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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Henry Rollins and The Ruts

I have to admit that my first 7” single was Ruts’sIn A Rut / H-Eyes” sometime back in 1978 (yes, I am that young…)

I fell in love with their sound.

I don’t know if it was for Malcolm Owen’s voice or Paul Fox’s guitar but to me they sounded great and unique.

If you’re a vinyl junkie like I do, you know the feelings you hold for your first album and your first single…

I followed the Ruts to the day Malcolm was found dead in 1980.

For those who haven’t heard of their album, “The Crack“…give it a listen a.s.a.p.

During the last years I was doing a search on Henry Rollins on Youtube, as he happens to be one of my favorite artists.

Unfortunately bad news showed up.

Paul Fox was diagnosed with lung cancer…

One might ask “how did you find out about Paul Fox while searching for H. Rollins ?”…

 Well, some months before Fox’s death, on the 16th of July 2007, Peafish  promotions organised a special night to honour Paul Fox teaming up for one final show with his surviving bandmates and Henry Rollins on the microphone.  

Thanks to Ruts’s drummer, Dave Ruffy, the DVD of that night was given to us the last time we met him and I can assure you I haven’t stopped seeing it ever since…

Youtube holds videos from some different cameras, so what you see on the internet, looks a lot better on the original DVD.

A number of punk rock artists of that era (1976-1980) went on stage to honour Paul Fox: The Damned, UK Subs, TV Smith of the Adverts, John Otway, Tom Robinson and others…

That double DVD is a must for every punk rock fan…

And…”S.U.S.” got stuck in my brain again…

Back to Henry Rollins.

I enjoyed listening to him since his Black Flag days.

I missed his performance, for a day, back in 1991 or was it 1992 ? in Berlin when he was opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But my admiration for Henry got even stronger when I found four vids of his, doing his stand up thing and talking about his love for the Ruts, how he felt when he met them and all the rest of the artists that I grew up with like he did.

I trust he is true, honest and I am sure you will agree with me after watching the following videos.

Be safe Henry, you’re great, R.I.P. Paul Fox.

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The DIY ethic

Since my last post had to do with the cassette culture and the DIY ethic of punk rock, I thought, “why not to expand a little more…”

According to wikipedia “DIY culture (abbreviation of Do It Yourself) is a broad term that refers to a wide range of elements in non-mainstream society, such as grassroots political and social activism, independent music, art, and film.”

I said to myself, “that would be an interesting issue to write about…”

So I will use quotes from wikipedia or from other sources that I will mention every time.

“In the punk subculture, the DIY ethic is tied to punk ideology and anticonsumerism, as a rejection of the need to purchase items or use existing systems or processes. Arguably since the 1970’s; emerging punk bands began to record their music, produce albums and merchandise, distribute their works and often performed basement shows in residential homes rather than at traditional venue, to avoid corporate sponsorship or to secure freedom in performance. Since many venues tend to shy away from more experimental music, houses are often the only places at which these bands can play.” (wikipedia)

So, I said, lets check the YouTube.

And this is what I found:

“Taken from From the documentary Northwest Passage: Birth of Portland’s DIY Culture, Greg Sage’s legendary Wipers live in 1983.”

Wikipedia continues as follows: “Adherents of the DIY punk ethic can also work collectively. For example, punk impresario David Ferguson’s CD Presents was a DIY concert production, recording studio, and record label network.

The DIY punk ethic also applies to everyday living, such as learning bicycle repair rather than taking a bike to a mechanic’s shop, sewing/repairing/modifying clothing rather than buying new clothes, starting vegetable gardens, and reclaiming recyclable products by dumpster diving. Some educators also engage in DIY teaching techniques, sometimes referred to as Edupunk”

So, I found a trailer of the documentary “D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist” that was directed by Michael W. Dean and released in 2002.

Dean  also “allowed and even encouraged people to make copies for non-commercial use.”

It features interviews with Lydia Lunch, Ian MacKaye, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Jim Rose, J. G. Thirlwell of Foetus, Mike Watt, Eric McFadden, Richard Kern (filmmaker), Ron Asheton of The Stooges, Madigan Shive of Bonfire Madigan, Dave Brockie of Gwar and others.

If you are interested, follow the link to Michael W. Dean who posted the film for free downloading.

I also found a trailer of the documentary “Roll Up Your Sleeves” directed by Dylan Haskins in 2008.

“DIY is about giving the tools to the people that have something to say.
Roll Up Your Sleeves is a manifesto for an alternative way of organising, working and thinking.”

“Roll Up Your Sleeves examines the relationship between DIY culture and the need for autonomous social spaces, looking at various projects across Europe and how these compare with the situation in Ireland.”

Sounds interesting ?

Take a look:

There is this link that takes you to the “Scissors and Glue”, published by Oxford University in 2006.  

Here is a little teaser for you:

“Yet, it remains within the subculture of punk music where the homemade, A4, stapled and photocopied fanzines of the late 1970s fostered the ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) production techniques of cut-n-paste letterforms, photocopied and collaged images, hand-scrawled and typewritten texts, to create a recognizable graphic design aesthetic. The employment of such techniques and technologies has had an impact on an overall idiosyncratic and distinctive visual style affiliated with punk fanzines.”

So, this brings us to the next vid I found, a documentary about “two comic book artists who publish their own work.”

And who doesn’t like a good comic book ?

So, thats it for now.

I will continue when I’ll find the time for more.

Unfortunately, this post was not done entirely by myself…but…anyways…

Its not bad sharing interesting stuff with the correct information whenever you can…

 

Cassette Culture

The following is taken from wikipedia:

“Cassette culture refers to the trading of home-made audio cassettes, usually of rock or alternative music. The culture was in part an offshoot of the mail art movement of the 1970s and 1980s. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, it owed a lot to the DIY ethic of punk. In the UK cassette culture was at its peak in what is known as the post-punk period, 1978–1984; in the US, activity extended through the late ’80s and into the ’90s. It was largely postal-based (though there were a few retail outlets, such as Rough Trade in the UK) with the artists selling or more likely exchanging music on compact audio cassettes via a loose network of other artists and fanzine readers.”

One of these musicians is  Don Campau, who is mentioned in wikipedia as one of the hundreds of American artists who “…recorded numerous albums available only on cassette throughout the late ’80s and well into the ’90s.”

Don Campau’s personal history of cassette culture, home taping, underground music and radio from the early 1980s to the present is very long and interesting as one can realise.

So, I came up with the idea of copying a brief history of cassette culture as I found it on Don’s site.

I know most of you will find it very interesting and I hope some new ideas might pop up in your heads, so please follow the link to his site after you read the following, if ofcourse you are still interested, that is…

So here we go:

“There is no definitive history of this underground movement that I know. It is pieced together by various people and a few disparate sources, and from the personal experiences of those involved. In 1990, Robin James published the only book so far about underground tape culture called “Cassette Mythos“. In 2009,  Andrew Szava-Kovats produced the first film about the underground music scene of the 80s called “Grindstone Redux“. There was also a film on loner artist, Jandek, a couple of years ago but that did not address the general scene. In 2005, Kevin Thorne and Mike Honeycutt began Cassette Culture.net, an important resource and landing spot for home tapers new and old.  Internet radio host, Jerry Kranitz is now at work on a book project as well.

Some people claim that it really began in England in the late 1970s as a post punk movement related to bands like Throbbing Gristle and that ilk. Others say it grew out of the mail art movement which began as early as the 1950s and had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.

Here in the USA it is usually thought of as a result of the publication of magazines like OP ( Olympia Washington), Option ( Los Angeles CA), Sound Choice ( Ojai CA), Factsheet 5, Unsound and others. Later, essential zines like Electronic Cottage, Gajoob and Autoreverse kept the information flowing. More about that later.

Of course many, many people were involved in this scene and any list would only be partial. However, some people made such tremendous efforts that they should be mentioned here ( and probably will be later too). Keep in mind, this is my perspective and not necessarily what others experienced.

R. Stevie Moore is generally considered the “godfather” of home taping in the USA. His enormous and creative output from the mid 1970s and his “Cassette Club” were forerunners of the massive exchange of tapes that were to come in the 1980’s. In Great Britain, Martin Newell is looked on by many people as the artist who really epitomized the truly independent, home recording artist.”

(The following vid is from “his first non-cassette solo album, The Greatest Living Englishman, was produced by XTC’s Andy Partridge. Commercially, it remains his most popular and successful album”Wikipedia)

Back to Don:

Al Margolis is thought of as a central figure in cassette culture because of his Sound Of Pig label which distributed and released hundreds of home produced cassettes. Al’s label focused primarily on experimental music but not exclusively. His own music project is called If,Bwana which continues to this day. He now runs the Pogus label in New York.”

Hal McGee had a project with Debbie Jaffe called Viscera (and solo as Dog As Master ) which put him squarely in the forefront of avant garde, home recording artists. His tireless efforts on his own art and his later publication, Electronic Cottage, made him an invaluable resource for many through the years. Hal is still very active at www.halmcgee.com

John Foster and The Lost Music Network started it all rolling with OP Magazine from Olympia, Washington. Scott Becker, Richie Unterberger and the other people who ran Option Magazine contributed a hearty dose of criticism and support to a fledgling scene that needed a slap every so often. David Ciaffardini did the same with his Sound Choice Magazine as did Mike Gunderloy ( and others) at Factsheet 5. Of course there were a few other zines like Gajoob ( Bryan Baker), ND Magazine ( Daniel Plunkett), Autoreverse  ( Ian C. Stewart), babysue (Steven Fievet) , Improvijazzation Nation ( Rotcod Zzaj) and I will try to cover them in more detail later. Reviewers like Jack Jordan, Brad Bradberry, Dave Mandl and the late Chris (squared) of Ann Arbor were instrumental in criticism and support.

Ken Clinger was (and is) one of the most unique and distinctive home recording artists of all time with his brand of story telling, dreamy keyboards and his endless collaborations with others. His oeuvre is remarkable and his self cataloging is an important aspect of his work.

Zan Hoffman is probably the most prolific artist in this scene ever with over one thousand releases. His own meticulous cataloging of his own material is a wake up call for how it can and should be done.

Chris Phinney runs the Harsh Reality label in Memphis and has produced and collaborated on countless tapes of electronic music. His own work has been monumental in scope as well as his constant communication and exchange with others.

Mike Honeycutt has had his own radio show since the 1980s and has produced his own brand of electronic music during that time. He has been a champion of avant garde and experimental artists since the beginning. His own electronic project is called Mystery Hearsay.

dAS is a SF Bay Area fixture with his unusual group, Big City Orchestra. He also has had various radio programs over the years and has a huge output of material. Probably the most important and unique individual of the west coast scene.

Andy Xport in England introduced me to dozens of European and British artists with his ISC compilations. His band, Man’s Hate, was also an integral part of the U.K. scene.

Oddball artists like Daniel Johnston, JandekLittle Fyodor, Yximalloo, Minoy,Dan Fioretti, Buzzsaw, and Costes played crucial roles in establishing the outsider nature of this movement. Many of these will be brought up later as I go deeper into the specific aspects.

Over the years, Lord Litter has been a champion of independent music from his perch in Berlin by using the radio and internet. His own music has also been fun and loaded with a joie de vivre that remains exciting. He introduced me to many European artists.

European supporters, writers and artists such as  Jan Bruun, Stephen Parsons, Alain Neffe, Harald “Sack” Ziegler, Gerard Greenway, Mick Magic, Matthias Lang, Rafael Flores, Markus Detmer, Erick Van Havere, M. Nomized, Hessel Veldman,Guido Erfen, Trespassers W and others must be mentioned and will be featured later in more in depth coverage.

Ron Lessard of RRRecords in Massachusetts should get a lot of credit for his constant support of this music by not only stocking it in his retail store but by offering it on his label.

There should also be nods to artists like The Rudy Schwartz Project, Crawling With Tarts, The Hinds Bros, Ray Carmen, Mike Crooker, Mark Hanley, The Evolution Control Committee, Hermanos Guzanos, Russ Stedman, John Bartles, The Silly Pillows, Bob Zark, Charles Laurel, Dan Susnara and Tadashi “Usui” Aioi. Each had a penchant for outstanding and creative work.

Carl Howard was an early critic with his a/A publication and was not afraid to take sides and have an opinion. Occasionally his stances would end in battles with others but his viewpoints gave life and much needed focus to what often times became a back patting society. Carl also ran the very important audiofile label which distributed dozens and dozens of high quality tapes in many styles. He also created his own music under the moniker, NoMuzic.

Debbie Jaffe, Heather Perkins, Amy Denio, Sue Ann Harkey, Lauri Paisley, Roberta Eklund, Lisa “Suckdog” Carver, Linda Smith, Micky Saunders, and some others represented only a few of the women who created important work. However, the nature of women in this scene still is not well understood and will be discussed later.

The late Doug Walker was an electronic space rock pioneer with his band ,Alien Planetscapes. Dave Prescott is also another respected figure as were , Randy Grief, John Wiggins, Gen Ken Montgomery, Richard Franecki, Jorg Thomasius, Dieter Zobel, Brian Noring, Phillip B. Klingler, Arnold Mathes, and too many to mention here.

Special thanks to Jack Jordan, Option music critic and strong supporter of underground music, especially from women and also the artist, Minoy.

Dino DiMuro, Kevyn Dymond, Eric Muhs, Achim Treu, Andreas Bick, Charles Rice Goff III, Al Perry, Michael J. Bowman and James Hill were especially important to me personally because not only was their music incredible but I became very close personal friends with them early on. And finally, Robin O’Brien, whose music was powerful and alluring and even more than that , a life together fulfilling, fun and meaningful.

As time allows I will be covering many more names and essential underground figures. The list is large but I have to start somewhere. Much more to come.

Many thanks to Geoff Alexander, Gloria Campau for the web design  help.”

So you can visit Don’s site that goes to even more detail or listen to his radio show here

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Cassette Scene, Music

 

Wipe Out presents 12 raw Greek Groups

Without a doubt one of the most important compilations of the underground Greek rock music scene, “Wipe Out presents 12 raw Greek Groups” turned nowdays to be a hard to find album.

With the Greek scene blossoming, during the late 80’s,  this album was released in 1988 as an LP plus a 7” single.

Some artists offered here their first and last released tracks while others kept on going.

The track that stands out, is Villa 21’sHey hey, my my”.

It’s not just a simple cover of Neil Young’s classic song.

The band had the brilliant idea to drop in a part of Pink Floyd’sSet the controls for the Heart of the Sun”.

The two parts merged perfectly.

The opening track “Down To The River Side” comes from the Thessalonikian band New Rose.

New Rose were formed in 1984 and a little before the Wipe Out compilation, they participated also in the Lazy Dog’s cassette: “Give bees a change”.

Scoria, the band who’s track “Man of the Crowd” follows, where also formed in Athens in 1984.

Scoria were a post punk band that released three albums and owned the live club “Skiahtro” (engl. Scarecrow).

Their drummer, Albertos Levis was the original drummer of Parthenogenesis and he formed later the band “Eilotes” (Villa 21’s Costas Pothoulakis was also a member of Parthenogenesis).

A useful hint about Levis: He probably has recorded on cassettes all the Greek underground bands of the 80s, as he was recording every gig he attended using a walkman.

Third song of the album, “Obsessions” by the group Brush.

You can read more about this band, here.

Groupies were formed in 1983 in Athens by singer Elias Mitsakis, quitarist Fanis Fotopoulos, bass player Lakis Daveros and drummer Aris Lambridis.

The band (according to the sleeve notes of the album) played also at Rottefabrik – Zurich and opened for Peter and the Test Tube Babies at Crash Club – Bavaria.

Lisa Says” was recorded in 1987.

Panx Romana followed with a cover on Clash’s “Death or Glory”.

Read more about Panx Romana here.

Melting Ashes was an Athenian garage band formed in 1986 by bass player Leonidas-Batman, singer/guitar player Giorgos-El Sayal, drummer Makis-Igor and guitar player Vasilis-Billy the Fuzz.

Their song is titled “Midnight Bar” and the band managed to release only one full length album. (I think it came out after they split…)

Hip T. Wah was a band from North-East Greece.

They were formed at the city of Alexandroupolis in 1987 by guitarist Elias Hatzis, singer/bass player Giorgos Hatzisotiriou, guitar player Doukas Siskopoulos and drummer Nikos Katsoulis.

Their song, “Fear” was recorded in 1987.

Tripmakers were also formed in 1987, but in Athens. This garage band was formed by singer/guitar player Giannis “Vox” Papanagiotou and singer/guitar player Jimmy Papanagiotou. A little later Spyros “Rick” Vasilakis joined on the bass and Nasos Kokalis on the drums.

This little woman” was recorded in 1987.

One can spot Stylianos Tziritas in the formation of Feedbacking The Grass , singing and playing the guitar. Vaggelis Koutsiouris is also on the guitar and vocals, Giorgos Kostopoulos is playing the bass and Nikos Maganiotis is behind the drums.

The band was formed during the December of 1986 and their song “Evil Touches” was recorded during Fall 1987.

More about Stylianos Tziritas here.

Deam Runners were formed in 1986 by singer Christos Kanlis, guitar player Panagiotis Loukoumas, bass player Daniel Petrou and drummer Dimitris Komninos. They were influenced by the 60’s pop-surf bands and the N.Y. rock’n’roll scene of the early 70s.

In 1987 Giorgos Kakoutopoulos replaced Dimitris Komninos and during November of the same year they recorded “Angie Says”.

The Flowers of Romance appear here for the first time on vinyl with the track “Autumn Kids”.

Their song was recorded in 1986.

Read more about the band here.

The booklet of the compilation holds information about the bands, a note against the army, drugs, alcohol and fascism written by Panx Romana.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Compilations

 

Spitfire / Speedfire

I still remember some nights at “Little Wing” bar at Nea Smyrni.

When Spitfire were playing,  the place was packed.

Although I wasn’t a metalhead, some of the boys were  my neighbors, so I knew them.

They became the top Greek metal band of the 80’s thanks to their well penned tracks

They were formed in 1984 and their first album was released under the title “First Attack” in 1987.

The band was basically done for good after singer Dino Kostakis was in a bad car accident which severely injured him. They came back in 1990 under the name Speedfire (for legal reasons) and released a live album called ‘100% Live’, which is regarded very highly in the Greek metal community.
The band is still around and basically solely plays live gigs, with Mark Cross on drums. (from Metal Archive )

They released a new album in 2009, titled “Die Fighting”.

You can also find them on MySpace

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2010 in Heavy Metal