Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Damned United...

What better way to start the day than with a raucous blast of absurdist punk perfection? (Especially if your ears are completely blocked up with hardened earwax, as mine have been for the past three days and you can't hear a ruddy thing...) Many people who saw all three bands - well, Istvanski and my old uncle Gweekington - tell me the Damned were the best of the original holy trinity of English punk - the aforementioned unit, The Sex Pistols and The Clash. I was a bit late on the scene for the intitial punk explosion - arriving late for a UK Subs lunchtime gig at the Greyhound, Fulham Palace Road was about as close as I got to the action. Indeed, by the time this single came out, it was pretty much all over - the ground-opening-up-beneath-your-feet excitement of the initial euphoric anarchy having given way to an off-the-peg attitude as saleable as the latest dangling disco belt; much as Smash it up's farfisa driven chaos fades out in a glorious epiphany of prog pomposity.

The b-side, Burglar

romps along menacingly enough on a catchy nee-nar, nee-nar police siren riff; a paean to the joys of wandering off the 'straight and narrow' - because 'it's a bit too bleedin' straight and a bit too narrow for my liking...'

Hear hear.

as for the label,

well, they don't come much better, do they? This has 'no nonsense' written all over it and serves as a reminder that the gulf between the punk and the pub rockers was never all that great; weren't the 101ers on the same label? Anyway, I can just picture Chiswick High Street as it was then, with it's rock 'n' roll revivalist record shops and boarded up shop fronts on the long trudge up to Hammersmith Odeon.

Those were the days...


Smash it up:



Saturday, 7 August 2010

Lou Reed - New York

Shirley Don't slaps an orange Sainsbury's bag down on the Shadow Rolodex before shimmying off enigmatically to yet another Subharmonics rehearsal (you'd think they'd *know* the songs by now...) It's full of Lou Reed L.P.s (the bag, that is), so it's a good job that when she slapped it down on the Rolodex, it mainly missed the 3-day old plate of Ragu I'd been toying with removing to the washroom for several hours whilst I caught up with Wallander on the i-Player. I'm sure I'll get the orange blob off Rock 'n' Roll animal somehow... what would Kurt do, I wonder? (Probably take Jussi for a walk and looked despondant most likely. Worth a try if the WD-40 doesn't work, I suppose...)

There are several albums in the solo career-spanning pile I hadn't heard before and a couple of duplicates. Where to start? Well, as my dear old pal Nick has gorn and upped sticks and relocated Stateside, why not 1989's New York? Reed's one of those people I always used to say I didn't have much time for, somehow forgetting how brilliant Transformer is. And then there are the Velvets...I suppose, looking back, I rebelled against the adulation surrounding the V.U. that was de rigeur during my teens - I sided with the more melodious Doors and the more mainstream British pop of the late 60s at the time and was thus glad to hear Johnny Marr saying that they deliberately pinched the beginning of 'There is a light that never goes out' from Marvin Gaye's 'Hitch-hike' knowing that most people would mistakenly think it was a steal from the V.U.s 'There she goes again' (and, presumably, someday realise the rip-off merchants they were...)

But OK, I was wrong. And the more I hear, the more I recognise the genius.

I remember hearing New York when it came out and loving it - not sure if I'd taped a library copy or just borrowed it and played it a lot - whatever, the songs came back to me as soon as I listened again. It's vintage Reed - as soon as the voice comes in on opener 'Romeo had Juliette' you know he's in fine fettle and I was hard pushed to pick just three or four tracks from the first side so in the end I just posted all of 'em. Side two awaits, but just scanning the cover I can remember 'Good evening Mr. Waldheim' and 'Busload of faith' being standouts.

Anyway, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. The MP3s below are taken from a VG+ copy I hadn't even given more than a cursory wipe before transferring. There's a (to my ears, anyway) pleasant static bristle to the beginning of the first track that seem to suit the basic, live nature of the sound - as Lou says in the sleeve notes, "you can't beat 2 guitars, bass, drum". There are a couple of pops here and there, but otherwise it's a pretty clean copy.

Anyway, I'm off now to try to set my shop up - more of which later. In the meantime - enjoy...

Romeo had Juliette

Halloween parade

Dirty Blvd

Endless cycle

There is no time

Last great American whale

Beginning of a great adventure