The Apocalypse pages have been updated with new scrapbook photos and cuttings from 1981. (Many thanks to Pub member Katt for sending through additional pictures from the 101 Club in Clapham.) Also uploaded: a live MP3 of 'The Dog Song' by the 'old,' 3-piece Apocalypse from December 1981. Listen to it here and read about it here. We may make a couple more of these early Apocalypse songs available before compiling the 1982 scrapbooks and uploading additional studio recordings from the 'later' years. Enjoy. And feel free to comment on any of this in the Apocalypse thread in The Pub.
No two pedestrian signs in Staines are alike. No, really. Over at flickr.com, Raindog has neatly arranged them to prove as much and he's given them names, too. My fave: Mr. Beergut.
Now I know that barely half the UK populace bothered to vote earlier this month and that most of those did so reluctantly, but is apathy really so widespread that more people can't enter this competition? Or is just that nobody visits Steve Lamacq's Radio 6 message board? The challenge is simple: to review an album in 33 words. The reward is reasonably exciting: become a Critic of The People and appear on the following Friday's Roundtable. Yet only nine people have so far managed to review The Clash, by The Clash. Come on people, it must be the greatest debut album of all time. If you need ideas, you're free to crib them from my book. Excerpts are here. I have, however, already entered with a ludicrously cheeky but highly accurate review.
A more popular thread on Radio 6's Lamacq message board is that for Best Debut Album. (Did we run a similar thread in our Pub? Or was ours just for Top Albums overall?) The lack of Clash reviews above may be explained by the lack of listeners/surfers on this thread who cite the debut Clash album. They're too busy positing The Pixies instead. What's wrong with teens today? Why aren't they wallowing in nostalgia like the rest of us?
Another Lamacq link. This news item appeared in today's Drowned In Sound. Does it make the Gallaghers scabs?
"In a decision more something than we could possibly comment on, it appears that Radio 1 are planning to combat their potential strike disruptions with an Oasis day. Monday 23rd May will see the corporation's flagship station playing exclusive album tracks and a live set.
Songs from 'Don't Believe The Truth' will be played throughout the day and Noel Gallagher will be doing a sleb chat with Jo Whiley.
Steve Lamacq will finish off the night with a Lamacq Live Special, broadcasting the headline set from the band at London's Clapham Grand."
Cue Tony Page's fave joke:
Q: Is this bus going to Clapham?
A: Only if they perform well.
This is no joke - though it is kind of funny. Marky Ramone played drums for Lisa Marie Presley's outdoor show in downtown Manhattan the other day. Lisa, who has the odd distinction of being both the daughter of The King and the ex-wife of The King Of Pop, sang a rendition of The Ramones' 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.'
Does that make Lisa Marie a swinging chick? I don't know, but doing some research the other day I swear it was research I came across the Swingin' Chicks of the Sixties web site. Alongside the obvious Honor Blackman, Twiggy, Sharon Tate, Natalie Wood etc.- I was impressed to see this detailed profile on the delightful Kim Moon.
Enough frivolity for today. Last night I was on my feet for several hours watching Doves and Mercury Rev. Tonight I expect to take in four happening newish bands at about three venues, and at some point I'll try and make sense of it all and write up some kind of overview. In the meantime, we're almost finished with an Apocalypse 1981 photos page and a live MP3 from that year too. Check back over the next 24 hours.
Everybody should have a peripatetic friend who shows up at unexpected but welcome intervals to brighten their lives. I have Guy Pratt. Met him at a party when I was about 12, where he taught me how to play 'Pinball Wizard' and 'Substitute' on the guitar; next ran into him when he was bassist with Speedball (see Apocalypse flyer here); then when he was hanging with his old school-mate Youth from Killing Joke and that whole Notting Hill crowd; fell out of touch for years during which time he moved to LA and recorded with Michael Jackson and Madonna; got back in touch after he took Roger Waters' place in Pink Floyd (for real); and in more recent times have followed his career by watching his name show up with songwriting and bass playing credits from Marianne Faithfull albums to Jimmy Nail movies. (Check his partial credit list at allmusic.com here.) On the few occasions I get to see him he's either writing a musical with Gary Kemp, having pop hits with Alex James from Blur, teaming up with Damien Hirst for some international mischief, planning world domination with Johnny Marr, or DJ'ing with Alex from The Orb. Guy is one of those people who never sits still, is always in good humor, and of whose life you can't help but think, that would make a great play.
Which is, I'm pleased to see, what he's done. My Bass and Other Animals runs for three weeks in August at the suitably named Underbelly Theatre. In the interim, two nights of previews take place at June 14 and 15 at the Canal Café Theatre, located on Delamere Terrace in Little Venice. (Tel: 0871 332 2701). Knowing Guy, I am quite certain you will get your money's worth.
It's the kind of connection that Guy, a Who mod if ever there was, should love. Did anyone else hear that cover version of the Quadrophenia finale 'Love Reign O'Er Me' by Star You Star Me on Chris Coco's Blue Room show Sunday morning? It was played as the Milkman Tune about two-thirds of the way in, and though I don't believe the BBC Radio Player allows you to fast-forward through the archived show, it's hardly as if an iJamming! reader won't enjoy everything else that precedes it. The single is credited to the Kickin' label, but it's not yet showing up on their web site. while I can find other Star You Star Me releases at t he label's web site, this one is currently conspicous by its absence: a B-side or a pre-release, most likely. Either way, given its laid-back similarity to the highly popular Nouvelle Vague take on the new wave classics, I'm sure we'll be hearing it again.
This may be the right time to mention that Chris Coco's new studio album, Heavy Mellow, is out at the end of this month. And that track six, 'Memory Of A Free Party' uses as its lyrics a section from my novel Hedonism, as read by Anthony Roman of Radio 4. Chris's last studio album featured some Iain Banks fiction, so you can imagine how flattered I feel about this. The Hedonism section in question is an edit from this chapter. You can read more about Heavy Mellow here. And visit Chris Coco's own site here.
Ian Curtis of Joy Division died 25 years ago today. He was just 23 years old. Joy Division's successors, New Order, played New York two weeks ago for the first time in a decade. They are not playing tonight. Nor should they be. (Thanks to Jaffo for the reminder.)
Gang of Four played New York last night for the first time with their original line-up since 1981. So eager were they to make up for lost time that they actually played twice once at Irving Plaza and then again, just two hours later, at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, for a semi-secret show that appears to have been either invite only, or $50 a pop, depending on your connections. I have connections and was invited down there, but the one show was good enough for the night especially as the second one would not have finished until 2.30am. Expect a review and more photos later in the week. Gang Of Four are playing Irving Plaza again tonight. Radio 4 are opening.
Is there an original Spizz line-up? Does guitarist Pete Petrol still stand by his side? Maybe I should ask him. The first ever Independent Chart Topper and myself have been exchanging e-mails this past week since he sent me an announcement of his Holiday Weekend show at the 100 Club. Spizz answered last week's post about 'Where's Captain Kirk's non appearance on the national charts as follows:
"Rough Trade refused to join the BPI record company club largely due to a
considerable sum required for membership.
It is this reason therefore why we were unable to get higher than No: 40
which was the required position for an act to be offered a Top Of The pops
appearance. So with no TOTP appearance our appeal to the wider record
buying public was lost and I think that it is a safe bet we would have sold
more with an appearance. Like others before us our back catalogue would have
been discovered and who knows 6000 Crazy could have also charted Ha ha.
I am well aware that there is no guarantee that we would have sustained a
top flight career but at least MTV and other pop & rock cable channels would
have re-run the tracks and this may well mean that shows like the 100 club
on Sunday 29th May could be more frequent or bigger events.
Its a wonder I am not all bitter and twisted with a melancholic black bile
seeping and eating into me eh?
oh and then REM cover Where's Captain Kirk? and give it away to their fan
club as a limited edition of 6000 copies - now that IS crazy.
I could've been a contender Hahaha"
[I sympathise over the R.E.M. issue: if you allow that New Order once boasted of earning an extra £50,000 when James Last covered 'Blue Monday' on LP, this in around 1984, you can imagine what, say Wire earned from R.E.M.'s decision to cover them on a million selling album.]
I wrote back to Spizz and asked if he could confirm 'Where's Captain Kirk' sales figures as I had recalled being told, back at the time, of sales in excess of 50,000. He replied:
"I was told a figure of 80,000 but that could be for all of 1980
'Soldier Soldier' and 'No Room' 50,000 each
Prior to the release of the 1st LP according to the Record Mirror in a
paragraph they ran on their chart page... They estimated our combined sales
was around 250,000 and that we were probably the
"biggest selling band not to have had a top twenty hit"
'Do A Runner' did go Top 20 in August (usually a low sales month)
You'd think we would have been invited to the celebration of 20 years of
Rough Trade events a couple of years ago eh?
Didn't even get a mention on their website
Rough Trade appear to be Orwellian and rewrite us out of the picture"
(He might mean that Rough Trade is Stalinist. Poor Orwell gets associated with all sorts of crimes he merely reported on and fictionalized.)
Spizz Energi plays the 100 Club on May 29.
Did Joy Division, New Order, Gang of Four, or Spizz Energi ever play CBGB? If not, there's not much time to make amends. At a press conference Monday to launch the CBGB chocolate bar and punk rock box, CB's proprieter Hilly Kristal delivered a doomsday scenario. His landlords, non-profit though they may be, have refused to negotiate with him over a new lease come September, and are currently soliciting interested parties who can afford up to $85 a square foot. (Kristal pays in the region of $30 a square foot right now.)
There are two schools of thought about the future of CBGB. One is that no venue, not The Cavern Club, The Marquee, Max's Kansas City Nor CBGB, is sacred, and that, after thirty years, Kristal might simply have to accept that his time is up and retire. I may have intimated as much in my Times piece on Sunday. But I also belong to the camp that says CBGB should survive not just because of its history, but because it continues to operate by the punk rock ethic on which it was founded. Hilly might be perhaps the only club owner in New York City especially one of 30+ years continual hands-on operation of whom nobody has a bad word. At the press conference Monday night, the ever understated Hilly made three important points:
1) That he was interested in turning part of the venue perhaps the gallery area in which we were meeting into a museum, clearly recognizing that much of the club's traffic is from overseas tourists who visit it for historical rather than contemporary relevance.
2) He's unaware of any large-scale club operation that has ever moved and survived. I thought immediately of Wardour Street's Marquee, shifted to Charing Cross Road for a painful few years before being put out of its misery, and nodded my head.
3) He plans to fill the August date book with benefits and protest appearances from every CBGB alumni he can find. He hinted that Green Day, currently booked into that little club known as Giants Stadium in early September, owe him one. If CBGB is still standing come then, I wouldn't be surprised if they agreed.
The chocolate connection had a lot of people both licking their lips and scratching their heads; as I mentioned last week, the sudden craze for luxury foods seems more like part of the gentrification problem, not the CBGB solution. But Chocolate Bar founder Alison Nelson announced herself as a simple girl from Queens who'd grown up going to CBGB and wanted her chocolate company to have a fun, street connection and had approached CBGB for a tie-in before even learning that the venue was in trouble. To her credit, the bars and the boxes come with pre-paid petitions to save CBGB and, you know what, they're damn good chocolates too. You can petition to save CBGB without putting on calories: visit the save cbgb site here.
CBGB is like a box of chocolates...
...Actually, it is a box of chocolates
Even when I plan a weekend without live music, it ends up dominating my schedule. As follows:
I'm sitting at home contemplating a nice quiet evening in before an early race Saturday, when I get a phone call telling me Stellastarr* are playing Luna Lounge tonight. No, they're not the very biggest band in the world and so this is not the equivalent of Bruce Springsteen dropping in at the Stone Pony. But Stellastarr* haven't played anywhere in months, and Luna is closing in a few weeks. It would be crazy not to take advantage.
The pretext for the unannounced gig was not so much for Stellastarr* to say a final farewell to the venue at which they played their very first gig back on July 3, 2000 - than to test out the just finished, as yet untitled second album on stage. To that end, they delivered what more bands should do more often a set of entirely new material. An opening ballad, 'Lost In Time,' suggested that this new album, scheduled for September release, will be more conventional than the debut or, as singer Shawn Christensen told me afterwards, more "disciplined" and "spacious." Which makes sense: all bands must develop to maintain relevance, and after almost five years playing much the same material, Stellastarr* are ready to grow out of their youthful eccentricities. That said, the back-to-back mid-set songs 'Love and Longing' and 'Island Lost At Sea' each played heavily on one of rock's most over-used words, "stay." And perhaps because guitarist Michael Jurin had turned his reverb unit up to 11 and was now playing top-of-the-neck arpeggios, I couldn't help but hear U2's influence where previously was referenced the likes of The Pixies.
As they were: Stellastarr* on board a boat, June 2002
Fortunately, Stellastarr* still can't help but write off-kilter songs, three of which leaped straight from the stage to my heart: 'Sweet Troubled Soul,' with the lovely chorus line "I want to see your face in the reflection of my bedroom stereo"; 'Damn This Foolish Heart,' with an instant singalong verse a la The Buzzcocks; and 'The Diver,' which oozed quality from start to finish. And plenty more about the show remained endearingly the same: Shawn and bassist Amanda Tannen teaming up on phonetic backing vocals, drummer Arthur Kremer taking his shirt off (minus the nipple tape, though); all four members consuming water and Gatorade like they were running a marathon. That's one reason I've been such an ardent and enthusiastic follower of this group; I've never seen them give anything less than the proverbial 110%.
As secret gigs go, this was just about perfect: free admission, near a dozen new songs, an encore of the three firm favorites, and just enough hardcore fans and friends to fill the room but no more. I didn't bring the camera because a) it's no longer fun to do so at live shows, as proven by the fact that just about everyone else in the room spent the gig pointing their mobile phones at the stage, and b) I've photographed so many of their earlier gigs, back to when their Luna shows were actually advertised. Stellastarr* are playing a semi-announced show this Friday at the Bowery Ballroom under the name The Ligers for the launcch of NY2LON. The Ordinary Boys are also on the bill.
A couple of iJamming! pub members and myself went to meet Dan Freeman at The Gate on 5th Ave Saturday afternoon for the half way point of his "thousand bars in one year" adventure. We expected a young slacker. Turns out he's retired (but of course!). Nice chap though; read his blog here.
The New York Road Runners Club was kind enough to hire a live band for entertainment both before and after the Queens Half Marathon. This may be to compensate its members for an awkwardly-located starting point and an awfully ugly course. (None of which stopped almost 3000 runners from taking part.) So my thanks to The Rumrats for delivering a set of energetic covers that included 'I Melt With You,' 'I'm a Believer' and 'American Idiot.' (You can hear their note-for-note rendition of the Green Day anthem by clicking on their web site.) Bonus points to singer Marcus Bennett for wearing a Who target t-shirt. What I want to know, though, is what rock'n'roll band in its right mind agrees to a 7am gig? Especially to play to an audience whose main purpose in being there is to run miles away from the stage as fast as they possibly can? Did the band set their alarms for 4am? Or did they just stay up all night? Given that they claim to be the "proud personal sponsors of White Castle, highly recommended at 5 AM," it may well have been the latter. Either way, I for one appreciated the effort.
Well, we knew there'd be live music all over this one. There were stages set up outside Southpaw and The Gate; there was, once again, a death metal band (Bloodrot!) on the corner of 9th Street; there were several DJs, including a solid hip-hop/ragga set outside the brand new sneakers-and-tees hip-hop shop Premium Goods; and there was still some salsa and meringue for and from the steadily-diminishing Hispanic residents. The weather was less co-operative than in recent years, occasional showers sending fair-goers scattering for cover. And, as I suspected, the presence and promotional skills of Chris Acosta and his Moda Café's streetwise DJ sets was greatly missed. Moda's space, bang next door to record store Somethin' Else, has been taken by a jazz bar that's yet to officially open: the new proprietors hosted an inspired live set on the far corner, but it wasn't the same.
Mussels at The Gate
Bloodrot at The Bank: all of the good names have obviously been taken!
Still, there was ample incentive to meander the mile-plus stretch of what seems to now be officially (and therefore dangerously) Brooklyn's hippest Avenue. All the restaurants and bars, as ever, set up their wares on the sidewalk, with residents casually drinking on the go to take-out food from around the world; there were pitches for the Brooklyn Free School and petitions against Bruce Ratner; there was a tasting from the Dow of Wine and free samples from The Chocolate Room; and upcoming Latin restaurant Bogota was wisely asking people not just to sign a mailing list for a possible free dinner but to name their favorite Latin food in the process. I begged them to make a smoothie out of the Brazilian fruit Acai as was so popular (not least with me) down in Rio. They seemed up for it. Listening to your customers is always the best way to secure their loyalty.
Premium Goods: hip hop comes to the block with a sneakers-and-tees store around 6th Street.
Chip Shop and you don't stop: Chris keeps the Union Jack flying high while serving up the Shepherd Pie
Down at 5th Street, I finally got round to trying the Chip Shop's excellent Wild Mushroom Shepherds Pie, washed down with Black Sheep Ale's novelty but quality Monty Python Holy Grail. (Grail=ale. Get it?) Dinner was a take-out from Long Tan, whose Curry Puffs were rightly described as "subtle somosas". Their definition of "mild curry," on the other hand, might need some tightening; that or the chef had just gotten carried away by the exuberance of the occasion. The fair concluded quietly at 6pm, absent Moda's "extended license" drama of last year. Consider it a more disciplined street fair, a reflection perhaps of the changes on the Avenue. But still consider it one of the best in a city that, for all its visible faultlines, has free live music built into its very foundations.
There's live music in the diary almost every night this week. Rather than potted reviews every morning, I'll find a way to round up the week's worth when it's done with. (I.e. when I can think straight!)
...And Hull City. And Crewe. And Burnley. Otherwise known as... nobody's fault but our own. Crystal Palace go down, again.
May 9-15: Brooklyn Beats, New York Nights, Cider With Roadies, Spizz, Clash, Basquiat,
May 2-8: The Spring (Cleaning) Hitlist, Cure vs. Smiths, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Real Estate Bust, Save CBGB: Eat More Chocolate
April 25-May 1: Erasure live, LeNell's Wine store, Happy Endings, Peter Hook
April 18-24: Rockin' & Shockin', M83/Ulrich Schnauss live, NJ Marathon, Ribolla Gialla wine
April 11-17: The Spring Hitlist, Springtime In Brooklyn, Restaurant Reviews, Supermom!
April 4-10: Twenty wine reviews, FischerSpooner, KEXP, Loveless, Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 28-April 3: Loathsome! Daft! Human! Overload! Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 21-27: The Go! Team live, Ian Brown dead, Pont Neuf wine, Hall Of Fame rules, Cocotte restaurant, Marilyn Monroe/Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibitions
Mar 14-20: The March Hitlist, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Dinner report,
Mar 7-13: Bouillabaisse 126 restaurant review; Going Up In The World; Dandy Mama; Tim Booth
Feb 21-Mar 6: Live reviews: Ian Brown, Schizo Fun Addict, Soft Explosions, The Stands. Wine review: Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz.
Feb 14-20: Ten Words Of Wisdom, Weblinks, Stone Roses demos, Lyceum revisited, Bandol wine review
Feb 7-13: Fanzines, Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll, Chord & Tabs, The Plug Awards, Tear Down The Discos, Jean Lallement Champagne review
Jan 31-Feb 6: Erasure/Tim Booth/M83/T.H. White album reviews. WebFriends Day. The Jam vs. The Smiths vs. The USA, Iraq elections
Jan 24-30: Chemical Brothers/Lemon Jelly/Slits album reviews. Ted Leo/Benzos live reviews. Gang of Four/Specials/Happy Mondays/Farm/Bureau reunions. Tempranillo wine reviews.
Jan 17-23: The January Hitlist: Those That Almost Got Away, Revolutions, Remixes, Remisses, Justin Timberlake, Fiery Furnaces, Jimmy Edgar live
Jan 10-16: Tsunami observations/relief efforts/fund-raisers, Best Wines of 2004, British vs. American charts, Alba Chambourcin wine review
Jan 3-9: The Best Of 2004 - Albums and Singles; Biggest Disappointments of 2004; Minutes of A Miracle: Our Son Noel; New York Club Nights
2004 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2003 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE: