mercoledì 21 aprile 2010

For a soldier...

Founded in 1982 in Perugia as a quartet, with musicians coming from previous experiences, Aidons la Norvege made their live debut with a three-piece line-up (Francesco Frondini-vocals-sax-synth, Augusto Croce-guitar, Massimo Rossi-bass) and a rhythm machine. The name of the group comes from an anti-Nazi poster issued in France in 1940 to protest against the invasion of Norway. In 1983, the line-up became stable with new drummer Alessandro Costantini. The group played in many Italian cities, and in 1985, along with their fellows Militia they were able to play a german mini-tour, with two dates in Tübingen and one at the legendary K.O.B. in Berlin. In the same year the band signed a deal with an independent record label from Tuscany, Spittle Records, to release a 12-inch mini-LP. The record, self-produced and financed by the group, came out in 1986 for a Spittle subsidiary, called Label Service, with the title La sfida. It was a 12-inch with four tracks in the typical style of the group, a dark-inspired new wave sound with Italian lyrics. At the end of 1986 drummer Alessandro Costantini quit the group, replaced by Francesco Pauselli, with which Aidons La Norvege kept on playing live, even supporting, in 1987 edition of the Rockin' Umbria festival, the Irish group That Petrol Emotion. The group broke up in March 1988, following a concert at Hiroshima Mon Amour in Turin. In the following years there were many attempts of reforming the original line-up, but all of them were unsuccessful. They recently played together again altought someone says it's no more time of post punk...

lunedì 19 aprile 2010

Songs about infidelity

This reminiscence was submitted by Switchboard fan Y.B. Blinky.

The Human Switchboard was the second new wave/alternative/underground whatev band I ever saw live. The first one having been the Wombats, who played ahead of you at the first WRUW Studio Arama in the Mather Memorial Courtyard that was my very first show. It was 1981 and I was 17 and had just graduated high school. I ended up almost married to the Wombats' lead guitarist, but that's another story entirely. Me and my best high school friend were both at the WRUW show because we were music geeks with no social lives and had gotten into listening to Lars Harper's D.O.P.E. radio show every Saturday night, and calling up him and Larry Collins and generally being little Catholic fangirls, although we of course didn't see it that way and thought we were being very mature and hip. We basically had to browbeat my mom into driving us over to the show cuz she was very dubious about all this band stuff, but I was going to college at Case that fall anyway, so what could she do.So we got there really early and sat in the yard and looked at people's outfits and watched the soundchecks. I believe it was during your soundcheck that the mother of the bride and matron of honor from the wedding going on in Mather Chapel came onstage and started to raise hell about the noise. After that got worked out, my next memory is when you guys played a song with obscenities (I think this was "Book on Looks" where Bob sang "I don't care if your baby sucks, I dunno if she knows how to fuck" or something like that) and I was all like Oh no, I hope my mom isn't listening to the live broadcast because I'll catch hell when I get home! Not to worry, I learned later that her hearing and ability to discern lyrics was so bad she couldn't tell when people were swearing in radio songs. But I was totally worried about it at the time. We didn't get to see too many bands - I know we saw all of the Wombats set and all of your set and then there was some other band that we might have seen part of the set of, when my mom showed up and told us it was time to go home and basically hauled us away making a big fuss because she thought some of the chicks at the show were dressed too slutty. After that show, I went out and bought "Who's Landing in My Hangar?" It was one of the first records I picked up on Coventry after I was living at Case and could walk down Mayfield and get there easily. Besides listening to the record and playing it on my radio show on WRUW when I got one, I also read all the notes on the sleeve and went down to the library and checked out "Twisted Kicks" and read it, because it was mentioned on the album cover. I wanted to be cool like all you guys. I thought Bob in his sunglasses was like, the epitome of cool. I also remember one time walking back from Coventry I went around the corner and Myrna was standing in some apartment yard talking to somebody (dunno if she lived there or was visiting) and I was all like "Wow, that's Myrna from the Human Switchboard! I saw Myrna! Cool!" I didn't go up and say hi because I was too shy and anyway I thought of band people, even local band people, like rockstars then and figured they wouldn't want to be bothered with the likes of me so I was just cool about it. I did get to say hi to Bob a couple times when he was visiting Lars on his radio show. Bob and Lars together were like dangerous aging frat boys, humorous and sinister. I saw the Human Switchboard play a couple more times but not too many. In 1981-82 I didn't drive, didn't have access to a car, and for part of the year I was underage because they raised the drinking age in Ohio. The next year I started going with Johnny Wombat who drove me to all the shows I wanted to see for about the next five years, but by then it seemed like the Human Switchboard wasn't playing out as much. Lars moved away and I took over his radio show, which made me happy and sad at the same time. When I graduated I moved to Maryland and I used to see copies of Bob's "After Words" album (I think that's what it was called) in the marked-down alternative bin of the local record store, along with Death of Samantha's albums, and that was very weird, like seeing your past life flashing before your eyes, because five or six years is a lot when you're only 23. Sometimes over the years I have heard or read in the paper stuff about one or the other Human Switchboard member, and it always takes me right back to being 17 and on the verge of An Exciting New World with college and new bands and all. I still remember a lot of the songs and I have never figured out what's being sung on "Refrigerator Door" that sounds like "Mareechko Baby" but it's kind of cool leaving that a mystery so I have never tried too hard to find out. Well that's my silly little Human Switchboard story. Hope you enjoyed it .Thanks for the music.

martedì 13 aprile 2010

Niagara Falls on a tightrope

Artery was one of the bands that sprung up in 1978 and they developed a large following in Sheffield. The quartet was originally called "The" but they opted very soon for a change. Mark Gouldthorpe, the singer, was their leader. Very expressive in his perfomance as Jarvis Cocker of Pulp used to follow them around in those Sheffield lost nights. He describes their gigs as "electric and generating mild hysteria". Their first single was the acerb 'Mother Moon' in 1979. The following one was surely more fascinating and it was a double ep called "Unbalanced" on the Aardvark indie label. That time, the band released a double-pack single and I guess it was on May of 1980. I remember that "skin heads alike" cover and the package, featuring two studio songs and a second 7" consisting of four others poorly recorded at the Rotherham Arts Centre. Years later, they will re-record the title track from this ep in a new brand wonderful version: a masterpiece, a fantastic song with a killer bassline, and lovely spooky nocturnal vibe to the tune.. It will reamain, in my personal opinion, one of the best track ever from the post punk years! They released also 3 studio albums, including the mini-album, 'Oceans', in 1982 but they never saw a bit of success. Their final studio album, 'The Second Coming', was released in 1985 but the sound was even heavier than before, nihilistic, and pretty hard for most people to take. John Peel was very keen on Artery and had them in his studio twice for interesting sessions. The band had UK press features (NME, Melody Maker, Sounds) and had a following in Japan and Europe - notably Italy (me!!!), where they toured in 1984 to a fanatical (?!) response. Artery split in 1985 between the general indifference. Simon Hinkler was also involved with early Pulp and later became a member of the Mission UK. Now they recently reformed and they obviously look like pensioneers more than angry young men...“I happened to say to a friend of mine that if I was the man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, I would have fallen off halfway across just to prove I could fall off. So with a sardonic smile, he said I was unbalanced.”

martedì 6 aprile 2010

who the hell makes those?

The history is well known ...The Sound formed in South London in 1979, shortly after a band called the Outsiders dissolved. It isn't a very well-distributed fact, but the Outsiders' 1977 LP Calling on Youth was the first self-released British punk LP, issued roughly four months after Buzzcocks' infamous Spiral Scratch 7". Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Adrian Borland led the Outsiders though a couple of other releases, but the band sputtered out three years after their 1976 formation. Bassist Graham Bailey (aka Graham Green), who had joined the band in time for their final recordings, followed Borland into the new group with a drummer named Michael Dudley and a saxophonist/clarinetist/keyboardist named Bi Marshall.The Sound made their first recordings in the living room of the Borland family home, with Adrian's supportive father Bob acting as recording engineer. As demonstrated on Propaganda, a posthumous release from 1999 that collects these sessions, the band was gradually -- not so drastically and suddenly -- leaving the Stooges/Velvets axis and applying touches that would be developed into something all their own. Then came the important years and masterpieces as Jeopardy and From the Lion's Mouth, between five stars reviews and general indifference from the public ensued. When someone ask about post punk at its best, those are two albums that matter. Darker days followed, good records after all but it was not the same as the golden years. Adrian Borland himself continued in music, releasing with the band another batch of under-appreciated records and as a solo artist he had an interesting career too. Then on April 26, 1999, the man took his own life and this time critics were all agree that The Sound were not given the recognition they deserved... Well, I have here in my hands my own precious vinyl copy of Jeopardy - autographed by Adrian, one night after a great gig in Turin at Studio 2. He was a simple man, he loved to meet fans and talking with them about those times of empty wallets and little hopes... rest in peace Adrian!

lunedì 5 aprile 2010

(Re-post)In the ghetto

Statuto were (and still are) the best mod band coming from italy since the eighties. Yes, there were also other groups as the great Underground Arrows and some minor bands too but Oskar Giammarinaro and his mod friends from piazza Statuto in Turin, survived thru the years although official all things mod had gone. The Eighties showed a different side to the Mod scene and for Statuto, to be Mod was a lifestyle choice to reflect in their music. Their first recordings were great, a must for every italian post punk fan, the singles "Io dio" & "Ghetto" and their album "Vacanze" (1988) for the newborn Toast Records. But the record I've loved more - by far - is the mini "Senza di lei", where their sound developed a little more and musical skills progressed, including a wonderful organ cameo by James Taylor of JTQ. Underproduced sounds of course and DIY package with a Two-tone attitude... but everything here is excellent!