Encoulez Vous - Jean Encoule’s A-Z Of Punk Rock.
Sometimes people ask me to define Punk Rock when I am not standing next to my record collection - in situations like these I tend to waffle. Mindful that I have been getting progressively worse in this department of late, I felt now would be as good a time as any to quantify the exact nature of my obsession.
What follows is an A-Z journey through my record/CD collection - stopping off at relevant letters & pontificating a while (some letters have been omitted due to irrelevance). It is by no means intended as a definitive guide - should you be seeking the alleged wisdom of a Savage brain or the dubious theorizing of a Marcus intellect - you will be left wanting. What you have here is Punk Rock for Punk Rockers. Nothing more, nothing less.
A Is For The Adverts:
The Adverts were formed as a direct result of exposure to the Sex Pistols. Leaving the West Country & relocating to London, TV Smith & Gaye Advert soon became Punk Rock’s number one couple & The Adverts wasted no time in storming the barricades of the establishment with their adrenalin soaked take on social commentary.
The Damned/Adverts tour of the UK in 1977 is still regarded as one of the best Punk Rock packages ever - & rather than wasting your time bullshitting everyone that you were at the Screen On The Green - you’d be far better telling them you followed The Damned & The Adverts round the UK for 2 months.
The Adverts Anthology (Sdevil904CD) captures every note you need - but you will also have to track down the first 4 x singles on vinyl - along with a red vinyl copy of Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts (£20). Get busy.
B Is For Blondie & Buzzcocks:
Blondie is a group (said the infamous button badges of the time) - & so they were, but in Debbie Harry they possessed a singer of unparalleled beauty & there were always going to be certain members of said group who were going to feel less involved than others!
Blondie weren’t strictly a Punk group. In fact, the phrase ‘New Wave’ could have been coined expressly for them. Blondie were a pop group with Punk energy & credibility - but that doesn’t make them any less important in the history of Punk Rock.
Blondie recorded 2 x fine Surf Punk LPs (infused with the energy they’d heard in Dr Feelgood!) - Blondie & Plastic Letters - before dropping the big pop bomb in the shape of Parallel Lines. Both are essential - but only move on to Parallel Lines if you like the taste of sugar - it’s sweeter than Ballroom Blitz dipped in honey.
All Blondie titles have recently been reissued with bonus cuts & digital re-mastering on CD. As for vinyl, a Private Stock copy of Blondie & the In The Flesh/X-Offender 7 will take some tracking down (though they are nowhere near as prized an acquisition as they once were) - all subsequent vinyl is available for well under a tenner a pop. I’d advise you go no further than Hanging On The Telephone - the last great Blondie 45!
Reading List - New York Rocker by Gary Valentine (Sidgewick & Jackson)
Buzzcocks formed as a result of a Pistols close encounter (Devoto & Shelly drove south in response to an article about the Pistols in NME). Named after a quote from TV series, Rock Follies (‘it’s a buzz, cock!’), Buzzcocks were the North of England’s finest repost to the as-then-un-named North/South divide - & in the words of Bruce Forsyth: didn’t they do well!
Buzzcocks recorded two of the BEST LPs of the first wave of UK Punk: the bootleg (Devoto sung) Time’s Up collection (original copy: £250.00+ - reissue £30) &, a few months later, Another Music In A Different Kitchen (with Shelly on vocals). These, along with the singles Spiral Scratch (£30 for a New Hormones original) to Love You More (under a tenner for all UA 45s) are all you need.
Reading List - Harmony In My Head by Terry Rawlings (Helter Skelter)
C Is For John Cooper Clarke & The Clash.
John Cooper Clarke was so far ahead of his time, when he eventually does expire, he’ll doubtless find he’s been in heaven a while already (Sample JCC humour - When I die I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my Uncle George - not screaming in terror - like his passengers!)
To call JCC groundbreaking would be like calling a JCB a spade - there are entire swathes of the world population who are still ignorant to the genius of the man - 3 decades later. Along with his Invisible Girls, JCC forged a sound that took future developments like Electro, Hip Hop & Sound Collage into it’s stride leaving a body of poetry enhanced by the kind of eclectic instrumentation that would leave Mike Skinner or Dizzy Rascal scratching their heads in awe.
JCC is best represented on CD by Word Of Mouth (Epic 506343 2) but there are rumours of a far more comprehensive 2 CD package hitting us later this summer. On the vinyl front, an original (orange sleeve/green label) of Innocents EP (Rabid - Tosh 103) will set you back around a tenner for a pristine copy - Gimmix (Epic - EPC 12 7009), Splat (Epic - EPC 7982) & a copy of 2cnd LP, Snap Crackle & Bop (including a 48 page book in sleeve pocket), are also highly desired JCC artefacts & should be tracked down & secured forthwith.
Reading List - 10 Years In An Open Neck Shirt (collected poems) by JCC (Arena)
The Clash were the Punk Rock group with an agenda. Punk Rock died the day The Clash signed to CBS - & Mark P still stands by his words. The Clash were an enigma wrapped in a myth - a family you were either a member of or you weren’t. An amiable bunch of fraudsters, quoteth Captain Sensible, & in a lot of ways he wasn’t far of the mark. The Clash may have been able to walk it like they talked it - but the contradictions refused to go away. Mick Jones knows the score - today he will readily admit the The Clash was their zenith & that all subsequent manoeuvres were tainted by comparison.
That’s a sentiment I’d wholeheartedly agree with - if you want a career overview - go buy Essential Clash (but try all you might - you will not succeed in erasing This Is England from the disc) - but for purists you only need The Clash & the first 6 x 45s (including Capital Radio - CL1 - given away free with the 1st LP).
Reading List: The Return Of The Last Gang In Town by Marcus Gray (Helter Skelter)
Recommended Viewing: Rude Boy (DVD) directed by Jack Hazan & David Minghay.
D Is For The Damned
The Damned were raised on 60s US Garage Punk, The Stooges, The Dolls & The Who - & in Brian James they not only owned one of the best guitarists in the UK but also one of their generation’s true visionaries. The Damned blazed trails when most Punk groups were still getting their hair to stick up successfully. New Rose, Neat Neat Neat, Damned Damned Damned, the genius of Nick Lowe & the grubby beauty of Stiff records - all combined to bring the best out of The Damned.
Often dismissed as comic in the light of subsequent career moves, The Damned still remain the hardcore Punk’s Punks of choice. The Damned command the most loyal of fan-bases that continues to embrace every nook & cranny of their history with the kind of devotion normally reserved for members of the cloth.
Damned Damned Damned (Shrink wrapped with Hotrods misprint - £150), Music For Pleasure & all supporting Damned Mark 1 45s (inc gig freebie - Stretcher Case Baby - £50+) must be owned - it’s the law.
Reading List - Play It At Your Sister by Jean Encoule (Sanctuary) - due 2004.
E Is For The Electric Eels
The first time I heard Agitated I shat myself - it just has to be one of the greatest Punk Rock records of all time - & The Electric Eels demand their place in any Punk Rock collection.
Legendary, short-lived & steeped in acrimony - The Electric Eels set Cleveland, Ohio on fire between 1973 & 1975 (drummer, Nick Knox, went on to drum for The Cramps). Supporting the likes of RFTT & Mirrors & led by lunatic, John Morton, The Electric Eels were so Punk Rock they didn’t care ages before apathy was de rigour.
I was eventually alerted to the magnificence of The Eels in Jan 1979 when Rough Trade took it upon themselves to release the aforementioned Agitated/Cyclotron (RT 008) - inadvertently causing a life long search on my part for more Electric Eels records that was not fully realised until November 2001’s Eyeball Of Hell (Scat62CD) compilation & Overground’s exemplary Their Organic Majesties Request (Over71CD) - both still currently available & totally essential.
F Is For The Fall & Patrick Fitzgerald.
Over the last 25 years The Fall have become an institution worshiped by many (headed by the Supreme Cardinal Of Independent Sound, Mr John Peel). Always different, always the same, says Peel of The Fall - & who am I, etc. The Fall showed everyone where to go next - & that should never be forgotten. Where would modern contemporary alternative rock n roll be today without The Fall (answers on the back of a fag packet)?
The Fall are many things to many people, but to me they are The Step Forward years: the lean years, the hungry years, the vital years - the years that will go down in history. To comply with this Fall-view, you will require the 1st 4 x Step Forward 7 45s (Bingo Master’s Breakout, It’s The New Thing, Roche Rumble & Fiery Jack) & both Step Forward LPs (Live At The Witch Trials & Dragnet).
Vinyl: under a tenner a pop for either of the 45s - £15 each on the LPs.
Both Witch Trials & Dragnet have recently been re-issued on CD by Sanctuary, including many contemporaneous bonus cuts - both are compulsory. Mick Middles has also written an official biog - but I haven’t got round to that yet.
Patrick Fitzgerald sang Punk Rock with an acoustic guitar - & without him Billy Bragg would still be fronting a second rate pub rock group. His 1st 2 x EPs for Small Wonder Records, Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart & Backstreet Boys, are totally brilliant - as is his Grubby Stories LP (Polydor - 2383 533). The EPs will cost you less than a tenner a shot - the LP is harder to find - but £15 should cover it. Patrick later went on to install Kitchen’s Of Distinction - but that’s another story.
G Is For Generation X.
Tony James had been amongst the earliest incarnations of The London SS, along with Mick Jones (Clash), Brian James (Damned) & Rat Scabies (Damned). With a penchant for Mod-ish embellishment & a fixation with The Who, James built Generation X from the leftovers of Chelsea & proceeded to unleash 3 superb 45s & an accomplished LP (Generation X) mixing 60s idealism, modernist presentation & Punk Rock attitude.
Your Generation, Youth Youth Youth & Ready Steady Go will set you back around £7 a throw on 45 - Generation X goes for around £15. The group’s back catalogue was recently reassessed by EMI on CD - only trouble is some twat decided to emblaze the original artwork with the words ‘featuring Billy Idol’ - which somewhat pisses on their parade.
There is also a 3 x CD Anthology but, believe me, you don’t need it. Generation X said it all with Generation X.
H Is For Richard Hell.
Hell is Punk Rock. The hair, the torn clothes, the ‘Please Kill Me’ approach. No Hell - no Punk Rock (see interview in Issue 12). Malcolm knew this as much as anyone else - which is why he ripped him off so effectively. Malcolm never had an original idea - of that Lydon & I can agree.
Simply put - you MUST own every damn record by Richard Hell & The Voidoids. An Ork Records copy of the debut US 45 Another World will not be an option (I’ve never even seen a copy - yet alone found one for sale) - so the Stiff re-issue (Buy 7) is an acceptable substitute. Blank Generation (6078 608) is worth acquiring on 12 just for the sleeve alone. Kid With The Replaceable Head (ADA30) is a different version to that present on sophomore LP, Destiny Street (original vinyl copy £10), & therefore unavoidable. The debut LP, Blank Generation, remains one of Punk Rock’s pivotal moments - an original vinyl copy will choke you for around £12 (with inner sleeve!).
There are also a raft of rare Hell related releases on other labels. Overground Records Hell/Neon Boys 4 track EP (OVER011) on purple vinyl can still be found on occasion, whilst Hell’s Heartbreaker’s stint is represented by Munster Record’s Live At Mothers 10.
Both LPs are still available on CD, as is a collection of rare, live & archive material entitled Time (OLE-530-2).
Reading List - Hot & Cold by Richard Hell (Power House Books) - www.richardhell.com
J Is For The Jam & Johnny Moped.
Paul Weller may well have turned out to be a wanker - but for a few months & 3 x singles in 1977 - we took him as seriously as anyone else on the block. In The City, All Around The World & Modern World were 3 x back-to-back singles as powerful, spikey & in your face as it was possible to be at the time. The Jam were a cell-block riot of Who posturing (& one or two chord sequences), sharp suits & a reluctance to get involved in movements (inc: voting Tory, setting fire to copies of Sniffin’ Glue on stage & being managed by your dad).
The Jam made us wait until Setting Sons in 1979 before they recorded a good LP - but by that time they were the biggest band in the UK - lost in a world of pop.
Johnny Moped had been about for a few years practising their sonic terrorism in & around Croydon by the time Punk Rock broke. That didn’t stop them signing to Chiswick Records & releasing the utterly superb 45 No One (NS 15) & the equally frenetic LP, Cycledelic (Wik 8). Perennially written off by the snobbier elements of the Punk elite, mates of Captain Sensible & part time roadies for The Damned - Johnny Moped had it all - & you can have it too. Cycledelic has just been re-issued on 180mg vinyl & is readily available if you know where to look. All releases except the Basically, The Orignal Johnny Moped Tape 7 are fairly easy & cheap to acquire. Sterling stuff - & mad to boot.
K Is For The Killjoys & Kleenex
Formed in Stoke in 1977, The Killjoys Johnny Won’t Get To Heaven managed to say more in around 3 minutes than Kevin Rowland later achieved in an entire career. The incendiary nature of Johnny Won’t Get To Heaven captures the true spirit of 77 ideally & it is no surprise that the original 45 on Raw Records (Raw 3) changes hands for at least £50 on a good day & is still listed in the Record Collector Guide at over £100. The single was re-issued by Damaged Goods (DAMGOOD165) but even these are scarce these days.
I first saw Kleenex supporting SLF at Digbeth Civic Hall in 1978. At that time they had the glamour of Debbie Harry, the unity of the Ramones & the songs of The Slits before they met Dennis Bovell. Their debut EP on their own Sunrise records left their native Switzerland as an obscure outsider & arrived in the UK signed to Rough Trade.
The original EP (078-S 1964) featured 4 songs: Beri Beri, Ain’t You, Heidi’s Head & Nice - copies regularly go for over £20 today! Rough Trade issued a repress of the EP with slightly different artwork before releasing Ain’t You/Heidi’s Head (RT009) - again, in very slightly altered packaging. A 3rd 45, You/U (RT014), followed in 1979 but by then the tissue giant Kleenex were threatening legal action over the group’s name & Kleenex became Liliput (changing line up in the process). The complete Kleenex recordings are available on CD as part of the Liliput collection on Kill Rock Stars Records (KRS 373) & is highly recommended.
L Is For The Lurkers.
The Lurkers were not loved by the Punk Rock cognoscenti - that didn’t stop juvenile urchins like me latching on to their Ramones-esque brevity & celebrating for all it was worth. Their debut 7, Shadow (Beg 1) was one of the greatest Punk Rock sides in the relatively short history of the genre. Their second, Freak Show (Beg 2), featured a cartoon by Savage Pencil of the Art Attacks! Both can be picked up for under a tenner - & while your at it grab the LP - Fulham Fallout (Bega 2) - for £15 or the CD on Captain Oi (Ahoy CD 73) for less - including P&P! The Lurkers were better than The Clash, said Ian Wilson of the Star Spangles recently - & in a funny kind of way - he could be right!
M Is For Magazine, MC5, Metal Urbain & The Modern Lovers.
Two great things came out of the birth of Buzzcocks: Buzzcocks - & Magazine. Following Issue 12’s Magazine feature, I won’t bore you all to death again so soon - let’s just say that Howard Devoto has a voice to die for, the integrity of a committed outsider & a strict belief in art over income - & leave it at that.
It is a little known fact of this country’s arcane legal system that it is in fact illegal to not own the 1st 4 x Magazine singles: Shot By Both Sides (VS200), Touch & Go (VS207), Give Me Everything (VS237) & Rhythm Of Cruelty (VS251). Neither should set you back more than a tenner & you should pick up pristine copies of all 4 for under £30. For CD recommendations - see Magazine feature in Issue 12 of tMx.
The MC5 were only a legend when I was a kid. Only with the benefit of hindsight & the True Testimonial movie is it possible to quantify the true worth of this group of Detroit renegades. Needless to say, it’s all been said before - but without the influence of the 5, Punk Rock would be a very compromised place to live. As with most proto-Punk outfits, The MC5 are very expensive & almost impossible to collate in original issue vinyl without a sympathetic bank manager & plenty of air miles. The best place to start is The Big Bang - The Best Of The MC5 (Rhino - 8122-79783-2) on CD - & work your way outwards from there. In order to know where you’re going to - you have to respect where you came from!
I’ve been banging on about French Punks Metal Urbain to anyone who’ll listen for years now. Simply put - their 1st 3 x 45s were as magnificent a cannon as it’s was possible to own in the world of Punk Rock, circa 1977. Panic (Cobra Records - COB 47004), Paris Maquis (Rough Trade - RT001) & Hysterie Connective (Radar/Rough Trade - ADA 20) are the 45s in question - & all are rapidly rising in value. See Metal Urbain feature elsewhere in this issue for CD details & further juice.
The Modern Lovers were amongst the 1st US (Boston) groups to be authentically influenced by Iggy & The Stooges. Back in the day, all Jonathon Richman wanted to do was be Iggy Pop! He was also so shy he would hide beneath the mixing consul with the lights out when recording his vocals.
The story of the Modern Lovers is complicated & confusing - much of their best material has been languishing in the vaults for some time due to legal complications. Thankfully, Sanctuary recently reissued their classic debut LP The Modern Lovers (CMOCD 782) on CD with more to follow.
The indispensable The Original Modern Lovers (Bomp - BCD 4021) set was produced the legendary Kim Fowley & features an earlier incarnation of the group knocking out an early set with vigour, angst & amps on 11. Your Modern Lovers collection will not be complete without the UK issue of Roadrunner (Beserkley - BZZ 1) on 7 in a picture sleeve for around £7. Consider yourself told.
N Is For The New York Dolls.
The New York Dolls were arguably one of the finest rock’n’roll groups to ever set foot on a cramped stage. Trashy, flashy & dipped in the spirit of classic mid period Stones - The Dolls were the original cross-dressers of Punk Rock. Ripped off by everyone from David Bowie to Malcolm McLaren - The Dolls took their cue from the MC5 & the Stooges - & twisted their shit as far as it would go. They only made 2 x LPs, & again original vinyl will be expensive, but until the upcoming NY Dolls re-issue programme kicks in later this year I’d stick with Rock’n’Roll (Mercury - 522 129-2) on CD & fall in love all over again.
P Is For Pere Ubu.
Pere Ubu emerged in Cleveland in 1975 from the wreckage of Rocket From The Tombs. Arty, existentialist & prone to sonic violence, Pere Ubu’s first 2 x 45s remain the pinnacle of their existence: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo (HR 101) & Final Solution (HRR 102) - both will require a mortgage & a private investigator should you wish to track down original 7 copies.
Closer to home - & objective capture - are the CDs: The Shape Of Things To Come (HRR 113) The Modern Dance (COOK CD 141) & Terminal Tower (COOK CD 142). All 3 are available from all good record shops!
R is For Radio Birdman, The Ramones, The Real Kids & Rocket From The Tombs.
Radio Brirdman were born in Sydney, Australia, in 1974 when US ex-pat medical students, Deniz Tek (a veteran of the Detroit scene) & Pip Hoyle met Aussies Younger, Gilbert, Keely & Rourke. Influenced by the Stooges Funhouse, The MC5 & The Doors - Radio Birdman were a bunch of rock’n’roll outlaws whose trail blazing in the name of Punk Rock has never been fully appreciated. Along with The Saints, Radio Birdman proved that it was not where you came from - but where you were at.
Radio Birdman were not exactly prolific during their lifetime - their entire vinyl output was the subject of a WEA boxset - Under The Ashes (LOC 999) - in 1988 - & this remains the best way to collect their out-put on vinyl. Original vinyl issues of Australian pressings can be expensive & hard to track down.
On CD - Radio Birdman are best represented by the The Essential Radio Birdman - 1974-1978 (Sub Pop - SPCD 553) & their classic debut LP, Radios Appear (Citadel - CIT CD 550).
For more information on Aussie Punk - track down copies of the essential compilations Do The Pop (DTP 1976) & Tales From The Australian Underground (336142).
The Ramones strode out of Queens, NYC, in 1974 to totally change the face of Punk, Rock & Roll. The Ramones re-introduced the notion of a pop song at under 90 seconds travelling at over 100mph & often completed their blitzkrieg sets in around 18 minutes. Buzzsaw guitars set to stun, bubblegum dumb lyrics of a throwaway nature & a drummer that couldn’t set up his own stool. Perfect.
The Ramones went from being a joke to being scene leaders in less than 12 months - & from 1975 to 1979 were one of the most crucial rock’n’roll groups on planet Punk. Their UK shows in 1976 proved to be far more of a catalyst for the emergent UK Punk scene than anyone at the time cared to speculate. Their debut eponymous LP sold out on import in the UK before Sire finally got round to issuing it here, so if you really want to be a Ramones vinyl completist, then this is the copy you must own.
The 1st 4 x Ramones LPs & supportive 45s are the ones to own - Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket To Russia & Road To Ruin are available for under £20 a throw for original UK copies. Be careful with Leave Home as there are two versions - one including the cut Carbona Not Glue - the other featuring the unlisted cut Babysitter - of course, you need both if you’re going to play properly. Road To Ruin also appeared initially on yellow vinyl - so bear that in mind!
On the singles front - only Blitzkrieg Bop in a picture sleeve will tax you unduly (£150+) - most other Ramones 45s should come in at under £20 (Ramones prices can vary - depending on demand).
The entire Ramones catalogue has recently been revamped covering both the Sire years & the Chrysalis years. The group are very well represented on CD - the WEA re-issues, in particular, are mouth wateringly packed with bonus cuts, sleeve notes & exclusive photos.
Also worthy of note is It’s Alive - a double live CD recorded in the UK with the original line up that fully explains the allure of the Ramones in action & serves as the perfect document of their board treading antics.
The Real Kids formed in Massachusetts in 1975 & had much in common with the sound, look & vibe of the Ramones. CBGBs regulars, The Real Kids soon found admirers on the burgeoning NYC Punk scene. Their debut 45, All Kindsa Girls (SPSP 10), was released as a French only release in 1977 (since re-issued by Norton Records, NYC - Norton 45-081) & fans of the group had to wait until 1978 for the release of the Real Kid’s debut LP, The Real Kids (Bron 509 - subsequent re-issue on CD & vinyl - Norton Records, NYC - ED 222).
The Real Kids were an integral part of the development of the Punk Rock sound & - although you may never have heard of them - they are highly recommended. Well worth the effort.
Rocket From The Tombs are discussed & documented elsewhere in this issue - & they rightly remain an enigma to this day. RFTT were simply one of the most important rock’n’roll groups of all time - & this CANNOT be stressed lightly.
S Is For The Saints, the Sex Pistols, the Stooges, The Stranglers & Suicide.
The Saints bust out of Brisbane in 1976 on the back of the excitement generated by Radio Birdman & import copies of Ramones. Like The Lurkers in the UK, The Saints captured the distilled essence of Punk Rock & Go succinctly.
Their classic debut 45, (I’m) Stranded (£12), punched holes the size of Texas in your radio’s speakers & threatened to come round & rape your sister in the process. The Saints debut LP, (I’m) Stranded (£20), expanded the formula over 10 tunes without slowing down to look for damage.
Captain Oi handle the CD issues of The Saints back catalogue today & a trip to - www.captainoi.com - should take care of all your Saints requirements!
What can I say about the Pistols that I haven’t said a thousand times before - already. They came to destroy rock’n’roll & in many senses they achieved their goal. Can there ever be another assault on the senses so complete, so distraught & so well timed I doubt it.
Collecting the Pistols is becoming increasingly expensive. Lydon’s appearance on I’m A Celebrity has raise the bar yet again - I even saw a standard issue copy of GSTQ on Virgin going for £62 on Ebay yesterday (following several serious features in last weekend’s broadsheet finance sections advising all ex-Punk Rocking Bank Managers to speculate & acquire Punk memorabilia in the same way they approach the stock market). God help us.
To simplify things a bit - you need the following:
Anarchy In The UK - EMI - Black Bag - Thomas/Thomas production credit - promo if possible (there are several different types of these but I would suggest you track down one with the words promotional copy only stamped in black on the label’s push out centre - not one of the ones with a promo only sticker affixed to the label - they smell dodgy). Prices vary - & considering the implications of the above - will continue to do so (shop around).
God Save The Queen - A&M - house bag. These regularly change hands for upwards of £4000. Our very own Suburban Kid owns a copy - I have one of the crap bootlegs which I paid £60 for. Advice - be very careful!! To muddy the waters further: it remains a mystery as to exactly how many copies of the original actually exist - a conservative estimate popular with Pistols collectors is between 100 & 200 copies - but further copies did appear as part of a pay off settlement to A&M employees a couple of years back - these should come with a letter of validation!!
God Save The Queen - Virgin - Pic Bag. These are very common & you should not spend more that £8 on one.
Pretty Vacant - Virgin - Pic Bag. Ditto.
Holidays in The Sun - Virgin - Pic Bag. Although the sleeve artwork was the subject of a legal wrangle involving a EU member’s tourism board, this should not set you back further than £12 for a pristine copy.
Never Mind The Bollocks - Virgin - 11 track with Submission 7 45 & poster. The complete package - sealed - would set you back £150+. I’d advise you to pick up the LP for around £15 (make sure only 11 cuts are listed on the back), the Submission 7 for £12 & the poster for £60 (you will still be missing the front cover sticker & the black Virgin embossed inner bag - but what the hell are you A train-spotter?
The Pistols market is riddled with expensive stuff you really want to own but should try hard to resist - handbills, posters, test pressings, clothing, acetates, imports (some Pistols imports are very fucking expensive) & the like. You could inadvertently spend the rest of your life aiming for completion & still fall well short.
The easy way in is via The Sex Pistols CD boxset (SEXBOX1) on Virgin. Nicely priced, beautifully packaged & (a few minor quibbles aside) filled with every note your ever going to need.
Reading List: Sex Pistols File by Fred & Judy Vermorel (Omnibus).
Recommended Viewing: The Filth & The Fury (DVD) directed by Julian Temple.
The Stooges were another of those urban myths I grew up knowing little about (I spent many years thinking Search & Destroy was a Dictators song!!). Born in Detroit & raised as the MC5’s ‘little brother group’, The Stooges would prove to be even more of a template for Punk Rock than the 5 themselves. Doused in ‘give a fuck’ attitude, Iggy, Alexander & the Asheton boys were the last word in caring & sharing around 1969.
The Stooges didn’t hang around long - after two LPs (The Stooges & Funhouse) Iggy split to London with new pal David Bowie where he nailed together the immortal Raw Power with new junk-buddy-axe-hero James Williamson & a marginalized pair of Ashetons.
Again, original vinyl Stooges output will tax you beyond belief. There have been umpteen re-issues too tedious to list. You will pick up later 45s from under a tenner - but it really is a minefield.
The Stooges on CD is also dodgy ground - WEA have been threatening the Rhino treatment on their catalogue for years (they are scheduled for later in 2004 - but they said that last year & nothing happened) - but you should pick up any Stooges title on CD for £5 at any discount CD emporium these days. You need them all, obviously!
The Stranglers were threatening - they were pregnant with menace (NB - NOT Menace of GLC fame, I hasten to add) - they were over-flowing with malevolent intent. As a 14 year old, The Stranglers scared me.
1977 was the year for The Stranglers - they released 4 x indispensable 45s (Grip, Peaches, No More Heroes & Something Better Change) & 2 x superb LPs (Stranglers IV - Rattus Norvegicus & No More Heroes). None are particularly expensive or that collectable (the banned Peaches sleeve & Choosie Suzie being possible exceptions) - but that doesn’t mean you don’t need them all!
Don’t believe anyone who tells you The Stranglers didn’t matter or that they were old men jumping the bandwagon. Just spend a couple of days in the company of the above - & then try & work out why no-one has ever managed to play the bass the same way since!
Suicide were actually the 1st group to ever use the term ‘Punk’ to describe their sound. Born in NYC in 1971 - Suicide consisted of Alan Vega, Martin Rev, a battered keyboard, a drum machine & a dozen or so of the most cracked, out-there vignettes you will ever stumble across.
Violent, malicious & just plain fucked up - their live set often involved Martin Rev whipping the venue & audience with a bike chain in an attempt to get people to dance & stop throwing things. Suicide incited their audience to challenge what they actually expected from a rock’n’roll group all over again.
Their debut LP, Suicide (Bron 508), is all you really need. It has been repressed by Red Star (RS1) & is available on CD from Blast First (BFFP 133 CD) in the UK.
T Is For Television & Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers.
Marquee Moon is still regarded as the quintessential New Yawk LP - just ask Ed Hamell - he should know.
Television came into the world in NYC around 1973 after a short period as The Neon Boys. Originally the product of an intense teenage friendship between Richard Hell & Tom Verlaine, this shared vision was to be short-lived & Hell quit the group before they tasted relative success (see Richard Hell interview - Issue 12).
Television initially sold jack shit in the US - it was the hipsters of the UK Punk scene that would elevate (sorry) them to the pinnacle they have remained atop ever since. No matter how quickly or slowly time passes, Marquee Moon never sounds anything less than stunning.
Adventure, the follow up LP from 1978, was always going to suffer by comparison - & suffer it duly did. Despite being pressed on lurid red vinyl & including the excellent 45 Foxhole, Adventure was always going to be seen as a damp squib in the light of what came before it. Pesonally, I wouldn’t believe all that old shit - it’s Television, isn’t it Of course it is.
Both LPs have recently been lavishly re-mastered on both CD & vinyl & should be very easy to find. On the vinyl front - a copy of Television’s debut 45, Little Johnny Jewel (Ork Records - 81975), should only set you back around £12 whilst Marquee Moon & Adventure will possibly cause you no more that £15’s worth of pain a piece. Supporting 45s are relatively accessible & - above all - relatively cheap. Hurrah!
Reading List: Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain
(Abacus) - NB - This volume covers the entire NYC Punk explosion & is all you will ever need on the subject.
The 13th Floor Elevators are considered the true birth of Punk Rock by many - including Bryan Swirsky (& who are we to argue). Formed in Texas in 1965 by Tommy Hall - their line up was completed with the addition of Roky Erikson on guitar. Considered something of a super-group by Austin locals at the time, The Elevators seized their place in history when they credited their drug dealer on the sleeve of their debut LP!
The 13th Floor Elevators have been continually ripped off in the 40 odd years since their inception (Michael Stipe, for one, owes his entire vocal delivery mechanism to Roky) - it’s time you paid their dues. 13th Floor Elevator music remains as perfect & aloof today as it did when it was born - their influence can never be understated.
13th Floor vinyl is hard to acquire - original copies will bankrupt you. The best way to approach The 13th Floor Elevators is by CD - & in particular Snapper/Charley’s superb 3 x CD set, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators.
In the meantime, Roky Erikson is always good value & any of his subsequent catalogue is worthy of investment - including the storming Roky & The Aliens!
Johnny Thunders left The Dolls in a broken mess & hooked up with the omnipresent Richard Hell to form The Heartbreakers (see Richard Hell interview - Issue 12). Hell soon quit & The Heartbreakers eventually ran all the way to the UK in search of a record contract & the next hit. They knew you didn’t need much of habit to score prescription heroin substitutes this side of the pond & managed to hook up with Track Records in the process.
As soon as The Heartbreakers hit the UK the smack clouds descended on those closest to the eye of the Punk storm. Here were a bunch of older men - seasoned rockers accustomed to the wicked ways of the music world - waving syringes in front of impressionable teenagers. There were bound to be casualties (bringing Nancy Spungen along for the trip wasn’t too bright, either). An end of Anarchy tour Xmas dinner involving many of the central protagonists was the signal for the barrels to be washed & a tourniquet to be applied. Many never recovered (including Thunders himself, as I’m sure you’re aware!)
The Heartbreakers left one LP behind - the muddy but effective LAMF (Like A Mother Fucker - joke - no thanks, I’ve just put one out - works well for Madonna’s Like A Virgin too!). Recorded under 20 feet of salt water in an isolation tank (another joke, comedy watchers) - the sound of the LP was a bone of much contention (a final satisfactory mix was not achieved until years later when technology had caught up - in much the same way as Raw Power). Packed to the hilt with quality Punk, Rock’n’Roll, LAMF can still turn the head of a younger ear - even today.
Original Heartbreakers vinyl is not too hard to acquire - a copy of LAMF on Track Records can be found for around £12. A 12 promo of Chinese Rocks only set me back £8! There are a couple of jewels in the crown - the withdrawn It’s Not Enough (Track 2094 142) - for one could cost you upwards of £200. I don’t know, I’ve never even seen a copy!
Reading List: In Cold Blood by Nina Antonia (Jungle Books)
V Is For The Velvet Undeground.
Obviously, I’d never heard of The VU as a kid - but then again who had (the words ‘wilfully’ & ‘obscure’ seem oddly pertinent)
Now, I’m not going to attempt either a potted history or an in depth one. If you don’t know the score on one of NYC’s seminal rock’n’roll groups by now you have no right to be reading this zine. The only rule of thumb I would recommend when accessing the VU is: make sure John Cale is in the group (that’s right - what made them great walked out of the loft door with him!). So that’s the 1st 2 x LPs only. OK
Vinyl will again hurt intensely - so stick with the CDs that were so wonderfully re-mastered not that long ago. The Velvet Underground & Nico is available in a deluxe 2 CD package & White Light, White Heat as a single jobby (both on Polydor).
W Is For Wire.
Wire were formed in London in 1976 by Lewis, Gilbert, Gotobed & Newman. They contributed 12XU to the The Roxy London WC2 & EMI, desperate for a hep cat slice of the punk rock pie, immediately signed the group to their Harvest subsidiary.
Wire’s debut 45 (Mannequin) was a stone cold Punk Rock classic. Icy, iconoclastic, short & definitely not sweet. Wire were as dark as it got with the 1st wave! Their debut LP (Pink Flag) was a master class in pop-sussed Punk brevity that remains their finest moment to this day (so much so that the current line up played it in it’s entirety at shows in the UK & US in 2003).
Wire became so important to me that my own first group’s set consisted of nothing but Wire covers (fact).
Jean Encoule - tMx 13 - 02/04