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Mosely Arms, B'ham

Taking to the stage somewhat later than originally planned due to the state of the nations train network (I'd love to lie & say the Gang Of Four's "Outside The Trains Don't Run On Time" blasted from the jukebox to herald his arrival but instead it was "Down In The Tube Station @ Midnite" by The Jam), TV Smith duly apologised & explained; "I travelled up on the train which was going @ about 2 or 3 mph all the way. They announced that the train would arrive in B'ham @ 20:20 & I thought 'do they mean the time or the year?' " The Mosely Arms; a compact/bijou/spit/sawdust venue, packed with a fiercely partisan crowd, many of whom sang along @ the top of their voices. The young, the 20 somethings & the not so young barked out the chorus to the opening "No Time To Be 21" in unison, bombarding Smith with requests from the off. One man & his acoustic gtr (occasionally augmented by a drum machine - "let me introduce the band") were happy to oblige & the set list soon flew out of the window. Looking markedly thinner & a touch greyer than he did in 1977, Smith played the roll of rock & roll survivor with aplomb. Delivering his material the way it was written; with heartfelt conviction & attention to detail, Smith's entire body appeared to rise & fall as he spat out classics like bullets. Requests were honoured where ever possible ("Cast Of Thousands" was missing - "Unless someone's brought a choir along with them I wouldn't do it justice"), mixing old & new material in equal measure. We got "My Place", "Bored Teenagers", "Bombsite Boys" & "On Wheels" & most of "Crossing The Red Sea". We got "My Place", "Tomahawk Cruise" & a superb reading of "The Lion & The Lamb".

We got "Expensive Being Poor", "I Know What You Want", "This Year Next Year" & the title track from his latest excellent Cherry Red release, "Generation Y" (Cherry Red Records - CDMRED 151). We got "World Just Got Smaller" & "The Future Used To Be Better" from the recent superb TV Smith & Punk Lurex OK ep (HICKS-051 - order details @ foot of page). We got the moon on a stick, basically. The set ran the best part of 2 hours, careering towards a rousing finale of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" featuring the entire crowd on backing vocals which was preceded by TV Smith's thoughts on The Adverts, Punk & the passing of time; "My Punk Rock Poem" It was strange being in a punk rock band, people gobbed at us & then shook us by the hand. We played every toilet in our green & slimey land. First of all for 15 quid, & then later on, a grand. 30 days of madness touring with the Damned, turning up to soundcheck to find out we'd been banned. Driving back to London in the mini van. Didn't get to the USA as planned &, looking back, we didn't change the music scene a lot. But we did have 1 hit single & supported Iggy Pop, & sometimes people tell me that The Adverts changed their lives & that's nice. It was great being in a punk rock band! "That's about it, " said a visibly drained TV Smith, "I can't do a shitload of encore's, you'll fuckin kill me!" We shouted & shouted, of course, & Smith relented & belted out a couple more tunes like the trooper that he is. The Mosely arms responded with admirable gusto; CD's were snapped up, hands shaken, heroes met & dreams realised. Nothing changed & no-one died but no-one left empty hearted either. Turn on this TV & put yr.self in touch with the politics of the personal - there's no time to relax, yet alone be 21.

10 Questions For TV Smith

1. What was yr. proudest moment during active service in The Adverts? I guess it was the first time we stood on stage at the Roxy and found our self playing a gig. There we were...doing it! It didn't matter how unrehearsed we were, how badly we played, how terrible the sound quality was...we'd found a way to express the idea of our band, and suddenly we were in the middle of, and helping to define, the greatest musical movement since rock music began. 2. What were yr. three favourite Adverts gigs? It's difficult to talk about favourites because every one is special. The whole first year was very exciting because the audience was so ready to hear it. Gigs really buzzed because of that. I suppose my three favourite periods would be: the gigs at the Roxy, the tour with the Damned, and the tour supporting Iggy. 3. When did punk die for you? It didn't. 4. Did The Adverts split too soon? Was there anywhere else you could've gone? Maybe we split too late. We'd tried to move in a different direction and most of the audience didn't want to go with us. Punk was starting to be defined by the media instead of by what the groups wanted to create, so the only thing you were allowed to do was repeat the formula. People were confused when "Cast Of Thousands" came out and it wasn't "Crossing the Red Sea, Part Two." 5. Has anything since captured the excitement of the punk rock explosion? Every gig for me still carries that excitement. But as a movement, I haven't seen anything that even comes close. I think it's because we knew exactly what we were fighting against in 1977 - the stagnant, self-indulgent music scene that existed at the time. The only way to do what we wanted was to completely reject everything that came before. Now the enemy is more diverse and more difficult to spot.

6. As genres mutate in the modern palette that is pop 2000 which flavas have caught yr. ear? I don't like pop. I only like the underground. 7. Are there any plans for a band tour with the "Gen Y" set? I don't want to be tied to a band right now. The climate at the moment means that "more" would be "less." I love the freedom of being able to play whatever I and the audience want, without being restricted to "what the band knows," and taking a band around with me would mean I couldn't play half the venues I play now, just for practical and financial reasons. I do miss the engine of a band behind me sometimes, and when I get the chance I borrow a band for a few numbers, for example in Finland I often tour with Punk Lurex OK and we play some songs together at the end of the gig - best of both worlds. 8. Any plans for a follow up to "Gen Y"? I'm trying out new songs in the live set all the time, but at the moment I'm so busy trying to get out to play to as many people as possible that I haven't had the chance to record anything else yet. My next album project is to make a "Best Of," re-recording a selection of songs from the last 25 years, then I plan to move on to record a new album sometime next year, just as soon as I get a break from touring. Luckily I don't have any record companies telling me when and what I have to record - I can work at my own pace, and I think things turn out better for it. 9. People tell you that the Adverts changed their. life who changed yr.s? Iggy, Bowie, Velvet Underground, Sex Pistols, Jacques Brel, Tom Waits, The Ramones...many more too numerous to mention. 10. Off all the songs you've written, what's yr. personal favourite? No! No! Don't ask me to choose between my babies!!

Smash The Computers

"I'll tell you what's wrong with the youth of today: they don't know boredom. We didn't have a telly in our bedroom. We had to beg our parents to be able to watch TOTP or TOGWT. We used to listen to transistor radios under the sheets & listen to the same 10 records we had on poxy record players. We were so bored & frustrated that it gave us time to build up our determination & do something about it. Back then there was a real Establishment, men in suits & bowler hats, a genuine cultural divide. Now it's all blurred" Mark Perry, Open Up & Bleed Fanzine, 2000. Mark Perry left his job as a bank clerk & started punk fanzine, Sniffin Glue (& Other Rock & Roll Habits), in July 1976 after seeing The Ramones. He took the name Mark P to avoid getting bubbled by DHSS sniffers (a popular paranoid pass time for 1st wave punks which just goes to show how fuckin different things were back then). In early 1977, Mark started Step Forward Records with help from Miles Copeland. Home of The Fall, Sham 69, Chelsea & The Cortinas - the first 10 Step Forward 45's remain the best examples of real UK street punk 1977. Mark also helped out with Miles' other labels, Deptford Fun City & Illegal. In March of 1977, Mark formed Alternative TV, debuting at the Nottingham punk festival in May of that year. Their first single, the skanking white reggae of "Love Lie Limp", was a freebie with Issue 12 of Sniffin Glue in August 1977. An aborted demo session for EMI left ATV searching for a label of their own. Deptford Fun City, already home to the affable Squeeze, stepped forward & ATV released, "How Much Longer"/"You Bastard", in Dec 1977. Two versions of this seminal 45 exist, both different recordings, both with slightly different picture sleeves (all 4 songs are available on the Cherry Red re-issue of "The Image Has Cracked"). May 1978 saw the release of ATV's debut lp, "The Image Has Cracked".

Part live & part studio, the lp was destined to become one of the most accurate social documents of its time. Amongst the sterling collection of Perry originals was a striking cover of Zappa's "Why Don't You do Me Right?", which the band reinvented with their direct approach. A guest appearance from Squeeze's Jools Holland on "Viva La Rock & Roll", remains the cockney cultural chameleons finest recorded moment - in spite of everything he's done since (or should that read because of). "The Image Has Cracked" still means more than a 1000 Nevermind The Bollocks put together. "Image.." was duly followed by a trio of classic ATV 45's; Firstly, the dubtastic, "Life After Life" b/w "Life After Dub", which reflected the prevailing influence of rastafarian culture on the UK's inner cities far more effectively than covering "Police & Thieves". Secondly, the cynically anger soaked, "Life", a molotov hurled in the direction of a fragmenting scene; "Life's about as wonderful as a record mart, I don't like selling albums but I don't want to go to work." Finally, a re-recorded version of "Action Time Vision", & it's vicious b-side, "Another Coke"; "I'm fed up with living in a world where masturbation means something deep." Following disappointing associations with hippies, Here & Now, & worrying ventures into the avant garde with the "Vibing Up The Senile Man" lp & the "Force is Blind" 45, ATV broke up for the first time in 1979. Bored with punk, Mark Perry continued to move further into the art rock enclave of the time, working with Genesis P Orridge & Throbbing Gristle - playing live as The Good Missionaries. In 1980, Mark released a solo lp, "Snappy Turns", & drummed for The Lemon Kittens amongst others. ATV briefly reformed in 1981 to record the "Strange Kicks" lp for Miles Copelands Illegal Records. Mark Perry continued to form & disband ATV almost at will over the ensuing 20 odd years, recording lp's & 45's as he went. Most of the best moments have been collected for posterity on Cherry Red's, "The Best of Mark Perry & ATV", which any self respecting non-sell-out should own without reservation. In 1996 Mark provided the text for Erica Echenberg's, "And God Created Punk", a visual history of the 1st wave of insurrection, published (somewhat ironically) by Virgin. In 2000, Sanctuary Books published "Sniffin Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory", a compendium of all issues of the fanzine, together with acres of new text & photos.

In the same way that it is impossible to fit every punter that claims to have been present on the night @ The Screen On The Green to witness that legendary Pistols performance live, many of us old enough to have been there at the time can now enjoy every issue of Sniffin Glue for the first time - as the man says, essential. Mark Perry is Punk Rock, he may feel punk is now a retro scene & that it's time for the kids to pick up the challenge with something new, but we all need signposts to get around, don't we?. Next time you see a header card in a CD rack that says Alternative TV, buy them all & follow your heart. It always worked for Mark Perry, punk legend. trackMARX - You've previously cited your generation's lack of available entertainment as a catalyst for punk. Are today's teenagers too complacent to revolt into style? MARK - Today's young people have a lot more access to their music than we did in the 70s. There are too many TV pop programs MTV etc), radio stations, magazines etc. There does not seem to be an 'underground' anymore. I think that some of the metal/ hardcore/ industrial scene still has an edge to it. trackMARX - Much has been made of Antony Wilson's "what goes around comes around" theory. Has any music come close to replicating the levels of excitement you experienced in 1976/77? MARK - Punk was exciting in 1976 because it seemed to follow a period of lethargy in rock music. In retrospect that was not exactly the case. Punk was also exciting to me at the time because I was 19. When you're in your 40s you listen to music in a different way. For example, most hip-hop sounds shit to me but it's a way of life for thousands. Also, whether is relevant or not, Tony Wilson is a wanker and always has been. I think he was one of those I was having a go at in 'Another Coke'. trackMARX - ATV always survived with their integrity intact. Who, of your fellow 1st wavers, do you consider remained loyal to "the cause"? MARK - I think John Lydon has done well considering the enormous amount of pressure he was under. Also Vic Godard, although he's probably a bit to vacant to 'sellout'.

trackMARX - In retrospect, Step Forward Records produced some of the most vital punk rock ever made. How much of a roll did you play in that process? MARK - I was involved in signing most of the Step Forward acts. I only produced the first two singles - Chelsea & the Cortinas - but stuck my nose into most of the others as well. I was going to produce the first Sham 69 single with John Cale but he chucked me out of the studio for bringing the band a crate of beer! trackMARX - You once said, "I'm fed up with living in a world where masturbation means something deep." How do you feel society has coped with the changes in sexual expression over the last 25 years & would you still settle for "another coke" given it's modern implication? MARK - I think 'society' is fine with regards sexual expression. At the end of the day most people get on with what the want to get on with. My lyric was mostly aimed at the pretentious art crowd who are always trying to read more into everyday normal events in order to blow their own trumpet. I don't think coke would be good for me in whatever form. trackMARX - ATV always seemed to be falling apart from the inside, teetering on the brink? What were the causes of friction within the band & do you still communicate with ex-members? MARK - I love my ex-members! I can be very difficult to work with at times. People have usually 'left' the band because they didn't fit in with my plans at that time or were fucking up so badly that they just had to go. Most of them have remained friends, some have even rejoined the band. trackMARX - ATV embraced the experimental side of punk early, on working with Genesis P Orridge amongst others. Who would you site as an influence during this period? MARK - I became incredibly jealous of Genesis after I met him because Throbbing Gristle were so perfect. Everything seemed to be done so well, and with so much style. He was definitely an influence on me as were Zappa, Can, Eno and some of the avant-garde jazz people. trackMARX - Your famous quote that punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS gains more credibility with each passing year. In hindsight, are you happier being a cult hero than an ex R&R gunslinger who cant get arrested?

MARK - Of course, it would have been nice to have the sort of choices that the Clash had but, at the end of the day, I think that my position in the scheme of things has defined my work/'cult' status. I.e: I wouldn't be me if I'd have done it differently. trackMARX - How did you feel about the recent Clash & Pistols documentaries? MARK - I thought that the Filth & the Fury was excellent and, at times, quite moving. Although, the filming of the recent interviews in shadow was nonsense. It was a typically pretentious film maker's device which was just annoying. The Clash film was disappointing, it might as well been about the Eagles. It didn't really get across just what an important band they were. You would have thought they would have done a better job with Don Letts at the helm. trackMARX - I read recently that Paul Simonon holds Sandy Pearlman responsible for "fucking up our music". Do you feel this statement compounds your original fears? MARK - No, because, in my opinion, the songs on 'Give'em Enough Rope' were flawed. The band had lost their way, they were feeling the pressure. True, they were no longer a garage band but that's hardly the producer's fault. Once the Clash realised that they weren't a 'punk' band anymore they came back in fine form with 'London Calling'. trackMARX - What was working with Steve Albini like? Are you a big fan of his own music? MARK - I only worked migraine at the time what he was doing. I although I do own an the Steve for one day and he had a - really - but he seemed to know haven't heard much of his stuff album he recorded for Whitehouse.

trackMARX - You were associated with Alan McGee in the mid 80's, playing his Living Room Club, what did you make of Creation Records & has Poptones worked for you? MARK - Creation Records had it's moments but Alan put out too many of his mate's records, which were mostly rubbish. Primal Scream are ridiculously overrated although Oasis made some good records. I haven't heard much of the Poptones stuff although I think that the covers look awful. They seemed to be falling into that ironic retro trap in which everything ends up looking like 70s wallpaper.

trackMARX - The collected Sniffin Glues are still the definitive word on Punk. Have you read anything else that puts it's finger so close to the pulse, & if so, what? MARK - I don't think anything comes remotely close to 'Sniffin' Glue'. Caroline Coon in her '1988' book (Omnibus Press) gives the best journalistic angle, basically because, like me, she was there. The Jon Savage (who was also there) tome is also good as a 'history'. trackMARX - This January saw you play at CBGB's for Punk Magazine's anniversary party. What were the highlights of that trip & when can we expect the CD to come out? MARK - I love New York and it was great to play at CBGB's at last. The place was a dump but it did have a certain charm. It was good to meet up with some old faces notably Lenny Kaye, Dick Manitoba and Vivian Goldman who I hadn't seen in awhile. We recorded all of out NYC gigs (6 in all) for a possible live CD on ROIR. It will probably be out in September. trackMARX - What contemporary acts float your boat today? MARK - I mostly listen to 70s stuff although I do like some current Death & Doom metal like Nile and Cathedral. I also listen to noise stuff like Whitehouse. They new CD - 'Cruise' - is excellent. trackMARX - What are you currently up to & what can we expect to see from Mark P in the future? MARK - Alternative TV have just finished recording their new studio album - 'Revolution' - which will be out in August on the Public Domain label. We will also be doing a UK tour in August to promote it. Later in the year we'll probably be off to the States again and possibly Europe. I'm also working on a solo album for release later in the year on Overground. All CD and tour details will be posted on my site:

Penny Rimbaud

If trakMARX hadn't begun this piece by stating that commerce is the antithesis of true creativity, it would've spent the rest of the article wishing it had. Formed in 1977 by Penny Rimbaud & Steve Ignorant, CRASS came together in celebration of this basic concept. By late 1978 Small Wonder Records released their first ep, "The Feeding Of The 5000". The ep's opening track, "Reality Asylum", was deemed so offensive by pressing plant workers that initial attempts to press the record were hampered. The ep's picture sleeve also caused offence in some quarters with it's depiction of a ravaged & rotting street scene, a parody of a collapsing community. When the record finally appeared there was a silent space where the cut should've sat (eventually restored for the "Second Sitting" vinyl version & subsequent CD re-issues). CRASS immediately started their own label, CRASS RECORDS, & in May 1979 issued "Reality Asylum"/"Shaved Woman" on 7" only. With it's black & white sleeve & striking graphics, this release saw the beginning of a movement that would dominate the grass roots punk scene until the mid 80's. CRASS RECORDS would eventually provide a home for a whole host of anarcho-punk bands including; The Poison Girls, Flux Of Pink Indians, Conflict, Rudimentary Peni & The Subhumans. September 1979 saw the release of the 1st CRASS lp, a double; "Stations Of The Crass". Featuring another striking sleeve & comprising studio recordings & live recordings, "Stations" issued stinging rebukes to plastic sell out punks, religious hypocrites, the architects of "Thatchers Britain", the press (most notably for their stance on Myra Hindley) & the punk establishment, amongst others. Delivered in a furious style that would be imitated by many lesser groups over the next decade, CRASS appeared to revel being outsiders. CRASS badges & anarchy symbols became de rigueur for all committed smash the system punks, the length of the spikes of their hair grew along with the influence of CRASS. In May 1980 CRASS joined forces with Poison Girls for the "Bloody Revolutions/Persons Unknown" split 7" single. Politically extreme in-excelsis, it was promptly eclipsed by the release of the most celebrated punk shock record of all time; "Nagasaki Nightmare"/"Big A, Little A" (Feb 81).

These records sold in their thousands but the band's tough stance meant they saw very little cash themselves. The legend; PAY NO MORE THAN..........became a feature on most CRASS RECORDS releases. CRASS personnel would often come & go depending on who was inhabiting the Dial House at the time. The democratic nature of the band allowed individual members to the front whenever they wanted to express themselves. The feminist issues associated with the band's next release, "Penis Envy" (Oct 81), were largely the work of Eve Libertine who shared the vocal duties on the lp with Joy De Vivre. Featuring one of their most controversial sleeve designs yet, "Penis Envy" boasted a boxed blow-up doll & ensured that even sympathetic record stores had problems displaying the sleeve. "Christ The Album" (Aug 82), saw CRASS push the sonic envelope further still. Expanding their musical boundaries & upping the spoken word content brought criticisms from some hard line punkers worried about neohippy tendencies. CRASS dropped their own bomb,"How Does It Feel (To Be The Mother Of 1000 Dead)?", in response to the Falklands War, The Belgrano & the fascist regime of the Iron Lady. The band consequently had tapes confiscated by the authorities & were eventually charged under the Obscene Publications Act. The final CRASS lp appeared in May 1983; "Yes Sir, I Will" was an even more experimental outing & divided critical opinion totally. A final single, "You're Already Dead", was followed by CRASS' official swansong "Ten Notes On A Summers Day". In Jan 1984, in accordance with George Orwell, CRASS were confined to history. For those wanting an introduction to the band, you can do no better than July 86's posthumous "Best Before 1984" collection, but all titles are still available through Southern Records. trakMARX tracked down CRASS drummer & founder member, Penny Rimbaud, to discuss the past, the present & the future. 1. trakMARX - Debate surrounding the origins of Punk Rock still rage today. Which Proto-Punk artists had the biggest influence on CRASS & their music? CRASS - The American Beat poets, the British angry young men & the French existentialists were my greatest influences, seconded maybe by John Lennon, Joni Mitchell & Bob Dylan. Further to this, Benjamin Britain's "War Requiem" had a great effect on me when I was young, as it still does today.

2. trakMARX - "White Punks On Hope" lambasted the Clash as early as 1979. Did CRASS view the entire British 1st Wave in a similar light? CRASS - "White Punks On Hope" expresses only a small part of the disgust I then felt for the 1st wave punkers. They were all pose & promise, nothing but rock & roll puppets waiting for a hit. I have now come to realise that if it hadn't been for CRASS, punk would have died the death that all Tin Pan Alley projects have done in the past. Through CRASS, punk became a worldwide movement whose effects are still felt today. Johnny Rotten was & is just another Cliff Richard, but with a different message, a pop queen flashing paste jewels. Pop history has tended to give 1st wave punk the only platform, & to ignore the wave generated by CRASS. The reasons are obvious. The 1st wave was just another pop product. CRASS challenged, threatened & acted against that pantomime & has never been forgiven for having done so. But for all that, the message remains loud & clear. Without CRASS, Seattle would probably not have happened. That alone is legacy enough. 3. trakMARX - "Reality Asylum" caused a few problems for the release date of "Feeding Of The 5000". What actually happened & how did CRASS react? CRASS - The pressing plant refused to press the lp. The printers refused to print the cover, so we removed the track from "Feeding" & replaced it with a silent track entitled "The Freedom Of Speech". Eventually we found a pressing plant willing to press "Asylum", so we rerecorded it in an extended version, hand printed our own covers & released it as a 7" single on our own, newly formed label. Within weeks we were charged with "criminal blasphemy", but eventually the charges were dropped. A week after the charges were dropped, Police started visiting record stores warning the owners not to stock our records. Draw your own conclusions. 4. trakMARX - CRASS sleeve artwork stands the test of time very well. Was the graphic representation of the group a group effort? CRASS - Nearly all CRASS artwork was created by Gee. Other members of the band helped in the overall design & layout, but it was she who is responsible for the style & content of that work.

5. trakMARX - CRASS live shows featured films playing on screens behind the band. What influences led you to this kind of visual expression. CRASS - Prior to CRASS, Gee & myself worked in an experimental/multi media band called EXIT. Much of CRASS' stage presentation was a continuation of the techniques that we had employed with EXIT. EXIT, in turn, had been involved with the Fluxist Movement (of which Yoko Ono was a member). CRASS was more influenced by the avant garde than it was by any rock & roll precedent. 6. trakMARX - How do you react to claims that CRASS music was secondary to the image & the agenda? CRASS - CRASS was a whole package, a lifestyle. The image, the agenda, the music, the breadmaking were all equally important. The whole cannot be divided. If people choose to separate the parts of the whole, it is merely an indication of their own limitations. 7. trakMARX - You were charged under the Obscene Publications Act around the time of the Falklands War. How did the authorities interest in the band manifest itself & were you actually prosecuted? CRASS - The authorities objected to our stance against the Falklands War & attempted to bring a case against us. Realising that if we were brought into the Courts the information (much of it classified) that we had on the war would become even more public, they withdrew. At the time of the withdrawal, a memorandum was passed out to all members of the Tory Party, informing them "that at all costs, any provocation from a band called CRASS must be ignored" - it was clearly seen as a more effective way of hiding the truth than silencing us through the Courts. 8. trakMARX - What were the highs & lows of your 6 years together? CRASS - Every day brought its own joys & sorrows. It would be impossible to separate one day from another. All the same, the greatest low must have been at the time of Thatcher's war in the Falklands and her equally vicious war against the miners. It was then that we realised the degree of our impotency. 9. trakMARX - Did CRASS achieve their objectives & what is their legacy?

CRASS - For as long as I can remember, my major objective has been to live my life in my own way. In that respect I have achieved (&continue to achieve) my objective. CRASS sought to do nothing more than to share that objective with as many people as possible. It is not until people refuse to be governed that government will collapse. CRASS introduced thousands of people to that concept, & whereas government has not collapsed as a result, I believe that we are just a little bit closer to the possibility of it doing so as a result of our efforts. So, yes, our objectives were achieved. CRASS' legacy can be seen in virtually every radical movement that has existed since the 80's. Never before has a band had such a broad radical effect, & I somewhat doubt that any band will ever do so again. 10. trakMARX - The ownership of the Dial House, the band's base & spiritual home, has recently been secured by its residents for the first time in the 30 years of its occupation. This is an achievement that must outweigh even the best CRASS moments for those involved. Tell us a little about the struggle & your hopes for the future. CRASS - The best answer to this question can be found on the CRASS website where a pocket history is given on Dial House.

Under The Influence - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

"Global A Go-Go" - Hellcat Rekkids Back once again, it's the incredible, un-killable - Uncle Joe - Old Skool Punk Supremo. Often described as the "salt of the earth", even once by Mick Jones, Joe is the kind of guy it is very difficult NOT to look up to; a jumbo sized megawatt tower of strength, who often doubles up as a beacon of hope in a dull as dishwater musical climate; Tonite, Mathew, Joe Strummer is Woody, Desire era Zimmerman & Max Romeo all rolled into one big fat one. Following on from 99's patchy but honest, "Rock Art & The X-Ray Style", "Global A Go-Go" makes the former sound like a collection of hurried demos. Line up changes to the Mesclaeros have obviously had the desired affect, "Global A Go-Go" is fatter than Chris Moyles' arse pumped full of helium. Kicking in with the infectious hoe-down, "Jonny Appleseed", Joe questions the eternal quandary of money over integrity with a nice Honey/Bee analogy & some fonky banjos. The gtrs are acoustic, the backing vocals offer the ghost of Mick Jones & Joe's superb delivery does the rest. "Cool & Out" starts with a sample from 1st lp opener, "Tony Adams". This is a dirty low down fonk workout that's up there with "Magnificent 7" as one of the finest moments he's ever committed to tape; "The stars go in & the stars go out, but PUNK ROCK's what it's all about." The lp's title track features a guest appearance from the Who's Roger Daltry. The Clash were always in awe of The Who, even supporting them on their massive US jaunt of the early 80's, so it's full circle time & Rog's primal wail adds to the process with hoary effect.

A celebration of the transistor radio & it's effects across the globe, this does the same job as "Sandpaper Blues" attempted to last time out. Three cuts in & the message is loud & clear - I don't need to punk it out anymore - there's no "Techno D Day" nonsense here, no perfunctory "Roads To Rock & Roll" there - this is Joe's road to Damascus & he's walking barefoot these days. "Bhindi Bhagee" turns the ragga up with flute dressing & a spoken word verse. The first real evidence of the remarkable Tymon Dogg's vibrant violin, the african style gtr arpeggios move the chorus on down the beaten track a treat. Essentially a story of a New Zealander looking to score some mushy peas in a London market, it's a warm welcome to the humble neighbourhoods that make up this multicultural island we call England circa 2001. Tymon Dogg first worked with Joe on "Sandinista", when his input was a quirky diversion to the other tensions brewing in the Clash camp. With each subsequent track on "Global A Go-Go", Dogg's presence & authority grow in stature - his inclusion is a stroke of genius. Lesser pundits have described the wonderful "Gamma Ray" as Tom Waits in dub - this sums up why they write for such shite periodicals - that explains the taste by-pass operations you have to undergo before you can work for IPC. "Gamma Ray", is of course, magnificent. Joe rides the violin, hammond & top bassline skank of the backing track like a "Ghost Town" for a new millennium. "Mega Bottle Ride" is the story of a trip into the 4th dimension loaded with irony & import - all dressed in a loose bar room jam kinda outfit - two shots of red eye, bartender; "It was pretty hazardous out on the Illminster By-Pass." "Shaktar Donetsk" handles the problem of immigration with insight & compassion. If you really want to go, you'll get there in the end. The Balkan issue is rarely handled correctly by politicians so it's refreshing to see a humble musician do it so eloquently. "Mondo Bongo" spreads a relaxed vibe into a harsh environment. Spanish gtr lines flava the mix like paella cooking on a beach front in a giant skiv - Tymon shines once again - my senoritas rose got nipped in the bud, already. "Bummed Out City" is the closest thing here to the lineage of "Earthquake Weather" - the weakest cut on 1st listen - it does grow markedly with repeated effort, particularly the breakdown & build towards the end. A tale of temporarily broken relationship interfaces & subsequent reconciliation, I guess this is a love song with Joe you never know.

"At The Border, Guy" rattles in on a piano motif with Joe requesting a line check. Skanking along above a passionate acoustic gtr, this cut is reminiscent of a "Sandinista" out take. The album closes with "Minstrel Boy", an extraordinary excursion on the vershun - a folktastic lilting fiddle washes a mildly military snare pattern. Joe's haunting refrain is held up out back of the mix like a spectre - I have already playlisted this for the day they bury me. Dismissed elsewhere as crossing the line between professionalism & busking, this is again ample evidence of why; a) Mainstream critics are so up their own, & everyone else's arse, they cant see the shit for the stools. b) Why "Global A Go-Go" is the best thing Joe Strummer has recorded since "Straight To Hell". If you were there at the time, welcome back - it's like you've never been away. If you're new to all this, then now is the right time to join in. "Global A Go-Go" is as big as a planet & it's creator has a heart to match. Uncle Joe Strummer, gentleman punk, it takes a big man to preach without coming over crass in this day & age. Live & learn, Joe has.

Swell Maps - Let's Build A Reputation

Around for a while before punk rock descended, Solihull's Swell Maps were to become an influential band long after they knocked it on the head. Having delivered a series of blistering DIY 45's ("Read About Seymour", "Dresden Style" & "Let's Build A Car") for their own Rather Records label, & later Rough Trade, Swell Maps dropped their debut lp, "A Trip To Marineville" & lo-fi was born (N.B. - Sebadoh & Pavement were still in short pants). All band members employed wonderfully expressive pseudonyms; Nikki Sudden, Phones B Sportsman, Jowe Head, Epic Soundtracks & Biggles Books. The sleeve of "A Trip To Marineville" featured a semi-detatched house with flames pouring from windows & doors - Swell Maps had set the nascent indie scene alight & would eventually be cited as an influence by people from as far away as New York City (Sonic Youth). Their finest moments are available on the wonderful compilation CD, "International Rescue", available (as are many other essential items) from; Cheapside, 12 Spilsbury Close, Leamington Spa, CV32 6SW. trakMARX cyber walked all the way back to Germany to fire a few questions in the general direction of Mr Nikki Sudden. This is what he had to say;

10 Answers
1) What inspired you to pick up a guitar? I heard T.Rex - Jeepster. First single I bought was Telegram Sam. The logical thing seemed to be to buy a guitar. It cost me 6 quid and was more or less totally unplayable. A few months later I bought an electric with the same awful action! In recent years I've (at last) got some great guitars. Three Gibsons: Les Paul Special, Les Paul Standard and Flying V. A couple of Fender Telecasters and a few others.

2) Formed in 1972, Swell Maps were active during in the years leading up to Punk. Who were yr. major influences in those days? T.Rex, Can, Stones, Dolls... All the usual suspects: Bowie, Slade, King Crimson, Free, etc. 3) Which 1st wave UK punk bands impressed you the most & why? The Boys, and to some degrees the Adverts, are the only ones I still think did it from their hearts. The Pistols and the Clash still sound good but none of them have done anything worthwhile since. The Boys - Honest John Plain and Casino Steel anyway, have done some great stuff - and are still doing great stuff... 4) As the movement established itself, did you feel an affinity with the main protagonists? Not really. 5) Rather Records was one of the 1st "indie labels" to spring from the punk scene. Was the DIY ethic important to Swell Maps? At the time yes. In retrospect possibly. Mind you we still went to the best studio we could afford - WMRS in Leamington Spa. I still record w/ John Rivers now. The studio is now called WSRS. The rates have gone up from 4 pounds per hour to 35! But the studio has improved as well. When we first went there it was 4-track 1/4", now it's digital 32 / 48-track. As long as you do things from the heart they're going to work out fine. 6) You recorded a lot of Peel sessions in the early days, was his support vital in the development of the band? John Peel played Read About Seymour around 10 times out of 12 shows when it was released. John Walters (Peel's producer) offered us 3 sessions. His help was very much appreciated. Mind you since Swell Maps broke up he's never (to my knowledge) ever played anything that myself or my brother, Epic, recorded. Or any Maps stuff! 7) Many early punks used an alias to avoid dole snoopers. Did Swell Maps do likewise, or just enjoy using cooler names? I wanted a name like Billy Fury, Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde - the Larry Parnes stable of stars. Nikki Sudden seemed a good idea. Now I'm stuck with the name. Mind you, having lived with it for more than half my life everyone calls me Nikki, save for my aunt and a cousin or two. Since Epic's death even my parents call me Nikki.

8) Swell Maps have been sited as an influence by many younger bands over the last 20 years or so, Sonic Youth for one are great admirers. Who do you feel the Swell Maps sound shaped, & how did you rate them? Apparently Sonic Youth, Pavement, Pussy Galore and many others claim to be influenced by Swell Maps. You can't blame us. I don't really like any of their stuff... But appreciate their good taste... 9) The Maps called it a day in in 1981 whilst on an Italian tour. What were the reasons behind the split? The others, Richard and Epic, thought I wanted to become to 'rock' n roll' while they wanted to become more experimental. Jowe was out to lunch at the time literally. Since then Epic told me that the stuff he was proudest of doing during the 1980's was the Jacobites' albums and "Texas". And both of us ended up doing music based on the same roots. As Epic put it, "We grew up together but grew apart." At the time I think the band should have stayed together. In retrospect we'd probably achieved a lot of what we were meant to achieve. 10) a) Swell Maps were one of the first bands to sign with Rough Trade. What did you make of the 25th Anniversary Box Set? I still haven't seen a copy. I wasn't even aware of it's existence or that they'd used Let's Build A Car until I saw a review in Record Collector. b) Rough Trade are currently dropping some of their most exciting release in years with bands like The Strokes & Moldy Peaches. Have you heard either, & what do you make of them? I've not heard of either of these bands. A name like Moldy (Mouldy?) Peaches doesn't really hold much hope for anything, does it?

Saints Preserved

Out of Brisbane, Australlia, circa 1973, came a high octane garage band destined to shape the destiny of proto punk. The Saints, along with the Ramones & the Sex Pistols, were to become the best examples of punk's defining moment - howls of anguish, angst & power simplicity & directness in an extended solo enviroment a breath of fresh air. Issuing their storming debut 7", "(I'm) Stranded" on their own Fatal Records label they were soon snapped up by EMI Australlia. Their debut lp, "(I'm) Stranded", remains one of the most exciting & dangerous gtr debuts of any time - subsequent lp's "Know Your Product" & "Prehistoric Sounds" pushed the envelope way further than the constraints of fashion would allow @ the time - all three are available as a compliation, "Wild About You" on Raven Records (RVCD 107) thru Hot Records of Australlia. "(I'm) Stranded" & "Know Your Product" are both avilable thru Captain Oi in the UK. Leicester Bank's was lucky enuff to shoot the shit with Saint's gtr-ist & founder member, Ed Kuepper; trakMARX - You formed the Saints in 1973 with high skool buddies, Chris Bailey & Ivor Hay. Who were yr. musical (anti??) heroes back then? Bo Diddley ,Velvet Underground,The Loved Ones - too many to remember really - lots of bits and pieces more so than individual artists. trakMARX - Initially, The Saints mined a similar seam to that of The Ramones, only somewhat earlier. At what point were you aware of Da Brudders & were they influential in any way (or vice versa)? When their album came out. I suppose they inspired me to keep moving on musically and become less ''pure '' [though there probably wasn't that much danger of that happening anyway].

trakMARX - Radio Bridman had an amazing influence on Australian rock music. How did you feel about Deniz/Younger & their crew? Rob and Angie [Pepper] were genuinely welcoming when we first got down to Sydney, which was nice. I thought they were one of the best live bands I'd seen at that stage, and thought they were still pretty good when they did their re-union a few years ago. I think they probably had a bigger influence in Australia than we did at the time, partly because not many people got Bailey's jokes, but they also seemed to be run like a well oiled military operation compared to the anarchic shambles that was The Saints. trakMARX - Deniz brought that Ann Arbour vibe a long way. Were you all sold on the Stooges already? Yeah, I got Funhouse when that came out in Australia [I didn't know about the first album until after Raw Power came out - there wasn't exactly a situation of information overload in those days]. They were a pretty big influence on me, but I think it's safe to say that The Saints were maybe a bit less reverential than Radio Birdman. trakMARX - Native opposition to your sound was so hostile that the authorities closed down your own club. How did that unfold? The premise was that we didn't have adequate fire or sanitation things in place [or a licence for that matter], but it could have been jealous club owners. It was closed as soon as it started to take off. trakMARX - "(I'm) Stranded" was released in 1976 in Aus on the self financed Fatal Records. How many copies did you press & how much do they change hands for today? About 512 copies. Eight hundred and forty five dollars and seventy, six cents in very good ++ condition, more in mint. trakMARX - You were picked up shortly afterwards by EMI Australia & recorded your debut lp in two days. What do you remember of those sessions? Only that it was over very quickly,and that we got a better sound when we did it ourselves.

trakMARX - Many punk veterans (The Pistols, The Clash & The Ramones, amongst others), felt that their debut lp's were probably the most exciting thing they ever did. Do you subsribe to this point of view? A lot of the records I've done are quite different so that ''first time'' feeling is something I get from a few of them, but I am very fond of the eary Saints albums. trakMARX - In 1977 you elected to move to the eminently more "punk" friendly UK. How did you find the scene? The punk scene in itself didn't send me into spasms of ecstasy, but it was good to get out of Brisbane and see the world. trakMARX - Any amusing anecdotes from that shared TOTP with The Sex Pistols? I don't remember seeing them there, sorry. trakMARX - You seemed to enjoy covering classic favourites from your youth @ breakneck speed. Was it homage, irony or something far less sinester? We did it because we didn't have enough original songs when we started, and it was an easy way to play stuff that sounded like us without having to do too much work. trakMARX - You faced some hostility from UK punters initially - do you find it ironic that The Saints have stood the test of time so well? Not really, the band was pretty strong artistically and the people that reacted poorly were usually a bit dimwitted anyway. trakMARX - Second lp, "Eternally Yours", was recorded in London & marked a development in sound. Where you kicking aginst the pricks to some degree at this point? Maybe, but I was keen for the band to develop musically as well and maintain our uniqueness, as opposed to just reacting to or against what other people were doing in London at the time.

trakMARX - The skies darkened in the UK around the time The Saints deleivered "Prehistoric Sounds". The post punk ladscape was a lonely place to roam. Where the band disappointed with the press reaction to the LP? I was, but the band had fallen totally out of favour by then, and P.S was so out of step with what was going on in the U.K then that in retrospect it shouldn't have been all that surprising. trakMARX - The band split (allegedly in acrimony) in 1978. Have the wounds ever healed properly & have you & Chris Baily since reconciled yr. differences? The split was actually fairly friendly, though there were a few things that came up later. trakMRAX - What do you see as The Saints legacy? Umm?

The Heartbreakers - Just A Bunch Of Junkies?

Johnny Thunders & Jerry Nolan had just quit the New York Dolls. Malcolm McLarren's shiney red leather suits, hammer & sickle motif's & political inuendo had done nothing for the group's image or their reputation & they were falling apart. The heroin had done little to help it now fueled the need to get a new band together fast. Scoring Richard Hell from Television & Walter Lure on bass, The Heartbreakers were put together as a basic r&r band in less than no time at all. Their set initially comprised material from their members earlier oufits as well as cover versions (most notably, Dee Dee Ramone & Hell's "Chinese Rocks" which Thunders continued to claim as his own) - their reputations alone secured bookings. CBGB's regulars & Max's Kansas City stalwarts, The Heartbreakers had four habits to feed that required regular servicing. Hell soon departed to form the Voidoids, leaving the others to recruit Billy Rath to play bass & Lee Black Childers to handle their management. They got a call from McLarren to join the Anarchy tour almost immediately & caught the first available flight out to London (taking their habits & their influence along with them). The UK's treatment of RDA's (Registered Drug Addicts) was surely a contributory factor to their decission to decamp to the UK, free heroin substitutes on confirmation of a tollerance was a whole bunch cheaper than Bowery brown. The UK punx were in awe of The Heartbreakers - The Clash attempted to outsneer them outside the Music Machine on their first meeting - The Heartbrekers responded by blowing them & The Pistols off stage at every opportunity on the Anarchy tour. The Pistols sulked back with "New York" on "Nevermind The Bollocks", Thunders would carry "London Boys" around with him till his death by way of reply. The Heartbreakers signed to Track Records in 1977 & delivered the legendary "L.A.M.F." lp. Boasting notoriously poor sound quality but stuffed with the band's greatest songs (Born To Loose, Chinese Rocks, Pirate Love, It's Not Enough etc etc), "L.A.M.F" remained unavailable on anything but it's orginal vinyl for many years.

The (lack of) production values were sited as the reason for the departure of Nolan shortly after the lp's release, the rest of the band & Childers were not far behind leaving Thunders to hang out with Peter Perrett of The Only Ones amongst others - The Heartbreakers had finally od'd. Thunders persevered for many years afterwards on his ownsome - in the USA as well as the UK & Europe. His solo career was represented by such high points as "Carnt Put Yr. Arms Around A Memory" & the "So Alone" lp, but many will remember the shambolic live "performances" & the gradual deterioration in "health". Many have since lambasted Thunders for providing future generations with a suitable junk role model, detailed study of proper heroin abusers like William Burroughs will confirm that it is not aktually the drug but the "industry" that kills. Modern ananysis of the "heroin problem" has confirmed this beyond any doubt - blame is subsequently difficult to pin down - moralists are on very shakey ground here. Needless to say Jonny Thunders got nowhere near his 4 score years & 10 - not even close. He died a lonely man in a dirty room with only his memories wrapped around his arms like a tourniquet. The fact that Burroughs continued to self administer his habit until his death in his 80's is substantial proof that heroin alone will not kill you - it's just the way its marketed.

Blondie - Blonde Ambition

Chris Stein fell in love with Debbie Harry, ex-Hefner bunny & singer in NYC girl group, The Stilettos, in 1974. Debbie had form, in fact she was a serial pop wannabe time in folk act Wind In The Willows in the late 60's had given her a taste & she'd been learning ever since. With Chris she recruited bassist Fred Smith, gtr-ist Ivan Kral & drummer Billy O'Connor - Blondie were a band. NYC was a graveyard even then - bands died as quick as they were born. Kral soon departed to join The Patti Smith Group, Smith defected to Television & O'Connor fucked off to law skool - Chris & Debbie recruited Messers Valentine, Burke & Destri & ripped it to shreds all over the Lower East Side. 1976 was a big year for New York - crawling, screaming & spitting from the depths of the Bowery came a noise that people would start calling punk rock before too long. Max's Kansas City & CBGB's were the venues of choice - Television, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Suicide & Blondie were the groups. Considered "pop" outcasts by some of the bitchier elements of the scene, Blondie were punk enuff if you were a 15 year old delinquent in a bedroom in middle England in 1976 (& I was, I was). Debbie Harry was by far the hottest "broad" we'd ever seen fronting a rock band. She was sex on a stick but pulled it of with beauty & voice alone - no cleavage enhancement, no dangerous underwear, no raunchy videos, no body piercing & very little foul or abusive language. Blondie's 1st lp originally appeared on Private Stock Records in 1977 before being picked up by UK based Chrysalis Records later that same year. It was recorded at Plazza Sound Studios above Radio City Music Hall in NYC & was produced by Brill Building regular, Richard Gottehrer. Featuring debut single "X Offender" (originally entitled "Sex Offender") as well as future hits "In The Flesh" & "Rip Her To Shreds", "Blondie" was dubbed an "Instant Record" by it's creators. Harry's voice dominated the organ heavy grind of Blondie, her vocals had none of the sugar coated sickliness usually associated with the female singers in the mid to late 70's. The cracks around the edges of her range said, "attitude, buddy".

Compared to the blitzkrieg roar of the Ramones, or the twin gtr assault on melody of Television, Blondie WERE pop by definition. Harry & Stein made a conscious decision early on to ditch the "punk/new wave" tags in favour of "power pop" in order to maximise their exposure & sales. In retrospect, they do sound tame compared to Patti Smith or the females punk had empowered in the UK (Siouxsie, Poly Styrene, Pauline Murray, Ari Up etc). By the time "Blondie" was released in the UK, pictures of Debbie were replacing pictures of Lily in bedrooms all over the country. The band supported Iggy Pop on his US jaunt that year - the word was out. Ironically, considering the strength of their first 3 singles, it took a cover vershun to blow Blondie to the top of the pile; "Denise" by Randy & The Rainbows was given a gender perspective change & lost an e @ the end "Denis" became the record that broke Blondie in the UK a string of hit singles followed, all the way to the bank. "Denis" was taken from the second Blondie lp, "Plastic Letters". Again produced by Gottehrer @ Plaza, the album had a harder edge & another massive hit; "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear" (as well as the prophetic "I'm On E" - which would subsequently mean something entirely different to a later generation). Sell-out UK tours sent Blondie's profile reeling, the press went mad & Mike Chapman was brought in to cement the groups grip on chartland with his production of "Parallel Lines", their biggest selling release. The album boasted some of their strongest singles to date with "Sunday Girl", "Hanging On The Telephone" & "Picture This", but in truth much of the magic had already evaporated - too much too soon, as Terry Hall might have pointed out at the time. "Heart Of Glass" typified this malaise, the band had embraced the sound of disco that they'd (allegedly) hated so much back in 1976 & all bets were off. Much maligned in later years for failing to die when they were shot, Blondie limped on for far too long until tragic illness reduced the unfortunate Stein to a hospital bed where he spent much of the decade recovering (with Debbie by his side). If Blondie achieved anything, they changed the way we felt about female fronted bands. They paved the way for many far less talented than themselves. They were short & they were sweet - "Blondie" & "Plastic Letters" are ample evidence of this. Both are now available, once again, in digitally re-mastered editions including unreleased cuts & demos as part of Chrysalis re-evaluation of it's catalogue. Anyone interested in the development of punk rock should mark these down as essential purchases;

"From the most successful band of the punk/new wave movement", says the sticker on the sleeve. Nah, they were much more important than that - for a little while, anyway.

The Ramones - Gabba Gabba Hey!

Queens, NYC - 1974 - Hey, ho, let's go. Da Brudders were neighbours with a shared love of narcotics, alcohol & comics. Dee Dee, desperate to quit his smack habit, had served 90 days jailtime for his part in an armed robbery in Indiana before returning to NYC to hook up with fellow junk afficianado, Johnny. They elected to buy gtrs instead of gear & began bashing out rudimentary chords to pass the time. Joey was recruited, initially to play the drums, but eventually as the group's singer. Having served time in correctional facilities for the mentally ill, ex-hippy Joey shared Dee Dee & Johnny's love of The Stooges & sick humour. Drummer Tommy completed the line up, bringing enuff studio experience to mark him down as producer when the time to record came. The Ramones were amongst the first of "the new groups" to play the Lower East Side venue, CBGB's. Early witnesses were shocked by the brevity of the band's material, audiences either laughed or became disciples. Their pinhead image was dressed in black biker leather, ripped jeans & sneakers - the classic punk look, still viable today. The Ramones soon signed to Seymour Stein's Sire label & released their first single, "Blitzkrieg Bop" & their genre defining 1st lp, "The Ramones". 14 cuts in 28 minutes, a nuclear explosion between yr. ears with enuff tunes to ride the fallout. Songs about junkies, nutcases, beating children, glue sniffing & cretenism - there was no way of stopping the cretins from hopping. A shout of 1,2,3,4 was all it took to kick it all off again. The first Ramones visit to Britain was largely responsible for inspiring the whole UK punk movement. The 1976 Roundhouse gig on US Independance Day featured members of most future UK punk bands in the audience. Paul Simenon was not the only one to pick up a gtr because of the Ramones. Breaking into their own country proved a harder exercise for the band. The NYC scene was a drop in the Atlantic Ocean to the US rekkid buying public - England was learning faster than a Ramones tune. The second Ramones LP, "Leave Home", hit the ground running in 1977 & shifted units from day 1 in the UK. The band were regarded as godheads by their adoring English fans, everyone wanted to bang their heads along with Suzy.

1977 was a very busy year for the Ramones. Tour followed tour & the band lived out of suitcases & hotels. Their sound was slowly refining along the way; incredibly the band got faster, the gtrs got louder & the songs went from strength to strength. Two lp's in one year was a tall order for any group, but by the time The Ramones dropped "Rocket To Russia" they'd progressed to bubblegum punk prefection with the classic 45, "Rockaway Beach". In late 77 Tommy took the descision to quit as the band's drummer to concentrate on production. The vacant drum stool was filled by Marky Ramone (Marc Bell - ex Richard Hell & The Voidoids) - Marky first appeared on 1978's yellow vinyl special, "Road To Ruin". The sleeve depicted the band as cartoon characters & the rekkid provided the most advanced vershun yet of da brudders sound. A live show at London's Rainbow Theatre on New Year's Eve 1977 was recorded for posterity & was eventually released as "It's Alive", a doulble lp set that captured The Ramones at their blistering best. It was a fitting document, a high point that would never be eclispsed, because in reality - the band were falling apart. Although The Ramones were to continue recording & touring on & off for the next 18 years (finally giving up the ghost in 1995), line up changes & constant bickering gaurenteed that they never again created the amazing tension present on those first four lp's. Even being held at gun point by Phil Spector during the recording of 1980's "End Of The Century" could not improve what was fast becoming self parody. Punk was turning into post punk & new heroes were turning up on an almost weekly basis. The Ramones have continued to influence many waves of punk rockers since, however. The excitement their music creates & their pedigree has never diminished - neither has their stature as one of the greatest bands in the history of rock & roll music. Ramones fans all over the world were united in grief on 15 April 2001 when Joey Ramone died of lymphatic cancer, aged 49. Gabba, gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us.


Stiff Little Fingers formed in the wake of The Clash's early 77 Belfast show. Burns, Cluney & Faloon had been together for a while playing out as a covers band going by the (possibly, though we doubt it) ironic moniker, Highway Star (ironically, again, not exactly a purple patch for the band). The arrival of the gangly, vaguely Simonesque, Ali McMordie helped define the look, the attitude & the sound they were seeking. Named after a Vibrators song, they played out note perfect punk covers almost immediately. November 77 saw the arrival on the scene of local Belfast journo, Gordon Ogilvie. Oglivie saw potential in the nascent punkers & soon advised them to write their own stuff about real issues: Belfast. Jake took the task to heart & in a two week period wrote "Suspect Device" & "Wasted Life". "Don't believe them Don't believe them Don't be bitten twice you gotta suss, suss, suss, suss, suss, out Suss suspect device" The blistering riff that kicks in "Suspect Device" sounds as just as fucking killer today as it did when we first heard it blasting from the tinny speakers of our transistor radios on the John Peel show. From the intro to the outro the song gathers momentum, screaming injustice as it goes, ending with the inevitable explosion. It's one of those; lift the needle up & back cue it up & do it all over again, actually getting higher with every play. High on the anger & hope of youth. Ogilvie proved to be a major influence on the band. He helped organize & fund Rigid Digits, the band's own label, & they set about releasing 350 copies of "Suspect Device" & "Wasted Life" on 7", rapid stylee. John Peel began playing the single every night on his show & the initial pressing quickly sold out.

A distribution deal with Rough Trade followed, "Suspect Device" was re-pressed, & the band put forward a trak written for Belfast fanzine, Alternative Ulster (originally intended as a cover mount flexi that didn't come off), as their first Rough Trade single. "Alternative Ulster" came out in Oct 78 & propelled the band onwards & upwards. Their explosive live show matched their records. They began to blow away their peers one by one, as the first wave struggled with difficult 2cnd lp's, SLF were blasting from the jukeboxes of local pubs & youth club discos the length & breadth of the land. The band's level of honesty & integrity were more than matched by their intelligent questioning of their culture. A nationwide tour supporting TRB raised their profile further, "Inflammable Material" came out at the end of 78, reaching 14 in the UK LP charts. Packed with 12 self penned incendiary gems & an explosive cover of Marley's "Johnny Was", "Inflammable Material" was the LP of the year. Along with their trade mark high energy punk, the band pushed the boundaries of their sound to take in the tongue in cheek doo-wop thrash of "Barbed Wire Love", the raw ragged glory of their take on "Johnny Was" & the vaguely prophetic loop of "Closed Groove". In 79 the band moved to London. Brian decided not to go & was replaced by Jim Reilly who made his debut on the next single release, "Gotta Gettaway". Following the band's appearance on the UK's first Rock Against Racism package tour, Chrysalis Records signed SLF in summer 79. The deal gave the band total artistic control of their material & by 1980 the second lp, "Nobody's Heroes", was in the racks. With a fatter, fuller sound & a more tailored rock approach, the lp proved to be the biggest commercial success the band would experience. Over the next few years SLF continued to grow in stature & reputation. Another advance in songwriting ability & musicianship heralded 81's "Go For It". Dolphin Taylor (ex-TRB) replaced Reilly for the following Go For It tour, but audiences were starting to become restless with SLF's adoption of a poppier sound. In early 83 poor reviews for the band's 4th lp led Jake Burns to issue a statement dissolving Stiff Little Fingers. What had began as a punch in the face for rock & roll had ended in protracted in-fighting between band members & eventual disillusionment. We first met Stiff Little Fingers @ Friars, Aylesbury, hanging out @ a Soiuxsie & The Banshees gig not long after they'd first arrived in England. They were leaning against the upstairs bar in a fashion reminiscent of the rear shot from "Suspect Device". They were amazed to be recognized & even more amazed that we'd managed to score a copy of "Suspect Device".

We chatted for a while, they were friendly & almost as excited to be a part of it all as we were. A short while later we made a pilgrimage to Rough Trade to score copies of "Alternative Ulster" on the day of release, I can still remember pawing over the sleeve all the way back in the car (2.5 hrs) itching to drop the needle on the wax. We would hook up with SLF again some time later, they were playing Digbeth Civic Hall in B'ham with support from swiss femi-punx, Kleenex. I attended in my brand new SLF "Suspect Device" t-shirt, especially printed for me by my mate Pip. That night was one of those magical nights that stay with you all of yer life. We met Kleenex after their set & watched SLF sitting behind them on the balcony. Jake was electric, Ali bounced all over the stage, Henry hunched over his gtr strumming fiercely while Brian smashed seven shades of raw shit out of his poor kit. Seven encores later we managed to blag our way backstage (not difficult, as security was often not a concern @ early SLF shows). The band were blown away by the gig, Jake kept shouting, "7 fuckin encores" @ the top of his voice. They were even more impressed by my t-shirt & insisted on a round of photos of me with the band. I was obviously enthralled, utterly speechless & scared shitless of missing my train home. Jake signed a copy of a local fanzine; "To ***** with the amazing t-shirt - 7 encores - Jake Burns". We exchanged letters for a while, his last letter to me described the death of a friend as a result of the ever increasing "troubles" & I was reminded, again, just how lucky some of us are to be born elsewhere. Stiff Little Fingers still exist & perform today, playing packed shows all over the world. Their line up now features Jake & Bruce Foxton of The Jam on bass. Their entire back catalogue has recently been re-mastered on CD by EMI. "Inflammable Material" is still the defining moment, featuring the original 7" take of "Suspect Device", "78 RPM" (the b-side of "Alternative Ulster") & an interview conducted by Alan Parker, this essential punk rock lp should have a place in any serious collection.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Accademy, B'ham 20/11/01

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros bring it all back home some with their particular brand of folk/world/punk?rock/busking/tribute/experience. Back in the nation's second city for the first time since The Latino Rockabilly Wars, they end up coming on like a marginally less pompous Billy Bragg @ a preaching to the converted conference. Dragging John Cooper Clarke along with them by his rat's nest hair, it looked a good nostalgia ticket on paper. JCC was fuckin funny; "When I die I wanna go peacefully in my sleep like my unkle Barney, not skreaming in terror like his passengers". God, he looked older than, erm, God. The last time I saw hairspray working so hard under difficult circumstances, Martin Degville's mowhawk was 6ft tall. We got three (count em) poems, a few non rhyming limericks & several very funny observations; "Has anyone of you ever seen a Chinese person park their car, walk up their drive, slip a key into a Yale & actually go into a house? Nor me. Where do they all live?" He's joined on stage by a couple of Mescaleros for a stroll down "Beasley Street" & he's off. Sadly breif, coulda done with more. Joe's boys appeared in suits & the smart money was on adult entertainment from the off. The Mescaleros were ok (but only that), lacking the depth & range of the previous line up. The drums were tight enuff, the bass spot-on, the 4 strong backing vocals added emphasis & power where needed, but both gtr-ists were shit (possibly in some wierd inverted compliment to the traditionally wayward live gtr of Mick Jones). Joe rocked hard, he never stopped trying, he gave good VFM & entertained like the trooper he is (even though he does take himself a wee bit too seriously for someone his age). He seems to have finally reached that 101'ers workaday busktastic 1973 vibe & it's all his own work.

Clash tunes were mostly resticted to cover vershuns Police & Thieves, Pressure Drop, Armagideon Time, I Fought The Law, Junco Pardner, Police On My Back - dunno why, maybe Mick said use yer own tunes, maaaaaaaan. We stood too near to the speakers for the entire set & consequently carnt hear a fuckin thing anymore. Highlite; a venomous London's Burning & an amusing romp thru Blitzkrieg Bop (complete with gtr breaks that were not strictly required). The most frightening sight of the night were the greying, portly 40 somethings rushing back to the mosh pit everytime a Clash tune was aired & wheezingly retiring back to the wings for the more fiddle drenched numbers. At this point it's probably worth mentioning that there was way to much fuckin fiddlin going down & after 30 minutes we were hoping Tymon Dogg was gonna sprain his ankle or something & give the kids a chance to murder some more appalling lead "breaks". We couldn't even be bothered to shout; "Smiley Culture - where's the Heathrow Massive now?", but we could see why Joe wanted to move on down the road, back to where he came from all those years ago, before being sold the concept of year zero. Maybe he'll change his name back to Woody again, maybe he'll tour with Billy Bragg, maybe he'll stand for election in Bridgewater, maybe he'll end up playing weddings, parties, anything - bongo jives a speciality. White riot, I wanna riot, in a supper basket, with fries & plenty of vinegar, Joe. When the past is as tastefully packaged & presented as this, there's nothing left to do but box it up, put in in the back of the cupboard & confine it to history. Hey Joe, where you going with that bus pass in yer hand?

Martin Atkins The Boy Looked At Johnny

For a while, at the death of the 70s & the birth of the 80s, PIL were the most important, dangerous & downright interesting band on the planet. Following the premature death of Punk rock & untimely the demise of the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten (nee Lydon) had set sail in an entirely new direction with the controls set to the heart of the hun (Krautrock had replaced Punkrock marinated in dub). Over 3 ground-breaking long players; "Public Image Ltd", "Metal Box" & "Flowers Of Romance" PIL set a new agenda for rock & roll. For a large % of this dominant period they were propelled by drummer, Martin Atkins. Martin, who went on to enjoy further success with Ministry, Nine Inch Nails & Killing Joke, recently took time out from his busy schedule to answer one of our annoyingly simple & poorly thought out Q&A type things: trakMARX - What was the catalyst that made you pick up a pair of drumsticks? I was given the drumsticks and snare drum at primary school in a random shuffling of instruments - it could have been the xylophone! One of the dinner-ladies saw my mum on the street one day and mentioned that I was amazing on the snare drum - which is ridiculous! Then my dad bought me a rickety old kit down at Durham market for 20 quid or something - I guess then I felt that I should make an effort. I'd play till my hands bled to annoy my mom for some reason. Then I started playing along/drowning out Beatles records - which Bill Rieflin told me was a bad idea because of George Martin's use of tempo changes to increase drama etc - which I now do naturally, so thats weird isn't it? trakMARX - Prior to joining PIL you drummed for The Hots. Tell us a bit about them & yr. previous experience. I started playing when I was 9, first band PIGFACE when I was 11, lots of rehearsals, backing strippers on a Sunday afternoon at Newcastle Labour Club (Nights In White Satin!) - then loads of bands - then The MYND, the coolest northern pre punk band at the time with a Mellotron and a Mercedes van!

We played 7 nights a week, and yes, still Sunday afternoons with the strippers all over the place. THEN, I went to London because I was tired (at like 17) of going nowhere except Trimdon Village Comrades Club - while I was in London I missed an opportunity to audition for PIL ("band with rather well known singer seeks drummer" read thee ad in Melody Maker which is still at my Mums somewhere). trakMARX - You joined PIL in Sept 1979 - how did that come about? After having narrowly missed the first audition I guess that it weighed on me - it seemed that every time I opened a music mag PIL had fired another drummer - I'd call every time but someone else had filled the gap. One night I was sitting in my flat in Willesden speeding the t.v. used to stop at 11pm back then so I was reading through old copies of NME - I found ANOTHER drummer had quit/been fired - actually I think that Karl Burns (yikes) from The Fall was actually set on fire ...........I called up Jeanette Lee (by now I knew her and her Mum) Keith got on the phone and told me he'd call me on Sunday at 4.30 - I didn't think that he meant 4.30 in the morning! So, three flights of stairs up - I missed the call and nearly blew my chance - it was eventually agreed that I'd meet up with them the next weekend at the Town House which I assumed would be a rehearsal room. Errrrrrr. It wasn't - I walked in - to comments like "heres that northern git!" - and we wrote Bad Baby. Then I went back to my job working for the government as a clerical officer in St Martins Place (Trafalgar Square). trakMARX - Considering Lydon's reputation @ the time how did you find him in the early days? Well, it was all wierd to me. "Here try this - its speed", cases of Red Stripe, spliff, reggae on Johns huge speakers, Apocalypse Now on the tv, mad people knocking on the door all the time, the police around Gunter Grove kicking the door in. Keith has said in some interviews that I was a fan thats not exactly true - I didn't LOVE the Sex Pistols at all. I'd come from a Northern work ethic/technical ability background in terms of music - Punk was a kick in the face to all of that which was great if you couldn't play - but to those of us that could - it was a bit frightening to have people say it was all meaningless (know what I mean??). So I wasn't a BIG punk fan really. I liked the idea of it - back then Joe Jackson was a Punk for fucks sake - The Cars? etc.

If there was one thing that I admired in John was that he was quick and smart and FUNNY in a charismatic way. I think I appreciate that more now (having worked with loads more people) than I did then. People throw the word charisma around but he had it. trakMARX - Was there any element of being overawed by the character he had established for himself by this time? I dont think so, I didn't really see that other side of it - he was more Lydon than Rotten then. trakMARX - The recording of "Metal Box" was already underway when you joined the band. You were thrown right in at the deep end & contributed "Bad Baby" almost immediately. What was the established pattern of writing for PIL around this time & what was the chemistry like between Levine & Lydon? It seemed like the band 'jammed' in the studio. After Bad Baby the box was finished. NEXT I went into Gooseberry with Wobble and Mark Lucardi. Wobble told me we were working on new PIL stuff - it turned out that we were working on his solo debut. John laughed when I told him. The chemistry between John & Keith was distant - but seemed like more of a relationship than (for instance) I had with him. At first I thought that Keith (and Jeanette) lived MILES away - there were always calls etc - then one day after a call Keith came upstairs and I realised he (and Dave Crowe) lived downstairs in a kind of other flat thing. trakMARX - Did John share Keith's love of opiates? No, me either. trakMARX - Was Keith ever forthcoming about his time with The Clash - in particular his lack of a writing credit/royalties from the 1st LP? No. trakMARX - In May 1980 you released the 45 "They've Got Me In A Bottle" as Brian Brain - how did the rest of the band respond to yr. extra curricular activities? I think that it went unmentioned actually - it was only during B B's first American tour where I was continually drunk, carrying prescription speed, in hospital;

Washington DC (bottled in the face) New Orleans (stitches) San Francisco (alcohol poisoning) Boston (broken nose and jaw) - that anything was mentioned and then it was "we thought you were trying to kill yourself". trakMARX - The "Paris..." live LP & "Flowers Of Romance" LP pushed the parameters of commercial enterprise further away than at any time in the band's career - how was morale at this point & were you making a living by this stage? I was on 60 quid a week. I think I was fired (or let go) by Keith two weeks after the US tour - then, two weeks before another Brian Brain US tour I was asked to go to The Manor to work on Flowers - I was excited to hear what they had done in the preceding two weeks up there NOTHING! I dove in and worked on a few rhythms, Mickey Mouse watch loops etc for Four Enclosed, trumpets from this little battery powered trumpet thing that played 3" plastic discs etc. John also told me recently that I performed (and co-wrote) the "Flowers" track - I knew it was my drumming but (maybe) naively didn't protect myself in any way - I just let all of these ideas flow then left them with the ideas and went off to tour the USA. "Flowers" became a bit of a hit but they did TOTPs without me..........I dont know about getting away from commercial enterprise - the album still sounds great to me 20+ years later. trakMARX - You left the band temporarily in Jan 82 - why? I was called PIL s prodigal drummer somewhere - I think Keith fired me three times....... trakMARX - By spring of the same year, Levine had come down to a Brian Brain gig to ask you back - how did that go down? Actually we had all moved (separately) to NYC - this was I think after the Ritz fiasco - I was performing with Brian Brain at the Mud club - we were doing a version of Careering and when I turned around John was down the front smiling at me - it was weird - I should have had him come up onstage and sing. Later in the dressing room the new manager Bob Tulipan asked me to rejoin to work on a new album. I was happy to get involved. trakMARX - In August 82 you & Pete Jones were accused of pushing Ken Lockie out of the band - any truth in this?

I liked Ken, I LOVED Cowboys International, I dont know what happend, I think there were points that in his chosen role as phone answerer at the loft on 19th street - that he gained some kind of power - I don't have (nor do I remember) any musical contributions from Ken - he was working on a 12" called "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight". But, I'm not sure why there was no input from him - as I said I thought that Cowboys were brilliant. trakMARX - What brought about Sept 82's "new commercial attitude"? Dont know. We were living in a part of town signposted everywhere as a 'commercial zone' - maybe that had something to do with it - maybe it was simply a lack of cash? trakMARX - You left PIL around Aug 85 - why did you chuck in the towel? After Keith - after the 'holiday inn band' and then the newer band that we painstakingly auditioned in LA (thats where I met Flea) - there was just too much sycophantic shit going on - loads of coke (we had turbo-grinders!!!!) - no respect between me & John at all. I was sick of it it fried my brain for a while - living in a house in LA with palm trees, fire pit and swimming pool overlooking mountains etc etc - it felt like it should have been SUCCESS so I couldn't understand why it felt like shit. I think I initially left to try and jolt John into realising how awful I felt - he simply fuelled the shit storm with my 'betrayal' f.f.f.? trakMARX - John's choice of Ginger Baker as yr. replacement was a surprise to many - how did you view it? I had listened to Cream when I was 9 and viewed Ginger Baker as one of the top three drummers in the world - it was massively bittersweet - I would have loved to have been back in the band with him (Ginger!) - I think though that there where drug problems with Ginger at the time and I heard that the 2" tapes looked like they had been through a lawnmower with all of the edits to try and make the takes work. I dont think Ginger did any shows - that would have been ultra cool! The album after I left was great - some really great tracks on it.

trakMARX - You proceeded to work with Killing Joke, Ministry & Nine Inch Nails (amongst others) - Jaz, Al & Trent have probably all equaled Lydon in the confrontational stakes at some stage. How do they compare as people? Well theres half of my book! I guess that I have been very lucky to work with such a charismatic bunch. My attitude to each of them was probably different after PIL. Although I loved Al and Ministry the drug problems were just too close to the bone after Keith thats well documented isn't it? Never mind the singers - what about the guitarists? Geordie! and bass players Raven, Andrew Weiss, Al Kisys (sp?) Flea, Charles Levi - FUCK!! trakMARX - You currently run a label called Invisible tell us a little about the set up & yr. roster. The label is 15 years old, I have my own studio - just did the new Gravity Kills album in there and the Damage Manual (prod & engineer). I like to engineer but I'm slow and experimental. There are 220 + releases from Invisible and associated labels; Sheep On Drugs, Test Dept, FM Einheit, Psychic TV, Swans, Chris Connelly, Meg Lee Chin, Pigface, Scorn, etc, etc. Now I also have an umbrella distribution company that works with smaller labels - to put them though Caroline Distribution. I try to help them avoid making the 7000 and five mistakes that I have......... In many ways this is what we all talked about in 1979 - no shit from no one. trakMARX - You were recently forced into defending yr. honour following certain inappropriate comments from one John Lydon in Mojo 103, even having a letter printed in response in Mojo 104. His words obviously touched a nerve - what state was yr. relationship with him like prior to this incident & how do you see it maturing? I think that whilst my relationship with Keith has matured to a point where we are talking and (maybe) ignoring some of the shit we have said about each other, I dont know where my relationship with John is. I guess I find myself at the point of not really caring? It has been up and down over the last 20 years. I like him and respect his talent but its difficult to be around him sometimes. Especially as I strive to grow.

trakMARX - Those Winterland words; "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" seem more apt now than ever. Where we all cheated in some way? If you are referring to punter being ripped off, I don't see that at all? I do, however, get the vibe that current activities may be throwing either a deepening shadow or, unfortunately, a harsh fluorescent light, on certain assumptions? trakMARX - Which UK punk veterans do you admire for their subsequent development?. Don't really pay attention what does that have to do with anything? I'm astounded by Watties longevity? NOW I look to bands like Not Breathing (developing new instuments and attitudes) Defragmentation - Q; "where do you play" A; "in the park until the police come". Fucking brilliant. Actually I saw The UK Subs in a pub in Coventry - my good friend Simon had booked them to play - just for his own satisfaction I think - I was amazed by Charlie Harpers energy - Beastie boys style! I'm going to ask him to contribute something to the next Pigface cd. Siouxsie and Budgie have their label, I have to admire that. trakMARX - Looking back, who meant it maaaaan & who was faking? Who cares? The fakers have faded. Remember that song "Part Time Punks' and anyway, how do you prove you mean something - by ranting and raving about how much you really mean it - or by doing it? Truth will out. trakMARX - Will you be attending the Crystal Palace gig in July? I saw the Sex Pistols in Chicago a few years back, I just really wanted to show John my baby pics. Ended up in an Irish bar watching John drink Guiness - I stopped drinking almost ten years ago and am feeling better and more dangerous than ever - but no, I'm not going. trakMARX - What's on the horizon for Martin Atkins? Strangely, Keith and I have exchanged a few e mails, that interests me, there are some people I have disagreed with/parted with temporarily - only to have death prevent a reconciliation or at least a re-connection and chance to rework some of the kinks. I have always had tremendous respect for Keiths ability and I'm excited to see where our relationship goes this time around.

I have a fantastic distribution network that is growing and I am increasingly delighted to re-discover and refocus my abilities to understand this glorious business and turn it inside out. We're still here after 15 years so that says something - the label (and group of labels) is starting to grow outside of the limitations of waiting for my next musical project - that is the healthiest thing for the label and ultimately for my musical output. I'm happier and happier in the role of producer/enabler/whatever helping a bunch of artists to achieve what they can in some kind of meaningful way. Maybe doing all that I have really helps me to stay out of the way a bit? Whatever - still pouring gasoline on the fire! If I knew exactly where this was going it would be boring?

Pistols @ The Palace

Honestly, John, this should never have gotten past the committee stage. Considering the recent $22.5m inheritance from Noras old man, the property deals & the 77 merchandise-a-thon promotional campaign its not like you really need the money, is it? No, no, no its something far more sordid than that. Its all about respect, all about being the daddy, all about wanting to be Ray Winstone deep down inside, isnt it? You are THE original, arent you? The one who kopped Durys safetypins, Hells hair & someone elses attitude & glued it to a wide boys gtr. The boy looked @ Johnny Johnny looked @ Ian. The rumour mill says; poor ticket sales, tight security operation, ltd access to band. The backstage lig says more; minor league celebs, 2cnd rate punkers, the odd genuine star & some very expensive beer. Before the show Glenn, Steve & Paul flit in & out of the inner sanctum bar area for dudes with orange passes & laminates (not Ian Brown, however who has the wrong colour pass "dont you know who I am?" "no, but we have a fairly good idea of who you were". Hey, Ian; "its not where yr. from, its where you go back to once the circus finally realises you are a talentless twat who carnt hold a note".) Rusty Egan, Mike Rossi, Nils Stevenson, John Robb, Meg Matthews you get the idea. We lig, we ponce nonalcoholic drinks & we mind our guest for the day: Mr Rat Scabies (told you there were one or two real stars present). We manage to miss the Libertines, which is a two bob cunting shame, & concentrate on sighting Mick Jones (who is producing their LP & may well have been present we didnt see him!). We avoid the Dropkick Murphys who sound like a sober Pogues being interpreted by Christian punks. We catch Trail Of Dead Rat hollers encouragement & advice on how to trash equipment for a couple of minutes a skuffle on stage threatens to break into a genuine fight but its all a bit tame. No flames. As we move through the crowd Rat is literally mobbed by adoring punters:

massive 40 something skins covered in tats embrace him in tears its all autographs, questions & "you changed my fucking life forever, man". Gangs of Japanese midget women claw @ his legs he looks scared. Come & play Derry, maaaaan. The Damned aint the same without you. I saw you 23 times. Do you remember The Nashville? Its fucking incredible to watch. Punter - "Oi. You dont half look like Rat Scabies." Rat "I wish I had his money. Arf, arf." Punter "It is you, innit?" We lig back to the cheap downstairs bar in time to catch Pamela Hogg & her mate who is very fired up about the prospect of catching The Rapture. She bums one of my poncey menthol fags you know, the ones that taste shit in joints - & raves some more about The Rapture. Then they go & shut the ligging bar bar-stards. Were forced back upstairs to the veranda bar & the beautiful people. Rat is busy chatting to people he hasnt seen in years & were talking about collecting with some guys who own a rekkid shop in Norwich (I think). Its nearly time for the Tardis to take us back to 1977. The Pistols take the stage Lydon barks they rip into Hawkwinds "Silver Machine" without looking irony up in the dictionary first. My good God, its fucking awful. Imagine Winston Churchill doing a War Memorial Show in the mid 70s & opening with Mel Brookes "Spring Time For Hitler". Lydon sounds like a Dalek with a flat battery. How exactly does one become an anarchist royalist? Johnny hates Tony Blair. He wants us to celebrate our Britishness by moving to LA & becoming property magnates, perhaps? We wander around the arena (plenty of space to get about!) check the sound @ the front, the middle, the sides, the back & the wings. @ the front it sounds good: tight, raucous, professional rock & roll (if thats what we ordered?) everywhere else it sounds shite: bass way too loud, bass drum even louder, gtrs too quiet & John way, way, way too fucking loud. He roams the stage like a fat lecturer delivering his thesis on "the alternative culture trap of the average ex-pat multi-millionaire". It sucks. We get "Bollocks" & the outtakes: "Substitute", "No Fun", "Stepping Stone", "Doncha Give Me No Lip", etc, etc but its flat, lifeless, pose ridden, angst free, leaden, perfunctory & utterly, utterly ancient. It may well have stood a chance in the confines of a sweaty atmospheric club, but here alone on this runway of a stage it dies like Custer surrounded by Indians & shot full of arrows.

We leave before the violence, for an early car park dart & a quick passage north to West London. The band murder "My Way" as we walk from the stadium. John hasnt bothered learning the words disgruntled "real" punks whod never have paid to see this sham screamed from beyond the perimeter fence, "Lydon is a wanker." We were back in time for last orders. I asked Rat for his opinion as I dropped him off home; "They were better @ The Nashville in 76", he quipped before heading for the comfort of a lock in @ his local & a well deserved sit down. Q - Mummy, whats a Sex Pistol? A - Its smaller than you think, will most likely go off in yr. hand & leaves a sticky patch on the duvet & a nasty taste in yr. mouth.

John Cooper Clarke Poetry/Emotion

John Cooper Clarke shot to fame during the Punk Rock wars of the late 1970s performing 150mph gutter poetry to pogo-ing Punks all over the UK. With a broad Manchester accent, an expansive vocabulary & an image not a million miles away from Bob Dylan circa Blonde On Blonde, Clarke confessed to influences as varied as Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Ian Dury, Lord Buckley, Micky Spillane, Magrite, Dali, Beefheart, Zappa, Velvet Underground, The Wailers & I-Roy. She left her heart in Frisco, She left her room in a mess, She left her hat in the disco, She never left her address. Valley Of The Lost Women Johnny Clarke was born in Salford sometime around 1950. He left school aged 15 & passed through a succession of dead-end jobs, including dishwasher & mortuary assistant, whilst honing his skills as a performance poet. He added his middle name to his stage name, becoming John Cooper Clarke, to differentiate himself from other Johnny Clarkes on the Manchester circuit in the late 1970s. The boys are on the wagon, the girls are on the shelf. Their common problem is that theyre not someone else. - Beasley Street JCC released his debut 7 EP on Rabid Records in late 1977. Rabid Records, one of the UKs first Punk independents, was founded by local producer Martin Hannett (aka Martin Zero) & his associate, Tosh Ryan. Rabid was already home to Slaughter & The Dogs, & Clarkes Psycle Sluts EP soon joined Where Have All The Bootboys Gone in the Small Wonder Punk charts.

People turn to poison as quick as lager turns to piss. Sweethearts are physically sick every time they kiss. - Beasley Street JCC followed The Clash & signed to CBS in early 1978. His first LP for the label, 1978s Disguise In Love, utilised a specially assembled backing band: The Invisible Girls. The Invisible Girls were put together by Hannett & featured ex members of 10CC, Be Bop Deluxe & Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks. The music they created for JCCs vicious words was so far ahead of its time it often met itself coming back from the pub on its way out. Like a death at a birthday party, you ruin all the fun. Like a licked & spat out Smartie, youre no use to anyone. - Twat JCCs first 45 for CBS was Post War Glamour Girls which sank without a trace. It was followed in 1979 by Walking Back To Happiness: a 10 live album (with 1 new studio track: Gimmix! Play Loud later released as a 45 in its own right on triangular shaped orange vinyl becoming JCCs 1st Top 40 hit) featuring JCC sans backing band & in particular vitriolic form. Stage favourites such as Twat & Majorca soon firmly established JCC amongst his Punk peers as an entertainer par excellence. The press went along for the ride & JCC enjoyed much critical acclaim. They packed us in to the white hotel, you could still smell the polycel. Wet white paint in the air-conditioned cells, The waiter smells of fake Chanel. Gauloise, garlic as well, says if I want I can call him Mig-U-El, well, really. - Majorca 1980 brought a 2nd LP in the form of Snap, Crackle & Bop (a reference to a breakfast cereal advert), still widely regarded as JCCs finest hour. The LPs pivotal moment, the harrowing 6-minute plus Beasley Street, painted a similar picture as Dylans Desolation Row had done a decade or so earlier.

For the man with the Fu-Manchu moustache, revenge is not enough. - Beasley Street JCC toured extensively throughout much of 1980, often in support. By this stage it was already becoming painfully apparent that JCC was destined to remain a much loved cult figure rather than a star. A somewhat premature compilation LP, Me & My Big Mouth, was released by CBS in 1981. A 3rd LP, Zip Style Method, followed in 1982 but Punks grip on the public imagination was already in decline & it did not sell well. Conditional discharge, a sticky deposit - Conditional Discharge By the end of 1983 JCC had faded back into the wallpaper with 3 LPs, a few volumes of poetry & several mesmerising performances at the Poetry Olympics clutched to his chest for posterity. The ensuing 20 years have seen very little JCC action bar the odd performance, a support slot with Joe Strummer & an alleged life long battle with opiates. Like a night club in the morning, youre the bitter end. Like a recently disinfected shithouse, youre clean round the bend. You give me the horrors, to bad to be true. All of my tomorrows are lousy cos of you. - Twat No place for Why No Nipples In The Daily Express? or Sleepwalk (his finest hour), but Word Of Mouth is still a timely reminder of the power of poetry. JCC practically invented alternative comedy single-handedly - Alexi Sayle must have spent hours dissecting & reconstructing Clarkes work translating it into Scouse. 2002 has seen the arrival of a young man named Mike Skinner who operates in a very similar field to JCC & Ian Dury (Both Clarke & Dury were using the dance music of their day as a vehicle for their poetry, after all), except with a Brummie accent & garage beats. Original Pirate Material owes a considerable debt to John Cooper Clarke go buy Word Of Mouth & pay a little bit of it back yourself. Enter the dragon exit Johnny Clarke - Kung Fu International

The Slits
The Slits formed in London in 1976. The original line up featured Kate Chorus (aka Korris) on Gtr & Suzi Gutsy on Bass, with Ari on vocals & Palmolive on drums. They were the only all girl Punk band to surf the first wave. Interesting Slits Fact 1: Palmolive was so named when Paul Simonon of The Clash asked her what her name was. Paloma, she replied. Palmolive?, said Simonon. The name stuck. Interesting Slits Fact 2: Kate had previously played alongside Tessa in The Castrators. This early Slits line up did not last - Suzi soon quit the band to join The Flicks, whilst Kate departed to form The Mo-dettes. Tessa & Viv were drafted in to replace them on Bass & Gtr respectively. The new line-up joined the bill on The Clashs White Riot tour in early 77, along with The Buzzcocks & Subway Sect. Interesting Slits Fact 3: The White Riot tour was filmed by Don Letts for The Punk Rock Movie. Letts would eventually manage The Slits. Interesting Slits Fact 4: Viv & Palmolive were fired from The Flowers Of Romance by Sid Vicious for an alleged lack of talent (which coming from Sid, is very fucking amusing). The Slits made their live debut on March 11th 1977 in Harlesdon. The sight of four girls smashing the hell out of their equipment & screaming into the microphones was a very intimidating one indeed. From a young male perspective, these girl Punks were even more scary than their male counterparts. Slits songs were short, sharp & extremely spikey: So Tough, Shoplifting, Split, Vaseline, New Town get the picture? Ten quid for the lot we payed fuck all Shoplifting The Slits recorded their first John Peel session on 19/9/77: Love Und Romance, Vindictive, New Town & Shoplifting. Newtown, where everyone goes around sniffing televisionino or taking footballino Newtown. The Slits gigged extensively throughout 1977 & became closely linked to Malcolm McLaren. Malcolm had designs on the girls & loosely managed them for a while. He wanted them to act in a film he was planning about a foxy all girl band that are chased from Paris to Mexico by evil baddies. The Slits were rightly not over-keen on the project.

Some sound recordings were made in Paris in January 1978 the master tapes of which include a tone pulse which would suggest that film footage was intended to be added later but a deal was never formally struck & the tapes still remain unreleased. The Slits recorded their second John Peel session on 17/4/78: So Tough, Instant Hit & FM. He is a boy hes very thin until tomorrow took heroin Instant Hit The Slits struggled to score a record deal. By the time they signed to Island Records in late 78 Palmolive had left the band to form The Raincoats & had been replaced with Budgie (later to become a Banshee & eventually, Mr Dallion). The band entered Farm Ridge Studios in spring 1979 to begin work on their debut LP with legendary dub reggae producer, Dennis Bovell. The resultant LP, The Cut, was so markedly different in sound & approach to the John Peel sessions that it really could have been made by an entirely different band. The Punk rock squall of The Slits earlier material was dubbed to Babylon & back by Bovell. Older material was drastically reworked & newer material skanked off into a new space all of its own this music screamed sonic sophistication. Punk rock (& in particular Punk rock according to The Clash & The Ruts) had been big mates with reggae almost from the kick off. In the early days at the Roxy Club, DJ Don Letts relied heavily on dub sides for his stints behind the decks simply because there just werent enough Punk records available to fill a set. The Cut was eventually released in the September 1979. The cover was a bone of contention with some Tessa, Viv & Ari appeared topless, smeared in mud, looking for all the world like 3 warrior priestesses from the Bronze Age. Fledgling practitioners of political correctness & socalled new men found it all too much to take: powerful, slightly threatening women, in charge of their own destiny surely not. A limited shrink-wrapped vinyl edition of the LP appeared fully signed by the girls in mauve marker pens copies of this particular Slits collectable change hands for silly money these days. Sonically The Cut stands the test of time very well. Even today you can still hear the sound of jaws dropping new ground was not only be broken, it was being tilled, prepared & planted with radical new ideas. Bovells production pushed the very boundaries of convention to their limits. Of the thousands of LPs released worldwide in 1979, The Cut sounded like no other then & sounds like nothing else today. By the end of 1979, Budgie was replaced on the drum stool by Bruce Smith (The Pop Group). The Slits parted company with Island Records & signed to CBS.

Their next LP, Return Of The Giant Slits, mined African & tribal influences many moons before this practice became commonplace. Again The Slits were pushing envelopes this time ambassadors for what we would eventually refer to as World Music. The Slits finally broke up at the end of 1981, still largely a cult band. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight it is not difficult to see why. The Slits were always way ahead of their time. When you consider the differences between being a woman in rock & roll in the late 70s & doing the same job today, the goal-post have not only been moved, the whole damn ball game has changed beyond all recognition. The fact that The Cut still sounds eclectic, dangerous & cutting edge today is testament to the legacy of The Slits: original sisters doing it for themselves. Jungle Records have recently issued The Slits In The Beginning on CD featuring live recordings from the bands Punk & Dub eras. The full track listing is: Punk Era (in Lo-Fi): Vindictive; A Boring Life; Slime; Newtown; Love and Romance; Shoplifting; Number One Enemy; Number One Enemy (acoustic). guest vocal: Nina Hagen Dub Era (in High-Fi): In The Beginning; Newtown; Man Next Dorr; Grapevine; Typical Girls; Fade Away; In The Beginning. guest vocal Neneh Cherry.

The Jam: This Boy Shouts & This Boy Screams.

The first thing you have to fully appreciate when considering The Jam is: Paul Weller wasnt always a pofaced AOR purveyor of dad-rock. Paul Weller was once the greatest songwriter of his generation. Thats right, check your history books: DIRECTION REACTION CREATION. We were hoping Mr Weller was going to join us for this feature, but he ignored our interview request, dismissed our questions & generally kept up his strange habit of refusing to acknowledge his (debt to the) past. This is a great shame, but not a complete surprise. Although Weller has recently begun to play out his own personal Jam favourites, he remains tight lipped about his roll in the punk rock revolution that shook a nation to its very foundation. A recent diatribe by CTCLs Chris Houghton entitled, Why I Hate The Jam, was the fuel to this particular fire. Not only was Mr Houghton wrong, his generationalinsecurity indication lights flashing like R2D2 having a coronary seizure, his argument was immature, digitally re-mastered & conceptually flawed. In truth, there really hasnt been a British band as good as The Jam since, well, The Jam (analysis of more recent Paolo Hewitt endorsed new mods, Oasis, will illustrate radically the gulf between Weller & Gallagher as songwriters, role models & generational commentators). Pretentious two-bob cunts like The Libertines can allude to anything they want but they will never make 18 consecutive classic 45s or an LP any where near as perfect as Setting Sons. The Jam used loud guitars but were never lazy enough to wander into Metal. The Jam loved dance music & incorporated its ability to move feet into their sound without ever resorting to being remixed by some trend endorsed producer or hip for two weeks DJ. The Jam were in love with the past, the present & had a firm investment in the future. How many bands can you say that about today? The Jam inspired a whole generation to look beyond the limits of the art school punk elite & move towards a new future of integrated racial harmony (it was still an ideal then). The Jam were the only first wavers still radical, topical & relevant enough to walk hand in hand with the multi-cultural wave of Two-Toners when they arrived at the turn of the 80s. The Jam were the biggest British band to come out of punk rock. Period.

The Jams back catalogue is available on dusty old vinyl from all good record fairs. Its also available on shiny new digitally re-mastered CDs from your local HMVirginMegaStore Concession. The Jam Investment Guide: In The City: The proto-punk of The Whos My Generation 12 years on. What In The City lacked in contemporary punk rock attitude, it more than made up for in soul stomp energy. Weller had been bitten by the Sex Pistols & The Clash. In The City was his call to arms & a valid bid to get involved. Modern World: Dismissed as a remake of In The City on inception. The band were treading water, so they said. Today those criticisms seem churlish. Modern World was recorded mere months down the line from In The City & stands the test of time with honour. All Mod Cons: Reputedly recorded & scrapped a couple of times over, this difficult third LP proved to be the making of The Jam. A perfectly paced LP rammed to the hilt with quality compositions, All Mod Cons raised The Jam above their stuttering contemporaries, upwards to the stellar heights that awaited them. Setting Sons: The masterpiece. Setting Sons was The Jams benchmark. From the opening Girl On The Phone to the closing cover of Heatwave, Setting Sons simply rattled with intent. By 1979 The Jam were deservedly the biggest band in Britain & Weller had been rightly elevated to spokesman for his generation. No one has filled those long abandoned shoes adequately since. Singles 1977-79 CD Box Set: The singles band, if not the greatest all time. This box contains their in repro sleeves with a booklet & Jam were one hell of a British singles band of first 9 single releases a numbered ltd print.

Singles 1980-82 CD Box Set: This is an essential purchase, if only to get your hands on Going Underground: 1980s best 45 & The Jams most effective political statement. By the time we reach A Town Called Malice its difficult to tell where The Jam end & where The Style Council begin, but its worth the walk in the end. 9 x repro CD mini singles, complete with booklet & numbered ltd print.

Direction Reaction Creation Box Set: 5 CD set, complete with expansive 86 page booklet & a forward by Paolo Hewitt. 117 tracks, 22 previously unreleased cuts, liner notes, gig list, discography, memorabilia & rare photos. Every punky mod should own a copy. The Jam At The BBC 2 x CD (Ltd 3 x CD): 3 x Peel sessions, 3 x complete Radio 1 In Concerts from 1977, 1979 & 1981 & 4 cuts from Studio B15 in 1981. Go buy. Bye, bye.


This is my Indian summer...I learnt that fame is an illusion & everything about it is just a joke. Im far more dangerous now, because I dont care at all. Joe Strummer to Chris Salewicz 2000. Strummer was always far more than just your average Joe. Articulate, passionate, challenging the thinking mans punk rocker - a born leader. Engage brain before opening mouth sample maxim. Joe taught a generation that it didnt have to be THAT way, there WAS an alternative. Joe Strummer was born in Ankara, Turkey, in 1952 & christened John Graham Mellor. His family spent time in Ankara, Cairo, Mexico City & Bonn, before Joe returned to the UK to attend the City Of London Freemens School in Surrey. Joe left school & enrolled at Central College of Art but left after about a week, heading straight for the underground & squat culture. Joe spent time living in Wales, playing around in knock about bands & going by the moniker of Woody in homage to Mr Guthrie. Joe was always a protest singer. The Vultures in time led to The 101ers, a bunch of West London based squat rockers named after their squatted address, who provided some of the only high energy rock & roll action available in the capital immediately prior to the Punk Rock Explosion. The 101ers were eventually supported by a nascent Sex Pistols & Woody became Joe Strummer. Blown away by the power of the Pistols, Joe immediately recognised that the 101ers were yesterdays papers by comparison. It was time to strike out anew. Somewhere between myth & reality (& let us not forget: the myth is ALWAYS more interesting than the reality), the birth of The Clash was upon us. Mick Jones & Paul Simonon had been struggling gamely as The London SS (it always stood for Social Security, right Mick?) along with Tony James & Rat Scabies. The London SS would eventually spawn The Clash, The Damned, Chelsea & Generation X.

The story goes that Mick & Paul were queuing for their dole cheques when they spotted Joe further down the queue. They approached him outside the dole office & Joe felt he was in for a kicking. Mick Jones Your groups shit but youre a top front man, come & join our band (or something along those lines). Joe was given 48 hours to mull it over but phoned back after 24 & threw his hat into the ring along with Mick, Paul, Keith Levine & Terry Chimes. Under the guidance of Bernie Rhodes, The Clash proceeded to write a set at their newly christened Rehearsal Rehearsal Studios. They made their stage debut supporting the Pistols in July 1976. Their second show was a behind closed doors affair at Rehearsals for the benefit of hacks & A&R men. Mark Perry Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS. Harsh words from the man who played a large part in establishing Punk as the alternative establishment. Harsh, but not altogether untrue. The debate surrounding who used who will rage on into eternity. Remote Control v Complete Control. The Clash v The Man. Sten guns in Knightsbridge, spray paint Capital Radio, air pistols at dawn? The Clash were a lifestyle option before it was invented. The Clash took the temperature of a generation & refused to leave its side. By the time The Clash hit the racks, Levine had fucked off in a strop & Chimes had decided obscurity was far more attractive than compromised political principles & phoney posturing. Strummer, Jones & Simonon graced the LPs cover alone Chimes was listed as Tory Crimes & Levine credited for only Whats My Name. By this time White Riot had established the bands reactionary viewpoint The Clash were the only band that mattered, said Strummer. He proceeded to back that to the hilt by living the life to the full. For those of us present when the bomb went off, The Clash meant it, maaaaan. There was no question, no debate & no doubt absolutely. The Pistols & The Damned were the shockers, The Jam & The Stranglers the meat & the potato The Clash were the bus to freedom & the future: the greatest rock & roll band in the history of the world. The Clash rarely left my turntable. My mother would constantly berate me for that bloody awful racket & once attempted to remove the needle from the vinyl as it was spinning: resulting in her being pushed down the stairs for her troubles & leaving a very nasty scratch on side 2 of the LP. Im sure she has long forgiven me, the LP still jumps 3 times during Police & Thieves. Topper Headon replaced the departed Chimes at the drumstool - the classic Clash line up was complete by the end of 1977.

The next 3 x 45s would change the way the world felt about The Clash forever: Complete Control, Clash City Rockers & (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais (& their b-sides) were quite simply the business - The Clash would never eclipse these recordings - they captured everything the band stood for. Watching The Clash on stage during late 1977/78 was a truly life affirming experience. Topper altered the band beyond all recognition they grew immeasurably in stature following his arrival, a point Strummer laboured to make continually throughout Westway To The World. Many will tell you that The Clash were the best live rock & roll band theyve ever seen they wouldnt be far wrong. The backdrops, the pre-tape, the atmosphere, the expectation, the realisation that the future was unfolding in front of your eyes & the feeling that the floor was disintegrating beneath your feet. You can still relive those dates today with David Mingay & Jack Hazans film, Rude Boy, a flawed but essential historical document that illustrates just how early Strummer began to feel the weight of his convictions. In 1978 Strummer & Jones were flown to Jamaica by CBS to write material for their second LP. Strummer experienced the real meaning of under heavy manners during an incident involving islanders who werent over impressed with the so-called white boy rock stars. Simonon was left to sulk at home: The Clash was great until Sandy Pearlman fucked up our music. The subsequent Give Em Enough Rope was torn apart by some doubters: Give em enough rope & theyll hang themselves. The Strolling Clash - Radio friendly unit shifters. Tommy Gun, English Civil War & The Cost Of Living EP threw The Clash into the charts but they still resolutely refused to appear on TOTPs (an arcane establishment). As 78 turned to 79 Punk was dead & The Clash were the new rock & roll elite. The situationist sloganeering was gradually replaced with iconic rock & roll shape-throwing. The Clash sure knew how to pose. The bondage pants lost out to sombre black suits, Homburg/Trilby hats & bandanas. London Calling kicked in the commercial doors for The Clash. It gave them their biggest hits to date in the UK & finally turned the Yanks heads long enough for them to adopt the band as their own. Bernie Rhodes 1st stint as manager of The Clash was reaching the end of its tenure. Mick Jones, musical arranger & chief songwriter, was beginning to eclipse control within the group. Jones had never really liked Bernie or his ideas, he suddenly saw himself as the main man in the equation & the balance of power shifted accordingly. 1980s sprawling triple LP, Sandinista, was ample evidence of this.

Strummer was by now holed up in his studio spliffbunker scribbling away to his hearts content while Mick held the reigns firmly in his talented fingers. 1982s Combat Rock brought all the commercial success that the very existence of The Clash now required to keep the wolf from the door. Strummer bought a large Notting Hill house to remind him of his squatting days & all the promises of a better tomorrow began to wilt under the pressure of compromise. By 1984 Toppers smack habit had become so bad he could hardly hold a pair of sticks yet alone sit on a stool for an hour or so he was duly fired & replaced for touring duties by old mate of the band, Tory Crimes. What followed next was traumatic: Bernie Rhodes was reinstated & duly sacked Mick Jones from the group for rock star tendencies & loosing touch with the original spirit of the band. Joe disappeared for a while after poor ticket sales & surfaced in Paris blaming a Bernie scam. The Clash expanded to a five piece & undertook a busking tour Joe had a Mohawk! The stink of desperation did not go unnoticed & the wheels finally fell off for me at Leicester when I stood & vented my anger & disappointment at 5 figures on a stage purporting to be The Clash, leaving the building long before the final bonk!! The Clash died horribly. I was distraught, in mourning, it had all turned to shit after all & from where I was standing it all seemed to be Joe Strummers fault. This was a sentiment obviously shared by Joe himself. As the years slipped under the bridge he would openly admit he got it all wrong. He was wrong about Topper, wrong about Mick & most definitely wrong about Bernhard Rhodes. By the time hed chased Mick down to The Bahamas & presented him with a bag of weed & an apology, it was already far too late: Mick now had Big Audio Dynamite. Joe flirted with acting in the late 80s appearing in Alex Coxs Walker & Straight To Hell, as well as Jim Jarmuschs Mystery Train. In 1989 he released the patchy Earthquake Weather as his debut solo LP, before briefly joining the Pogues while Shane dried out. Being Joe Strummer from 85 to 95 really wasnt very much fun a decade of discovery followed by a decade of regret. You can feel the apologetic resignation seeping from him throughout the interview clips of Westway To The World. You find yourself touched by his modesty, humility & his overpowering sense of loss. Its haunting. Thankfully, Joe Strummer had one more card up his sleeve. He split from long term partner, Gabby, moved out of London & eventually married Lucinda Tate in 1995. The newly weds set up home in Bridgewater, Somerset.

Joe appeared to heal some in the ensuing years, he could even have been at peace (pop back to the quote at the top of the page). He was blessed with 2 daughters, enjoyed the rural surroundings & began to turn his thoughts back to music: CAN I GIVE A MESSAGE HELLO YEAH, ID JUST LIKE TO SAY: LETS HAVE SOME MUSIC NOW, HUH? The Mescaleros duly delivered Rock Art & The X-Ray Style (1999) & Global A Go-Go (2001). The Mescaleros may have changed from tour to tour, but the songs remained the same (Joe even found work for his old busking pal & fiddler, Tymon Dogg, for the first time since Sandinista). The music was a glorious amalgamation of every aspect of Joes character: as wide as his vision & as big as his heart. I caught shows on each tour, to see Joe again after so long was just as exhilarating as it had been the first time round. The last time I saw him Id decided that he was gonna live forever & turn into a gnarled punk/blues/world amalgamation of Bo Diddly, Woody Guthrie & Muddy Waters a man for all seasons & all generations. A foot soldier of the old guard destined to continue teaching lesser minds the beauty & power of legitimate protest through an art-form: Let fury have the hour, anger can be power, you know that we can use it. Never meet you heroes, is what they say, & I only ever met Joe across a heaving moshpit: just another face in the crowd. Doesnt mean I never felt I knew him, doesnt mean I wasnt touched irrevocably by his honesty, doesnt mean there isnt a large tear in my soul now that hes gone. Joe Strummer may have led me astray, Joe Strummer may have led me straight up the garden path, Joe Strummer may well have been as human as every single one of us but he was still Joe Strummer, & always will be. To me Joe isnt dead hes simply slipped into the other room & I hope hell still be waiting when I get there. Maybe we could do that book then, I have so much I wanted to ask him, so much blame I was sure he was gonna help me apportion. Ignore alien orders, strap on your strumguard, grab a Telecaster & follow me down to the spliff-bunker. Theres still some work to be done maybe you could pick up the baton Joe dropped it over there, somewhere. They got Burton suits, they think its funny, turning rebellion into money Long live the myth of The Clash. Joe Strummer has left the building.

Generation X Generation X
Generation X were the 4th Punk band to emerge from the ashes of The London SS: legendary garage band that never actually made it out of the garage. Tony James left Brian James & Rat Scabies to form The Damned & Mick Jones to build The Clash & hooked up with Bromley Contingent member, William Broad, to form Chelsea in October 1976. The Bromley Contingent were exactly that: a bunch of well-to-do kids from the suburbs who began to follow the Sex Pistols around in early 1976. The entourage also included Siouxsie Sioux & Steve Severin, later of The Banshees. James & Broad (nee Idol) had met singer Gene October through an advert & the Chelsea line up was completed with the arrival of John Towe on drums. The band was short lived, however, playing only a handful of shows before splitting after supporting The Stranglers at The Nashville on 21st of November 1976. James, Idol & Towe left October with nothing but the name Chelsea & had regrouped as Generation X (named after a dog-eared paperback book they found on a bookshelf) in time for their debut show in early December 1976. On December 14th 1976 Generation X became the first band to play The Roxy Club in Londons Covent Garden. Immediately after Christmas 1976, John Towe was asked to leave the band & Mark Laff was recruited from Subway Sect. With their line up now complete, the band set about scoring a deal & getting a record into the racks. A series of white-hot shows at leading Punk venues throughout the capital attracted good reviews, eager punters & desperate A&R men keen to cut themselves a slice of this Punk rock pie. Chrysalis Records finally emerged with the ink on the dotted line & Generation X were trapped by the Man. Chrysalis, the home of Genesis, UFO, Peter Gabriel & a whole host of old school dinosaurs, was not exactly the hippest label the band could have chosen much of the criticism they were dogged by for the rest of their existence began here. Dont drink, dont smoke what do you do? Generation X could well have been the subjects of Adam Ants later Goody Two Shoes they were so clean they squeaked. Tony Parsons championed the band early on with very positive live reviews but had changed his mind completely by the time he interviewed them for the NME in January 1977: Street soldiers fuelled on orange juice? Revolutionaries who dont give a shit about Bergen-Belsen? The ordersnouveau sung to pleasant pop melodies?

If Generation X didnt hype themselves as being such a big deal then I would probably not be as turned off by the band as I am now. Generation Xs debut 45, Your Generation/Day By Day (CHS2165), was produced by Phil Wainman & released in September 1977. Your Generation was a tenuous answer record of sorts to The Whos My Generation & employed many of the same techniques. The single peaked at number 38 in the BMRB charts & further cries of sell out were hurled in the general direction of Generation X. Second 45, Wild Youth/Wild Dub, was somewhat of a step backwards. The a-side was a strictly average blast of mod tinged punk pop posturing with distinctly pub rock overtones & a forced chorus that temporarily threatened to derail the gravy train before it even made it out of the station. B-side, Wild Dub, however, was truly ahead of its time with its dub-technique-applied-to-rock-song approach (it would take Tony James old mucker Mick Jones substantially longer to get round to this method with The Clash): Heavy, heavy dub Punk Rockers Youth, Youth, Youth. Generation X finally began work on their debut long player under the guidance of producer Martin Rushent & engineer Alan Winstanley (both of whom would enjoy considerable success further on down the line!) at TW Studios in Fulham in late 1977 early 1978. The sleeve proudly boasted that no session musicians were used during the making of the LP (phew, thats a fucking relief! - Ed.). The LPs striking (i.e. made them look pretty) cover shots were taken by Gered Mankowitz (another connection to the 60s Mankowitz famously shot The Stones from 65 to 67) Generation X were well aware of rocks lineage & not afraid to pay homage where ever it was due. The LP, simply entitled Generation X, was preceded by the bands 3rd 45, Ready Steady Go, an anthem in celebration of the 60s TV show of the same name. The song may have harked back to an era already forgotten by most hardcore Punk Rockers but it was their strongest yet & fired them straight back into the pop charts Ready Steady Go was a bona fide hit record - with airplay!!! Generation X was released in March 1978, hot on the heels of The Buzzcocks Another Music In A Different Kitchen. Many of Punks big guns had already gone off (in order of appearance): debut LPs by The Damned, The Clash, The Boys, Sex Pistols, Wire & The Adverts had already hit the pockets of young Punks hard. Generation X opened with the sonic assault of From The Heart: the boys didnt just wear them on their sleeves in the early days, they wrote about them too.

A searing blend of 60s mod suss & calculated punk aggression, complete with guitar abuse that surely warmed the cockles of Pete Townsends rapidly ageing heart. One Hundred Punks kept the pressure up from the off an excellent tribute to the outsider/underdog trying so (too?) hard to be accepted by the newest gang in town. Handclaps, harmonies & one of the best Punk guitar sounds yet achieved by anyone. Listen makes its case for new ears, promising change in return for effort get on up, get involved: Whats it like to play a part?/Whats it like to have a wooden heart?/Just a puppet on a string. Generation X were blessed with one of the most truly gifted rock & roll guitarists in Punk rock in the shape of Derwood. The man knew his shit backwards, & Generation X is testament to his awesome six-string dexterity. His licks, fills & solos are tight, minimalist & melodic throughout, & still dominate the LP like a colossus. Ready Steady Go still raises the hairs on the back of your neck: images of Cathy MacGowan, name checks for the Beatles, Bobby Dylan & Rock & Roll, prove once again that Generation X were as in love with the past as the future they were presently involved in the writing of. Kleenex, another storming rocker, chuggs along on a monster riff with ooh-eee-ooh backing vocals & a strident chorus: Whats he gonna do next, whats he gonna do now use a Kleenex. Sadly, a tie in with the tissue company failed to materialise & the chance to make a shed load of dosh ahead of schedule fell by the wayside. Promises Promises has an air of majesty about it. Ostensibly, a song about authenticity, it contains some wonderfully barbed digs at the Punk elite: We play worse than they do Never sell out like they did Where were you in 1975 when there were no gigs Watch out kid, youre next in line Who could they have been having a pop at? The list of suspects is as long as the sleeves of a Seditionaries tshirt & twice as likely. Day By Day was re-recorded from the b-side of Your Generation & fitted the general atmosphere of the LP perfectly. The Invisible Man was one of the LPs more modest cuts the fact that Generation X could do Generation X by numbers so early into their career was indicative of the lack of quality control that would eventually shoot them down in flames.

Kiss Me Deadly is Generation Xs first true epic (the kind of tune they would expand & decorate vividly for most of their second LP) wracked with angst & loaded with imagery, its still a powerful & beautiful song nigh on 25 years since it hit the tape. Too Personal is a tetchy put down to (possibly) an overfriendly female associate with ideas above her station: If love is possession, baby, you better change. The LP closes with Youth, Youth, Youth, another attempt at re-writing My Generation as a further ode to alienation: I never want to be an adult/I always want to be involved. Youth: wasted on the young. Youth, Youth, Youth closes with an extended guitar work out thats part Townsend, part Hendrix & all pretence. Punters could be rightly be excused for wondering exactly which revolution Generation X were involved in! Generation X is often maligned by hard line Punks for being too poppy, too Moddy & a touch shoddy. This is grossly unfair Generation X may not have been the Punkest Punks on the block, but they had the lineage, theyd done their R&R homework & they never forgot to sound like they were at least having fun. Generation X deserves its place in the Top 10 UK 2cnd Wave Punk Rock Debuts on merit, & if youve previously shied away from them due to crimes committed in a later life by Billy Idols solo career & Tony James Sigue Sigue Sputnik, then get off the snob bus & give it a shot. They even made half a good second LP with Valley Of The Dolls, including the awesome Running With The Boss Sound. Generation X captured the zeitgeist perfectly with Generation X: the second wave was upon us before the first wave had time to decide where they were going next. The fall out from the Punk Rock explosion was gathering momentum & heading for the suburbs & the satellite towns of the UK it would get to everyone, eventually.

The Lurkers Freak Show

The Lurkers were the closest the UK ever came to giving birth to a Ramones of its own. Influenced by the New York Dolls, The New York Scene circa 1975 & 60s Garage Punk, The Lurkers kicked the doors down with Shadow, kicked our heads in with Fulham Fallout & remain one of the finest Punk Rock bands to ever come out of Ickenham. The Lurkers formed in the summer of 1976 in Ickenham, Middlesex. They played their first gig supporting Screaming Lord Sutch at the Uxbridge Technical College in late 1976. They soon began picking up gigs on the London pub circuit & started attracting a loyal (if modest) following. In May 1977 bassist Nigel Moore left The Lurkers to join Swank & was replaced by Arthur Billingsly (aka Arturo Bassick) & through his contacts the band began to play venues like The Vortex, The Music Machine, The Marquee, The Roxy, The Acklam Hall & The White Lion. During the first 6 months of 1977 The Lurkers supported the likes of Chelsea, The Adverts, Generation X & 999. By June 77 The Lurkers were rehearsing in the basement of Beggars Banquet, a record shop in Fulham. The staff of the shop were so impressed with the sounds escaping from the basement they began actively seeking a record deal on the bands behalf. When one failed to materialise they decided to start their own label. Beggars Banquet Records was born & Shadow/Love Story aka The Free Admission Single (Beg 1) became the labels 1st release on August 20th 1977. To promote the 45 The Lurkers began a month long residency at The Red Cow in Hammersmith. The Lurkers were soon invited to record a John Peel session. They recorded 5 tracks: Freak Show, Total War, Im On Heat, Then I Kissed Her & Be My Prisoner. The session was broadcast on October 27 1977. The Lurkers second 45, Freak Show/Mass Media Believer (Beg 2), came out on November 5th 1977. The sleeve was a cartoon image drawn by Sounds Savage Pencil (aka Edwin Pouncy) who was also vocalist with The Art Attacks (Pouncy also designed the cover for Beggars Streets Punk compilation LP to which The Lurkers contributed Be My Prisoner.

Just as soon as Freak Show hit the streets Arturo Bassick left The Lurkers to form Pinpoint & was initially replaced by ex-Saints bassist, Kym Bradshaw. Bradshaw only stayed long enough to write Hey You & was speedily replaced by the return of original bassist, Nigel Moore. The Lurkers recorded their second John Peel session in April 1977: Aint Got A Clue, Pills, I Dont Need To Tell Her & Jenny. The session was broadcast on April 24th 1978. The Lurkers 3rd 45, Aint Got A Clue/Ooh! I Love You (Beg 6), appeared with a limited gold coloured flexi disc featuring a rambling studio jam by the name of The Chaos Brothers. It peaked at number 45 on the national charts. The Lurkers released their debut LP, Fulham Fallout (Bega 2), in June 1978. The LP was housed in a sumptuous gatefold sleeve featuring painted images of the band loaded with hidden clues. The LP featured 11 tracks including re-recordings of Shadow & Be My Prisoner & a cover of the Crystals And The I Kissed Her, re-titled And Then I Kicked Her. Initial copies came with a the same free gold flexi that had accompanied Aint Got A Clue. I Dont Need To Tell Her/Pills (Beg 9) was The Lurkers 4th 45 & was released in four different picture covers (one for each band member an idea later lifted by Chiswick Records for The Damneds Love Song 45). The single reached number 49 in the charts & led to TV appearances on Revolver & Top Of The Pops. The Lurkers would eventually record two further John Peel Sessions, one BBC Radio session for an unknown programme & a second LP, Gods Lonely Men. All The Lurkers BBC sessions are available on The Lurkers The BBC Punk Sessions on Captian Oi Records (Ahoy CD 137). The Lurkers often come off very badly in most Punk retrospectives: sidelined & much maligned, they are rarely given the props they rightly deserve. The Lurkers, very much like The Boys, were Punks in the real sense of the word: rough, ready & bloody good fun. Shadow remains one of UK Punks 150% solid gold 45s & Fulham Fallout (Captain Oi Records Ahoy CD 73) deserves shelf space in any self respecting Punk rockers authentic 77 UK 1st wave section. They sure as hell wont change your world, but if the UK had a true answer to The Ramones it was The Lurkers.


The Buzzcocks formed as a direct reaction to READING about The Sex Pistols. Thats Punk Rock. The Buzzcocks saw Punk as Art a new type of art you didnt need a degree to attempt. Thats Punk Rock. The Buzzcocks politics were strictly personal. Thats Punk Rock. The Buzzcocks kick started the whole independent scene with their debut self-financed Spiral Scratch EP. Thats Punk Rock. The Buzzcocks original singer (Howard Devoto) left the band because Punk was becoming too popular - in 1977. How Punk Rock is that (just check the essential historical document of the day Times Up a bootleg now available on CD through Mute Records)? The Buzzcocks official debut LP, Another Music In Another Kitchen, was a Punk Rock classic. It utilised much of the bands early material co-written with Devoto alongside new Shelly penned pop gems: Get On Your Own & I Dont Mind. By late 1977 The Buzzcocks were firmly established at the forefront of the 1st Wave of UK Punk Rock. 1978 & 1979 were the Buzzcocks best years in terms of commercial success. A string of hit singles (all included on the essential Singles Going Steady compilation) & 2 further LPs (Love Bites & A Different Kind Of Tension) meant that The Buzzcocks were never that far away from the charts, TOTPs or a radio. The party lasted until 1981 when the band split during the recording of their 4th LP. The Buzzcocks reconvened in 1989 for a world tour. In 1993 original members, Pete Shelley & Steve Diggle, recruited Tony Barber (bass) & Phil Barker (drums) & began gigging & recording. Three LPs followed: Trade Test Transmissions (1993), All Set (1996) & Modern (1999).

14/4/03 sees the release of the 7th Buzzcocks studio LP & what a fucking corker it is too. Entitled Buzzcocks, the LP is available through Cherry Red Records. Featuring 12 cuts in 35 minutes, Buzzcocks is a stunning collection of caustic Punk Pop wonderment. Five songs apiece from Shelley & Diggle, & two credited to Shelley/Devoto. The first thing youll notice about Buzzcocks is how fucking hard it is. Chunky production courtesy of Tony Barber, gtrs the size of Trafford Park & the kind of tunes that made Shelley/Devoto/Diggle the living legends they are today. Of the Shelley tunes, Jerk is up there with Love You More it even opens with the drum coda to You Tear Me Up & features plenty of the sonic trickery employed elsewhere on Another Music In A Different Kitchen (by the way, Cherry Red, this should be a single you know? With a plugger working it just add airplay - its a fucking HIT). The inclusion of Stars & Lester Sands are also worthy of note the former being a re-recording of Till The Stars In His Eyes Are Dead from the Devoto/Shelley Buzzkuntz LP the latter being a reworking of a cut from that essential bootleg mentioned at the top of the piece: Times Up. Both cuts are worth the admission price alone. Of the Diggle cuts, Driving You Insane & Sick City Sometimes blend power, pop & punch with lyrical intelligence & the fine art of actually having something to say. By the time we reach the Shelley penned closer, Useless, were left in little doubt that the stars have now fallen from the Buzzcocks collective eyes & that the motives behind this release are as ultimately admirable as this band are fucking un-stop-able. Buzzcocks has totally taken this old school Punk by surprise who says that just because yre over 40 yre best years are behind you. If you still feel motivated get up, get active & get involved. Now that IS Punk Rock.

TV Smith Talks

The Adverts Anthology has finally arrived the definitive Adverts collection is now available on CD for the first time. Jean Encoule caught up with a busy but tired TV Smith to pick his brains on the compilation every true old skool punk is currently clutching close to their heart. trakMARX - Devil's Own Jukebox have made a smashing job of both "Crossing The Red Sea" & "The Adverts Anthology" - are there any plans for them to release any further Adverts material (A re-master of "Cast Of Thousands?, for example)? TV - I would like to get "Cast Of Thousands" out in a definitive version, with as much care behind it as has been put into the "Red Sea" and "Anthology" packages. That would really complete the job of getting all the Adverts material out in versions I can be proud of. trakMARX - Ray Stevenson's "Anthology" images are really fantastic - we'd not seen many of them before - were any left unused & will we be able to see them ever? TV - It was great of Ray to let us use his photographs for the booklet, he's one of my favourite photographers of the era. I asked him if he had anything that hadn't been used before and he let me look through all the negatives of us he could find from the period. I was thrilled to see that apart from the two or three wellknown pics you see all the time in the press he had a treasure trove of unseen images. Of course there were lots of photos that we didn't have room for, and there are also a lot of photos he couldn't find, particularly from the later period of the band. He was in the middle of moving house and had to put a lot of his stuff in storage so I'm sure he has a lot more somewhere.

trakMARX - When compiling "Anthology" you trawled through every available recording of each Adverts song to make sure you'd included every definitive take - how long did the process take & were any other ex-Adverts involved in the process? TV - The idea was to make the ultimate compilation by using a mix of the singles, two official albums and the John Peel sessions. The actual choosing of the tracks didn't take too long because I was already really familiar with what was available. One of my aims was to show that the difference between the direction of "Red Sea" and "Cast Of Thousands" wasn't a sudden jump - it was a process. Using some of the Peel versions of the songs and the singles helps bridge the gap between the two albums, you can hear how the sound of the band was evolving. trakMARX - "Anthology" was assembled in chronological order - is that chronologically according to when the songs were recorded or when they were written? TV - It's according to when they were recorded. It would be difficult to do it any other way because I can't really put a date stamp on when a song's written. Often they lie around for a while and I think they're finished, then I go back to them later. trakMARX - What led you to name the band The Adverts instead of One Chord Wonders? TV - We spent a long time in late '76 trying to settle on a name. One Chord Wonders made us laugh, but we felt that the joke of calling ourselves after one of our own songs would have worn thin after a while. Also we didn't want to get tagged as a novelty band, we had something to say. The name "Adverts" put us in a different place out on our own, commentating on what we saw going on in the world, which was much more what the band was about. trakMARX - Do you remember much about the night Brian James recruited you for Stiff Records? TV - We were playing at the Roxy - it was only about our second gig - and Brian turned up with Jake Riviera from Stiff and Nick Lowe. Brian had told them there was this band he liked, and Stiff were really interested in what was going on - they'd already signed the Damned and they were one of the few record companies that really had their ear to the ground. Jake came up after the gig and told us he wanted to record a single.

A couple of days later we went over to see him and Dave Robinson at the Stiff offices and signed a contract there and then. trakMARX - When you 1st hit Pathway did you ever imagine such a small studio could be responsible for such a large number of great records in such a short space of time? TV - We didn't really have any experience of recording, so we had nothing to compare it with, but even so we were pretty surprised at how small and shabby it was. But we knew the Damned and Elvis Costello had already recorded there, so it had to be OK! The important thing was it had a great sound - you could tell it from the first take. In some studios everything comes out sounding flat and dead, but Pathway had the magic. trakMARX - Allegedly, Stiff were keen to exploit Gaye's appeal - how did Gaye (& the band) feel about that? TV - The only real issue we had with Stiff about that was when we saw the completed cover of "One Chord Wonders" and it was just a photograph of Gaye. We'd done a photo session for the cover on the site of a knocked down building just opposite Pathway studios and had assumed they'd use one of those photos for the cover. We felt we were a band of four equals, and Gaye certainly didn't want to be featured above the rest of us. It's a brilliant cover, iconic, and I'm really glad now that it happened, but it did upset the balance in the band a little bit because the more people tried to push Gaye into the spotlight, the more she'd try and step back out of it. She even ended up refusing to have her photo on "Safety In Numbers." But the real exploitation of Gaye came from the way the media reacted to her, not from the way we were treated by Stiff. trakMARX - After leaving Stiff, how did you hook up with Anchor Records? TV - Soon after we signed with Stiff we met a book publisher called Michael Dempsey down at the Roxy and he was very keen to advise us about what we should do next. He didn't have any experience in the record business, but he was used to developing new writers in the literary world and protecting them from the sharks in the publishing industry, so he kind of knew how things worked.

He started searching around for a label that could give us the kind of backing that would push us above just being a cult band, which was what was happening on Stiff - good reviews but not very many copies sold. He was also very keen that we should have a doorway into America because he thought the UK punk scene was going to be huge over there, and Anchor was a subsidiary of ABC so they seemed ideal. We were suspicious of major labels, but this way we could work with the small, personal team at Anchor and still have the backing of a major. Unfortunately, ABC didn't understand punk at all and pulled the plugs on Anchor before we'd even got our album out. trakMARX - After the success of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" did it feel like The Adverts had arrived? TV - Arrived where?! We had a hit single and went on Top Of The Pops and all that, but we were a working, gigging band...we'd seen the interest building in the audiences in the few months we'd been around so it wasn't as if there was a sudden jump and suddenly we were...somewhere else. We just felt good that lots of people were coming to gigs and enjoying what we did. There was certainly no difference in our lifestyles...we were all still scraping by with no money, living in one room flats. trakMARX - Did you have any specific targets in mind when you fired off "Safety In Numbers"? TV - I'd started to see the punk movement - which was supposed to be about non-conformity - becoming a movement of conformists, everyone copying what was already there. The idea of people hearing about punk rock and saying, "How do I become a punk?" and then trying to imitate other so-called punks was absurd. The correct question to ask is, "How do I express myself?" If you do that right, you're a punk whether you mean to be or not. trakMARX - "No Time To Be 21" - do you still feel like an outsider today? I'm happy to be an outsider. I'm staying on the outside deliberately. You can breathe out here. trakMARX - The Damned/The Adverts tour of 78 was said my many to be the greatest punk show on earth. Did you enjoy that particular jaunt?

TV - One of my favourite tours of all time. The Damned never let up, they were never boring to be with onstage or off. All the venues were packed and the audiences really enthusiastic. Both bands were out to blow each other offstage and it led to some great concerts, it was a really high energy tour. trakMARX - Was "Great British Mistake" the best Adverts 45 that never was? TV - I'd make that "Bored Teenagers" which for some idiotic reason I put out on a B-side. trakMARX - How did you split from Anchor & what made you chose RCA? TV - Really, we signed to RCA for the same reasons we initially signed to Anchor. ABC had closed down Anchor and we ended up putting the album out on a label started up by Anchor's in-house publisher. It ended up in the charts for just one week then pretty much sank without a trace...something had to change. Michael started talking to some labels and found someone working for RCA who was very enthusiastic about the band. It was enough to sway us from our anti-major-label stance and risk it. Unfortunately the guy who signed us was rapidly sacked and we were left stranded on a label that had no interest in us at all, just at the moment when we were writing and recording our most 'difficult' material to date and really needed support. trakMARX - You describe "Cast Of Thousands" as a new direction in your sleeve notes - what musical influences shaped this change of direction? TV - The main thing was the desire not to repeat ourselves. "Red Sea" just seemed to close the door on that version of the band - we'd said what we wanted to say, recorded it, there it was on vinyl, job, what next? trakMARX - You also mention a "flux" & a side project with Richard Strange - would you care to elaborate on this? TV - Well, for one thing I didn't know where the limits were as far as song writing went. I was writing stuff that was almost impossible for the band to play. I couldn't play it myself. So I was looking around, really, wondering how far I could push the band and how far I could push myself.

At the same time we were having some personality problems in the band, we'd been cooped up together for too long, travelling together, living out of each others' pockets, and the cracks were starting to show. I started working with Richard because I got on with him and respected him as a writer and we found we could write and record demos and actually enjoy doing it without any pressure of expectation from either record company or audience. trakMARX - "Cast Of Thousands" still raises the hairs on the back of the neck today - was this The Adverts finest recorded moment? The whole "Cast Of Thousands" issue is very curious. It was completely slaughtered in the press, it seemed they were trying to squeeze it into the the 'punk' pigeonhole - or what was being defined as punk by 1980 - and it just wouldn't fit. It's only in the last few years that I've been finally getting consistently good feedback about the album. Interestingly I hear from a lot of younger people who missed out on "Red Sea" and heard "Cast" as their first taste of the Adverts, and they prefer it. No-one could say that the sound of the album isn't a little, er, strange but the songs run very deep - there's a lot to find in that record. trakMARX - "I Surrender" has got to be one of The Adverts most haunting songs - to learn that it's about the death of the band only increases the pain. Was that what it was actually like - surrendering? Hoisting the white flag & saying: "Let me walk away from this"? TV - It wasn't supposed to be negative. What I was trying to say was that I didn't want to be part of something that couldn't move forward. It felt like we were being blocked by the music industry and the expectations of the punk audience that we should sound like all the other punk bands. But "Birds of a feather drop dead together, and that's all." trakMARX - What was the final nail in the coffin - the straw that broke The Adverts back? No one thing in particular, it had been becoming pretty clear throughout the last few months of the band that we weren't going to be able to carry on...but I suppose when RCA told us they weren't going to renew our contract it was clear that the mountain in front of us was going to be impossible to climb.

trakMARX - Although you've never stopped gigging, writing & recording since (including plenty of Adverts material), would you ever consider getting The Adverts back together for one last hurrah? TV - I'm afraid it would be more of a 'boo' than a 'hurrah.' trakMARX - Are you content with The Adverts legacy? TV - Now that I have the definitive version of "Red Sea" and the definitive anthology out, I finally feel that we're on the way to being fairly represented on CD. All that's left is to get the definitive "Cast Of Thousands" released and the job will be complete. trakMARX - And finally, what has TV Smith got planned for the rest of 2003? TV - As always, constant touring. Up to Xmas I'm planning dates in the UK, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, America and Germany. Most importantly I'm organising an independent release for my new album "Not A Bad Day," which if all goes according to plan will be available from my website by late Summer, also of course I'll be selling it at gigs and I may try and find some small distributor to put it into some shops. I'm not intending to get involved with the musik-business anytime soon, so the only way to find out about what's happening with me will be through the website.


Every year, without doubt, someone comes crawling from the wreckage of the past with something new. Sometimes its acceptable, sometimes its fun, sometimes you wonder why they bothered, sometimes you wonder how you lived without them for so long. Wires Send has both feet firmly planted in the latter option. Send is an album that could teach aspiring junior noizeniks of the parish a thing or two about being dark. Send scares the shit out of me with the lights out. Self-released on the bands own Pink Flag label, Send is fast shaping up to be one of the most essential releases of the year. Hard, uncompromising & inventive beyond the call of duty, Send is a fitting return to the fray for Wire. Jean Encoule recently tracked down Colin Newman at Swim HQ to shoot the shit about history, the passing of time & the future. trakMARX - How did Newman, Lewis, Gilbert & Gotobed define the term PUNK in October 1976? Hard to know how the others did. October 76 (as youve obviously researched!!) was just before Wire did their first gig (as a 5 piece, the real Wire didnt emerge until 77) I can only really talk about myself. Me & my mate, Desmond (Simmons), got our haircut and ditched the flares in 75, revelling in the fact that people thought we looked like convicts. Some kind of proto punk was definitely attracting us even if we werent sure what was going to come bombing out of the ether. There was a definite feeling in London that something was going to happen although most of what people were into was American (Ramones, Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman, etc). There was a rash of interest in 60s garage bands, 13th Floor Elevators & Sky Saxon & the Seeds were names to drop (even if youd never heard them), a lot of that stuff came through Lenny Kayes Nuggets series. Then there were the Stooges, the Dolls & and the VU who were references so obvious you didnt need to bring them up in conversation.

However Wire really happened in 77 by which time UK punk was old news. Post Grundy every kid with spots & an attitude wanted to be in the Sex Pistols. All that stuff became the bedrock for the next stage. trakMARX - What were the individual influences fighting for attention within early WIRE? Wire started in a peculiar way, it was actually someone elses band which we stole. The earliest version of proto Wire (Bruce, myself & George Gill 3 guitars & vocals through one amp in my bedroom in Leavesden Road N. Watford) was the point at which Georges traditionalist approach started to clash with Bruce & Is desire to play a more brutal, more sonic style. However, this was being done within the frame of what were basically Georges songs. As we expanded and Graham & Rob came in, the band kind of developed into this rather shambolic affair. Everyone was into the idea of doing something that came out of punk rock but it was actually pretty directionless and frankly not very good. The point at which it took off was when we started rehearsing and writing without George (its a long story you either know or dont - but the synopsis is hospitalisation through drunken amp stealing). I wrote most of the tunes, Graham wrote most of the words. From my point of view I really wanted to do songs that were more interesting than Georges rather more traditional rock & roll type structures. In losing George we also lost a lead guitarist, ditching any notion of solos meant the songs could be shorter. Wire acquired its style very quickly, it was like everything clicked as soon as George went, which sounds very cruel as George was neither talentless or unlikeable - just the wrong person. trakMARX - Bruce Gilbert has been quoted as saying WIRE were never a Punk band - apart from the access. Does that still ring true? Absolutely and of course. When you look back at UK punk from the perspective of now a lot of it was hardly distinguished from traditional rock & roll. Perhaps of the Class of 76, only the Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch had the real touch of newness about it. trakMARX - It has been said that WIRE were the thinking person's PUNX. You have often said that you were only taking the piss. Was it this amalgamation that made "Pink Flag" such an individual statement?

Wire werent at all regarded as a punk band by the time Pink Flag came out! Remember, it came out in December 77, virtually 78. We were regarded more as being rather cold & mechanistic (Bleak, Grey & Mesmerising ran the NME review heading). Cant remember being called the thinking persons punks - sounds terrible. Most of the 2nd generation punks hated us. The 1st generation ignored us. trakMARX - Many revisionist historians make a lot of noise about "inner circles" & even hint at a collective "agenda" - WIRE always seemed to exist outside of any loop - what was the view like from the sharp end? Thats quite a big question. In regard to punk, Wire were rank outsiders. UK punk was basically the Pistols & their mates. There were so many wannanbe bands (some of those were pretty well known). I dont think anyone from Wire can presume to know what all those others were up to, we didnt know any of them. We also tended to avoid the ragtag band of outsider wannabees, most of whom were as desperate to prove their punk credentials as they were crap. trakMARX - Now that those heady nights at The Roxy have passed into mythological folklore what do you remember of those early gigs & the club in general? Very little. A lot of posing and John Lydon holding court outside the toilets. trakMARX - Can you remember any of the sides Don Letts used to spin? No. trakMARX - Did you share his (& by proxy, the "scenes") love of all things dub? Of course, at the time it was the parallel. I remember buying my first Ranking Trevor 12 from Dub Vendor in Clapham junction. trakMARX - WIRE's mastery of the art of sarcasm appeared to protect the band very well during the late 70s - with the benefit of hindsight, do think you were right to be sarcastic? Im not sure we were that sarcastic We felt very strongly we had to distance ourselves from a lot of frankly rather piss poor bands.

We wanted to engage with the future not wallow in trying to be a 2nd rate Sex Pistols, which so many bands seemed desperate to be. trakMARX - "Chairs Missing" felt mysterious by comparison to "Pink Flag", as well as a marked musical progression. How did that come about? What was kind of amazing to us was how few were genuinely interested in progressing the art. We were up for it all, we knew we were good and we felt that power of really being on a moment in time. Chairs Missing was an amazing album to make because all the material and our way of presenting it was very new. We also had absolutely no fear of being regarded as either pretentious or progressive. We wanted to be as good as Kraftwerk but in our own style. trakMARX - If "154" had a theme, it was (allegedly) distance: the distance between WIRE & it's audience, it's label & even it's individual members. Had you all grown that far apart - or was it just time to take the piss out of each other? That sounds a bit like a construct. Change & progress were very much in the air when we made it. It was a more difficult record to make than Chairs Missing and definitely there were personal divisions. However the vibe at that time was towards a more aloof sounding and mechanistic approach, stuff that was around in the late 70s, which in a way pre-figured the early 80s were things like Tuxedo Moon, Devo (who were unbelievably cool about the time of Jocko Homo), The Residents etc, there was also the whole Eno/Bowie trilogy. So 154 was a creature of its time and a means by which we showed that we were at the forefront. trakMARX - What are your memories of that long goodbye at The Electric Ballroom in 1980? It was depressing. Aggression from stupid Sham 69 fans who wanted us to be a punk band. trakMARX Every now & again a band pops up out of the blue that have obviously been listening to WIRE - in the case of Elastica, maybe even more than just listening. Once you'd all been paid in full (we hope/trust) - did it feel like flattery or plagiarism? It would have been flattering if they had been any good! But at least they were better than Menswear.

The fiscal side was not so good. The publisher of that 70s material (Carlin) failed to defend the copyrights properly and we ended up with somewhat less than we should have got. The riff to Connection, which is what you still hear everywhere, is actually a sample from 3 Girl Rhumba. trakMARX - WIRE lost an E during the 90s when every one else seemed to be getting on one - was this just a new start or an attempt to distance the band from it's past? You could have said that Wire dropped an e when everyone else was doing the same! Not at all, just a logical adaptation to being 3. 80s Wire, while having thrown up some good material & ideas, is generally not loved by the band. The Wir album has some great ideas but would have been better had we mixed it ourselves. BTW Take It is made out of samples from Wire records. trakMARX - "Send" is a dramatic reprise to WIRE (1) - it has much of the energy & darkness that made "Pink Flag" so essential - but still sounds utterly different - was this the intent? Of course, that was then and this is now! The album has its roots in a deliberately constructed collision of a kind of de-formalised heavy metal shorn of its affectation and a rhythmic propulsion that could only be constructed by people having more than a passing acquaintance with the dancefloor. The way it is edited also really uses a kind of Wire logic to feed the decision-making, if it sounds like Wire then its probably right. This work is way more conceptualised than anything we did in the 70s or 80s, yet is strangely possibly the first Wire album/material that is actually constructed as rock! We arent really interested in becoming some kind of tradition so the work will always attempt resolute modernity. Despite its rather iconic status, there is a great deal about Pink Flag that is in hindsight either downright naff or shall we say a little fey. Of course, in a way it doesnt matter if a particular tune is a bit idiotic because its over before youve had a chance to really work out if its any good or not, but we have recently had the chance to examine this material and see what is good (and less so) about it and how the new material has a power and directness that very little of early Wire did.

trakMARX - We understand that the vinyl edition of "Send" is another complete reconstruction of the CD content. How does it differ (that's right, our's haven't arrived from Rough Trade yet)? Ahh you should have ordered it from - PE customers always get priority with Pink Flag releases. The vinyl is another approach entitled PF456 Redux it contains all of the tracks from Send plus all of the other tracks from Read & Burn 01 & 02 which are not included on Send. This is all fitted onto a single vinyl album by means of editing. Each track has had between 30 secs & 3 minutes edited from it by various means. This is achieved by edits rather than simple early fades so the tracks are somehow the same and different at the same time. The idea is that its the same experience but you can have it in less time. Perhaps later on we will devise a pill that enables the receiver to feel that he/she has had the listening experience but without actually having to listen to anything. This would be especially useful to those with busy lives, perhaps several audio & visual experiences could leave their vicarious mark with one hit. Who knows? trakMARX - How did the recent "Pink Flag" shows go down? It wasnt really a Pink Flag show as such, it was an event entitled Flag: burning at the Barbican, as part of their Only Connect series of collaborations in which there were two halves. The first half, a collaboration with conceptual arts naughty boy brother duo Jake & Dinos Chapman, had us performing the entirety of the album Pink Flag in front of a huge screen showing repeated video loops of inanely grinning aerobics demonstrations leading to a finale of a stage filled with dancers pumping step aerobics along with the band playing the song Pink Flag. The 2nd half designed by wiz kid set designer, Es Devlin, has us in 4 huge boxes, lit only by projections front & back, ranged across the stage. Heart monitors, brainwaves and huge close ups were variously projected onto the front of the boxes. Meanwhile the band played its newer material (from Send & the Read & Burns). In short the old was subverted and the new beautified. trakMARX - Are you taking the same set to your upcoming shows in foreign lands?

Our set is based around the material we played in the latter half of the Flag: burning event i.e. the new stuff. You dont imagine we would be playing Pink Flag live for a living I hope? We leave it to others to do the scampi in a basket punk tours. trakMARX - What else have WIRE got scheduled for the not too distant future? We are off to America in the latter half of June for a short tour. We originally were supposed to play the Matt Groening curated LA ATP but it just got rescheduled so we will do the rest of the shows and a fill in one in LA. Weve been doing a series of European festivals through the spring and summer, we just did Primavera in Spain and have just agreed to do Pukkelpop in Belgium, we are looking at some other European festivals and perhaps another London show this autumn. The studio priority is Read & Burn 03 which is half done but will get finalised over the summer. trakMARX - And finally ... is there still a regular place for WIRE in today's musical landscape? Its not really for us to say. Our aim is always to be part of the contemporary artistic landscape but you cant be it by just saying so - it requires intent and other people recognising that intent.

Wire Send Review.

The Read & Burn EPs have set Wire alight once more. For those of you who failed to capture them, the group have now welded both together in the form of Send & its vinyl companion: PF456REDUX. The first thing you notice on accessing Send is the darkness. Who turned out the lights like the bully in A Room For Romeo Brass: Go on, I dare ya. Make it go dark. Send does lack light, but is not without heart. It has a warmth & depth many current left field operators would sell their analogue grandmothers to replicate. Its a grower, a slow burner that seeps into your brain by osmosis. Send has a density that can only be described as substance its mass dictates that it hangs in the air as it leaves the speakers: In The Art Of Stopping: A cowbell drags a plaintive vocal along an autobahn Satan directs. Trust me, implies Colin Newman.

Mr Marxs Table: Thom would love to be this good: Youve come along way, for such a short stay, And Im sad to say, its too late to pray. Being Watched: Bass line of the year so far. Slung low, underpinned & decorated with distortion. You are the audience you are the star Comet: This moves at the pace of space debris through the portals of time. Dont get in its way your existence could be under threat. The Agfers Of Kodack: The vocal has echoes of Ian Curtis running through it. Anger is apparent. Controlled feedback threatens to boil over into ultra violence put your preconceptions at the mercy of the strobe light & dance, dance, dance to the broken radio. Nice Streets Above: Pounding, incessant & not remotely pleasant. Somehow, you doubt it. Spent: This is fucking awesome. Words are useless to describe the implied danger only being saved can save us now. Read & Burn: This is where we came back in. Minimal is the new cluttered. You Cant Leave Now: Post apocalyptic holiday snaps from the very edge of the forbidden zone. The authority has evaporated only the confusion remains. Half Eaten: Half left: ever the optimist. Is this BAD no, this is good. 99.9: The pulse is still alive, that can never die. The point is that there is no point - & that is overwhelmingly sad. Its nobodys fault but mine (or ours, if youve advanced sufficiently to take that on board) Im big enough to hold my hands up & say I expected too much too soon. I should have learnt to wait. However, the waiting is now over. Submerge.

Don Letts Interview

Acme Attraction, Roxy DJ, Punk Rock Film Maker, Slits manager, Clash cohort, BAD member, Screaming Target & so much more: Don Letts is a Punk Rock Legend. Jean Encoule caught up with him recently to shoot the shit about all of the above & anything else in between: trakMARX - You began trading as Acme Attractions in 1975 with Jeannette Lee. How did the two of you meet? The Don: We met at a soul night at the Lyceum in the early part of the '70's. She was easy on the eyes, I was light on my feet! We became an 'item' soon after. trakMARX - When Acme Attractions opened, was the buzz that would become Punk Rock already audible? The Don: At that time I managed Acme on my own (it was a stall upstairs in the Antiquarius on the Kings Rd, Chelsea. Then Jeannette and I ran it together when we moved operations into the basement (I was playing reggae on a jukebox and the other stall holders kept complaining about the noise, hence the move). This is around '76 and different factions of young people would hang out in either our shop or McClaren/Westwoods place down the road. Our place was more user friendly and we had the best soundtrack! Heavy dub reggae. It was the best club in town filled with people looking for a scene of their own. trakMARX - What was the concept behind your stocking policy in those early days? The Don: We had a mixture of what could best described as 20th century antiques (juke-boxes/pinball machines etc) and clothes. The clothes were to become the focal point. We're talking things like peg-legged trousers in shocking pink, electric blue zoot suits, Marlow crepe soled shoes, girls stilettos, wrap-around shades, American shark-skin suits etc. This is just before punk came in.

trakMARX - Which of your early customers would become players on the nascent Punk scene? The Don: People that passed through - too many to mention, all the major and bit players on the punk scene (and I mean all). Then there'd be Chris Sullivan's Welsh posse, Robert Elms, Ian Drury, Patti Smith, Bob Marley, Chrissie Hynde, the list is endless......... trakMARX - What were your most popular selling items in those early days? The Don: That would be the peg-legged trousers in a variety of lurid colours 'cause ours were about fifty quid cheaper than Malcolms. trakMARX - You attribute many of your early insights into youth culture to advice given by McLaren & Westwood. How did you originally get involved with them? The Don: Before Acme opened I'd hang out in Vivienne and Malcolm's place wich was an interesting insight into Euro-centric sub-culture. This is were I would of heard about things like the Situationists or 50's and 60's Americana. I nearly ended up working there when Malcolm went to New York to manage the Dolls. trakMARX - Is it true Vivienne never spoke to you again after you plumped for Acme Attractions over Sex? The Don: Vivienne demanded loyalty! When I started managing Acme she banned me from her shop. But I'd still get stuff from Jordan when she wasn't there.Before our 'falling out' we got on quite well, I remember going to see Lou Reed with her and she was the coolest looking girl in the joint (it could have been her opaque rubber cat suit!) trakMARX - Bernie Rhodes stall in the Antiquarians was also a major attraction in 1975. How did you hook up with Bernie? The Don: Bernie had a stall in the Antiquarius before Acme, selling these shirts with silk screened Cadillacs all over then. But it was his collection of reggae albums that caught my attention. That was our point of contact/reference. trakMARX - When Andy Czezowski asked you to spin a few sides at his new club, The Roxy, did you have any inkling the birth of a youth culture was just around the corner?

The Don: The punk rock explosion had begun just before the Roxy opened. That's why Andrew started it 'cause here was this scene with no where to go, nowhere for the emerging new punk bands to play. He asked me to DJ simply because of the vibe I created in Acme with my selection of tunes. It was all accidental really. When I started DJ'ing at the Roxy there simply were no punk records to play so I played what I was into. There was only one deck so you could hear/feel the atmosphere of the club in between the gaps of the tunes. I did throw in some Dolls, Iggy, MC5 and the like. It was the only stuff that had any connection with what was happening. I think it was Malcolm that really turned me on to that stuff. trakMARX - You could buy ready rolled spliffs from the Roxy bar - was this an imported Dutch idea or a home grown development? The Don: The ready rolled spliffs under the counter at the Roxy was really an 'economic' opportunity that presented itself 'cause the punks couldn't roll their own. My rasta bredrin' (that I'd got to help run the club) thought it was a good cultural exchange! trakMARX - Do you think reggae's influence (minimalism, social realism/commentary & an eye for a natty slogan) on Punk Rock has been underplayed? The Don: Between The Clash, The Slits, Patti Smith and John Lydon's love of reggae and me doing my bit, them that are supposed to know, know! trakMARX - As the white boys started picking up guitars & invading any stages that would have them, you chose a Super 8 camera. What criteria did you use to decide whether a band was worth filming? The Don: They had to be about something, making music with an agenda. Failing that they had to make me laugh.... My favourites were the Pistols, Clash, Slits, Buzzcocks, Subway Sect.. trakMARX - The material you filmed in these heady days eventually became known as "Punk Rock: The Movie". How did this concept originally develop? The Don: I read an article in the N.M.E that said I was making a film and I thought that's a good idea I'll call it a movie! The Punk Rock Movie.

Time Out then did a cover story on me and then it ran at the ICA for six weeks, breaking their box office record. trakMARX - As Punk began to believe it's own press & the 1st wave caved in on itself, you cut loose for Jamaica with John Lydon & Richard Branson. Tell us a little about that trip. The Don: John took me to J.A 'cause we were mates and he thought it'd be familiar to me. But the closest I'd ever been to J.A was watching The Harder They Come in my local cinema in Brixton. It was a trip! Hanging with the likes of I-Roy, U-Roy, Big Youth, Tapper Zukie and Lee Perry. I remember John and me having to sit in on a session (paid for by the record company)with Lee Perry doing a version of Anarchy and "Holidays in the Sun with a bunch of reggae session musicians! Smoking..... trakMARX - As the talent slowly but surely started to pull itself from the wreckage of Punk, you started representing The Slits. How did that come about? The Don: They loved reggae and we were good friends. I'd often take them to hardcore reggae clubs back in the day (I used to take Rotten and Strummer too). There was a time when they wanted to go on the 'White Riot' tour but had no money. So I gave them the money and effectively managed them for a while. trakMARX - As a musician, what musical projects have you been involved in since? The Don: I ain't no musician! Remember, your talking to the guy that had coloured stickers on his keyboards when playing live in B.A.D. I occasionally write lyrics for Dreadzone. Oh yeah, there was Screaming Target (Island Records) a band I started after I quit B.A.D. I just needed to know I could do it without Mick. trakMARX - In 2001 Heavenly released the exemplary "Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown" collection - dubbed "the soundtrack to London's legendary Roxy Club" - & you have recently compiled a Trojan collection for Sanctuary. Are there any more DJ collections in the pipeline? The Don: Heavenly are talking about "Dread Meets B-Boys Downtown" the soundtrack to New York's Roxy Club (early hip-hop). I was there shooting "Clash On Broadway" and it was a very special time 'cause for a brief moment we had a punky reggae hip-hop party!

trakMARX - What other music related projects are you currently involved in & when can we expect to access them? The Don: Just finished co-directing a feature film starring one of Bob Marley's sons (Ky-mani), which premiered in Canne. Done some re-mixes as the Dub Cartel with Dan Donovan (Selects Cuts label). We also do DJ sets as the Dub Cartel (just did Lee Perry's Meltdown and Glastonbury). About to do some work on a Bob Marley DVD for Trojan. trakMARX - In conclusion, what was the absolute highpoint of your involvement with Punk Rock? The Don: For a lot of people Punk Rock is something that happened back in '77 but for me it still has daily application. So I hope my highpoint hasn't happened yet!(winning a Grammy for 'Westway to the World' was pretty cool though).

The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers

Jonathan Richman was the missing link between The Stooges & The New York Dolls you could call him the bridge that led from 60s Garage Punk to 70s Proto Punk Im sure he wouldnt mind. The Modern Lovers were discovered in the summer of 1972 by legendary producer & scene-stealer, Mr Kim Fowley. He happened across them performing in a Boston club whilst on tour to promote his Im Bad LP. He immediately realised hed found the future of rock n roll, he (Jonathan) anticipated the entire punk movement that happened 4 years later. Fowley soon had The Modern Lovers in the can & was utterly convinced that world domination was only a matter of days away. Unfortunately the only guy to get it was Jack Nitzche The Modern Lovers demo tapes were roundly rejected by every record company who heard them. Unperturbed, The Modern Lovers carried on regardless & following further sessions with John Cale & Fowley, eventually signed to Warner Brothers Music. Amazingly, even with signatures in place, Warner Brothers still seemed somewhat reluctant to actually release The Modern Lovers & it eventually appeared on the fledgling Beserkley Records label in 1976. Roadrunner with its 123456 count in - appeared on the Beserkley Chartbusters LP in the UK in the same year & the cut immediately became a cult amongst nascent young Punks. The Modern Lovers had finally taken off. The Modern Lovers has been unavailable on CD in the UK for sometime now. Vinyl re-pressings by the likes of Get Back Records have been the only way to access this seminal rock n roll artyfact. Thankfully thats all behind us now as those lovely people at Sanctuary Music have finally gotten round to assembling this wonderfully worthy package. As well as the original re-mastered LP we get 5 previously unreleased cuts plus 3 alternative versions & extensive sleeve notes courtesy of David Wells. The artwork has changed from the original black to a new purple affair but dont let that put you off this is an exemplary release from one of the best re-release outfits currently operating in the UK.

The Modern Lovers is best operated alongside those early Fowley takes in the form of The Original Modern Lovers.

Sniffin Glue The Essential Punk Accessory

Mark P may still stand behind his much quoted theory that Punk Rock died the day The Clash signed to CBS - but Punk Rock actually died the day Alternative TV signed to Deptford Fun City and it died of boredom. Sniffin Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory first appeared in book form a couple of years ago. It collated reproductions of every original issue of Punks own fanzine along with extensive new material from both Mark P & Danny Baker. It now has an aural companion in the shape of this here CD: Compiled by Mark P himself, Sniffin Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory is a 24 track trawl through the muddied waters of that 1st incisive wave. Opening with The Ramones Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue is not just an attempt at retrogressive poetic licence there would have been no fanzine without The Ramones. The superb sleeve notes leave you in no doubt that without import copies of The Ramones & the Roundhouse shows of July 1976 UK Punk Rock could have been a very different place. The Ramones were THE catalyst. Eddie & The Hot Rods chip in with a spirited run through Wooly Bully yes, that old Wooly Bully - & mighty scary it is too. The Hot Rods caused a storm on the pub rock scene with their explosive Live At The Marquee EP & although they were never really a Punk band in the true spirit of the word, they certainly werent Dr Feelgood either. The Hot Rods would score success later with the anthemic Do Anything You Wanna Do & the Life On The Line LP. The Damned, as we all know by heart by now, were the first Punks to make it to the pressing plant - & New Rose was amongst the finest fair they ever produced. Ushered in by Vanians incredulous question, Is she really going out with him! the song is then pummelled to within an inch of its life by Rats insistent kit & the godlike guitar sound of Brian James. The Damned led & others followed until they fell over. The Gorillas were known as The Hammersmith Gorillas immediately prior to Punk & shortened their name to blend in.

Group leader, Jesse Hector, had done time in Crushed Butler (the UKs original proto-metal band) in the late 60s/early 70s but was destined to miss the boat & remain on the island of lost souls indefinitely. The Clash were some of the quickest bandwagon jumpers on the block & within days of seeing the Pistols had cut their hair & stencilled their fatigues accordingly. More of a rock n roll group than a Punk band, The Clash single-handedly turned the anger & polemic of Punk in their own general direction & set the controls for the heart of the USA. White Riot still remains from the days when they meant it man - & even though Punk had technically died before theyd even recorded it - it remains a colossus in Punks opening salvo of 45 rpm mayhem. The Saints were so Punk without trying that it near made everyone else want to give up. Raised in isolation in Aus & brought up on Funhouse & beer, The Saints were harder than a phalanx of Sids on speed & twice as fast. Im Stranded was by nowhere near their finest hour & all 3 studio LPs are essential. The Saints, like The Ramones, were Punk. The inclusion of a demo of the Pistols Anarchy tells you 3 things: 1/ Virgin wouldnt sanction the use of a cut from Bollocks. 2/ The Pistols owe an awful lot to Chris Thomas. 3/ You couldnt really leave them off. Nuff said. Subway Sects Nobodys Scared is a real Punk Rock record. Vic Goddard was one of the first young kids to form a band after seeing the Pistols & this is his finest hour: Everyone is a prostitute singing a song in prison. Richard Hell got ripped off something chronic by Punk Rock: it stole his haircut & ripped t-shirt & covered him in gob on The Clash tour. Absolutely no way to treat a genius but thats the way the shit cookie crumbles in the world of Punk Rock. Blank Generation says it all & considerably more in just under 3 minutes. Buzzcocks also suffer from record company intransigence shuffle, chipping in with a live run through Breakdown from the Live At The Roxy series. Buzzcocks were one of the best Punk Rock groups ever & you should own: Times Up, Another Music In Another Kitchen & their 1st 6 or 7 45 rpm discs. Generation Xs Your Generation still rattles along with Modtastic intent. An answer record to The Whos Your Generation, it would be followed by a mighty fine debut LP that carried more than its fair share of roughly hewn pop gems wrapped in Punk sus.

Chelseas Right To Work is a Punk nugget this is what it should have all been about. Mark Ps Step Forward label took more risks in its 1st 10 x 45s than CBS took in half a century. Chelsea have never sounded so good since even after the arrival of Romans Millions. A diamond from the r(o)ubble. The Adverts were Punk Rock then & Tim Smith is still Punk Rock now. Saw through any of his limbs & you can quite plainly make out the words Punk & Rock. For Tim Punk Rock has been a lifestyle not an accessory & you can still catch him flogging himself to death at a venue near you today. One Chord Wonders says it all: eloquently, intelligently & amusingly how many ways do you want it? The Jam were never Punks, obviously, & Paul Weller turned out to be a bigger twat than the cunts we were trying to get rid of originally - but that doesnt stop In The City being any less exciting & awe inspiring than it still is. The Heartbreakers flew into the UK in late 76 & a new junkie was christened every 2 hours. Some nights Johnny was so strung out he had to be propped up before he could play guitar. Born To Loose proved to be as prophetic as it was anthemic - ooh how we swooned - & mostly still do. The Cortinas were from Bristol & one of them eventually ended up in The Clash - MK 3. Trivia aside, Fascist Dictator proved that everyone in UK Punk could have their 15 minutes or in The Cortinas case, 2 minutes 34 seconds. Johnny Moped once featured Captain Sensible & any thoughts he may have had about making the wrong career move are ably banished by Incendiary Device. Johnny Moped remain a cult group to this day & their lead singer is still insane. Sham 69s I Dont Wanna is a real Punk Rock record made by a real Punk Rock group. The art school wankers hated them & they were eventually compromised by their own image. Its a thin line between short hair & Swastikas as Jimmy & the boys learnt some time later. ATV = 3 points in time. Mark Ps own mob pioneered the fanzine bound flexi-disc with Love Lies Limp a song about erectile issues given away free with the last issue of Sniffin Glue. ATV eventually recorded the superb Image Has Cracked LP before slowly disappearing up Perrys own bum-hole along with Here & Now & half of Throbbing Gristle. Penetration may have come from the frozen North but that didnt stop Pauline Murray melting the hearts of many a provincial lad down at their local Loccarno.

Dont Dictate was a moment in time they never bettered but that didnt stop them becoming the 1st Punk Rock group to release an LP on luminous vinyl. X-Ray Spex were a wonderful cartoon of a Punk group. Fronted by the now sadly very mad Poly Styrene (not her real name), their particular brand of sax infused 1234 rammalamma was always fraught with enjoyment & twice as celebratory. Im A Poseur caught the mood perfectly we were ALL poseurs & we simply didnt care. So there. The Lurkers have often been referred to as a proper Punk Rock group in these pages thats because they were. Starting with The Ramones & veering off in the direction of The Saints, The Lurkers were the purists purists. Shadow was there finest 3 minutes in 1977 & it remains resolutely so to this day. I dont need to tell you they were all super fellas indeed. Roadrunner by The Modern Lovers was another one of those cuts that started it all. Iggy Pop obsessive, Jonathon Richman, used to be so scared of his own voice that hed hide below the mixing desk consul when recording vocal takes with the lights out. Now - how strange is that? Sniffin Glue closes with 12XU by Wire - & why shouldnt it? Wire were there at the Roxy despite being slightly old enough to know better (well, some of them anyway) & rather more talented than theyd care to admit at the time. Still, I saw you in a mag smoking a fag - & I guess thats gonna have to do. And there we have it quite literally 24 songs, 64.13 minutes. Just over an hour that changed the world forever. Which subsequent generation can make such a pompous claim?

Sex Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die

Sex, as you all know only far too well, was Talcy Malcys shop on the Kings Road the epicentre of the original Punk Rock Explosion - & this collection is a compilation of rock n roll greats culled from the jukebox selection @ 430. The project has been assembled & coordinated by Marco Pirroni, ex of The Models & Adam & The Ants. The 20 cuts on offer here take in US Garage Punk, rockabilly, rock n roll, psyche, left field pop & tear stained country. The Count Five kick us off with their Lester Bangs hugging classic, Psychotic Reaction always a pleasure, never a chore. The Flamin Groovies score double boogie bonus points for their epochal Shake Some Action (this cut also graced Sires New Wave comp & was truly a massive tune immediately pre-Punk). The Spades cover of Youre Gonna Miss Me is every bit as fierce as The 13th Floor Elevators original - & they are the only act to be featured twice!! so Marco must have a soft spot for them. The Strangeloves In The Nighttime sounds as good today as it ever did (a big favourite of young a Brian James & an influence on The Damned). Vince Taylors Brand New Cadillac rocks the line like a line-rocker & would eventually be covered by The Clash & The Milkshakes (amongst others). The inclusion of an Alice Cooper cut is worth mentioning if only to point out that John Lydons audition for the position of Johnny Rotten was conducted whilst performing along to the very same man but most of you know that already. Alice Cooper was well respected & idolised by many of the dashing young things that would later become the 1st Punk Rockers of English history - & thats something its all too easy to forget. Chrissie Hynde & Rat Scabies would spend hours gassing about Alice Cooper in the late night coffee shops of Soho around the time they collaborated on The Masters Of The Backside (aka Mike Hunts Honourable Discharge).

Elsewhere, we suffer the madness of Screaming Lord Sutch, the madness of The Troggs & the madness of Screamin Jay Hawkins the kitsch of Valerie by Jackie & The Starlites, the energy of Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics & the Gallic R&R lamour of Johnny Hallydays Joue Pas Le Rock n Roll Pour Moi. The set closes with The Modern Lovers Roadrunner & points the way out of the front door of Sex & into the street scene that was to unfold in the ensuing months. As a snapshot of the times it gives you an excellent feeling of just what it must have been like to sit in Marco Pirronis seat slagging off every cunt that walked into the shop whilst playing about with an excellently stocked jukebox. All day & every day. Must have been a piece of piss.

The Stranglers

Much maligned, often ridiculed, regularly dismissed as sexists, ostracized by fellow punks, castigated by the age police: the lot of a Strangler was rarely a happy one. A career spanning 3 decades, a succession of Top 20 45s, a line up that remained unchanged until the early 90s, a small pile of gold discs: The Stranglers never needed anyones permission. The Guilford Stranglers were born in the leafy Surrey village of Chiddingford sometime around the autumn of 1974. The original line up featured Jet Black (Brian Duffy) on drums, Hugh Cornwell on gtr & vocals, Jean Jacques Burnell on bass & Hans Warmling on gtr. The group played the Surrey pup & club circuit throughout 1974 before shortening their name to The Stranglers in early 1975. Not long afterwards, Warmling quit & returned to Scandinavia - at which point The Stranglers recruited Dave Greenfield on keyboards, & The Stranglers line up was complete. The Stranglers signed a deal with Albion Management in the winter of 1975 & began to pick up a few more interesting support slots around the Capital. In autumn of 1976 The Stranglers were confirmed as the support act for Patti Smiths tour of the UK. This meant gigs at some impressive venues including the Roundhouse & the Hammersmith Odeon. The Stranglers recorded their debut demos (Grip, Bitchin & Go Buddy Go) soon afterwards before undertaking their own headline tour in October & November of 1976 - utilising Jet Blacks ice cream van as tour transport. The Stranglers duly signed to United Artists Records in December of 1976. The Stranglers debut 45, (Get A) Grip (On Yourself), was released in February of 1977. Produced by Martin Rushent, Grip fast-established The Stranglers as one of the prime groups of the 1st wave of the Punk Rock explosion that was sweeping the UK at the time. The single was purposely promoted as a Punk record by UA & airplay suffered as a consequence Grip eventually spent 4 weeks on the charts & peaked at number 44.

On 3rd March 1977 The Stranglers recorded their debut session for the BBCs John Peel show: Something Better Change, Hangin Around, Goodbye Toulouse & I Feel Like A Wog The Stranglers debut LP, Stranglers IV: Rattus Norvegicus, was released in April 1977. The LPs striking sleeve was as mysterious as it was iconic. The Stranglers were catapulted into the hearts & minds of the nations youth almost overnight as the groups second 45, Peaches/Go Buddy Go, became a hit single & ruled the summer (well, what a bummer) of 1977: Is she trying to get out of that clitoris? Liberation for the women, thats what I preach Rattus Norvegicus scared the shit out of me in 1977 the individual Stranglers scared me too. Jean Jacques Burnell had a bass sound like Id never heard before it was so thick you could almost bite chunks out of the sound (if you stood directly in front of the speakers). He also had a reputation for being a bit tasty (with both his fists & his feet) due to a Black Belt in Karate (rumour/myth?) as members of The Clash eventually discovered one night outside Dingwalls in Camden Town. Hugh Cornwell was no pussy either: barking his rough toned vocals from behind the mic, neck veins bulging, eyes on stalks he was a natural, compelling front-man & a not unconvincing psycho. Jet Black, slouched behind his kit like a great bear in a bad mood, hammering 14 shades of shit out of his drums in the process, could only be described as a man-mountain. Dave Greenfiled was just plain weird like some mad professor constantly experimenting with his keyboards forever looking to drag some new, tortured sound or other from his bank of futuristic looking instruments. Musically, The Stranglers mined their influences from fairly obscure cloth. There were elements of The Doors in Greenfields keyboard sound, as well as shades of 60s US Garage Punk, The VU & a hint of psychedelia in the mix too. Being slightly older than most of their new-found audience meant The Stranglers could borrow from the past from time to time without getting caught out. In July 1977 The Stranglers released their 3rd 45, Something Better Change, which reached number 9 on the charts & cemented the groups status as doyens of the Punk Rock scene. In September the group recorded their second session for John Peel: Dead Ringer, No More Heroes, Burning Up & Bring On The Nubiles

Controversy continued to stalk The Stranglers wherever they went: they were constantly criticised for the lyrical content of their songs (Peaches, Bring On The Nubiles, London Lady, I Feel Like A Wog, Ugly, Peasant In The Big Shitty), slated in the press for appearing on stage at Hyde Park with a group of strippers & berated by a judge for a t-shirt that read either Ford or Fuck depending on who you believed. No More Heroes was released as the 4th Stranglers 45 in September 1977 & marched straight to the number 8 slot. It remained on the charts for 9 weeks & established The Stranglers as a mainstream act for the first time. As 1977 began to die on its feet, The Stranglers released their 2nd LP, No More Heroes. Initially dismissed by many as a pale imitation of the 1st (the same criticism would plague The Jams Modern World), it stands the test of time very well. Opening with the anti racist I Feel Like A Wog (a wonderful example of the extent to which multi-culturalism & political correctness has changed the way we speak in the UK) & fighting all the way to closer, School Mam, No More Heroes was the last word in attitude in 1977. The Pistols may have had the fury, The Clash the anger & The Damned the chaos but The Stranglers had the rest of us by the balls & they sure as hell werent letting go. As Punk fragmented, The Stranglers diversified. They preempted the forthcoming 80s Gothic revival, dressing in black as a matter of course long before in became de rigour down at The Batcave. Nice & Sleazy became their biggest hit to date in 1978 & the subsequent Black & White LP secured their position as one of the UKs most successful mainstream rock groups. The Stranglers were well on their way to becoming a pop group a position they would enjoy for the best part of the next 15 years. There are box sets & collections on the market that will adequately compile The Stranglers career for you, but to be honest the old quality control meter wasnt always running up to speed from 1980 onwards. Id start with Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes & The Singles Collection Boxset 1, if I was you, & see if you can work your way forward from there. If you can handle Black & White then you may be able to go all the way I never made it past that point, apart from the obvious later hits like Golden Brown (a sublime homage to heroin) & Strange Little Girl. The real beauty of The Stranglers lies in the power & the mayhem of those early years. 1977 belonged to The Stranglers as well as the Pistols, The Damned & The Clash - & dont ever let any revisionists tell you different.

Cornwell & Burnell were as equally Punk as Rotten, Vicious, Strummer, Jones, Scabies & Sensible - & thats something that will never change. The next time someone tries to tell you The Stranglers were a bunch of aging, pub rock tosspots - you know exactly where to hit them. Make sure you hit them hard.


Eater were there when it mattered. Their authenticity is legion. Young, drunk & full of spunk Eater were Punk Rock before it became a passion of fashion. In many ways, Eater were the true spirit of UK Punk Rock - as it was always intended. They were fiercely proud of both their age & their questionable musical ability attributes that absolutely qualified them to be at the very heart of the Punk Rock explosion of 1976/77. Eater possessed a clinical appreciation of the vibe required to play Punk Rock affectively they had a healthy distain for those they viewed as fakes & an admirable sense of purpose that many of their older contemporaries simply couldnt muster convincingly. Revisionism has continually strived to write groups like Eater out of the equation along with The Pop Rivets, The Shapes, The Stiffs & their ilk. In reality, it was the predominantly younger groups formed whilst the Punk Rock scene was in its infancy that truly summed up what it meant to be young & easily influenced in the UK in 1976. The Eater Chronicles (Anagram CD 133) captures their full glory to perfection on 2 discs allowing old fans & new the chance to fully appreciate what was going down in the clubs of London Town as 1976 bled into 1977. Capturing everything Eater recorded for Dave Goodmans The Label on CD 1 - & featuring a set of 1977 4-track demos, a 1997 r-union 45, 2 lost gem cuts from 1979 & an exclusive spoken word extract from The Andy Blade Chronicles on CD 2 - The Eater Chronicles is the last word in Eater finery - an exemplary release that absolutely demands a place on the shelves of any serious Punk Rock aficionado. Jean Encoule recently took genuine pleasure in tracking down Eater leader, Andy Blade, to bug him with the usual bag of implied mythology, tedious revisionism & unfathomable respect. This is how it went down:

trakMARX - How did you first become exposed to the delinquent appeal of Punk Rock - & what/who was your personal catalyst in this respect? We kind of stumbled into it - the band came together just as the punk scene appeared in its fledgling form. As soon as I read the first Sex Pistols article in Sounds I knew we belonged in this new scene and luckily, very soon after, we started meeting the people at the heart of it. trakMARX - What type of sounds had you been listening to circa 74/75? My favourite bands were Sparks, Be Bop Deluxe, Doctors Of Madness and Lou Reed/Velvets. trakMARX - Were you aware of what was happening in NYC at the time? I read whatever the music press wrote on it, so yeah - I was pretty clued up on it. I bought the Ramones album on import before it was released here and went with the rest of Eater to see them at the Roundhouse where we met them backstage. I asked Joey and Dee Dee to sign the back of a flyer to Eater - love from... - but they didnt hear me properly and signed it to Peter - love Joey and Dee Dee Ramone instead. They said they thought Peter was a great name for a band! Maybe we should have taken their advice? trakMARX - Your first gig (Sept 20th 1976) featured Buzzcocks as your support. What memories do you have of their performance that night? It,s all pretty much documented on the CD and in the book lets just say Buzzcocks were a lot more organised and together than us! They were fantastic. trakMARX - Was there any notion of a North/South divide around this time? A BIG one. It remains that way. trakMARX - How did you get involved with Rat Scabies & The Damned? Rat came to see us at a very early rehearsal and suggested we employ his protg, Dee Generate, so we did. We stayed close to The Damned and played a lot of gigs with them.

trakMARX - You once gigged at your school with The Damned. How did that go down? Again this is in the book and on the CD excerpt. It was a great gig, if slightly unusual surroundings - and all pulled off without the Headmaster knowing anything about it. trakMARX - Which of your fellow 1st wave groups did you admire - & why? The Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Clash I admired and liked because they were just so good and had style that you knew was simply cool. trakMARX - Which of your fellow 1st wave groups did you despise - & why? Not so many of the first wave - but I really didnt like Chelsea - mainly because you just knew Gene October wasnt for real. Claiming to have written a song called Pretty Vacant, and that it was just mere coincidence that the Pistols also had a song of that (not so run of the mill) title!! Also Right To Work, was hilarious, the last thing in the world Gene wanted was a job! Funnily enough, I heard it the other day and I decided I liked the riff. trakMARX - How did you hook up with Dave Goodman & were you aware of what he'd been doing with the Pistols? I couldnt fail to not know he worked with the Pistols, hed constantly remind us. He contacted us through an ad we put in Melody Maker looking for a bassist. He wasnt applying he just saw punk in the ad and decided he might be able to hoodwink a few kids into signing to a label he told us he was starting with Johnny Rotten. Which turned out to be untrue, by which time it was too late. trakMARX - 1977 was the year it all happened for Eater. What was it like at the eye of the hurricane? A blur of fun and activity like wed never dreamed of happening to us. trakMARX - Can "The Eater Chronicles" safely be regarded as the definitive anthology of Eater?

There are a few things missing, like original b-sides and a few long lost, pre-album demos - and some stuff that Brian (gtr) & I did with the drummer before Dee Joined. Theres some old video footage too. Id love to know if our gig in Manchester with Buzzcocks was recorded by anyone. trakMARX - What other releases would you advise interested parties to check out? Any Andy Blade solo stuff of course! Quite hard to find now - but theres a new album next year. Theres actually a site called - - or something like that - that sells records by people who only have 5 fans (this aint a plug as Im pretty sure all 5 people have bought my stuff by now). trakMARX - "The Album" still commands a very respectable price on the collectors market. What other Eater rarities are there to track down? The Yo Yos coloured vinyl EP I guess. I dunno really, not into that kind of thing. I believe theres the original pigs head that was chopped on Don Letts movie on sale in Portobello Rd Market somewhere - smells a bit, mind. trakMARX - "The Eater Chronicles" features a brilliant spoken word extract from the forthcoming book: "The Andy Blade Chronicles". When can we expect to the book to hit the shelves & are there any plans to record further (the entire story?) extracts in the spoken word format? It would take forever and about 50 CDs to put the entire book in that format! Maybe therell be a bit more on the solo album next year. The book is out in the Spring. Orders & info; I hope to be doing one or two spoken word/acoustic dates around then too. trakMARX - You told a US journo you'd never reform - & then promptly did - to play 'Holidays In The Sun'. You never got paid. What went down? We got ripped off by the promoter, Darren Russell. He paid us half the fee up front and gave us a cheque that bounced for the remainder. How are you Darren?

trakMARX - Allegedly Roger Bullen ended up a social worker. How ironic is that & what are the rest of Eater up to these days? Brian is a decorator but he only ever uses pink. Hes currently decorating Elton Johns bathroom. Ian, I have no idea - last I heard he was attempting a similar stunt to David Blane's 'above the below' - but his was called 'below the above' and involved him being lowered into the Thames in a glass box. As far as I know he's beaten Blane's record but I doubt if he's still alive. Phil Rowland does something in films and lives in LA. trakMARX - Punk, rock n roll 2000-2003 has allegedly been one of the hottest periods for gtrs since the British heyday of 1977. What do you make of today's contemporary gtr abusers? Its not quite as exciting as 1977 is it? But I like the fact that loud guitars are cool again. I,m not really mad on any of the bands though. Not that theyre guitar abusers, apart from when they, no doubt, use them for sex play, but an interesting fact for you: Busted come from Finchley and apart from Eater, are the only band of 16 year olds ever to do so. Charlie, the gay looking one (thatll cause a bit of confusion), has an Eater tattoo up the inside of his left thigh, apparently. trakMARX - To wrap it all up - in retrospect - who were the poseurs & who actually mean it - maaaaaaaaaan? We meant it, even if no one knew what we meant. Most of the first wave of bands were cool. Most of the bands who formed post 1977 werent. You can add Sham 69 to the latter list even though, technically, they were first wave, (very late first wave!). I know it sounds childish - but its true!!!


Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks in February 1977, already disillusioned with Punk Rock. Spiral Scratch (Mute Scratch1CD) & the Times Up bootleg (Mute Scratch2CD) were behind him by then. The blank pages that stared up at him from the future he christened: Magazine. One of Devotos reasons for leaving Buzzcocks was cited as his desire to return to college to concentrate on his further education though it soon became apparent that instead what he really wanted to do was intellectualise what he saw as a vaguely moronic scene with a new kind of rock & roll fired by the energy of Punk - but without the Neanderthal spittle it was fast drowning beneath. A statement issued in February 1977 by Devoto read: I dont like most of this new wave music. I dont like music. I dont like movements. Despite all that, things still have to be said. But I am not confident of Buzzcocks intention to get out of the dry land of new waveness to a place from which these things could be said. What was once unhealthily fresh is now a clean old hat. What more could one expect from the man who, on meeting Iggy Pop, presented him with a copy of Spiral Scratch with the words: Ive got all your records now youve got all of mine. Devoto wasted little time & placed an advert (as he had done when forming Buzzcocks) seeking new musicians to play fast & slow music. Barry Adamson (bass), Bob Dickenson (keys), Martin Jackson (drums) & John McGeoch (gtr) all relatively unknown & unconnected musicians were duly recruited. Six months later Magazine made their live debut alongside Buzzcocks in October of 1977 at the last night of Manchesters legendary Electric Circus. Magazines early demo recordings were quickly picked up by a highly active Virgin Records (flushed by their Pistols success & signing anything with Punk pedigree) who signed the group in January 1978 & subsequently released Magazines debut 45, Shot By Both Sides/My Mind Aint So Open, a matter of weeks later (Rob Dickenson had already left Magazine prior to the recording of Shot By Both Sides & was duly replaced by Dave Formula).

Shot By Both Sides (co-written with Pete Shelley) a snarling heart of darkness housed in a grimly illustrated picture cover that only added to the sense of mystery peaked at number 41 in the charts (only a refusal to mime on TOTPs curtailed its upward trajectory). The records b-side, My Mind Aint So Open, a bass driven sax inflected gash, was as powerful as anything on Times Up & proved that the a-side was certainly no fluke (& introduced the mercurial writing talents of gtr-ist McGeoch). Magazine quickly established themselves at the head of what was to become the Post-Punk vanguard ably supported by an ever-eager John Peel - who quickly booked the group for their 1st session for his show in February of 1978 (broadcast 14/02/78): Touch & Go, The Light Pours Out Of Me, Real Life & My Mind Aint So Open Touch And Go was released as the groups 2nd 45 in April 1978 slightly lighter in feel than Shot By Both Sides - the b-side featured a cover of John Barrys theme from Goldfinger (from the James Bond film of the same name). The single failed to match the performance figures achieved by Shot By Both Sides but Magazine took no notice & set about nailing down their debut LP, Real Life. Real Life was released in June 1978 housed in a sleeve decorated with a monoprint by the artist Linda Sterling. The LP swiftly stained the popular mannerist canvas of rock & roll with an altogether darker palate of colours than it was regularly accustomed to. A veritable cathedral of sound packed to the stained glass windows with charred melody, damaged sentiment & lyrical intrigue, Real Life was a stunning personal statement by a truly visionary artist. As Sterling herself attested: The last great radical act of 20th Century art is to declare your own divinity. Commenting on his work at this time Devoto says: Im sure that I was speaking about the importance, to me, of paradox & contradiction. That there is some state of grace or point of ultimate knowledge in trying to come to an aesthetic understanding of these things. Real Life peaked at number 29 in the LP charts & by the close of its stay Magazine were filling concert halls the length & breadth of the country with their wiry take on skinny-tied existential modernism. After the crash & burn of the 1st wave of Punk Rock, Magazines sombre onstage approach added a level of atmosphere hither-to unseen in the live arenas of the UK a film noire quality.

Their extensive use of dry ice & dramatic lighting were just 2 of the effective tools of their performance trade (soon to be usurped by just about every proto-goth group lurking in the conceptual cupboard towards the end of 1978). Real Life was greeted with a hail of praise by the British rock press many a dictionary & thesaurus was run ragged in the chase for superlative prose to match the sounds within its grooves. This was the dawning of the age of pretentiousness, after all, & professional hacks relished the chance to euphemise at will with no fear of being labelled progressive. The surrounding musical landscape of 1978 was suddenly rife with possibility it felt like a previously disaffected generation could fully realise the notion of substance over anger after all. Martin Jackson quit Magazine shortly after the release of Real Life (he was quickly replaced by John Doyle) but the momentum of the group hardly missed a beat. Magazine returned to record a 2nd John Peel session towards the end of July 1978 (broadcast 24/07/78): Give Me Everything, Burst, I Love You, You Big Dummy & Boredom Magazines take on Buzzcocks Boredom was introduced by Devoto intoning: Youre caressing me with hidden hands. The song was slowed down somewhat for the first verse the word ennui replaced the 1st boredom - & the pace quickened to something approaching the original. The later use of the word lassitude in place of another boredom illustrates just how far Devoto felt hed come from Spiral Scratch by this time. In November 1978 Magazine released Give Me Everything/I Love You, You Big Dummy (a Beefheart cover Devoto had carried around in reserve since his Buzzcocks days) as their next 45 a demanding slice of psych-pop featuring the blistering faux-funk undercarriage of Adamsons bass that was becoming such a strident component of Magazines sound. 1978 ended with Magazine arguably at the top of their game. The group featured well in the end of year polls alongside Johnny Rottens (nee Lydons) PIL another blossoming flower in the Post Punk dustbin. February 1979 saw Magazine return with arguably their lushest 45 to date (including female backing vocals), Rhythm Of Cruelty. Ushered in by McGeochs melodic hook of fuzzed up gtr & swathed in Fomrmulas futuristic keyboards, Devoto issued another stinging put down: I brought your face down on my head, it was something I rehearsed in a dream. Youre too good looking for your own damn good & you dont know what it could mean

Rhythm Of Cruelty fared no better than its predecessor in the realms of chart land & the commercial venture vultures were already beginning to circle above Magazine (somewhat prematurely, I hear you shriek, but sadly record company short-sightedness, greed & a reluctance to properly develop an artist over a sustained period is sadly NOT a phenomenon unique to the noughties). Magazines 2nd LP, Secondhand Daylight, was released to universal critical acclaim (grandiose?) in March 1979 & sold well (projecting it to number 38 in the charts). Broader & deeper in texture than Real Life, Secondhand Daylight appeared in a lustrous pale-green gatefold sleeve (oh my God now un-Punk Rock cried the dullards) the kind of packaging the CD format can never replicate effectively. The LPs key moment, Permafrost, icily promised to: drug you & fuck you on the permafrost. The listener could only freeze in response their spine tingling/hairs on the back of their neck standing to attention alarmed by the spatial wonder of it all. In May 1979 Magazine recorded their 3rd John Peel session (broadcast 08/05/79): TV Baby, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) & Permafrost. The remainder of 1979 was relatively quite for Magazine. The group enjoyed a well-earned break & some quality r&r before returning to write & rehearse new material toward the end of the year. A forth & final Peel session was recorded in January 1980 (broadcast 07/01/80): Song From Under The Floorboards, Twenty Years Ago, Look What Fears Done To My Body & Model Worker Song From Under The Floorboards the best pop single Magazine ever recorded - was issued as a single in February 1980 but failed to chart. It was swiftly followed a cover of the Sly & The Family Stone Cover classic, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), in March - & Upside Down in April. Neither made the charts. Magazines 3rd LP, The Correct Use Of Soap, arrived in May 1980 & the group may well have heaved a collective sigh of relief when it subsequently charted at number 28 their highest LP chart placing yet. Despite this relative success cracks were beginning to appear in the glossy veneer of Magazine. John McGeoch departed for Siouxsie & The Banshees in the summer of 1980 & Magazines slow decline began with the appointment of former Ultravox gtr-ist, Robin Smith.

This new line up recorded the live LP Play in Australia suffering from poor production & highlighting Smiths failings in McGeochs shoes Play was not well received. 12 months later Magazine issued their final LP the hugely disappointing Magic, Murder & The Weather. By this stage the writing was well & truly on the wall & 3 weeks prior to its release Devoto, tired of the incessant touring & artistically compromised by the weaker new material announced his unwillingness to tour in support of the LP (effectively ending the life of Magazine). It was a strangely muted & altogether unsatisfactory end to one of the most ground breaking & challenging groups to emerge from the maelstrom of Punk Rock. Devoto re-emerged from retirement fronting Luxuria 4 years later but soon retired again to drift into the land of day jobs & responsibility. He recently re-united with his erstwhile Buzzcock Pete Shelley for the Buzzkunst project in 2002 releasing a very enjoyable LP on Cooking Vinyl (Cook CD 230) & playing a handful of dates in support of the release (video clips of a few of these performances are enhanced features on the CD). Magazine are best accessed via the Maybe Its Right To Be Nervous 3CD Box set & its sister compilation, Where The Power Is (both available on Virgin Records).

The Complete Clash Keith Topping

From the title all the way down to its new boots & contracts, Keith Toppings attempt to paraphrase the career of The Clash for the coffee table generation is desperately & utterly flawed. Setting himself up as the everyman realist drowning in hail of revisionist gob he then proceeds to cynically rip fucking great chunks out of Marcus Grays indispensable Return Of The Last Gang In Town without so much as a co-writing credit. By enforcing The Legend Of The Clash without admitting The Myth you may as well keep on teaching the kids that do bother turning up to our rotting schools that Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK/Diana had an accident/Iraq was a genuine threat to world peace & Prince Charles was just having a nap/looking for loose change down the back of the sofa. Attempting to list the mistakes, inaccuracies & pure flights of fantasy that purport to join the evidence amassed from Grays work into any coherent whole is like trying to build a universe out of matchsticks. As Ucunts recent Clash extravaganza proved beyond doubt not even Mick Jones & Paul Simonon really knew what was going on in Joes lyrics - yet alone some fucking two bit looser like Boaby Freaking Dullespee. Lyrics will always mean one thing to their author & a totally different one to their reader/listener. Alex-whatever-his-name-is out of Blurred summed it up best in his broadsheet (forget which one) review of Streetcore: lyrics mean whatever YOU want them to mean - & dont ever let anyone tell you any different. Its NOT an art-form lyrics are there to: a) Scan. b) Fit the tune. c) Provide a suitable hook on which to hang implied meaning after the fact. Proof of the above: when Timo Lahdsmaki interviewed Joe at The Provinski Festival for tMx back in 2001 he asked him if the number sequence at the end of 1977 had any reference to George Orwells 1984 ending as it does on that year. Joe replied in the negative explaining that they ended the song at 1984 because it was the right number of bars!

A further criticism - if Keith Topping really believes that any true Clash fan would want to own a book that embraces Cut The Crap as anything other than an aberration, then he is as sadly deluded as his intro sign off suggests: His Gaff, Merrie Albion. Fuck Off. Punk Rock has very few books worthy of the genre Grays aforementioned work notwithstanding: Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain, The Sex Pistols The Inside Story by Fred & Judy Vermorel, Hot & Cold by Richard Hell, Sniffin Glue The Essential Punk Directory by Mark Perry are a (very) few that spring to mind. Sadly (for Keith Topping), The Complete Clash is not one of them. Since Joes untimely death, publishers all over the business have finally woken up to the fact that Clash books could probably shift units after all. Weve recently had Alan Parkers risible attempt & can look forward to Pat Gilberts authorised biography (if a sanitised extension of the myth is what you require). Me, Ill stick with Return Of The Last Gang In Town & my own records, memories, memorabilia & opinions & if youve got anything about you youll do the same thing.

On The Road With The Clash.

The Myth Of The Clash was not the only thing I had to contend with whilst growing up with The Clash there was also The Myth Of How Many Times I Actually Saw The Clash (in reality) to deal with. The truth is: I bullshitted quite a lot. I was a committed bullshitter when it came to The Clash. A one-man crusade to prove myself as the ultimate Clash fanatic numero uno! The first bullshitting incident occurred around early 1978 (having lived with The Clash since 8th April 1977 UK release date of The Clash) some 6 months or so before Id even seen the fuckers when I spent an evening in some back-street dive in Leamington Spa bullshitting various fellow Punks that Id caught the Barbarellas show on the White Riot tour on the 3rd of May 1977. I dubiously claimed Id caught the bus from Stratford Upon Avon (some 7 miles walk from my home) & had to leave the gig after only a handful of numbers to catch the last bus from New Street Station in order to return to Stratford - & then walk the 7 miles or so home. Trouble is once youve started you just dont know where to stop. In those days, having witnessed such an event was akin to having been present at the virgin birth of our Lord & my bullshitting attracted me the questionable reputation of having been there when it mattered. Obviously I had to concentrate very hard when re-bullshitting in the ensuing months to avoid blowing the gaff - & my meagre street cred in the process. This virgin bullshitting incident eventually became a yoke around my neck. Whenever I was out in Leamo with any of my close mates Id have to immediately manoeuvre anyone away from them who approached us asking to hear the tale one more time. My homeboy, John Henderson, eventually sussed me out - & subsequently took the piss long & hard (even threatening blackmail probably involving the requisition of some highly sought-after 7 45rpm disc or other). By the time John & I finally got to see The Clash for the first time I was a fucking nervous bullshitting wreck! By spring 1978 Id scored a Saturday job at Discovery Records in Stratford Upon Avon along with my schoolmate, Olly Little.

Discovery was a small independent concern run by a large cheeseburger loving Mott The Hoople fan called Bob Barnes. Bob had taken a shine to us as wed spend every school lunch break hovering around the 5 square foot surrounding his till - drooling over the 7 45rpm box to the left of it - & making his shop look busy! We slowly turned our mates & associates onto the shop & Bobs customer base began to grow accordingly (we also brought our fair share of nubile young women into the shop as well another reason to employ us!). Bob offered Olly a job first I was gutted & extremely jealous but eventually he decided there was room enough for two - & I joined the staff a matter of weeks later. Most weekdays wed return to the shop after school & kill the hour or so before our respective buses left - enabling Bob to pop up to the nearby Wimpy Bar with some rep or another to catch up on cheese burgers at the labels expense (Bobs second favourite pass-time after talking about Mott!). Bob was matey with the promoter of Friars Aylesbury - & soon invited us down to catch a gig. I forget our first Friars experience but I was unlikely to ever forget my second: 28th June, 1978 The Clash (Out On Parole Tour). I talked Bob into letting John Henderson come along for the ride - & we set off from Stratford in Bobs reasonably flash motor for the 50-odd-mile trip (via Banbury) down to Aylesbury. John & I were so fucking nervous & loaded with excitement we hardly said a word all journey. Bob blasted out Mott, derided Punk groups & talked about how many times hed seen Mott (& met Ian Unter). If I hadnt been so wired (Dodos) Id probably have fallen asleep! We parked close to the venue & Bob insisted on taking us round the corner to see the window of a record shop run by Kris Needs (Zig Zag/The Vice Creams) usually the pass time of kings, as far I was concerned but not when The Clash were less than a few hundred yards away! Almost as soon as we were through the door - Hendo & I made a bline to the merch store & eagerly purchased our 1st Clash t-shirts, posters & badges (stashed safely for us until after the gig by one of Bobs Friars buddies). We finally felt a part of what was going on for the very first time. From the moment The Clash exploded onto the stage (wed missed The Specials) I was addicted from the Meserschmidt backdrop to the cut of their jib The Clash were the most intimidating, rage-fueled, genuinely affecting sight Id seen in my relatively short term on this planet thus far. Strummers leg pumped like he was riddled with amphetamine Jonesy stalked the stage like a gobby guitar hero Simmo was the epitome of studied cool - & new boy Topper smashed his kit to fuck like his life depended on it.

Sucked into the mosh-pit almost immediately & loosing a shoe in the process (I ducked to retrieve & put it back on - & got kicked to fuck in the process) I was soon separated from Hendo. The smell of the sweat (not the grease paint) filled my nostrils as I surged backwards & forwards with the tide of the crowd. The set was rammed with new tunes (from the forthcoming Give Em Enough Rope LP) Police & Thieves bled into a cover of Blitzkrieg Bop we even got to witness an airing of All The Young Punks (a tune The Clash would rarely performed live again). It was all over way too soon & I was literally dripping with sweat not all of it mine, I might add. It was like a fucking swimming pool. I soon found Hendo & we excitedly searched out Bob whod not left his position at the bar for the duration - & was just about pissed enough to drive us home. We stopped off at the Wan King in Banbury for Texaco Havoline spring rolls (Bob excitedly showed us how to wring the excess grease from one over the windscreen of an adjacent motor a ritual that would become commonplace on all future Friars trips). We eventually arrived back home in the small hours, clutching our goodies with pride & saying what quite a lot (due to earfuls of feedback & volume damaged lug-holes). Needless to say I didnt take the t-shirt off for quite a few weeks my mother eventually threatened to cut it off if I didnt surrender it to the wash box! A few months later, on the 10th of November 1978 to be precise (half term), I was rudely awoken from my slumber pit at some ungodly hour (10am-ish!) by a shout from my mother Hendo was on the phone. I wasnt impressed, but stumbled down to the phone regardless (which was big of me - considering John would often great early morning phone callers to his abode with a curt fuck off & a slam of the receiver). Heard the new Clash LP yet? - he gleefully exclaimed. Hed only gone & bummed a lift into town with TC (his dad) & gone & scored a copy on the day of release before Id even woken up! Bastard. The rest of the morning was taken up hitching into town arriving at Discovery in somewhat of a flurry desperate for my Clash fix. Id been done over by the curly-haired little fucker - & I wasnt best pleased. I was the SECOND Punk in Norton to own a copy of Give Em Enough Rope - & that hurt. Revenge was not long in coming I bussed it into Coventry to Poster Place & scored two tickets for The Clash for the 28th of November (Sort It Out Tour) at Tiffanys - & proceeded to wind Hendo up that I was going to take Moz along instead of him.

On the night TC gave us a lift into Cov & (somewhat amazingly) even agreed to pick us up after the show. Tiffanys was a far more oppressive atmosphere than friendly Friars maybe it was the memory of being beaten up a few times at Highfield Road in the past but Coventry seemed predisposed to scaring the living shit out of us rural yokels! I scored a superb Sort It Out t-shirt & another poster Hendo couldnt afford any merch & I seem to remember some sulky shapes in the area (in the end I bought him a badge generous, or what?). The set was fairly close to the one theyd played at Friars & all I can really remember is being totally in awe (a new backdrop consisting of flags of the world draped the back wall of the stage) & constantly expecting to be hit very hard at any moment (without warning). On the 22nd of December 1978 I returned with Bob & others to Friars for the Friars Xmas Party featuring The Clash. My main memory of the night was being introduced to The Blockheads road manager who had once worked with Eddie Cochran or Gene Vincent I cant remember which. I guess youd call it ligging but of course I didnt know that then. I decided to watch the show from the balcony on this occasion (remembering my shoe losing kicking from the last Friars Clash gig) & got a whole new perspective in the process. The Clash were unstoppable moving inexorable towards their prime. Little did I know it then but they would rarely reach these levels of total intensity again. On January 3rd 1979 Hendo & I hitched our way down to the bright lights big city of London Town to see The Clash complete their 3-night stint at The Lyceum Ballroom. This could well have been the groups finest live hour it was definitely the best gig of our lives, as far as Hendo & I were concerned (even if Topper did look a twat in his yellow catsuit!). As we spilled out onto the streets after the gig we were surrounded by a gang of cockerney herberts who began demanding our money with menaces. I bullshitted (I was quite a convincing exponent of the art by this stage) that we only had enough money for our train fares back to Stratford (true-ish we would have hitched back anyway but what cash we did have WAS for emergency transport) they thought we meant Stratford (East End) - & obviously, assuming we were talking meagre tube fair pence thought we were not worth the bother & backed off.

I still got a dig from the ring leader for my troubles (a smack on the chin) by which time Hendo had fled off down The Strand at pace - with me not too far behind! We didnt stop running for several blocks & by the time we came to halt in a hail of coughed-up phlegm - wheezing badly & swearing to give up smoking very soon I laid into Hendo for his chicken shit stance in the fracas (but not too hard as we were crashing on the floor of his sister, Mary-Annes, flat). I can clearly remember feeling very relieved to have escaped with my bollocks intact from that little showdown - & sleeping with yet another new t-shirt over my old Clash t-shirt because it was fucking freezing on that floor! When we awoke the next cold morning we had no idea that we wouldnt see The Clash again until the next year 1980! The Clash spent most of the rest of 1979 touring the US & recording the follow-up to Give Em Enough Rope: London Calling. Press shots showed that the fatigues were giving way to suits & homburg hats suspicion held sway in my mind - were The Clash about to sell out after all? I spent much of 1979 fucking as many girls as I could, playing in my own Punk group & seeing as many different groups as I could. Hendo & I holidayed in France on a PGL Adventure holiday (my second PGL trip the first, a year earlier with my mate Andy Gilbert RIP - had resulted in my running away to stop in Barnett for a few weeks with a girl Id got off with in France, called Sarah. I remember buying Hong Kong Garden by The Banshees in Barnett during my stay & smoking a ton of opiated black hash) & I copped of with a girl called Jayne from Poole in Dorset. I began attending Stratford College doing a Business Studies course in September 1979. I started dating a girl by the name of Rebecca & was generally as happy as Larry (whoever the fuck he may be?). On November 10th 1979 I met the woman who would turn out to be the love of my life (although The Clash didnt know that then!). On Monday 14th of December 1979 I bought an early doors copy of London Calling from Bob at Discovery - & Jenny & I bussed it back to Norton to listen to the LP in the comfort of my bed. We had to skulk about the village for a while waiting for my Mother to go to work but eventually gained access via my bedroom window. We listened attentively to side 1 bonked our way through side 2 cuddled along to side 3 - & fell asleep during side 4. Jenny wasnt overtly impressed with either my performance or The Clashs a bit of work was needed in both departments. I was obviously not the stud Id previously considered myself - & London Calling was not The Clash x Give Em Enough Rope!

Jens first Clash gig was Friars at the offset of The 16 Tons Tour. It was the first UK live airing for the London Calling material & the first time Id seen The Clash in almost a year. I still hadnt completely come to terms with the LP & - judging by the hostility from certain sections of the audience neither had the general public at large. Wed been blown away by Ian Dury & his Blockheads earlier on - but watching The Clash later I had serious reservations. The group seemed rusty the newer material lacked the power of their earlier gear - & it was only during the older numbers that the vibe became anything approaching charged. Jen was impressed, nonetheless, so I simply revelled in my newfound love buzz & basked in the glory of being a (self-proclaimed) seasoned Clash gig goer (God only knows the bullshit Id spouted at her by now). A month or so down the line with 16 (?) tons of repeated listening to London Calling under our belts we reconvened at the Birmingham Top Rank on the 5th of February. Skanking toaster Mikey Dread supported & Birminghams heavy manners presence of home-grown rastas provided able shotgun backup. My over-riding memory of this show was The Clash halting the set early on & bringing a giant fan onto the stage in an attempt to stem the tide of gob that was being directed at the stage. Joe ranted that gobbing was pass & disgusting & that the group would continue the show from behind the fan. This stance lasted a couple of songs before the fan was removed & normal service was resumed. After 25 odd shows practically back to back the set had now assumed more swagger & power. I was inclined to feel that Clash adrenalin rush again almost from the off. By this stage Jenny was as committed as I was too - & the show was truly something to savour. Two nights later, on the 7th of February, we queued up the stairwell of Tiffanys in Coventry for a repeat performance. The show was notable for some skin headed twat gobbing off on mic & causing a bit of a rumpus - & then Joe stating that hed taken a 1000 gobs & wasnt gonna take any more - before jumping into the crowd to smack some poor spitter with his trusty Telecaster. Explosive performance charged atmosphere it threatened to kick off at any moment & we were eventually happy to make it out of dangerous Cov in one piece! We didnt see The Clash gain for almost 18 months in the interim the group had delivered the triple LP, Sandinista, & the waters had become truly muddied! Our next Clash gig was for Jens birthday treat, on October the 18th 1981, when we headed down to the Lyceum for the opening night of the groups 9-night residency (Radio Clash Tour).

Throughout the gig the memory of my earlier visit to Lyceum with Hendo two-&-a-bit-years earlier haunted me. I hated to admit it to myself but The Clash were way better then. Jen enjoyed it all the same she was a massive fan by this time & much preferred their later material to the more raucous early gear. Who was I to argue? By the next time we saw The Clash I was becoming a little too over friendly with heroin chic - & The Clash had dropped the equally retched Combat Rock LP. Our compadres for the trip to Brixtons Fair Deal on 10th July 1982 (Down At The Casbah Club Tour), Eddie & Annabelle, were also in the throws of addiction & Jen (as the only non user in the party) was beginning to feel just a little bit put out by it all. At one stage, following Eddies Mini Cooper across London to score prior to the gig Eddie jumped out of his car on the middle of a traffic island to berate me vociferously for failing to keep up adequately. The night was marred by a crashed out Eddie nodding out all over the shop & a fish out of water Annabelle fussing all over him like a bruise. Jen & I decided to dump them for the duration of the gig & found them both slumped in the foyer afterwards. The gig itself was as overwrought as our circumstances a sprawling, wounded, compromised beast of a contradiction in terms. The venue had allegedly been turned into a casbah for the night with lots of extra attractions but we didnt find them. The stage set did look impressive, however yellow & black barriers & flashing orange emergency lights. The best moment was the pre-tape & The Clashs arrival on stage. It all seemed to go rapidly down hill from there on in - it wasnt a great (Fair) deal of fun! 8 nights later on the 18th of July we headed to Bingley Hall, Birmingham, to do it all again (thankfully without Eddie & Annabelle this time) & we enjoyed it all the more. The set was more fluent than at Brixton & the bonus of many a jaunty fellow Stratfordian in the audience made it one to remember for Jen & I. On the 2nd of August we headed down to Bristol with Jens older brother, John, to catch The Clash at the Bristol Locarno. As well as Mikey Dread, the group were also supported by an Asian Elvis impersonator called Elvis Patel. When The Clash hit the stage we were just in front of the mixing desk the crowd went absolutely apeshit pogoing en masse - & making the dance floor bounce in the process. I swear to God that for a good 5 minutes we were absolutely convinced that the movement from the floor was going to bring the PA stacks crashing down from the stage onto the front rows of the audience.

John was utterly blown away a decade or so older than Jen or I it was his first belated interface with that thing the papers called Punk Rock. He looked like an excited little kid at his first gig - rather than the experienced veteran of 60s counterculture that he in fact was. Jen & I seemed to enjoy the gig even more than Bingley Hall maybe because John enjoyed it so much maybe because it was the last time we ever saw Mick Jones & Joe Strummer on the same stage together (although we didnt know that at the time). Our final Clash gig was at De Montford Hall Leicester (Out Of Control 2 Tour) on the 12th of February 1984 (see Goodbye Comrade Joe elsewhere in this issue) a horror show Ive spent much of the subsequent 20 odd years trying to erase from my memory. The bullshit I was party to on that fateful night was far worse than any of the bullshitting I may have been guilty of during my 8 year affair with The Clash. At the final count I saw The Clash live 12 times as opposed to the 20 odd times my bullshitting had claimed by the time the group fell apart. Setting the record straight here for posterity has been a cathartic exercise that was well overdue - & I feel strangely cleansed by the process. In retrospect those 1st 5 shows were the ones that really meant something to me - & I will continue to wear their significance like a badge of honour for the rest of my days. The Clash at their best are still the greatest rock n roll memory of my 27 years of gigging - & I doubt any group will ever eclipse them. I never saw the original Pistols line up (apart from the re-union gigs) & regardless of all the other Punk Rock groups I had the pleasure to see when it mattered no one came close to the power & the glory of The Clash in full flight. For those of you who were there at the time I salute you. For those of you who missed out I commiserate with you. The Clash: The Greatest Punk Rock N Roll Band Of All Time? Discuss.

VICIOUS - Too Fast to Live. The Definitive Biography by Alan Parker.

The 2nd of February 2004 saw the advent of the 25th anniversary of the death of enduring Punk Rock icon, Sid Vicious. It also saw the publication of Alan Parkers new Sid Vicious biography (basically, Sid's Way2) & the Virgin/EMI release of Too Fast To Live, the all new best of Sid Vicious. Parker, who cut his milk teeth writing for the influential Spiral Scratch (seminal affluent 80s fanzine), made his full literary debut in 1999 with Sids Way (co-written with Anne Beverley, Sids mum). The Overkill Alarm went off in my head the moment I heard about the re-write. Apparently, Alan had been waiting to tell his side of the story for many years but had always had the intimidating shadow of Anne Beverley hanging over him. Her death from a heroin overdose in 1998 finally cleared the decks for a warts & all take on Sids Way. I decided it was time to check out the motivation behind the man & duly popped along to Parker Towers in Madia Vale to quiz the self styled Urban Myth about his latest book shaped outing: trakMARX - Why have we had to wait six-years since the death of Anne Beverley to finally put the record straight? Parker - Basically, I was approached by EMI & asked to update Sids Way to tie in with the anniversary of Sids death. I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to tell the story straight - including the material Anne felt painted her son in a bad light. trakMARX - How well did you know Anne Beverley? Parker - I first met her in 1988 & knew her until to her death in 1996. During this time I amassed over 30 hours of taped interview, much of which I couldnt use - at Annes insistence. Is it wise (or subjective, even) to base a biography almost entirely on a mothers memories of her own son?

What exclusive insight could she possibly provide that would paint a reflective portrait (i.e. - true likeness) of the real Sidney, John, Simon, Richie, Beverley, Hymie (his male prostitute name), Highwayman, etc, etc. His birth certificate didnt even match his death certificate. There are so many twists in Sids tale its dubious (to say the least) to rely so heavily on the words of Anne Beverley. For example, Anne always spoke fondly about her time in the RAF and often romanticised about this wonderful period of her life - only thing is: she was only actually in the RAF for a brief eight-weeks! Again, Anne has always claimed that Sid was a mummys boy - this from the same woman who made her son leave the family home at the then tender age of 15 (remember this was back in the stone age, 1970) and later recalled how she eventually told him to just fuck off at the age of 17. Anne Beverley spent almost her entire adult life in the company of serious narcotics & had no real involvement with the grown up Sid until the latter stages of his life some 4 years later. To obtain a succinct biographical perspective of a given subjects many character facets, a multitude of associates need to be closely interviewed. Parkers anecdotes from those who knew him are at best lightweight. Yes, we have quotes from a number of the main Punkers of the day, but nothing that the reader feels convincingly relates directly to the book in question. Parker tells me that he had extensive conversations with Nils Stevenson (RIP - RESPECT - Ed), for example, six-months before his death, as well as chats with Glenn Matlock, Mick Jones and one time road manager, Boogie. trakMARX - Why didnt you touch on the Spungen familys side of events? Parker - I tried to talk to her bother twice, but he didnt want to know. Nancys mother (Deborah) has never done an interview on the subject, so there was no hope there. trakMARX - I had heard that Deborah had contacted you when she heard that you where in the throws of doing a follow up to Sids Way and requested that a percentage of the profits (10%/15%) should go to her charity: AntiViolence Partnership of Philadelphia - (AVP is a non-profitable, charitable organisation that addresses victims of violence). My understanding was that this wish was agreed in principle at he time. What went wrong?

Parker - We discovered after the initial agreement had been struck that we really needed to realise the books publication in America and Japan on a far bigger & better deal than the current UK one to accrue any profits at all! Anyway, the web site isnt exactly cutting-edge - it hasnt even been updated since 2001 (It was actually updated in November 2002 - Ed). Sid Vicious - Too Fast To Live is certainly not a rewrite of the Pistols story, per se - it does provide further insight into Sids dealings during those dark days of heroin abuse and sheds interesting new light onto the circumstances surrounding Sid and Nancys death. Parker made 3 trips to NYC to interview officers from the NYPD who were involved in the events of that tragic night at the Chelsea (Room 100 - Going down - Fact: If you ever go looking for Room 100 at the Chelsea, you wont find it. These days the Chelsea have Room 99 & Room 101. Please dont ask the hotel staff for anecdotes - being ejected onto the NYC sidewalk can be embarrassing!). I wont reveal the secrets the book holds here - youll have to buy a copy for yourself - but I certainly found it entertaining. Its packed with genuine tales of the true Sid Vicious, the usual stock photos (Dennis Morris, Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley, etc), a splattering of memorabilia, a great NYPD mugshot of Sid and a bit too much cut and paste from the press of the time (13 pages!). In conclusion, I still feel that the definitive biography of the enigma known as Sid Vicious is still waiting to be written. Of all UK Punk Rocks icons - Sid remains King. His face can been seen on everything from Top Shop tshirts, Converse trainers (200+ a pop) to Action Man dolls. To date, Sid Vicious still remains the least understood member of the Pistols (he is hardly even mentioned within the Sex Pistols own film: The Filth And The Fury!). Parker wraps it up thus: How does a nation review its icons? Look at Marilyn Monroe: one bad actress. James Dean: three bad movies. Sid Vicious: Mr No Talent! Is talent relevant Its Punk Rock, after all, and Sid stood up as the most rebellious and outrageous of them all. Sid Vicious - myth or legend This apparently is the final book Alan is going to be doing on the Pistols, the whole experience is wearing thin, he tells me. His next book is a historical overview of the Carry On films. I love irony, dont you I would like to thank Alan for his precious moments with me - he is a mate and is a legend in his own lifetime - and dont just let me tell you that, he will as well!

All here at tMx wish him the best in his future projects. Good on ya, Gimmick!

Vicious White Kids

By the time Sex Pistols records had trickled down to become Sid Vicious records most of us had already caught the Ever Felt Youve Been Cheated bus to Two Tone, Post Punk & the future. Little did we know then what we know now: Sid Vicious - enduring Punk Rock icon. Too Fast To Live is Virgin/EMIs swanky new title designed to rinse the memories of Sid Sings, Some Product & The Great RocknRoll Swindle right out of the mind. Released in tandem with Alan Parkers book of the same name - Two Fast To Live is essentially Sid Sings in decent packaging. Besides the 3 x classic Sid 45s (Something Else, Cmon Everybody & My Way) - this is a rat bag collection of live cuts & out-takes - but we knew that - already. No one in their right mind ever expected a vault full of indispensable Vicious material to suddenly turn up out of the blue - so the fact that theres nothing here to get worked up about is resolutely not the point. What is the point, then? Oh, you cynical bastards. Sid was Punk Rock. Simple as that. He did what he said hed do & left a good-looking (if slightly bruised) corpse. Just browse through Dennis Morris Destroy collection & see who steals the show. Place a Pistols photo from the Matlock era next to one from the Vicious era - tell me they looked better then - youd be a revisionist liar! So - what can we say about Too Fast To Live that hasnt been said a few thousand times before? Nothing - thats what! Instead we popped round to Chez Scabies for a chat about bass guitars, paint & The Vicious White Kids (tshirt - 500+): trakMARX - When did you first meet Sidney? Rat - Me & Brian was down the Nashville looking for singers one night & this geezer walked in wearing a flash silver Lame jacket. Brian said, Here, he looks like a singer. We had words & Sid (for it was he) agreed to pop along & audition for us.

We saw Vanian later the same night & asked him along too. Sid was late - Vanian was early - Vanian got the gig. trakMARX - What did you make of him personally? Rat - He was very funny, good value entertainment. He had a cruel sense of humour, for sure, but I always got along with him. He didnt seem to care very much about anything other than having a laugh. trakMARX - Had Sid eclipsed John in the icon stakes by the end of the Pistols? Rat - No, but they were running neck & neck for a while. trakMARX - What did you make of the Pistols breaking up at the time? Rat - I though it was an inevitable shame, but I never felt theyd done enough to warrant breaking up. They never reached their full potential - they could have done it all but they stopped short. The loss of Glenn in the song-writing department didnt help. They were always going to struggle after that. trakMARX - How were the Vicious White Kids born? Rat - Glenn & I shared the same management company at the time & The Rich Kids were really happening. Sid was looking to raise cash for a trip to the States - he tapped Glenn - & Glenn talked me into it. Sid & Glenn were keen to show there was no animosity between either of them as a result of what had gone down with the Pistols & I was happy enough to go along for the ride. The group was originally to have been called Sid Sods Off - but Vicious White Kids was an amalgamation of The Rich Kids, The White Cats & Sid Vicious - so Vicious White Kids it was. We started rehearsing. After rehearsal one night, some band or other had left their gear set up in one of the rehearsal rooms & Sid decided to have their bass away as a present for Nancy so she could learn to play bass too. Me & Glenn were sitting in the car outside waiting for the off when Sid slides out of the building with a bass he slips furtively onto the back seat. Later that night he painted the guitar (strings & all) black. There was a phone call from an irate rehearsal studio demanding the return of the stolen bass. Sid eventually returned it - still wet! trakMARX - How many gigs did you do?

Rat - Just the one - at the Electric Ballroom. Sid walked on stage & some punter gobbed at him - so he smacked him with the mic stand. We only had a 20-minute set so we had to play it twice! Nancy joined us on stage for the second set. The one thing that does stick in my mind is that we all got paid extra. Sid would insist on charging photographers to photograph him - so the band did likewise, & we all got paid more! In fact, one of the only shots in existence of The Vicious White Kids was taken at that precise moment.

Ramones - The Complete Twisted History

There may well have been a deluge of Ramones books over the last couple of years - but you wont hear me complaining. Everett Trues Hey Ho Lets Go - The Story Of The Ramones, Jim Bessmans Ramones - An American Band & Monte A Melnick & Frank Meyers On The Road With The Ramones have all been invaluable assets to any true connoisseur of Da Brudders - & Dick Porter has delivered another. Ramones - The Complete Twisted History is compact & easy to read. Porters prose is snappy & addictive - the perfect marriage of respect & story telling. Porter is obviously a fan - & thats always going to help (having said that, what would somebody who didnt like the Ramones actually be like I cant answer that - I dont know anyone who doesnt like the Ramones). Porters list of acknowledgements are further confirmation of his books pedigree: Nina Antonia, Clinton Heylin, Jim Bessman, John Holmstrom, McNeil & McCain, Mark Perry & John Savage - amongst others - have been extensively quoted throughout. So, no problems with the source material. In fact, my only real criticism of Ramones - The Complete Twisted History is that it is very reminiscent of Bessmans aforementioned tome in size, shape, layout & content - except nowhere near as good looking. If youre interested, Porter also has books on the shelves about The Darkness & The White Stripes - but dont hold that against him. Ramones - The Complete Twisted History is an excellent addition to any Ramones cannon. Fire a 21-gun salute.

The Cravats Red Ditchs Full Of Blood

The Cravats quite literally burst out of Reddich in 1977 - & I should know because I was standing pretty close to them at the time. So much so, in fact, that Ive ended up with a small Cravat shaped stain on my heart that has proved somewhat reluctant to fade. The Cravats debut 45 Gordon is still the best thing to have ever come out of Redditch (& that includes Kevin Turvey & the A441). They eventually went on to become the Very Things (The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes) in later life & you will have doubtless seen The Shend on your TV screens on many occasions without realising that he once swung a meaner bass than Jean Jaques Burnell. It had been many years since I had spoken to either Rob Dallaway (gtr & vocals) or The Shend (bass) - so imagine my surprise when they answered an e-mail to their site - & agreed to answer a few questions for tMx. In typical Cravats fashion, The Shend agreed to answer all the odd numbers, leaving all the even ones for Rob. This possibly tells you more about The Cravats than my mere words could ever do: trakMARX - What was it about Punk Rock that caught your attention? Shend - The nice hats, free Germolene and the fact I'd never have to work another day in my life + I could continue not washing my hair. trakMARX - How did it manifest itself around your locale at the time? Rob - We got into it pretty early, given where we were, in the sticks of Redditch. I think to start with we were the only manifestation of punk there. We were]so hungry for it after years of mostly rubbish fashion and music. I remember being excited hearing about 'freakers' at Canvey Island, then the start of Punk Rock, The Sex Pistols 'Anarchy in the UK' tour which was cancelled in Birmingham, very disappointing. The moment it all really went off in my head was Dave Lee Travis playing 'New Rose' by The Damned on an early evening Radio 1 show.

I was driving and had to pull over and turn the radio up full. It felt like the world had changed. Then he said at the end "That was 'The Damned' and we certainly won't be playing that again". I was so angry and excited. But it felt like something really big was happening, and either you got it or you didn't. It polarised people. trakMARX - Did the DIY aesthetic appeal? Shend - If this is some veiled reference to the B&Q incident, then I'll have you know it was only the one ladder and I served my time. trakMARX - How was that (DIY aesthetic) applied to the birth of The Cravats? Rob - The very essence of Punk for me was that DIY aesthetic. I hated the way it got codified into a particular sound and a uniform fashion. We were so charged up with the idea that music was ours, and not just the preserve of tossers who could play a million notes a minute. It was a revelation we could make our own music and express ourselves and invent a way to look. Then there were just all these other voices that previously hadn't been heard, from bands all over the country. Then there was a further revelation - all music was ours! Rockabilly, jazz, folk, everything, and the development of The Cravats was informed by that. trakMARX - Your debut 45 - "Gordon" - was self financed how did you raise the readies for that? Shend: My Lovely Mum lent us 400 to make Gordon and we're still paying her back. She wanted me to be happy and so allowed me to be an anarchist in the conservatory after 6pm. trakMARX - How many copies did you press? Rob - I think we pressed 1,000. We sold about 500 pretty quickly then 'Small Wonder' signed us, bought the remainder of the stock and stamped them with a 'Small Wonder' logo. So there are 500 unstamped, 500 stamped as far as I know. trakMARX - How much do they change hands for these days on the collectors market (can you intuitively sense the questioner owns a copy?) Shend: Depends. I have seen one in America for 120 but I reckon about 25 is a safe bet on ebay.

It also depends whether it has the Small Wonder stamp on the label or not. trakMARX - You signed to Small Wonder records around 1979. Was independence important to The Cravats? Rob - Yes, it felt like it was, although we were talking to Virgin at around that time. But we wouldn't have accepted any guidance or interference then, which was arguably our strength, and our weakness. We might have benefited from the resources of a major, but maybe wouldn't have been allowed to be so wayward and experimental. trakMARX - John Peel was a great supporter of The Cravats. Would our generation have been spiritually poorer without him? Shend: The man stides the airwaves like a colossus and has done since Elizabethan times. He played Hendrix, Pink Floyd then us and helped us blossom into the Foxglove of fun we are today. trakMARX - Yehudi Storageheater is a Punk Rock nom de plume up there with Seymour Bybuss from The Shapes. Why do you think the West Midlands was so much better at making up names than the rest of the UK (& what does "The Shend" actually signify?) Rob - I love that black, surreal humour of the West Midlands, and that just runs through everything we do. I love Yehudi's other names too: Svoor Naan and F Reg. The Shend? The name was originally Chris Shendo, which quickly became The Shend, or The Shed for dyslexic close friends. Shend was also called Omar McClintock at one time, and also Crenshaw, or Crensh, for a while. trakMARX - "The Cravats In Toytown" must merit a CD remastering, re-packaging, re-evaluation of the 'art' type style interface very soon. Any plans? Shend: Yer what? If you mean are we releasing the bogger? No is the answer - although some tracks will feature on the double CD we are currently compiling. Well, Robin is doing all the hard graft while I make the sandwiches. trakMARX - Where did it all go wrong with Small Wonder? Rob - Not sure that it went wrong, it kind of fizzled out. I think Small Wonder weren't sure what to do with us.

I'm not sure if they entirely understood what we were doing. It seems to me we were changing quite a lot in those later days with Small Wonder and it was just at the time when we were hitting our stride with the late period stuff when we left. Partly our fault, too. I think we needed organizing with tours and promotion and stuff. I think there are a number of wrong turns we took, but none to do with the music, which largely I still love. trakMARX - The Cravats eventually worked with Penny Rimbuad & The Crass collective. What was the story there? Shend: A long one! Basically Penny loved the strangeness of the band and even though we weren't exactly a typical Crass outfit, he threw himself into foisting us publicwards. He and his chums are some of the finest folk I've ever met and we love them all dearly. Penny kindly wrote the foreword for the Cravats website. trakMARX - Talk us through the terminal illness & subsequent death that eventually 'did for' The Cravats? Shend: What do you mean? We never split up and we never died. Robin was a bit poorly back in '93 but that was due to a dodgy Samosa. We have continued experiments in the laboratory and we are still proud to be faceworkers in the mine of information. Rob - Had we been smart, or had better advice, we would have toured the 'Colossal Tunes Out' LP, had a rest and then carried on. We were at the top of our game as performers when we recorded that stuff. You might say that's a good time to stop, but I think there was a lot more in the tank. trakMARX - What happened next to the four main characters in the Cravats script? Rob - 'Uncle' Dave Bennett joined another Crass Records band, Poison Girls, Svoor Naan became part of Pig Bros, and The Shend and I went on to develop the umbrella arts project The DcL (The Dada-Cravat Laboratory), which in turn spawned The Very Things. Both myself and The Shend are still making music, I have a project called 'Silverlake' underway, and Shend and I may be collaborating on something soon. trakMARX - What do you make of these 'old' skool groups reforming & wheeling themselves out for one last bite of the apple before impending senility bites?

Shend: I reckon its gross if they still attempt to lever their gargantuan gut into a pair of plastic trousers and leap around the stage like rheumatic gargoyles. Luckily I had a gargantuan gut in '77 and we sported decorum and suavity. Should we ever emerge on stage again we will still look as we did because we never leapt but ambled. trakMARX - Would The Cravats ever consider doing anything so tawdry? Rob - Interesting that you should ask! We've just been talking about that and for the first time since the demise of the Cravats as a working band, we're thinking about it! I've really got into the Cravats again, having worked on material for a proposed 'best of' double CD, called 'The Land of the Giants', so I think we might be up for it if we could do it justice. Now where did I put that Stylophone? trakMARX - Looking back on it all now - what was the best & worst of being a Cravat - & would you do it all again? Shend: Well, we still is one, and the best thing is: I've never worked a day in my life. The worst thing is: those bullbars on the front of 4X4's.

John McGeoch RIP

The news of John McGeochs untimely death at the tender age of 48 left all of us here @ tMx in mourning. Born in Greenock, Renfrewshire on 28th May 1955, McGeoch passed away peacefully in his sleep on 4 March 2004. A cofounder of Magazine, & later a member of Visage, The Banshees, The Armoury Show & PIL, McGeoch also worked alongside Generation X, Midge Ure, John Keeble & Glenn Gregory. McGeochs guitar sound provided the post punk foundations on which many of the classic guitar sounds of the alternative sector have been laid over the ensuing 25 years. Informed as much by texture as virtuosity, McGeoch led a vanguard that replaced the plank spanking pyrotechnics of the muso-old-guard with something altogether more cerebral & artistic. Progression was no longer the enemy within boundaries were there to be crossed. McGeoch taught a generation that power & beauty could be synonymous. McGeoch formed Magazine with ex-Buzzcock, Howard Devoto, in 1977 (see Magazine feature tMx 12). When the group dissolved at the turn of the 80s, McGeogh found success with Steve Stranges Visage, who scored a massive UK hit single with Fade To Grey. The same year McGeoch was recruited by Siouxsie Sioux & Steve Severin following the mysterious disappearance of Kenny Morris & John McKay (& subsequent stand in, Robert Smiths, refusal to terminate his own group, The Cure). McGeochs strident string-age shaped the sound of Happy House, Christine & the hugely influential Kaleidoscope LP, coinciding neatly with The Banshees most successful period. McGeoch left The Banshees under a cloud following a drunken performance in Madrid in 1982. Further problems with depression & alcohol led to his departure on the eve of a UK tour. By 1986, McGeoch had joined John Lydons PIL, who he continued to serve until relocating to LA in the late 80s.

After 10 years in the US, McGeoch returned to the UK in the mid 90s where he formed Pacific with John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), worked with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 & retrained as a nurse. At the time of his death, McGeochs only musical undertakings were projects for television soundtracks. He is survived by his wife & daughter, whom our thoughts go out to in sympathy. God Bless you John McGeoch, sir. Wherever you may be now, our thoughts are with you always.

tMx is proud to welcome aboard Tyler Durden, our new cub film reporter. Tyler has recently retired from his position as Audley Harrison's personal trainer following a road-to-Damascus type experience at a recent screening of "The Passion Of Christ". Tyler has subsequently renounced mindless violence for profit, embraced the Kabbalah & become a Howard Hughes style recluse (except without the money) dedicated to the subject of Punk Rock In The Movies. Tyler begins his tMx tenure with the 1st part of his evaluation of Derek Jarman's "Jubilee": Director - Derek Jarman Genre - Avante-garde/Experimental Themes - Punk/Royalty/Time travel Produced by - Cinegate/Libra Films International/Megalovision Cast: Jenny Runacre - Elizabeth I Jordan - Amyl Nitrate Nell Campbell - Crabs Linda Spurrier - Viv Toyah Wilcox - Mad Ian Charleson - Angel (Ariel) Richard O'Brien - Dee Adam Ant - Kid Derek Jarman's Jubilee presents a futuristic view of the rebellious fashions of the British punk movement of late 1970's London. It is steeped in a nihilistic philosophy & seen through the eyes of a group of female outcasts who are united in their hatred of convention. Jubilee, if seen today, has never been more relevant in our apocalyptic times. A vision of our future: chaos and disorder have destroyed the system - and its leaders have lost touch with humanity. The police, the church and the authorities are seen as corrupt - and party to violence and sexual depravity. The youth, remnants of this shattered society, discuss art, literature and music in terms of history and culture. They view difference as no longer antagonistic but celebratory (once the old establishment has been dissolved). Jubilee's youth mix the past and the present but can ultimately see 'no future'. Looking at the current reemergence of some of the truly great artists (The Stooges, The MC5, The Dolls) - maybe that lesson has now been learnt. Maybe there is a future after all. Maybe Jarman's statement that there are 'no more heroes' has finally been resolved. The youth of today are now acknowledging the musical 'heroes' of the past once again.

When the young and chubby Toyah (Mad) is seen photographing the suffocation of a young man, it should send shock waves through the youth of today. Why? Because with the advancement of new technology and video mobile phones, there's always the danger that images of personal degradation can now be distributed for profit, fun or humiliation - at the expense of our own human dignity! You only have to look at the recent news stories from Iraq to see the connection. At one point in Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth I is transported through time by an angel (Ariel) to a future where chaos reigns. If you've read the papers lately, you'll have noticed that our current Queen has been digitally mapped. Was Jarman prophetically showing the blurring of boundaries between reality and fantasy? Maybe some things shouldn't be repeated too often - for fear of becoming stale and self-serving. With the domination of American junk culture deadening our passion, music, and particularly the attention spans of our youth, isn't it about time we ushered in something positive to ignite a few new ideas. The future is ours not theirs. Jarman's future has us eating tasteless food and drinking bad water (sound familiar?). Jarman gives us kids roaming the streets with guns, creating glorious, spontaneous violence - a future youth culture that no longer needs to be force-fed crap to survive. This should ring a few bells with our nation's/media's preoccupation with stars and their vacuous lifestyles. Statistics (as Amyl Nitrate so prophetically proposes) have been substituted for our new reality - and subsequently govern the way we lead our lives. Adam Ant (Kid) states that he does 'nothing', which the majority of today's younger generation could empathise with. Everybody has forgotten the people who built this place and the kids use it as a playground (as Mad represents). As Jarman predicts, the true artists have been driven into corners and are unappreciated. The youth only recognise the art of drinking (look at the news). As the media megalomaniac in charge of Buckingham Palace states: 'This is the generation who grew up and forgot to lead their lives' 'I don't create it, I own it' 'The media became their own reality' 'I own the world of flickering shadows' Maybe without the media - WE don't exist?

The Saints All Times Through Paradise

Its an age-old conundrum: which came 1st The Saints or The Ramones? It seems incongruous that either The Saints or The Ramones could have evolved independently of each other. Two isolated collectives of lunatics forming seminal rock n roll groups within months of each other thousands of miles apart. Isnt that what they call synchronicity? Isnt that what they call Punk Rock? In 1976, when UK residents were still busily making up the rules for Punk Rock, new groups were forming quicker than milk turns to cheese if left out of the fridge overnight. The Ramones & (Im) Stranded were the benchmarks these nascent scene-stealers used when appropriating their sound. The template was simple: energy, power & style over content. The message was somewhat less complicated: we dont give a fuck. (Im) Stranded remains the ultimate statement in highoctane garage rock 28 years after its release. The authenticity of The Saints & their fellow southern hemisphere sparring partners, Radio Birdman, elevated Australian rock n roll from the doldrums whilst most UK punters were still queuing up for John Bonham drum solos. From its iconic cover shot featuring the group slouching against a graffiti-ed wall in a dilapidated building to the frantic end of closing track, Nights In Venice, (Im) Stranded pokes two fingers in your eyes & jiggles them about a bit until you cry. By the time The Saints arrived in the UK & the waiting arms of Harvest Records in 1977 they were already somewhat at odds with the UK scenes main protagonists. They plain didnt get what all the fuss was about - & deliberately began to move their music away from what they soon began to regard as a formula. The 2cnd Saints LP, Eternally Yours, was a marked departure for the group. The energy got more controlled, the lyrics got more cynical & threatening - & the guitars got painted in solid soul brass. Know Your Product & This Perfect Day were the gems of the collection. The Saints had moved the goalposts & sections of the crowd had begun to move with them. The more disillusioned The Saints became with UK Punk the quicker they distanced themselves from the phenomenon.

The Saints 3rd & final LP, Prehistoric Sounds, was recorded with the group already under some pressure. Internal differences & a longing for Australia were taking their toll on The Saints. Prehistoric Sounds was released to a muted response The Saints credibility had been affected by their abject refusal to jump through Punk rings of fire for the circus master. Ed Kuepper was the first to jump ship with the remainder falling apart by the end of 1978. It was the beginning of a period of animosity between Baily & Kuepper that would last the best part of the next 25 years. A new 4 CD boxset - The Saints All Times Through Paradise (EMI) collects every recording made by the group between 1976 & 1978. It includes all 3 LPs, a whole host of unreleased recordings, a complete live set from London in 1977 & extensive sleeve-notes & unseen photographs & memorabilia. All Times Through Paradise is all The Saints you could ever need - & more. The perfect document of the perfect garage rock n roll group. This perfect day!

Ramones: End Of The Century.

ITS THE END - THE END OF THE CENTURY. ITS THE END THE END OF THE SEVENTIES Following is a review of the controversial forthcoming Ramones documentary feature called - Ramones: End Of The Century. As you trakMARXists may already be aware - this film was produced by a couple of nave idealistic film makers, Michael Gramaglia & Jim Fields, who never bothered to get clearances for the material which they used and shot - so there is still some time to go and some dollars need spending before it sees the light of day (if ever). Bankruptcy and messy litigation is still a distinct possibility. It seems these guys undertook this project in a typically nave cut and paste fanzine kind of way. The film opens and closes with scenes from the Ramones induction ceremony in the rock-n-roll Hall Of Fame. The film plays out the warts and all story of the Ramones and offers various bewildered opinions as to why they never managed to truly break through - even though they played some of the greatest ever rock-n-roll. Ultimately they were real people and victims of timing, circumstance, chemistry and bad luck. If you are seeking to validate a punk blueprint for life you will be disappointed. Just like the Ramones themselves, the film will not quite deliver to the commercial mass - but the fans will love it. It wasnt all bad, however - and the film does show there was a certain dignity and integrity with which the Ramones managed to hang onto this thing called Punk for so long. Like most of us, they knew nothing else - and in any case - nothing else was ever going to be as much fun as starring in and playing in the most underrated, exhilarating, inspirational, influential bands ever (even through the road was rocky - much of the time). Typically, the film follows the genealogy of the Ramones through their formation in Queens. We travel with them through their journey from their Forest Hills backyard to their virtually impromptu showcase at CBGB where they were signed up to play on the spot by Hilly Crystal. Here they quickly began to grow their fan base and stature amongst the other CBGB stalwarts. Pretty soon CBGBs would be teaming with 500 Ramones fans. They sign to Sire, they play their first UK gigs at the Roundhouse. Their seminal influence on the formation of the parallel London scene cannot be understated.

The film also suggests some of the reasons why some internal feuds raged for far too long, focusing on the internal tensions and allegiances. The alleged theft of Joeys girlfriend by Johnny raged till the very end. The documentary also features some touching and inspirational family revelations courtesy of Joeys mother, Charlotte and his half brother, Mickey - where they describe Joeys difficulties as a child. After the turning point bad gig where they were bottled off whilst supporting Johnny Winter at Waterbury Connecticut, Joey understood that the Ramones had to go to England. It was at the Roundhouse when the Ramones first met up with the Clash, the Pistols et all. There is a reflective interview with punk stalwart Joe Strummer not long before he died - regarding that UK breakthrough period: I got the impression Joe thought the Clash were in a different politicised league but he conceded that without the Ramones he did not think the London scene would have been possible. The Clash loved the Ramones delivery and took their pacing values away from the early London gigs as a present from the Ramones. The Bruddas drew 3000 to their first Roundhouse gigs whilst playing out to only low hundreds in some American clubs. As we know - Linda Stein scouted them on behalf of Sire chief, Seymour who understood them completely. Tommy Erdyli welds the film together in the same way that he appeared to initially weld the band. Although Dee Dee at one point discredits the impact of the Tommy factor. Tommy joined because they couldnt find the right drummer. Eventually he was replaced by the grateful Marky Bell who, whilst a still a Voidoid, could see the Ramones were the future. Shit I Wish I Was In This Band - when he saw them for the first time. We witness the apparently accidental formation of their classic 1-2-3-4 break out intro - initially leading into Blitzkrieg Bop - as a result of an on-stage band song sequencing conflict at an early CBGB gig. For a time The Ramones were all living out of art director Arturo Vegas NY loft apartment, which was possibly more significant than was originally understood. As you would expect, the Ramones story is sympathetically underpinned with contributions from Legs McNeil & John Holmstrom - co founders of the seminal Punk Magazine. So why did the Ramones not take over where the Beatles and the Beach Boys left off? Why were the Ramones not a truly global force? This seemed to be the ongoing question running through the film.

A recent LA Punk edition of Mojo Magazine reflected the feeling of the music industry with regard to punk and its commercial possibilities - at the time: If the Pistols and the Ramones cant break through then what chance have these bozos got - when considering the possibilities for the likes of the Zeros and the Germs. The initial punk surge appeared to fizzle out fairly quickly in commercial terms. In the film, the Pistols were underlyingly blamed for the initial punk implosion as they were too dirty and obnoxious to enable the break through that was hoped for. This commercial analysis puts things into some kind of perspective for us long distance observers. The Ramones were effectively a high profile cult band - in their own back yard - whilst being punk mega stars (of a kind) in Latin America. We should maybe try to remember that punk probably only really broke through in 1979 when the likes of the Clash dressed up the turkey in a slightly different way. For some inexplicable reason the Ramones did not quite hit all the right buttons. The Ramones were so easy to get that I will always be amazed by this. The film shows there have been times where they have dwindled into virtual oblivion frustratingly only the hardcore believer or the enlightened Latin territories could see it. The film shows scenes of mass fan hysteria shot in Brazil and Mexico. The Latino cultures were much more up for it. The Mexican and Brazilians were smarter than the rest of us and saw the Ramones very clearly. This appreciation that the Ramones truly deserved was not nearly so evident back home. In South America the kids could relate to the unwanted urchin they saw in the Ramones. In Brazil alone there are 1,000,000 abandoned kids who sniff glue and have no future who loved the Ramones raw message - look forward to this amazing footage. In Brazil the Ramones filled 30,000 capacity football stadiums you could see what they should have become. Appropriately - after the Adios Amigos album the Ramones retired after 21-years. Sadly, for 18 of those, Johnny and Joey never really got along. From the film - it is apparent that the Ramones did OK from the live show - but this side was critical to their income. Later American Ramones tours played out to only hundreds of fans in places like Boston, Rochester, Newhaven & Philadelphia - whilst Nirvana, Soundgarden & Rancid were stealing their stadium thunder.

The pitifully small audiences at this time were depressing to witness on the film. The Ramones have never sold millions of albums - so how have they become so influential? Whilst questioning the genuine depth of any Ramones musical influence (as in my opinion no-one sounds quite like them) - I have concluded that the Ramones have become even more important for their graphic imagery and iconography. This film shows that this probably began with the low fi graphically influential first album sleeve by Roberta Bailey/Arturo Vega - as much as anything else - in this way the Ramones have come to symbolise the spirit of punk. Possibly the Ramones influence is in fact more complex than I had originally thought. Dee Dee came out of the film very well, beneath the drug and drink ravaged republicanism was a coherence and alternative vision which was successful and necessary to a degree - as punk sub-scenes evolved dissolved and revolved. The Joey footage was limited and final broadcasting publication of the film appears dependent on some perceived journalistic imbalances being corrected by the executors of Joeys memory estate. Before he died Joey was to have shot further footage but his illness prevented this. This film has little or no mainstream release potential although I gather that there are some plans to show it in selected cinemas in the UK. This will not run well in the cinemas. This is purely a fan film and was viewed as such. Even then it doesnt really deliver any answers to those unanswerable questions. Without giving too much away I have summarised with a selection of quotes from the film in order to give you some kind of flavour of this documentary: Daniel Rey producer - the Ramones made half of all previous music instantly obsolete Daniel Rey producer - the Ramones produced the loudest loudest/fastest/tightest/barrage Danny Fields manager - Joey took everything that was wrong with him and made it beautiful - he was a hero that overcame the odds. A liberator who triumphed over geekiness, failure and unpopularity - an alien in the world that he was raised in Debbie Harry - they were like military Dee Dee Ramone - all Johnny was trying to do - was take advantage of a once in a lifetime situation and be adult about it Joe Strummer - the Ramones were as tight as the royal marines

Joe Strummer - they were like white heat - they hit you like a pile driver Johnny Ramone - we loved each other even when we were not acting civil Johnny Ramone: (after Joeys death) - I was sad because Joey was part of the Ramones and I loved the Ramones Johnny Ramone - I almost hated myself for caring about Joey as we never really got along Legs McNeil - the Ramones wrote classic USA pop songs why werent they played on the radio? Mickey Leigh (about half brother Joey) - all he wanted was an explanation - an apology Mickey Leigh (again about Joey) - on stage his character exploded an amazing transformation took place Monty Melnick - Johnny was like a sergeant in the army the band manager Seymour Stein - I signed the Ramones because they wrote great songs Tommy - I became the drummer because no one else was right On the whole this documentary film is better than I expected. Sadly - just two months after induction in to the hall of fame - Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose.

The Art Of Dying Young Vicious by Mark Paytress

Mark Paytress picks up the gauntlet thrown down by Alan Parkers appalling, Vicious Too Fast To Live, to deliver a well researched deconstruction of the life & times of Sidney Vicious. Fresh insight & in depth interviews are proffered with out any pictures (are you taking notes, Honey Monster?). 218 pages are filled with expressive & accessible prose. The boy looked at Johnny then surpassed him like a supernova - almost over night. Paytress quizzes many of Vicious friends & contemporaries to paint a stark but ultimately realistic portrait of a hopelessly floored icon who, even at the zenith of his trajectory, had absolutely no real idea what he was doing or where he was going. Maybe thats what makes Viscous so enduring. We follow Simons sordid tale from its Hackney art school roots to its Chelsea Hotel conclusion constantly aware that Sid was merely a boy & should (by rights) have been far better protected than he was. Lydons tears in The Filth & The Fury were definitely not purchased second hand from a crocodile, lest we forget. The blame attached to Malcolm still refuses to go quietly.


It would be utterly predictable for me to say I was prompted to write a book about Joe Strummer and The Clash after the unbelievably sad event of December 2002. Also totally true. But I'd been working on this for years since October 1976, to be precise, when I wrote my first article on The Clash for America's now long-gone New York Rocker magazine - after witnessing them live for the first time. After that I covered them solidly - mainly in Zigzag, the magazine I edited during most of the time The Clash were in existence. I'd always toyed with the idea of collecting together all my features and experiences into one long set of dispatches from the front line. Then I got diverted and The Clash dissolved into the farce of the final line up and I only thought about it occasionally, like when 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' got to number one. Then I got waylaid again. Then Joe died. Now was the time. I didn't care who else was already on the case. I'd been in there, come out alive and it took Joe dying to realise that the only way I would let loose some of this massive swelling of grief would be to let it all out. Pay tribute to Joe, write about his life, and at the same time, try and capture some of the essence of the great band he was in. There was a story to be told here but I'd put my cards on the table and simply call it Joe Strummer & The Legend Of The Clash. For me, the roller coaster story of The Clash is epic and fascinating, with the best soundtrack ever and peppered with some of the best memories a man could wish for. They had their faults, which some who didn't experience The Clash at close quarters are quite happy to dwell on, so why should I throw in more muck when all I had was a nonstop amazing time in their hands? In 2004, there's been so much written about them and it feels like a duty to relate my own experiences from the trenches, as well as emitting the loudest tribute to Joe that my metaphysical intestines can muster. Nothing less, but hopefully more. Tell it like I saw it.

One rather astounding thing for me was, as the book unfolded, it took on this life of its own with the emergence of old friends I hadn't seen since the Clash days. These included legendary road manager Johnny Green, Mick's school-mate Robin Banks, who wrote some of those Zigzag pieces and was with the band constantly, even the finally-clean Topper Headon. Then there were people I had kept in touch with, such as Mick Jones, Don Letts, DJ 'Scratchy' Myers and roadie/MC Jock Scott. Then when I started talking to the guys who knew Joe after The Clash the final pieces fell into place. Richard Norris, Rat Scabies and Roger Goodman were just three who were involved in Joe's life from the mid-90s onwards and shed new light on his post-Clash life. I ended up with that Clash war diary, Joe's later life story and the desired tribute all at the same time. And aching sides in the process! Here, I'm just going to home in on two specific and classic periods which probably provided the greatest music, bollock-blowing live sets and, on a purely personal level, the most cherished memories. Two twin tower chunks out of seven years with The Clash - the runup to the first album and the making of London Calling. This was when the excitement levels were running riot. We pick up the story when The Clash have been in existence barely six months. No record deal but a rapidly-mounting reputation born out of a handful of gigs, including the Screen On The Green and the 100 Club festival. They were still grabbing any gigs that came along - including supporting pub-rock outfits at leisure centres in Leighton Buzzard. 'Some gigs can change your life. Usually, you realise that later. The best ones are when you know it's happening right there and then. Bang! Your world is never the same again. 9 October, 1976, was one of those nights. At the time I was living in a place called Leighton Buzzard - your average original market town with amoeba-like estates, crap pubs and lairy beer monsters kicking off after closing time. But it also had a fairly vibrant gig scene. A guy I'd been to school with, Chris France, put on gigs in a pub backroom and had already brought in a virginal Jam, pub-rockers Eddie And the Hot Rods and the legendary local maniac John Otway. Bigger events took place at the local Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, which was one of those council hangars better suited to bingo and comedians. But that October evening Chris had booked a locally popular R&B pub band called The Rockets...with The Clash as support.

In the run up to the gig, my anticipation was stoked by a couple of factors. Firstly, the October issue of Sniffin' Glue carried the first major Clash interview. Here they banged The Clash manifesto firmly down on the table. The band sought no favours from the press - they were urgent and aggressive, talking as if The Clash were indeed the only group that mattered and landing up with Mick leading Joe into the famous quote, 'Like trousers like brain.' Oddly, Joe's declaration of punk style would become one of the punk movement's defining declarations. The week before the gig I got a string of phone-calls from Bernie Rhodes. This came about because I'd told Chris France, who booked the gig directly with Bernie [and paid him about 20], that I wanted to write a piece for New York Rocker, the US publication dedicated to punk rock. Bernie also knew I'd eventually be doing a Zigzag piece. Having never encountered Bernie before, I had no idea about his background or personality. All I knew was he was the band's manager. Bernie gave me the whole streetcredible spiel, all the while emphasising that this was the only band worth following and how they were going to turn the world upside down. At first, I thought it was the usual hype you got from managers, but there was something more here. Bernie really knew how to stir up interest. And he was dead right. I really was never the same again. When we arrived the hall was half full of local hippies, rock fans and lager meatheads, who draped themselves over the comfy chairs. There couldn't have been more than ten punters of a punky disposition in the whole joint. First place we hit was the bar - and immediately encountered were The Clash. There were no dressing rooms to speak of so they were just hanging about waiting until the time came to go on. For some reason, I found myself perched next to Mick the bloke I'd seen knocking about in the Portobello Road and Camden areas. He knew he'd seen me before too. It all came out when we did that inevitable first meeting gushing about music. The Stones, the Dolls, Iggy and the Stooges...oh, and Mott The Hoople. "That's it!", we both said at the same time. The Rainbow Theatre in '72, Elephant And Castle College in '73, Croydon...the dates kept coming. When I was running Mott's fan club, I often went backstage, and that's where I first met Mick. We hit it off that night partly through the uncannilysimilar way that we'd both grown up with rock 'n' roll. As there is only a year between our birth-dates, we both let the same landmarks stoke our passion.

Those early conversations were splattered with mutual reference points: devouring the music papers every week to find out what was currently hot then tracking down imports by the likes of the Flamin' Groovies, the MC5 and, most fanatically, the New York Dolls. The Rolling Stones, the Faces, Mott, of course. Living for it and getting closer to the dream by any means necessary. For me, it was running Mott's fan club for three years - nonpaid dogsbody work, but I got into gigs and hung out with the band. For Mick it was nurturing the hope of one day being in a band like that, and consequently acquiring and learning to play the guitar before [finally] running into the other pieces of that jigsaw. The desire, the look, the instrument - Mick had the lot before he had the band that could bring it all home. Mick's attitude and musical adolescence were fairly different to Joe's, although they started off similar with a sixties love for the Stones, Kinks and Animals. Then they took different paths. Mick had the rock 'n' roll dream from an early age and continued along the route mapped out by the NME and US magazines like Creem. The Stones overseeing everything, while rock got flashier and trashier, culminating in the Dolls. Meanwhile, Joe pursued his more traditional path, reading and getting into wordsmiths of protest like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, while sticking to his eternal love of Chuck Berry. The 101'ers were flying on five star rock 'n' roll petrol, while Mick wanted a high-octane collision between the trash of the Dolls and the street anthems of Mott. Those paths met again in '76 when the Ramones and the Pistols blasted the rock 'n' roll form with the spirit of punk. In contrast to Mick's readiness to wax lyrical about the Stones or Mott The Hoople, Joe was friendly, but remained pretty quiet. It all must've been something of a culture shock for him. Six months before he'd been playing pubrock standards with the 101'ers. Now he was at the centre of a whole new movement. Baggy suits had been replaced by Oxfam jackets, studs and boiler-suits splattered in paint. And he was already being called a spokesman for a generation. Then it was time. The Clash came on, exploded into 'White Riot' and it was like a bomb had gone off. Coruscating razor-chords and breakneck double-time rhythms topped with the amphetamined passion howling out of the incandescent singer, who was literally vibrating. The Clash's diversity and depth could evolve later. In 1976 they simply provided a declaration of all-out war on all the bullshit you'd accumulated over your whole life.'

Over the next few years I'd almost get used to how great The Clash were live. In October '76 I was a Clash virgin. I certainly didn't have a clue that I'd be spending a large chunk of the next seven years with this lot as good mates and still be hanging out with Mick Jones 28 years later - while mourning the passing of that amazing singer. I had to review the gig for New York Rocker, which was like a hip collision between the legendary Punk magazine and NME. It was the first bit of press the group got in the States. I led off with, 'The Clash taking the stage was like an injection of electricity into the smokey air. They charged headlong into a dynamite opener with shattering energy, strutting and lurching with manic, stuttering violence. Like clockwork robots out of control. [I later found out that this was 'White Riot']. Before they'd played a note the group hit you straight between the eyes with the visuals. Oxfam shirts splattered with paint and daubed with slogans like STEN GUNS IN KNIGHTSBRIDGE. The set sort of went, 'White Riot','London's Burning', '1977', 'Janie Jones', 'Protex Blue', 'Career Opportunities', '48 Hours', 'Cum Clean' and I'm So Bored With The USA' [Maybe not in that exact order]. Despite sound problems they were astounding, almost overpowering in their attack and conviction, I continued. In The Clash's 35-minute set I counted about six potential rock ''n' roll killer classics. Every song they do is their own, none over three minutes long, each razor sharp and rocking at lethal speed. The Clash are the most devastating of the new wave British bands...bent on reforming rock 'n' roll to topple the bored and ancient heroes and replace them with highenergy rock 'n' roll played by people with their fingers on the pulse of what's REALLY going on. The Clash are riding the movement, happy to be part of something fresh and new, but with the ease of geezers who know they'll be going from strength to strength when the bandwagonjumpers have long since fallen into the dust and clambered onto another trend. The Clash are vital and different. Every gig they do and so far there have been about half a dozen - is better than the last. They're great now. In three months they'll be staggering.' That night still looms as one of the greatest experiences of my life. So many people lucky [or old enough!] to have seen The Clash have said they had their lives changed that first time. Me too. That same month I also saw the Sex Pistols up the road at Dunstable Civic Hall.

Also impressive but their impact was diminished by the fact that there were about 80 people in a venue that could accommodate a couple of thousand. Plus the sound was appalling. Even in this half-full leisure centre I could stand a few feet from the stage and get knocked backwards by the energy sparking off the stage. After the Clash's show, me and my mates hit the bar to gibber disbelievingly about what we'd just seen. The group were already there. Here I ranted endlessly about what I thought about The Clash. After all, this was the best group I'd seen in years. I knew Mick felt the same way. Slowly the rest of the group got involved in the conversation too. Joe shook my hand and gave that characteristic head-leaning back nod. He must've been drained after that performance. Having made arrangements to meet up the following week, I left to go back to my nice house in Leighton Buzzard, but now everything suddenly seemed dull and boring. To quote Joe, it felt like a cog in the universe had indeed shifted that night. Three days later I met The Clash [minus Terry Chimes] at Rehearsals Rehearsals to do their second press interview. There were the pink drapes, Paul's car-dump mural and three angry young men eager to expound the same radical agenda as I'd just read about in Sniffin' Glue. We adjourned to the Caernarvon Castle pub over the road. I had some money and got 'em in. Mick, Joe, Paul and myself sat around the table. But then Joe disappeared underneath it. Had he dropped something? Surely not pissed already? I then became aware of something pulling on my trouser leg? It was Joe. He got back in his seat with an evil, incriminating grin on his face. 'What do you call those, then?', he demanded. Joe was obviously referring to my new jeans, which I'd purchased to replace the customary flares I'd sported for the previous few years. I thought they were straight legged but they still weren't narrow enough for Joe's liking. Even a slight flare was now taboo in punk rock - which I did find a bit odd because I thought the movement was about doing and wearing what you wanted. But he had a point. Flares meant the old regime. Hippies and all that. Plus if you look back now at old photos they did look fairly stupid. 'Like trousers, like brain'. Joe recalled his old catchphrase with a laugh on Westway To The World. 'That was the difference between the flared look that was a hangover from the sixties and the new look, which was fast and trim and going places. You could tell people a mile off what they were into.'

And I wasn't going to hear the last of this strides business. To be honest, I'd been more worried about the fact that I was 22 years old, having read all the 'old fart' comments and guessing that these boys were around the 20 mark. I didn't find out until much later that at 24 Joe was actually nearly two years older than me, while Mick was just over a year younger. Irrespective of any prior influences, the three penniless urban warriors sitting in front of me were wiping the slate clean and starting all over again. No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones'. All in the name of maximum impact. Mick would be jamming with Keith Richards ten years later, while Joe would be held up with all three when he died. But in October 1976, The Clash were on a mission. 'We're one up the arse for the rich, established groups,' declared Mick. 'There's so many useless bands around it's not even worth naming any...There's a lot of oppression around today. We're making people aware of it and opposing it...We're still rock 'n' roll though.' They talked about London. 'We love the place,' declared Joe. 'Blocks of flats, concrete...'. 'Yeah", agreed Paul. "If we get any gigs where we have to stay away we'll just have to take photos of London with us.' 'I hate the country,' chimed in Mick. 'The minute I see cows I get sick! I ain't never lived below eighteen floors.' Joe added that 'London's Burning' was, 'a celebration of the Westway under a yellow light.' They said that the only other current music they really liked at that time was reggae and the Ramones - 'They must be really intelligent to write lyrics like that,' said Joe. As reggae voiced the discontent of black youths. The Clash saw their own music doing the same for white kids growing up in council estate ghettoes with nothing to do and no future. Okay, nigh on 30 years have passed and the situation has got much worse. But before The Clash nobody was writing songs about the harsh reality and desperation of inner city life. While bemoaning the sad state of radio - one of his favourite gripes - Joe likened The Clash to a public broadcast system bringing the truth. He always harboured a desire to start his own station. Public Enemy would later cite The Clash as a major influence in this respect when they announced that they were a hiphop version of news channel CNN. 'We weren't CNN, we just told the news,' says Mick now. The distinct personalities of The Clash's frontline had become apparent over our two meetings. There was Joe, the ex-pub-rocker, who seemed older than the others and had obviously enjoyed a reasonable education.

His passion and expression seemed drawn from deeper sources than just being pissed off with pub-rock. He was channelling the type of wired energy that came from Jerry Lee Lewis and appreciated the importance of lyrics, especially the way they'd been used in the old American protest songs. He had a way with words and a quick wit. Plus, behind the gruff exterior was the genuinely nice bloke who would open up as time went on. Mick was more forthcoming, obviously sensitive and in love with the rock 'n' roll world. You sensed he would adapt to life as a rock star with enthusiasm, if only to live out the fantasy he'd read about every week in NME. A year later, Mick's rock star affectations would start to bring him into conflict with Joe. But, like the Stones, this friction is what propelled The Clash to greatness. This friction was perfectly offset and complimented by the strong, street-wise and often silent Paul. Although damning rock stereotypes, The Clash already had the essential ingredients for a classic group that none of their contemporaries could match. A frighteningly new and dangerous version of the old rock formula, which had come along almost by accident. I emerged from that meeting uplifted and elated. I could have said that I had just met the future of rock 'n' roll, if that phrase hadn't just been abused with Bruce Springsteen. I went home and got out one of my white shirts. Fished out a tub of paint and splashed it all over with a glaring red CLASH. Trouble is, I used gloss. It wouldn't dry, stank like hell and stood up on its own afterwards. I still wore it with pride though. The next few weeks proved highly eventful as The Clash became part of my life. I witnessed my second Clash gig on 23 October, at the Institute Of Contemporary Arts in The Mall. Home turf and top of the bill. The evening was aptly-titled A Night Of Pure Energy. London was buzzing as punk poetess Patti Smith was in town from New York for shows at Hammersmith Odeon and a press conference, where she hurled sandwiches at journalists who challenged her. Patti was the first female punk icon to arrive from the States. The Clash had checked out her gig at London's Roundhouse a few months earlier and were fans. The parallels between the two camps became apparent when she announced at the press conference, 'Call me Field Marshall of Rock 'n' Roll! I'm fucking declaring war, a war where everybody's fighting the same war. My guitar is my machine gun!' The shows were great and on the afternoon of the ICA I interviewed Patti's genial guitarist Lenny Kaye. He'd heard of The Clash and, after I'd gushed my enthusiasm, said his band would try and come along that evening.

The ICA was heaving that night. I wore my new shirt and, unfortunately, those semi-flares. First on were Subway Sect, who Bernie had taken under his wing. A lot of people really liked them for their stance - four disaffected teenagers dressed down in Oxfam gear and playing monochromic dissonant reflections on a grey life. One of their songs was called 'We Oppose All Rock 'N' Roll'. Even Sid thought they were great. The Clash were even better than Leighton Buzzard. Along with Rotten, Joe Strummer was now the most compulsive singer in rock 'n' roll - not just punk. He could barely contain his anger and emotion as he spat, slavered and shouted lyrics which were more like rhetorical slogans. Often Joe would end a song lying on his back, pouring sweat, face clenched as he wrenched the last drop of blazing soul out of his raw throat. Then there was Mick's force-ten guitar blizzard. His classic pop harmonising with Joe was interspersed with sorties around the stage doing scissor jumps. Paul Simonon was the lean, mean bass machine. Three diverse individuals bent on tearing the system down, shredding your preconceptions and pinning you against the wall. They were taking that primeval rock 'n' roll piledrive hump and dropkicking it off the Westway like a scatter-bomb. The Clash tore through what would make up most of the first album. This time they got the response they deserved. They were playing to their own crowd - like Tony James, who'd just joined Chelsea [later to form Generation X] with Billy Idol - Sid Vicious and the rest of the punk elite. There were a lot of record company people there, plus journalists and the simply curious who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The gig made the music press for a couple of reasons. First of all, a young Clash fan called Shane MacGowan had turned up to pogo with Mad Jane Crockford, who would later play bass with female band The Modettes. The pair were standing right in front of me and, at some point, got over-excited in their play-fighting. Jane gave Shane an over-affectionate nibble on the ear - and ended up causing a deep cut! Not taking the whole lobe, as was reported, but it certainly passed into punk legend after NME seized on it the following week. Joe saw what was going on and shouted from the stage: 'All of you who think violence is tough, why don't you go home and collect stamps? That's much tougher'. Shane would later tell Zigzag that Jane had bottled him - out of affection, of course. Patti Smith had duly turned up with her entourage. Despite apparently being on another planet, she ended up leaping onstage to join in - somewhat ironically - with 'I'm So Bored With The USA'.

She skipped, jumped and flung her arms around in circles while howling the chorus for all she was worth. 'I just couldn't stop myself', she told me afterwards. Patti obviously had the hots for Paul. The feeling was mutual and she ended up leaving with him. Having missed my last train home I ended up leaving with Mick, who said I could stay at Davis Road. The squat had now become a bit of a prime hangout - current inhabitants included Sid Vicious, Keith Levene, an occasional Johnny Rotten, Steve Walsh of Flowers Of Romance and Viv Albertine, Mick's girlfriend. But first we would have to stop off at the tower block flat which he shared with his nan. It was those trousers again, the same ones that Strummer had ridiculed. 'Sid won't like it if you turn up in them. You might get hurt,' said Mick with concern. 'We'll go to my nan's and I'll lend you a pair.' So we trudged off into the night to Wilmcote House, on a high from the gig, swapping stories and giggling like idiots. While I was there, Mick took me out onto the little balcony and looked down at the yellow-lit bustle of the Westway snaking through West London. 'This is where me and Joe wrote 'London's Burning'', he said. A lot of the first Clash album was spawned within that perfect symbol of inner city hopelessness. I was really warming to Mick. He was open, funny, passionate and, it was becoming increasingly more obvious, extremely talented. Also considerate, as he rummaged in his chest of drawers and emerged triumphant with a pair of faded old jeans which had been taken in at the leg. "Here's my old ones. These'll do!" I put them on and felt like Rudolph Nureyev in his ballet tights! Again we walked into the night, me doing a good John Wayne impersonation. This time it was to Davis Road. I was a bit wary of meeting Sid Vicious as his legend had proceeded him. All the stories about him chain-whipping Nick Kent at the 100 Club festival and being marked down as the ultimate nihilistic thug. I didn't know that he was going to turn out to be a big softie, an average nice bloke who liked the music and lifestyle. Sitting in one of the rooms were Keith Levene, Steve Walsh, Viv and Sid, who was in the process of learning to play bass to the Ramones' 'Blitzkreig Bop'. They were all laughing and frazzled, firing up vast quantities of punk's drug-dejour, amphetamine sulphate. Mick was knackered and retired fairly early with Viv. Eventually it was just me and Sid, talking about the New York Dolls and the Ramones while he soldiered on with the bass. By the time I left around eight next morning he could play along to 'Blitzkreig Bop'.

"I can play bass now!" he proudly declared as I left. It's a shame that it would be the last time I'd see him so happy. At the this time The Clash weren't particularly looking to clamber on the ever-accelerating bandwagon of punk rock bands signing to major labels. They were simply honing their set, their style and their strategy, while focussing on playing live with maximum disturbance. My next Clash gig was at London's Royal College Of Art on 5 November. Appropriately the evening was called A Night Of Treason. The Clash were supported by The Rockets [who they'd supported in Leighton Buzzard] and Subway Sect. This was a different crowd from the ICA. Punk was starting to catch on now, while at the same time drawing plenty of aggression from anyone from teddy boys to lager thugs. The RCA was sprinkled with Clash faith-full but also some drunken students who apparently got a bit pissed off when Sid Vicious started heckling their mates in pub-rock support band, the Tyla Gang. When The Clash came on, it all went off. This one has been told many times in different versions, but I was standing ten feet from the incident and some heckling from the students was blackening the mood of the gig. This escalated as a few bottles were thrown. Joe told them to cool it a few times. When they carried on hurling, Joe and Paul leapt off the stage to sort out a couple of the main protagonists. Within seconds, Sid Vicious appeared from the back of the stage and dived in to the crowd to join in. There was a bit of a skirmish, which seemed to do the trick, then Joe and Paul returned to the stage to finish the set, now driven by adrenaline into ferocious overdrive. Mick later said he stayed up there because 'somebody had to keep in tune.' Before the gig Joe had told me they had a new song called 'Hate And War'. 'Well, it wouldn't be 'Peace And Love' would it?' he explained. I was sporting another of my emulsion creations, plus Mick's old strides, and came in for some evil stares. After the show I was standing by the stage waiting for the band to come out when a small gaggle of herberts swaggered up. They looked suspiciously like the mob who'd been chucking bottles. They thought I was Mick and started poking me and mouthing threats and jibes. Suddenly there was an explosion of activity and ruckus as Sid appeared. He was making straight for the lunks and hurling abuse, while being held back by four people. The aggressors bolted. Afterwards we hopped into a cab to head back to Davis Road. It soon became obvious that we were being followed by a Volkswagen, which parked up nearby when we reached our destination.

Ominous figures got out and I immediately recognised them as idiots from the college. Mick also seemed to think that they were the ones who'd been starting a lot of the trouble at the gig. 'Hold on', said Sid, who promptly hopped onto the front garden wall brandishing some handy roofing slates. 'Fuck off!' he yelled, lip curling and teeth bared, as he hurled slates at the protagonists. This they duly did. We laughed. Far from starting on me, it was the second time that Sid had saved me from a kicking in one night. It was also my first taste of lunkon-punk aggression. The gigs continued. I next caught the band on 18 November at a pub in High Wycombe called the Nag's Head, which was run by 100 Club promoter Ron Watts. Within the space of two weeks the group had improved again. Joe had dyed his hair blonde and sported a boiler-suit on the back of which he'd daubed the title of that new song - 'Hate And War'. This time the onstage attack was even more frenzied and confrontational. The rehearsals were obviously paying off as the songs uncoiled off the stage in taut, ballistic stun-bursts while Strummer was almost consumed with righteous anger. The set was similarly lean, and included 'White Riot', 'London's Burning', '48 Hours', 'Janie Jones', 'I'm So Bored With The USA', 'Protex Blue', 'Hate And War', 'Career Opportunities', 'What's My Name', 'Deny' and '1-2 Crush on You'. I reviewed the show in Sounds and tried to convey the fact that The Clash excited me in a way I'd never experienced before. I'd seldom felt this passionate in years of being inspired by music. The groups I liked were rarely more than TV images, records or dots in the distance at a stadium. This time I could have reached up and touched the group if I'd wanted to, then have a drink with them afterwards. I wrote: 'The Clash are now firing with more compressed energy than a flamethrower at full blast. They play with almost frightening conviction and intensity, each number a rapid-fire statement delivered like a knockout blow.' I was impressed by the emergence of Joe as a totally compulsive front-man enough to compare him to 'a paint spattered Greek god'! Admittedly, my enthusiastic outpourings might not have got the nod from more restrained and scholarly observers, but I still stand by them. At the time I was gripped by the band's euphoric surge. Those gigs are still some of the best I've ever witnessed. It was staggering to behold the emergence of what was going to be one of the greatest bands of all time in the space of just a couple of months.

That night at High Wycombe clashed with the Miss World concert, and was half full. The little loft was awash with A&R men, who spent most of the set asking punters including me and my mates - if they thought the band were any good. They were better than good and improving with every show. Walking into the cupboard-sized dressing room afterwards, Joe was spreadeagled on a table, barely able to speak because he was so spent. Or maybe he wanted to avoid talking to the A&R men. In my review I also took the opportunity to ask why the group hadn't been signed yet. 'The Clash seem forced to take a back seat on the new wave recording front while groups like the Damned, Pistols and Vibrators shove singles out. Why isn't it that the hottest group this country has got hasn't yet had the chance to get themselves on vinyl? Dunno, but going on last Thursday's set, it won't be too long before some record compay wakes up.' Polydor seemed to be front-runners at this time and stuck the band into their studios off Oxford Street to record some demos. These would be used to convince the bosses to sign the group. Simple? Not when you consider that the group's choice of producer for the sessions was Guy Stevens - the berserk ex-Mott The Hoople producer who'd sacked Mick from Violent Luck. The first time that the rest of the band met Guy they were accompanied by Sid Vicious. Guy had just been to see Led Zeppelin's film, The Song Remains The Same and, being a fan, was appalled at the self-indulgence on display. He was so enraged he took the record and flung it across the room - hitting Joe smack in the eye. Seeking medication for Joe's injury, they found Sid rummaging in Guy's medicine cabinet. Mick told me that Guy's way of 'method producing' could involve hurling a chair at the wall if he thought he'd get a reaction from the musician and create a more impassioned performance. They recorded five songs 'Career Opportunities', 'White Riot', '1977', 'Janie Jones', 'London's Burning' - but didn't capture the essence of the band. Joe would later complain to NME's Tony Parsons that Guy had tried to make him sing in a clearer fashion, enunciating his words. Guy's unconventional methods rubbed Polydor A&R hotshots Chris Parry and Vic Smith up the wrong way. Their brief was to get an accurate representation of The Clash on tape. Guy responded by getting progressively more incapacitated, forcing engineer Vic Smith to finish the mixing. The results sounded flat compared to the gigs.

'Boring,' said Joe. As Mick revealed when we spoke the following March: "It was great recording with Guy Stevens - fantastic when we were doing it. He was really inciting us, but when it came down to the mixing it was a bit untogether." While the record labels were hesitating to offer the band, Terry Chimes announced he was leaving. Unconvinced by the politics, and increasingly put off by the growing amount of violence around the scene, Terry agreed to fill in until a replacement could be found. As it happened, the drumming position wouldn't have a permanent incumbent until the arrival of Topper Headon the following year. In the meantime, The Clash tried out a guy called Rob Harper with Terry periodically reappearing up until March. On 1 December, the Sex Pistols were booked as last minute replacements for Queen on ITV's Today Show, thus sparking what has become popularly known as 'The Bill Grundy Incident' as the band rose to his pissed-up goading with a few choice words. The Press loved it. They finally had a nail on which to hang their fear and loathing of the ever-growing punk movement. The Daily Mirror blared the classic 'Filth And The Fury' headline on its front page and carried a report about the lorry driver who was so outraged that he kicked in his TV. Middle England was up in arms over the 'foul-mouthed yobs'. More to the point, the imminent Anarchy Tour of the UK was in tatters. Even Grundy was suspended for two weeks for his obvious provocation of the situation. The Anarchy Tour had been put together by the Sex Pistols management to showcase their band and punk rock in general. Originally it was planned to have the Ramones and Talking Heads on the bill too, but music biz politics intervened. The Damned came in as outsiders, but with tour support from their record company. There was also proto-punk icon Johnny Thunders, flown in from New York with his new band the Heartbreakers. Finally, The Clash were slotted in as bottom of the bill to pad it out. Considering their growing reputation it was almost insulting to see their name in such tiny print at the bottom of the tour poster. Eventually, the tour would play just a handful of shows. Even the major Boxing Day gig at London's large Roxy Theatre in Harlesden was pulled. There had already been a warm-up gig at Coventry's Lanchester Poly on 26 November, with the Pistols and The Clash, who were trying out new drummer Rob Harper. It didn't bode well for the tour when a body of students had decided that 'White Riot' and the Pistols' new song, 'No Future' - soon-to-be-called 'God Save The Queen', - were fascist and tried to hold back payment.

The first proper gig to remain from the schedule was on 6 December at Leeds Polytechnic. By now the tour was being pursued by Fleet Street's finest, just waiting for some dirt to fling. Paul and Steve from the Pistols were goaded by a photographer into uprooting a potted plant in the hotel foyer, which was promptly paid for. The Mirror subsequently reported that they'd wrecked the joint. At that night's gig, Joe took the stage with his 9.17 weekly dole income stencilled on the front of his shirt. He exercised his fixation with '1984' again with the opening announcement of 'I've been going around for two days thinking Big Brother' is really here'. The crowd of curious students looked on in apathy - as they did for the rest of the night. The opposition to punk rock didn't only apply to gigs. The Pistols were having problems with their record label EMI, who'd just released their debut single, 'Anarchy In The UK'. Tour support was withdrawn amidst protests from pressing plant workers. Pretty soon band and label would mutually separate. After days of waiting and being thrown out of hotels, the tour managed a gig at Manchester's Electric Circus on 10 December. It went down as one of those later-legendary affairs which probably sounds better than it was. The out-of-London masses had still to pack out punk gigs and roar their enthusiasm. With gigs still being called off, the next show was four days later at the Caerphilly Castle Cinema, a hastilybooked replacement for the cancelled Cardiff Top Rank. It only held a hundred people and the tour was now deeply in debt. But by now the whole venture had turned into a crusade. The bus had driven back to London, then had to drive all the way to Wales for this one-off. The gig was notable for being picketted by local council officials and members of the Pentecostal Church, who warned of eternal damnation and sang Christmas carols outside. Further last minute shows were added in Manchester and Cleethorpes, with Plymouth's Woods Centre being only the third date of the original itinerary to actually take place. The Anarchy Tour had been prevented from becoming the trailblazing nationwide package it could've been. The furore, cancellations, disappointments and endless waiting had put pressure on everybody. EMI backing out financially halfway through had put a huge financial strain on the Pistols and the rest. Joe later told Melody Maker's Caroline Coon, 'All that stuff with the Pistols tour! I hated it. I HATED it. It was the Pistols' time. We were in the background. The first few nights were terrible. We were just locked up in the hotel room with the Pistols, doin' nothing.

And yet, for me, it was great too. We had the coach and we had hotels and we got to play - even though they didn't let us do it that often....It was good fun. 'But when I got back to London on Christmas Eve I felt awful. I was really destroyed, because I'd got used to eating - it was Holiday Inn rubbish, but it was two meals a day and that. When I got off the coach we had no money and it was just awful. I felt twice as hungry as I'd ever felt before. I had nowhere to live and I remember walking away from the coach, deliberately not putting on my woolly jumper. I walked all the way up Tottenham Court Road and it was really cold but I wanted to get as cold and as miserable as I could.' In terms of publicity, The Clash probably came out of the tour best. But afterwards none of the participants were happy campers. 'That was soul-destroying', Mick told me later. 'We thought we were the greatest rock 'n' roll bands, conquering the world. Everyone was really excited, but the day before it started the Grundy thing went down and gigs started getting cancelled. The Pistols suffered quite terribly. It was really tragic, but we learnt so much from it. You knew the time had to come.' 'The tour turned into a cause, in a way,' added Paul. 'Us kids just wanted to play. We were stuck in hotel rooms for a couple of days waiting to play, then we'd be told the gig was cancelled and we'd wait for another three days in the hotel room.' 'It really put punk rock on the map,' reasoned Joe in Don Letts' Westway To The World documentary. 'Every truck driver and builder, and your grandmother and your uncle knew what punk rock was all about.' At the end of '76, the Roxy - a former gay bar in Covent Garden - became the punk equivalent of the Marquee. The Roxy slowly caught on and was given a boost when Don Letts started playing reggae in the absence of any available punk records. In the wake of the 'Anarchy' disaster the Roxy was one of the few places the punk groups could play or hang out at without hassle. Small, dark and pokey, it was somewhere to go where you could see mates and get served - a big deal back then. The bands were often bog-standard Pistols-Clash impersonators, while the bar was usually packed with people like Sid, Thunders, Chelsea, Gen X and Clashers. Also, Mr Rotten, who said, 'It's a wankhole, but fuck, Don's on!' There was talk of staging the pulled London date from the Anarchy Tour at the Roxy on New Year's Day with Sex Pistols and The Clash. However, McLaren wouldn't go for it. Many said this was down to him wanting to hold on to the Pistols 'banned everywhere' reputation.

Plus he wasn't into endorsing a new punk club which he didn't have a stake in. So, on the first day of 1977, The Clash played instead. I turned up about eight and encountered the band for the first time since High Wycombe. They were obviously still disappointed by the way the Anarchy Tour had panned out, but seemed determined to blow tonight's roof off to compensate. I walked into Joe and asked 'how ya doin'?' 'How do I look?' came the reply. His shirt simply had a big 1977 stencilled on it while his hair was still blonde. Joe's manner was speedy and surly. Mick was starting to look more like a rock star in his white strides and black silky shirt. His manner was speedy but friendly. The gig was a full-on Clash classic, as they roared through the set. And then did it all a second time three hours later. They'd added a new song, 'Remote Control', which Mick had written over Christmas about the Anarchy Tour: 'Who needs remote control/From the Civic Hall?'. Even though barely three months had elapsed since their glorious ICA gig, something had changed. After the manic savaging of punk rock by authority and media, and its parallel ascension as the latest 'youth rebellion' trend, the mood amongst the shock troops seemed to have darkened. Particularly among the Davis Road hardcore. It was like their exclusive gentlemen's club had been invaded by dullards and made public property. In a sense, that's what had happened, but Sid, Keith, Alan, Steve Walsh and the rest weren't the friendly nutters I'd encountered just a couple of months before. Heroin was starting to make its presence felt - having been introduced to the scene by The Heartbreakers on the Anarchy Tour. It was also a rather strange paradox that a lot of people were slagging off the new groups who'd taken the advice of the originators and started their own bands, myself included. I guess this was a reaction to the flow of Roxy bands who hadn't taken the other bit of advice - do something new, original and true to yourself. There were so many Clash-Pistols copyists it was starting to disappear up its own arse. As The Clash moved on in leaps, new outfits were springing up every week - but imitating not originating. By the time 1977 became reality, it had become achingly essential that The Clash make a record. But when they signed to CBS - in a last minute Bernie Rhodes swerve away from hopeful Polydor - Mark Perry famously wrote in Sniffin' Glue that punk died that day. The band were bemused because, more than anything, they just wanted to get their message across to as many people as possible by any means possible.

'I've been numbered wherever I go,' Mick told me a few weeks after signing. Despite some confusion and frustration at the outcry, he was excited to have the chance to record the music which was exploding live. 'I think it's important that we don't change,' he said. What is happening right now is that at last we've got the chance to make records. It all comes down to records...You've got to make records. You can do your own label and not many people will hear it. This way more people will hear our record. I don't care if they don't like it or don't buy it, as long as they hear it. We've got complete control. Everything is our own ideas.' The Clash were in the studio recording their first single the day after signing. They chose to do 'White Riot' backed with '1977'. Recording location was CBS's own studio in Whitfield Street, off Tottenham Court Road. They had the weekend to do it and used Micky Foote as producer. This was the place where the Stooges recorded Raw Power in '73, which impressed Joe and Mick. Simon Humphrey, in-house engineer at these sessions and for the first album, has been called upon several times for his memories. Apart from reporting a certain sullenness in the band but Mick's avid eagerness to learn the ropes, his favourite anecdote was about Joe and his amplifier. His comments reinforce my feelings that Joe was playing his overnight punk personna to the hilt gruff, blunt and somewhat aggressive. Joe insisted on singing while playing his guitar at the same time. He stuck his amp next to the drum kit. When Simon said he couldn't put it there because it would affect the separation, Joe replied, 'I don't know what separation is and I don't like it'. Joe later said that this was his idea of a joke, but for the rest of his life he never stopped doing his vocal takes quickly while bashing away at the unplugged-in Tele. Simon considered Joe to be the most difficult member to work with. Whereas Mick was like a kid in a candy shop as he strived to learn the workings of the studio, Joe worked by his own rules, like delivering the song from start to finish without doing the painstaking drop-ins usually favoured by singers and producers. Within a couple of years I watched as Joe started gliding through takes, affable and relaxed as you like. By then he'd started customising his own space in the studio to make him feel at home and would do for the rest of his life. When Joe started enjoying singing the lyrics he'd lovingly crafted while Mick developed what he'd picked up in early recording sessions is when The Clash became truly great. The first album was their declaration of intent.

A snapshot of their birth capturing their first nine months. A bit like the Rolling Stones, except they only featured one original song on their first album. The album was recorded over three consecutive four-day chunks, running Thursday to Sunday from 10 February. Whitfield Street's Studio Three was again the location, with Simon Humphreys engineering and Micky Foote in the producer's chair. Bernie Rhodes was sometimes there in his 'executive producer' role. Anybody who's asked says that Mick probably contributed more to the finished sound than anybody. 'Any guitar of note on the record is Jonesy', said Joe, while his little overdub touches and backing vocals elevated the album above just being a record of the live set. I went along to the sessions a couple of times, but it was always after a hefty pub or club session. I think they were doing 'London's Burning' but, rather than make up a fanciful tale of being present at this historic moment, it has to be said I hardly remember a thing, other than having the usual blast and being in the lift with a bunch of girls. I do recall the place being cramped and somewhat archaic. It was like CBS had shoved this bunch of punks into the cupboard where they could be heard and not seen. Or as Joe put it, 'I got the feeling they were going to spend the price of an egg sandwich on us.' But when it was finished, Mick couldn't hold in his enthusiasm. "Well, we're really excited about it. I mean, AN ALBUM! It's destined to be a classic!" He added that the album had succeeded in being a real studio product, rather than just a reproduction of the stage act. "We used the studio to make it sound good". I was almost dizzy with euphoria first time I actually experienced the full album all the way through. I'd already heard it with the band, but having the thing in your hand, to play over and over again and then rave to your mates was something else. I vented my gibberings in New York Rocker, calling it 'the most stunning debut album ever', which was 'gonna change attitudes and perceptions of rock 'n' roll'. Zigzag opened its jail hippy doors to let me spout, 'I can't mince words here. I've only heard it once, but I know this is the most exciting album I've heard in years. I can't think about it for more than a minute without feeling like I'm going to explode [let alone write about it!]. You can hear all the words. There's the hardest guitar/drum sound ever, various studio tricks enhance the production and make some songs even more effective...but most important, it's captured the essence of The Clash. Their intense conviction is here in all its blazing glory.

The whole thing's magnificent! Even if you don't buy it, at least HEAR it. It's one of the most important records ever made.' You don't need me to run through what appeared on the first Clash album or why it was so great but, in view of what the group would get up to later, two tracks in particular stand out - 'Police And Thieves' and 'Garageland'. The former was The Clash's first personal London-style translation of the group's reggae fixation, being a cover of Junior Murvin's Lee Perry-produced Carnival anthem from '76. "It's a logical progression', reckoned Mick when I expressed surprise around that time. There's obviously a lot of links between us and what's happening with the Rastas. It just seemed right to do it. We had lots of our own material, but we wanted to do one song by someone else. What would we do? Not a sixties rehash. Let's do something which is '77, right? Let's try and turn people on. This is a rock 'n' roll track in 4/4, but it's experimental. We've incorporated dub reggae techniques. We'll probably get slagged to bits for it, but we don't care. They can't understand that what we're trying to do is redefine the scene and make it clear to people the way to move. You've got to take risks all the time. That's why we did it - as a risk. The consummate glory of 'Garageland' showed new subtleties creeping into the Clash attack. Joe was inspired to write the words by Charles Shaar Murray's damning review of their second gig, where he'd written that The Clash were 'the kind of garage band who should be speedily returned to the garage, preferably with the motor running.' The slag-off inspired the defiant chorus, while the verses deal with punk bands being signed to record companies. At the time, Mick told me it was his favourite track. "It's where we're moving on next. The chorus is "we're a garage band and we come from garage land." That's just what we are...It'll always be rock 'n' roll, but we're hoping to improve the aura of the sound....It's also commenting on the current situation with all the groups being signed a way, that song does pronounce that the next step is about to be taken.' Who'd have guessed the magnitude of the eventual stairway to heaven, but first The Clash had to promote the LP with some highly-eventful gigs. On March 11, they celebrated its completion by playing a one-off at an Asian porno cinema in Harlesden, North London in March. This provided my first Clash feature in Zigzag, who'd I'd been pressurising since the previous October.

Some highlights which might convey some of the sense of occasion, and it has to be kept in mind that this was only six months since I'd first encountered The Clash and punk rock in the flesh and had my life changed irretrievably. Back then this was NEW. 'One of the best gigs I've been to recently was The Clash's self-organised one at Harlesden Coliseum. It was an important gig for each group on the bill. The Slits, the first all-girl punk band, were making their world debut. The Subway Sect hadn't played since November. The Buzzcocks were making their first appearance since reorganising the lineup after singer Howard Devoto's departure, and The Clash were playing their first gig in three months since signing with CBS. Harlesden Coliseum usually serves as a Pakistani porn pit, attracting vast crowds of just three a night. The Clash noticed the place when they were rehearsing for the Anarchy Tour at the Roxy theatre up the road. They liked the look of it and thought it would be a great place for a gig. Inside, the Coliseum is the classic definition of a fleapit, all peeling paint and stained seats. The owners seemed rather bemused by the sudden invasion of punks. When I get to the Coliseum at about two-thirty, all the bands are there apart from The Clash, although Mick has come down early cos he's so excited about the gig. While the roadies build the stage and groups wheel in their gear, Mick and I adjourn to the balcony and look at the bustle of activity going on below. 'It's great, isn't it? Our own gig...I'm really excited. This is more than a gig. It's an important event!' It was soon time for The Clash's sound-check. They ironed out the sound problems with 'London's Burning' [twice], 'Garageland' [which on first hearing live sounded like a corker] and - I recognise those chords! - Jonathan's Richman's 'Roadrunner', with the chorus changed to 'Radio One!'. Sounds fantastic Clashified. Mick says they may do it as an encore, but it doesn't happen. "We couldn't get it together". Paul says he hates the song anyway. As The Clash retire to their dressing room - the place where they do the projecting from! - the people start to come in. Considering the place is in deepest Harlesden and it's raining, there is a good turnout. The atmosphere builds up all evening. It's electric by Clash time!' First on were The Slits making their debut and a big impression. They overcame their sound problems with pure energy, with Ari Up stamping and screaming like a little girl throwing a tantrum at a party. Next up were Subway Sect, who'd changed from the rambling, two-chord outfit I'd seen the previous November.

They've been rehearsing a lot at The Clash's studio and had a stack of unusual new numbers. Then it was the reorganised Buzzcocks with Pete Shelley now front man. They sported the Mondrian shirts and tore through much of their classic first album with a whiff of greatness to come. Back to me in March '77... 'It was The Clash's night, though, and they played a blinder - despite little obstacles like one of the hired hippy sound men accidentally pulling out a lead. It was great seeing them back onstage, in new zip-festooned outfits to boot. The crowd in front of the stage went potty, pogoing right up into the air, screaming the words, shaking themselves to death and falling into twitching heaps. They couldn't have been able to see what was going on, which is a show in itself. There were some great announcements from Joe. Someone yelled something about the CBS contract. "Yeah! I've been to the South of France to buy heroin!", he yelled. Another time: "I'm Bruce Lee's son!", he declared, before slamming the band into another devastating two-minute burnup. Joe had psyched himself up so much for the show that he'd been almost frothing at the mouth before he went on. Meanwhile, Paul's bass-playing had improved in leaps and bounds. This turned out to be Terry Chimes' last gig with the band. To emphasise the point he had 'Good-Bye' stencilled on his shirt. Next day, after staying at Mick's, we saw a video recording of the gig. A bloke called Julien [Temple] is making a video film of The Clash. He's a student at the London Film School and, using their equipment, has been filming gigs and interviews since the 'Anarchy Tour'. The recording of Friday's gig showed just how impressive The Clash are onstage. In the excitement you're bound to miss some things. Like Mick's guitar-strap breaking and him holding up the guitar like a machine gun to finish the number; Joe jerking across the stage like an electrocuted piranha fish; or Paul ripping a giant chord from his bass with a violence so intense that his arm is nearly torn from its socket. That's The Clash. Pushing themselves to the limit. The least you can do is give them a listen. You'll never be the same again!' That's the first bit. There followed the milestone arrival of drummer Topper Headon, the arduous recording of controversial second album Give 'Em Enough Rope, riotous tours and the inexorable rise of The Clash to becoming one of the biggest bands in the country on their way to taking over the world as America started to fall under their spell.

Then came London Calling, the second Clash time-frame I'm going to freeze and mutate out of the book. I still smile when I think about this whole mid-'79-'80 period. If the US fixation had been present even before the formation of The Clash, the Pearl Harbour tour brought it out into the open. On their return the fired-up group's main thoughts were on their next album and they embarked on a feverish writing frenzy. America had planted a seed, while Britain didn't seem so attractive since Margaret Thatcher goose-stepped her way to power. Joe was in love with the romantic notion of the States, just like he'd seen it in the movies at boarding school. Musically, he felt like he'd found the Holy Grail. American music had always been his lifeblood and now he'd visited the source. 'I got so much inspiration from America, I can't describe it,' Joe bubbled as I tried to prise snippets of info from him after the band had returned to the UK. The enthusiasm made you scour the record shops for records by obscure country singers. 'That happened with Mott The Hoople as well,' recalls Mick. 'They came back from America all full of it. They came back with guitars, records you couldn't get here and stuff...When we went to America we made sure we plugged into the heart of the city when we visited places, like Motown's Hitsville in Detroit.' Around the same time, I was in a punk band called The Vice Creems. [Unfortunately I was singing]. Mick said he would produce us when he came back from the States. The ambitious new Zigzag record label had hired Olympic Studios - where the Stones did 'Sympathy For The Devil' for 20 March. But the week before the session the band split up, leaving just me and and guitarist Colin Keinch. I told Mick of my plight and he just said, 'Let's go ahead. I'll get you a band.' Colin and I duly made our way to Olympic, and walked straight into Johnny Green, who was setting up some very familiar pink amplifiers. Then Mick arrived, along with Topper Headon and Tony James. 'I said I'd get you a band,' grinned Mick, as he plugged in his black Les Paul. 'Blimey, we've got half The Clash in our group', I thought. 'That's what generous people they are, just doing something for a mate. They didn't think any more of it,' Johnny told me. Within an hour the assembled company were working up the song me and Colin had written, called 'Danger Love'. Colin taught Mick the arrangement, which they then vamped up into a flame-breathing, mid-period Clash-style monster. 'So this must be how The Clash work,' I thought. Setting up, jamming, shaping half songs into roof-raising anthems. With the basic song down, Mick dubbed layer upon layer of guitar, colliding and counteracting.

You don't hear it at the time as the riffs and counterriffs keep coming, but Mick has the end result in his head. When he gets on the mixing desk it all makes sense. After that day, I could hear any Clash track and tell how it must've been built. From watching this and how the first four albums progressed I got what Joe had said about how he worked with Mick. Joe was the words and the voice, while Mick was the sound and the big picture. The flip to the Vice Creems single was a cover of Fabian's fifties rock 'n' roll classic 'Like A Tiger'. Here we let rip on some Ramones-style punk rock 'n' roll. Tony's Generation X band mate Billy Idol turned up and ended doing handclaps, while Robin Crocker joined us in some rousing Wilder-beast howls in the middle of 'Tiger'. The Clash would employ this effect later, in 'London Calling', 'Washington Bullets' and 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go'. I was gob-smacked one afternoon in August 2004 when Robin Crocker told me that 'Danger Love' had inspired Joe when writing 'London Calling'. Come again? 'It was on that Vice Creems single, "Danger Love",' he cackled at my disbelief. 'That's where Joe got the idea for the wilderbeast noise.' Because they were contracted to CBS and Chrysalis, Mick and the boys had to adopt false names. Mick became Michael Blair, from 1984, Topper was Nicholas Khan, while Tony became Anthony Ross. For his trouble, Mick was given two ounces of prime Jamaican weed, and to this day, 'Danger Love' remains the great lost semi-Clash single and I'm amazed to find changes hands for around 25. Meanwhile, The Clash wanted to release their version of Bobby Fuller's 'I Fought The Law' as their new single, with 'Gates Of The West' on the flip. Instead, CBS wanted another single off 'Rope', and put out 'English Civil War' on 3 March, with the group's version of 'Pressure Drop' on the flip. Eventually, 'I Fought The Law' - plus three more non-album tracks - were released as the Cost Of Living EP on 19 May - the day of the General Election which saw Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives voted in. Now that they'd split with Bernie, The Clash had to find somewhere else to write and rehearse the growing corpus of songs that they were building up in. In March, Johnny Green and Baker turned up Vanilla Studios in Causton Road, Pimlico, which was basic but practical. It was up the stairs behind a garage. Certainly off the beaten track, which ensured that the only visitors would be invited ones. The band started working up new material through May and June.

After the obsessive effort which had gone into making Give 'Em Enough Rope, the group had become close again as they shared their American adventure. So they plotted up at Vanjilla and got down to the business at hand with renewed vigour and unity. A garage band, in the true sense of the word. Robin would phone regularly with enthusiastic progress reports, telling me about the daily football matches played over the road in a concrete playground. Mick invited me along to check it out and, being stupid, I wandered around for half an hour before I found the place. Here I encountered the re-born Clash. Hammering away at new ideas, getting on famously and riding the crest of a creative wave. We did have a game of football. I've always been crap and flummoxed about like a beached seal, but Johnny recalls that 'Paul was quite hard and enthusiastic...Topper was skilled and nimble; Joe would be well-meaning and try hard but wasn't very good, and Jonesy was really flash, but we all laughed at his style, because he wasn't as good as he thought he was..As soon as they were back inside they'd roll a joint. Rather than sedating them it had the opposite effect - it would fire them up. Very unusual for white boys.' Mick has credited the daily game for the eventual stunning album: 'I just think we really found ourselves at that time and it was a lot to do with the football. No, I'm serious! Because it made us play together as one.' Everyone seemed to be pouring their new-found musical strains into one big melting pot. Joe was reliving his early Woody Guthrie and rock 'n' roll fixations and had started writing on piano. Mick strummed gentle country songs. Topper battered out the dance grooves he'd picked up. As ever, Paul was into his reggae, but - realising you could make money from songwriting royalties - made sure he wrote a song in 'The Guns Of Brixton', which evolved from a bass-line he'd been hammering at rehearsals. Joe took the 'London Calling' title from the BBC World Service reports that he had first tuned in to whilst visiting his father in Malawi in 1960. Inspired by the view of the West End provided by Joe's daily trips to Wessex studios on the number 19 bus, the song was originally about tourism. However, Mick suggested he rewrite it against the apocalyptic fear generated by the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown incident - where a nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania went into partial meltdown.

Mick also had an instrumental with the pithy workingtitle 'For Fuck's Sake', which became 'Working And Waiting' and, finally, 'Clampdown'. Joe and his piano came up with 'Death Or Glory' and a song called 'Four Horsemen'. The new songs came pouring out as The Clash wrote together as a band - for the first and last time. 'London Calling was the last album that we actually wrote, rehearsed and recorded,' Topper told me in September '04. 'That was the time I was happiest with the band and I feel that we were at our peak, musically. There was very much a band feel of four guys working together. It was an amazing thing, the four of us then. 'I do think that I allowed them to play other styles of music, like funk and jazz. I like to think that The Clash wouldn't have got as big if I hadn't been in them and, obviously, it's could've been even bigger if I hadn't fucked up.' The most common false assumption made about London Calling was that it was designed to 'crack America'. Not so. When they poured out the new songs, The Clash were inspired by America. It had opened the door for their already-inbuilt influences. They now felt that, with punk becoming a cliched dead-end, they didn't want to indeed, couldn't - simply recycle the first album to order. Before their time in The Clash, Joe had listened to soul and rock 'n' roll, Mick cut his teeth with the New York Dolls and the Stones,while Topper had played with a soul band. Even the ska which Paul grew up with sprang out of American R&B. The album was simply a gestalt of of these influences. 'It was there already,' says Mick. 'All we did was write a few numbers and do our thing.' At the end of June the group were ready to demo the new songs and thus began the story of what became the fabled Vanilla Tapes. Johnny and the Baker called up their mate Bill Pridden, soundman for the Who, for advice. They knew him from hiring gear from the Who's hire company. He suggested they use a Teac four-track recorder linked to a portastudio, which were new products on the market. Bill helped them set it up and taught the Baker how to use it. They taped several rehearsals and laid down a bunch of new songs in their most basic versions. When London Calling was reissued to celebrate its 25th anniversary in September '04, it came with a bonus CD called The Vanilla Tapes. For years it was believed that Johnny Green had lost the cassette on the London Underground while pissed. With the knowledge that the group taped everything, Clash-spotters slavered over the possibility there was an album's worth of material gone missing. The legend grew so the tapes became known as The Great Lost Clash Album.

'What a load of bollocks that all is - I did lose 'em!' fog-horned Johnny Green at the way such a small incident has been blown up into one of rock's great mysteries. Johnny revealed that Guy Stevens was already a candidate to produce the next album and wanted to hear the new songs. 'But he didn't have a tape recorder. I thought that was great. The previous producer had flown over on Concorde and was an expert in gourmet cuisine. So we get this new producer and he don't even have a tape recorder!' Johnny went to Tottenham Court Road and got the cheapest mono radio-cassette player. Then he went to Vanilla where the Baker copied a cassette of the band rehearsing off the porta-studio. 'Then I had to deliver it to Guy, but first we went to the pub on the corner and had a few beers. Then I caught the train. I nodded out and woke up at Seven Sisters. It wasn't until later that I realised I'd forgotten the bag. I went back to Baker Street, where the lost property office is, but it never turned up. 'So I went back and told the band,' recalls Johnny. 'They just said, "You're a silly cunt". Then Baker ran him off a duplicate. And that's the story of the tape. Nobody thought a lot of it. The tracks were just sketches in the studio. At one point Joe wanted to release the Vanilla Tapes as the record because he was so pissed off with CBS.' Mick laughs about it now. 'For years they told me, "Oh no, Mick, the tapes were erased. He left them too close to the train magnet near the engine of the train". And I bought that. For years. But it's only recently come out that he fell asleep on the train and left it on the platform. By the time he realised and rushed back they'd gone. Then I found them when I was moving in March [2004]. I knew exactly what was on it when I found it in a box of cassettes. I didn't know I had it until that time. We certainly hadn't heard it for 25 years.'' The 21 tracks on the CD are a fascinating glimpse of The Clash at work, laying the foundations for what would become London Calling. Not professing to be the finished article but works in progress showing the band at their most loose and relaxed. Mick always described the creation of London Calling as 'a natural, organic process'. This is where the seeds started sprouting. We held a party in June at London's Venue to present the annual Zigzag awards - where The Clash swept the board and also celebrate the mag's tenth birthday. Or rather the fact that this independent champion of the underdog and bad taste had made a decade.

Playing were Levi and the Rockats, Jayne County, John Otway, Doll By Doll and reggae band Merger. The event, which quickly descended into a drunken, riproaring kneesup, was attended by The Clash, PiL, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gen X and probably every punk in London. Although they didn't perform, it turned out to be The Clash's most high profile public appearance of the year. The whole band turned out and spent most of the party talking with fans. I tried to present the awards [a selection of jokes and cuddly animals], but any sense of ceremony quickly disintegrated as only the Banshees came on stage to pick up their giraffe. Mick said he was 'too shy', while Joe was simply so pissed he couldn't find the stage. I'd seen him earlier, grinning and staggering around. By the time he found the stage, all the prizes had gone, including the pair of hairy gorilla feet I'd got him. The songs continued to catch fire at Vanilla. As the sessions gathered momentum, it was evidently becoming clear that The Clash were creating a monster. As Robin Banks, who was there most days, explained, 'It wasn't so much what went on at Wessex later, it was what was happening at Vanilla that was interesting. It was just a very creative time. There was a real feeling of camaraderie and a lot of football. There was a real sense of freedom because they'd got rid of Bernie, so there was no money, they were skint and they could hardly afford to book the studio. But it was the most productive period for The Clash. That's when they were most relaxed. There was no friction, only creative friction. The friction before was partly because Mick was slipping into his rock star personna, but he was at the tail end of that now. Their backs were against the wall but it was an amazing time.' 'That was a great place,' remembers Johnny Green. 'Nobody came in because it was so hard to find. Nobody used to come there. I used to pay extra to keep an extra set of keys to that door. No one was allowed up when they were playing. 'But they loved it when people like you and Robin came down for the football. They really were so pleased to see you, but they'd often say, "Go and have a drink and we'll be with you in an hour." That takes quite a lot of determination. They were so hard at it.' One day Johnny caught Annie Lennox, who was rehearsing in the downstairs room with her band the Tourists, listening behind the door while The Clash were playing. First he told her to fuck off. When she didn't move he assisted her down the steps, amidst some protest.

'She looked a bit crestfallen, but those rehearsals were tight as arseholes. We just didn't want things to degenerate into a party. We just had cups of tea on an old tea tray.' On 6 July, The Clash played the second of two 'secret' gigs at Notre Dame Hall, off London's Leicester Square, to try out some of the new songs. A good night - first time I'd seen them play for a while. My trusty cassette recorder inexplicably sneaked on during the set. Here I have early versions of 'Hatefull', 'Rudi Can't Fail', 'I'm Not Down', 'Jimmy Jazz', 'Revolution Rock', 'Death Or Glory' and 'Lovers Rock', punctuated by deafening wildebeest blasts from our corner. It shows how written and arranged a lot of London Calling was before they started actual recording the following month. If I'd have known there'd be all that fuss about The Vanilla Tapes I'd have gladly come forward! Backstage afterwards, the group obviously felt they'd taken a giant step in debuting so much new tackle. They were expecting to incur criticism, but the attitude was, 'Just wait for the album.' Meanwhile, the group continued working at Vanilla, with Guy Stevens, having finally heard the demos, lined up as producer. As much as this came as something of a shock, it also made perfect sense. This was the madman who had knocked Mick back in his previous band and made Joe feel uncomfortable during the Polydor demos. However, Guy's manic enthusiasm was a welcome contrast to Sandy Pearlman's ascetic production methods - certainly, Joe and Paul hadn't liked the painstaking way in which Pearlman worked. Mick didn't care - he'd been taking notes sufficiently to have the confidence to go in and do the job himself. Or as Robin Crocker puts it, 'Give 'Em Enough Rope was the sacrificial lamb to allow them to make London Calling.' Mick just needed a good technician who he got on with which he'd found in Bill Price - a shit-hot studio like Wessex and a manic creative catalyst to make things bubble and detonate. Hello Guy. Still keen to crack the US market, CBS wanted to engage another big name American producer. Their A&R department was horrified by the idea of letting a maverick like Stevens produce the record. The label's dismay only strengthened The Clash's resolve to hire him. More importantly, freed from Pearlman's AOR-wash, the Vanilla sessions had seen The Clash white-hot, and Guy would be in tune with that. Also, he'd worked with Bill Price on the Violent Luck sessions, which helped. The only problem was, Guy was drinking even more than usual.

'Guy Stevens brought a lot of R&B into this country,' Mick told me in '04. 'Before Mott he was doing the Sue label and responsible for bringing in a lot of R&B. Then he did Mott. I think it's all connected...turning people on and then the bands he was working with at the time. It all connects.' Guy also had an extensive knowledge of rock 'n' roll and soul music, which would come in handy with the group's new directions. In the States, Joe had got on particularly well with Bo Diddley, a true original with yards of yarns about the golden age of R&B. Punk's restrictions were now lifted. Joe's 'Chuck Berry Is Dead' t-shirt was in the dumper as he developed his interest in rockabilly. But, being Joe, he didn't just go out and buy a few records. 'No way could it be ordinary with Joe around,' recalls Johnny Green. 'He really got into rockabilly. He'd think nothing of jumping in a car and going to Bedford to see Ray Campi and his Rockabilly Rebels. His passion was unlimited and it communicated itself to you. He wasn't a dilettante about it.' 'Right at the height of the punk-ted wars, we would get all dressed up like teddy boys' remembered Mick in '04. 'Slick our hair back and go to a teddy boy place in Southgate, or somewhere like that, for the whole night. Seriously go! Totally anonymous. No one knew were weren't one of them.' Joe did that and went to the Roxy afterwards. 'Yeah, he probably got away with it because he was Joe. But then, he did get bashed up by a ted in the Speakeasy in the early days as well.' The sessions took place over six weeks in August and early September, with a short break for the quick financial injection of the Russrock festival in Finland, which provided a very necessary 7,500 towards studio expenses. On the first day of recording Guy set out his stall by arriving equipped with a shopping bag containing two bottles of tequila. The Clash kicked off with a bang, recording twelve tracks during the first three days alone. These were mainly cover versions at guy's suggestion, such as Bob Dylan's 'Billy The Kid', a couple of Bo Diddley tunes and Vince Taylor's 'Brand New Cadillac', which was the only one to make it to the album. Guy was in his element at the sessions, behaving with all the mania that had made his legend but got him shunned by the music biz establishment. Here, it was applauded - at first - and paid for.

He could throw as many chairs as he liked, swing a ladder at Mick during a guitar solo or pour beer into the studio TV before upending it, the night they recorded 'Clampdown'. I started making regular visits to the studio. One night I was sharing a cab with Joe, Topper, Johnny and Robin. As we rounded the bend to Wessex we spotted a familiar wild-haired figure, running frantically with a look of sheer panic on his face. It was Guy. We wound down the window and asked what he was up to. 'Got to make the off licence before it shuts!' he panted, and sprinted on. He appeared at the studio, triumphant, ten minutes later, glugged down a bottle of cheap cider and zonked out.Once, Guy turned up with a bloke who sat there for eighteen hours while the producer supplied him with drinks. The man turned out to be a cab driver! His taxi was outside with the meter running. Bill's engineer and tape op, Jerry Green, was left with the 60 bill. Often he would insist on travelling to the studio in a cab, which would be required to pass the nearby Arsenal football ground so he could saluite the hallowed turf. He'd then crank proceedings up for the day by blasting out the commentary from Arsenal's recent dramatic Cup Final victory over Manchester United, waving a scarf and bellowing. When CBS chief Maurice Oberstein visited the studio, Guy - full of booze and hoping to make an impression - laid down in front of his Rolls Royce until he declared the new stuff was 'brilliant.' When Guy spoke to you it was in your face at force ten passion with phlegm flying. I was his friend for life when he discovered I'd run Mott's fan club and enjoyed many a story about Ian Hunter, who Guy often insisted on phoning for advice. But he tended to spit as he spoke, to the extent where Joe invented a device out of cardboard he could hold in front of his face for protection. 'The Spittle guard!', remembers Mick. 'Guy would be talking and spitting and Joe'd put a bit of cardboard up with his eyes poking over the top.' Joe wasn't without his own little studio eccentricities. He still played unplugged guitar and stamped his foot so loudly during vocal takes that the others, not wishing to spoil the take, slipped a square of carpet foam under his foot. He always wore the towel and gaffa tape Strum-guard on his forearm, but the force of his strumming also took its toll on his battered fingers. Keith Richards has a similar condition, but to the extent that his fingers have developed clubbed tips, which he calls his 'hammerheads'.

The London Calling 25th anniversary reissue comes with a DVD by Don Letts about the making of the album. There's some brilliant footage of Guy in full chair-demolishing action. 'Now you can actually see it!' enthuses Mick. 'There's a film of it now. There's extras of us in the studio. Johnny, Baker and Paul shot it. There's one bit...the only bit I remember of the whole filming is, do you remember The Golden Shot? [Crossbow-dominated sixties quiz show]. Get the target, then going up a bit, left a bit, left a bit, up a bit - fire!' It got to the point where Guy would engage Bill Price in grappling matches to win control of a fader. If Guy was perfect for extracting wired-up performances of alreadywritten songs, he was less patient with the painstaking technicalities of mixing the results. The arguments with Bill would go past the shouting and pointing stage and often end up with the two grown men rolling around on the floor. After a while, Guy's antics and damage did start to get in the way of the creative process. Sure, he had kickstarted much of the studio action but sometimes I would turn up and Guy would be asleep. It seems that, once the basic songs had been stuck down, Guy's job was done and he faded into the background, or simply passed out. The overdubbing and mixing process fell to Mick and Bill, with the rest of the band in attendance to make suggestions or add necessary parts. Guy did receive much praise and respect for his work and it seemed like his career might be on the upturn. He started taking tablets to combat his alcoholism but, on 29 August, '81, took too many and died. London Calling turned out to be his parting shot - an immortal swansong. Guy's death was a great loss, not to mention waste. He was one of the true maverick geniuses and pioneers. Full marks to The Clash for daring to believe in him so he left our world on a high. During the London Calling sessions, The Clash recorded a jam called 'Midnight To Stevens', which would eventually surface on the Clash On Broadway CD, along with two of the Polydor demos. It went, 'Guy, you finished the booze and you've run out of speed, but the wild side of life is the one that we need'. If Guy had fulfilled his next planned project, he could have done for Jerry Lee Lewis what Rick Rubin achieved with Johnny Cash a few years later. But anyway, what a final statement!' The long-overdue release of the first album in the US after selling 100,000 copies on import was enough to prod the record company into allowing The Clash a second tour, which started in early September.

This tour was dubbed The Clash Take The Fifth - after the Fifth Amendment of the American constitution, which grants the right to remain silent in the face of incrimination. Pennie Smith was there in her capacity as Clash photographer, as well as for NME. They would need a sleeve for the new album. The tour was a near sell-out success but did not run totally smoothly, partly down to equipment malfunctioning and trying to get enough money to keep the tour afloat. A new song called 'Armagideon Time' was starting to make its presence felt. The Clash had started jamming at sound-checks on the popular Willie Williams tune of the time, which was also enjoying typical Jamaican recycling as the rhythm for 'Real Rock' by Sound Dimension and 'Jah Give' by Horace Andy. The song was tailor-made for The Clash with its words of dread and foreboding. The New York Palladium gig ended up with Paul smashing his bass onto the stage in frustration and inadvertently providing Pennie Smith with one of the classic rock 'n' roll images of all time. Paul later said he did it because the sound was shit and the audience weren't allowed to stand up and dance. The US jaunt finally wound up on 16 October in Vancouver with another reserved crowd and a showdown with the US crew over payment. But, despite the hardships and frayed nerves, the tour had severely boosted The Clash's profile in the US, as well as providing some top memories. Meanwhile, go ahead London. Back from America, finishing touches were put on to the album at Wessex. The Clash also recorded 'Armagideon Time'. I first heard it - for about eight hours straight - one night at Wessex when it was just a rumbling, dubbed-up backing track. Mick had decided that an electric sitar would suit the new melody he was working on. From time to time, I'd pop in to see how things were progressing on the album. Apart from Joe and Mick, the rest of the group had basically done their bits. Joe was a happy man as what had started life as a stream of manic activity became honed into what he felt would be a landmark record. I would often hear him booming out of the speakers unaccompanied. He sounded so relaxed compared to the previous two albums: shouting, whispering, singing and howling some of his best lyrics to date. The Strummer-Jones song-writing partnership hit a glorious creative zenith, as the pair wrote in the same room, trading ideas, while the whole band were obviously firing on all cylinders. Later Topper looked back on those sessions as the point where he found his feet in the band. 'On London Calling I was a member of the band. I felt like a member of the band.

When I joined the band I had to play the first album, which I wasn't on. By London Calling I was an integral part of the band. That's when it peaked. It was the four of us playing together, really loving what we were doing.' At one point they were going to call the album The Last Testament but, feeling that might be a tad pretentious, eventually settled on the name of the first track, London Calling. One afternoon in November, I rang Mick to see how the album was going. He said they might have it finished it that night, and invited me over. I duly made my way up to London for teatime. It would be over twelve hours before I finally escaped. There was a full squad in attendance - the band, Guy, Bill, Johnny, Robin, Baker, Kosmo and others. Bill and Mick were undertaking the delicate task of sequencing the tracks and making sure of the final mixes and running order. At the last moment Mick had laid down his new 'Train In Vain'. Originally it was intended as a giveaway flexi-disc for NME, but that night they decided that they would keep it for the album. I'd gone along expecting a mixing session, but walked in and Mick was in the vocal booth singing passionately over a contagious funky guitar groove: 'Stand my me, or not at all...'. He called it 'Train In Vain' and he'd only written it the day before, recorded the backing track with the band in the evening and was now putting on the vocals. Then he mixed it with Bill. The track was so last-minute it was too late to even list it on the sleeve, but it was sneaked onto the end of side four with the title scratched in the run-out groove. Good job too it went on to become the group's first Top 40 hit in America. We were all back the next night for the sequencing and final playback. While final touches were put on the mix and running order, we killed time before the big moment. I remembered that the last time I'd been present at something like this was in 1973 when Mott The Hoople were doing the same thing to their Mott album at AIR Studios with Bill at the controls on that occasion too. The waiting around involved those time-honoured Clash studio pursuits of drinking, getting stoned, playing endless games of 'Space Invaders' and making animal noises. It was a dementedly celebratory evening and night. These weeks of recording had been sheer fun, like a voyage of discovery, for the group. It was definitely one of the happiest nights I ever spent in their company. Joe enthused that he'd finally realised his lifelong rock 'n' roll dream.

Joe's high spirits became particularly evident when he led the others in wrapping me from head to foot in gaffer-tape so I ended up looking like a black, shiny version of the Mummy. I was dumped helplessly on top of the pool table while Joe topped things off by positioning the cue ball in the centre of my trouser-seat ['Try and fart that one off, Needsy!']. Finally, Topper's motorcycle helmet was placed on my head. Why Joe would want to subject me to such an awful indignity remains a mystery. I'd have expected such tomfoolery from Paul, Robin or Johnny, the masters of the stitch-up. It had to be the Guy Stevens influence, but he was asleep in the corner by now. As the sun came up, it was time to hear London Calling for the first time all the way through. I didn't realise at the time that I was witnessing a piece of rock 'n' roll history - albeit in a highly unusual, not to mention very uncomfortable, position. When the first complete playback of London Calling was over, I can only describe my initial reaction as stunned. Only when it was over did Joe remove the gaffer tape and crash helmet. 'So what'cha think?', he asked, still cackling but now also glowing with pride as this had been the first time The Clash themselves had heard their new masterpiece from top to bottom. 'Load of bollocks', I shrugged, then ran away and handwrote a stop-press report for the Christmas Zigzag, which I was in the process of finishing. Obviously the feature - like 'Train In Vain' it was too last-minute to list on the cover - came completely off the top of my head, as I'd hardly been in any position to take notes. 'That was an interesting way to hear the album,' sniggered Mick 25 years on. In retrospect it was, but also bloody uncomfortable. Worth it, though. Rather than pontificate on the enormous attention foisted on The Clash with the reissue of London Calling, I'll leave the last word to Mick. 'You couldn't have known that punk would have such an effect. We were supposed to be a punk band and yet we were doing whatever we wanted to do. I never would've thought that 25 years later they'd bring London Calling out in a reissue, like it's Sergeant Pepper or something.' Of course, The Clash would go on to conquer America, gestate the behemoth Sandinista!, tour lots more and grind shudderingly through the creation of Combat Rock. Bernie Rhodes would return, nudging the sacking of Topper and Mick and signalling the death of The Clash. From that leisure centre in Leighton Buzzard to the top of the world, then back down again.

I just shared a morsel as we once again reflect and mourn on the death of Joe Strummer. This time this awful anniversary comes at a time when the Clash name is at a higher profile than ever before, but London Calling would've still been hailed as a masterpiece on its quarter century if he was still here. The place of The Clash now transcends all the backbiting, frustration and human faults that blighted them. Joe's legacy continues to swell as much through people swapping their Strummer stories in pubs and around campfires as the records and delights like the Strummerville exhibition. I loved The Clash, loved Joe and always will. I'm not ashamed to say so and that's why I wrote my book. The final, unimaginable sting in the tail came when I was literally writing the last page - the acknowledgements. John Peel has died. What cruel twist was that? Okay, so The Clash fucked up their Peel session and never got asked back but, in terms of propagating the group's music and - on a wider scale - global ideals and love of all music, Peel was in total sympathy. He was as influential in the formation of The Clash as anyone because he turned Strummer and Jones onto so much music, as he did myself. An original punk rocker whose loss is just too immeasurable to contemplate at this point. That totally unexpected lightning bolt takes away any deep and profound punch-line I might've been readying to wind up this Christmas Clash special. First Joe Strummer, now John Peel. I immediately dedicated my book to Peely's memory. Amidst memories of taking him down the Vortex and sitting in on his show, I recall that he played that Vice Creems single which Mick Jones produced. Afterwards, he commented [on air], 'Don't give up your typewriter just yet, Kris.' Sound advice, John. God bless you.

Wreckless Eric Whole Wide World.

With his first new album in some time, Bungalow Hi (Southern Domestic Records), & an autobiography, A Dysfunctional Success (The Do Not Press) both available from: - Wreckless Eric is on fine form once again. Jean Encoule thought it would be an appropriate juncture to track the man down & send him some questions to answer. This is what he had to say about Stiff Records, Pub Rock, Punk Rock & the loneliness of the long distance runner: trakMARX - What was it like growing up in Sussex during the sixties? I saw the sea every day but I didnt think that was unusual or special because Id never not seen the sea. In the first place there werent any roads where I lived, just muddy tracks between the houses. They started building the roads in 1959, a fact that I mention in the song Lureland (version 1 on the first Len Bright Combo album, version 2 on The Donovan Of Trash). trakMARX - What were the sounds that informed your formative years? To start with the Beatles hadnt happened so pop music didnt exist as we now know it. The first record I bought was Globetrotter by The Tornadoes, produced of course by Joe Meek, though I didnt know that back then. Somewhere in the background I remember Hound Dog by Elvis Presley but for the most part it was utterly turgid I Want An Old Fashioned House With An Old Fashioned Fence And An Old Fashioned Millionaire I think that was Eartha Kitt, and there was Kenneth McKellor doing Road To The Isles, A Scottish Soldier by Andy Stewart, and endless afternoons filled with the sound of Victor Sylvester & His Orchestra competing with the vacuum cleaner or the washing machine, depending on which housewifely activity my mum was engaged in at the time. Then the Beatles came along and saved us from all this misery. Thats when I really started buying records, 1962. I was eight or nine at the time.

First it was called Merseybeat and then The Beat Boom and then it exploded into all sorts of other things the Swinging Sixties. I got into the Rolling Stones, then The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Animals, The Who (I was and still am a big Who fan), The Small Faces, and then soul and blues the first Stax record I heard was Walking The Dog by Rufus Thomas the first blues was John Lee Hooker playing Boom Boom on Ready Steady Go. And I really loved the groups that came slightly later in the sixties like The Easybeats (Friday On My Mind), The Troggs (With A Girl Like You, Wild Thing, I Cant Control Myself), and The Equals (Baby Come Back). And when The Jimi Hendrix Experience came along with Hey Joe it all went gloriously out of control and I started buying albums, the first one being Are You Experienced of course by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. I entered into a world that my parents couldnt possibly comprehend, a world in which groups that nobody had ever heard of could fill concert halls like the Brighton Dome where I saw just about everybody from the Pinkfloyd to Doctor John The Night Tripper. That would be about 1968/69. I started listening to John Peels Top Gear programme on Radio One he was the only DJ playing obscure stuff at the time. trakMARX - Prior to Punk Rock, you plied your trade on the Pub Rock scene. How would you best describe Pub Rock & the people who made it? This is a chance to put the record straight I never had anything to do with Pub Rock. Before I came down to London and signed to Stiff I was an art student in Hull. I played in a few bands around Hull and wrote songs. I was aware of pub rock of course, Brinsley Schwartz, Bees Make Honey and all that but it didnt particularly bother me except Dr Feelgood (the early version with Wilko Johnson in it) and Ian Durys old band, Kilburn & The High Roads. Those bands were both life changing, the Feelgoods because of the manic energy and drama and the Kilburns because they sounded, and looked, as though they might fall to bits in front of you, but somehow they never did. I think it was the Englishness of it all that was so inspiring. Kilburn & The High Roads were easier for a dysfunctional young man like myself to identify with than most bands. trakMARX - When did Punk Rock first begin to make inroads into your psyche? I remember the term punk being used in conjunction with music as early as 1972 just as I was leaving school.

I knew this kid who wanted to start a group like Frank Zappas Mothers Of Invention crossed with Danny & The Juniors, and he kept saying it was going to be really punk, but we couldnt get it togetherer, maan. I think All The Young Dudes by Mott The Hoople was pretty important it seemed to be the first record since My Generation or Friday On My Mind that related to being young and kicking against society. Punk grew slowly and once it hit it was misunderstood, misinterpreted and re-invented as something completely different. But somewhere near the beginning there was White Punks On Dope by The Tubes, and wed heard about a New York group called Television with a singer called Richard Hell whod written songs called Blank Generation and Love Comes In Spurts. That would have been about 1974 or 75 but we couldnt get to hear them because they either hadnt made a record or you just couldnt get them over here. At that time I played bass guitar and sang in a group called Addis & The Flip Tops (named after the Addis Flip Top Bin). It was all based around the art school in Hull. We couldnt play very well but we werent really bothered because we thought of ourselves more in terms of an art statement than a musical event. Our equipment was all either home-made or stolen. We took the piss out of other bands for their musical aspirations, we wound people up, got in fights and played busted up rock n roll and the odd Velvet Underground cover. I wrote songs too but we didnt start playing them until later on. trakMARX - You emerged from the London Pub circuit to join the Stiff posse around 1976. How did you get involved with Stiff Records? Firstly, as I said, I didnt emerge from the London pub circuit I had nothing whatsoever to do with any of that. Stiff Records did however it was originally set up in part to release a lot of live recordings of pub rock bands from the Hope n Anchor where Dave Robinson (one of the founders of Stiff) had a studio. But the music scene was changing and so many new people came along, people like me, that the pub rock stuff got buried and forgotten, which was just as well as far as I was concerned because most of those people were deadly dull and very pleased with themselves. I didnt have contacts in the music business or anything like that, I just read about Stiff Records in the Melody Maker and decided to give them a tape of my songs. I was their first cold caller.

I hadnt really met any professional pop musicians or music business people when I signed to Stiff. I thought theyd be intelligent and enlightened but I was surprised to find how ill educated, unintelligent, bigoted and reactionary a lot of them were, especially the pub rock people. They thought they were an elite because they knew about soul, r n b and country music it never occurred to them that someone like me might know about that too theyd never met anyone quite like me and they didnt know how to deal with me, so they talked to me as though I was thick which was a bit of a laugh because they didnt know I had a degree. There were exceptions, like Ian Dury, who I met backstage after a very dull Graham Parker & The Rumour concert at the Victoria Theatre in London. Ian and me became very good friends. He saw what was going on and wrote Clevor Trever which he always said was about me. Later I met the Blockheads and they made a refreshing change, theyd tried everything and seemed very old and wise to me. trakMARX - Your debut 45 - "Whole Wide World" - remains a classic to this day. What inspired the song & your sound? My mum really did say that there was only one girl in the world for me and she probably lived in Tahiti. I wanted to write a song like a Kevin Ayers song because he was a great hero of mine. I wanted it to be a beatnik sunshine kind of thing and I was writing it in the shadow of Kevin Ayers songs like Clarence In Wonderland, Take Me To Tahiti, Whatevershebringswesing and Caribbean Moon. Actually I wrote it sitting on a park bench in Hull one evening in 1974 when I was nineteen. I finished it off with a bass guitar and one ear pressed up to the wardrobe (so that I could hear the bass guitar) whilst having a row with a girlfriend. I think the girlfriend was doing all the shouting I was too thrilled at having written my first half decent song. The most thrilling thing was that it worked with only two chords. At the time I was developing a perverse liking for bubblegum records The Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company, Yummy Yummy, Simple Simon Says - that sort of thing. It was a reaction to the overblown stuff that bands like Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Barclay James Harvest were coming out with. I always thought those bubblegum records were a bit classy and later on I found out that it was the Atlanta Rhythm Section playing on most of them, so thats why. The sound of Whole Wide World had a lot to do with the Velvet Underground (which I didnt quite realise at the time) and a sort of late sixties pop thing.

Ten years later I told Nick Lowe (the producer) that I didnt know how hed done it he said it was me that had done all the hard work, it was after all me that wrote it and sang it. According to him his bit was just the Velvet Underground songbook. I found that shockingly self-effacing and somewhat surprising Id never seen a link between Nick Lowe and the Velvet Underground but after that I realised it was everywhere in his stuff. I dont think it is now though, not on his current stuff. trakMARX - What are your abiding memories of those halcyon Stiff days touring the country with a bunch of dangerous herberts? Most of them werent particularly herbertish or at all dangerous other than under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ian Dury had a bit of an edge and once nearly came to physical blows with Elvis Costellos bass player in the back of the bus. Davey Payne, an ex-Kilburn who played saxophone with me, was an exception - he was extremely dangerous - practically psychotic in his behaviour at times. Ian later nicked him, much to my relief, for the Blockheads. After twenty years of tantrums and unexpectedly flung punches the Blockheads finally let him go in 1998. He hit me once, tried to push me off the front of the stage at the Lyceum, and that was enough for me. The tour manager was a drug dealer and there was a tour nurse - an American girl who was very popular with the lads most of Elvis Costello & The Attractions fell in love with her - which almost split up the band in midtour. Nick Lowe woke up one morning in a room he was sharing with the drug dealer/tour manager to find the floor covered in blood and broken glass, and the tour manager gone. He'd been whisked off to hospital with the back of his foot hanging off after an offer of a plate of biscuits and a glass of milk from two coke hungry musicians went horribly wrong. One of them hit him over the head with the plate of biscuits, cutting his face, the other threw the glass of milk at him and he almost lost his foot by stepping on the debris. Nick slept right through it. I dont think anyone else has ever told that story, its been suppressed. There was a lot of heavy drinking, drugs and sex, and the occasional outbreak of violence. I think everyone was glad when it was over. I was never the same again. trakMARX - Your debut LP appeared as a 10" on brown vinyl that is now one of Stiffs most collectable artefacts. Was it a bonus to be making artefacts as well as music?

I never really thought about it in terms of making artefacts, except that I wanted to make records - seven and twelve inch black vinyl things like the ones Id been collecting since I was a kid. I had a few misgivings about the ten-inch thing at the time and I never really got on with the idea of coloured vinyl and picture discs. But looking at it now Im beginning to see that it is a bit of a bonus and Im getting a warm glow all over. trakMARX - How did it feel having to go up against such talents as Elvis & Dury? I didnt really think about it I wished I could write lyrics like Ian Dury - but in a way I think I quietly surpassed him in the end. I know he was always nervous that I would. Ian always had to be top dog and for that reason he went head to head with Elvis Costello. Me, Nick and Larry Wallis just stood back in a drunken haze and watched them battle it out. Im sure it was really quite unpleasant. trakMARX - Was there a palpable sense of competition? See above. trakMARX - Was Costello that far up his own arse back then? Of course he hadnt written the symphony back then but only because he hadnt had time. Im afraid my enduring impression of him was that he was a clever-dick. I dont think I ever had a conversation with him. One morning he challenged me to a song-writing race. At lunchtime he came over, announced that hed written his, and where was mine. I hadnt bothered - Id been staring out of the coach window. trakMARX - You came under great pressure to achieve commercial success as the decade ended. How did that effect your relationship with the music? It was a real drag. Without actually realising it at the time Id started doing music of a sort that I didnt like. I was even listening to music I didnt like (easily done by the start of the eighties). I bought records that I could hardly bear to listen to. It was a kind of conditioning. In the end I didnt play music myself, other people did it for me and I sang a bit in between the guitar solos and little blasts of ego. I started off as a weirdo with the odd hook line.

I was unselfconciously eccentric, an original. But my talent ended up in the hands of people who had no understanding or vision. Its an old story and it still holds true today when I listen to the radio most of what I hear is stuff that Ive somehow heard before, hardly anything original gets through because most people havent got the guts for it. trakMARX - Looking back, was it an opportunity missed or a trauma avoided? I did a gig with Kevin Coyne the other night. Kevin is adamant that neither of us should think of ourselves as anything other than hugely successful even if just for the fact that were both still doing it and pulling in an audience every night. If you miss one opportunity another comes along. If youre ready for it youll see it and perhaps youll take it to where it leads you, otherwise youll miss it and then youll never know. Ive met more unhappy famous people than happy ones Im quite happy these days. Poor but happy - so maybe I have avoided a trauma or two. trakMARX - By the early 80s you'd retired from the business. Why did the wheels fall off? One thing Ive learned is that its not necessarily musical talent thatll get you through in this business, its more likely pushiness, an inflated ego and the ability to make and sustain useful contacts. Im really not very good at that kind of stuff so I tend to get pushed out of the way. It happens less now because I have much more confidence in what I do. By the end of the eighties Id developed my drink problem to the detriment of the music. I didnt know whether I was coming or going, and I was tired of meeting arseholes from the music business who promised the earth and delivered nothing (I still am come to think of it). Most people give up the music business because they get sick of demeaning themselves and being poor. I have to concentrate very hard on the music to stay in it. The rest is like deliberately stepping in dog shit. trakMARX - You returned to active service with the Captains Of Industry in 1984. Tell us a bit about their story. Eventually I stopped trying to do what I thought was expected of me and started writing lyrics about what was around me, which was the Medway Towns. England in the early eighties, in the grip of Thatcherdom.

I got right into it (the writing, not Thatcherism) and curbed my drinking to the point where I was fully functional. Captains Of Industry went through a lot of different versions. First it was Medway locals, then it was a drummer called Dick Adland who used to be in the Pirahnas and a keyboard player called Baz Murphy. Eventually I signed a deal with Go! Discs and Norman Watt Roy and Mickey Gallagher from the Blockheads joined. We made an album, A Roomful Of Monkeys, full of my grim songs about England. Everybody hated it and someone in one of the music papers said, nobody wants to hear this album populated with misfits and morons. Me and Go! Discs didnt really get on their slogan was giving the green light to the young lions. Despite their professed socialist leanings and the inclusion of Billy Bragg on their roster there was something slightly Thatcherite about them. The eighties was a big pop star party full of bright young things. I didnt feel young or bright and I certainly wasnt in the mood for a party. Ten years later when Pulp came out with Different Class I realised that Id been doing the right thing with the Captains Of Industry, its just that I was out of step with the time. trakMARX - In 1991 you worked with Die Toten Hosen. How did that come about? They came to a gig I was doing in Germany in 1991. Id heard of them years before. In the meantime theyd got very famous and sold loads of records but I didnt know this. They asked me to play on their album of cover versions and I said I would. I was quite surprised when they offered me serious money and a hotel and everything. The following night I met a girl I knew whose boyfriend was a music journalist. I told her about the Hosen and asked if they were any good had she heard of them. She laughed herself silly. It turned out she was the singer Campinos sister. I like the Hosen, theyve got a good spirit and the people in their organisation are all decent, human sort of people. Success hasnt fucked them up. trakMARX - Tell us about your interface with Billy Childish & Hangman. I moved to the Medway Towns in Kent in 1982 owing to the cheap house prices and a bent mortgage. I used to go and see the Milkshakes play. After the Captains Of Industry I formed the Len Bright Combo with Bruce Brand and Russ Wilkins, the former drummer and bassist from the Milkshakes. Obviously I got to know Billy. He was a mouthy drunk in those days but we got on quite well.

In some ways hes bigger than the Medway. It was a stifling scene, it could suck you in. It took me years to shake off the Medway. Creatively it was like being put in a straitjacket. For the most part it was always more of the same though some good things have obviously come out of it. Ive got a great admiration for Billy at his best, but Ive always wished he make fewer records and take a bit more care. I dont think theres anything laudable about making an album in the shortest time possible in the end thats not what matters. trakMARX - You've recently released your 1st long player for some time - Bungalow Hi - which has been favourably reviewed (likened to The Streets wit Gtrs!) & is even available on the racks of HMV!!! Does the fickle finger of success beckon once again? Have we come full circle? I very much doubt it. The music business has changed too much for that. If Id had these kind of reviews twentyfive years ago Id be on my way to my first million. As it is Im probably on my way to my second bankruptcy. Nobodys really selling many albums anymore. Its probably a good thing because if theres no money in it the gravy train people are going to jump off and that might free things up a bit. Its turning into a cottage industry. I made the record in one room, I run the mail order from another and Ive got boxes of CDs stacked up all over the house. I dont think Im going to get rich doing this. In my black moments I sometimes think the best I can hope for is to die before I get to the age when I wont be receiving any sort of pension. The best I can probably hope for in the long term is abject poverty. But fuck it its too late to stop now.

Jowe Head Swell Maps & Beyond

Jowe Head has continued to push the creative envelope to the very limits of its conception since joining Swell Maps in the late 70s. He & his cohorts have subsequently been blamed for the whole shebang/movement we lovingly refer to as DIY/Lo-Fi. In these fickle times of fad & fair, its an honour to welcome a man of substance to the pages of tMx. Ladies & Gentlemen, without further ado, we give you: Jowe Head. trakMARX - Tell us about Jowe Head before 1976. Jowe - I am Jowe Head, christened Stephen Bird, from Dorridge! Before 1976, I was a music fan and keen art student. I liked listening to Can, Van der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine, The Temptations and David Bowie. I liked the artwork of Tom Phillips and Max Ernst. trakMARX - Tell us all about Solihull, Harbury, Leamington Spa & how you became a Swell Map. Jowe -I later started making up tunes and trying to learn guitar in a variety of groups around Solihull, usually involving any combination of Nikki Sudden, his brother Epic Soundtracks, David Barrington (a.k.a. Phones Sportsman), Richard Scaldwell, and John Cockerill. John was awesome, cos he could actually play rather well! Our scene evolved into Swell Maps - all six of us played on various records, but Phones and John didnt play live. I also played in a group with Epic and a guy called Ken Spiers - who later called himself Spizz - we met him again on the Rough Trade label in London, as friendly rivals! Birmingham was the nearest city, but we eventually started recording in WMRS in Leamington cos it wasnt far, and it was cheap and cheerful with an engineer who let us experiment. trakMARX - The name 'Swell Maps' allegedly comes from the charts surfers use to plot their activities. Were there many good waves in the West Midlands during the mid to late 70s?

Jowe - Actually it wasnt taken from surfing talk at all, but thats a fascinating accidental tangent! It was from dialogue in a puppet show on UK tv called Stingray. You can hear the piece of dialogue on the start of our Marineville album which gives it away! Maybe the scriptwriter was a surfer, and this was an in-joke; who knows? Note the title of my track on that album called Loin Of The Surf, which is a co-incidence! trakMARX - How did Swell Maps get involved with Rough Trade records? Jowe - Rough Trade offered to distribute our DIY single Read About Seymour. This was a modest success, and they offered to release our next releases as a partnership with our Rather label. trakMARX - Did Swell Maps invent the DIY/Indie/LoFi ethic unwittingly or knowingly? Jowe - We didnt actually invent the DIY punk scene, because The Buzzcocks released Spiral Scratch before that. They had management though, so I dont think that they really count! Also, Television Personalities and the Desperate Bicycles were getting their own labels together at the same time. We all became aware of each other, and supported each others efforts - it was a shared sense of pride and pioneering spirit! trakMARX - Apart from Marc Bolan, what other sounds informed that early Maps sound? Jowe - Bolan was a big influence on Nikki, and we did Almost Grown by Chuck Berry a few times. I remember I encouraged us to play Why Are We Sleeping and We Did It Again by Soft Machine, and I remember us playing some Captain Beefheart tunes one time. We listened to Faust, and Epic was a huge fan of Can - you can hear this in the drumming sometimes. As for Phones - well, he loved Roxy Music and the dada poetry of Kurt Schwitters! trakMARX - What was is like being championed by Paul Morely? Jowe - Getting a review at all was awesome! Having people at NME and Sounds write about us was a real thrill, and I nearly passed out when I heard us on the radio for the first time! John Peel was a great champion for our efforts at the start. He will be greatly missed. I heard that hed died last week.

trakMARX - Was his subsequent ZZT label a source for inspiration or hilarity? Jowe - I do remember that this kind of gothic urban angst and alienation was the kind of thing that we mocked in the likes of Gary Newman, but ZZT was later. trakMARX - What were the best bits of being a Swell Map? Jowe - The best Maps experiences included the thrill of feeling empowered by our realisation that we could seize the means of production without needing a deal from a conventional record company or management. Also, we had a hell of a lot of fun together! We used to laugh so much it hurt sometimes. trakMARX - What were the worst bits? Jowe -The worst bits were the mess of breaking up - it was sad but inevitable. Nikki resented the break-up but we were getting sick of each other. We had been very close, having grown up together, but we were growing apart. To quote Kevin Ayres: It begins with a blessing but ends with a curse, making life better while making it worse... why are we sleeping? We had to finish work on Occupied Europe album as well, which was the focus of disputes and bad feeling. Luckily the performances were all complete - all we had to do was mix and edit it together, but even that needed a lot of discussion and debate. trakMARX - The HMS Swell Map sank on choppy seas following an Italian tour in 1980. Too much parmesan? A dispute over black pepper coverage? A breadstick incident? What rendered the group terminal? Jowe - The reasons are too varied to go into fully but I was still unwell after being beaten up by skin-heads - I shouldnt have toured really. I also felt that the band was becoming too loud and lacking any subtlety when we played live. We were at that time four assertive people with expanding horizons who were unwilling to compromise with each other as much as before. Also it was our first proper tour, and we discovered how obnoxious we all were! trakMARX - You eventually went on to play bass for TV Personalities. How did that work out?

Jowe - At the first TVPs show in London, Daniel ran out of the building, and the other two asked for help! Me, Epic and Nikki helped out. We sometimes played Part Time Punks or 14th Floor anyway! We were friends and supporters. Later in 1983, Mark Flunder left and they asked me to play the bass. I was delighted! Epic was jealous! He wanted to play drums, but Jeff Bloom had already joined. We went straight on to a German tour, which was very exciting; we went around on trains, carting a Farfisa organ with us! I cut my forefinger open on the very first night, which was very stupid; luckily it didnt get infected, which was remarkable, considering some of the doss-houses we stayed in. Anyway, I stayed in the band as it gradually changed for ten years in all. Jeff left after nine years, and we went to Japan again and USA again with Lenny on drums; Matthew from Heavenly also played drums with us before he died, bless him. trakMARX - A brief solo outing in the mid 80s saw you release a trio of LPs & a handfull of 45s. Tell us a bit about solo Jowe Head. Jowe - I started solo recording cos I had difficulty finding suitable people to play with, and I found that I enjoyed the autonomy of overdubbing it all myself, despite my shortcomings as a performer! It was a voyage of self-discovery which I hoped to share with listeners, if there were any. I started by re-recording Cake Shop Girl, because the Maps version was not exactly what I had in mind. I made it faster and more like twisted bubble-gum pop; the rest of Pincer Movement was intended to be an antidote to that, a reflection of the title, which is supposed to express a double-pronged experience. I started using collaged noise experiments, like the field recordings of the train plus found tapes like the horror film-scores and dialogue from street rubbish found in Soho. I went on to record other pieces at home for Strawberry Deutschmark and tart them up in a studio. The tracks which made up Unhinged were all originated in the studio, but I tried to make this more conventional, using a batch of specially written songs, but its still pretty crazy, despite my best efforts to be relatively straight! I used programmed rhythms for the first time out of interest and necessity, and Ive done more since then, based on home recordings again. Some other tracks were recorded with members of a fine band called SPIT LIKE PAINT. One of these was a cover of a song by The Fall, which recently came out on a project called Perverted By Mark E Smith

Another 2 (Merman Blues, Baby Bounce) single as a collaboration with Scots band Men, who dubbed a few extra details on to released them on their own Topplers label this year.

came out on a called The Nothe songs and in the summer

trakMARX - Do you still see anything of Johnny Rivers or any of the Leam Spa old guard? Jowe -Alas, I do not visit the Midlands any more, since my mother moved away. I have not used Johns studio for a long time - probably since I helped The Pastels with a few songs there. trakMARX - Tragedy has seemingly dogged the members of Swell Maps since the group's demise. These past few years can't have been easy for you? Jowe - Epics death was a tragedy which hit us very hard; sadly, I had lost contact with the man, and did not know his whereabouts in his last years. I heard complementary reports of his solo shows in New York City, and then I was told that he was refused re-entry when he went back to play there and felt great sympathy. I wanted to see him play; I was intrigued - what ever did he sound like on his own? I have been catching up on his solo career since then, unfortunately in a posthumous manner. trakMARX - What does the future hold for Jowe Head? Jowe - I am recording and playing gigs with my ace new band called ANGEL RACING FOOD. We made a single with Little Teddy label in Munich, and have recorded 6 new songs. I have written nearly all of the songs, but the other 4 players are very imaginative arrangers. Its great to record everything live in the studio when possible - you cannot beat that wild feeling! trakMARX - And finally . . . what does it feel like to have been a Swell Map from this end of the ship? Jowe - Working with the Maps fellows was a very hard act to follow; it set, for me, a standard of collaboration, energy and musical inspiration which I try to keep rising up to. We also had great fun at the time which I remember fondly. Also, down the years we seem to have attracted an interesting sort of reputation which continues to make waves - I saw a cartoon character from Gorillaz on TV last year wearing a Swell Maps T-shirt! We also got used on a car advert which blew my mind. Now that was REALLY weird!

The Adverts TV Smith on Cast Of Thousands

Devils Jukebox complete their overhaul of The Adverts back catalogue with this stunning finale. Originally released to muted response back in October 1979, the production has been a bone of contention ever since. Thankfully, these concerns can now be laid to rest as the sound has been re-mastered to the extent that the sleeve sticker states emphatically: AS IT WAS MEANT TO SOUND. The artwork has been tinkered with the original white background has been blacked out - the booklet features definitive notes from TV Smith, additional notes from Henry Rollins, lyrics & several previously unseen photographs. Also present & correct is a bonus disc featuring the complete Adverts radio sessions worth the cover price alone. Musically, Cast Of Thousands is as brave, visionary & poignant as it was 26 years ago. A wide-screen directors cut of the basic Adverts sound. Ive always loved this LP & have continually struggled to understand exactly why it was so critically mauled on its original release. The songs are marvellous throughout, the arrangements atmospheric & compelling. Lyrically, Tim Smith was at the top of his game. At the end of the day, maybe The Adverts were just too real to survive in a dog eat dog world that was too busy gearing up for Two Tone & New Romanticism to worry about things like talent, integrity or diversity. Cast Of Thousands turned out to be the last Adverts LP before TV set sail across the red sea once again, bound for relative obscurity with his Explorers. The Adverts left 2 studio LPs behind, 7 45s, several live recordings & 18 radio session tracks. Thanks to Devils Jukebox, this slender catalogue is yours to treasure once again. Jean Encoule Talks To TV Smith: trakMARX - The release of Cast Of Thousands on Devils Jukebox completes The Adverts back catalogue at last. You must be very happy with the way these releases have shaped up. They look & sound fantastic. TV Smith - Yeah, that was the idea. The Adverts only made two albums but most of the re-releases up until now were done without consulting me, they were often badly mastered and in shoddy packaging. I wanted to get the real definitive versions of those records out and spent a lot of time working on the sound, track-listing, and making sure the cover and booklets were good. The Cast cover for example, was notoriously horrible.

It was our first record with a major label and they wouldnt let me use the cover picture I originally wanted (the burning war protester that many years later ended up as the front cover of a Rage Against The Machine album) and instead set up a photo shoot with the band which they explained would be in the dark, beams of light picking out our faces making us look mean and moody. But of course they shafted us and delivered a cover which made us look like some cheap shit pop band. For this rerelease I obviously couldnt use the war protester concept as its already been done but I tried to get the cover some way back to how the second idea was described to us, and packed the booklet with lyrics, liner notes and photos. trakMARX - Why has it taken so long to get COT out there? TV Smith - Basically lack of demand. Youve got to remember that Cast was immensely disliked, derided even, by most people on its original release. Its only in the last five years or so that people have been coming back to the album and re-appraising it. At the same time, I got together with Devils Own Jukebox and we put together the project of re-releasing both Adverts albums and also the definitive Best Of which came out last year as the Adverts Anthology. trakMARX - As It Was Meant To Sound - says the sticker on the front. Can you tell us about the re-mastering process & why it didnt sound like it was meant to sound the first time. TV Smith - Well, as a twenty-two year old in 1979 I didnt have much experience of recording and the mastering process. It was a complete mystery to me back then why the vinyl sounded so different from the way the record had sounded while we were recording it. Its only in the years since then that Ive found out how much a good - or bad - mastering job can affect the way a record sounds and now I really take a lot of care about that part of the recording. For Cast I took the record to the best mastering engineer I know, a guy called Michel Schwabe who works for Monoposto in Germany, and asked him what he could do to try and recover the way the record was supposed to sound. I think he did a really good job on it, theres a lot of detail and clarity back in the mix and it comes jumping out of the speakers.

trakMARX - What were the key factors behind the expansion of The Adverts sound between Red Sea & COT? TV Smith - Restlessness. With Red Sea wed achieved exactly what we set out to do, and didnt want to repeat ourselves. So I wrote a batch of songs that were very awkward, untypical punk numbers, we augmented our sound with additional instruments and we played around with production and arrangements - anything to push the limits past what wed already done. trakMARX - Did the broadening of yr musical horizons have any relation to the collapse of the original punk movement? TV Smith - Only in as far as punk collapsed because it became conservative. Once it was established what punk was supposed to sound like over the course of the first year or so after it started everyone became scared to do anything different in case they lost their money-spinning punk audience. We tried something new and predictably did lose our audience - but at least we had the thrill of going out on a limb and experimenting. trakMARX - What led to the line up changes between Red Sea & COT? TV Smith - After a year or so of continual touring the band had become a fairly dysfunctional unit. Gaye and Laurie, for example, could hardly bear to be in the same room as each other, let alone a minibus travelling all over Europe. So Laurie was the first to go, and we replaced him with Rod Latter from the Maniacs. That was the only change during the Cast period. We actually felt pretty good about ourselves and the line-up while we were recording, there was a breath of fresh air in the band with a new drummer on board. Then while we were recording we met Tim Cross who came in to play some keyboards and decided to have him in the band as a permanent member. All the subsequent line-up changes happened when the band started to fall apart after the release - and commercial failure - of the record. trakMARX - Lyrically, COT still stands head & shoulders above the contemporary competition. Was this the pinnacle of The Adverts creativity for you? TV Smith - Its hard for me to say, Im really happy with the Red Sea lyrics as well. I was definitely pushing the lyrics on Cast into places pop songs dont usually go.

trakMARX - I think I Surrender is the most beautiful song youve ever written. Would you agree with that? TV Smith - Thank you. It was hard to write a song like that in those days. As a punk rocker you were not supposed to admit to your moments of weakness, doubt or negativity - so I decided to write a song full of it. But in actual fact, I suppose its not a million miles away from shouting The Wonders Dont Care! - the beauty is in the idea of letting go. trakMARX - The bonus CD features The Complete Radio Sessions. Is this a re-mastered version of the The Wonders Dont Care CD set? TV Smith - Its the same album - it was actually really well mastered in the first place so we didnt need to do any more work on it. trakMARX - And finally, are there any more unheard Adverts recordings in the archives that are likely to see the light of day (out-takes, etc)? TV Smith - As far as I know this completes the Adverts story. I dont know of anything else of releasable quality out there. Of course there are the odd dodgy rehearsal tapes and that kind of thing but I think theyre better filtering around the bootleg market for people who absolutely must have that kind of thing. At any rate, everything we recorded in a studio is now available (over three CD sets) and Im very happy about it. Its only taken 25 years to get it right!

Blondie From Punk To The Present: A Pictorial History Compiled by Allan Metz

Allan Metz has assembled the definitive word on Blondie with this exhaustive & extensive collection of essays, articles & photographs. Running to 512 pages, this collection brings together previously published pieces, newly commissioned works & the musings of some of the most important players in this incredible story: the fans themselves. From Punk To The Present features a prologue by Chris Stein, a foreword by Victor Bockris & contributions from such luminaries as Jessamin Swearingen, Robert Betts, Russell White, Gary Valentine, Jon Erkider, Anita Pallenberg, Everett True & Barney Hoskyns, amongst others, as well as photography from Roberta Bayley, Mick Rock, Bob Gruen, Marcia Resnick & Stephanie Chernikowski. The book is split into 4 sections: Then (Background, Punk, Blondie & Punk), Between Acts, Now (Interviews, Profiles, Album Reviews, Concert Previews & Reviews & On Their Craft) & In Retrospect (Overviews, Comprehensive Discography, Appreciations, Appendices, Afterword, About The Contributors, Permissions, Bibliography & Indexes). Although the books cover screams: UNAUTHORIZED UNOFFICIAL dont be put off for a moment. This is not only the story of Blondie but also an excellent overview of the socio-political, cultural & fashion related elements of the 70s New York City Punk scene. From Punk To Present has been assembled with passion, commitment & excruciating attention to detail. I can honestly say that Ive never been as impressed by the sheer scope of a rock n roll book in my life. Invest & embark on a voyage of Blondie discovery asafp.

Rudi Brian Young Interview

trakMARX - Not many guitarists are inspired to pick up a guitar following a one on one interface with Marc Bolan. What are your memories of the Isle Of Man 1975? Brian: Uh..well, first up back then everyone was too chicken to visit these shores and Belfast city centre closed down and was a no go area at nights - so none of us had ever seen a real live band play apart from the crappy showbands who cluttered up the live circuit here(and still do!). So when I read in Disc that T.Rex were playing Douglas I just hadda be there. 4 of us went over on the rusty ol steam packet boat and hooked up with a lot of pals who were already on holiday - it was the traditional July holiday week here and back then half of Belfast went to the Isle Of Man for their holidays. Grimmy was there with his Mum and Dad and it turned out that the Rex skinsman Davey Luttons brother worked in the shipyard with Grimmys Dad! We hung about shamelessly outside the Palace Lido hoping to get a glimpse of our idols. The band arrived first in a seated transit followed by Marc and Gloria in a limo! But even though we were scruffy 15 year olds they couldnt have been nicer to us, signing as many autographs as everyone wanted and posing for photo after photo. Better still they even insisted much to the be-suited doormans dismay - that we could all come into the hotel bar with them where we doubtless bored em silly with inane questions the rest of the afternoon! The gig that evening was everything I coulda hoped for and more. It was very much a stripped down, raw and gutsy T.Rex, less bombastic and more focused and ballsy. I guess Marc had something to prove on that tour he mighta been down - but he was by no means out. It was also the first time Marc ever played Soul Of My Suit live and that song retains a special place in my heart. Next day we dutifully returned to our vigil outside the hotel and again the band all came out to bid us farewell, signing yet more autographs and posing for yet more pictures.

Marc couldnt have been more down to earth, friendly, warm and gracious and hed brought some gifts with him for us. He gave me the yellow T.Rex music book though he said the chords were wrong! Whitey got a signed tambourine - which Grimmy later bought off him. Natch, the whole encounter blew us away and I returned home determined to get a guitar and follow in Mr Bolans elfin footsteps -but hey! - dont hold that against him! Sadly, in the years to come, any time I met more of my musical (for want of a better word) heroes I always came away disappointed most of em were either meanspirited, self-important ego maniacs who were far too busy to deign wasting their precious time with mere mortals - or (worse still) - patronizing record company whores and glad handers with all the sincerity of a jellyfish. I guess Marc Bolan truly was a one off! trakMARX - What was yr personal Punk Rock Epiphany? Brian: Uh depends how ya define punk rock. Like so many future punksters, seein the New York Dolls vilified on the OGWT by beardy baldster Bob Harris was hugely significant to me Johnny Thunders was, is and always remains punk rock incarnate, in my book! (My hero! Shucks!) Dr Feelgood (w/Wilko) were a BIG influence too. We had all their early platters and when they first played the Whitla Hall here in late 75/76? they tore the roof offa the place! Plus by that time I could almost figger out some of Wilkos riffs which helped (that Chuck Berry song book I bought was coming in damn useful!). Eddie and The Hotrods first gig here at the time of the Marquee EP was pretty damn seminal too hereabouts. Now all but written out of accepted trendy punk rock histories, believe me, they were very influential at the time as they were actually out and about playing round every gawdforsaken backwater burg in the country when it actually meant something. Also, they were the first band Id seen onstage who were closer to our age. A LOT of the folks who went on to start the early Belfast punk combos were all present and correct that same night! Record wise again, it has to be the Ramones first LP which flipped me for good. I listened to Peel for the first time when I heard he was gonna play a Ramones cut (I Dont Wanna Walk Around With You if memory serves?) and it floored me. I raced out and snagged one of the first US import copies in Caroline Records and played it morning noon and night. They had it all down pat, the look (though their hair was too damn long for my taste!), the killer lyric inner and - best of all - their songs were just so damn catchy. I could even just about play along to em which was a first!

Frinstance the only Dolls song we could work out at that stage was Pills (which the mighty Bo wrote anyways). So certainly that Ramones debut was the big impetus to us to start writing our own songs - if they could do it, so could we! trakMARX - You took the name Rudi from a song by The Jook. What made The Jook so inspirational? Brian: Well, Id clockedem in the music rags where theyd stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb here were all these flabby failing glamsters/pretty boys and hairy hard prog rockers trying to look rich, sophisticated and oh so intelligent and arty then glaring evilly at em from across the page was this gang of no-counts in drainpipes, cropped haircuts and boxer boots looking as if they wanted to rip Donny Osmonds floppy cap up and ram it up his jacksie! JOOK RULES OK! was sprayed on a grimy wall behind em and once Id sussed the Bolan connection I was well and truly hooked. (Chris Townson, the drummer, had been in Johns Children with Mr Bo, as had their manager John Hewlett). Many years later at a Johns Children reunion in Dublin, I stumbled nervously up to the aforementioned Mr Townson and informed him that my first band was named after a Jook record he looked totally bewildered - as I think hes been trying to live the whole episode down ever since! Anyways, I thunk they looked just great (wow! at last a whole band with crappy haircuts and bad dress sense just like mine!). Interestingly, in interviews they talked about being the white equivalent of rudies (rude boys) - so were they ahead of their time, or what? Musically, they kicked ass on vinyl (though this was apparently a shadow of their live prowess), knocking out feisty guitar driven pre punk teenage anthems two or three years too early. Sadly, a proposed LP was nixed and they folded in disarray. Amazingly, it is about to be released by RPM this May! Snap it up! We nicked the moniker RUDI from Oh Oh RUDI which isnt their best 45 but is still pretty neat. It was one of those everybody put in some names and well choose the least worst situations that every member of any first band will remember (not so) fondly. And no, I cant remember any of the other suggestions cept that one of our pals wanted us to call the band KNAW (as it spelled wank backwards - and he had this brainwave of having a mirror onstage so the real name would show up we didnt have the heart to tell him it wouldnt work quite like that!).

Remember, this was late 1975/76 - so we coulda done a lot worse (though we were kinda deflated in later years when someone remarked that it was like calling a band Bert in Germany - and Hazel O Connor did once ask us if we were a ska band around 1982!). Ho hum! trakMARX - What slogans did you paint onto your stolen boiler suits? Brian: Jeez, now this is one question Ive never been axed before - if I remember right, most of it was our own song titles and RUDI (the band name natch!) and stuff taking the piss: like pop star and new commerciality. We really DID want to get into Jackie as much as Sounds or the NME - and we woulda killed to have gotten on TOTP! Besides, the first pin up I ever saw of the New York Dolls was in Popswop! First up, you gotta remember that the boiler suits were crappy nylon ones thats all the place Grimmy worked in had in stock! First we ripped off the sleeves and then tried sticking RUDI on in peel-off car letters - but that didnt work, for obvious reasons so we painted em ourselves - best household gloss too, probably! I was dumb and impressionable (plus ca change?) so I went for the bondage straps/chains, etc and red collar. Ronnie had lurex/white collar and cuffs, I think - and Grimmys Mum probably took his one in properly as she worked in a woolshop! Stewarty, our first real bassist, just ripped his to bits and bled all over it as he always played so hard his fingers were bleeding by the end of a set! When Gordy Blair joined towards the end of 1977, the first thing we did was crop his hair ourselves and give him a boilersuit of his own! Remember, we did this pre punk to give us our own identity and it did set us apart from the crappy showbands and covers bands. But boy! - did we look like prats! trakMARX - Rudi initially had to promote their own gigs at venues like Girton Lodge & Glenmachan. What memories do you have of those 'private parties'? Brian: Both those venues were notorious run -down hotels situated in East Belfast where we all came from. Both were renowned locally for the frequency of fights/trouble, rumoured paramilitary involvement and legendary for their liberal interpretation of licensing laws i.e. they would serve alcohol to anyone who could afford it! But the Glenmachan in particular became our local hangout and even though it was a tip we loved the place.

Grimmy, in particular, could be found there without fail 7 nights a week! Id previously been banned for life for pulling a knife on a bouncer the first night I was there, paralytic at age 14! Still, having finally mastered the rudiments of the three chord trick we were determined to unleash ourselves onto an unsuspecting public and as none of the few established venues would touch us, we hit upon the brainwave of booking private parties in the function rooms at the Girton Lodge or Glenmachan on any spurious excuse usually someones birthday (fictitious or otherwise!). Then wed simply turn up and play! Clever huh? Amazingly, we packed em out time and time again and we came on in leaps and bounds rattling through sweaty marathon two-hour sets of ropey glam covers and stripped down rocknroll classics to an audience of paralytic underage boozers! We were amazingly self reliant cos we had to be! We didnt even have a proper back line or PA but we always managed to cobble something together and our buddies even put together a light show of sorts (again borrowed from various sources!). Later we switched mainly to the Glenmachan which if anything had a much worse reputation. But it was only when punk went overground and the media actively whipped up punk bashing that both venues started to get cold feet and tried to ban us though wed always manage to sneak back in under some pretext. Most, if not all, of the early N.I. punk gigs took place at the Glenmachan which we had single handedly established itself as a viable punky waver venue, which says something though Im not sure what! Nevertheless, by the time of the Pistols GSTQ media blitz, punk bashing had gotten much more frequent especially if the growlers at the Machan assumed you were anti monarchy (and thus pro-republican) - and a lot of gigs started to end in serious trouble. Though we escaped unscathed as we knew most of the local thugs, a lot of others werent so lucky, which is why it was so important when the Harp opened its doors in the center of town a safe venue for punks from all areas and backgrounds. But those early hotel gigs do bring back very special memories. trakMARX - You were involved with Morrissey & The Dolls fan club for a time. How did you get along with Morrissey? Brian: I spotted an ad in the NME small ads mentioning starting up a New York Dolls Fan Club in 75/76? and wrote off to this guy in Manchester who turned out to be one Steven Morrissey. I remember writing that I had been a fan since the Rick Rivets days, which suitably impressed Mr Moz as he hadnt heard of Rick then!

Pure teenage bravado on my part! And so we used to send each other passionate 20+ page letters extolling the godlike genius of the Dolls. Though, sadly, the fan club never actually did get off the ground! Once punk started Steven kept me hip to what was happening in Manchester I recall that he was totally enthralled by Howard Devoto and the Buzzcocks and was (supposedly) getting John Maher to teach him the drums! I later put him in touch with the guys at Alternative Ulster and Private World zines here and he used to contribute articles and reviews on the Manchester scene. He only did get to see RUDI once when we played supporting the Jam in Manchester in 1982 (The first time we played Manchester in 1978 with Skrewdriver, he didnt come along to the gig as apparently you were almost guaranteed a good kicking at the place the gig was in! At least he didnt tell me that until after!) The other guys in RUDI thought he was very quaint, quintessientially English and kinda reserved - they were expecting some maniac Dolls lookalike clone, I spose! We were staying with Wes and our pals in Victim (including one Mr Mike Joyce) at the time and I do remember later getting a letter from Steven telling me that Mike had joined his new band The Smiths. We still kept in touch, swapping tapes and pondering on the vagaries of life up until they got real big and then we just fell out of touch I guess which was a pity. I must admit I never got the whole Smiths thing at all - but I do admire Steven for sticking to his guns and remaining a beacon of pithy intelligence and wit amidst the careerist dullards that clog up the musick biz. As for the rights and wrongs of the Dolls reunion uh, ask me that in about ten years time! I still do hate bands reforming especially when half of em are dead but I wouldnt have missed it for the world. Go figger! trakMARX - The Clash arrived in Ulster in October 77 & failed to play but still took a few nice holiday snaps near some barbed wire - in retrospect, do you think their motives for their visit were sincere? Brian: First up, they made the effort to actually come here in the first place when most everybody else was still too chicken - which has to count in their favour. Wee Gordy Owens (more on him later) used to phone em all the time at rehearsal rehearsals and we both got in to meet em in the ultra swanky Europa Hotel where they were staying. I have to say that in person Joe Strummer seemed 100% genuine - and genuinely interested in encouraging what was happening here with the nascent bands and zines.

Ironically, the fact that they didnt actually get to play that time round garnered huge local media attention and helped spread the punk gospel better than if they had actually played! Taking the barbed wirenbarricades snaps did rankle but I know now that the band werent entirely happy about posing for em. What mattered most to me was that they did keep their promise to come back and play as soon as they could and they did playing a truly memorable gig that December at Queens. Mebbe it was cos they were closest to a traditional rocknroll combo, but the Clash were easily the best UK punk combo in my book despite the posturing, preening and posing, Id forgive anyone anything who wrote such classics as Complete Control, Garageland and White Man. trakMARX - Joe Strummer's H-Block t-shirt set back much of the work punk had already achieved thus far in uniting both sides of the sectarian divide. How do you think someone so intelligent got it so spectacularly wrong? Brian: I guess by that stage he was surrounded by too many yes men and believed his own hype. Im not saying he shouldnt have worn it that was entirely his choice - but if he really had no idea what the impact would be then it showed just how far from reality the Clash had strayed by that point. However, Id not over emphasize its impact over here. Nobody here with half a brain paid much attention to such attention grabbing sloganeering wed heard it all before - and would hear it all again! trakMARX - Also in October 77 Gordy Blair quit Highway Star to join Rudi on bass - a sound move. Why did he jump ship & what tales did he tell of his former employers? Brian: Funnily enough, Gordy never really told any scurrilous tales about SLF. Id seen Highway Star support the Pink Fairies at Queens University in 77 and they were truly dire: flares cheesecloth, Buddy Holly specs and endless Rory Gallagher guitar flailing. I guess punk hadnt quite happened for them just yet! When Stewarty quit we advertised for a young pretty talented bassist no hippies - in fact Gordy was the only one who turned up to the audition but boy could he play! Hed seen us at the Glenmachan and wanted to join us as we were the only band hed seen in Belfast who were writing our own songs. I heard rumours that Gordy had quit Highway Star or been thrown out as he didnt like punk but back then I dunno if anyone but Henry in Highway Star/SLF actually had any affection for punk at all.

I must admit I always harboured some suspicion that Gordy joined RUDI to somehow get back at Jake but thats speculation on my part. There certainly didnt ever seem to be any hostility or resentment and both bands always all got on pretty well. For the record, Gordy always told everyone who would listen that he wrote the bass riff for Gotta Getaway - but that was the only time I remember him ever mentioning em. Gordy later ended up playing in most every band in Belfast. Though he was a talented musician, he certainly wasnt the easiest guy to be in a band with! trakMARX - As the Ulster Punk scene began to grow & new groups formed literally overnight, what did you make of your contemporaries? Brian: Well, almost without exception, every band I saw here really had something special that was the truly great thing about punk here at the start. Nobody had seen any of the UK/US bands play - and so everyone kinda came up with their own spin on what punk was about. As we hadnt anyone to copy all the early NI bands ended up sounding and even looking pretty unique, making up in originality and imagination what we lacked in traditional musical skills. What I still find amazing was that even the crappiest band here seemed to have at least one or two killer self-penned songs in their repertoire. I guess it all stemmed from the fact that we all believed in what we did 100% - and for most of us these were our first bands and we were all so goddam young and still burned with the fire of the righteously nave. We just didnt know any better I guess! Later on when we moved to London and I finally got to see the well known English punk bands onstage I was heartily dismayed at just how dull and pedestrian they were in comparison and the realization soon dawned that for 99% of these prats, punk was just a piece of convenient marketing as theyd all been knocking about in loser hippy outfits for years. Ho hum! And yes! I still do think that NI punk was the best in the world! trakMARX Outcasts resulted What was - Your legendary show at The Pound with The in Jan '78 drew the attentions of Terri Hooley & in the formation of Good Vibrations records. his initial reaction to this vibrant new scene?

Brian: As hes always reminding us, Terri is an old hippy at heart, and he calls punk his hippies revenge. Make of that what you will!

Anyways, when Good Vibes opened in mid 77 I used to spend hours scouring through the records in his shop, more often than not accompanied by my wayward delinquent chum, Wee Gordy Owens. Gordy lived in nearby Sandy Row and was always beaking school - so we used to meet up and haunt Terris shop just chatting about new records, our fave artists and what was in the NME and Sounds that week - as we were all just totally obsessed with music. If I remember right, Terri was keen enough on this new punk music - but not entirely convinced. Hed grown up going to see Van Morrison and Them and his heart remained loyal to that raw 60s beat and the early 60s girl group sound both of us loved the Ronnettes - which was hardly hip at the time! Terri had heard about us already from other customers - but Wee Gordy kept on and on at him to come down to see us and he literally dragged Terri down to the Pound that night in January 78. We played alternate sets with the Outcasts and the whole night ended in a mini riot when the UDR came in to help empty out the club and some lights got smashed. Natch - the Pound banned both groups immediately (until punk became a money spinner and it decided to reconsider its position!). Terri hadnt seen anything like it in years and reckoned we reminded him of all the 60s garage junk he loved - and from then on he did his best to help us out whenever and wherever possible - which came in very handy as he had a lot of useful contacts and friends who helped with gig venues, practice rooms and printing posters and zines, etc. Once Terri devotes himself to something - there are no half measures! The label itself came about when AU asked us to record a flexi to be given away free with the mag. Terri priced it and discovered it was almost as cheap to do a proper 45 and hey presto! The mighty Good Vibrations record label was born. trakMARX - How important to the development of the scene was 'Alternative Ulster'? Brian: All the zines over here played a major role in encouraging the local scene. AU wasnt the first, by any means, but it quickly became the most regular and comprehensive publication of its kind. As with all the other zines, its real significance lay in the fact that for the first time ever here was a cool mag that concentrated on reporting the local bands and scensters first and foremost taking a real pride in our local scene and treating all of us as every bit the equal of the Clash/Pistols et al. This was a massive confidence booster to all the bands here and was hugely encouraging.

We were no longer second-class citizens or no good hicks from the sticks - as wed been led to believe all those years! All the zines here were vital in spreading the punky waver gospel far and wide - and at one stage in those balmy far off days, most every town boasted at least one local punkzine. Those were the days, huh? Later too, both Gavin (Martin) and Dave Angry(McCullough) from AU both ended up writing for the proper music press which snagged us our first write ups in NME and Sounds, respectively! trakMARX - Record shops played a large part in Punk Rock where ever you were. What were your local shops & what role did they play as things picked up speed? Brian: Up to and including the early punk days, the best record shop in Belfast by far was Caroline Music - at the end of Anne Street. It was the place where everyone met to hang out at the weekend and check out the spiffy new punk 45s. Its importance in bringing in these records in the first place cant be underestimated. We mightnt have been able to see any bands play - but we could at least hear em on vinyl. Later, of course, there was Rocky Mungos at the back of the city hall - and then in mid 77 Good Vibrations first opened its doors in Great Victoria Street. Outside Belfast there were lots of great local record dives - like Unicorn in Bangor - or Cliff Moores IT Records in Portadown. Though the bands on IT records werent even remotely punk, Cliff deserves credit for starting the first real local indie label. Terri would follow suit early in 1978 and the Good Vibes empire was born - nuthin was the same ever again. The lasting importance and significance of these shops was first in providing a meeting ground for like minded folks to hook up in safety, and later on, by setting up their own labels and providing an outlet for local bands to release their own records which simply just didnt happen here pre punk. Lordy, wasnt it a shock when the local bands proved to be streets ahead of their UK and US compadres? Yippee! Time To Be Proud, fer sure! trakMARX - What was Templepatrick Studios like & how was yr first recording experience?

Brian: Kyle Leitch from Caroline Music was helping us out as unofficial manager and he got us a cheap rate at Templepatrick as it was owned by Solomon Peres (the company who they bought a lot of their stock from). We drove up in Grimmys works van and recorded the two songs completely live only adding the lead vocals after. George Docherty produced it which literally meant turning on and off the recording tape. Nonetheless, he did a fine job though we were terrified it sounded too tame at the time! For our very first time in a recording studio ever it all went alarmingly smoothly but then we were a real tight lil combo! trakMARX - Did you feel like you were on the way to somewhere when 'Big Time' was received so positively in April of '78? Brian: We were all just thrilled to have a real live vinyl 45 of our own. The band, our pals, Terri and all the folks who worked in Good Vibes just couldnt believe it we had gone and made a real record! Wed never dreamed we would actually get to make a real record - and now we had! I remember sitting in the shop folding dozens of sleeves and the record selling as fast as we could fold em! Naturally, none of us knew the first thing about proper promotion or distribution or crap like that - but we learned pretty fast. It was a real exciting time from then on things were just moving so fast. But the main thing with Big Time was that we had proved that it could be done! You didnt have to run off to a major you could release your own records locally and sell thousands! And if we could do it - anyone could! Oh - and the record wasnt half bad, either! trakMARX - What memories do you have of the Battle Of The Bands Queens show on June 14th 1978? Brian: It was a strange gig. It was pretty significant as it was the first large-scale punk gig anyone had dared put on with only local acts. A couple of other big names were playing the same night in the city center and we were all scared that no one would turn up. Logistically it was a disaster. The PA never turned up and a local gang of bikers who had been asked to act as bouncers seemed more interested in getting pissed and picking occasional fights with hapless punksters. Still, on the night the place was packed and most of the top local punk combos got to strut their stuff. In fairness, although we were headliners and went down pretty well, the night belonged to the Undertones.

None of us had seen em before - and they played a short tight punchy set that left us all slack jawed how come none of us had heard of em? They recorded Teenage Kicks the next day. trakMARX - The subsequent Good Vibes Double-Single-OfThe-Gig featured a new recording - 'Overcome By Fumes'. Was solvent abuse a big problem in Ulster back in '78? Brian: No though some members of RUDI had been known to, erm, dabble more than a little! We used to sniff Thawpit - which was a brand of oven cleaner. To be honest, all it ever did for me was give me a headache but wed have taken anything we could lay our hands on back then (yes, readers, I know its not particularly clever or wise - but thems the facts!!!) (Actually, some younger readers may be amazed to learn what we actually did have to take to feel different back then: Dodos (cough remedy containing a speed based substance), John Collis Brown (a cough syrup boasting healthy levels of opium) & Egaweld (a compound designed for gluing plastic conduit), were all abused on a regular basis. Designer drugs were some way off! Ed.) trakMARX - You left Ulster for England in August 78 - in a packed Transit van with group, gear & girlfriends - is it true you had to siphon petrol from parked cars all the way to London? Brian: Yep! It was the band, Liz, my long suffering girlfriend (now wife), and Gavin Martin from AU. We went through Grimmys luggage on the way over and threw any trousers he had that were remotely flared. Once we got to Stranraer we waited until dark then pulled up along side any parked cars we could find and siphoned the petrol out (using a short hose) into a can - then into our van. We even pulled up alongside a camper van whose occupants were all fast asleep and siphoned their petrol directly into our tank trying desperately to stifle our laughter! If this was typical of our master plan to achieve fame and fortune - is it any wonder we fared so badly? When we arrived in London we had nowhere to stay and slept in the van - pulling up at public toilets every morning to wash! As luck would have it, we bumped into Dennis from the Gems who hipped us to readily available squats in Clapham - or wed have never got a roof over our heads! We still kept siphoning petrol too until Grimmy and Griswold (one of our buddies) got arrested and charged with going equipped to steal.

Well, how else do you explain carrying a hosepipe and a petrol can at 3 in the morning! trakMARX - Following shows with The Doomed, a renamed Highway Star, The Nips & others - you became big mates with Raped. Did you know Sean Purcell went to Shipston on Stour High School (near Stratford upon Avon) & once knew John Hunt of (our) local heroes Deadly Toys/Ideal Husbands (small world/wouldn't want to paint it)? Brian: Yeah, we did get to play a lot of very interesting gigs! We met Sean and the rest of the Raped gang via Mr Puke one of our buddies who had run off to London and was too young to sign on - so the Raped fed and watered him until he turned 16. They were a great live band and really nice blokes. Sadly, at the time, they couldnt give their records away - with the hypocritical Rough Trade PC whining over their name - but we all hit it off and they did get us a lot of gigs and helped us out in lots of other ways too. We returned the favour getting em gigs with us in the Pound and Harp in December 78 which were their last gigs as the Raped. I still like the first Cuddly Toys LP to this day. They were a very fine band just in the wrong place at the right time. Oh, and Mr Puke is now a fully ordained Pastor with his own church in Drogheda, fact fans! trakMARX - Following an SPG purge of Clapham squats - you returned to Ulster. Did it seem like defeat? Brian: At the time I wasnt so sure. Basically, Ronnie and Grimmy were jailed for spurious driving offences and the only way to escape 6 month sentences was to return home immediately do not pass go do not pick up 200, etc. But in retrospect, it was probably the best thing that couldve have happened to us. London was a great learning experience for us wed gone from being big fish in a tiny pond to being minnows in a vast ocean we hadda move our game up several notches and we did we dropped the old boiler suits and glam tat and practiced for hours on end honing our chops and writing a bucketload of spunky new material - we also made a lot of valuable contacts and got our name about and that would prove to be very helpful in the months ahead. So when we returned home we were a far, far stronger and better band than wed been when we left. Also, when we got home we found it had changed hugely in our absence - for the better! So I guess it did work out better for us in the long run!

trakMARX - 1979 kicked off with Rudi being filmed for the 'Shellshock Rock' movie about NI Punk & promptly got billed for the smashing of 210 glasses. Who did the smashing? Brian: Uh, Ill take the fifth on that as I think the bill is still outstanding! trakMARX - You turned down a Polydor contract because you wanted to keep drummer Grimmy & they didn't - bonus Punk Rock Points then - now, in retrospect, the right thing to do/or not? Brian: Totally the right thing to do after all, Ronnie, Grimmy and I had started the band off in the first place and had been buddies for years you just dont treat a pal that way! The three of us had a certain chemistry and it worked. Take one away and it wouldnt. Besides, Grimmy wasnt as bad a drummer as they made out apparently they called him a madman - so what? None of us were exactly virtuosos! Polydor apparently then signed Protex and the Xdreamysts for the same money they woulda signed all 3 bands for - so I guess they didnt think that much of any of the bands. They then neutered and watered down both those combos killing em stone dead so I reckon we had a lucky escape. trakMARX - How did you manage to sign away the publishing rights to 'Big Time' 'without realising it'? Brian: We thought we were signing a piece of paper giving them our permission to use Big Time on the record. I never even found this out until the mid /late 1990s - it was shabby trick - but we have no one to blame but ourselves. At the time we honestly had no idea at all what publishing was! trakMARX - 'I-Spy' was your second momentous 45 - how was morale within the group at that time? Brian: Morale was very good wed come back from London with a set of all new killer songs and still pulled by far the biggest crowds, locally. We had made up with Good Vibes yet again and we were all convinced that I Spy could easily do an Undertones and repeat the success of Teenage Kicks. The recording was a nightmare though Davy Shannon (the guy who had previously lost the original mix of Fumes) wasnt interested in anything except getting to the pub. For example the vocal on Sometimes was supposed to be a guide vocal but he insisted it was good enough it wasnt!

Though I did learn for the first time that you could actually overdub guitar parts when he played two bits back while we were mixing it pity he didnt tell me while we were recording it! Nevertheless, we still had high hopes for the EP and it did sell very, very well indeed! Now, if it had been produced properly - we mighta snagged some proper airplay too! trakMARX - The inclusion of 'Big Time' on Cherry Red's 'Label's Unlimited' compilation led to bonus airplay from the likes of Mike Read. How was all this exposure affecting the group? Brian: Uh it wasnt! We were all still signing on and just plugging away. Having Big Time on Labels Unlimited would later pay off in spades, though, as Mike Read had hipped Pete Waterman at Leeds Music to the band - and he signed us up to a publishing deal which kept things moving up until we signed with Jamming! Remember, at the time Pete wasnt the media ogre he is today he had been involved in the Specials early days and was a(nother) huge music fan. His heart was definitely in the right place and he helped us a lot with his encouragement and advice. He used to fly over to listen to us rehearse in a lock up garage behind Grimmys house. Another guy who deserves to go down as one of the good guys in the RUDI story. trakMARX - On the 24th April '79 a truly local Punk festival took place at the Ulster Hall. What are your memories of that night? Brian: Wed been bickering with Terri (as usual) so he put us on the poster for the gig in tiny letters yep we were all very mature individuals! Thankfully, we went on near the top of the bill as was fitting. What was most amazing was to see the Ulster Hall absolutely crammed with local punters most of em in their early teens all going apeshit over local bands doing their own material. It was a very special night! trakMARX - You finally parted company with Good Vibration following the debacle surrounding your impending 3rd 45 'The Pressure's On'. What went down there? Brian: Uh - you tell me. Briefly wed gotten picked to be one of two live bands on the BBC TV show, Something Else along with the Undertones. The plan was to release the two songs we would play on the show as a new 45 - and with such widespread TV exposure we hadda have a real chance at a hit!

That was the theory we did our bit and recorded the 45 The Pressures On/ Who? You! and Terri sent it off to be pressed and that was the last it was ever heard of! The TV show went out to great acclaim and was even repeated unexpectedly - so the interest was there and people were in contact day after day looking for the record. It never did turn up and we split with Good Vibes in disgust. In fact almost 30 years later I STILL dont know why it wasnt pressed up! (NB: The 45 did finally see the light of day a couple of years back on the last years Youth label based in Germany. Theyve also released several RUDI LPs and EPs that are well worth tracking down. Go get em! trakMARX - Towards the end of April that year you recorded 4 songs for Mike Read's Radio 1 show. What do you recall from those sessions? Brian: Wed hired a beat up wreck of a car from a backstreet hire place (with dodgy insurance) and piled the gear in (bass drum on a roof rack!). We drove from Liverpool to the BBC arriving just in time to record the session. Mike Read is a great guy, very genuine and with an encyclopedic knowledge of music - and he plugged the band at every opportunity - even interviewing us on air while we were recording the session! Mike Robinson produced the session and for the first time I got to muck about with guitar overdubs and, for my money, its the best RUDI recordings ever. After the session was over we rang round until we found someone whose floor we could sleep on in London (Jeremy from the Androids!) and the next day we drove up to Darlington to headline a NE Tour! Phew! trakMARX - In August 79 you shared a bill with Leamington Spa's finest The Shapes. What did you make of our answer to the Sex Pistols? Brian: The truth? None of us knew how theyd ended up on Good Vibes in the first place and I cant remember anything about them at all - though I think I was disappointed they didnt play their set wearing their shape masks! trakMARX - In 1981 Rudi became mates with Paul Weller who had a hand in the formation of Jamming Records. How did that work out?

Brian: Briefly, what happened was that Paul Weller (unlike all the other punk cognoscenti) actually put his money where his mouth was and bankrolled an indie label he knew Tony (Fletcher) through the Jamming! zine and entrusted him to set up and run the label. It was Tony that picked us to be the first band on the label he loved the band and also knew they were guaranteed to sell copies of anything that had our name on it. I dunno if Paul would have chosen us himself at first at least judging by the mod/clone bands he picked for Respond. None of us were particular Jam fans and we were much more rocker than mod, but once hed seen us live and saw that we knew what we were doing he was very supportive indeed. Really the Jam and their crew, especially John Weller, couldnt have done more to help us out and Ill forever be grateful. trakMARX - The 3rd Rudi 45 - 'When I Was Dead' - sold 2,000 copies in the first 3 days of release. Did it feel like the big time was finally beckoning? Brian: Wed been let down so many times before that we never allowed ourselves to take anything for granted but Tony did such a great job on a shoestring budget that it did really feel that at long last after all the ups and downs we were finally making real headway. When I Was Dead remains my fave RUDI 45 by a long way cos it actually sounds the way we wanted it to! Pete Wilson and Paul Weller produced it and we learned more in the halfday in the studio with them recording the 45 than we had learned in all our previous studio time put together! Paul even had to show us how to do proper harmonies! trakMARX - What do recall from your John Peel session? Brian: The guy who produced it was Buffin, who we were in awe of as he had been in Mott the Hoople. Unfortunately, he was a short-arsed egomaniac who kept insisting I produced this better than your record! Ho hum! I dont think we were really a John Peel type of band we werent quirky enough or something! We did both our Mike Read and Kid Jensen sessions with Mike Robinson who was a brilliant producer and real easy to work with. In fact we wanted to get him to produce Crimson but Jamming! couldnt afford the 200 he wanted. Boy, its tough at the top, huh? Again the Jam came through for us - lending us their drum kit and assorted gear for some of the sessions!

Strange Fruit approached me years back about releasing the Peel Session but it never saw the light of day (officially) until recently on the Japanese Radio Sessions CD (see reviews page for details & contact address for mail order enquiries.Ed) trakMARX - With the addition Paul Martin, Rudi began to expand their sound with keyboards. What was behind this decision? Brian: It was a combination of things. Wed gotten fed up being pigeonholed with the emerging punks not dead brigade wed play London and Time Out would still trot out: RUDI - young Ulster punks in trouble with the law - and we really didnt like the new crop of punk bands at all we had nothing at all in common with their clichd hackneyed thrashings. In the meantime a lot of the new songs we were writing were less guitar based and we wanted to fill out the live sound somehow. To add insult to injury, when Mike Read tried to play When I Was Dead on the BBC breakfast show he wasnt allowed by his producer as it was too noisy. So as a result of any/all of the above we started looking for a keyboard player. Ronnie worked as a joiner and knew Paul Martin through the building trade - as he was probably the most hapless plumber in N Ireland once famously burning the roof off a bungalow he was working on! Paul hadnt played since leaving Pretty Boy Floyd And The Gems but agreed to try out keyboards on some new songs we were writing. Despite looking uncannily like Paul McCartney, Paul had a very original keyboard style that really lent itself to our new material and so we paid his train fare over to record a Kid Jensen session providing a bottle of Mundies wine there and back as a sweetner. Boy, were we big time, or what? The radio session worked so well that we decided to ask him to join the band as a full time member. In hindsight, keyboards fitted the new songs perfectly but didnt always work with some of the older stuff live but remember we were always trying to compete with the David Bowies of the world not the UK Subs! trakMARX - What memories do you have of that Jam tour? Brian: Absolutely brilliant some of the best times we ever had! We got treated so well by the whole Jam crew and we truly had a ball.

Unlike most bands who played with the Jam, we went down real well and one of the all time highlights of being in RUDI was coming onstage to play to the biggest audience we ever played to in the cavernous Queens Hall in Leeds the same day that Crimson was made single of the week in Sounds! It dont get much better than that! trakMARX - The Jam's decision to call it a day subsequently meant the end of Jamming Records & ultimately Rudi itself. Was there really nowhere else to go? Brian: We did briefly consider other options there was mention of a Poshboy deal in the USA - but it just seemed like the right time to call it a day. In hindsight Im more sure than ever that we did make the right decision. We went out at the top (or what was top to us!) and never did sell out or cheapen ourselves on the punky cabaret circuit - and Im still real proud of everything we did. See, unlike most punky waver groups we actually DID mean it maaaan! trakMARX - The publication of Sean o'Neill & Guy Trelford's 'It Makes YouWant To Spit' has immortalized the Ulster scene in print - 'Shellshock Rock' on celluloid - don't you think it's time we had a quality audio collection (boxset)? Brian: Yeah its long overdue but (and its a BIG but) - the licensing would be a logistical nightmare the bands are long extinct - and who actually owns what is a potential minefield as nobody ever signed actual contracts. My big regret is that (and this applies equally to most other NI bands) most of RUDIs best songs actually went unrecorded and so many others were emasculated by feeble production (Davy Shannon at Wizard studios has a lot to answer for!) - but if someone did get it together Id definitely buy a copy! (Well, Ive had to buy every other compilation that RUDI material has turned up on! Sad but true! Ho Hum!)

Spizz 77

Spizz 77 was the very 1st incarnation of Spizz Spizz Oil, Spizzenergi, Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzles & Spizzenergi 2 would follow - as sure as night follows day. 6,000 Crazy, Cold City, Soldier Soldier, Wheres Captain Kirk regardless of the moniker the hits continued to stick. Spizz & Pete Petrol practically invented the two-member group with Spizz 77/Spizz Oil. Arguably so far ahead of their time they probably met themselves coming back on the way there (Jack White has the words Spizz 77 tattooed on his left big toe, fact fans, whilst Meg simply wont leave the woodshed without her Spizz Oil big-pants on!!). 6,000 Crazy was not only the debut Spizz Oil 45 it was also RTS 01 the very first release on Rough Trade Records. Spizz Oil not only founded the institution they set the agenda too. Jean Encoule bumped into Spizz totally by accident just the other week. This is what he had to say: trakMARX - When & how did Spizz first discover Punk? Spizz: I was a compulsive buyer of all music weeklies from 1973 onwards. NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Record Mirror and Disc. So as soon as Carolyn Coons Melody Maker article appeared I was a member. trakMARX - What made you want to get involved? Spizz: The energy and the de-mystification of the music business, the creative attitude and, as an art student, the D.I.Y. clothes etc. trakMARX - Tell us a bit about Spizz 77. Spizz: Well, I had painted a news boys delivery paper bag, an old canvass one, with my school nickname, adding 77: "SPIZZ'77" cos that was the year.

That year was also my last year at Solihull College where future Swell Maps musos and others organised a 24-hour charity music sound-athon where sound had to be continuous and so inevitably anyone could pick up an instrument and make a noise. trakMARX - How did you get involved with Geoff Travis & Rough Trade? Spizz: They heard the John Peel session and presumably because we appeared to support Siouxsie everywhere at sometime or another - Geoff or someone must have seen our breathtakingly refreshing brand of "punk skiffle" - as Paul Morley called it - and we had a record out within 8 months of performing. I designed the sleeve and out it came, there wasn't even a contract. One reviewer blamed Brian Eno for our existence - which I thought was great. trakMARX - When you released "6000 Crazy" as RTS01 did you have any idea that Rough Trade would become such a venerated British institution? Spizz: Well, we thought it would go top ten. So we all would have benefited. trakMARX - What do you make of Rough Trade's recent output? Spizz: I loved The Libertines. However, on another point, I was disappointed not to be invited to perform at the 20th anniversary gigs a few of years back then to discover we were not even mentioned on their web site as part of their history. It's like we disappeared. This from their CURRENT History page: "In the next couple of years Rough Trade expanded into a Distributor and a Record Company, distributing early Factory releases and releasing records by The Swell Maps, Raincoats & Stiff Little Fingers amongst others. By 1982 the rapid expansion combined with what may be most generously described as lax business control led to cash flow and other financial problems." trakMARX - Any idea why Spizz Oil was one of the only groups the Banshees actually liked? Spizz: I could say it was our spirit and stuff but I think it was because we were funny and cheap! trakMARX - Do you recall the throwing up incidents from the Banshees tour?

Spizz: One incident at the end of The Scream tour where everyone was doing their best to consume as much of everything as was possible. My mate Mick Kerr in an attempt to sober up ate a bag of chips. Not much time passed when he managed to fill my hotel bath with its swift return. Then he proceeded to wash it down the plughole forcing the bigger lumps with his fingers down the plug hole nice! trakMARX - Whatever happened to Pete Petrol? Spizz: He moved to New Zealand in the early 90's. On one of his occasional returns in July 2004 we did a live SPIZZOIL session on Resonance 104.4 FM and squeezed in a couple of SPIZZOIL gigs one at the 12 Bar club in Denmark St. and one at Filthy McNasties. trakMARX - Energi followed Oil - what was the 'hit experience' like for you? Spizz: It was before Fleet Street discovered Wham! and pop music in general, also before the rise of pop videos on MTV, so the media coverage wasn't great. The music weeklies were the only thing really - and they were in decline. trakMARX - What do you make of reinvented dance guru Lol Hammond now? Spizz: Lol was working with me on some promising material and we played a couple of gigs together. Then he just disappeared. He was always a bit flakey with the attention span of a goldfish. Good luck to him - maybe I had too much hair (you never see him without a hat). trakMARX - Had Lu Edmonds fully recovered from The Damned by the time he joined Athletico Spizz 80? Spizz: I don't know, I'm not a doctor, I have nothing to compare. We met at a punk do at the 100 club a couple of years ago and he was very affable. He is very skilled guitarist. trakMARX - Why did you change the group's name so often? Spizz: Frank Sidebottom told me to answer this question with "my mum told me to". Originally it was to signal a different line up from as Spizz77 I had performed a handful of gigs solo and felt the name had a limited shelf life. Following the SPIZZOIL split I formed a new band without Petrol and hence changed the name.

The band had been through 7 guitarists and 3 drummers by the time Capt. Kirk came out, so it seemed logical to approach a new decade with a new name. Also people were asking what the new name would be - it felt mean to disappoint them. Plus we did not approve of Thatcher and Reagan's spoiling boycott of the 1980 Olympic games and it was our small way of supporting the UK athletes who decided to go. trakMARX - In retrospect, what was your favourite incarnation of Spizz? Spizz: Design wise SPIZZOIL for the symmetry and SPIZZENERGI because it really reflected what I and the band were all about. trakMARX - What does Spizz get up to these days? Spizz: April 17th at the 100 club is the 6th gig in 8 months which is 6 more than the previous 3 years. My newest member of my family is 3 years 4 months old so you can see why there was a break because... I am the homemaker or house husband as my royalties do not cover the rent so the missus does the day job. I have been making some attempts at getting into broadcasting with my mate Paul Hallam. We are regrouping at the moment - new strategy and all that. trakMARX - What do you listen to, read, watch? Spizz: Over the years I have been drawn into various obsessions via TV and Film. From Star Trek to Mad Max 1&2, Bladerunner, Tron, Alien, Robocop and of course the Matrix (in 2002 my son was one of only 17 children worldwide to be named Neo!) trakMARX - Where's the best place for fans to keep up with Spizz action? trakMARX - And finally, & this one's from Needsy, tell us a few tales about your local - Filthy McNastys in Clerkenwell. Spizz: It's the best! I have, in 25 years of living in central London, drank in a guzzillion bars and pubs. Filthy's is tops today. Marshall's, a little wine bar in the mid 80's, was fantastic - near Royal Oak tube also, during the same period, great nights were had at the Frog 'n' Firkin, near Westbourne Park.

In Soho, The Crown & 2 Chairman in the late 80's, until it was refurbished. For a short while The Punch Bowl, Mayfair, in the early 90's.

The Mekons - The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strnen

With all the regurtiative hyberbole sprayed over the reanimated corpse of the Gang of Four recently, time is surely ripe for some reassessment of their Leeds siblings in DIY punk insurrection, The Mekons. Starting up around the same time, The Mekons shared backline and their first label (Fast Product) with their art school contemporaries, as well as leftist politics (though not quite as po-faced and dogmatic as Gof4) and a thrillingly wayward approach to punk rock. The early singles are all brilliant, particularly the classic "Where Were You?" featuring indisputably - the greatest intro in Punk rock (the urge to begin pogoing when the crescendo starts building in the first 10 seconds is scientifically proven to be impossible to resist). After splitting briefly in the early 80s - they came back with a pioneering take on Country music with patchy results, finding new credibility in the modern age as progenitors to the likes of Whiskeytown and Lambchop. The country LPs are alright, but frankly I find them a bit boring. Today we cast our torch on their brilliant and long neglected debut LP from 1979, a masterpiece of grimy kitchen sink black comedy set to (no, I can't say it! Oh go on then...) angular guitars. Let me digress... Suburbs of dreary Leicester. The official motto of the city is "Semper Eadem" which translates as "Always the same". Late 1980s. Teenage Lemmy Caution is still listening to older brother's heavy metal albums and bad chart pop taped off the radio, desperately in need of guidance to some sounds that resonate beyond Slayer's serial killer chants. This arrives in the unlikely form of brother's friend from college, Fred, who occasionally gives me lifts to school in his battered mini cooper. Always playing really strange tapes in his car. Nothing at all like Metallica or Level 42. One day I ask him about it. "Ah, this is my cousin's band, The Mekons". Being a comic geek as well as having very bad music taste, I'm immediately intrigued.

He flips over the tape and plays me his cousin's other band, the Three Johns, who are alright but not as spiky and don't have a great sci-fi inspired moniker. That weekend I go to the big record library in town - one of the few good things Leicester had going for it. Back in the days before illegal downloads and CD burners, many a happy hour was spent scouring the racks of the music library making C90s of borrowed LPs and endlessly playing them on my boombox, sorting the wheat from the chaff and plotting my own disjointed journey through musical history. I don't find any LPs by the Mekons, but in their small selection of shiny new compact discs (the vinyl:CD ratio in the world was soon to be depressingly reversed) is a reissue of 'The Quality Of Mercy...'. The cover has a photo of a monkey sat at a typewriter, with The Mekons laid out in bold pink letters. Taking it home I play it on my brother's CD player and have my mind permanently warped by the sounds held within. The opening track 'Like Spoons No More' packs more angst, discord and bittersweet melody into it's 2 minute duration than all the combined rain-coated clones waiting round the 1980s corner. All members interjecting and chanting behind the main vocal in pronounced northern tones not to be repeated until the Futureheads funnel the same technique through their harmonic blender. Veering between the accusatory chant IKNOWYOUKNOWYOUKNOWIKNOW to the resigned apology of the "It's another girl, didn't think you'd mind". The subsequent tracks take the listener on a social trawl through late-70s Northern England. The Marxist worldview is a reaction to the race riots tearing Leeds apart at the time, and the violent presence of Nazi Skinheads disrupting gigs by the burgeoning local punk scene. Whereas many bands of the period peppered their lyrics with abstract stabs at poetical depth or cliched 'kids on the street' rhetoric (which is good as well - in the right place), the Mekons conjured up their environment in a frantic celebration/condemnation of their surroundings. Song titles like 'Trevira Trousers', references to Tetley Bittermen and Babycham, no bad language on telly before 9.30 - "Drink, fags, fun at night, dirty books and Ford Cortinas, radicals and plastic shoes" - conjure up a grey tinted worldview punctuated by pub violence, striking workers and making out on the corner of terraced streets. It also places the songs specifically in a certain time and place, a compass to a forgotten time. In the midst of the clanging minor chord misery of "Lonely and Wet" - the narrator pleads "I'll buy you lager, you'll buy me beer, we can sit together, can't we dear??".

The kitchen sink miserablism is shot through with a healthy sense of fun and mordant doses of black humour, such as the chorus of 'Beetroot' - "Now you've got anorexia nervosa, we'll have to sleep a little closer" or closing track Dan Dare' - where the narrator leaves behind the rain-soaked northern streets for some fun in the cosmos - "Outer space it's a really nice place - go there - oh yeah". The Mekons world is one of betting shops, off licences, fish and chip dinners, street protests, working mens clubs and dole offices. Their combination of nonsense rhymes, background detail, incisive social commentary, melody and noise could be a precursor to the Streets' contemporary reflection of council estate triumphs and tears in zero decade Britain. In the canon of late 70s/early 80s punk rock there's simply nothing quite like this record, and if any LP from that period is due 'lost classic' status then this gets my vote. After this our intrepid heroes went onto record one more perfect single ('Work All Week') - before diverting into a new direction of avant-garde industrial sounds and tape loop experimentation. There's a few highlights from this period ('Teeth' and 'Snow' are recommended for fans of drone-pop) - but most of the 2nd LP is quite hard work, not quite vicious enough to match the brutality of Throbbing Gristle - and not danceable enough to compete with P.I.L. Their dustbowl renaissance received more attention in the US than their original incarnation ever did, and the 1990s saw them being feted as godfathers of the modern indie-rock scene. 'Quality...' was still getting written off as charming but disposable early work though, their new post-rock neighbours in Chicago (home now to founder member, and Fred's Cousin, Jon Langford) disdainful of it's shambolic simplicity. It's now out of print, even on Costly Disc sadly, but the vinyl turns up in second-hand record shops from time to time, and someone's bound to have downloaded it somewhere on the world wide web. Track it down and enter (another) strange and frightening world. Teenage Lemmy Caution's next discovery was the Dead Kennedys (purely by accident, the cover of the 'Give me Convenience...' compilation looked really cool), but that's a whole other story...

The Rezillos - Seaside Summer Special!

Brighton: 2005 has seen a major return to live action for the Rezillos after a relatively quiet time for much of 2003 and 2004. In the early 1980s the Revillos tended to go out for short weekend tours, 3 dates over 3 days, and the 2005 Rezillos have resurrected this concept over the last few months. I ventured out to two of the recent seaside special gigs, both of which involved the band driving 500 miles from Edinburgh to be there. 21st May saw the band arrive at the Concorde venue in Brighton on FA Cup Final day (more on that later). Located literally a stones throw from the beach on the sea front, the venue reflects the slightly faded Victorian glamour of the town of Brighton itself. Its a particular favourite of the bands since they played there to a lively and enthusiastic crowd in February 2003. Cold Wars opened the set with the stage drenched in smoke - Fay Fife resplendent in her transparent pvc jacket, Eugene Reynolds in a Womble skin coat, Jo Callis guitar hero and kiltless for a change tonight in his very nifty cavalry style trews, Angel Paterson on drums (as expressionless on stage as ever) and Johnny Terminator playing his bass in his apparently never to be removed leather biker jacket and shades. Flying Saucer Attack was up next with its instantly memorable bass introduction and the crowd by now were really getting into things in the throng stage front. A debate on the set list ensued with Fay asking Who could have put this song in after Pressure Cooker? Jos reaction was a terse Someone unhappy with the Cup Final result. This songs called F*** Arsenal sorry about that!. Mr Callis, being a keen Manchester United fan, was clearly less than happy with Arsenals FA Cup win on penalties earlier that day - shame! The band then went into the new song, Only in your dreams. Mystery Action saw Eugene whirling Fay behind his back around the stage like a playground roundabout. The new song and live favourite Number One Boy was dedicated to Fays son Elliott who had joined the band on their trip south.

The set closed with a manic version of I cant stand my baby. During the first song of the encore, another new one Yesterdays Tormentor, half the PA temporarily packed up but the band carried on regardless like the troopers they are. The audience were exhausted by this time and Jos introduction to the next song, with a fully functioning PA this time, reflected this Its like the end of the first over at the Oval.clapclapclapthis will cheer you up. The drained crowd dredged up their last bursts of energy to go mental to the live fave, originally performed by Earl Vince and The Valiants (aka Fleetwood Mac), Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight. There was still just time for one more song, with Eugene declaring Weve come over 500 miles for thisso we want to do another one and a great night closed with Destination Venus. Bristol: Bristol Bierkeller proved to be another great venue a low ceiling and stone walls that meant it was intimate but could have also equaled a poor live sound fortunately this was not the case and the combination of the venue and another lively audience was the right formula for another very memorable night. The band set off at a real gallop with Destination Venus and flew through the first 5 songs. After this a slight breather was in order and next up was the new song, Love no More, a slower ballad sung by Fay. 25 Miles, the Edwin Starr cover, stomped along later with the band declaring that theyd traveled a lot further than 25 miles to be in Bristol. No and Top of the Pops saw the crowd bouncing around like Mexican jumping beans with I Cant stand my Baby closing off the set. At 9.55pm the band were back on stage for the encore with Jo Callis declaring it well past his bedtime and commenting about how he was missing Jonathan Ross I dont know..telly addicts! Eugene meanwhile was handing out tomatoes to the front row of the audience Rezillos Red Toms. All very bizarre, but very Rezillos like behavior! Once the toms were distributed it was into the new and as yet unreleased song Pressure Cooker. For the second encore Eugene couldnt get his guitar amp to work so I Cant stand my Baby was performed yet again, but this time with Eugenes now redundant guitar swung around his back. Another really terrific performance, one of the very best Ive seen from the band in the last 3 years. For readers who have not yet seen the band live you simply MUST see them.

Opportunities will be a little few and far between for the rest of this year but 2 dates for diaries are their Wasted festival appearances at Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall on December 10th and the London Astoria the next day both gigs are co-headliners with the Dickies these should be classic nights, so dont miss them!! Brighton Concorde Set List Saturday May 21st 2005 Cold Wars Flying Saucer Attack Getting me Down Good Sculptures Crash my Car Bad Guy Reaction Pressure Cooker Only in Your Dreams Mystery Action Top of the Pops 25 Miles Number One Boy Cant stand my baby Yesterdays Tormentor Head Kicked in Destination Venus Bristol Bierkeller Setlist Friday June 3rd 2005 Destination Venus Flying Saucer Attack Good Sculptures Getting me Down Cold Wars Love no More Mystery Action 25 Miles Only in your Dreams No Top of the Pops Yesterdays Tormentor Number One Boy Cant stand my Baby Pressure Cook Bad Guy Reaction Head Kicked in Cant stand my Baby

Ever Get The Feeling Youve Been Cheated?

Johnny Rotten Winterland, San Francisco 14th January, 1978. With those words, Punk died. In the 26 months between the Sex Pistols live birth at St Martins College Of Art in November 1975 & their public death at the Winterland in January 1978, many of those involved in Punk Rock in any capacity whatsoever could rightly claim to have been cheated in some way or another. Punk Rock: The Movement, had failed spectacularly in many of its original aims - & the fallout from this failure would haunt the future of rocknroll for years to come. If the Sex Pistols came to destroy rocknroll in many ways they succeeded. Their deconstruction of the genre was so efficient & so coruscating that by the early months of 1978 there really wasnt anywhere else left to go. As a strap line, Ever Get The Feeling Youve Been Cheated, was the kiss rocknroll had been looking for since The New York Dolls first ruffled the feather boas of the music business elite at the birth of the decade. Rotten felt cheated: any connection that had existed had been now been irreparably broken. No one was going to control him - & no one knew this all too well. Vicious felt cheated: he phoned Rotten to make exactly that point before pledging to strike out on his own. No one was going to out-Punk him - & no one knew what kind of shit was about to go down. The audience at the Winterland (or at least the 600 or 700 strong Punk contingent present) felt cheated: the Sex Pistols performance that night was nowhere near as incendiary as theyd been led to believe it would be. It was bitter, spiteful & hollow with the emphasis on burnt out. Punk rockers the world over subsequently felt cheated: was this really the end? As Cook & Jones flew down to Rio for their imminent rendezvous with Ronnie Biggs they were so relieved to be moving on that any thoughts of being cheated on their part would have to wait for a later court date. The one man who definitely didnt feel cheated was simply bored. When Rotten arrived in New York City on the 18th of January 1978, tired, angry & skint, he immediately told the world he & the Sex Pistols were over in an exclusive interview with The New York Post: Im sick of working with the Sex Pistols. By January the 19th The Sun enhanced their serialisation of Fred & Judy Vermorels memoires with the front-page news that the Sex Pistols were two members short of a group: Im so glad Im out of that group, Vicious later told Chris Salewicz. I wont work with any of them again & thats no great pity, Rotten soon confided in Caroline Coon.

There had been little evidence of the impending mayhem that would reach its illogical conclusion so explosively on stage at the Winterland in January 1978 when Kris Needs spoke to the Sex Pistols for Zigzag in June of 1977. Published under the banner, Silver Jubilation, the interview provides a fascinating snapshot of the (relative) calm before the storm - but also flags up many of the concerns that would tear the group asunder a mere seven months down the line: Disclaimer: Before you read this interview - Kris Needs would like to respectfully point out that he wrote the following on the back of several fag packets, in biro, by hand, after stopping up all night, again, speeding his nuts off on cheap sulphate, cos thats what you did, back then, on the front line, when todays cheap thrill was tomorrows headlines & Punk Rock was still in the throws of infancy: By the time you read this, the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen could be occupying the Number 1 spot in the charts. As I write its just crashed in at Number 11 after only a few days on release. It looks all set to be the Jubilee Week chart topper. How ironic. The conspiracy against the Pistols to shove them under the carpet where they can inflict no harm has failed. If anything, its helped the single along, cos now theres nothing the kids want to see more than the Pistols at the top of the chart, 2 fingers pointed at the TV, radio, printing firms & council officials whove tried to stifle them. Every way they turn the Pistols have been troubled with censorship, bullshitting, hypocrisy, rudeness, posers, & the scumbags who want to sensationalise their activities to make them more hated/feared than before. You could forgive for wanting to pack it up & get office jobs, or grow their hair & play nice boogie music. But theyve stuck with it. Fought the pressures & disappointments & finally come out on top. The Pistols are here to stay at least till Johnny Rotten gets bored but thats unlikely at the moment, cos theres a lot to fight for. Sounds like an army film dunnit? But no group has had to put up with so much opposition in so short a time, just for being themselves. The Pistols long-awaited debut is out soon & a tour follows. The group which started it all are finally coming through after many thought theyd been martyred so about 3,000 groups with half a chord & less brains between them could make records.

The Pistols should find themselves out of the frustrating position of having their efforts reward others & smother themselves! It must be a great feeling authority in all shapes & sizes tries to stifle you & shove you under the carpet for a solid year & a half. It takes that long for a readily available single to come out on a label which (so far) means what it says. Then the single, the success of which finally rests in the hands of the same kids that the media & the authorities are trying to protect, leaps into the charts at Number 11. If it hadnt sold, the faceless ones would have won, having successfully brainwashed their children that the Sex Pistols were not to be touched dangerous nasty! But the kids are with the Pistols, proving that you dont have to be Noel Edmunds record of the week to stand a chance. Id have liked to see them on Top Of The Pops though. I jus watched this weeks edition & all they showed was a measly photo in the chart countdown. The biggest chart jump for centuries & they ignore it. Show the usual rubbish ban the Pistols. Pathetic. The best single for years & they try & stop us hearing it. They wont though. Its so good I cant stop playing it (& dont want to either). It captures the Pistols at their best raw, driving, vital & topped with the most compelling voice in rock. After a long silence, the group have started doing interviews again. Mine fell on the Tuesday the heard about the single, so they were in pretty high spirits when we met at their offices off Oxofrd Street. Johnny Rotten was the first to arrive, complaining of a nagging cough: Im not going to the doctor, Id rather die. Then came Paul Cook & Steve Jones. No-one knew where Sid Vicious was, although he had been due to appear in court in the morning. We trooped off to a Wimpy Bar a little way up Oxford Street, found a seat, ordered &, ready to do battle with the canned supermarket muzak, on went the tape recorder: Paul Cook: Pretty good, the single going in at Number 11, isnt it? Its got to the stage where the BBC dont rule everything. Weve broken that barrier. Weve proved it. You dont have to have a record played day in, day out to get in the charts. Johnny Rotten: Fuckin good, nall. Theyve been doing too much for too long, the fucking BBC. Fucking bullshit. Theyre just cunts. Steve Jones: The Stranglers were on Top Of The Pops last week & they only came in at Number 27. We come straight in at Number 11 & they wont let us go on there. I think itll be funny if it gets to Number 1. Id like to see what they do.

Steve had his answer the nest day when the Daily Mirror front page blurted that God Save The Queen had been banned by BBC radio & television cos it was in gross bad taste. Hee hee. Contrary to what a lot of people think, God Save The Queen is not a Jubilee record. It was first performed at a gig in Hendon & then on the Anarchy Tour 6 months ago. Paul Cook: We didnt think of the Jubilee. We didnt even know it was coming. We didnt bring it out specially for this shit, but its good its come out now, cos the Jubilee is a load of bollocks, I think. Johnny Rotten: The single is nothing personal against the Queen. Its what she stands for symbol. The Sex Pistols are now on their third record company. You all know how EMI & A&M signed them amidst much publicity & pictures of grinning record company execs, who boasted how they would bring the next rock sensations to the world. Then hours later they turned round & gave the group the push, offering feeble, scanty & paying the Pistols off handsomely. Why? No-one least of all the Pistols knows. Internal pressures? What makes them think Virgin (whose press officer has taken to marking writers articles like homework & sending them back) are any better? Johnny Rotten: Well, theyre the best weve had so far. At least they dont overwhelm us with political bullshit. Paul Cook: They let us get on with what were doing. The other ones started off on the wrong foot straight away. They wanted to tell us which single to bring out. Johnny Rotten: Which was not on. No-one tries to tell us what to bring out. So youve got the freedom to do what you want? Johnny Rotten: We wouldnt have signed otherwise. Why do you think A&M did an about face so quick? Johnny Rotten: Absolutely no idea. A lot of internal bullshit. Someone was definitely putting the boot in up top for us. They still are. The Pistols are convinced that there is some great conspiracy going on to silence them by the media, councillors you know them. Even other artists: Johnny Rotten: Christ, they all complained. I thought: you snobs. Crass fucking idiots. Rick Wakeman (on A&M) sends a telegram about us. How pompous. I mean, theres the most important reason in the world to survive. The fact that an arsehole like him has got the nerve to criticise another form of music. Maybe its not to his taste but tough shit. We enjoy doing it & people enjoy listening to it, & surely thats all that counts.

Do the group feel their detractors are trying to make an example of them, presumably in the hope that others wont follow? Johnny Rotten: Definitely, but like were winning. Whereas in the past any group that has stuck its neck out has always backed down, we havent. Never will. Thats the difference. Just as soon as it gets boring is when Im going to fucking stop. Itll be good to see the Pistols live again. Bearing in mind the blind mutilation of the Anarchy tour by councils who were shocked when a few seconds of everyday language followed Bill Grundys baiting, I wondered about the possibility of the forthcoming tour running into similar problems. It will the Pistols are banned by about every local council in the country. Dates are being fixed at the moment. It seems down to privately owned venues and/or councils who wont be sucked in by the nationals newspaper-selling techniques. The Sex Pistols have had gig problems from the start. They got their early support spots at colleges by turning up & announcing they were going to play. This was in late 75 when Johnny had just joined. The Pistols were 4 London kids who formed a group out of complete & absolute boredom. They were so uncompromisingly different from what was going on at the time chaotic, threatening, painfully real that promoters winced, but there were still a lot of gigs, & not just in London. Johnny Rotten: Its worse now. Its much harder for us to get a gig now. Its like insurances, health risks, obscenity charges its up the wall. In London the only ones we can play now are all-nighters (The Pistols have been banned from every major venue theyve played just two unadvertised gigs this year). You have to keep totally underground. You cant publicise them you just get raided & God knows what. Its taking off all those other groups are coming through. Theyre mainly being allowed to play most of the places, but as soon as they hear our name I think theyre gonna try & stop us again. Were gonna make sure beforehand that it aint gonna be like the Anarchy tour again. Its hard to plan it in advance because people are very unpredictable. What well do is get as many gigs as we can, & then look at the places & see if its worth it. The Pistols dont want just Punks at their gigs. Johnny Rotten: We get just about everybody, all different kinds, which is how it should be. Thats why we started. Weve had Hells Angels turning up at out gigs, & all they do is dance at the back.

Do you find that theres more prejudice among Punks to people who arent into it than the other way around? Johnny Rotten: Yeah! Theyre probably worse. Theyre more condescending in their attitude, which is what pisses me off. They think you have to turn up in certain gear. They dont realise how stupid & juvenile they are. Its not about clothes. Its not about what you wear, its what you are that counts. Fucking hell, the other week I decided to go around as a Teddy Boy & did. The amount of people who were shocked that Id sold out fucking pathetic. Its ridiculous. The idea would be like for all sections to just join up in one big fucking huge mob, & understand it as music & not just as a fucking gang warfare weapon the great separation technique. Ive found its the hippies, the peace-&-love preachers who have a lot of hostility (judging by the letters I got when I tried to wake Zigzag up, anyway). Johnny Rotten: Yeah, theyve kept it in now for years & years. Everybodys got aggression in them. Its like all human beings natural stance, you cant avoid it. People do feel passionate about some things. In the six months since the Anarchy tour, the movement the Pistols started has really taken off in a big way. Small, hostile or apathetic crowds were often the story at gigs in the early days, yet when The Clash toured last month they played to packed crowds who went bananas from the start. Its the big craze, sure, but it will have a deeper, more lasting effect than the usual fads. Of course there are the trendies. Last years Brian Ferry impersonators have got in the picture. Johnny Rotten: Sure, now its us, which is ridiculous. The whole idea of our band was not o have 30,000 imitations, but 30,000 different attitudes in music. How about the way its caught on? Johnny Rotten: About fucking time. Im surprised that we even had to begin for people to realise what was happening to them. Half the new groups are no better than the old groups, really, in their attitude. Nothings really changed that much, which is bad. The Pistols dont really rate too many of the new groups, especially the ones who sing about how terrible it is to be on the dole. Johnny Rotten: Its complete crap. Nonsense. Its not terrible to be on the dole its jolly good fun being paid for doing nothing. He doesnt think The Clash will break outside of England cos of their words. Johnny Rotten: I dont understand what theyre trying to achieve. Their appeal is only limited to England.

They seem to be going down alright in Europe & with Americans whove heard the LP, purely on the strength of their music! Johnny Rotten: Their attitudes are really confusing. A lot of people have fun going to see them thats what its all about. John dismisses The Damned as being like a very dirty version of The Bay City Rollers or Eddie & The Hot Rods with make-up. Eddie & The Hot Rods? Johnny Rotten: Not a group cos they dont have their own material, just rewrites of other peoples songs. Who does he like then? Johnny Rotten: The Slits I like a lot (yeah!). I like The Adverts Buzzcocks are great. John says he listens to records all the time. Johnny Rotten: I have thousands of records. Its my uh hobby. Ive just about everything. I love all music, full stop. Shakin Stevens & The Sunsets, I saw them the other night. They were great. Fuckin good singer. That was Teddy Boys night but no-one touched me. Paul Cook: I dont listen to fuck all. The record Im looking forward to most at the moment is the Pistols forthcoming LP. John says its fantastic & I believe him. It has all the early songs the group used to do live Pretty Vacant, Problems, No Feelings, Submission - & Anarchy In The UK cos it was stopped as a single. God save The Queen wont be on it How many LPs have you bought with five tracks released as singles? John says there wont be any non-originals on the LP, just our own far-out, brilliant stuff. The group said the recent recording sessions worked out much better than the 1st go at doing Anarchy. Johnny Rotten: We understood it more this time. When we done Anarchy it took fucking weeks. Paul Cook: We spent a fortune. EMI went fucking mad. They gave us an allowance of 500, & it took about 5,000 we didnt know what the fuck we were doing. Johnny Rotten: We didnt know what we wanted. We each had a different idea of what it should sound like, so we just had to work it out. Chris Thomas of Roxy Music fame produced Anarchy & Vacant. Johnny Rotten: At the start he didnt know what the hell we meant. We said, cut out all the Roxy Music bullshit. Its not what we like. Bill Price, whos worked with Mott The Hoople & is highly respected in recording circles, produced the other tracks. Johnny Rotten: He understands straight away what you mean, which is what we want.

The group were elusive about the sleeve, although it will be nothing flashy, theres no group picture (What do they want another one for?) & certainly no paper bags & custard pies. On the Chris Thomas produced tracks, Glenn Matlock plays bass. Hes since been replaced by Johns mate Sid Vicious. Glen, who is rehearsing with his group The Rich Kids, was kicked out. Johnny Rotten: It just got a bit too much in the end. He hated our guts with a passion, really hated us. I can carry on working with someone who hates me so long as theres some kind of respect for musical ideas. He hated everything that we had ever done, thought it was too strong, heavy like. He wanted it to be watered down, like The Beatles. When Anarchy came out he hated it. We cant carry on with an arsehole like that. Sid is fitting in very well you see he aint so bloody serious about it. Musics meant to be fun, not like some crass music machine thats what Glenn wanted. Paul Cook: Everyone playing the right note is so boring. Johnny Rotten: Thats not what we care about at all. We care a damn lot about music but, like, so what if you fuck up a couple of chords. Big deal. The point is youve tried, & thats what counts. I wondered what John really hated most & wanted to change. Johnny Rotten: The way its all business manipulated. Like the way a record company literally buys a group & then tells them what to do, & the silly arseholes do it & the public dont even bother to question it. That factory fodder. You want people to question things? Johnny Rotten: Yeah. When we started everybody questioned us. They thought we were a big hype. There was a rumour going around we were already signed to EMI before we started. That was great. At least we got people questioning, thats what counts. Whether they come to the wrong conclusion or not is their business. I dont really care, cos I know whats either right or wrong, my point of view. But at least you should try. You dont need a music degree or twenty A-levels or a far-out musical university thats not what its all about. Whatll you do if you make a lot of money? Johnny Rotten: Everybody seems to think its inevitable well end up with Rolls Royces & mansions in the country, but like if you look back on your rock history (said in an academic voice), one one generation has done that (the mid/late 60s superstars). They managed to live quite successfully before, even though half of them killed themselves one way or another.

But I mean, so what, they had some fun. Its no way near us, the 60s. Were nothing to do with them. They had it easy they were brought up to think that was what it was all about. In that respect weve learnt a hell of a lot of those groups how not to be, how not to do it. Its not about that at all. Yeah, weve gone around in a limousine once or twice, but fucking hell, I couldnt tell you the difference between that & a Mini Cooper apart from the size & feeling like a big cunt. I just dont like those big cars at all. I think theyre dreadful like houses. I wanna open a club, an allnighter. Why isnt there any all-night clubs in London? The Roxy Club in Covent Garden tried to fill that gap for a while (at least until 3 am), but John thinks it got spoiled by the wrong people after a good start. By the time it closed for financial reasons it was disgusting, he says. It was bursting with record company people, tourists, posers, pop stars & local gangsters by the end. Johnny Rotten: In the end Id just go down there to cause trouble. I just couldnt bear it. Just to be a fucking bastard to the lot of em. Marc Bolan was having his party down there aint that a cheek? Well, theyre entitled to go down there, but not in the way they do Here I am. When Robert Plant wnet down he had about five heavies with him, half the group & others there were about twenty of them. They like took a corner, posing & hurling abuse at people that walked by as if they were something special. Now if I go somewhere I either go on my own or with a couple of mates. I dont need all that heavy stuff. If the geezers frightened of getting beaten up well, how pathetic. Hes about four times my size. People shouldnt worship stars like Robert Plant. Hes no better or worse than anybody else, hes just doing a different job. Paul Cook: Fans of Led Zeppelin & Rod Stewart are too scared to talk to them if they meet them. Theyve been brought up like theyre gods. They can come up to all these new groups & talk to them. Johnny Rotten: These superstars are totally detached from reality. Ive no doubt its very difficult to keep in touch with reality once you get to that stage, but you should at least try. They dont seem to try at all. They let it overtake them. What about those people who say theyre too old to appreciate what you play? Johnny Rotten: I think its ridiculous. What kind of attitude is that? Thats a cop-out. Its not how old you are, anyway. It really means theyve given up thinking, which is absolutely obscene.

People whove given up thinking seem to plague the Pistols. They often come in the form of newspaper reporters, who exaggerate & distort the minor incidents or anything they can dredge up or create into sensational breakfast reading for the ones whove never thought in the first place, so they can go to work & have something to be shocked at. The Pistols are like a godsend for the national press, who in their concerned warning reports have succeeded in making them a household name. John condemns the press & believing British public with cold contempt. Johnny Rotten: I have never believed the national press & Im surprised a lot of people did. The gullibility of the British public is excessive. Theyre just ridiculous. They make me sick. I cant believe people are so nave. Paul Cook: The papers dont know what the fuck theyre on about. Theyre jus after sensation. The rock press dont escape either. Johnny Rotten: I think theyre worse parasites than the nationals. Theyre scandal seekers. They love to build people up & then destroy them. They take out all their paranoia on groups. Its ridiculous. Ever since we started theres always been a cynical bastard in the press going no, no it can never really take off you need the press, blah, blah. Weve proved them all wrong. They didnt want to change! They liked it easy their free LPs & tickets to New York to see some group. Were not going to do all that. What about the Sex Pistols future? Johnny Rotten: Dunno. We never plan our future. Never. That really is a negative thing to do ten years in advance. The songs we write change all the time, like attitudes change. Not permanently. I mean, I might completely change my mind tomorrow hate everything or like everything. Thats the way you should live. Do you think the group & you have changed much in the last year? Johnny Rotten: Not really, no funnily enough. I think weve got harder. At the start we didnt know what the hell was happening. What do you think is needed now? Johnny Rotten: For a start it goes back to the fucking schools all that shit where they deliberately drive out any individuality that you have. They make you like everyone else. They take it away. They didnt take it away from me, though, cos I fucking hung onto it. (John went to a Catholic school in Caledonian Road a right shit hole.) Do you think the Pistols are getting through to the school kids?

Johnny Rotten: I think we are. They seem to understand things a lot better than many adults. Paul Cook: They didnt have the experience of having to watch Led Zeppelin, or groups like that. Were new to them, its like the first thing theyve heard. The day after I talked to the Pistols who incidentally are really good blokes I was walking down the Kings Road when I bumped into Steve Jones. Have you seen the Daily Mirror? he asked. I hadnt, but got one, & sure enough there on the front page was the story about the BBC officially banning God Save The Queen because it was gross bad taste. Thanks DM, now its a sure fire Number 1. We chatted for a few minutes, & then I walked on. About five minutes alter Id got up near Worlds End when the venomously spat words piss off interrupted my thoughts/stupor. Looking round I saw a bloke in his midthirties standing there looking at me with utter contempt. He stared at my God Save The Queen t-shirt (same as the advert) & shouted, Bastard. He didnt look like one of those loonies either. Patriotism lives. I just told him to fuck off. God save the Pistols. The Zigzag Fab Thirty chart from the same issue this interview was culled from (Needs would later be appointed editor in due course) gives some idea of the sweeping yet to be undertaken by rocks new broom: Neil Young, Roy Harper, Television, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Elliot Murphy, Wreckless Eric, The Band, The Jam, Little Feat, Maniacs In The 4th Division, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Dr Feelgood, Tyla Gang, John Cale, The Charlatans, The Beau Brummels, Spowith Camel, Jack Fischer, Kraftwerk, Asleep At The Wheel, Alex Chilton, Roky Ericson, The Searchers, The Kinks, Spirit, Pete Brown & Piblokto, Stoneground, Steve Miller Band & The Velvet Underground. The establishment, like the song, remained very much the same. 1976 was year zero - 1977 faced the realisation of the size of the task in hand - but it would take all the eclecticism & latent anger that 1978 could muster to truly break down the walls of heartache & do some serious damage. As a document of the times, the interview perfectly illustrates many of the characteristics we would eventually come to regard as Rottenisms nee Lydonsims: total self belief, a healthy mistrust of all things music business, a hatred of the excessive nature of the (then) ruling dinosaur elite, a fervent dislike for conventional thought processes - & above all the fierce commitment to the creed of individualism that would clearly define his future.

Sex Pistols Spunk

30th anniversary edition of Sex Pistols first demos from 1976 First reissue in its original format of this legendary bootleg, complete with spoken word clips Original vinyl copies of this rare bootleg LP sell for up to 100 In October 1977 the Punk generation held its breath awaiting the release of the Sex Pistols debut album, Never Mind The Bollocks Heres The Sex Pistols but to those in the know the previous month had seen the release of an alternative and illegal Sex Pistols studio debut album called Spunk. Now of legendary status, those familiar with the under the counter bootleg culture ventured into record shops to purchase this black slab of wax if they could find it. Fans had already been provided with a live Sex Pistols document with the title of No Fun, unfortunately a recording of sub zero quality. Spunk, however, would prove to be of amazing quality and nothing like your average bootleg as all the recordings came from studio quality tapes. Spunk was as raw and edgy as The Sex Pistols, it was the real deal and as Punk Rock as you could get. Blowing your weeks wages of 5 didnt matter it was as essential as buying a pack of three on Saturday morning after you had just had your hair cut short! The album was as basic as it comes...a slab of black wax with the Blank label in punk pink and white. The catalogue number read BLA 169 and it said the record was published by White Bitch and produced by P. Dickerson in 1977. On the run out groove of the black wax the name of the well-known pressing plant that pressed it up was scratched out. The labels on the record state the labels name to be Blank and the band called SPUNK. The actual sessions that make up Spunk stem from 3 recording sessions with the late Dave Goodman the first being at Denmark Street Rehearsal Room in Soho in July 1976 and the tracks recorded here, and used, were Seventeen, Satellite, No Feelings, Just Me (I Wanna Be Me) and Submission with overdubs at Riverside Studios in Chiswick in the same month. The next recording session took place at Wessex Studios in Highbury in October 1976 with only one track being used from the two recorded and that was an early take of Anarchy In The U.K..

The final session, which made up the flipside of the album ,took place at Gooseberry Studios in Soho London in January 1977 where God Save The Queen, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Liar, Who Was It (EMI) and New York (Looking For A Kiss) were all put to tape and later mixed at Eden Studios in Chiswick. The history of the Sex Pistols is well documented and anybody with a vague knowledge of the band will understand that what you currently hold in your hands is possibly one of the most important Sex Pistols documents from the that musical era known as Punk Rock. It is in fact only the Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks record that tops Spunk but they are two different beasts with Never Minds The Bollocks having little to no involvement from Glen Matlock. Steve Jones gave a master-class in guitar and bass playing on that record but here at least on Spunk you can hear that Matlock was a great driving force on bass. Spunk is the forgotten document for what was the original Sex Pistols and for that fact alone it should take pride of place next to Never Mind The BollocksHeres The Sex Pistolsenough said. CD: SPUNK (Original January 1977 bootleg album) Seventeen Satellite Feelings (alias No Feelings) Just Me (alias I Wanna Be Me) Submission Nookie (alias Anarchy In The U.K.) No Future (alias God Save The Queen) Problems Lots Of Fun (alias Pretty Vacant) Liar Who Was It (alias EMI) Looking For A Kiss (alias New York) Bonus tracks: Anarchy In The UK (Denmark Street Demo July 76) Pretty Vacant (Denmark Street Demo July 76) No Fun (Unedited version Oct 76)

Hundred Watts A Life In Music

The following extract is taken from the forthcoming Ron Watts biography Hundred Watts A Life In Music to be published by Heroes Publishing on August 12th (ordering details below). Monday 20th September, 1976. The opening night of the legendary, mythical, infamous 100 Club punk festival. I arrived at lunchtime, a bit earlier than usual, and even then the phones were going mad. The Pistols regular sound engineer, Dave Goodman, arrived with the PA, which was bigger than wed normally hire due to the size of the crowd that was expected. The bands started to turn up early. Siouxsie was very nervous, as it was her first show and she hadnt rehearsed properly. She told me the band was called Siouxsie & the Banshees. I liked Siouxsie, she was always straightforward and I looked forward to hearing what she was going to come up with. The Clash arrived, full of their usual attitude. Theyd been around almost from the off, and even before they were formed theyd been in other bands, so they thought they were superior to the rest. They knew how to do it. Vic and the rest of Subway Sect and Stinky Toys rolled up, from South London and Paris respectively. There were a lot of nerves in the air. For all their bravado, the early punk bands wanted to be successful just like everyone else did and they knew that this was an important day in their lives. Finally, the Pistols turned up and did their soundcheck with as little fuss as they always did. For all their anarchic image, they were thoroughly professional when they played. By now there was an air of almost unrestrained excitement. Everyone knew that this was the big one, and everyone involved was buzzing. The press were going mad to get the inside track on the festival, the phone kept ringing and the crowds had been building up from four in the afternoon. Queues were always a problem for us on big nights, as when customers got there early and began to queue outside they blocked the doors of shops in Oxford Street and the shop owners, who paid a fortune in rent and rates, were unsurprisingly angry. We tried to get out and break the queues up so that the shop doorways were clear, but we werent always successful.

As the Melody Maker put it a week later, in one of the most oft-quoted openings of a gig review ever written: The 600-strong line that stretched across two blocks was indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin. The feeling of outrage and attitude was there; this was what rocknroll should be about. The doors opened at 7.30, and we were full to capacity an hour later. Id better not say how many we finally let in. I know that I spent a lot of my time trying to get excitable young punks off the grand piano that was always in the club. It was Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks who spread the story of the piano, making out that I was some old fart who wanted to keep an ancient relic away from the youngsters tearing down the citadels of the old guard. He should have known better. The instrument was worth about 4,000 even back then and had been played by much bigger names than the Buzzcocks Count Basie and Duke Ellington, for starters. Pete should have realised that punk wasnt the be all and end all of music; it was another link in a chain that stretched back for decades, maybe centuries. The 100 Club piano was a part of that history and damaging it would have been like tearing down a medieval castle to build a football ground. Unfortunately, a bigger problem soon arose in the familiar shape of one Sidney Vicious. I was on the door when a young girl came running up and told me that Sid was backstage, threatening Stinky Toys female singer, Elle, with a knife. I had to go and disarm him, and, not for the first time, he promised to behave himself. Two years later, when he was charged with stabbing his girlfriend Nancy Spungsten to death, I looked back to the festival and wonder if what Sid did then wasnt a forerunner of how Nancy ended up. Subway Sect opened proceedings and they did a decent set, despite having more or less been put together just for the festival. They impressed the Clashs manager, Bernie Rhodes, so much that he booked them to play their forthcoming White Riot tour. Mr Vicious wasnt helping matters, he was winding a few people up again, although even then he was fine with the Clash as their streetwise demeanour scared him a bit. The Banshees came on but they didnt really play. Sid tapped the drums, which at least kept him out of harms way for a while, they didnt have a bass player, but the guitarist, Marco Perroni, who went on to play with Adam & the Ants when they were teen superstars, did something vaguely musical. Siouxsie sang the Lords Prayer mixed with bits of childrens songs and Deutschland uber Alles, which wasnt too tactful given her fondness for Nazi imagery at the time, but there was no rhythm, tune or style.

It wasnt music so much as performance theatre. Normally Id have dragged the band off stage and done something myself, but it worked in that they were the real thing, genuine punks doing what they wanted. It was in the spirit of the event. The audience didnt mind too much, they were surprisingly polite about the performance. The Clash were great that night. They rolled through their set competently and full of energy. The incident which has passed into legend, when Joe Strummer held up a radio to the mike and the audience were treated to a debate on Northern Ireland, came about because of a broken guitar string and showed how professional the band were. Even at that early stage of their life nothing could put the Clash off and I didnt know it at the time, but they would become one of the greatest rocknroll bands Britain ever produced. The crowd loved them, from the opening White Riot to the set-closer 1977, as they loved the entire night. They were getting what they wanted. This was the big one, the first day of a new era. Nothing could compare with it either before or since. We were making history, I knew the festival would be big, but I never dreamed that it would go on to become such a legendary event. I think it was Siouxsie who said that an estimated 8.7 million people swear to have attended the 100 Club punk festival. The Jam certainly reckon they were there, although I cant say I recognised them. Even Paul Weller would have been just another face in the crowd back then. George Melly was another who claimed to have been in attendance, and if he had he would definitely have stood out. But again, I didnt notice him. There was a bit of a problem when I told Stinky Toys they couldnt play until the following night because we were running late. Elle went off screaming that she was going to jump underneath a bus if they couldnt go on, but I didnt pay too much attention. It was time for the headline act. The Pistols put on one of their best-ever performances. What was it like to see the Pistols in 1976? is one of those wish I had a pound for every time Ive been asked it questions, and the answer is that it was exactly as youd imagine. Rotten would prowl the stage, insulting, cajoling everyone in the room, his eyes bulging dementedly as he made the audience as much a part of the show as the band. Cook and Jones would be standing behind Johnny, battering away at their instruments, while Glen Matlock always looked a bit bemused at the way punk was exploding all around. The band had been playing to mixed crowds, and getting mixed responses, but theyd always managed to survive.

A couple of weeks earlier there had been a riot in Paris when thousands were locked out of a show, but for much of the time they were playing around Britain to small audiences who had never heard of them and werent sure how to react to this musical explosion. Now they were back on home turf and they knew they had to deliver. Id seen them a couple of dozen times by now but this was the best of the lot. By now theyd written almost all of their classic songs and they ripped through them all. As ever, they were on stage hardly more than half an hour but they were in control of everyone in the club from the time they walked on stage until they left. They had a job to do, and they did it. In one night, punk went from an underground cult to a mass movement. You could almost feel the record company A&R men standing outside on Oxford Street, being drawn from all over London by some sixth sense. After the show, when the crowd were making their shellshocked way home, we were all happy with the way things had gone. Malcolm McLaren was pleased, Vic Goddard would get Subway Sect together permanently, although they never did much sales-wise. Siouxsie had taken her Banshees off to be a proper band, the Clash were ready to move onwards and upwards and Stinky Toys carried on threatening suicide. None of us said much about it but we knew wed been involved in something more than just a music promotion.

Jayne County Interview

Jayne County has not only taken the time to talk to Jean Encoule for the fascinating interview you are about to read shes also donated a free MP3 of Rock & Roll RepubliKKKan Gene Simmons favourite Jayne County song! This is the first time weve given you lot a free piece of music & wed like to extend our hearty thanx in the general direction of Jayne County & ask all you trakMARXists out there to beam love USA-wards with Jaynes name written large on the psychic envelope. trakMARX - What was it like for you growing up in a place like Atlanta? Jayne - Well Atlanta was pretty hip considering it was in Georgia! I actually grew up in Dallas, Ga. A small hick town! It was a hoot! One stop light in the middle of town! When our country relatives would come to visit, they would always want us to take them up to the centre of town to watch the lights change! As the lights would change from orange to red to green, they would say: Oh look at that! Aint it perty!!! trakMARX - "Rock & Roll saved my life & got me outa Georgia!" - to quote your monologue from "Rock & Roll Resurrection". Which artists in particular formed the soundtrack to your formative years? Jayne - Well, I was raised on Rock and Roll. I used to hear it on the radio and my Aunty Shirley was an Elvis fan. Also we would listen to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Louis, Bill Hayley and The Comets. I was exposed to Rock and Roll from a very early age. Plus throw in the country music when it was good, like Hank Williams, and some black Gospel and R&B and I really didnt have a chance! LOL!!! Then in my teens I of course was a big Anglophile. I loved the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, The Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, anything British!!!!!!!!!

trakMARX - When you headed for NYC in 1968 did you have any kinda idea what was waiting for you or what you intended to do? Jayne - Well, I headed for NYC for the freedom, actually. I hung out in Greenwich Village where it was pretty much anything goes. I knew I was going to end up in show business or a band or something. I was always a creative person and I knew that my life wasnt going to be ordinary!!! trakMARX - When did you first discover you were man enough to become a woman? Jayne - Well, as a young child, I was really a little girl. I played all the girls games, had crushes on boys and played house and pushed a toy baby buggy with a doll in it all around town!!! trakMARX - Tell us about your time in Charles Ludlum's Ridiculous Theatre. Jayne Well, I worked in quite a few plays in NYC. I was in Jackie Curtiss Femme Fatale where I played a lesbian prison inmate, who ran around the stage with a fly swatter, killing and eating flies! Like the guy in Dracula!!! My big line was: My name is Georgia Harrison and I dont belong in this place! Conductor, wait that train!!! Patti Smith played an Italian mafia boss with a huge penis which she stroked and said: Hey, you lika my bigga dick?? Hey, I wanna a fukka you!!! trakMARX - How did you hit it off with Patti? Jayne - Yeah, I got along pretty well with Patti. She was a bit of an actress in real life as well. Sometimes I got the feeling that she pretty much confused the two. Reality and the stage. She had a Brian Jones fetish. She was always going on and on about Brian Jones. She had cut her hair though, to look like Keith Richards!!! He He. trakMARX - What do you remember about the Stonewall Riot? Jayne - The Stonewall Riots remember, rage, and bottles set and drag queens jumping and turning back buses full people!!!!!!!!! were an amazing experience. I being thrown, and fires being up and down on police cars, of shocked and amazed

trakMARX - By 1970, Warhol had cast you a roll in "Pork". What was Andy like to work with?

Jayne Well, Andy Warhol was a hoot of a queen! A great artist, and all that, but she was just one big hoot, cause she loved to cause trouble and stir the pot up good! She loved it when people were fighting and she would giggle like a schoolgirl at any sign of trouble!!! She loved DRAMA! And if there was none around she made sure she stirred some up!!! When Andy came to the opening night party for PORK when we opened at the Roundhouse in London, Andy spent all his time in the mens room! Every time a cuty man would go to the urinal to take a piss, he would go running up to them with a tape recorder and put the microphone right in front of their mouth and start interviewing them!!!!!!!!!! It was a HOOT!!! trakMARX - Before long you'd been signed up to Bowie's Mainman roster. How did that work out? Jayne - Signing to Mainman was one of the biggest mistakes of my entire life! It was a nightmare! They FUCKED ME UP BIGTIME. Basically I was used as a try out stage for a lot of Bowies trans sort of stuff. The gender bending stuff that he was borrowing from all the real Trans and Gay people! He is a Vampire!!! He had his manager, Tony Deep Freeze, sign up all the acts that Bowie considered threatening to him, being the King of the Freaks. He signed up ME, Amanda Lear, Leee Childers, Cherry Vanilla, Iggy and the Stooges - and a few more that I cant remember. Anyway we were all used as a testing ground! My Wayne At The Trucks was a forerunner of Diamond Dogs. And my song Queenage Baby was a forerunner of Rebel Rebel!!! Oh it went on and on. Like a fool I gave Bowie all my ideas and sent him all my demos!!!! What a creep he was! trakMARX - Tell us a little about Queen Elizabeth & the young Jerry Nolan. Jayne - Queen Elizabeth was the first Punk Rock band to play CBGBs. Television always try to steal that from me, but it is documented. I played four whole months BEFORE Television. I am the one who told Dee Dee Ramone about CBGBs one night in the DJ booth at Maxs Kansas City, after he was complaining that Maxs was the only place to play in NYC. Also Jerry Nolan was our drummer before he quit to join the New York Dolls. He was a great Rock and Roll drummer in the same line as Charlie Watts.

trakMARX - '73 saw you treading the boards with The Backstreet Boys - eventually hitting wax in '76 with "Max's Kansas City 1976" - "Flip Your Wig" - "Cream In My Jeans" - why did it take 3 years to get a record out? Jayne - Cause no record company would touch me with a ten-foot-pole! I was too real, too fierce and everyone knew that I was the real deal. Not some normal boy pretending to be bisexual or a semi drag queen. I WAS a real drag queen then trans!!! I scared the shit outta the uptite, bigoted recording industry. trakMARX - At what stage did you recognize Punk Rock & how would you define it? Jayne - No one in NYC recognized Punk rock until Punk magazine came along and made the name up! Even the Ramones hated that term! Finally we all had to accept it as the media and all the press latched on to the lable Punk Rock! Dee Dee once said to me, Were not Punk rock, we are a Rock and Roll band! Punk was just simple back to its roots Rock and Roll. The same chords. Plain and simple. trakMARX - How did The Backstreet Boys become The Electric Chairs? Jayne - The Backstreet Boys was a name I came up with after watching the film Backstreet with Susan Hayward. I liked the name and used it for years. Then when I took the Backstreet Boys guitarist, Greg Van Cooke, to London, we got new musicians and I came up with the name The Electric Chairs. Its from the movie Clockwork Orange. trakMARX - How did you end up on Stuart Copeland's Illegal Records? Jayne Well, Miles Copeland caught one of my shows at Maxs and told Peter Crowley that London would be very receptive to me and that he had a small record company and he would put us in the studio and record. So I jumped at the chance, cause I am an Anglophile and any chance to come to England was OK by me. We recorded our first British release in the same studio that the Damned did their first LP. The songs were: Paranoia Paradise, The Last Time, Thunder When She Walks and Stuck On You (Like Elmers Glue). It was an underground Punk success and made the Punk charts, whatever the fuck that was!!!! trakMARX - What was it like sharing a label with the odious Sting?

Jayne Well, The Electric Chairs toured Europe with the Police as our support band. It was like touring with a group of Librarians. They were so nice and sweet and so smart. And real intellectuals! Sting is highly intelligent and well learned. And he had a great body. I would sneak and watch him change his clothes!! I think a couple of times he knew I was watching cause he would turn a certain way and I would get a really great view of his cock. Nice cock! Once he had a hard on and it was really tasty looking!!! But I never made a move on him! I wish I had now!!!!!!!!! He He!!! trakMARX - The Electric Chairs - much like Blondie enjoyed early success in the UK signing to Safari Records? Do we hold a special place in your heart as a result of that initial embrace? Jayne Well, Safari records were the only label brave enough to take me on! The English labels all came to see me and loved me but were afraid to sign me! Same old reasons. I was too real!!! Safari were a fair and honest label as well. John Craig to this day still pays me my royalties and sends me statements. The first and ONLY person to ever do so oh, except for Cherry Red. They are a great label as well. Honest folk and very fair minded. I love Cherry Red!!! trakMARX - Safari Records had connections to Deep Purple - did that not trouble you slightly? Jayne - Well, I love Deep Purples version of the Billy Joe Royals hit Hush. He is from Atlanta, Ga, where I am from. I like all sorts of music. Deep Purple are fine with me. trakMARX - How did the wheels fall off The Electric Chairs? Jayne - Well, The Electric Chairs was a name that I made up to call my bands. There were many Electric Chairs and will be plenty more. Whoever I am using are The Electric Chairs. The first LP era Electric Chairs evolved into the 2nd era Electric Chairs cause Greg met a junky and she got him all fucked up on dope. Sort of like a Nancey Spungen. Gregg had a heavy drug problem and if you didnt watch him like a hawk or like a retarded 10 year old, he would get fucked up, show up late for rehearsals and late for the gigs, etc. He was a mess. I watched him like a hawk and kept him together. When he got that junky girlfriend he fell apart and I fired him from the band.

He became IMPOSSIBLE! So I sent for the other Backstreet Boy, Elliot Michaels. He became the second Electric Chairs guitar player. Then we got Henry Padavoni who was with the Police. The Police fired him cause his guitar playing was too good and got in the way of the Polices simple songs. So he became an Electric Chair and played rhythm to fill out the sound of the band when Elliot took his guitar solos. He could only play a few styles so I gave him a pile of Ventures and Shadows records, and said here, learn to play like this, and he did! trakMARX - Very little is known about your time in Berlin - would you care to set the record 'straight'? Jayne - Berlin was a learning experience. I learned how to be a woman. And a survivor. Well, even more of one! Those German Tran-sexuals are tough - and I learned a lot from them!!! Survival skills that I still use today. They are a secret! trakMARX - You began making records again in the late 80s & released 3 LPs between '86 & '95 - how was it for you? Jayne - I could be a lot bigger than I am now if I had continued to play the game according to how the German Trannies taught me - but I just got sick and tired of playing it!!! Its all about control! Controlling your surroundings but not letting people know that you are controlling them! It is a fine line, and it takes patience and I am a very impatient person, and I get bored! And besides, I like screaming at people!!! LOL! trakMARX - We understand that these days you are firm friends with Handsome Dick. How did you two kiss & make up? Jayne - Well, yes Dick Manitoba and I are friends now. He is one of the most down to earth, people I know. A great guy. Honest and straightforward. Smart and a sweetheart! I have nothing but the highest respect for him and his band The Dicktators. They are a great Rock and Roll band in the same vein as Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Rolling Stones and The Seeds!!! I have worked for Richard, many years now, off and on as a DJ. He has the coolest bar in NYC: Manitobas. One of the few real Rock and Roll bars left in NYC! Long may it reign!!! trakMARX - What's going down with you & Lisa Jackson right now?

Jayne - Lisa Jackson did some shows there (Manitobas). Lisa is doing great now. She has a big following and it was a pleasure working with her. The acoustic version of Man Enough To Be A Woman that I recorded with her is my fave recording of that song. What a talent! Forget David Bowie, Lisa Jackson is the real thing! A real sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A real Rock and Roll Tranny!!!!!!!!!!!! Transgender Rock and Roll. trakMARX Whats going on with Gene Symonds hi-jacking the name Electric Chairs? Jayne - Well, I am really tired of talking bout it so I am going to be brief on the Mean Gene story. Basically, here is what happened. I recorded a song called Rock and Roll RepubliKKKan as I am a VERY POLITICAL person and I DESPISE the fucking RepubliKKKans. They are fucking Neo Con Nazis!!! Total FASCISTS! And nothing makes me more ANGRY and sick than Rock and Roll RepubliKKKans. They are SCUM!!! And I aint afraid to say so! I have a big mouth and I am gonna shout it to the mountains. ROLL AND ROLL REPUBLIKKKANS FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And they are the ones who go on stage and pretend to be freaky. Wear all that make up, make fun of real Gay and Trans people and strut around on stage like assholes pretending to be freaks when they are only PAT BOONES IN COSTUMES!!! They are super normal and conservative and it makes me want to throw up all over their Holloween outfits!!! They are FASCISTS! When you support a party that wants to deny and take away my rights as an AmeriKan citizen and make me a third class citizen that makes them FASCISTS. That makes them NAZIS!!! And they can piss off!!! It dosnt mean that I dont like their music. Hell, I like Wagner - and he was the worst! But their narrow minded, bigoted politics infuriate me! So Mean Gene decided to get me back for mentioning him in mine and Ginger Coyotes song Rock and Roll RepubliKKKan. So he decides to steal the name Electric Chairs, I guess, to teach me some sort of lesson. But it backfired and gave me fab PR - and made him look like a fool. I love Kiss as a band. They play some of the best Rock and Roll ever. And when I worked for Rock Scene magazine in the 70*s, I was constantly defending them when the rest of the New York scene were slagging them off! But although I love Kiss as a band, Mean Gene is a donkeys ass. And hes Homo and Transphobic! Which I find strange since the word out on the street is that his son Nick is Gay!!! I mean I dont know for SURE. I havent given him a blow job or anything, and I certainly would if he likes, but as of now I have not!!! Well, that certainly wasnt brief - but there it is in a large nut shell!!!

Love the band - hate the politics. Same way with Alice Cooper - who is a right wing born again Christian asshole. I love the character Alice Cooper - but the real person is a fascist!!! Same with that animal murderer and homophobe, Ted Nugent. What a fucking snake in the sewer!!! And that KKK member and White Arian Nation idiot, Johnny Ramone! Yikes! Great music. Great band. Asshole fascist homophobe. Hated blacks, fags and Jews!!! He was a real pain to the other guys who are all fantastic guys. Marky Ramone was a Backstreet Boy as well!!! He drummed for me for years! Great guy!!! I dont know how poor Joey put up with Johnnys bigoted views for so long! I am a Joey and Dee Dee fan ALL THE WAY. Anyone who doesnt understand how I feel on this is an ignorant fool and would have to be as equally homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semetic and anti-woman. People who want AmeriKa to become a fucking Fascist Police State - they can FUCK OFF as well. As far as I am concerned this is the SECOND AMERIKAN CIVIL WAR, and I have chosen the side I am on. I am BLUE STATE LIBERAL all the fucking way!!!!!!!! I wish the South would succeed from the Union - and this time the Northern States and Canada would be fucking glad! THEN the Northern states could form a Union with Canada and declare war on the South and we could fucking kick their asses all over again and make sure this fucking time that THEY NEVER COME BACK! They can be the United States of Jesus and we could be the USA and Canada!!! Rock and Roll RepubliKKKans FUCK OFF!!! trakMARX And finally, what's happening with new material for you presently? We heard you've been chucking out some fairly political rants of late? Jayne - Closing statements. Well, He He. LOL, yes, as you just learned, I love to go on political rants. People who arent paying attention to what is going on are going to be stomped on!!!!!!!! You have to be aware and careful cause we are on the verge of the coming GREAT DARKNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are on the verge of another WORLD WAR. World War III. Leading up to a sort of ARMEGEDDON!!! The Times They Are A Changin AGAIN!!!!!!! The Madhatters*s tea party is about to begin! And the White Rabbit is talking backwards and The Beast is getting ready to enter the TEMPLE!!! Let those who are in the fields FLEE UNTO A PLACE OF SAFETY!!! ANARCHY IN THE USA IS COMING SOON!!! And all of the Rock and Roll tribes are going to have to all band together and fight this COMING DARKNESS! No more divisions between, Goths, Punks, Hippies, Beatnicks, Glam Freaks, Mods, Rockers, Grunge, ETC, ETC, ETC. There is US and THEM!!!

And all the Techno, Hip Hoppers and House freaks need to come into the fold as well. We gotta - or we are finished!!!! I MEAN IT MAN. And I am constantly working on new material. I just recorded Rock and Roll RepubliKKKan - which I want to offer to you and all your readership as a free download! I also recorded We Are The Trans Generation. How we Trans people have to ban together and fight for our rights. And I recorded the Shirellss song, Boys - also recorded by the Beatles and many others. This recording is called Four On The Floor. And it has on it Ginger Coyote, Cherry Vanilla, Contance Cooper, Robert Star, and Andy Warhol Superstar and star of TRASH, Holly Woodlawn! It is a piece of HISTORY! Like a piece of the old Weimar Republic! Like Paris in the twenties - Berlin in the thirties - London in the sixties - or NYC in the seventies. And I have new recordings out with The She Wolves called Jayne County Meets The She Wolves. You can hear the very political songs on My Space by the same name. I do a version of the Dead Kennedies, California Uber Alles. But my version is about Arnold Swartznegger. What a fucking jerk that idiot is!!! And one of the most nastiest, meanest, outrageous songs that I have ever recorded called Picture Perfect!!! I had a falling out with my best friend Lady Bunny and I wrote the song about her! I always write my best songs when I am angry at someone!!! Like Fuck Off. I was angry at someone. And Bad In Bed and Man Enough To Be A Woman!!! I was upset and angry when I wrote those. He He. Once Peter Crowley said: Make Jayne angry all the time so she can keep writing great songs!!! LOL!!! And Jim La Lumia, one of my biggest and longest supporters, knows that as well. Make Jayne angry so she can write more songs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He HE. I will be recording an EP with Jim Lamia and the Psychotic Frogs soon as well. And I am working on my new Punk Opera. I cant reveal the title cause people are always stealing my ideas!!! But it is going to shock the entire music industry! So I now must flee - cause I am very busy working on all these projects and I aint young anymore - except in my head - and who knows how much time I have here on this earth!!??!! So I will leave you with the words: I HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!!!!!!! 2009 PERSONS UNKNOWN ;-)