Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.



A devastating début and one of the finest albums, not only of the punk era, but of the late 1970s as a whole. 

Crossing the Red Sea With The Adverts was the summation of a year's worth of gigging, honing a repertoire that (jagged, jarring, and frequently underplayed though it was) nevertheless bristled with hits, both commercial and cultural. "No Time to Be 21," "One Chord Wonders," and "Bored Teenagers" were already established among the most potent rallying cries of the entire new wave, catch phrases for a generation that had no time for anthems; "Bombsite Boy," "Safety in Numbers," and "Great British Mistake" offered salvation to the movement's disaffected hordes; and the whole thing was cut with such numbingly widescreen energy that, even with the volume turned down, it still shakes the foundations.

The band's original vision saw a rerecording of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," a Top 20 hit during summer 1977, included on the album, being dropped (for space considerations) at the last minute. It's one of the few punk songs that truly deserved to be called a classic. Although excluded from the initial release of the album, the mistake is corrected by this 2002 re-release of the album and it's included no less than three times. Talk about over compensating.

As well as the three versions of 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' this re-release throws in a pile of additional extras including live tracks and some songs that weren't included on the original album. Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, with the addition of the mysteriously excluded 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes', stands up well on its own, the added extras merely seal the deal.

It's time to put away your dubstep albums and your witch house white labels and get an infusion of old school punk into your veins courtesy of the Adverts.



Interspersed With Intervals Of Slow & Desolate Introspection

If bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus can be considered the founders of post-punk glam, laying the foundations of what would turn into goth rock, then Gene Loves Jezebel followed closely in their footsteps with their debut, Promise. Careening, wailing guitar is matched by careening, wailing vocals from the two Aston brothers (Jay and Michael), while forceful, semi-tribal drumming underlay everything on display. John Brand's production balances out brute force with careful texturing, allowing the group to showcase their power chops as well as their calmer, moodier side. Despite the unstable line-up at the time of recording, everything sounds like the product of a well-seasoned band, no doubt thanks to the Astons' considerable and happily justifiable belief in their own abilities.
One of the more common but effective elements on Promise is a sense of quick, dramatic changes. Strong examples include the moody intro into explosive guitar roar on "Upstairs," the building roll of verses into a wordless yell on "Screaming for Emmalene/Scheming," and the sudden drop out of the music towards the end of "Psychological Problems." The Astons' near-interchangeable vocals conjure up images of desolation, highly suspect sex, freakish family scenarios, and insanity; theirs are not the most happy-go-lucky of lyrics, but they deliver them with an invigorating, about-to-crack energy. Songs often crackle with a nervous, giddy fear, while the music at its more restrained feels like an ominous call to doom. "Influenza," a deceptively calm instrumental, relies on wordless vocals from the band to increase the creeping sense of unease. Perhaps the strongest song is the most minimal: "Bread From Heaven," an allegoric, vicious slam on the English government for its treatment of Wales.
 The Astons' keening vocals sound like burnt calls of vengeance from beyond the grave -- an unsettling, effective demonstration of their musical skills. Later pressings of the album include the fairly poppy later single "Bruises," which also surfaces on Immigrant.


Get Into Your Hole

J.G. Thirlwell is not a household name by any means. No doubt slipping under the radar for many, the man sometimes known as Clint Ruin and Frank Want has built up quite a cult following as one of the most prolific background figures in the music business; a notable contributor, producer and remixer (having worked with Nine Inch Nails, Marc Almond, Front 242, Nick Cave, The The, Roli Mosimann, Thurston Moore, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Raymond Watts, Marilyn Manson and more) owing most of his popularity to his primary musical act, Foetus.
Cycling through several monikers over the years all involving that particular word (Foetus Interruptus, You've Got Foetus On Your Breath, Foetus Corruptus) since 1981 J.G. has concocted some of the most difficult to categorise genre-bending experiments ever put to tape, mostly centred around the abrasive sampling and drum machines typical of industrial. Third album Hole (released under Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel) is a much more refined effort, for the most part it is no less engaging for those of us with ADD.
Opening track Clothes Hoist is a frenetic bastard of a thing with many multilayered tracks of percussion, a swinging psychobilly hook to J.G's vocals and an explosion of distorted textures bringing to mind a chaotic B-grade horror movie extravaganza. It's a fun song on its own merits, but when listened to through headphones an impressive field of sound is revealed with the sheer number of parts at work somewhat awe inspiring. Lust For Death has a Mr. Bungle before there was Mr. Bungle vibe in its cheesy organs, rumbling double bass, cheap trumpet stabs and upbeat ostinatos using sounds sourced from god-knows where; the wild man howl of the man behind it all riding high on the madness eventually gelling after a few listens into a downright entertaining piece of music.
I'll Meet You In Poland Baby is unique to say the least, an A Cappella intro with meticulously timed delay effects providing an odd but ultimately satisfying arrangement as J.G. namedrops Stalin and The Versailles Treaty in a declaration of war (See you at your graveside baby, I’ll meet you in Poland baby!). Incorporating a Nazi march "stomp" as the backbeat is an intuitive move, samples of German rallies and sirens in the distance contributing to a military wartime feel whilst the added nuances of percussion and the strange vocal hooks make it a very distinct song.
Hole is an inconsistent album in many ways, however where it works it is a captivating listen. There is a manic energy to it at its best, with a lot of density to the compositions which makes for an excellent listen through a pair of nice headphones (and some weed wouldn’t hurt either). A few of the songs are subpar as a whole, but they all have their good aspects in one way or another. There is absolutely no other music on the planet quite like what J.G. Thirlwell has unleashed with Foetus, and whilst there may be better albums to start with Hole is more than enough to spark interest in investigating the pioneering industrial artist.



Made To be Played Loud...

While searching the www for snippets I happened upon a review by John Robb, which I'm going to share because he's touched every point, every detail and more eloquently than I can ever can.

John Robb, September 21st 2009

There is a theory that Dammed guitarist Brian James invented punk rock. It's an argument that upon examination actually makes a lot of sense. Way back in early 1975 there were two young bands of guitar-slinging hipsters in London. One was the Sex Pistols, but they'd yet to play a gig and were fumbling around for the on switch. The Pistols already had the look — short hair and fucked up neo-mod togs and an already outrageous-looking singer.
The other crew was a combo known sometimes as London SS who were holed up in the basement of a cafe on Praed Street. This ad hoc crew were built around future Clash man Mick Jones and future Generation X bass player Tony James, and were busily auditioning every chancer in town, trying to create the perfect rock 'n' roll band.
They had long hair and looked like extras from a Mott the Hoople gig but they knew what they wanted and turned down many a hopeful because they didn't look right. But when Brian James turned up he sailed through their meticulous screening because he was so, well, dammed cool and he knew a thing or two about rock 'n' roll. He had already been converting the high-octane of The Stooges and the MC5 into a band of his own that had fucked about on the club circuit in Europe.
This legendary trio rehearsed for a few months and on Brian's insistence played fast and loud. A tape exists but Tony James won't let anyone hear it. They had bumbled into the blueprint of punk rock early.
It could never last and Brian left within months, taking this young drummer who insisted on wearing his flares — Rat Scabies — with him. Rat picked up his nickname from his complexion and a rat infestation in the rehearsal room, and played drums like a demon; his sartorial inelegance ruled him out of the London SS, so he was happy to jump ship with Brian. Rat was one hell of a drummer and Brian sensed that this was the kernel of a great band.
Brian already knew what was coming and he outlined punk rock to everyone he spoke to. People from the time still call him a visionary. Rat brought along this awkward-looking bloke called Ray who loved the underground end of prog and who cleaned the bogs in Croydon Fairfield halls. He would play bass and eventually be nicknamed Captain Sensible by the Tyla Gang.
They had two singers — one was a long-lost bloke who dressed in white, and the other a gravedigger who wore black known as Dave Vanian. Natural selection favoured Vanian and the Dammed played their first gigs in 1976.
Over the years it became fashionable to write the Damned out of the punk rock history; in fact now it even seems quite fashionable to write out the Sex Pistols! The story had become the story of the Clash — who, despite being a wonderful group, were just one of many great bands at that time.
The Dammed are written out because they were 'clowns' and didn't conform to the strict dress code of punk rock, but you ignore them at your peril. They do not collect the kudos because they didn't have a major label machine behind them and didn't have the posh PRs to hype them into the rock lineage.
Musically they were the equal of their peers and their début album Damned Damned Damned still sounds utterly fantastic to this day. If anyone ever wants to know what pure unadulterated rock 'n' roll is then play them this album. It's totally molten. Brian James' guitar playing is stunning. It still sounds amphetamine-fast today and the solos are outrageous — he instinctively knew how to construct a thrilling rock 'n' roll song and the album is stuffed full of them. Even if it only had 'New Rose' (the first punk single to ever get released) and the follow-up single 'Neat Neat Neat' on it it would be still be a classic album, but there are plenty more thrilling high points in a non-stop assault that makes the record one of the greats — easily up there with The Stooges, MC5, The Clash and the Pistols as prime examples of white heat guitar thrills.
'Fish', 'So Messed Up' and their demolition of The Stooges' 'I Feel Alright' are perfect examples of speedball rock 'n' roll. When they lessen the pace for the atmospheric 'Fan Club' and 'Feel the Pain' they sound dark and ghoulish, perhaps inventing goth and horror punk.
Powered along by Rat Scabies' extraordinary drums (he should have been one of the best-regarded drummers of his generation) the songs are fever-pitched exercises in pure adrenalin. Dave Vanian's crooning vocals make musical sense of the melee and the album should have been massive in year zero. Somehow the band came unstuck — they were shoved aside by the Clash and the Pistols because they were a not taken as seriously. The album artwork probably didn't help: although more sardonic than silly, it rubbed up the po-faced punk taste makers the wrong way. Even covered in cream Brian looks cool as fuck.
The Captain's outrageous showing off was considered uncool in that English way of shying away from a true extrovert — ironic in a period like punk when everyone was pretending to be wild and free but were actually conforming to new straight jacket, albeit with a couple of safety pins shoved into it.
The Damned's label, Stiff Records, was not yet in its prime and didn't have the power to force the kids into liking the band and by the autumn of 1977 when they released their second album the game was up. They were probably selling enough records to own the top ten in 2009 but were deemed failures at the time. Brian James quit, going on to form the even more ignored but equally great psychedelic outfit Tanz Der Youth.
The Dammed were swiftly airbrushed from the punk lineage but they had actually sold enough records to cement a place in punk rock history. The spotty 'kids' loved them despite what the music press were being ordered to tell them. When they reformed in 1979 they were welcomed with open arms and their erratic carrier has continued to this day. Currently under the tutelage of Vanian and Sensible, the band is a great live act with an extraordinary and ridiculous history of fallouts, fuck ups, hit records and bust-ups. Brian lives in Brighton and produces the odd local band, his legacy lost in the mists of time — but this album is a stark reminder of the sheer raw power he once had at his fingertips. He should be remembered as one of the great English rock 'n' rollers and this album is pure, high-octane proof of his innate genius and foresight.
It's simple. Damned Damned Damned is still one of the greatest punk rock records ever released and it's high time it was restored to its rightful place in the pantheon of rock 'n' roll classics.