Archive for the ‘punk’ Tag

[50/50] Book #3: “Please Kill Me”

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Book #3: “Please Kill Me — The Oral History of Punk Rock” — Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain (2006)

9780802142641_p0_v1_s260x420This weekend sees the big screen debut of “CBGB,” the inevitable big screen treatment of punk rock in New York in the late ’70s. I will probably see it because, hello, Alan Rickman. But if you want pure punk rock spirit, you need to read “Please Kill Me—The Oral History of Punk Rock” by the two guys who coined the term Punk Rock. This is the Greek Tragedy of Modern Music, one of the saddest, and funniest, reads I’ve ever plowed through. Iggy Pop is the hero and The Ramones the sacrificial lambs (and if you like Lou Reed, don’t read this, he’s the villain, with a capital V). Ironically there is no music here: it is pure personality and pure attitude here, but it is enough.

[50/50] Album #25: “Leave Home”

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Album #25: “Leave Home” — Ramones (1977)


I actually own my cousin an apology. When we were out to visit the family in Ohio, I dunno what year now, sometime in late 70s, she told me about the Ramones. And I made fun of her because I thought it was a stupid name for a band. I’m sorry, Shannon, I was so, so SO wrong.

One of the best shows I ever saw, if not the best show, was the Ramones. The summer I worked at the beach, they played some club in Ocean City, Md., in an old warehouse down a sandy road. It was stuffy and hot and yet Joey Ramone still wouldn’t take off his leather jacket.  It was my first time in a real mosh pit. By the time the show was over, and we were waiting for our ride, I was vibrating. I wasn’t just wrung out — I felt cleansed.

[50/50] Comedy #5: “High Fidelity”

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Comedy #5: “High Fidelity” (2000)

220px-HighfidelityDVDTop 5 all-time reasons “High Fidelity” deserves to be on this list:

1) It is the single best — certainly the most honest — movie about relationships ever made.

2) It is witty and eminently quotable (and, curiously enough, from a screenplay by Scott Rosenberg, who also wrote “Beautiful Girls.”)

3) It completely nails the culture of the collector, and scarily so. (“High Fidelity” also came out at the same time as “Wonder Boys,” which completely failed to hit its target re: obsessive fandom and a niche culture, so an interesting compare/contrast on What Not to Do.)

4) It has a kick-ass soundtrack that is almost as good as the ones from “Beautiful Girls” and “Fast Times

5) It was Jack Black’s first movie, when he was still an unexpected surprise — and still entertaining.


Bonus track! Read the book — it is even funnier than the movie, if that’s possible.

[50/50] Album #41: “Kings of the Wild Frontier”

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Album #41: Adam & the Ants — “Kings of the Wild Frontier” (1980)

adamandtheantsAs the saying goes, the golden age of science fiction is 12.

Others peg 14 as the ‘magic age‘ when your cultural tastes are formed, many of which will last a lifetime. If this is the case, there are two friends from that time I have to thank, for good or for ill, for providing the two halves of my pop music mold.

Rick Caldwell showed me there was far more to Queen than “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and lent us his many Led Zeppelin albums, as well as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and anything else with a Frank Frazetta painting on the cover. On the other side was Monty Link, who covered all things punk and new wave — The Cars, The Clash, The Sex Pistols (it was Monty, the consummate Preacher’s Kid, who would show up at church Youth Fellowship weekends spitting out “I am an antichrist!/I am an anarchist!”) — and eventually the pounding drums of Adam and the Ants. In fact, I found it very hard to return the copy of “Kings of the Wild Frontier” I’d borrowed from Monty, but not before it’s ‘Burundi Beat’ was forever burned into my skull:

While Adam Ant’s glam-pirate shtick and overly-sexed posturing eventually grew thin, there was still something intoxicating about his early theatrics. And those drums! (It would be decades before I was aware of the controversy over the drums of the Burundi Beat, a sound lifted without attribution from tribal recordings in Africa. As pointed out on this segment of Sound Opinions, in an interview with those African tribesman years after their music was cribbed by several bands, they declared they hated what Adam and the Ants had done with the sound — but thought Bow Wow Wow‘s take was great.)

Still, this was then, and back then it was those drums, and songs like “Dog Eat Dog” and “Feed Me to Lions,” that connected with a buffeted and awkward adolescent trying to orient himself and navigate the halls of high school where Foreigner, Styx and Rush ruled.

[50/50] Album #46: “Just Say Yes Terday”

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Album #46: “Just Say Yes Terday (Vol. VI of Just Say Yes)” — Sire Records/Various Artists (1992)

55352149The sampler. The mix-tape. The compilation. Hell, just say it: “New from K-Tel!”

Sometimes the best album is nothing more than a collection of singles. Sometimes they are carefully constructed with the highest of aesthetic and historical intentions (such as Rhino Records’ seminal New Wave collection “Just Can’t Get Enough”) — but most are thrown together just to make a quick buck (the aforementioned K-Tel, and their bastard demon seed “Now That’s What I Call Music?!”). Every record company puts out compilations as well, usually to hand out as swag, and sometimes — like Sire Records did in the late ’80s and early ’90s — to sell directly to the public.

The Just Say Yes series drew heavily on Sire’s new wave and alternative bands, and for Vol. IV they dove back into their archives to resurrect The Dead Boys and The Undertones, as well as unearth such gems as M (“Pop Muzik”) and Madness (“One Step Beyond”). The real revelation though, was a pair of ’70s songs I’d never heard of before: “Warm Leatherette” by The Normal, and “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. I still can’t get enough of them. In fact I’m playing both, at the same time, as I write this.

Many of the singles on this sampler were also included in the Rhino series — and I briefly considered picking one of its 15 volumes for “the compilation album” — but “Just Say Yes Terday” was a birthday gift from my brother, and although he and I have exchanged a few mix CDs over the years (at least 50 at last count), this is the one commercial collection I keep returning to.

And the countdown continues: