Thursday, February 28, 2019

Valentino's In A Cold Sweat

Thin Lizzy : Waiting For An Alibi

On March 1, 1979 Thin Lizzy performed their new single "Waiting For an Alibi" on Top of the Pops. Gary Moore, the band's on again off again guitarist,  is one of the double duellists out in front. He'd pack it up for good in July of 1979 to be replaced by Midge Ure ( yes, the future Ultravox front man). The lead off single from the upcoming Black Rose, "Waiting For an Alibi" is the third highest charting single in the band's history, peaking at U.K.#9.

If singer/bassist Phil Lynott looks a bit under the weather it's because he and guitarist Scott Gorham were both full blown heroin addicts. Black Rose producer Tony Visconti tells The Irish Times:

'I had to be the sober one. It was like being a designated driver. The thing with Phil was that he was visibly dying. During the recording of the last album, Black Rose, his complexion was ashen. There were a few days when he couldn’t even get out of bed. I had more than one chat with him about this. It is very hard to tell one of your peers that they are doing it too much, when you do a bit yourself. You don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. I tried to reach out to Phil, but like a lot of people who have an addiction problem, he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control.’ Thin Lizzy were probably the greatest rock band I ever worked with.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Do They Owe Us a Living?

Crass : Do They Owe Us A Living?

In February of 1979 the anarcho-punk bund Crass released their debut album, The Feeding of the 5000. They announced "punk's dead", sang about anarchy, lived in a commune, distributed leaflets, and recorded this 17 track album featuring one of the great punk singalongs of all time, "Do They Owe Us A Living?". The answer is "Course They Do, course they do, course they fucking do".

You'll probably need the lyric sheet to understand what Steve Ignorant is singing.

The album begins with "Asylum", a punk poem that takes Patti Smith's opening lines on Horses (" "Jesus died for somebody's sins / But not mine") up quite a few notches (He hangs in glib delight upon his cross, above my body/ "Christ, forgive!" Forgive?! /Shit, fuck, I vomit for you Jesu. Shit forgive). Workers at the Irish pressing plant reportedly refused to manufacture the record due to the content so the album was at first released with two minutes of silence called "The Sound of Free 

Over the years Crass took on an unrelentingly hostile British music press and the Tory government, playing benefit concerts and protesting everything from nuclear weapons to the Falklands War.

Crass had always promised to quit after five years of protesting capitalism, organized religion, sexism and racism. In 1984, they did just that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Cash for Chaos

Sex Pistols : Black Arabs

On February 26, 1979 the Sex Pistols released the double album soundtrack to their mockumentary The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a film that tells a  fictional account of the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols from the point of view of their then-manager Malcolm McLaren. Featuring the tagline "the film that incriminates its audience", the movie blows up the Sex Pistols myth and suggests the whole thing was an ingenious marketing ploy ( the "genius" being McLaren with his 10 lessons on how to turn a bad band into the hottest act in the world).

John Lydon had quit the band before filming started, wanted nothing to do with the project, and sued McLaren fearing the damage the movie would do his career with P.I.L. and to the Sex Pistols legacy. The movie would not be seen in theaters until more than a year later. 

In Anger Is An Energy, Lydon writes about seeing The Great Rock 'n'Roll Swindle with his new guitarist Keith Levene:

I was very, very happy because it was excruciatingly bad. Me and Keith were over the moon at how rubbish it was--over-long and full of Malcolm pontifications. There were various Nazi outfits and rubber masks, for no reason at all that I could see...It was everything that I wanted it to be, because now Joe Public could see what it was I'd escaped from . And, by contrast, what it is I'm actually capable of --please judge me thereon. If you think I should be involved in a world of swindle--well, fuck you!

Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones says the movie brings up bad memories. As a viewer there are moments that are exciting like the documentary style footage of the Pistols below, and when Sid sings "My Way", but most of the film is reprehensible. 

Here's the remaining members of the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones and Paul Cook, in Brazil meeting the notorious outlaw train robber Ronnie Biggs, who would write the lyrics and sing "No One Is Innocent", a B-side to "My Way".

Director Julien Temple made his film debut with The Great Rock n Roll Swindle. He would go on to make music videos for Culture Club, ABC and Dexys Midnight Runners before returning to the subject in 2000 with The Filth and The Fury

With its foreign language versions of the hits, a disco medley, and a few sloppy numbers knocked off in the studio, the soundtrack is not an essential listening experience

Monday, February 25, 2019

Heavy Metal, Trick or Treat

Roxy Music : Trash

On February 25, 1979 Roxy Music returned to the U.K. charts for the first time in three years with "Trash", the first single from the forthcoming reunion album Manifesto. The new 'zine Smash Hits reviewer wrote the new single "doesn't match the brilliance of the best of their old stuff. The competition has improved dramatically since they've been away". 

Entering the charts at U.K. #43, it would only peak at #40. By Roxy standards that would be a flop but The Guardian's Tom de Lisle suggested the song greatly inspired the young men in make up who frequented the London club Blitz and called themselves New Romantics:

The scene produced Ultravox, Visage and Spandau ballet, who all doffed a beret to Roxy.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg, best known for helming The Beatles Let It Be documentary and Rolling Stones videos dating back to "She's A Rainbow" directed the video, which featured a few mannequins, a leather jacketed Bryan Ferry catching a tossed microphone with two hands, and what Lindsay-Hogg seems to do best, catch a band having a good time performing their new song.

On the B side was another, slower version of "Trash", that has kind of an Avalon feel to it.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

The Clash : Pressure Drop

On February 23, 1979 The Clash released the single "English Civil War" b/w "Pressure Drop". The former updates the American Civil War era song " When Johnny Comes Marching Home" to the current state of affairs in the British Isles. "War is just around the corner, "Strummer explained.  "Johnny hasn't got far to march. That's why he is coming by bus or underground." The B side is a cover of one of the reggae band Toots and the Maytals best known songs, originally released in 1970 and again on the legendary The Harder They Come soundtrack. The single peaked at U.K. #25.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Watching Rafferty Turn Into A Serial

The Teardrop Explodes : Sleeping Gas

In February of 1979 the Liverpool band Teardrop Explodes released "Sleeping Gas", their debut single on their hometown's Zoo Records label. Some in the rock press would call it the Single of the Week, according to Julian Cope's website.

The band came together years after after bassist/vocalist Julian Cope has been a short-lived trio called The Crucial Three with future Echo and the Bunnymen founder Ian McCulloch and future Wah! leader Pete Wylie. A few more short-lived bands later, Cope has formed a new post-punk group with a penchant for 60's psychedelia. Just before they agree to call themselves A Shallow Madness, organ player Paul Simpson shows them a Daredevil comic he's reading.

In his memoir Head On, Cope writes

"There was this story, in a Super D.C. comic, about a battle in Central Park, involving Namur, the undersea god, and the superhero, Daredevil. The whole story comes to a climax as the sun blots out and suddenly, for no reason at all, the Teardrop Explodes. It made no sense, the story made no sense at all. We tried to figure it out and we couldn't. But it was a great name for a group. I loved it. It was like The 13th Floor Elevators or The Chocolate Watchband. And no-one had a name like that. September '78 was all short dour names. Ours was far-fucking-out."

Also far out: the psychedelic lyrics of "Sleeping Gas" with its repeated refrain "You can watch Rafferty turn into a serial/You can watch rafferty turn into a serial /You can watch rafferty turn into a serial/ Just like a cartoon by AAP/ Oh it's just like a cartoon by AAP. 

Rafferty was a Patrick "The Prisoner " McGoohan's televison thriller while AAP has the distribution rights to Mr Magoo, Popeye and Merrie Melodies cartoons.

Above : the third Teardrop Explodes performance and the very first television appearance. They're playing one of the B sides to "Sleeping Gas"on Tony Wilson's Granada Television programme 'What's On', transmitted from Manchester. By this time Bill Drummond and David Balfe are managing both Teardrop and Echo, whose first single would come out in May.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Did Someone Say Wanker?

The Stranglers : Straighten Out

On February 21, 1979 The Stranglers released the live album Live ( X Cert), featuring tracks recorded in London clubs as far back as 1977. Fans of the album love the energy, the loud bass, the track listing and the stage banter.  You can almost smell the sweat dripping off the ceiling and the sense that there are too many hot blooded lads in close quarters.

As the band gets ready to launch into "Dead Ringer", someone in the crowd yells "Wanker!". Hugh Cornwell stops the concert and steps up to the mic . "Did someone say wanker?" he asks. "Where is he?" The crowd sounds like it's pushing and shoving. "C'mon," says Cornwell. "Isn't he even going to own up?' The album peaked at U.K. #7.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sky Cleared Up

George Harrison : Blow Away

I think what happened between this album and the last album (Thirty Three and 1/3) is that everything has been happening nice for me. My life is getting better all the time, and I'm happy, and I think that it's reflected in the music -George Harrison

On February 20, 1979 George Harrison released his self-titled album, one of the very best of his career, and one that still gives me great pleasure forty years on. I realize now I bicycled across state lines, a major infraction at my boarding school, to buy a copy of this album in Millerton, New York's Oblong Books and Music store. All I had heard at this point was Top 20 hit "Blow Away", but I was hooked. 

With the help of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and producer Russ Titelman ( Randy Newman's Good Ole Boys, Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch), Harrison gives us ten catchy songs that reveal his domestic bliss with new wife Olivia and the recent birth of his only child Dhani. 

Critics were for the most part pleased. In his review for Rolling Stone, Stephen Holden calls George Harrison his finest album since All Thing Must Pass:

George Harrison is refreshingly lighthearted. The austere, pontifical tone is gone, and the singer sounds more like a happily eccentric gentleman/mystic than a burningly devout Krishna advocate.

Robert Christgau is less kind, grading the album a C:

 In which Harrison returns to good old commercial rock and roll, he says, presumably because he shared songwriting on one track with Gary "Sure Shot" Wright and let Russ Titelman produce. Well, there is a good song here -- "Faster," about a kind of stardom. He remembers! 

Although better known for embracing the cultures of India and Hindu, George Harrison was also an avid fan of Formula One racing. Especially after he befriended three time World Champion Jackie Stewart, who inspired the 1979 single "Faster" and even appeared as the chauffeur for the video.
" It's fascinating when you know the drivers and the teams and all their problems, and you can see them as people, " Harrison once said. " Because they are just people, but to go to work they have to get in this car and do 180 miles an hour."

For most of us, this was the first time we got to hear Harrison's White Album era "Not Guilty", which may in fact be guilty of airing some of The Beatles dirty laundry with lines like:
I won't upset the apple cart I only want what I can get 
I'm really sorry that you've been misled 
But like you heard me said  Not guilty

My favorite deep cut is "Dark Sweet Lady", his love song to Olivia, which ends with the simple line "I love you dearly".

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tentacle In Hand

John Cooper Clarke : I Married A Monster From Outer Space

Even before I was famous, I’d always been recognized. People thought I was someone.-John Cooper Clarke

In February of 1979 the Manchester punk poet with the Keith Richards shock of hair,  John Cooper Clarke, released a new single, "Gimmix" b/w "I Married A Monster From Outer Space", on a limited edition orange triangular shaped record. "Monster" comes from Disguise in Love, an album recorded with some help from Be Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson and Pete Shelley. His trademark rapid fire poetry came, in part, from his use of pep pills.

Unfortunately he would spend much of the 80's addicted to heroin, living in a Brixton flat with Nico. It's not something he ever likes to talk about. In a response to a Guardian readers asking him how to quit heroin, Cooper said:

It can be done, clearly, but it ain’t easy. I like to say I did it in two ways: gradually, and suddenly. The fact is you need help, though. My message is always the same: don’t even do it once. I think it is dangerous to think it is anything to do with having an “addictive personality” or any of that bollocks. Anyone would dig it. Anybody. Why? Because it is fabulous the first time. Don’t ever do it. And, gadus, good luck with your attempts to rid yourself of this terrible affliction. I pray that you are successful.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Only Way To Feel The Noise

Motörhead : Overkill

"Overkill to me is like a 757 just flying like five feet over your head. There's so much power."
-Robert Trujillo , Metallica

In February of 1979, Motörhead released the U.K. Top 40 hit "OverKill",  the title track from the first of two albums they would make this year. Produced by Jimmy Miller (Exile on Main Street, Traffic), Overkill finds the power trio getting their classic speed metal sound together. In the documentary The Guts and the Glory, drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor tells how he inspired the sound of the single when Lemmy and "Fast" Eddie Clarke walked in on him trying to play his double bass drum set up as fast as he could.

I always wanted to play two bass drums but I always said to myself, 'No, I'm not gonna be one of these wankers who goes on stage and has two bass drums and never even fuckin' plays 'em'. Not until I can play 'em. So I got this other bass drum and I used to get to rehearsals a couple of hours before the other guys and just practice, you know, just sit there going (mimes kicking with both feet) like running, or something like that...I was actually playing that riff, just trying to get my coordination right, when Eddie and Lemmy walked in, and I was just about to stop and they went, 'No, don't stop! Keep going!'...And that was how Overkill got written.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Gimmee The Bridge Now

Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers : Bustin' Loose

On February 17, 1979 "The Godfather of Go-Go", the DC-based Chuck Brown,  along with Soul Searchers,  topped the R+B charts with "Bustin' Loose". It would spend 4 weeks at #1 and even become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. As party music nothing beast go-go and yet, musically, this is one of the few times this genre went big outside of the nation's capital. 

The Washington Nationals baseball team still plays the song when the home team hits a home run, and in 2002 Nelly took Pharrell's advice and used the "Bustin' Loose" hook as inspiration for his smash hit "Hot in Herre". 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Gold Diggers Arise

Sparks : La Dolce Vita

In February of 1979, Sparks released their newest single "La Dolce Vita", the addictive result of a stunning partnership with the Italian disco music producer Giorgio Moroder. Whereas Rod Stewart, KISS, The Beach Boys, The Grateful Dead and Wings would jump on the disco bandwagon and embarrass themselves, Sparks and Morodor give birth to a new synth-disco sound that sounds timeless to these ears. The single gave us a preview of No 1 In Heaven, one of the finest albums of 1979. In March of this year, Sparks is releasing a lavish double CD and double vinyl edition of the album featuring bonus songs.

Of the album, Ron Mael has recently said “The most thrilling albums to make are those where you go in not having much of a clue what you’re doing or where you’re going, and where, at least once every thirty minutes, you ask yourself, ‘Is this what it means to commit both artistic and commercial suicide?’ That was the case with the 'No.1 In Heaven' album.” 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Too Cool To Boogie

A Taste of Honey :  Boogie Oogie Oogie

On February 15, 1979 the Los Angeles disco band A Taste of Honey won the Grammy for Best New Artist, beating Elvis Costello, The Cars, Toto and Chris Rea. (Chic, criminally was not nominated). Given, "Boogie Oogie Oogie" was one of 1978's best disco songs and Janice–Marie Johnson is a marvel who can play a funky bass and sing at the same time, the win has largely been ridiculed. Best New Artist has always been a category music fans have used to show out of touch Grammy voters are. In 1978 Debby Boone won. In 1977, the year punk broke, it was the Starland Vocal Band. In 1975 Marvin Hamlisch beat Bad Company.

For a while there, winning a Best New Artist Grammy was a good way to ensure you'd be a one, at most two, hit wonder. Says Starland Vocal Band 's Taffy Danoff: "We got two of the five Grammys – one was Best New Artist. So that was basically the kiss of death and I feel sorry for everyone who's gotten it since."

The artists whose 1979 releases got them nominated are Rickie Lee Jones, Dire Straits, The Knack , The Blues Brothers and Robin Williams. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Your Pal Jonathan

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers : Back in Your Life

In February of 1979 Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers released Back In Your Life, an album that combined hauntingly sad love songs ("Back in Your Life", "Affection")  and tunes that might appeal to very little  children ("Buzz Buzz Buzz", "I'm Nature's Mosquito". Naturally, most critics were confounded. 

Some thought Richman was a musical kind of Benjamin Button, relapsing into kiddie music about mosquitos and dinosaurs and ice cream men and leprechauns because he was too precious for a modern world full of Van Halens and Sex Pistols and disco queens and new wave bands.

 Lester Bangs saw something else : “Only one in 20,000 has the nervy genius of Iggy ( Pop) or Jonathan and is willing to sing about his adolescent hangups in a manner so painfully honest as to embarrass the piss out of half the audience.” 

From Robert Christgau a B+ grade for the album and the following praise :

I'd say this is great kiddie music--lotsa innocence, lotsa animal songs, even a snot joke. But kiddies seem to prefer Donna Summer. So put him down as an original and wonder yet again just how much that counts for.

When the album failed to sell in substantial numbers Jonathan Richman disbanded the Modern Lovers and moved to a small town in Maine for several years. He'd sometimes make appearances at Barbara Doyle's restaurant in Belfast. The lost years are recapped in this well written article on

In 1983 Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers would return with Jonathan Sings! Sire Records sent Richman on tour where he would stop at college radio stations like mine in New Orleans. I got my copy of his new album autographed and saw him perform at Jimmy's but perhaps that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Furniture Music

Bill Nelson's Red Noise : Furniture Music

In February of 1979, Bill Nelson's Red Noise released the single "Furniture Music", which would peak at U.K. #59. It preceded the band's only released album Sound-On-Sound. Nelson had dissolved Be Bop Deluxe a year earlier, retaining only keyboard player Andrew Clark,  to explore a new sound, a proggy and angular take on new wave that recalls XTC. Despite a Peel Session and touring, the album didn't sell and is considered a cult favorite. "Furniture Music" and "Atom Age" are my favorite tracks from the album.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My Lucky Number's One

Lene Lovich : Lucky Number

On February 12, 1979 Lene Lovich's "Lucky Number" b/w "Home" single entered the U.K. charts at #62. Originally released as a B-side to 1978's "I Think We're Alone Now", the new version shot up to U.K.#3 and has become a defining song of the new wave sound. Her 1978 debut album Stateless was then released in the U.S. where critics raved. Among them, Robert Christgau who gave the album a grade of A-, writing:

It took me half a year to get through my head what an original Lovich is. Women who know how to say when, while not unheard of in rock, tend to come on macho--tough mamas with hearts (and heads) as soft as Papa Hemingway's. But Lovich's goofy energy doesn't distract her from her feelings or damage her sex appeal or conceal a mawkish underside. And although it took an outsider to define her in a ditty ("Say When," which isn't on the import), Lovich does provide her own love song, which has integers in it.

 As for that "Uh-Oooh uh-Ooh" chorus, Lovich says "Sometimes when you don't have a word for what you want to say, you say the nearest thing - or you make a sound that's the nearest thing." 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Kurt Russell Plays Elvis

Elvis Presley : Blue Moon of Kentucky

On February 11, 1979, sixteen years after he met Elvis Presley on the set of It Happened at the World's Fair, his film debut, Kurt Russell starred as the The King in the highly rated ABC television movie "Elvis". It was directed by John Carpenter the year after his slasher film, "Halloween", had become one of the highest earning independent movies in history. This would be the first biopic ever made about Elvis.

"In dealing with Elvis, I'm bringing a lot of my own feelings to it and how I feel about him and how I interpret his life and in that sense I think its a personal film because I really love Elvis a lot. Ive always been a fan for him and I love his music," Carpenter said.

Russell would receive an Emmy nomination for his role. The singing was done by Ronnie McDowell, best known for his 1977 song "The King Is Gone", a tribute to Elvis Presley, who had recently died . Another fun fact: Russell married Season Hubley, the actress who played Priscilla Presley a month later. She is seen at the 2:42 mark in the clip below.

In 2001, Russell would again don the sequin suits to play an Elvis impersonator in the poorly received "3000 Miles to Graceland".

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Bleating Seraphs

Bee Gees : Too Much Heaven

Following the massive success of  Saturday Night Live , the Brothers Gibb stumbled through the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film and soundtrack before releasing Spirits Having Flown, the #1 album featuring three #1 singles in "Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy" and "Love You Inside Out". Magazine ads declared it "the record the world's been waiting for", and while that may have been true, some critics were less than impressed.

In his review for Rolling Stone Stephen Holden cautioned record buyers 

"not a single composition has the ethereal propulsion of "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever" or "More than a Woman." "Tragedy," the new record's fastest dance number, is a minimelodrama that gallops along on a bed of synthesized lava, with a chorus of bleating seraphs cleaved midway by a thunderbolt. While the gimmickry is clever and the tune irresistible, the whole thing's a bit too self-conscious to take off."

The Village Voice's Robert Christgau agreed in his review, grading the album a B-:

I admire the perverse riskiness of this music, which neglects disco bounce in favor of demented falsetto abstraction, less love-man than newborn-kitten. And I'm genuinely fond of many small moments of madness here, like the way the three separate multitracked voices echo the phrase "living together." But obsessive ornamentation can't transform a curiosity into inhabitable music, and there's not one song here that equals any on the first side of Saturday Night Fiver.

Spirits Having Flown is very much Barry Gibb's record. Consider the single "Too Much Heaven", a bit of a "How Deep is Your Love " re-tread. There are 27 vocal tracks here. Barry is by himself on 18 of them, providing triple tracked high falsetto lead vocals, triple tracked normal lead vocals and 12 harmony tracks. The brothers join in on the remaining nine tracks.

Producers agree Robin Gibb was around quite a bit but Maurice was absent from the sessions more than any other Bee Gees album. He was drinking quite a bit and dealing with severe back pains. Most of his bass parts were recorded by a session musician. Maurice wouldn't get completely sober until after he had pulled a gun on his wife and kids in 1991.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Girl of My Dreams

Bram Tchaikovsky  : Girl of My Dreams

In February of 1979, ex-Motors guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky released the power-pop classic "Girl Of My Dreams", from his forthcoming solo debut Strange Man, Changed Man. The single, apparently about an inflatable doll ("And a man needs something /When he ain't got nothing to hold onto /And there ain't no telling /When I feel like yelling, "I love you")  would peak at US#37 in the fall with the help of an American tour opening for The Cars, but little success would follow. Tchaikovsky has left the music business and returned to using his birth name Peter Bramall. A used copy of the CD is priced at $95.99 on Amazon. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Clash Blitz America

The Clash : Drug Stabbing Time

In February of 1979 The Clash blitzed America on a ten day, seven city tour in support of Give 'Em Enough Rope. They started in Berkeley and finished in New York. If the band who began most shows with "I'm So Bored of the U.S.A." had changed their minds about America on their very first tour of the country, they didn't let on to a Time Magazine reporter:

"American audiences like music to keep you happy, " observed drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon. "It's music for you to drive home by". Lead guitarist Mick Jones declares scornfully "The Aerosmiths, The Foghats, the Bostons- they've kind of signed themselves out".

Joe Strummer explained why they opened with that "I'm So Bored With the USA":

Because we wanted to rind out if they had a sense of humour in America. And the answer was that they were double into that number. They loved it, because we were saying we were sick of the cheap rubbish on TV, all the sub-standard cultural imports that came out of America. The kids were as bored as we were with all that rubbish.

Bo Diddley was the opening act. They shared a tour bus decked out like the inside of a Texas brothel. ( I imagine)

Lacking any kind of radio airplay, The Clash do make some inroads thanks to the Pearl Harbor Tour.Bruce Springsteen, David Johansen Andy Warhol, Nico.John Cale, Robert Deniro and all of Blondie see their show at the Palladium in New York. The tour helps the band sell 50,000 copies of the album in the US which convinces CBS Records to finally release their debut album stateside that summer.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Money-Go-Round

Sex Pistols : I'm Not Your Stepping Stone

On February 7, 1979, five days after Sid Vicious was died of a heroin overdose, hearings began in London on John Lydon's lawsuit against Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols management company, Glitterbest, which McLaren controlled. Lydon wanted to keep McLaren from using his nickname Johnny Rotten and he wanted to protect his future musical career rather than be associated with a movie suggesting his former band was a con job.

What it came down to, of course, was money. The judge in the case would eventually disclose that the Sex Pistols had earned £880,000 up to December 1978, but that £343,000 has been spent on the upcoming film The Great Rock n Roll Swindle. Only £30,000 remained, which would be put in the hands of a third party, along with the movie, to be split among band members. 

McLaren told Melody Maker he believed Virgin's Richard Branson was behind the suit and that it would bankrupt him. 

"I don't mind being sold down the river, but I'm not gonna drown in it too. It's like wiping your face in your own shit. That facts are that without me that group wouldn't've existed, and I feel that if I couldn't spend that money on the projects that I thought were right, then they should've thrown me out years ago. "

As the trial progressed, and it became clear that McLaren was spending their money pet projects like the film, Paul Cook and Steve Jones switched sides joining Lydon. Round one to Lydon. 

As Lydon wrote in his memoir 

"I didn't want to walk off with all the loot or anything. I made sure that when it came to a settlement, we surviving members  would get equals shares of the spoils. Even though I was harbouring a really serious resentment for the way Steve and Paul had behaved against me, I didn't want blood money or dirty money, as I would view it. I just wanted what was mine, what Malcolm tried to take away from me. "

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Indecision, Lack of Conviction

The Only Ones : You've Got to Pay

On February 6, 1979, The Only Ones released "You've Got to Pay", a new single from the forthcoming Even Serpents Shine that would fail to sell much. With his trademark laconic delivery Peter Perrett sings about a romance gone wrong, with lyrics far more poetic than anything you'd hear on pop radio today. Can you imagine Ed Sheeran singing "Our flightpath's a gradual descent from the firmament /I can tell by the tone of the letters you sent/ What was once sacred is now filled with hatred/ How come such love can be dissipated?"

The Only Ones would break up in 1981. Perrett would retreat out of public view inside a crumbling gothic house fortified against police raids where he and his wife would spend decades addicted to heroin and then crack. Meanwhile the records inspired new bands like The Replacements, Blur , even Keith Richards was a fan. In 2007, The Only Ones would reform and tour again.