My Early 2016 Music Grab Bag

So much going on this new year…

Rest In Peace

There’s the loss of so many important musicians these past few months. In the pop/rock realm, we mourn the passings of David Bowie and Glenn Frey. And others like Maurice White, Lemmy Kilmister, and a teen obsession near and dear to my heart: Denise Matthews, aka Vanity. Her nearly unclothed posters and magazine pages (Black Beat!) adorned my teenage-era bedroom walls (along with Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson and his merry band of Minneapolis musicmakers). My favorite:

vanity

GOODBYE RDIO

In the music streaming world, my service of choice, Rdio, filed for bankruptcy and signed off by year’s end. I (and my close friends and family who used it) considered it the best one of the bunch – the clean, intuitive interface, the organization of songs, artists, and albums, and most importantly, the social side of it. Rdio allowed you to follow other users, whether friends or artists or brands, and get a view into what they were listening to and adding to their collection. Spotify is the only other service I can find that features any social integration, and it’s far inferior to what Rdio offered. No marketing though, and that ultimately killed Rdio. R.I.P.!

rdio-logo

So with Rdio’s demise, I’ve gone all in with Apple Music. I have so many local files in my iTunes that have been uploaded to the Apple Music cloud, that it just made sense. People complain of its bugs and bloat, but frankly, I’m used to it. Also, you can bring your whole family on board for only $15.99 per month for everyone. I’m hoping they integrate some sort of social feature where users can follow each other. The “Connect” area is perfect for it (and so under-utilized currently).

I’ve jumped in and out of Google Play Music as well (currently signed up). I like the web and mobile interfaces, and I have it as an app on my Sony TV (although they need to work on that interface – when you’re listening to a song/album, all you see on the screen is a giant picture of the artist or album – no artist/album/song info at all. And sometimes, say with the Pogues, for example, you just don’t want Shane MacGowan’s giant mug staring at back at you).

JULIA HOLTER

As far as new tunes go, I stumbled across L.A. musician Julia Holter. She offers up an otherworldly, laid back, orchestral/indie vibe that I really like. The best of the bunch is “Lucette Stranded on the Island” from her most recent album, Have You In My Wilderness which you should listen to now.. it’s mesmerizing.

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HERE’S JOHNNY

john-lydon

I also recently read John Lydon‘s autobiography, Anger is an Energy. Never Mind The Bollocks has always been a top shelf album for me, but believe it or not, I never jumped into John’s follow up (and current) band Public Image Ltd. Reading through the book and listening along as I go, discovering new P.I.L. tunes in the process, has been a fun ride. John’s as obnoxious and provoking as ever, and I like what I hear.  Their newer stuff in the 2010’s is strong too.  You can get a good feel for the band in this 2013 set from Glastonbury:

Any new music I should be hearing?  Please recommend…

The Sex Pistols’ Last Show

Thirty years ago yesterday, the Sex Pistols ended their ill-fated U.S. tour with this show at San Francisco’s Winterland – a venue which would close later that year (marked by a New Year’s Eve finale show by the Grateful Dead – available on CD as The Closing of Winterland).

In early January, the Pistols embarked on their first U.S. tour with a string of dates through the Deep South – purposely booked by their manager Malcolm McLaren to create an atmosphere of tension and hostility. Mission accomplished! Sid Vicious was deep into his heroin habit by then, and increasingly hostile to the audience. Fights would break out, people would attack him on stage. It was ugly. Johnny Rotten was increasingly disillusioned during the tour. He was disgusted by Sid’s behavior, and found himself more and more isolated from Steve Jones and Paul Cook (the other members of the band).

By the time they made it to San Francisco for their January 14th show, enough was enough. After the final song, a cover of the Stooges tune “No Fun” (not coincidental, it would seem), Rotten famously exclaimed: “Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated? Good night.”  And walked off the stage. That was it for the band – at least in that incarnation.

The Sex Pistols
Live at Winterland, San Francisco
January 14th, 1978

God Save The Queen
I Wanna Be Me
Seventeen
New York
E.M.I.
Belsen Was A Gas
Bodies
Holidays In The Sun
Liar
No Feelings
Problems
Pretty Vacant
Anarchy In The U.K.
No Fun

Pistols do Leno, Lose Cred?

This is a couple of weeks old, but worth a look for those who haven’t seen it. This is the Sex Pistols on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno singing “Anarchy in the UK” (Ron Paul was the guest that night).  It’s a good version, mind you, but isn’t this not supposed to happen?

Could appearing on the most homogenized, lowest common denominator late night show be considered any less punk? Yeah yeah, the Pistols are reunited, they need to sell some tickets – but still – at the very least, shun Leno for Letterman!

dead link

UK Punk: The Damned

Well, while we’re at it, let’s continue the UK punk theme with the Damned. They’re punk legends in their own right, being contemporaries of the Clash and the Sex Pistols in the class of ’76. They’re still together too, though only two original members remain (singer Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible). Former drummer Rat Scabies hung around for a long time, but is no longer with them. Rat Scabies – hands down one of the best punk names ever.

If anyone wants to help keep the UK punk theme going, I’m happy to oblige. Leave some comments below with your recommendations. How obscure can we get? (I may need some help tracking down the tunes).

The Damned Smash it Up (mp3)

This live version comes from a compilation called ‘This is Punk‘ that I found on eMusic. The original comes from Machine Gun Etiquette.

Check out the Damned on The Damned | their Official Site | the video for “Smash it Up”

Say hi to Captain Sensible on MySpace…

Update: And you all have to check out this live version of “Neat Neat Neat” from what it says is 1979. The video starts off with what appears to be ol’ Cap’n Sensible relieving himself into the crowd. Man, I’d heard about the British gobbing (spitting) craze at the early punk shows, but pissing?

Sex Pistols in the ATL

johnny rotten

In January 1978, the Sex Pistols embarked on an ill-fated first tour of the U.S. It would last less than two weeks. By the time they finished their Jan. 14 gig at San Francisco’s Winterland, Johnny Rotten uttered these words on stage: “Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated?”, and walked off. Three days later, Rotten announced the breakup of the Pistols. They would go on to record some material without him, but the Sex Pistols as they were – Rotten, Sid Vicious, Steve Jones, and Paul Cook – were done.

The Pistols’ first gig ever under that name took place November 5th, 1975 at Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in London. Earlier that year, Malcolm McLaren took the helm as the band’s manager. It’s been debated to what degree he influenced the band, but he was very much responsible for their style and image. As former manager of the New York Dolls (1974-1975), and a fan of Richard Hell’s Neon Boys and Television, he knew that image and appearance could be major factors in a band’s success (though the Dolls broke up while he was managing them). He was also co-owner of a clothing shop in London call Let It Rock, later renamed Sex. This would become the gathering spot for the alternative / soon to be called Punk set in the London area. Members of the Pistols, the Clash and the Damned hung out there, as well as a pre-Pretenders Chrissie Hynde.

So it wasn’t long before the Sex Pistols had taken Britain by storm. The years 1976 and 1977 saw the UK punk revolution take flight. The Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, and the Buzzcocks were shaking up the establishment. In that same span, the Pistols zipped through three record labels (EMI to A&M to Virgin) before they finally released their debut, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols‘ in October 1977. Their relationship with A&M lasted a week. I guess it didn’t help that Sid Vicious trashed (and vomited all over) the Managing Director’s office after the signing ceremony.

album cover

So after the release of Bollocks, things were looking up, amd it was time to go stateside for their first tour. They were booked to appear on Saturday Night Live in December ’77, but because of passport issues, that gig fell through (Elvis Costello & the Attractions took their place). They finally made it over in early January.

Now, I want you to take a look at the cities they played….

Jan. 5: Great Southeast Music Hall, Atlanta, Ga.
Jan. 6: Taliesyn Ballroom, Memphis, Tenn.
Jan. 8: Randy’s Rodeo, San Antonio, Texas
Jan. 9: Kingfish Club, Baton Rouge, La.
Jan. 10: Longhorn Ballroom, Dallas, Texas
Jan. 12: Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, Okla.
Jan. 14: Winterland, San Francisco, Calif.

Is there something wrong with that picture? The Sex Pistols live at Randy’s Rodeo?? A swing through the South? Nothing against the “Deep South”, but were those cities really the best place to premier the Sex Pistols on American soil? Wikipedia claims that on this short tour, the Pistols were “plagued by bad sound and physically hostile audiences, mainly at unlikely venues in the South.” Whoever booked the Pistols at these “unlikely venues” must have been on some really potent stuff.

So let’s go straight to the source and hear for ourselves. Here’s the first gig of their US tour in Atlanta. To this listener, the sound is just fine (it is a soundboard recording), I mean it’s the Sex Pistols here. I don’t sense much hostility from the audience here. If anything, it’s the reverse. Johnny Rotten is vintage Johnny Rotten in his between-song stage banter: rude, vulgar, and unapologetic.

This is from the Pistols’ Press Release regarding the show, from a cool site I recently found:

The Pistols spend a quiet day-and-a-half prior to their debut, granting a few interviews (most notably to Time and Newsweek) while hordes of British journalists scurry around the hotel lobby starting, spreading and squelching various rumors…. Channel 2 in Atlanta (WSB) reports the group as 1) having green hair, 2) vomiting and committing sexual acts on one another as part of their show, and 3) heading for Houston after the Atlanta date… Alex Cooley’s Great Southeast Music Hall is packed to the gills minutes after the doors open at 7:00 p.m..Among those in attendance are 5 television crews, approximately 50 members of the press (including such notables as John Rockwell, Bob Christgau, Wayne Robins, Kit Rachlis, Tony Schwartz and Roger Wolmuth), several police officers and vice squads from both Atlanta and Memphis…. A local band called Cruisomatic opens, primarily doing cover versions of early rock and punk standards (to our ears, they are louder than the Pistols will be later, which is not very loud, contrary to what the Atlanta papers said the next day)..The rain is coming down pretty hard by the time the Pistols go on at about 10:15 p.m.; Rotten asks, “Where’s My Beer?”… “You can all stop staring at us now,” Rotten says after opening with “God Save the Queen,” “We’re ugly and we know it… See what kind of fine upstanding youth England is chucking out these days?”..About 60% of the audience is standing and doing an Americanized version of the Pogo throughout, 20% of the audience is nasty, yelling yelling and throwing things at the band, and 20% of the crowd clearly does not know what on earth is going on..A mighty blow is struck for Punk Rock!!

Nine days later, Rotten would play his last show with the Pistols.
Ten months later, Sid Vicious would be arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. After Sid spent some time in Riker’s Island Prison, McLaren convinced Virgin Records to put up the $50,000 to bail Sid out. At a party celebrating his release on Feb. 2, 1979, Sid Vicious died from an overdose of heroin that he allegedly obtained from his addict mother. Truth is stranger than fiction, my friends.

So coming to you from deep inside Lynnrd Skynnrd territory, it’s the Sex Pistols!

January 5, 1978
Great Southeast Music Hall
Atlanta, Georgia

Download (zip file)

God Save The Queen
I Wanna Be Me
Seventeen
New York
Bodies
Submission
Holidays In The Sun
E.M.I.
No Feelings
Problems
Pretty Vacant
*Anarchy In The UK
*No Fun
*Liar
*Tracks 12-14 are from December 11, 1977, Maasbree, Holland

sid vicious

Bonus: Sid ViciousMy Way (mp3)

Rotten: Bugger to the Hall of Fame

letter

I just caught John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few nights ago. He is one entertaining and honest guy. He was ranting about the Sex Pistols induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In a nutshell, eh, they ain’t goin’. Though they’ve been history for a long time, it’s admirable that a band so anti-establishment has stuck to their principles so many years later, and not bowed down to the “system”.

Cheers to them for causing a little stir… here’s my favorite Sex Pistols song.

The Sex Pistols: Bodies (mp3) – from Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

Here’s the letter written to the Hall of Fame, thought to be John Lydon’s handwriting (Link to John Lydon’s Official Site with a larger image of the letter):

Next to the SEX PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. Were not your monkey and so what? Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery, goes to a non-profit organization selling us a load of old famous. Congradulations. If you voted for us, I hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges. but your still music industry people. Were not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real SEX PISTOL.