jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Spizzenergi


Spizzenergi formed in the late 1970s, an English punk/new wave band led by vocalist / guitarist Spizz (real name Kenneth Spiers). The band changed its name every year, subsequent names including Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzoil and The Spizzles. They are notable as the first band to top the newly created UK Indie Chart early in 1980 with their single "Where's Captain Kirk?". More than two decades after its release, it was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.

Spizz attended Arden School, Knowle, near Solihull, a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, and was inspired by the burgeoning punk rock movement. After a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig at Birmingham's Barbarellas club he jumped on stage and sang into the microphones on the back of which was given a recording deal. He was already performing (solo) by 1977. Spizz soon got together with like-minded guitarist Pete Petrol (real name Pete O'Dowd) with whom he released a few singles during the height of the punk's popularity. In 1978 Palmolive, drummer with The Slits, joined the band, then named Spizzoil, for a few gigs. The band supported Siouxsie and the Banshees among others and later toured as a headline act in many countries of Europe. 


For the first time, Spizz had a dedicated backing band, with a distinctively new wave sound. As Spizzenergi they became the first number one band in the newly formed UK Indie Singles Chart in January 1980. The BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel described "Where's Captain Kirk?" as... "the best Star Trek associated song". Spizz created the artwork for the single cover using felt pens. This was the peak of Spizz's commercial popularity. 

This line-up continued as Athletico Spizz 80, gaining a considerable following. They became the only band to sell out the Marquee Club for five consecutive nights (with a sixth alcohol-free, matinee show). The tune "Where's Captain Kirk?" was featured in the 1981 live music film "Urgh! A Music War". This material was shown occasionally on late-night American cable TV, and may have helped prolong Spizz's fame. They released an album entitled 'Do a Runner' on A&M Records, to mixed reviews. 

When Lu Edmonds joined the line-up in 1981, they changed their name to The Spizzles. The group released a record called 'Spikey Dream Flowers', which cemented the group's sonic image as science-fiction weirdoes. Two final 1982 singles, this time as Spizzenergi 2, "Megacity 3" and "Jungle Fever", were the swan-song of Spizz in the 1980s. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA]

miércoles, 21 de junio de 2017

Judy Nylon


A New York singer who sprang from the early-'80s avant-garde Lower East Side noise rock (aka no wave) scene, Judy Nylon led a brief but interesting career. Abandoning New York for London in 1981, she joined forces with singer Patti Palladin, forming the indelicately named duo Snatch. Snatch was a truly hit-and-miss artsy-fartsy duo, attracting the attention of Brian Eno who, despite working with them, didn't improve their wan, bloodless sound. More successful, however, was brilliant British reggae/dub/psycho-funk producer Adrian Sherwood, who produced Nylon's only solo recording, 'Pal Judy', in 1982. Superficially reminiscent of Patti Smith, Nylon's Beat-inspired lyrical extrapolations are well-suited to Sherwood's expansive sonic collage. It's a tremendously seductive record that certainly gave rise to the opinion that Nylon was embarking on an interesting solo career. Instead, 'Pal Judy' is all we have to show for Nylon the solo artist. Ex-cohort Palladin recorded a great record of covers ('Copy Cats') with Johnny Thunders, but has also been absent from music ever since. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 20 de junio de 2017

Kukl


Kukl (often stylized as KUKL or K.U.K.L.) was an Icelandic post-punk group in the 1980s, most notable for being one of Björk's first bands.The band formed in August 1983 when Ásmundur Jónsson from Gramm Records wanted to create an avant-garde supergroup to perform on the final episode of a radio show called Áfangar. He assembled vocalist Björk Guðmundsdóttir of Exodus and Tappi Tíkarrass, trumpeter and vocalist Einar Örn Benediktsson (a.k.a. Einar Ørn) of Purrkur Pillnikk, keyboardist Einar Arnaldur Melax from the surrealistic group Medúsa, and bassist Birgir Mogensen from Spilafífl, as well as drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson (a.k.a. Trix) and guitarist Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson (a.k.a. God Krist) from the band Þeyr. After two weeks of writing and rehearsals, the band played the radio session. Their ensuing enthusiasm for the experience led to a decision to make the group permanent.


Kukl's first live show was on September 20, 1983, opening for Crass in Reykjavík, followed shortly after by their first release, the 7" single 'Söngull' (Gramm). Einar Ørn had studied media at the Polytechnic of Central London, which enabled him to come in contact with UK anarcho-punk groups such as Flux of Pink Indians and Crass. This led to the 1984 release of Kukl's first album, 'The Eye' (produced by Crass member Penny Rimbaud) on the Crass Records label. The title "The Eye" came from Björk’s favorite book, "Story of the Eye" by Georges Bataille (1928), whose plot involved the sexual adventures of a young French couple within a violent context. The album cover was illustrated by Dada Nana. 'The Eye' contained an English-language version of “Söngull”, retitled “Dismembered”. A video clip was shot for the song “Anna”, directed by Óskar Jónasson. A live performance from September 1984 at L'Eldorado in Paris, France yielded 'Kukl á Paris 14.9.84', a cassette-only release issued in 1985 by independent French record label V.I.S.A.. Kukl toured Europe during 1985, visiting the Netherlands during the Pandora's Box Festival, and Denmark during the Roskilde Festival. Later that year, Kukl and Icelandic rock singer Megas (Magnús Þór Jónsson) formed a side project called Megakukl. After creating about 20 songs, which remain unreleased, they played several concerts in Iceland. 


Kukl released their second and final studio album, 'Holidays in Europe (The Naughty Nought)', on Crass Records on January 24, 1986. Two video clips were produced, "Outward Flight (Psalm 323)" and "France (A Mutual Thrill)". Later that year, the band was close to an end, as different members pursued various projects. Óttarsson and Björk formed The Elgar Sisters, a group which featured musicians from Kukl (with the exception of Einar Ørn) and collaborators Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Þorsteinn Magnússon. This ensemble recorded 11 songs in 1986 and disbanded thereafter. In the summer of 1986, Einar Ørn returned from England with two projects: the creation of a new record label, Smekkleysa/Bad Taste, and a new band, Sykurmolarnir, later translated as The Sugarcubes. As Kukl disbanded, the only members who did not continue with the new project were Mogensen and Óttarsson. The birth of the new band coincided with the June 8, 1986 birth of Björk's son Sindri Eldon Þórsson (fathered by Medúsa guitarist Þór Eldon Jónsson). [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

lunes, 19 de junio de 2017

Art Objects


The Art Objects were an offbeat British group whose embrace of noisy, non-melodic guitar figures and strong psychedelic influences paved the way for post-punk acts such as Echo & the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. Formed in Bristol in the southwest of Great Britain, the Art Objects began in mid-1978 as an eccentric three-piece featuring spoken vocals from poet Gerard Langley, fractured guitar accompaniment from Jonathan J. Key (aka Jonjo), and dancing by Wojtek Dmochowski. The Art Objects adopted a more conventional lineup in the summer of 1979 when drummer John Langley joined the band, soon followed by bassist Bill Stair and second guitarist Robin Key (Jonathan's brother). In 1980, the Art Objects released a three-song single for the Fried Egg label, featuring the tracks "Hard Objects", "Biblioteque", and "Fit of Pique"; the record was a modest success on the independent charts, and a second single soon followed, 'Showing Off (To Impress the Girls) / Our Silver Sister'. Heartbeat Records, which released the group's second single, wanted an album from the Art Objects, and 'Bagpipe Music' was recorded during five days of sessions in the summer of 1980. It was nearly a year before 'Bagpipe Music' was finally released, and shortly after it reached stores, the group split up, with Gerard Langley, Wojtek Dmochowski, and John Langley soon forming a new group, The Blue Aeroplanes; most of the songs of The Blue Aeroplanes' debut album, 'Bop Art', began as Art Objects tunes, and Bill Stair, Jonathan J. Key, and Robin Key helped out during the recording. In 2007, an expanded reissue of 'Bagpipe Music' was released by British indie label Cherry Red. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

Certain General


Certain General is an American post-punk band formed in 1980 by Parker Dulany, Phil Gammage, Marcy Saddy, and Russell Berke. By 1981 and 1982 the band was performing in East Coast venues and colleges from Canada to Texas. Early shows found them sharing the stage with fellow New York and Boston bands such as DNA, Bush Tetras, Liquid Liquid, Mission of Burma, Raybeats, and Swans. Their prominence grew as their presence was increasingly felt within the downtown scene and the band found themselves at various times serving as the house band at both CBGBs and Danceteria, venues that are both now gone, but nonetheless remain legendary for the pivotal role they played in the club scene at the time. Certain General were almost synonymous with that scene, becoming ubiquitous hosts at such other venues as the Mudd Club, the Peppermint Lounge, The Rat, 9:30 Club, and downtown's Hoboken, NJ annex, Maxwell's. They would remain staples of this scene for several years. 

In 1982, the group signed with the New York independent record label Labor Records and recorded their debut, 'Holiday of Love'. The five-song EP was produced by Peter Holsapple of the The dB's and mixed by Michael Gira of fellow Labor Records label mates Swans. In 1983, original bassist Berke would depart to be replaced by roadie and all-around funster, Joe Lupo, and the band would begin work on recording their first proper album. During this time, Certain General would catch the attention of British music journalist Kris Needs, who championed the band and later served as their host during their first UK visit. At the suggestion of Needs, 'Far Away in America' (1984) was conceived as a collaboration of sorts and the LP was shared with another New York band, friends and musical colleagues Band of Outsiders. Independently released on SourMash Records in April 1984, it featured two live and two studio recordings by each band. The two groups furthered the co-op approach and toured together in the spring and summer of 1984 in both the United States and the United Kingdom to promote the record. Highlights of the UK dates included shows at Alice in Wonderland (where in his typical exuberance Dulany smashed his hand through the asbestos ceiling) and the Batcave in London, as well as the Hacienda (with James) in Manchester. The album, coupled with their New York and London performances, would also draw the attention of Chris Parry and his London-based Fiction Publishing. This coincided with a change in management, when the band signed on with Ruth Polsky (the booking agent for New York clubs Hurrah and Danceteria) and her agency, Blind Dates Management. They also began work with the new French record label L'Invitation au Suicide (I.A.S. Records) and made plans to license a newly recorded second LP to the label. 

The band leveraged the Parry relationship and agreed to appear in support of The Cure, who were already signed to Fiction, at New York's Beacon Theater on November 14, an appearance that would be a 1984 highlight. Fans of both bands would maintain that since there was some common ground in the respective sounds of the two bands at that time, the pairing certainly made sense from a musical standpoint. However, their respective positions in the musical pantheon of the day was another issue indeed. Certain General's innate hunger to perform and desire to move forward would serve them well in the context, which became something of a pattern for the band. Rising to the opportunity presented by the Beacon gig, by all accounts the band certainly delivered. Self-financed from earnings saved from performances at New York's Danceteria, 'November's Heat' was released in France in November 1984 by I.A.S. Records. 


Although the next two years saw the band tour and make television appearances in France several times, within the United States, the group's profile remained primarily underground as they continued to perform mainly on the East Coast. To a large degree this was due to internal differences as to where they should appear: tours on the West Coast and in the South failed to materialize not because the opportunities did not present themselves, but rather, because internal strife prevented follow through. However, their reach on the eastern seaboard can be neither ignored nor discounted and their cultural influence was by no means limited to New York. Whether it was due to one of their regular jaunts at the Paradise Club in Boston or City Gardens in Trenton, with a stop at the East Side Club in Philly on their way to 688 in Atlanta, aside from being merely heard in some of the top clubs of the time, they made their presence known and their impact felt. 

The bands with whom Certain General appeared in the early- and mid-eighties is a veritable list of many of the top independent rock bands of the era: Green on Red, Rain Parade, Mission of Burma, Gun Club, Oingo Boingo, New Order, Rank and File, The Rezillos, The Bongos, The Nails, Gang of Four, R.E.M., The Sisters of Mercy, Way of the West, Medium Medium, and Raybeats. In the context of playing as the opener, Certain General built a much-deserved reputation for surpassing those they were supporting. While successful in France, 'November's Heat' was not released in the United States until 2000, rather odd considering that the band was covered widely, especially by the much-respected UK music press. 

1985 saw more personnel changes as Sprague Hollander replaced original guitarist Phil Gammage. In France, I.A.S. Records released the band's next recording project prior to its completion, in fear that they would lose the group to a major label. This "bootleg" would become the infamous 'These Are the Days' and would still somehow win great praise from the press despite the glaring inconsistencies of an unfinished work. In response to the copyright infringement of the record by I.A.S., Ruth Polsky released a finished single by the band ('Will You / Bad Way') on her own New York-based label, S.U.S.S. Records. This success was overshadowed by tragedy when Ruth was killed in a horrific car accident that left her pinned beneath a yellow cab in the doorway of The Limelight club, a converted church in New York, as the band performed there in September 1986. The band would not learn of Polsky's death until the following morning. After a memorial show for Polsky with New Order and Karen Finley at the Roxy in New York and the second of two tours with New Order, Certain General slowly retreated to Paris to convalesce and reorganize. 


After again touring France in 1987, Certain General signed to the prestigious French label, Barclay Records (Jacques Brel, Noir Desir) and recorded 'Cabin Fever'. The LP included their best selling single to date, "I Lose Myself". Based on the success of 'Cabin Fever' and the attention it garnered in French press, the group continued to tour and perform in France. In 1990, Barclay Records issued the album 'Jacklighter', produced by Fred Maher, Gavin Mackillop, and Lloyd Cole. It featured Lloyd and fellow Commotion Blair Cowen on the single "Baby Are You Rich?". The single fared well, but the group was dropped from Barclay in 1992. Following the release of 'Jacklighter' the band entered a period of hiatus until the late nineties while its various members pursued other projects. 

In 1999, original guitarist Gammage rejoined the band and the group's original line-up re-united to record 'Signals from the Source' in the CBGB's basement studio for Hilly Kristal's CBGB Records. Genya Ravan (The Dead Boys) produced the record. 'These Are the Days' was officially released on France's Fantastica Label and the group played a nationwide tour of France, co-headlining with fellow New Yorkers The Fleshtones. In 2000, Fantastica released the Arnaud Dieterlen-produced 'Closer to the Sun', which was recorded in Paris during the 1999 tour.

On May 21, 2010, Certain General released their first collection of new material since 'Closer to the Sun', released in 2000. The new 13-song CD, entitled 'Stolen Car', is composed of 12 new songs written by the band plus a remake of their 1982 recording “Hello My God”. Featuring original band members Parker Dulany (lead vocals, bass) and Phil Gammage (guitar) along with longtime drummer Kevin Tooley, 'Stolen Car' continues the band's tendency toward expansive and exploratory rock sounds. Produced by Tooley at his Concept Studios in New York, 'Stolen Car' includes contributions from sax session musician Robert Aaron, a veteran of recordings by David Bowie, James White, and Al Jarreau, among many others. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

sábado, 17 de junio de 2017

Twisted Nerve


Twisted Nerve from Edinburgh, Scotland are one of the most underrated but one of the best goth punk bands there were. Started in 1978 as The Insults, the band played full on punk back then. First recordings of Twisted Nerve can be heard on the 'Mint Sauce For The Masses' comp. 7" on local label Playlist. The band released another two 7"s, 'Caught In Session' and 'Five Minutes Of Fame', on which you can hear their transition from punk to a darker sound. After some line-up changes, the band released the 'Eyes You Can Drown In' 12" on Criminal Damage, followed by the 'Séance' mini album, a record they released themselves. Both these records are very hard to find now. [SOURCE: PHOENIX HAIRPINS

viernes, 16 de junio de 2017

Dominatrix


Dominatrix was a synthpop band from New York City, best remembered for their 1984 club hit, "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight". Although the group was short lived, their lone hit single was highly influential in the freestyle genre. Producer/songwriter Stuart Argabright (formerly of Ike Yard) formed Dominatrix with vocalist Claudia Summers, Ivan Ivan (AKA Ivan Baker), Ken Lockie and keyboardist Peter Baumann. When Claudia Summers parted ways with the group, musician and actress Dominique Davalos took her place. The band's only single was the controversial 'The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight', released in 1984. The track became a pioneering force in the freestyle genre, and was noted for its use of spoken lyrics. The song's video, directed by Beth B., featured a fur and stocking-clad Dominique Davalos, and it was the imagery in the video set against the subject matter of the song that prevented it from becoming a mainstream success. Commercial radio stations banned the single, and MTV refused to air the risque video. In 2012, the video was placed on display in the contemporary art wing of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Though the song was doomed to commercial failure in the pop charts, it went to number two for two weeks on the dance charts, spending a total of eighteen weeks on the chart. The song became a highly popular single in New York clubs where Dominatrix performed regularly, and also made waves throughout Europe. Due to the success of "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight", the group toured as an opening act for Grace Jones, but soon dissolved to pursue other musical projects. Stuart Argabright has continued working as a producer and Dominique Davalos has appeared in several films and released solo records of her own. She now plays in The Blue Bonnets, an all-female rock band. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017

Alphaville


Alphaville was a band from Madrid that emerged in 1980, at the beginning of the so-called "Movida Madrileña", with a new wave and synth pop style. Unlike other well-known musical groups of this style, Alphaville opted for a more elegant, cold and compact sound, with a weight in lyrics and the creation of gothic atmospheres, that had the unanimous respect of the critic and public. The group was formed by José Luis Fernández Abel (voice and electric guitar), Fernando Muro (bass guitar), José Luis Orfanel (electric guitar), Juan Antonio Nieto (drums) and José Carlos Sánchez (keyboards), all mates from the Colegio Obispo Perelló of Madrid, and followers of bands of progressive rock like King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Together they formed a group called Alchemy that tried to break through the hectic musical moment in Madrid. After some changes in the original formation of the group, they named Alphaville.

Without much success in the record companies, they gave some concerts by the well-known venues of Madrid, like Marquee or Rock-Ola, where they met Servando Carballar, director of the DRO label (Discos Radiactivos Organizados) and leader of Aviador Dro, who believes in his musical project and puts them in a studio to record what would be his first work, an EP called 'Paisajes Nocturnos' published in April 1982. A few months later, the bassist Mendi leaves the group and Pablo Vega replaces him, while appears a maxi that would report the first success: 'Palacio de Invierno', with remarkable songs like "Nijinsky el Loco" and "Ataque Lateral". Subsequently a single would be edited with a song very characteristic of their style, "La Escalera". In the B side appeared an instrumental version of "Nijinsky el Loco"


Bassist Pablo Vega is required to serve military service and is substituted by Jane (Almudena) de Maeztu (formerly from La Mode). Finally, in 1983 appears the first album titled 'De Mascaras y Enigmas' where its sound is definitely aimed of powerful and atmospheric guitars and suggestive keyboards. Their influences are of English groups like Joy Division or Echo & the Bunnymen but they are able to create a very distinctive style that deserves a more than acceptable criticism. The following year, it will appear the most acclaimed song of his career: "De Máscaras y Enigmas", with a homologous name to the previous album, in a maxi called 'El Desprecio'. The song exhibits an atmosphere of mystery thanks to the enigmatic lyrics and a dark guitar that the firm and forceful voice of Abel is in charge of putting together. However, the maxi was not to the liking of critics and in a sense contributed to the group decline. 

The strong personality and self-centeredness of their supposed leader, Jose Luis F. Abel, made the rest of the band show their discomfort with the situation. They considered that Abel had developed an ego and a protagonism that was devouring the group. All of this, along with the discreet promotional success of his latest work, made the band definitely split in 1986. There has been some attempt of a later reunification, with the recording of some sporadic session (as in Radio 3 with Jesus Ordovás) but never finally occurred. In the decade of the 90's two compilations CDs with some unpublished songs were released. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

martes, 13 de junio de 2017

Arthur Russell


Arthur Russell was a formally trained cellist and composer with a background in Indian classical music and a résumé highlighted by collaborations with Allen Ginsberg and Philip Glass. His involvement in Manhattan's downtown performance scene of the '70s resulted in a long-running association with The Kitchen. Russell was also a quirky songwriter, a producer of one-shot disco singles, a founding partner of seminal hip-hop/dance label Sleeping Bag, and a principal designer of the dubby, underground club sound that bridged the gap between the disco era and the first stirrings of house and garage music. Yet, despite a career that seemed contradictory on the surface, he produced a body of work notable for its focus, integrity, and singularity. 


Russell and his cello moved from Iowa to San Francisco in the early '70s, where he studied at a school founded by Hindustani (North Indian) music master Ali Akbar Khan. It was during this West Coast period that he began his association with Ginsberg by providing musical accompaniment for many of the poet's performances. Russell moved to New York in the mid-'70s, where he collaborated in The Flying Hearts, a rock project that involved the likes of David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, and Peter Gordon. In 1979, Russell produced "Kiss Me Again", the first disco single for Sire Records, and made his reputation as a dance music producer with Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face" for West End. The club mix of this single was one of the earliest efforts by Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan and qualifies without doubt as a prototype of what came to be known as the garage sound. In 1982, under the name Dinosaur L, Russell released '24-24 Music' on his own Sleeping Bag label. The 12" single from this album, a François Kevorkian remix of "Go Bang", epitomized the loose, jazzy, somewhat minimalist underground sound that would inform Chicago house. Though the record was not a huge dancefloor smash, it was an influential turntable hit, finding its way into many radio mixes and supplying the identifying sample for Todd Terry's "Bango".


In 1983, Russell released a portion of a larger instrumental composition as the 'Tower of Meaning' LP, as well as another Loose Joints single. His 1986 'World of Echo' was a one-man show of original songs in a solo cello and vocal format that seemed designed to be overheard. 'World of Echo' embodies the link between the two sides of Russell's output. The unusually percussive cello accompaniment evident on the album versions of "Wax the Van", "Let's Go Swimming" and "Treehouse" could be preliminary sketches for the keyboard and drum versions of those tunes that appeared on Russell produced 12" singles. Though 'World of Echo' received a favorable critical reception in the U.K. music press, Russell remained relatively obscure throughout his life, which was ended by AIDS in 1992. A retrospective of previously unissued material was released in 1994 as 'Another Thought'. Several collections have been released in the new century, including a reissue of 'World of Echo', 'Calling Out of Context', and 'The World of Arthur Russell', all of which appeared in 2004. 'First Thought Best Thought' and 'Springfield' were issued in 2006. 'Love Is Overtaking Me' came in 2008 and was followed less than a year later by 'The Sleeping Bag Sessions'. 'Corn', a collection of previously unheard solo recordings from 1982-1983, appeared in 2015. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 12 de junio de 2017

The Contortions


Formed by James Siegfried (aka James Chance) in the late 70s, The Contortions were a collision of punk and harmolodic jazz that, along with Bill Laswell’s Material and James Blood Ulmer, constituted New York’s no wave scene. Chance’s awareness of cutting-edge jazz -and a defiantly original saxophone style, an unholy combination of Captain Beefheart and Maceo Parker- injected his music with a brittle energy that was unmatched. The Contortions, comprising Chance, Pat Place (guitar), Jody Harris (guitar), Adele Bertei (keyboards), George Scott III (bass) and Don Christensen (drums), debuted in 1978 on 'No New York', a seminal sampler chronicling the city’s no wave movement. The band’s experimental fusion of punk, free jazz and funk was exemplified on the startling 'Buy', issued on the then-fashionable Ze label. Three live sets, released following The Contortions’ demise, chronicled their memorable in-concert power. A later version of the band, James White And The Blacks, fostered Defunkt as a separate entity, kick-starting the black rock movement that begat Living Color. Heroin problems prevented James Chance reaching a large audience, but his spiky, beautiful music remains as a testament that jazz chops do not necessarily make for tedious rock music. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC