mercoledì 25 novembre 2009

The ethnic box

My dear old friend Davide (Bassino) was a good tennis player when he was sixteen and we had some really great matches in the late seventies. He also had a post punk group some years later. Although they never played live they had some notoriety around town. Out of the tennis courts, Davide was a real wild child as I remember him while jumping on stage singing in the Jim Kerr microphone, before being badly beaten by the bodyguards... We were at the Torino Palasport in 1985 (or it was 1984?) and post punk was all around. You know it's kind of funny, I recently saw an article where someone called Chromagain "one of the greatest italian synth-wave group ever". Can't honestly believe it, since they didn't find a contract in those days and they soon disappeared between the general disinterest... They left us just one great album titled "Any colour you like" (1986) on Supporti Fonografici. Luca Pastore (bass, guitars, synth) Silvio Ferrero (synths) & Davide Bassino (vocals) played a great synth wave post punk, in the vein of Monuments and Carmody. To be sincere I didn't like so much their records at the time, they seemed to much danceable and not dark enough for my taste. Now I realized that "Any colour you like" was a great record! A lot of blogs have celebrated them recently and there is also a new track by them on Danza Meccanica - Italian Synth Wave 1982 - 1987, a great compilation you can't really miss on Mannequin Records. I saw Davide again last year, he is still a good tennis player and we'll surely have some more matches this year, after 25 years from our last one...

martedì 24 novembre 2009

Persuaders in the rain

Led by Andrew Jarman (vocally something of a David Byrne student), this London quartet drifts between arty synth-dance and lightly played mood music. Using dinky electronic percussion rather than a drummer in the early days, the enigmatic group's records alternately wax chilly, funky, humorless and clever.
Ministry's Al Jourgensen remixed "Ladder Jack" and "House" for the eponymous American 12-inch, a four-song sampling of the band's pre-Comrades 45s. Both of those remixes also appear on 'Taste', a 1980-'87 singles compilation that presents an absurdly bloodless trashing of Lou Reed's "Rock&Roll" and adds two previously unreleased items, including an awfully strange cover of John Fogerty's "Run Through the Jungle. "Fielding a solid five-man lineup, APHOS comes out of the woods on the obviously commercial England in the Rain. Unlike its previous unpredictable self-indulgences, the band now reveals a clear-cut focus: the half-dozen peppy songs are all standard stylish modern dance rock that compares favorably to Wang Chung and that whole post-Ultravox ilk. If Jarman weren't such a duff singer, these attractively produced tracks might be really appealing. [Ira Robbins] . Here them playing live at Amsterdam Melkweg in 1980.

giovedì 19 novembre 2009

New Europeans

According to the official band biographer John Darling, The Psychedelic Furs came together in England's emerging punk scene in 1977, where they were initially called "RKO," then "Radio." They then vacillated between calling themselves "The Europeans" and "The Psychedelic Furs," playing gigs under both names before permanently settling on the latter. The band initially consisted of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums) and Roger Morris (guitars). By 1979, this line up had expanded to a sextet with Vince Ely replacing Wilson on drums and John Ashton being added on guitar. Back to these days of post punk fervor, there is an interesting cassette tape, sometimes called "Contract Demos" or either "Stinkie Winkies Studio Demos 1979". This rough material recently circulated between fans. The tape in question has various instrumentals including an amazing early version of 'Forever Now'. Also has John Ashton's vocal debut (?!) and other sharp songs complete with sounds of breaking plates on the floor and voices from the corridor. The best thing there is probably a great unknown track called 'Girl' one of the best examples of the earlier Furs' style, a unique post punk wall of sound. And this is why I loved them so. Hey Richard, now that it's time for a reunion album, more "back to basics" approach please!

mercoledì 18 novembre 2009

Where it all began...

Italy's answer to punk-rock?
Italy's version of post punk?
But it was just 1978 guys!!!

In the late seventies, Bologna was the centre of the italian punk wave movement and there were a lot of interesting and original groups around the town (skiantos, windopen etc.). Gaznevada, formerly Centro d'urlo Metropolitano, were probably the best, turned towards a mixture of vibrant tension, dark/noir atmospheres and stereotypes of punk-rock. As Luca Frazzi wrote Sandy Banana (or Billy Blade, if you prefer), Robert Squibb, Andy Droid, Bat Matic, Nico Gamma and Johnny Tramonta took the Italian Rock scene and gave it an inside-out. From the brightness of their wrongness , these tracks infect like a dirty razor on the pale flesh of a child”. Or, in the words of Nico Gamma, “That was the sound of my generation, there it was, it existed and I-we found it. But what it was, that stuff had a name? yes, it had: it was PUNKROCK! But what punk meant? It meant what we already were, existentially, and we didn’t know how to interpret, but we felt since long in our viscera” Gianluca Galliani (alias Nico Gamma). Enjoy my old cracking vinyl copy of their first single Blue tv set/Nevadagaz...nothing better came after...

venerdì 13 novembre 2009

The preacher of New England

All have been said about him.
(...) Felt were essentially one man, Lawrence. Just Lawrence, no surname was ever given. He apparently insisted all Felt albums had an even number of tracks and destroyed any out-takes. So, a slight eccentric as all best genius types seem to be. Given that at least one of these records I've reviewed has an odd number of tracks - this may just be part of the legend! His sometimes baffling behaviour ultimately led to Felt never quite being accepted within the mainstream. They officially formed during 1980 in Birmingham, England. History says that there was a pre-Felt band called Versatile News but I'm not sure about Lawrence really involved there. Felt really started with "Index" and they soon signed for Cherry Red records with classically trained guitarist Maurice Deebank in tow. They later moved to Creation Records, Maurice left, Martin Duffy ( future Primal Scream keyboard man ) joined. They released ten albums and ten singles in ten years (...) , in my opinion, a bunch of masterpieces. There are also interesting Andy Kershaw & Janice Long sessions but that's another story...They wrote some of the best pop songs ever and the wondrous guitar solo during the last 5 minutes of Riding on the Equator is still a good reason to live this life...

mercoledì 4 novembre 2009

Kafka in Edinburgh

Josef K are one of my all time favourite group. Of course I've loved Orange Juice too and Postcard Records remains one of the best label ever. But Josef K had a magic and sinister appeal to me. Angular and noisy, excellent in fusing post-punk guitars with funk and disco rhythms, in terms of their lyrics and image Josef K were always far more downbeat and austere than the other bands of their time. And they were never to have Orange Juice's commercial success. But god they were really strong and unique, as you can hear in their live recordings more than the studio ones. "Here you get the fullest sense of the band at their most serrated and angular, engaged in an always engaging struggle to break out of their post-punk chrysalis" (Uncut, 4/02). "Josef K must have been a great group to watch, sounding both primitive and vital whilst eschewing the amateurish playing of most punk bands. The dextrous guitar playing involved is really something special - a shame their time together was so brief" (Leonard's Lair, 2001). We'll never forget them!