The Alt-Right, Punk Rock and Fake Boobs: An Analysis

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The worst thing about people who are full of shit is when they become fans of things that you both enjoy and are a much, much greater expert on. I think I’m in some position of authority to state that most punk rockers don’t know as much as I do about the Alternative Right or the general umbrella of the new right. And similarly I think it’s safe to say that most people on the Alternative Right have only a cursory knowledge of punk rock. So, as someone who is a damn near expert on both of these topics – not saying I was ever on the vanguard of either of these movements – I think I’m at least qualified to call bullshit on a recent article published by Playboy magazine.

But before I even analyze the recent Playboy piece “5 Punk Rockers Explain Why the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage“, let’s ALL put on our bullshit detectors.

Is Playboy not the magazine that 13 year old boys jerked off to for the first time? Is it not the “classy” boobie mag that was started by a pipe smoking, middle aged-cum (no pun intended)-dirty old pervert, who would feature pictorials of attractive women with their beach blonde hair and big, fake boobs? Wasn’t Hugh himself the subject of the wrath of second wave feminists?

Yeah, I know… Playboy has articles too; and there are people who actually read the articles, rather make their fathers question why all the pages in his books are stuck together. And, from my understanding, there was even an era when Playboy actually had good articles from “legit” writers like Woody Allen – who, liberal as he might be, bless his soul, never became a feminist or stopped being a pussy chasing dog – and Gore Vidal. But that was the 60s, and you had to feign intellectualism in those days.

Regardless of its praising of certain liberal causes, Playboy has long since been just a porn mag-lite (no beaver shots), known for launching the careers of airheads like Jenny McArthy and Pamela Anderson.

So why, all of a sudden, do they fancy themselves the authority on punk rock and feel that they can decide that “the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage”?

First of all, there IS no AltRight punk movement, because if there was, then my name would be in the article. Not only am I the guy who printed the first ever Punks for Trump t-shirts (only 50 left as of this writing; BUY BUY BUY!!!), but that’s Matt Forney, one of the definitive AltRighters, in the picture below wearing one.

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But, even if the article’s writer, Michael Tedder, was aware of this fact, he still misses the point entirely:

Members of the alt-right have of late made the argument that “conservatism is the new punk” and that gadflies like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are the modern day truth-telling equivalents of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, pushing back against social justice warriors and political correctness culture. In their eyes, their old, retrograde ideas—which inevitably manifest as fear and outrage at attempts to curb white male privilege—have suddenly become avant-garde because of…safe spaces or something.

Neither Alex Jones nor Milo Yiannopoulos are “AltRight.” They’re libertarians. They’ve adopted some of the less extreme views of the AltRight – that cultural Marxism sucks, that SJWs of all stripes and shades are stupid and that Islam is a threat to Western civilization – but they were never considered part of the movement; to call them AltRight would be like calling the Cars a punk band. Sure the Venn diagrams overlap, but they’re not one and the same. To be honest, I’m not considered “AltRight” by some of the more radical elements either because I’m not a White Nationalist, I don’t believe that all ethnic groups need to be separated at all costs and I don’t fit the proper genetic stock. The AltRight actually has quite a bit of diversity of thought under its umbrella, but a person on the left will never take the time to investigate any of this.

But I digress. As far as the “new right” (which includes the AltRight) being considered “the new punk rock”, well… I suppose that depends on how you define “punk rock.” And that’s where we get to the meat, spikes, leather and chains of the article; unless, of course, you’re a modern day vegan-feminist-hippie-crust-punk, who dodges showers the way the hippies dodged the draft. Then you probably think the original punks were fascists for wearing and eating dead cow.

Most AltRighters don’t know that much about punk and all of the bands it produced or its various sub-genres and their spin-offs. If ANYTHING, while AltRighters might espouse the general, “offend the easily offended” attitude of the Sex Pistols, and while I think Trump is pissing off all the right people, AltRighters specifically probably have more in common with the Oi! band 4Skins, who wrote this wonderful anti-immigrant slam “One Law for Them”, in which they quote the “rivers of blood” speech by Enoch Powell, or the Canadian punk band Forgotten Rebels, who have the hilarious “Bomb the Boat and Feed the Fish”, in which they advocate a rather more, um, violent solution to the problem of mass immigration from third world countries. Hell, I’d even say they have more in common with hardcore punk bands like Agnostic Front, who have the anti-welfare screed “Public Assistance”, which got them in a heap of shit with the PC brigade, or Minor Threat, who mince no words in “Guilty of Being White”, or Black Flag, who sing about the changing ethnic demographic in Southern California in “White Minority” (oh, but they’re being ironic, cantcha tell?!).

But, instead Playboy claims they found the TRUE representatives of punk rock, and these people, who quite obviously have next to no knowledge of the AltRight, explain why someone on the AltRight can’t be punk.

First they get a quote from Victoria Ruiz from some band called the Downtown Boys. (And if you leftist fags say, “uh, what a POSER, you’ve never heard of the Downtown Boys?”, I’ll say, “go fuck yourself, you’ve never heard of Aryan Disgrace, Metal Urbain or the Mentally Ill.”)

Alice Bag, who has actually done the work of being a punk rock star, recently said via Facebook: “Punk has been portrayed as music by and for angry white males, but in its inception, it was a rebellion against all rock cliches. Gender, ethnic, sexual and class taboos were all challenged by our early punk community and that is a story which is not very often told. People of color, queer folk, women—all were present from the very beginning of Punk.”

Yeah, fine, Alice Bag and the Bags are actually really good – how can they not be? They had Geza X on guitar! – but Republican Johnny Ramone has done WAY more work of being a punk rock star. Not to mention Lee Ving of Fear, who wrote the classic “The Mouth Don’t Stop (the Trouble with Women).” And so has leftist clown Jello Biafra. So what? Okay, fine, Darby Crash, the singer of the Germs, was a fag. And their guitarist Pat Smear is black. And Ivan Julian, the rhythm guitarist for Richard Hell and the Voidoids, is also black. And the Bad Brains are all black and were known for their queer-bashing because they “be Rasta, mon, and Rasta don’ like no bloodclot faggots!” Again, so what? That changes precisely what again? The answer is coming; wait for it:

I think that this is exactly why it is nonsense when the alt-right strings together vapid words to try and incite a playground fight with those of us who put blood, sweat and tears into creating an expression that is the antithesis of everything that these alt-right meatheads represent. They are simply a distraction to the women, femmes, queers and people of color filling the columns of Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, the New York Times and numerous other publications that report on culture. I don’t see actual alt-right bands headlining Coachella, I see Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar—two of the most punk in terms of crystallizing dissent about the status quo —artists taking the stage. Real punk is and will always be a total threat to the alt-right and their culture, which is based on white supremacy. Otherwise it isn’t real punk. The alt-right’s tactics are FAKE PUNK. The alt-white (I mean right) want us to sip tea, but we are drinking fresh water from a firehose.

In other words, according to this person, the AltRight DOESN’T represent the punk rock ethos because they AREN’T represented in corporate mainstream media and DON’T perform at corporately sponsored music festivals. I think even the old timey leftists at Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll would raise an eyebrow at that. But more specifically, AltRighters and anyone who espouses views that are heretical to the PC establishment need to be purged from all mainstream discourse. Also probably the main reason no “AltRight bands” have ever performed at Coachella is because THERE ARE NO ALT-RIGHT BANDS to speak of. And even if there were, they wouldn’t be invited to play these festivals. In fact corporately sponsored festivals like the Scion Rock Fest has dumped bands when they were suspected of having “nefarious” connections. But apparently Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are totally punk as fuck, man.

Next we have Chris Freeman of Pansy Division, the only name on the list I recognize. Feel free to read his lengthy, bitchy diatribe yourself. The only thing that stuck with me was this:

Punk rock for me was about free-thinking more than free speech, and I say that not to minimize free speech but to point out how robotic life had become in the 1970s.

Uh, oookay…. moving right along then…

Well, what do we have here? Erika M. Anderson seems to be the only person of the bunch with a brain!

I think if you define punk as simply being a group of angry young men wanting to say “fuck you” to dominant societal norms and current values, then the roots of the alt-right are definitely one of the most punk things going on right now.

AGREED… but:

But that’s like narrowing your definition of punk down to the Sex Pistols—which was basically a boy band put together by a pair of London clothing designers who wanted to use shock tactics to promote their fashion line. I much prefer Crass (who were anarchists, feminists, environmentalists and better songwriters!), X-Ray Spex or even Pansy Division. But my guess is that if you are truly invested in the theory of alt-right as new punk, then facts about the diversity of the movement aren’t really going to appeal to you.

Oo, calling the Sex Pistols a boy band… them’s fightin’ words! Julian Temple’s 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury puts that myth to rest. Plus, even if it were true, that doesn’t change the fact that “No Feelings” is one of the best songs ever. To be fair, Crass makes some pretty righteous noise even if they’re views are stupid, and X-Ray Spex tear it up with their noisy, bleating sax and Poly Styrene’s caterwauling; I don’t think I’ve ever heard Pansy Division. Regardless, I AM invested in parts of the alt-right, but as proven above, I’m aware that there were black, gay and gurl punks. Her rant concludes with this:

Indeed, it’s all keks and lulz until a con man takes office and fills his cabinet with incompetent billionaires who don’t actually care about free speech, poverty, or really anything but themselves. Turns out there is a thin line between being punk and getting punk’d.

Oo, she’s clever!

Some guy named Andy Nelson at least gets one thing right:

It is no great secret that for all its posturing and incremental progress over the years, underground punk is still, regrettably, a culture dominated by straight whites males.

I wouldn’t say “regrettably”, but:

The notion that expressing all the hateful bigotry that the entirety of American society has been reinforcing forever would resemble the anti-establishment in any form is a premise so asinine and feeble-minded it is nearly beyond comprehension. Insofar as “Alt-Right Punk” is a real thing, I remind you that we’ve seen this type of thing before, and we’ve seen how it ends: Just ask Dave Smalley and Michael Graves what kind of traffic that moronic website ConservativePunk.com is getting these days.

Hey, if you don’t like it in the United States, you’re free to live in such tolerant countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. As for Dave Smalley and Michael Graves, I’m not sure what kind of traffic they get on their moronic website these days, and I’m too lazy to check.

And finally Patrick Stickles of some band called Titus Andronicus (isn’t Shakespeare racist or something?) begins with:

In determining if conservatism/“alt-right” is the “new punk” or “political punk rock” or whatever they are saying, we must first address the distinction between “punk,” the ideology, “punks,” who practice said ideology, and “punk rock,” the musical genre/fashion template with which we associate acts like the Sex Pistols or Ramones or Black Flag and “punk rockers,” those who adhere to those templates.

No, we mustn’t. Well,you can if ya want, but I’m going to listen to this here Dictators song and have myself a vodka/diet coke mixer.

Sounds of Marshabaloosh Episode 1 – Manilla Road: A Metal Invasion

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First of all, Marshabaloosh is the evil deity that makes you stub your toe, step on a nail, makes your wife divorce you, starts world wars and makes it snow heavily on the day of your important job interview.  Indeed he’s quit the nogoodnik, yet we worship him.

Sounds of Marshabaloosh is the music and entertainment spin off of the Savage Hippie retardo propaganda machine, and for the first installment, I was granted the privilege of interviewing Mark “the Shark” Shelton and Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick, guitarist/singer/songwriter and singer/roadie for legendary cult metal band Manilla Road.  If you don’t know ’em, you better wise up, sucker!  They’ve been together in some way, shape or form since 1977 and have released a large and diverse body of work that ranges from heavy, progressive space rock, melodic epic metal, thrash, doom and even 12-string acoustic folky music, whose one uniting factor is Shelton and his penchant for fantasy, science fiction, horror and the occasional philosophical lyrics.

Shelton, Patrick and I spend an hour talking about everything from Manilla Road’s music (whoda thunk we’d talk about that?!), their various albums, encounters with other bands, potential label deals, the literature of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and the time Manilla Road incited a brawl between Stryper’s Christian fan base and their biker one… guess who won…

I wish I had asked Shelton to elaborate on the Riddle Master project and about the legendary Herman Hill riots, but oh well… maybe next time?

Here’s a list of all of their albums if you want to check out their stuff, which you should, asshole.

Invasion (1980)
Metal (1982)
Crystal Logic (1983)
Open the Gates (1985)
The Deluge (1986)
Mystification (1987)
Live Roadkill (1988)
Out of the Abyss (1988)
The Courts of Chaos (1990)
The Circus Maximus (1992)
Atlantis Rising (2001)
Mark of the Beast (2002) (recorded 1981)
Spiral Castle (2002)
Gates of Fire (2005)
Voyager (2008)
After Midnight Live (2010) (recorded 1979)
Playground of the Damned (2011)
Mysterium (2013)
The Blessed Curse (2015)
Dreams of Eschaton (2016) (recorded 1981, remaster of Mark of the Beast)

And Mark, if you’re reading this, I downloaded all three Heavy Load albums!  Thanks for the recommendation!

Gimme Sabbath – With or Without Ozzy

black_sabbath_mattersAs one of the three people that defend’s Black Sabbath’s Forbidden album, their unfairly maligned 1995 release that was produced by Ernie C of Body Count and features guest vocals from Ice T on the opening track “Illusion of Power”, you could fairly assume that I’m more than a casual classic rock fan who was out to see Black Sabbath play all of the tried and tested FM staples, along with a few well known deep cuts, on their final tour.  But the final tour it is, and Sabbath know what the people want; and what the people want, the people get… sorta.

I was at their Chicago gig on September 4th at an outdoor amphitheater, standing on the lawn, watching a bunch of ants onstage, and while it wasn’t bad, I think the audience made up for Ozzy’s lack of energy.  For the Sabbath neophyte, since its inception in 1968, Black Sabbath pretty much defaulted to the leadership of guitarist Toni Iommi, who is the driving force behind every lineup of the band.  While the majority of rock fans consider the group’s original lineup – Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Toni Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward – to be the only lineup that matters, Iommi considers long time side man and keyboardist Geoff Nichols, former drummer Cozy Powell and former singer Toni Martin, to be as integral to the band’s career as the other four gentlemen; at least that’s the way it seemed in his autobiography, Iron Man.

And I’m not going to make the absurd claim that Toni Martin sung albums The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, TYR, Cross Purposes or the aforementioned Forbidden are anywhere near as classic, good and important as the first six Sabbath records; neither will I say the Dio albums Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules or Dehumanizer are as good as those either, nor the same about the Ian Gillan album Born Again or the Glenn Hughes album Seventh Star.  I’m with the majority on this one, but I will say that, as a longtime fan, I realized that 3/4 of the original lineup was going to primarily stick with material that most people would be familiar with.

With that said, I think it’s absolutely pathetic that Ozzy just stood there saying the same two lines over and over again; “can I see your hands?!” and “I can’t hear you!” Okay, to be fair, he occasionally said, “can I see your FUCKING hands?!” and “I STILL can’t hear you!”, but, if THAT was going to be the performance I got from Ozzy, they might as well have had Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes or Toni Martin; hell, I’d much rather Iommi and Butler be joined by Rob Halford of Judas Priest, like they were in 1992.

So, for the longtime fan, it was the Iommi/Butler Black Sabbath review, featuring latest drummer Tommy Clufetos, a journeyman musician who has previously played with Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Rob Zombie, John 5 and Ozzy himself (there are others on the wiki page if you’re THAT curious).  I would have loved for Bill Ward to be there, but I would love lots of things, and, at least, Clufetos has lots of tattoos and a beard and was never in Rage Against the Machine.

As for the set itself, the exact count goes like this; three from Black Sabbath, six from Paranoid (that is if you include the opening bars of “Rat Salad”, which segues into a drum solo), three from Master of Reality, one from Vol. 4 and one from Technical Ecstasy.  That means they played NOTHING from Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage.  That also means they played nothing from their completely forgettable reunion album 13 or the passable The End, so that’s a plus. If we want to get REALLY technical, Geezer played “Basically”, the minute long bass intro to “NIB”, so feel free to count that as four songs from Black Sabbath.

While “Snowblind”, the group’s coke anthem from Vol. 4 is probably my favorite Sabbath tune – in spite Ozzy ruining any subtlety in the song by shouting “COCAINE!” at the end of every line – I would have loved to hear “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath”, “A National Acrobat”, “Killing Yourself to Live”, “Hole in the Sky”, “Symptom of the Universe”, “Am I Going Insane? (Radio)” or basically all of Vol. 4; I especially wanted to hear “Supernaut.”  I was also kind of surprised they didn’t play “Sweet Leaf”, but that they did play “Dirty Women”, from the Technical Ecstasy album, which would have been the worst album by the original lineup had 13 not come out.  On the other hand, their 1978 album Never Say Die! is remarkably underrated, so there ya go.

Unsurprisingly Sabbath played the customary hits “War Pigs”, “Iron Man” and “Paranoid”, and I wonder how they don’t get sick of playing that last one, since, like, come on… that’s the first song I ever learned to play on guitar.  At least when they played “Black Sabbath”, the tri-tone, three chord, plodder that opens their first album and scared the bejeezus out of the kids of a much more innocent America of 1970, Iommi added a few extra bars of soloing during the headbanging part, and I thought it was neat how they began with the first few bars of the instrumental “Rat Salad” before segueing into Clufetos’ drum solo, even it went on a bit too long.

I would mention something about opening band Rival Sons, but we arrived too late in their set to hear much.  From what I did hear, they’re a 70s rock revival band; not bad, but nothing essential.

As for Sabbath, while I will always enjoy Toni Iommi’s and Geezer Butler’s guitar/bass interplay and think that Clufetos did a fine job on drums, I think the performance was little more than a revival show for the old timers.  As a fan of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Hawkwind and UFO, old bands who still put out new and interesting records – Now What?!, Outsider, The Machine Stops and A Conspiracy of Stars, if you were wondering – I think it’s sad that the band that takes the lion’s share of credit for this here heavy rock/heavy metal/hard rock/even heavy prog genre that we all love so much practically cashed in their chips onstage.  I know someone will yell at me for not mentioning the latest Nazareth record Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone, but that one does suck.

On the other hand, nothing is stopping Iommi and Butler from rocking out with other musicians and creating new and interesting records, which I believe they are already doing…

I Was Interviewed By Matt Forney for This AltRight Life at Right On.

I was interviewed for over an hour for Matt Forney’s show This AltRight Life over at RightOn.net.  We talked about our time hanging outside the RNC, including being chased around by SJW zombies and attending Milo’s fab cocktail party, my Punks for Trump t-shirts and the leftist hijacking of punk rawk.  Hopefully you’ll find listening to it as enjoyable as I found doing it.

Musical Genres Are the Stupidest Thing Ever: Punk Rock Part 1

sex_pistolsIn 2016, telling someone you listen to punk or punk rock is pretty much about as vague as saying you listen to rock.  Punk has been around now for 40 years… or is it 50 years… or 60?  What is or what counts as punk rock?  Is punk rock just defined by bands with stupid, obnoxious names, who play two to three minute rock songs that consist of a few chords and are played at a fast tempo?  Is punk about having a “don’t give a fuck” attitude?  Is punk the musical front for a leftist/anarchist revolution?

Who are the punk bands bands?  Are the Stooges punk?  The Ramones?  Black Flag? Nirvana?  Green Day?  Sonic Youth?  Napalm Death?  Nausea?  Dropdead?  Richard Hell and the Voidoids?  Cockney Rejects?  Pissed Jeans?  Halo of Flies?  Butthole Surfers?  X-Ray Spex?  Devo?  Oingo Boingo?  Cro-Mags?  Dinosaur Jr.?  Nobunny?  Discharge?

To the average interloper, this may seem like a complete waste of time and trivial garbage.  But, it’s worth noting that, as much as genre distinctions are dumb, even John Derbyshire notes that there is some interest in exploring how there’s very little cultural cohesion, even under what allegedly seems to be the same cultural umbrella; in this case, punk rock.

If I’m not mistaken, the term punk rock was first used to describe the debut album by the Deviants, Ptooff! from 1967.  The Deviants were a group of quasi-anarchists from the bohemian Ladbroke Grove district of London and were led by counter cultural mouthpiece Mick Farren.  Musically the album is a solid mix of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd and Zappa-style wankery along with social satire.  The term “punk” was used literally to imply “no good jerk” or “asshole.”

The term was used again to describe the self titled debut by the Stooges; as in “the music of punks cruising for burgers.”  Iggy Pop wasn’t too happy about this classification because it implied that he’s dumb, something that tends to happen when your album consists of three-chord garage rock songs with titles like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “No Fun”, and has minimalist lines like “1969, okay/all across the USA/another year for me and you/another with nothing to do/last year I was 21/I didn’t have a lot of fun/now I’m gonna be 22/I say ‘oh my’ and ‘boo hoo.'”

The term came up a third time when Jac Holzman of Elektra records and future Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye assembled the Nuggets box set.  They used the term to describe the music of mid-1960s garage rock groups like the Sonics, the Monks, the Seeds, the Count Five, the Zakary Thaks, the Blues Magoos and the 13th Floor Elevators.

By 1974, the term was being used by journalists rather liberally, but without attaching it to any particular sound.  That year a journalist asked Aerosmith if they were “punk rock.”  Were they?  Personally speaking “Rats in the Cellar” tears it up as much as any Ramones, Sex Pistols or Damned song.  But, “punk rock” didn’t exist as such when Aerosmith came out, so they were relegated to “hard rock.”

Retroactively the Velvet Underground, Stooges, MC5, New York Dolls, Modern Lovers and Dictators were labeled as punk, but because they came out before 1976, they’re “proto-punk” or something.  Uncovered recordings by the Electric Eels, Mirrors, Rocket from the Tombs (all from Cleveland), Death (the black guys from Detroit, not the death metal band), the Gizmos and Simply Saucer reveal more music that roughly fits the “punk” category as already defined by the other bands; well, except for the MC5, whose classic debut, Kick Out the Jams, sounds more like the heavy acid fuzz of Blue Cheer, but that’s another story.

Mainstream critics say that “punk rock” truly “started” in 1976 when the Ramones released their self-titled debut.  Did it, though?  By that point the Sex Pistols were already eight months into their existence, and the Saints had been together in some way, shape or form since 1973.  In 1976, if you exclude Patti Smith and Blondie, the Ramones were the only band that really sounded like a punk band as it was later defined.

However, in 1976, there weren’t any other bands out besides the Ramones, so labels threw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and AC/DC into the punk genre.

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The term “punk” was also used to describe an early Suicide gig, even though Suicide is an electronic duo.  “Punk” soon began to describe a scene when John Holmstrom, Eddie “Legs” McNeil and Gedd Dunn, three pussy chasing, drug using, degenerates, started the magazine Punk in 1975 after listening to Go Girl Crazy by the Dictators that Summer for the same reason most people started magazines at the time; free gigs, free booze and free records.  Back then the world wasn’t saturated with people who cheaply assemble xeroxed zines in order to receive gimmedats.  And, while Go Girl Crazy! is considered an early punk classic, it’s actually more of an early mix of punk and metal and has lots of crazy leads from soon to be Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss, along with humor to boot.  I can’t imagine a band today getting away with releasing songs with titles like “Back to Africa” and “Master Race Rock.”  Google the lyrics before you throw a fit.

Of course Punk magazine was hardly a “zine.”  It was printed on glossy stock and mass produced, not photocopied and sold to a few record stores who were in the know.  You know what was though?

 

heavy_metal_digest_iggyMeanwhile, in London, the Sex Pistols had garnered enough of a following of their weirdo, freak fans, who whore bondage gear, swastikas, torn clothes and spiky hair, that people felt a movement was in progress.  When they first formed, the only bands on the local club scene were called “pub rock”, which was more or less a cross of rockabilly and 70s boogie rock – Kilburn and the Highroads, Dr. Feelgood, Ducks Deluxe, Bazooka Joe, the 101ers (who featured Joe Strummer when he was in rockabilly mode) and Eddie and the Hot Rods – essentially revivalist music, and the Sex Pistols wanted none of it.  Their first show was supporting Bazooka Joe, who featured Adam Ant on bass.  When the music started to go in the Pistols’ direction, a few “pub rock” bands, mainly the Stranglers and the Vibrators, sped up and toughened up their songs and became “punk.”  In punk’s first few months of coverage by the underground press, Eddie and the Hot Rods were included under the punk umbrella as well before being unceremoniously jettisoned.

In New York in 1975, there was something resembling a cohesive underground music scene as well.  There was of course the Ramones, the Heartbreakers – featuring former New York Dolls Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan and former Television bassist Richard Hell; NOT the Tom Petty band – Television, Patti Smith, Blondie, Wayne County and the Back Street Boys, Talking Heads, Suicide, the Miamis, the Mumps, the Shirts, the Tuff Darts, Mink Deville, Sun, Steel Tips and Sic Fucks among others.  By 1976, there would be Richard Hell and the Voidoids (after Hell left the Heartbreakers) and the Dead Boys.

The Ramones were of course the big boys on the scene and signed with Seimore Stein’s Sire label in the Fall of 1975, releasing Ramones in April of 1976.  To the mid ’70s rock crowd, who were used to longer songs by well trained “musos”, the album was really left field.  The group performed 14 basic songs in under a half hour with barely a guitar solo on any of them.  The lyrics are about beating up annoying kids and similarly annoying girlfriends, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, sniffing glue and Nazis.  And the album cover photo has the guys on the front looking less like a band and more like a group of derelicts who’ll mug you outside the liquor store… in an era of arty prog rock with elaborate cover paintings of fantasy landscapes, who wouldn’t listen to that?  In hindsight, it seems as the though Ramones, with its all down strummed bar chords and similar sounding two minute songs, had less of an impact on the groups that immediately followed and more of a direct influence on the hardcore punk and thrash metal bands of the next generation.  Although Ramones songs still had the 1-4-5, Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran style riffs that other punk bands used and plenty of oldies-style pop melody, there was a stridently, aggressive, militantly metal approach to Johnny Ramone’s playing; he even admitted that he copped his entire guitar style from the “da-da-da” approach of “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin.

It’s almost ironic then that this 28 year old Republican was a direct influence on a bunch of antisocial 15-18 year olds of the soon to exist American hardcore punk scene, but that’s another story for another post.  Since there wasn’t a wide circuit of underground venues for the Ramones to play, for their first tour, they were forced to bring their loud, fast and primitive sound to the audiences of bands like Boston and Blue Oyster Cult.  Needless to say the crowd reaction in most cases wasn’t great.  However, when they played London on July 3rd and 4th of that year, the who’s who of the punk scene attended their gigs.  They were originally set to play before their Sire label mates, the Flamin’ Groovies, who first decided it would be best if the Ramones headlined, then changed their minds at the last minute.  Needless to say, the Ramones performed in front of 3,000 people at the Roundhouse, and the Flamin’ Groovies performed in front of a nearly empty house.  For the historically obsessed, the Stranglers opened the gig.

Since people love to compare the Ramones with the Sex Pistols, the Pistols’ songs are all longer and slower than those of the Ramones. Johnny Rotten might have had the more brash, snotty and typically “punk” voice with his “nyeah-nyeah”, overly anunciated sing-shouting, but Steve Jones was a much better guitarist than Johnny Ramone, Paul Cook is a tight and solid drummer and, for cryin’ out loud, Glenn Matlock tried to teach the rest of the Pistols Beatles chords; Sid Vicious was a talentless joke and was rarely even plugged in when he played live, but hey! Listen to anything by the Pistols and tell me they’re not a tight, hard rock band. And no, the band never sang about being on the dole and they weren’t “assembled” like a boy band; they were an organic band who wrote and performed their own songs. If you’re looking for “assembled”, that would be “jail bait rockers” the Runaways. Malcolm Mclaren seemed too stupid to ever manipulate people the way Kim Fowley did.

Thanks to the Pistols and, spefically Johnny Rotten’s spiky hair, torn up t-shirts and blazers, safety pins and snotty delivery, by late 1976 the 100 Club became punk central and London now had a number bands that mimicked the Pistols in either look or sound.  The Clash copied the sound of the Ramones, threw in some Who riffs and spewed Marxist drivel.  The Damned played fun party songs about well… I still have no idea what “Neat Neat Neat” is about!  Summer of 1976 in England was considered the “Summer of hate” by some.

Manchester featured the Buzzcocks, Slaughter and the Dogs and the Drones, and the Saints were imported from Brisbane Australia after their self-released, debut single “(I’m) Stranded”(b/w “No Time”) caught the ears of EMI.  While merely a curiosity in the States, in the U.K., punk “went viral” in December of 1976 when the Pistols appeared on the Today Show with Bill Grundy, and guitarist Steve Jones cussed out the talk show host for his gross, drunken behavior.  Next day the Pistols were public enemy number one, and all but three of the group’s nineteen U.K. dates with the Clash, the Damned and Heartbreakers were cancelled.

As for independent labels vs. major labels, my thoughts on this are as follows: as mentioned before, the Saints put out their first single themselves, and it lead to a deal with EMI.  In the States, the dinky Ork label released the Richard and the Voidoids EP Another World and Devo released their first single “Jocko Homo” (b/w “Mongoloid”) on their own Booji Boy label, so I’m still stumped as to why the Buzzcocks get all this credit for spearheading “D.I.Y.” with their first release, the Spiral Scratch EP; especially since they soon signed a major label deal and other bands had already released their own singles or had been on independent labels.  Hell, in the States the art-pop performance group the Residents had always released their albums in limited runs on their tiny Ralph label.  It’s also worth noting that, while technically the Ramones were a major label band, that’s only because Sire was bought by Warner Bros. almost immediately after they signed the deal.  Prior to that Sire was actually a pretty small label that handled garage and bubble gum music.

By 1977 “punk rock” was being marketed by bands, labels and ‘zines such as Sniffin’ Glue as the new genre/movement that the kids were into.  The Ramones toured as support for the Talking Heads, who Johnny Ramone hated because he thought they were wimps.  The Dead Boys toured the States and the U.K. with the Damned, the Clash toured with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and the Stranglers with the Dictators.   And sooo many excellent records were released in punk’s halcyon days.  Here are a bunch you should buy or steal:

Leave Home – Ramones
Rocket to Russia – Ramones
Road to Ruin – Ramones
Never Mind the Bollocks… Here’s the Sex Pistols – The Sex Pistols
Damned Damned Damned – The Damned
Music for Pleasure – The Damned
Machine Gun Etiquette – The Damned
Rattus Norvegicus – The Stranglers
No More Heroes – The Stranglers
Black and White – The Stranglers
The Raven – The Stranglers
L.A.M.F. – The Heartbreakers
So Alone – Johnny Thunders
Young, Loud and Snotty – Dead Boys
We Have Come for Your Children – Dead Boys
Pure Mania – The Vibrators
V2 – The Vibrators
Manifest Destiny – The Dictators
Bloodbrothers – The Dictators
Marque Moon – Television
Adventure – Television
Pink Flag – Wire
Chairs Missing – Wire
154 – Wire
Blank Generation – Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Talking Heads ’77 – Talking Heads
More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
Fear of Music – Talking Heads
The Modern Dance – Pere Ubu
Dub Housing – Pere Ubu
(I’m) Stranded – The Saints
Eternally Yours – The Saints
Prehistoric Sounds – The Saints
Radios Appear – Radio Birdman
Aspirations – X (Australian band)
The Clash – The Clash
London Calling – The Clash
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! – Devo
Duty Now for the Future – Devo
All Skrewed Up – Skrewdriver
Another Music in a Different Kitchen – Buzzcocks
Love Bites – Buzzcocks
Singles Going Steady – Buzzcocks
A Different Kind of Tension – Buzzcocks
Live at the Witch Trials – The Fall
Dragnet – The Fall
Real Life – Magazine
Public Image/First Issue – Public Image Ltd.
The Scream – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Cut – The Slits
Do It Dog Style – Slaughter and the Dogs
Germfree Adolescents – X-Ray Spex
Can’t Stand the Rezillos – The Rezillos
Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts – The Adverts
Tell Us the Truth – Sham 69
The Feeding of the 5000 – Crass
Another Kind of Blues – U.K. Subs
The Undertones – The Undertones
Inflammable Material – Stiff Little Fingers
999 – 999
Separates – 999

A cursory listen will reveal that “punk” was pretty darn diverse, and while some might take exception with me throwing the Talking Heads or Television into the list because they’re “art rock” or Public Image Ltd., Magazine and the Fall because they’re “post-punk”, I feel the Fall are sufficiently punky, especially since I’m including Wire and Pere Ubu, who are in the same “art-garage” wheelhouse, and I focused on the “punk era”, which falls between 1977-1979, not the strict “punk genre.”  Also what if a band like the Slits started as a punk band, but became “post punk”?  It’s clear that some bands thought of punk as a throwback to 50s rock ‘n’ roll with edgier lyrics, some thought of it as a springboard into the future and some didn’t consider themselves punk at all, but had no problem scoring points with the spiky hair set.  Some bands, such as the Saints and the Clash could be classified as punk on their first albums, but then moved onto something else entirely and began to establish new audiences and/or lose their old ones.  I also deliberately excluded the second Clash album, Give ’em Enough Rope, from the list because, frankly, it sucks.

As mentioned, while punk seemed to make a splash in England, it didn’t mean shit to the average American, who would rather buy albums by Pink Floyd, Foreigner, the Bee Gees or Fleetwood Mac.  Independent labels, major labels?  It really didn’t mean much to the average music consumer in the late 70s, and later the Damned bitched that they didn’t make a single cent off of their first album, which came out through the tiny Stiff label.

By 1979, it became clear that punk was going NOWHERE as far as the record buying public was concerned.  The only hits that came out of it were mainstream crossovers like the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen duet “Because the Night” and pop/disco hits by Blondie.  The college art crowd dug the polyrhythms and African inspired, new wave funk of later Talking Heads albums like Remain in Light, while Devo scored a hit with “Whip It.”  The only other thing that came out of punk was mainstream power-pop.  To the average American, the Cars and the Police were punk bands.

The Sex Pistols U.S. tour in early 1978, where they only toured the South until they hit San Francisco, made some good copy, but it caused the average American, who tuned into Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, to think that punk was nothing more than a sick joke imported from the U.K., a second British invasion, but one where they wanted to send the invaders back.  It also didn’t help that, after seven concerts, the Sex Pistols broke up, causing labels to lose interest in promoting American punk bands.  The Ramones were kept on Sire until 1992 more or less as a tax write off.

By 1979, as far as American labels were concerned, the punk rock “movement” that they helped foster in the traditional way was dead.  Of course, what’s dead in the mainstream grows and festers in the underground.

 

 

20 Punk Songs Your Newbie Poser Ass Hasn’t Heard

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Rolling Stone magazine released this list of the top 40 punk albums.  Unsurprisingly their list has a few questionable choices and seems intended to appeal more to the casual interloper, rather than the hardcore fan (and I don’t necessarily mean the fan of hardcore punk).  Then THIS guy had a bitch fit over it, babbling like a nerdy, bespectacled hipster about how certain bands don’t sufficiently count as punk rock and are actually part of sub-genres like ball-scratching-disco-wave or proto-post-riot-grrrl-menstro-core.  After that he claims the Stranglers, who sound like the Doors with an Oi! singer, ARE punk, while Gang of Four and Devo are not.  What are his criteria?  Who cares?  If you don’t know these songs, you’re not punk.

“Killer Man” – Gasoline

“Suck Suck” – X

“Freeze” – The Models

“I Wanna Be Rich” – Coldcock

“Rather See You Dead” – Legionaire’s Disease

“Ain’t Been to No Music School” – The Nosebleeds

“A Life of Our Own” – The Undead

“Can’t Stand the Midwest” – Dow Jones and the Industrials

“Hijack the Radio” – Nervebreakers

“Cola Freaks” – Lost Kids

“You’re Full of Shit” – The Electric Eels

“Dead End America” – The Pagans

“I’m a Bug” – The Urinals

“Faggot in the Family” – Aryan Disgrace

“Amerikan Story” – Cult Heroes

“Amerika First” – Gizmos

“Hillside Strangler” – The Hollywood Squares

“Gacy’s Place” – The Mentally Ill

“I Hate Punks” – Geza X and the Mommymen

“Kill the Hippies” – The Deadbeats

“Suicide a Go Go” – Big in Japan

“Panik” – Metal Urbain

“Slash Your Face” – The Dogs

“Baby You’re So Repulsive” – Crime

I think that might me twenty-two; fuck you!  Also, don’t cry to mommy about the Aryan Discrace song; the singer for the Cult Heroes is gay and black, so like, lighten up, fag.

I Will Destroy You in a Musical Pissing Contest or Why Ted Nugent is Better than David Bowie

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I bought The Velvet Underground & Nico album when I was 12 or 13 years old, and I HATED it!  I saw them on a TV program about the history of rock ‘n’ roll and thought they looked interesting doing whatever it was they did in that underground catacomb they were performing in.  When I actually heard the album, I thought it was the most amateurish, repetitive and uninteresting nonsense I’d ever heard in my life.  For the life of me, I could not comprehend why people thought they were so damn great.  When it was over, I washed my hands of the whole matter and popped in Aftermath by the Rolling Stones.

Although, a few years later, I came around to it a little more – I like “I’m Waiting for the Man”, “Venus in Furs” and “Heroin” for instance – I have to ask the people who claim to be Velvet Underground fans, if they were to forget everything they’ve ever read about them and listened to Revolver, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Strange Days or Are You Experienced?, would they still be able to speak of the superiority of Velvet Underground & Nico or White Light/White Heat?

All I hear from the Velvet Underground is clanking garage rock, some dissonant noise, a few viola scrapings, some guy talking about drugs, bondage and sucking on a ding dong and, in the case of The Velvet Underground & Nico, some anorexic, Aryan broad moaning on a few songs.  Hey, they’re your ears; I’m just wondering if your love for them is sincere or whether you are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole by listening to them over and over again so you can claim that they’re great.  According to Lester Bangs, everyone he knew claimed to love them, yet their copies of all four VU albums looked completely pristine, as if they had never been played.

One of the arguments I hear defending the Velvet Underground is that, without them, there would be no punk rock, garage rock or indie rock.  First of all, their alleged influence is no reason to actually listen to them, and secondly, it’s such a simplistic argument, that it borders on false.  Sure a few musicians listened to the Velvet Underground – such as Dee Dee Ramone, who wrote “Chinese Rock” as a way to outdo Lou Reed’s “Heroin” – but how much did their actual music influence anybody?  Most of what became punk rock drew its influence from the Stooges; Ron Asheton’s primitive guitar riffs (and to some extent, his replacement James Williamson), Iggy Pop’s punky snarl and proto-punk anthems such as “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “No Fun.”  And their influences appear to be the 1964, three chord garage hit “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen, along with bands such as the Seeds, the Sonics and the Count Five.  Johnny Ramone blatantly said that he lifted his entire rapid-fire, down strum approach from “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin.

On top of that, the Velvets’ repetition “vamps” and dissonant noise making are really boring; if you want that sorta thing, check out the far superior “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive” by Pink Floyd.  If you want something that’s obscure, garagy and also kind of weird, I highly urge you to check out Black Monk Time by the Monks (just listen to that chopping banjo and militaristic percussion!), The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators by the 13th Floor Elevators (how do they make that weird jug noise?) or The Seeds and A Web of Sound by the Seeds.  If you’re looking for snarky, anti-hippie sentiment along with experiments in musique conrete and free jazz to go with your rock, Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention got you covered with classic albums like Freak Out!, Absolutely Free and We’re Only in It for the Money.  If you just want raunchy, satirical underground music from  the ’60s, then you’ve got those jokesters, the Fugs, who have such classics as “Slum Goddess.”  Hell, if you just like seventeen minute long songs, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly has a lot more going on in it and isn’t about sucking on a ding dong.

And, my god, if you just want music that rocks, you best stay the hell away from the Velvet Underground because they were always too high to rock.  In fact, the only thing I can really think that they “innovated” was droll, depressing lyrics about sex, drugs and depravity; my favorites.

A similar situation occurred when I purchased David Bowie’s alleged classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars.  I had heard “Suffragette City” on the radio and absolutely loved it.  Then I saw Bowie on TV rocking out with Mick Ronson on guitar and got excited because it seemed as though Bowie was some sort of British equivalent to Alice Cooper, whose albums Love It to Death, Killer and Billion Dollar Babies I consider three of the greatest albums of all time.  I went and purchased The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars under the impression that the rest of the songs would be comparable to “Suffragette City”, but oh no… with the exception of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Hang Onto Yourself”, the music was like Elton John piano ballad music.  And if I want Elton John piano ballad music, I’LL LISTEN TO FUCKING ELTON JOHN!!!  On the back of the record, there was a little message that said, “Play this record loud.”  What in the hell for?  Almost none of it rocks!

Just like with the Velvets, I somewhat came around to Bowie and especially Mick Ronson, whose records I actually like more, but again I have to ask why people like these artists so much.  My conclusion is that their fans discovered these albums in their late teens, and while these artists are hardly obscure, they were more off the beaten path than whatever mainstream crapola was on the radio.  Therefore liking them became some sort of intellectual badge of honor.

I think by 22, young people should outgrow this bizarre form of thinking; the notion that you’re listening to music that the “normals” are too stupid to get.  Lord knows I went through this phase for a few years, and it’s resulted in my purchasing many albums by sunn O))), Earth, Wolf Eyes, Tangerine Dream and Cluster.  While technically these groups fall into three distinct categories/eras/phases of music (drone metal, noise and the cosmic ambient end of krautrock), they all have one thing in common; none of them make any actual music.  Their records just consist of tones and sounds, but no melodies or songs.  If I want to prove how hip, cool and underground I am by listening to stuff that the “normals” wouldn’t like, it pretty much doesn’t get any “hipper” than that.  Wait, actually it does, but I don’t want to invest in a cassette player.  Unfortunately, I really can’t listen to it, and I wonder what kind of person actually can.  I did a sunn O))) listening marathon at work once and, when it was over, it occurred to me how I just spent an eight hour day listening to one chord and some noises.

Music is a thing you listen to.  Ergo, it needs to be pleasing to your ears.  If music criticism was based on this criterion alone, then we would have an entirely different dialogue about it.  My tastes range from the “dumb” (UFO, Scorpions, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Grand Funk Railroad, Metallica) to the “smart” and “challenging” (Captain Beefheart, Residents, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Van der Graaf Generator, Brian Eno, Public Image Ltd., the Fall) to the commercial (Cheap Trick, Cars, Abba, Fleetwood Mac) to underground genres like black metal, death metal, grindcore, hardcore and noise rock.  In my opinion, the first three Blue Oyster Cult albums – Blue Oyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation and Secret Treaties – are three of the greatest rock masterpieces of all time and eternally more interesting than anything the Velvet Underground has ever made.  Just listen to “Then Came the Last Days of May”, a haunting song about a drug deal gone awry when one of the three dealers betrays and murders the other two.  They also have a certain level of hipster cred thanks to Patti Smith writing some of their lyrics and singing on “The Revenge of Vera Gemini” from their 1976 album, Agents of Fortune (the one with “(Don’t Fear) the Ripper”).

Unfortunately the idea of trying to be just outside the accepted norm is still a thing among hipster music fans.  Hence the exchange that occurred between me and this bearded, red haired guy in a patch covered denim jacket.  Although I was drunk, I remember the exchange going something like this:

Me: “…blah, blah, my balls, George Bush, the Beatles–”
Him: “The Beatles?!  Man, THE KINKS!!!”
Me: “What about the Kinks?  We weren’t talking about the Kinks!  How about the Pretty Things or the Dave Clark Five or the Turtles or Gerry and the Pacemakers or Herman’s Hermits or the Action or the Creation?  What the fuck is wrong with the Beatles?!”
Him: “Uh, I just… uh, nothing, I guess…”

What is with the one upmanship that defines all of hipsterdom?  In my opinion, aside from their aesthetic differences, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Kinks, Pretty Things and Yardbirds are all great bands, who write catchy, hooky and memorable songs.  It’s like being able to choose between six women, all of whom are 8’s and 9’s and want to sleep with you.  Red hair, black hair?  Bigger ass, smaller ass?  You’re going to enjoy it either way, so it’s up to you and your arbitrary taste.

But, for some reason, the hipster community has voted on the Kinks as the top of that scene.  I love me some Kinks, but that is a rather odd choice considering how some of Ray Davies’ songs promote traditional, conservative values; I mean “Two Sisters”?  Aside from their not being as popular as the Beatles, the Stones and the Who, I really don’t get why they’re the vaunted band of the British invasion.

Hipsters tried to pull that shit with Black Sabbath around ten years ago when Pentagram had their early 70s demos reissued by Relapse;  they claimed that their new “discovery”, the “American Black Sabbath” was better than the genuine article.  Pentagram is great, but they’re no Black Sabbath, and I bet that there is a twenty-something year old out there arguing how Pentagram is the superior band.  As a result of this greater interest in excavating for “undiscovered” bands from decades past, a whole new fanbase for collecting obscure heavy rock, proto-metal and psychedelia from the late ’60s and early ’70s has emerged.  While I’m all for the trend, since I like buying well packaged CD or LP reissues of old, obscure music – such as the double LP reissue of both Dust albums – the independent label Numero went and exploited the trend by releasing a “self-aware”, obscure heavy rock/proto-metal singles compilation, and the hipsters ate it up (it’s not a bad compilation, but I’ve heard better); leave the heavy, pschedelic and proggy to pros like Rockadrome, who aren’t so steeped in irony.  Unlike me, many of the people into this type of stuff are “too cool” to realize that they can find plenty of early heavy rock, proto-metal and prog in their dads’ collections.  But, I guess, unlike Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep, Budgie and Captain Beyond never appeared on a Freedom Rock compilation, and that makes all the difference in the world.