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Monday, 28 July 2014

Not no fun: The England's Dreaming Tapes, final edition

And so, the end is near ... yes, dear reader, I'm nearly through and out the other side of Jon Savage's The England's Dreaming Tapes. 

It's been fun (not no fun) and I've enjoyed it. Yes I have. Anyway here are the last clutch (I promise) of my solid gold nuggets unearthed after back-breaking punk mining labours ...

Howard Devoto & Pete Shelley went to London to see the Sex Pistols in a laughably haphazard way, reading an NME review then driving down from Manchester in a borrowed car to "see if they were playing anywhere that weekend"

Shelley said the Sex Pistols (Matlock era) were all "nice people" and nothing like the media image

Steve Diggle ended up in the Buzzcocks because McLaren's street hustling outside the first Lesser Free Trade Hall gig ("come inside, there's this great band from London playing tonight") led to Diggle accidentally seeing the Sex Pistols and meeting Devoto & Shelley

The big thing for Devoto & Shelley was reading that the Sex Pistols played a Stooges cover

Siouxsie Sioux once accosted Captain Sensible at a gig and said "You're not a real punk, Captain, and you never will be"

Glitterbest's Sophie Richmond once asked Howard Devoto about him writing lyrics for the Sex Pistols ("they're having trouble writing anything new")

Almost every one of the Bromley Contingent/early Sex Pistols entourage hated The Damned but by contrast the independently-minded Shanne Hasler hooked up with Rotten very early and also organised The Damned's first gig

There is (near-) consensus that the Sex Pistols were losing impetus during the latter part of 1976, Rotten was becoming more ego-driven and Grundy in Dec '76 was effectively the end of the band as a dynamic artistic force

The Sex Pistols were only supposed to play for three-and half-minutes on the So It Goes show but had fallen out with the floor managers and deliberately did an extended (seven-minute) Anarchy, the tape of which (an out-take) has been wiped

Early Buzzcocks were as fast as the Ramones and used to do a Ramones cover

When the New York Dolls were met on arrival in the UK by Glitterbest's Nils Stevenson, Leee Black Childers honestly thought Stevenson was Sophie Richmond ("a fairly plain girl") because he was dressed in a Seditionaries mohair sweater and had "fluffy" spiked hair

And the last words go to ... er, the Sex Pistols, along with footage from the great Derek Jarman. The first - and surely the best - live images of the band ...

Monday, 21 July 2014

The rottweilers of the music industry are bravely keeping the poodles at bay

Home taping is, of course, killing music. Or it's supposed to be. Except it probably isn't.

Yet - as Stuart Houghton points out - the music biz wheels out its lobbyists at every turn to argue that there should be virtually no ripping, copying, or backing up (never mind file-sharing or making available downloads of stuff you don't have the copyright to).

All that kind of activity is strictly ILLEGAL.

As my legions of regular readers know, I've recently been slogging through Jon Savage's monster text of interviews with the Sex Pistols people, so it's only fitting to end with a reminder of McLaren's Bow Wow Wow cocking a snook at the laws of copyright from 1980. Yeah, if you're rich enough to have a record collection I'll send my bazooka round for an inspection ...

By the way, I do hope that McLaren and his entourage treated all those poodles humanely ...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Getting my ten zloty's worth

Bought today in Warsaw for ten zloty (about £2).

In the past I've often bought second-hand records I've later regretting splashing out for. This time all I can say is ... I've been wrong but I'll be right ...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

All that Glitters: The England's Dreaming Tapes part two

Slogging up and down the sun-baked streets of Warsaw on my birthday - braving the commerce-ridden hell of Nowy Swiat with only the down-at-heel welcome of Lenistwo as a refuge - what better time to ruminate over the latest couple of hundred pages of Savage's The England's Dreaming Tapes? 

Well, for what they're worth, here are my latest findings, various tweaks on the received wisdom or at least reminders of some key points and key personalities. Especially the latter. Human frailties, eh?

There are multiple attestations to the fact that Sid Vicious was "funny" and "smart", with Viv Albertine saying he only pretended to be stupid

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had strong hippy-ish backgrounds and Strummer in particular was quite cut off from the McLaren / Sex / King's Road scene

Time after time London colleges feature strongly in key people's backgrounds: St Martin's, Goldsmith's, Hornsey, Chelsea - London punk would never have happened without further education

The squat scene was important, allowing people to be away from home but not necessarily working

Several people say that Lydon was "feminine" or "small" and in various ways very insecure

Adam Ant says that his impression of Steve Jones at the Bazooka Joe St Martin's gig was that he was "tiny"

One of the Sex / King's Road crowd - the camp, flamboyant and very interesting-sounding Alan Jones - says when he was introduced to Cook & Jones ("two Cockney boys") he was wrongfooted by their "niceness", which didn't fit with the local bohemian muso scene around the Roebuck pub

Despite Lydon's insecurities he was extremely keen to get taken on as the Sex Pistols singer and was thought to be "ambitious" by several people

Steve Jones was regularly physically sick with stage fright before the gigs

Many of their best gigs appear to have been at the Nashville pub in west London, often in front of 20 or 30 people, including on at least one occasion prolific early-seventies gig-goer "Jesus"

Nobody - absolutely nobody - has a good word for Nancy Spungen, with the partial exception of Glitterbest's Sophie Richmond

While numerous people comment on McLaren's ruthlessness and his capacity for empty words, he is often praised for his warmth and lack of social stand-offishness  ("he wasn't snobby", says Viv Albertine)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Ever get the feeling you've been taped?

Maybe it's because I once went to a series of lectures he gave on music in Manchester in the early 90s, but there's something about Jon Savage's writing on punk and the Sex Pistols that brings out the earnest student in me. Anyway, having lost whole chunks of today to reading Savage's The England's Dreaming Tapes ...

... here are the key points so far. Please DO remember these vital facts when revising for your exam in Punk & New Wave and don't forget to write on both sides of the examination paper.

The nucleus of the band was West London (Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith, Kensal Green) and Lydon/Vicious were a North-East (Finsbury Park, Stoke Newington/Hackney) addition

Jones, Cook and Nightingale (first West London guitarist) were early school-leavers, while Matlock, Lydon & Vicious were art school/A-level students

They had high-quality equipment, some stolen, some brought back from USA, and had access to very good rehearsal studios

They did A LOT of rehearsing and were a very "tight" rock band

They (especially Matlock) cared about acoustics 

Jones was the most anarchic - McLaren talked about anarchy but Jones was creating it, especially by stealing things

They got key ideas from McClaren (eg Television posters with the phrase "Blank Generation")

McLaren was not that interested in money

Paint-daubed trousers was an accident (Matlock painting the Denmark Street rehearsal studio to make it more "homely"), later taken up by the Clash

Lydon had short, green-dyed hair when he first used to go to McLaren's shop

In his 1988-1989 interview for the book, Lydon can't stop preaching and seems easily the least frank of the former band members

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Society's disgust, Podcast #107 (June 2014)

Well I'm sure you've been there too. Cast out, made to feel like a social pariah. You've said the wrong thing, failed to join in, been less than a full team player. Yes, you've been left in no doubt of society's  disgust. Even this usually friendly chap doesn't like you. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear ...

1: Miami Slice, Without you 
2: Grand Mariner, Max Milwaukee 
3: Recalibrate his thinking 
4: Death Pedals, ? (Old Blue Last, London 10/6/14)
5: Shadow Casters, Going to the moon 
6: Ili, MTE 
7: Perfectly valid reasons 
8: The, She was a Mau Mau 
9: Mildtape, Slowsteppers 
10: Sports, You’re so sorry 
11: Joe Oldfield, St James Infirmary (Windmill, London 5/6/14) 
12: Arp, Gravity (for Charlemagne Palestine) 
13: Affectionate in its way 
14: Withdrawal, Guardian angel 
15: Super Cat, Trash and ready 
16: Surf Curse, Take ME Home 2NITe 
17: Bea Foote, Try and get it 
18: Gloss Rejection, ? (Power Lunches, London 18/6/14) 
19: Faux Fur, Discolouration 
20: The Oscillators, You are the boy 
21: Camerata Accademica di Salisburgo, Laudate dominium (Mozart) 
22: NNY, Down the punx, up the irons 
23: Society’s disgust 
24: The Velvelettes, He was really sayin’ something 
25: Seize The Chair, People say (Old Blue Last, London 19/6/14) 
26: Tyrannosaurus Dead, Always fine 
27: No Loli-Gagging, I’m still so sophisticated