Psychotic Reactions Playlist

The theme of this weeks playlist is 60s Punk, by which we mean Mod Rock and Garage Rock recorded in the 1960s (obviously). Bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Seeds created new forms of Rock that set the foundation of Punk. Young musicians in the UK took the best elements of Rock & Roll – the tough, streetwise rebellion – and increased it tenfold. Many groups in what to be known as ‘The British Invasion’ focused on the energy of a quick, rough, distorted riff to drive a song. In turn, America responded with a new generation of bands developing and experimenting with this simple sound, many of them famously collected on Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation in 1972. By the mid-1960s however, the original artists developed as musicians, which unfortunately gave way to the bland complexities of slow burning Blues and Prog-Rock. 60s Punk however was immediate music. It’s the short, sharp language that speaks to teenagers – full of know-it-all cynicism and anti-authority sentiment. It’s music that knows trying to be cool is more important than trying to be clever. Which is why in the mid-70s groups like Ramones and The Damned tried (successfully) to revive a time when Rock and Pop were indivisible and teenagers had an authentic language of their own. This playlist, available on Spotify below and here on YouTube, collects 14 of the best, most outrageous and most exciting songs from a time when a riff could set the world on fire!

!!! For proper use please turn volume up to max !!!

Straight out of the gate, one of the most iconic riffs there’s been. The roar of Ray Davies’ guitar on this Kinks track proves a rhythm doesn’t have to sound pretty. Garage gods, The Sonics took pride in being from the bad side of the tracks. Singing about psychos, strychnine and satanic worship (on ‘He’s Waitin’’), The Sonics legendary music overflows with energy. The Standells classic ‘Dirty Water’ is the opening track to Nuggets. In it Larry Tamblyn describes Boston as a seedy den of crooks, thieves and gangs, and where he feels most at home. With awesome guitars, ‘Psychotic Reaction’ by Count Five has been covered by the diverse likes of Television, Sex Pistols and The Cramps – it really is Rock at its best.

‘My Generation’ – what need be said? Not only one of the first Punk anthems but one of Rock’s most definitive songs. ‘Hope I die before I get old’ reeks with the arrogance and ignorance that music slowly lost, before being dragged back big time by Punk. The Who were a central band to the Mods, alongside The Creation. ‘Making Time’ opens with that tension filled riff that could soundtrack teenage frustration. ‘Why do we have to carry on singing the same old song?’ could be a Punk motto. Few Punks would be likely to acknowledge the influence of The Rolling Stones but it was impossible to avoid such a monolithic group. Remember they were original bad boys; while The Beatles sang ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ the Stones put out ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ – no point being shy about it. Ace Mod leaders The Small Faces could almost have been a prototype for the early Sex Pistols. This attitudical song, plus classics like ‘Wham Bam’ and ‘Understanding’ were among the first songs The Pistols used to play. Then, the original Rock & Roll primitivists The Troggs – the name, short for Troglodytes, says it all. They’re cavemen who sound like they’re first discovering music.

the-seeds-CDWIKD-308The Seeds debut album is one of the true gems of this period; this song gives just a taste of the treasures to be found in their rich, raucous music. Then, straight out of Texas, Roky Erikson’s 13th Floor Elevators – the first band to call themselves ‘psychedelic’. The magnificent ‘Fire Engine’ drives with the aggressive and confused beat of teenage sex. Sister band to the Elevators, Red Crayola (then called Krayola for legal issues) were for-out experimenters. Forget breaking the rules, Red Crayola don’t seem to have realised there were rules to begin with. The group would reform when bandleader Mayo Thompson joined Rough Trade records. Punk pioneers MC5 began as a simple Garage band – best exhibited here on the explosive cover of ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’. On full blast this track might make your ears bleed.

Finally – The Kingsmen’s definite cover of ‘Louie Louie’. Along with fellow Northwest group The Wailers, this band basically invented Garage Rock and thus a musical language what would enable the angry, politicised rhetoric of Punk.

Any thoughts, comments, criticisms or suggestions about the playlist are welcome. Come back next week for a new playlist, which will compile the best (and worst) of Greg Ginn’s SST Records.

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C81 Playlist

It’s Friday and time for a new Rebellious Jukebox playlist. It was at the end of January 1981 that readers of NME could send away for the C81 Cassette, 34 years later we remember this classic compilation. The playlist, which is available here on Youtube, collects the 14 best tracks from the cassette, but first here’s your history lesson:

c81C81 was a cassette tape compiled by Rough Trade Records featuring new songs by Post-Punk bands on independent labels. Independent (or Indie) labels are those which operate outside of the mainstream of Major labels. Anti-commercialism and Do-It-Yourself were big parts of Punk ethics, and many bands took it upon themselves to create their own labels which weren’t owned, funded or distributed by Major labels, who made music for profit. In the UK the first independent Punk label was New Hormones, created by The Buzzcocks to release their excellent debut Spiral Scratch EP. Soon after, a wave of independent labels sprang up in the UK, like Rough Trade, Factory and 4AD, and in the US, where labels such as SST, Dischord and Alternative Tentacles continue to this day. C81 was intended as a celebration of the first five years of these DIY and independent labels. The cassette, which features some truly brilliant works by some of the UK’s most innovative groups, was compiled by Christopher Rose from Rough Trade and Roy Carr from NME. Each week leading up to the release, issues of NME featured pages that could be cut out and folded to create the ‘C81 Owner’s Manual’ to accompany the tape, adding an extra DIY element.

However, as brilliant as the music was, there have been criticisms of the tape. In 1981 Post-Punk was at a crossroads. The original Punk aesthetic had more-or-less disappeared from mainstream music and the scene had exploded into a multitude of diverse scenes and movements. Simon Reynolds, in Rip It Up and Start Again, describes the scene, ‘C81 was in many ways post-punk’s swan-song. The epoch it defined was already crumbling. Many of the featured artists… had already broken ranks with independent consensus: they sounded shiny, accessible, ambitious.’ The most obvious sign of the changing times is ‘Parallel Lines’ by Vic Godard & Subway Sect, which asks the important question ‘what happened?’. Punk was supposed to be about freedom and anarchy, yet by 1981 is had gotten to a point where the only way to be Punk was to sound like The Exploited; the bands truly progressing music had gone far past the sounds of the Sex Pistols. The next track is Velvet Underground inspired pop from Josef K, then signed to the legendary Scottish label Postcard records. A live track from Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (German American Friendship) mixes Kraftwerk, Neu! and Suicide into New Wave Dance. Another classic from The Buzzcocks, their last recording to feature the classic line up of Shelly/Diggle/Smith Maher, then the Gothic overtones of Virgin Prunes, then releasing on their own Baby label. The Beat offer a taste of the new wave of Ska music that had hit Britain thanks to labels like Two-Tone and Go Feet. An experimental collaboration between Texas’ original innovators Red Crayola and conceptual art collective Art + Language, followed by ‘The Sweetest Girl’ by Scritti Politi, with which one of Britain’s most radical political bands give up politics in favour of pop. Cabaret Voltaire offer a soundtrack to Industrialism, and Devon’s greatest export Furious Pig made their debut with this track featured on C81. An instrumental interlude by Young Marble Giants spin-off group Gist, before a fantastic piece by Kurt Cobain’s beloved Raincoats. With all the experimental pieces on the cassette, the strangest thing to find on there is the American Free-Funk guitarist James Blood Ulmer, however his hypnotic rhythms are a welcome addition. The playlist is finished off with a reading from Punk’s resident poet John Cooper Clarke. Due to availability, some songs have been changed from the original C81 cassette. To find out more about the original cassette see here.

This time next week expect a new playlist, featuring the most raw, raucous and ugly noises from 60s Punk.

27/02: This Day in Punk History

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Big Youth and Johnny Rotten, by Dennis Morris

Big Youth and Johnny Rotten, by Dennis Morris

It was this day, 27 February 1978, that Johnny Rotten returned from his vacation in Jamaica with a head full of future plans. The Sex Pistols label Virgin could see Johnny was rotting away under the pressure, attention and infamy the band was attracting. So they sent Rotten, a lifelong Reggae fan, to Jamaica to sign acts to the label’s new subsidiary Front Line, where he met heroes of his like Big Youth, Pete Tosh and U Roy. It was there in Jamaica that Rotten, getting sick of the Pistols narrow prospects and the commercial manipulations of Malcolm McLaren, both of which were counter to his original artistic ideas,, dreamt up Public Image Limited. Listening to Dub music in the dance hall of Kingston, John Lydon (as he would redub himself) found the new sound that was to free himself. McLaren meanwhile, forever flogging a dead horse, was in LA promoting two new songs Paul Cook and Steve Jones recorded in Rio with exiled-convict Ronnie Biggs. The name ‘Sex Pistols’ may still have been active, but it was nothing but a ghost now.

The Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse

This day in 1982 Post-Punk icons XTC had their acclaimed album English Settlment reach #5 in the UK charts. The cover, proudly displaying the theme of the album, is the Uffington White Horse, a prehistoric hillside chalk figure a few miles from the band’s hometown of Swindon. Their label, also Virgin, wanted to send the band on a world tour to promote the album, but after only 9 shows frontman Andy Partridge collapsed on stage from exhaustion. He’d subsequently have a breakdown, bringing an end to XTC’s touring days. But remembering better times, here’s the band performing ‘Yacht Dance’ on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

In 1981, on this same day, synthpop group Heaven 17 released their debut single ‘(We Don’t Need That) Fascist Groove Thing’. The band, who take their name from a fictional band in A Clockwork Orange, is made up of Ian Marsh and Martyn Ware, two founding members of Sheffield’s The Human League. This single is a send up of the ‘silly names’ Disco songs have.

the-business-smash-the-discos--link-lp_046-lpOne year later, to the day, Oi-Punk group The Business released a single titled ‘Smash the Disco’s’. Drummer Kev Boyce explains it, ‘There’s no room for punk on the radio because punk’s about reality. Disco is just about a dream world where everything is fine and you can forget about Thatcher.’ Although many arty groups like Talking Heads, 23 Skidoo and ESG incorporate Disco into Punk music, the rise of Punk/New Wave is often cited as a cause for the decline in/backlash against Disco music at the end of the 70s/start of the 80s.

And finally, it’s the end of the week so here’s something to you can relax to. This day 1982 Weekend released their debut single, in which ex-Young Marble Giants singer Alison Statton opens her heart to tell us about ‘The View From Her Room’:

A Short History of Boston Rock

Boston, Massachusetts, has been home to some of the most innovative and influential groups in Punk, including but not limited to The Modern Lovers, Mission of Burma and La Peste. For a while, the sounds of Boston were captured and celebrated by Boston Rock magazine, which published its final issue in February 1987. This February Rebellious Jukebox remembers this classic Punk journal, as well as some defining moments in Boston Punk.

bostonrockThe story begins in 1978 when Mike Dreese and John Brusger, roommates at M.I.T.(1), turn a studio apartment on Newbury Street into a comic book store. The flagship store to the now multi-store Newbury Comics still sits on Newbury Street, but it changed its focus when a friend of Dreese’s brought in his record collection for them to sell in store. Newbury Comics soon became the top alternative record store in the area as the city’s Punk and New Wave scene developed. In 1980 Newbury Comics published the first issue of Boston Rock magazine to record this growing scene.

The magazine featured articles about and interviews with important local groups such as The Del Feugos, The Neighborhoods, Lyres, The Cars, Unnatural Axe, Nervous Eaters, Infliktors, The Real Kids and Mission of Burma. Much of this scene revolved around The Rat, a local club opened as the Rathskeller in 1974. One of the first Punk compilation LPs (which would become an important way for independent andliveattherat underground groups to get exposure) was recorded Live at The Rat in 1976. Punks could also play at Jim Coffman’s club The Underground, however it was only open for a year before being closed in June 1981.

Outside of arty Post-Punks Mission of Burma and the Straight Edge Hardcore of SSDecontrol, Garage was a leading style in the Boston scene. Groups like The Del Fuegos and DMZ revived 60s style rough rock-pop with the anarchic energy of punk.

While not as famous or successful as Massachusetts-based fanzine Forced Exposure, Boston Rock was still a big part of the local scene and gave recognition to the otherwise unheard-of Boston bands that so rightly deserved it. But while the magazine has been gone for 28 years, Newbury Comics continues selling records to this day, now with 26 locations.

To find out more about Punk in Boston, I would begin by searching Forced Exposure, Ace of Hearts Records and the local Hardcore scene. The Rhino Records compilation DIY: Mass Ave. – The Boston Scene (1975-83) does a good job of sampling the first generation of Boston Rockers, find out more here.

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(1) M.I.T.’s studio radio station WMBR are credited for hosting the first all-Punk show in the US, Oedipus’ Nocturnal Emmissions

On This Day: 11/02

mc51If you were in Buckinghamshire, UK, this day in 1972 you could have caught US legends the MC5 playing at the Friars Club, Aylesbury. The band’s hard rock sound and hard Punk attitude are umbilically linked to their hometown of Detroit, but after failing to find success with three albums and being dropped by two record labels they’ve relocated to Europe. However, they truly are on their last leg. Two days after the gig bassist Michael Davis will be kicked out due to his use of heroin, and after various sets increasingly filled with covers they’ll play their farewell gig at New Years, back at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the iconic Mercer Arts Center hosted ‘New York Dolls and All Their Friends’ this night in 1973. Their friends are: electro street-thugs Suicide, Boston’s answer to the VU Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and depraved Rock ‘n’ Roll drag-queen Wayne County. The gig will begin at 10 and go until dawn – I for one can’t imagine a gig I’d rather see in 1973.

stifffuckSkip forward the 1977 and the likes of MC5 and New York Dolls have inspired the creation of Punk Rock. On Feb 11 independent UK label Stiff Records signed a deal for major label Island to distribute their music around the world (except the US). A big step for such a small label, this will make Stiff one of the most important labels in England.

This day 1980 John Peel is premiering sessions recorded by the Post-Punk group Delta 5. Like fellow Leeds band Gang of Four, Delta 5 blend Dance rhythms into their music to make a Funk-Punk hybrid.

toyah_3

New Waver Toyah released her Four More From Toyah EP this day in 1981. Toyah is sporting her most outrageous hairstyle yet, a kind of bleeding-carrot-sharkfin. It goes down quite well – the EP reaches #4 in the UK charts.

It was in February 1985 that US underground giants Minutemen go into the studio to record their, seemingly anti-independent, EP Project: Mersh. ‘Mersh’ is one of the band’s many slang words; it’s shorthand for ‘commercial’, i.e. music made as a consumer product to generate profit. Minutemen define their music against this, committing themselves to independent

"I know! We'll have them write hit songs!"

“I know! We’ll have them write hit songs!”

labels SST and their own New Alliance and performing/recording all their music in their own ‘Econo’ way (economic – cheap and efficient). So it may have confused people when they brought out the nicely polished Project: Mersh, which cost an enormous $2,400 to record (the record even features horn sections!). However, fans familiar with the band will see this is their peculiar way of mocking commercial music, as Michael Azerrad puts it, ‘Any band could sound like this if they had enough money, but that wouldn’t mean they were any good.’

On This Day 10/02

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True believers remember this as the sad day when Dave Alexander, original bassist for The Stooges, died. One of the greatest and most inspiring bands, not just in Punk, but all music, The Stooges set the stage for Punk, Noise Rock, Grunge, Trash, Hardcore, many Heavy Metal bands and more. However Alexander believed Rock ‘n’ Roll too much, lived too fast too young, and alcoholism gained him membership into the 27 Club this day in 1975.

But don’t lose faith. This day in 1971 also marks an important point in the next generation of Punkers. It was on this day that Patti Smith gave her first live performance, one of the inaugural moments of what would become the CBGBs scene that birthed American Punk Rock. Today also marks the birthday of the great playwright of Weimar Berlin, Bertolt Brecht, and so St. Mark’s Place were holding a poetry celebration. Smith read originals as well as Brecht’s ‘Mack the Knife’, accompanied by Lenny Kaye on guitar. Fortunately Brigid Polk was there taping the gig. Listen to Smith’s celebration of rebellion and indulgence in the simplicity of being bad.

the-clash-album-vinyleIt was this day in 1977 that The Clash entered CBS Studio 3 and began recording their debut LP.

1978 and Blondie release their new track ‘Denis’. In their continuing move away from Punk, this cover of an old doo-wop song was their first UK hit, reaching #2 and putting them on a path to New Wave stardom.

Squeeze also get their first pop hit today the same day with ‘Take Me I’m Yours’. The single was actually supposed to be released two years earlier by RCA, but they got Squeeze-Take-Me-Im-Yours-42544dropped from the label before it could happen. Well, by this point Punk and New Wave have taken over the UK and Squeeze could become the pop powerhouse they deserved to be.

Equally, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs have been a part of the New York scene from the very beginning, playing with the New York Dolls while Patti Smith was still writing poems. However it is only until this day in 1978 (about 7 years after they’ve formed) that they get an album out. Their smutty rock revival could have had more of an impact if they’d been released earlier, but it’s still a classic today. Here’s their response to The Ramones:

Feb 10 1978 is also the day Generation X’s classic single ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ is released.

Feb 1 1979 was the day on which the angel of the overdose Sid Vicious died. Feb 10 was the day Cash Pussies tried to get in on the action. The band, formed by ex-Alternative TV guitarist Alex Fergusson, release their single ‘99% is Shit’, with a bloody Vicious on the cover and actual sound quote from our boy Sidney sampled on the track. And people say Punk has no class.

This day 1980 and Non and Smegma release a new single, I’ll leave it to George Gimarc to explain it: ‘Billed as two of the West Coast’s “foremost contemporary bands” the duo’s single is a complicated affair in a folded sleeve with two center holes. The disc itself is designed to “be enjoyed at 16, 33 1/3, 45 or 78 RPM.” It has two holes in it, one in the center, and one slightly off center to allow for two different treatments when played… Non told the NME, “ …it’s just straight noise.”’

And finally, a sign that the golden days of Punk were fading, but still being tarted up and tossed around for cash, it was in February 1978 that you’d find Steve Jones and Paul Cook (Sex Pistols in name only) in Rio, recording new single ‘No One is Innocent’ with the Great Train Robber in exile, Ronnie Biggs. Johnny Rotten meanwhile jumped that sinking ship the month before to explore new musical directions. One route he followed found him with famed Electro/Hip-Hop innovator Afrika Bambaataa’s project Time Zone to record the track ‘World Destruction’, just one example of the cross-pollination of Punk and Hip-Hop in the 80s. (This track also features legendary bassist Bill Laswell from the noise-dance group Material who would also work with Swans, Iggy Pop, Public Image Ltd. And many more)

On This Day 09/02

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Don’t call it a comeback, but this is finally the return of Rebellious Jukebox. I won’t delay getting to the facts, I’ll just state that while the blog has not been maintained for a few months my research has continued through that time. This weekend the discography will be updated as well as some other pieces, like timelines of bands and events as well as links to other useful websites. But anyway, on this day…

9th February is another historic day for Rock as the day when The Beatles first played the Cavern Club in Liverpool. A landmark in the story of Rock ‘n’ Roll, this date also fundamental to the development of rock/pop music in the UK and it was the energy of bands like The Beatles that the Sex Pistols and friends would later try to revive. The original club stood at 10 Matthew Street, but was closed in the early 70s. Fortunately for rock revivalist like The Ramones, Eric’s opened across the street, the closest the Punk groups could get to playing at Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Mecca.

It was also on this same day three years later that The Beatles made their equally momentous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This was America’s first exposure to the Fab Four and the oncoming ‘British Invasion’. It was in response to the new UK sound that the 60s Garage scene in the US developed, with groups like The Seeds, The Standells and The Vagrants, later compiled on the Nuggets album.

Flash forward to Punk and it was this day 1978 that The Cannibals released their cover of The Standells ‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’. The Cannibals were formed by Mike Spenser, previously frontman for Protopunk Pub Rockers The Count Bishops. The new single is self released on their ‘Big Cock’ label.

Magazine were supposed to play on Top of the Pops, however, bands never truly played on the music show but rather mimed along to their singles. Magazine insisted on playing live – and so weren’t allowed on the show at all.Dickies_-_The_Incredible_Shrinking_Dickies_album_cover

1979 and influential California Punks The Dickies have their album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies released by A&M Records. In the evening Human League (who were hardly the most challenging group in the New Wave) were supposed to perform at Notre Dame Hall in Leicester Square but the vicar has called it off at last minute, complaining it’s immoral.

Queen of the Underground, Lydia Lunch, released her first solo album  Queen of Siam this day in 1980, and Teenage Jesus it ain’t. Trouser press reviews it: ‘Sweet and cuddly she’ll never be, but on her first solo album Lydia Lunch… Miss Reasons-To-Be-Cheerless of downtown New York, proves to have a sense of class, subtlety, and even sentimentality when it comes to tell us how horrible life is.’ Who’d have guessed?

Five years ago to this day The White Stripes took on the US Air Force. ‘Fell in Love With a Girl’ (1 & ½ minutes of unadulterated Punk) is being used in an air force advert, without permission of the band who state they take ‘strong insult and objection, with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support’.

And finally, finality. This day in 1981 Bill Haley was found dead. A heart attack brings this giant of Rock ‘n’ Roll down. His 50s hit ‘Rock Around the Clock’ was huge inspiration for the Teddy Boys who set youth culture on the path that led to Punk. It was also this day in 1993 that Bill Grundy died. His infamous, now famous, interview with The Sex Pistols in 1976 shows just how much Rock music corrupted the one virtuous youth of the world.