Tag Archives: Sex Pistols

T.G.I.F. – Ten From Roxy Music

I do enjoy documentaries, especially music documentaries, and I guess there are more people out there because they keep making them. More Than This isn’t a great expose about Roxy Music, and even the uninitiated won’t learn much (Roxy diehards looking for insight might be bored senseless). But it does capture and present the band as pioneers, successful in an age when so many others tried to be original and failed miserably. The program combines interview clips, partial songs and a career overview that sometimes blazes by touchstone moments (Siren is given about a nanosecond).

Although the running time is short, I did enjoy listening to comments from band members past and present; all show a great sense of pride in their accomplishments, and I came away with a new respect for Brian Eno as a person as well as a musician. Bryan Ferry was appropriately pensive, Phil Manzanera funny, Andy Mackay resolute and Paul Thompson straightforward and blue-collar honest. Additional voices like Siouxsie Sioux, John Taylor and Sex Pistol axeman Steve Jones (‘we wuz awwl Rawk-zee fanz“) echo what we already knew, but testimonials are always fun. (And no, Sioux and Jones did not mention Bill Grundy’s name…)

But it was enjoyable to watch and listen to, and my first reaction was to pull their catalogue off the shelf and wallow in it. And if that’s the emotion that resulted, maybe it’s a pretty decent film after all. It’s certainly reasonably priced and I think well worth a purchase and a spin. God, what a great band.

So for this week’s TGIF I offer you Ten From Roxy Music. Enjoy!

(01) – “Do The Strand” (live in France – w/fireworks!)

(02) – “Avalon

(03) – “Remake/Remodel” (live at Musikladen)

(04) – “Love Is The Drug

(05) – “Mother of Pearl” (live in Sweden 1976)

(06) – “Dance Away” (extended Bob Clearmountain mix)

(07) – “Virginia Plain” (live at The Apollo)

(08) – “Both Ends Burning” (eyepatch version!)

(09) – “Oh Yeah

(10) – “Over You” (original single version)

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Under The Radar: Rod Stewart??

Yep.

In 2010, The Faces finally reunited after several aborted attempts, subbing Simply Red moptop Mick Hucknall in the Rod Stewart seat and grabbing original Sex Pistol bassist Glen Matlock to stand in for the late, great Ronnie Lane. (Somewhere, Tetsu raised a pint. And then probably a few more…)

In 2010, Rod Stewart released yet another collection of American croooner covers, his fifth, which once again endeared him to housewives, daytime television talk shows and background noise radio. Oh…and probably fattened his wallet by another few million pounds.

Most people who revile the MOR album collections remember Rod as the spiky haired carouser who juggled his own stellar solo career with his stint as lead beverage in The Faces. It was a phenomenal run, albeit a short one, but the influence from Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells A Story and A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse continues to live on in bands from The Black Crowes to The Diamond Dogs. Add in The Small Faces and Paul Weller and you can pretty much trace the genealogy of every Britpop band since then.

While Stewart arguably hasn’t been a viable writer since the early 80s, there was a glimmer of hope eleven years ago, a road flare from the tour bus called When We Were The New Boys. Yes, it was a cover album (except for the title track, an American Pie take on his own career), but the covers were from the likes of Oasis and Primal Scream and Graham Parker…and they rocked! Of course he couldn’t sustain it, but the ballads (including covers of Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith) were done well. as a longtime fan I was excited that he rediscovered his muse. Now twelve years later, I’m still waiting for another sign.

I really have mixed emotions about his cover of “Ooh La La”. He sings it well, although that song will be forever owned by Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane. One could say that it’s a heartfelt nod to his old bandmate, except that…well, his timing sucks. Lane’s battle with MS was painful and long, and he was far from financially solvent thanks to the mountainous bills that illnesses like that generate. Sure would have been nice if Rod would have covered this when he was at the apex of his stadium dates…or if he had gone back on the road with his old mates. Huge royalties and tour money would have made a major impact upon Lane’s options. But no

I don’t hate Rod Stewart. Hell, I don’t even know Rod Stewart. And lord knows what I would do if someone rolled up to me and told me I could make millions of dollars by transforming myself into…well, the highest paid karaoke singer on the planet. I just feel like I’ve watched a guy with once-in-a-generation talent take the easy road rather than push the envelope.

So it’s quite possible that you did miss this blip on the radar, halfway between “Love Touch” and “Fly Me To The Moon”. I heartily recommend that you grab it – I’ll add in my original review if I can find the damned thing – because “Hotel Chambermaid” and “Rocks Off” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and “Ooh La La” are worth the price of admission and then some. And yes, I will hold out hope in my heart that the old rooster has one last hurrah left in him.

If you want to know what all the Rod Stewart fuss was about, try the excellent collection Sessions…or read this.  And if you want to hear a full length tribute to Ronnie Lane, go get Ian McLagan’s wonderful Spiritual Boy (as well as Plonk’s catalogue, of course).

When We Were The New Boys at Amazon.

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Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Thanks to another recently converted-to-region free DVD player, I’ve been catching up on some great comedy from across the Big Pond. Although most of my also-converted money has been going for stand-up comedy shows, I’ve also been loading up on some bargains on comic panel shows like Mock The Week, 8 out of 10 Cats and an old favorite, Never Mind The Buzzcocks. In 2009, an excellent DVD was released featuring clips from the show’s lengthy run under recent host Simon Amstell with great featurettes and gag reels.

Amstell is a cocky, cheek host who (depending on which year’s hairstyle) looks like a cross between Michael Cera and a pre-weightlifting Carrot Top. The irreverent panel show features a host and two teams of comics and pop culture stars, many of whom are complete unknowns stateside but household words there, like longtime team captain Bill Bailey, Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Catherine Tate, Frankie Boyle and Martin Freeman. Of course many pop culture celebrities would appear as guests to take the piss out of themselves and others, most of whom got into the spirit of the event, although when they didn’t (I’m talking to you, Lemmy!) that could be fun as well. Many appear on this DVD; two of the funniest are Russell Brand and Amy Winehouse, albeit for opposite reasons.

I first heard of the show years ago and tuned in because I thought it was actually about The Buzzcocks, one of the finest bands of the late 70s punk pop movement. (The show did get its title by mixing  the band name and the Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bollocks). Although initially disappointed, I was soon swept up into the pulse of the show, which ranges from good sarcastic fun to sheer lunacy. Pop culture cows are gutted and nothing – and no one – is sacred. My younger daughter is a fan of the show, and this holiday we skipped the usual Sci-Fi marathons to watch every minute of this great collection.

Is there a Doctor in the house?

I used to watch the show on occasion as various cable packages over the years were sketchy on what UK programming might be included in the package. Perhaps like Monty Python and Benny Hill, it was the PBS station to the rescue once again. (Yet another reason to support their annual fund-raising drive when the envelopes arrive in December!) As with many successful UK shows, eventually the US tries to copy it. Hard to believe that I not only forgot that this happened with Buzzcocks, but also that the host of the US version was one of my favorites, Marc Maron. (The show lasted one season on vH-1.)

Some households gorge on college football during the Thanksgiving holidays.

I’ll take comedy every time.

The show’sWiki page and list of episodes.

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Sex Pistol Radio

Never Mind the Bollocks, here’s Jonesy’s Jukebox!

Steve Jones, Sex Pistols guitarist, launches a new radio show on the legendary KROQ this Sunday, October 10th, and terrestrial radio just got cooler. One of my big gripes with radio today is tightly formatted playlists and national programming at the expense of regional breakouts.

There was a time when radio jocks really had to know their music, and their love of it bled through the radio speakers. Over time that seemed to die, giving way to morning zoo shows and formulaic he/she pairings; the real rock lovers were either banished to night and weekend slots or settled for weekly themed shows…or left the dial altogether.

Radio has had its share of rockers-turned jocks over the years; probably the most successful has been Little Steven with his Underground Garage empire. And while some have imploded rather quickly (David Lee Roth) others have proven to be quite entertaining. Nights With Alice Cooper showed that while Vince isn’t golfing, he’s got a wealth of anecdotes and great taste in music. And who would have imagined that Bob Dylan would not only sit down at a microphone, but prove to be so subtly hilarious?

Of course with the podcast explosion, all this might go the way of the dinosaur. But as long as rock dinosaurs roam the earth, we need someone on the other side of the dial who is in it for the right reasons. I have no doubt that Steve Jones will play some raucous, ass-kicking rock and roll, but the thing that excites me the most is the open call for bands to submit music directly to the show for airplay consideration. Jonesy’s Jukebox will feature an irreverent mix of new music from iconic artists, developing talent, and eclectic cuts from his personal music collection.

“Sunday nights on KROQ has historically been the home to groundbreaking programming beginning with the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer over 30 years ago. In fact, Rodney was one of the first DJ’s in America to play the Sex Pistols” said Kevin Weatherly,Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS RADIO and Program Director for 106.7 KROQ FM. “Steve is punk rock royalty and a proven tastemaker. I’m thrilled that Jonesy’s Jukebox can now be heardalongside KROQ Locals Only, Loveline and Rodney on the Roq.”

To submit music to be considered for inclusion on Jonesy’s Jukebox, please send band CD/Bio to:

Steve Jones
c/o Jonesy’s Jukebox
PO Box 790
Hollywood, CA 90027

God Save The Queen!

 

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I Got The Knack

R.I.P. Doug Fieger

R.I.P. Doug Fieger of The Knack.

The best-selling album of 1978 was Saturday Night Fever, the zenith of popularity for guys in satin shirts (open to the waist so that the gold medallions could bounce within the prominent clump of chest hair, of course). Women were no better, focused upon inane dances with said hairy men, hopefully rendered impotent after bathing in strobe lights under satanic mirror balls and shaking what booty they thought they had to beat-pulsing stage lamps flashing primary colors like an amoral heartbeat. Surely the world had gone to Hell in a handbasket, although that handbasket now had a designer name and cost more than a week’s wages.

Sadly, 1979 was no better. Those of us buying Blondie and Ramones and Sex Pistols records could not help but wonder what the hell happened to rock’n’roll, since all the attention and the money and the shelf-rack space in the record stores – our record stores, dammit! – were being glommed by Donna Summer and Chic and Andy Gibb. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, this simplest of rock songs, this most basic beat, blasted its way to the top of the charts like a lung full of oxygen in a coal mine…”My Sharona“.

Video: “My Sharona

No, it wasn’t the best pop song ever written and The Knack were certainly not The Beatles despite the great pains the Capitol Records marketing department went through (the black and white cover photo and the Meet The Beatles cadence of the title Get The Knack). Nor did the bizarre decision to not do any interviews play out well; what initially inspired mystery in a band holding the Number One Single hostage for six weeks soon turned into resentment and an attitude of animosity towards four guys who were just trying to sell pop music.

But “My Sharona” did serve notice to the industry that despite disco and punk and prog and that god-awful corporate rock that Columbia Records kept spewing out its sewage pipe, there was an audience for what we refer to as powerpop music. Good melody. Great hook. Big beat. Maybe it wouldn’t dominate the charts like it did in the 60s, but when given a chance, people respond to it. Sure, you might gloss a sheen of hair metal over it, maybe even countrify it, but at its core a great pop song is a great pop song.

Of course The Knack didn’t last long; maybe these things aren’t supposed to, although their next couple of albums weren’t bad. One knock on the group was that the girls being sung about might be a tad on the younger side, which could explain the occasional leering expressions from the band members. (I’m not certain where these prudential critics were when Gary Puckett and The Union Gap were prowling school yards in the 60’s in military gear, but so be it.) In subsequnet years The Knack would occasionally reform sans retired drummer Bruce Gary (who passed in 2006) with ringers like Terry Bozzio standing in alongside Fieger, guitarist Berton Averre and bassist Prescott Niles.

The Knack will never have the cred that Big Star or Badfinger or even The Romantics have earned, but “My Sharona“, the biggest pop single of 1979, was the right song at the right time. Thanks, Doug (and co-writer Averre), for that lifeboat you dropped into The Sea of Disco. Rest in peace.

***

And R.I.P.  Dale Hawkins, the rock and roll tornado

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Under The Radar: Sex Pistols Tribute

Rip it. Rip it good.

 

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? 

That classic Johnny Rotten line could potentially come to mind every time you give a tribute album a shot, although I am probably more tolerant than most. The problems usually range from labels using the concept as an exercise to produce a roster sampler (certainly makes accounting easier!), so you’re at the mercy of their acumen in selecting not only the artist to fete but the bands they sign. Others are major label attempts saddled by the ridiculous need to have name artists as participants. Not to slag the more successful bands, but sometimes they are more clueless than the label’s Executive Producer – you know, the nutjob who thought it as a good idea to match artist and song in the first place. 

More often than not, the greater successes spring from a smaller label; one that either has or collaborates with a visionary who sees the project as a labor of love and respect. Having the connections to rope in some worthy artists never hurts, of course, especially since these things do not sell well. Which also explains why ninety-five percent of them will sail under your radar

While I was refiling some albums this weekend I came across a doozie from a decade ago – hard to miss with an electric cover like that. Certainly not a perfect one, but if you’re going to blast the rust off an old year and start fresh, what better torch to blaze than The Sex Pistols? This review originally ran in PopMatters

 

Seventeen (no pun) songs in 50 minutes—that’s about three minutes per and that’s just about perfect. Which is what this concept is, too; from the drop-dead look and feel of the cover art to the selection of some of the more raucous punk bands to participate. Besides paying props to the classic Never Mind the Bollocks album, additional cuts include cuts from singles and The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. Some of the tracks nail the energy and spirit on the head while others…oh hell, it’s a tribute record, you know the drill. 

Kicking off the disc is The Booked’s version of “Holidays in the Sun”, absolutely relentless and everything you would hope to get from each interpretation. Ditto “No Feelings” from The Generators; The Boils’ amped up version (really!) of “Submission” and especially Road Rage with “EMI.” Road Rage’s drummer Victicious (you’ve gotta love that!) sounds like he’s shooting off cannon blasts, while guitarist Gav shreds on guitar. “Friggin’ in the Riggin,” the Sex Pistols’ John Valby-ish performance from Swindle, is actually a worthy inclusion thanks to Showcase Showdown’s spirited take. The two biggest Sex Pistols tracks (“God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant”) get decent bar band treatment, but aren’t as strong as they could be. I mean, it’s only three chords…oh, never mind, I’m just a lazy sod. 

When the bands do swing and miss—like L.E.S. Stitches’ disappointingly over-the-top try on “Bodies”—it’s for much the same reason so many hard rock bands suck. They take themselves too seriously! When it’s all bombast and no sense of humor, it’s just (as Johnny Rotten would say) booorrrinngggg! Actually, this record makes you realize just what an emotive vocalist Rotten was, especially when inferior vocalists (Blanks 77) trip over themselves. But everyone does rip it up, even when the drummer in Submachine sounds like he’s broken everything but his snare. 

Overall though, this is a long overdue CD—kudos to Radical for a solid effort! And labels, take note—tasks like spending some time on clever artwork, listing all the tracks with credits and providing information (names, contact numbers, addresses) for all the bands involved should be mandatory. 

LISTEN 

One and done

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My Bucket List

Older than your last car and still going strong

Bucketfull of Brains, that is.

The new issue is out! My reviews include the new efforts from Cheap Trick, Ian Hunter, Cracker and Muck and the Mires. No features from me this time, but check out these gems from my mates:

  • Lucky Soul: ‘It sounds like the Supremes, but inside out. Surely you understand that?!’ Interview by Terry Hermon
  • John Wesley Harding: Then, now, and whenever. Wesley Stace speaks to Nick West
  • ‘I never travel far without a little Big Star’ Simon Wright hears the box set, sees the band in Hyde Park, and converses with John Fry, Jody Stephens and Alex Chilton.
  • ‘We oppose all rock’n’roll’. Phil King hears from Rob Symmons of Subway Sect and Fallen Leaves about 1976, how the Sect formed, and the 100 Club Festival (with unseen pics of the Sex Pistols).
  • Mavericks In Maturity. Jeremy Gluck talks to Peter Holsapple about working with Chris Stamey again

All that plus a ton of news and reviews and some great pictures. So head on over to the Bucketfull of Brains site, nab a subscription (or try a single issue) and enjoy the wonder of a great print magazine – music’s endangered species!

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