Teenage Punk Rockers
Monday, April 28, 2008
The greatest thing about the Worst was, they represented perfectly the lives of thousands of unemployed British kids. They embodied the spirit of youthful rebellion and served as a symbol of resolve to break away from generations of traditional bureaucracy. As their authentic performances inspired others to get out and do something. During that Summer, hundreds of bands formed in different parts of the country that looked and sounded just like the Worst. Collectively, we only needed a few to represent the punk legacy. These lad's were part of the answer, designed and developed from punk generation street DNA. They appeared ambivalent about their image on and off the stage. The projected message was not to tell us all to support the downtrodden, [ref Billy Brag and Paul Weller]. The message was let's create a new future of entrepreneurs and self starters. This was a band playing live with Woolworth's equipment, ad libbing their set whilst supporting The Buzzcock's. Imagine that today. The Worst also presented a serious value for the cause. This discipline and obedience worked to mature their punk image of morality and freedom ....... The Worst released no records, and that is how it needed to be. They represent the legacy of many, the punks that served in the trenches. Bands that did not go vinyl but stayed true to their core. The fanzine writers that did not write a book and sell out to a publisher. The designers that made their own clothing and did not compromise their styles. To take away the spontaneity would dilute the do-it-yourself vision of 1977.
Below; Early Buzzcock's Manchester Classic
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Above; Drones sticker part of Johna collection click here
Formed in Manchester in 1975, the band started out as a pub rock outfit called Roller Coaster. When their only single did not have the impact they needed the band looked for a new direction so reinvented themselves as a punk band. They also developed a rivalry with real local punks The Buzzcock's, but would fail to match their success outside of Manchester. For a while the band were produced and managed by Paul Morley.
On Monday, October 1, 1977 The Drones, released their second single, "Bone Idle". It was backed by "Just Want To Be Myself". That year they would release three singles plus their album "Further Temptations".
On 14 October 1977 The Stranglers and the Drones played Liverpool University: The Stranglers part of the evening was recorded and released on various bootlegs : The recording includes unique live rendition of English Towns. Considered a great gig, with good quality taping a gig review was included in Bombsite issue 5. The Skunks were playing over at Eric's on this night, Franco Cornelli from the Skunks notes that the Stranglers head over to the club and catch the end of their set, he also described Jean Jacques Burnels fist injury from the earlier fight.
Above; Drones poster part of Johna from Bradford collection
On December 3rd 1977, Paul Morley working for the New Musical Express gives a rather slamming review of their album "Further Temptations";
There's A dull ache in my head - The Drones. An album already? A few months ago they were moaning how everyone and everything was against them. They'd released an EP, "The Temptations Of A White Collar Worker" . . .You can sell anything as long as "it" lasts, their manager states - "it" being punk, (chaos by any other name). Meanwhile the EP sold fairly well. They meet The Stranglers, who take a fancy to them and play a few 'Prestige' dates with the nice chappies and make solid contacts!..
And so it goes The Drones were slammed for their pub rock roots that so many other punk bands had migrated from. There is no disguising the shampooed, cut and blown punk pop style here. Paul Morley as a Manchester local had recognized the bands talent. But, Morley had extracted himself from the group just in time to review the record. Much of his shared venom had to do with his support of the The Buzzcocks / Worst camp that would give The Drone's a good kicking any chance they had. The Bombsite and Liverpool locals liked this band, maybe more than some. For example, the ever-so theatrical Slaughter and the Dogs were hippies turned punks and they had supported the Sex Pistols at Manchester's legendary Free Trade Hall gig. Punk fan Johna from Bradford watched the Stranglers and Drones on the same tour and a few other occasions considered their live work energetic and useful for the punk movement. There were many studio created punk band wagoneers. Some of them did a better job disguising there roots with label PR formulated to disguise the truth. The irony was that some punks would buy a Woolies guitar, learn 3 chords, form a band and were unable to follow the spirit because they did not sound good enough.
classic Stranglers Hope and Anchor London UK 1977
Most bands thriving in the Manchester punk scene stayed in the city, but The Drones relocated to London and became part of the legendary Roxy Club locals. They supported The Vibrators in January 1977, headlined in February, and supported X-Ray Spex and Chelsea in March. Later that year they supported The Stranglers on tour. The band appeared on two influential early punk compilation albums Streets and Short Circuit and Live at the Electric Circus and for any punk enthusiast they are worth a listen.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The "Big in Japan", Generation X gig night resulted in a negative write up in Bombsite issue 2 that possibly led to a "Big in Japan" split. Prior to this event the Clash, The Buzzcocks and the Damned had energized Eric's regulars and they wanted to see more three chord energetic punk bands.
In the US art band Devo had released their first EP on Stiff Records and included songs later to be released on their debut LP.
Big in Japan were the Eric's house band made up of eclectic regulars from Liverpool art school, left overs from the Deaf School Tangerene Dream era. Jane Casey donned a lampshade and her voice shrilled like a broken violin. Later the band members would experiment with sounds, style, imagery and progress to other local groups.
Big in Japan Members included the following
* Budgie - The Spitfire Boys, The Slits and then Siouxsie & the Banshees
* Ian Broudie - The Original Mirrors, Care, The Lightning Seeds and producer
* Bill Drummond - Lori & the Chameleons, the Zoo record label, and The KLF
* David Balfe - Lori & the Chameleons, and The Teardrop Explodes and Food records
* Jayne Casey - Pink Military and Pink Industry and the Liverpool club and art scenes
* Holly Johnson - later of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and solo artist
* Kev Ward and Phil Allen - no further musical activity
Check out this 1977 classic video of Generation X
After the fanzine review Jayne shrilled at us about the negative write up. But local support was failing and members pulled out of the band. talented member of Big in Japan was Holly Johnson, he would see popularity along with Paul Rutherford from the Spitfire Boys, in Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Below; Interesting Holly Johnson video
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Photo 999 Eric's Liverpool
Saturday September 17th Eric's Liverpool;
In 1976 Nick Cash, Guy Days, Jon Watson and Pablo LaBritain started to play together. The first gig together was January 1st 1977 and their band was called The Dials. Soon they changed their name to 48 Hours, after that The Fanatics, and then in May 1977 they became 999. By July they were in the studio recording their first single "I'm Alive". The single was released in August and all 10000 copies were sold within a few weeks. The Bombsite also references the United Artist signing that occurred on Wednesday October 26th, and then the release of their brilliant punk classic "Nasty Nasty" that also occurred during October .
Above clip from Bombsite issue 5 - click to enlarge
During 1977 we watched 999 play on a few different occasions. They were always colorful energetic and full of action. Nick Cash entered into the punk movement through a a similar routing as Joe Strummer, whom had been a London squatter and played with the pub rock band the 101'ers. Kieth Lucas [later Nick Cash] had worked the pub circuit along with Ian Drury in "Kilburn and the High Roads" and were regulars at the Hope and Anchor in Islington. The London pub rock scene predated the punk movement and was an early signal of a rebellious change ready to kick the powerful progressive rock bands in the bollocks. Other pub rockers from the mid 70's included Dr Feelgood, Elvis Costello, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Wreckless Eric, The Stranglers and others. The economy was grinding to a halt and then someone lit the bomb and punk rock blew out of the city like a guitar crunching freight train.
Below; Kieth Lucas and Ian Dury in pub rock band "Kilburn and the High Road"
We shared a table in the Grapes before the show with Nick and Guy and spent the time talking about the UK music scene over a pint. After the show, we rode in a cab and Nick dropped us off in a derelict part of town. A lot of Liverpool was like that back then, vast areas where terraced homes or tower blocks once stood now a pile of rubble. We made our way across the wasteland toward a record store in Birkenhead where we planned to sell or give away some more fanzines. During the cab ride we gave Nick Cash a copy of Bombsite issue 2. The copy would reappear 30 years later as part of Dizzy's collection at Detour Records.
This performance at Eric's is interesting because there is little record of the event and few people attended the show.
I'm Alive / Quite Disappointing (Labritain LAB-999) 9/1977
Nasty Nasty / No Pity (United Artists UP-36299) 10/1977
Emergency / My Street Stinks (Untied Artists UP-36399) 1/1978
Below; Nick Cash and 999 Emergency