they never disappointed... One thing for sure anyway, they probably weren't the same band when they reformed after Pete De Freitas died (what a drummer he was!). The latter-day Bunnies have, sadly, become something of a nostalgia act so, before listening to their new album "Meteorites", hoping could be a little better than the horrible 2009's "The Fountain", let's get back to the days that count... It was 21 June 1985, and they played a 'secret' gig at the Manchester International club. They went under the name of Eric and the Rabbits, and they played two sets. The first was a set of covers, while the second was all Bunnymen gems. Listen to their version of Talking Heads' "The Big Country" and put your dusty long raincoat on once again...

martedì 1 aprile 2014

Loosing by win

Back to our beloved Italian New Wave, let's briefly talk about Wax Heroes this time, "a band that mattered" in the italian eighties scenario. The "wax thing" hailing from Treviso (where?!) put out only a great debut ep "Sher", a track on the seminal compilation "Gathered" by Rockerilla magazine and some 1982 demos... but that song, the percussive, foreboding "Win by loosing" is really something, a sort of masterpiece of Italian Post Punk. The band did not achieve any sort of popularity due to some bad luck and media noncurance. Rather than persevere and record their debut album, they gave up so soon and some of them ended up in Scent Merci, another band who had no future but great songs. The only discernible impact they had is that their influence could possibly be heard in many italian bands of the late eighties and first nineties, though the similarities could be a only coincidence.  A complete reissue with all their songs has been realised by Spittle records and, in my opinion, is badly needed for a nostalgic post punk lover.

venerdì 7 marzo 2014

The sound of happiness

Orange Juice stylistic influence can be seen across the board in UK  independent music, from DIY bands to later indie labels like Rough Trade, Sarah Records and Jeepster. Musically, bands like The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian have been outspoken about the influence of Orange Juice and others from the Postcard stable. It's not a surprise that still, their influence on the culture of alternative pop music and labels to follow has been huge. In the 1970's, Glasgow music scene had a reputation for hard drinking and hard rocking, not a lot more. Postcard changed that with bands like OJs that were fey, witty, intelligent and clean and had a sound influenced by the pop of the 60's and Northern Soul too. Also Orange Juice changed my life in those faraway years, first with their "sound of happiness" then with Postcard symbolism and subversiveness. Nothing special, just a kitten beating a drum, based on an early twentieth century Louis Wain illustration. At the time it was genuinely radical in its playfulness, going against the macho rock stereotype. In this redemption I believed and soon went to buy those old suede jackets & the same Davey Crocket hat Edwyn Collins used to wear... and what about their first 3 singles, what about those refrains!!! Anyway,  35 years after "the event", Domino is going to re-issue once again their 4 albums and OJ still seem so totally evocative of their time. According to their guru Alan Horne, "It was a time when it did not seem quite so naïve to be thinking that popular music might be something other than light entertainment from ‘dumb meets stupid’.” That's "all that ever mattered".

1 Falling and Laughing - live 1981 at Valentinos Edinburgh
2 Blueboy - live at Glasgow Tech. Inst. 1980
4 You-Old-Eccentric (peel)
5 Breakfast time - live somewhere 1982
6 Lovesick [Janice Long Session]
7 Simply thrilled honey (cassette free -  live)
8 The Postcard version of Texas Fever
9 Poor Old Soul/Rip it Up (live medley 83)
10 I Can`t Help Myself (live at ogwt)
11 Salmon fishing in new york (bbc session feb 1984)
12 Aztec Camera & Edwyn Collins _ Consolation Prize live (b-side)
13 Edwyn Collins - Felicity live at Ica 94
bonus track - Nu Sonics-I-Dont-Care