Saturday, July 23, 2016

40 Year Itch : The Punk Wave Rises

July of 1976 witnessed the rise of the punk wave with many legendary bands making their onstage debuts.

JULY 4 : The Clash -then with Keith Levene as second guitarist--make their first appearance supporting The Sex Pistols at the Black Swan in Sheffield. Terry Chimes played drums. This was the same night The Ramones played with Flamin' Groovies and the Stranglers at the London Roundhouse.

JULY 6 : The Damned make their debut at the 100 Club in support of the Sex Pistols. Formerly The Masters of Backside, when they included future Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde,  Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies were joined by guitarist Brian James to form the Damned.

JULY 13 The Stranglers have a five night stand at The Hope and Anchor in Islington.

JULY 18  : Sex Pistols soundman Dave Goodman records the band's demos at their Denmark Street practice area/ Steve Jones's apartment. Songs include "Anarchy in the UK", "Pretty Vacant", "Submission", "Seventeen" and "Problems".

JULY 20 : The Buzzcocks debut on stage in Manchester where they open before a sold out crowd for The Sex Pistols. Band members Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto had booked the Sex Pistols. Inspired by the show, the Buzzcocks record the Spiral Scratch EP for 500 pounds. 

JULY 21 : The Vibrators play at the Windsor Castle in London. They made their debut earlier at the 100 Club, opening for Chris Spedding.

JULY 21 Morrissey pens a letter calling  The Ramones "rubbish".

He would quickly change his mind:

When I bought the Ramones first album on import, I was enraged with jealousy because I felt they had booted the New York Dolls off the map. I was 100% wrong. Three days after writing that Ramones piece, I realized that my love for the Ramones would out-live time itself. And it shall. Well, it virtually has already. If the Ramones were alive today, they'd be the biggest band in the world. It takes the world 30 years to catch on, doesn't it? I mean, look at poor Nico. Every modern teenager now seems to love Nico, yet while she was alive she couldn't afford a decent mattress. 

Rich girl Siouxsie Sioux often seen at punk clubs sporting expensive S and M outfits and little else.

Friday, July 22, 2016

40 Year Itch : Dis Ya a Prophecy

They were called the Temptations of Trenchtown thanks to the smooth and harmonic vocals of Lloyd Ferguson, Donald Shaw and Fitzroy Simpson.  But beyond those mellifluous sounds were militant lyrics reflecting turbulent times in Jamaica.

Check out the lyrics to the bouncy title track from their 1976 collections of singles, Right Time

When the right time come, yeah, some a go charge fe arson
 When the right time come, Lord, some a go charge fe murder 
...Natty Dread will never run away 

Selected by Tom Moon as one of the 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, Right Time is another essential 1976 reggae album to add to your collection.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

40 Year Itch : Oh Mister Moon

Sadly, by 1976,  it seemed like the  members of the world's greatest funk band realized they had missed their chance for fame and fortune. So they resorted to recording "Disco is the Thing Today". From any other group this would have merely been innocuous. From the Meters, it's an embarrassment. Earl King's title track and the old school original "Mister Moon" somewhat redeem an album you're most likely to have come across in the cut out bins. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

40 Year Itch : I am an Anti-Christ

On July 20, 1976 the Sex Pistols introduced a new song to the crowd in a Manchester club. It was called "Anarchy in the UK" and it may be the greatest single song of the punk era.  Future Joy Division members Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner were there and the next day Hook bought a bass. Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks was there and he says the gig inspired the band to record their Spiral Scratch EP.

In his memoir, Anger is an Energy, John Lydon explains the lyrics of "Anarchy in the UK" in depth:

With those opening lines, 'I am an antichrist/I am an anarchist", I wasn't trying to set myself up as some kind of bogeyman. I never thought of that at all. No, no, no, somewhere deep inside me, I was thinking I'd be seen as the victim of all of this, and great sympathy and outpourings of love and joy would be bestowed upon me! Honest! I had no concept of being the naughty bugger. It wasn't about that, and to my mind it certainly wasn't just about me. It was about us. We're being given an opportunity here -lets tell it like it really is, shall we?

Of course, everyone around the band at the time was saying, "Why don't you write a love song? Why don't you just write a hit single?" It'll be great then, everyone'll love you!""What, don't they already? Oh." To this day that's all I keep hearing from the business end and its utter nonsense they're talking...

But no, I wasn't an anarchist. I found that he written word could achieve far greater disturbance than planting a bomb in a supermarket. The written word's a powerful thing and I don't think that was too well considered, at least not in pop music, until I started to wrote that way. Theres no personal spite or viciousness in what I'm writing. It's absolutely about demanding a clarity from politicians . As long as I know what's what, and what it is you're expecting of me, and what it is I'm expecting of you, everything's fine. I will not be anyone's cannon fodder. If it's not a worthy cause, I'm with the opposition.

40 Year Itch : A Thrill Upon a Hill

On June 20, 1976 Parliament's "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" was still climbing the US charts on its way to #15 when George "Dr. Funkenstein" Clinton and his  band released the follow-up to their epic Mothership Connection.  The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein has more of that funky stuff. This time things get brassy thanks to a dynamic horn section made up of Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, The Brecker Brothers and Rick Gardner. I suppose there is a concept to this album, what with Dr Funkenstein cooking up a batch of clones to spread funk throughout the solar system, but your hips may be moving too much to pay attention.  The late Bernie Worrell also performs on this album. Clones  may not measure up to the Mothership...but is certainly worth the connection.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

40 Year Itch : Who'd She Coo ?

Released in July of 1976, the last #1 R and B hit for Ohio Players would eventually knock "Getaway" from the top spot, peak at #18 on the US charts and appear on Hit Explosion,  a Ronco album I got my sister for Christmas specifically for The Spinners's "Rubberband Man".

In the Nevada desert, I'd never caught the tune on the radio. Next to Barry Manilow and England Dan and John Ford Coley, "Who'd She Coo?" came across as a deep cut on Hit Explosion. It was a classic grower for this white kid. "Rubberband Man" is still my favorite cut from the album, but "Who'd She Coo?"is right up there.

Monday, July 18, 2016

40 Year Itch: The Jersey Shore Anthem

"Southside Johnny" Lyon has played with Bruce Springsteen and Miami Steve Van Zandt in late 60's Asbury Park bands like the Sundance Blues Band and Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom. When Springsteen hit it big in 1975, Van Zandt helped Southside Johnny's band land a recording contract with Epic. The debut, released in July of 1976, has a lot going for it: two Springsteen originals ( "The Fever" and "You Mean So Much To Me") , guest appearances by Ronnie Spector and Lee Dorsey, and Van Zandt's solid title track, which has become the unofficial anthem of the Jersey Shore.

The album was released to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone calling the debut "the most deeply felt music of 1976". The Jukes would get better, peaking in 1978 with Hearts of Stone.