lunes, 29 de febrero de 2016

Pete Shelley


Pete Shelley, the leader of the seminal punk band The Buzzcocks, actually had recorded a solo album in 1974, two years before The Buzzcocks formed. Released in 1979, 'Sky Yen' was a collection of electronic music that didn't sound much like his full-time band's blistering guitar pop, yet it did contain the roots of his solo career. After The Buzzcocks disbanded in 1981, Shelley began a solo career which incorporated the electronic experimentations of 'Sky Yen' with the pop sensibilities of his punk singles. Released in 1981, 'Homosapien' showcased this musical merger and resulted in the U.K. hit single, "Homosapien." The following year Shelley released 'XL1', which added more guitar to his dance-oriented synth pop. Three years later he released his final solo album, 'Heaven and the Sea', which failed to capture an audience. Shelley then joined the short-lived band Zip; after its breakup, he rejoined the reunited Buzzcocks in 1988. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 28 de febrero de 2016

Rubella Ballet


The band was formed by former Fatal Microbes Pete Fender (Dan Sansom, guitar), Gem Stone (Gemma Sansom, bass) and It (Quentin North, also bass), with vocalists Annie Anxiety and Womble, and drummer Sid Ation (born Sid Truelove, 18 April 1960, Sutton Coldfield, a former chef, later also the drummer with Flux of Pink Indians). Annie, Womble and It were involved only initially, left and were replaced by vocalist Zillah Minx (born Zillah Elaine Ashworth, 31 March 1961, Birkenhead). Fender and Stone were the son and daughter of Poison Girls singer Vi Subversa. The band used Poison Girls equipment to jam and write songs and their first performance was when they took to the stage at a Crass/Poison Girls concert. They had originally been called Rubella Babies. The band's first proper gig was a fundraiser for the Theatre Royal in Stratford, which ended in a riot, and the band played frequently, often asking audience members to put them up after gigs.

The new line-up were soon known for wearing brightly coloured dayglo clothes on stage, to differentiate themselves from the anarcho-punk bands who tended to wear black, 'army-surplus' style clothing. Pete Fender left at the end of 1982 and soon afterwards joined Omega Tribe as a full-time member, having been their early mentor and record producer. 


The band released one album on cassette tape, entitled 'Ballet Bag' (1981) and a 4 track 7" EP, 'Ballet Dance' (1982), both for Poison Girls' XNTRIX Records, after rejecting the opportunity to put out a record on the Crass label. Adrian Thrills, reviewing the single in the NME stated "the Ballet have an appealing sharp edge to their claustrophobic punk thrash, a poppy surge and even a discernable funk readjustment...of course, they could always just be taking the piss". After releasing the '42ºF' single on Jungle Records (with Sean replacing Fender) the band started their own Ubiquitous label. Rubella Ballet toured extensively with Poison Girls and Crass, and recorded two John Peel sessions for BBC Radio. In 1984 they embarked on an ill-fated tour of Italy to promote '42ºF'. The band had only been given single airline tickets and after a week of playing without getting paid, they returned to England by train.
 
The band's line-up underwent several changes before their next release, 'Money Talks' (1985); Sean and Gem had left, to be replaced by Adam and Rachel Minx (Zillah's younger sister Rachel Irene Jane Ashworth), and Adam himself has replaced by Steve Cachman prior to the recording of the debut album 'At Last, It's Playtime', the same year, an album that has been described as "chugging mid-paced stuff, many of the tracks dominated by Zillah's steamroller-flat vox". The line-up stabilized over the next few years, the band recording a second album, 'If...' in 1986. A compilation and a double live album followed, but it would be 1990 before the next studio album, 'At the End of the Rainbow'. The band split up shortly after its release, Sid already playing in the dance band Xenophobia.

In 2000, the band reformed for a performance at the European Gathering festival in Milton Keynes, and have continued on and off since, with the core members Sid and Zillah joined by a varying line-up including original guitarist Fender. A retrospective covering the first half of the band's career, 'Anarchy in the U.V.', including 'Ballet Bag', 'Ballet Dance', 'At Last It's Play Time', the 12-inch version of "Money Talks", and two previously unreleased tracks, was released in December 2008. A second volume was released in 2010, containing the remaining tracks from the band's back-catalogue. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

sábado, 27 de febrero de 2016

The Plimsouls


Formed by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Peter Case (who had previously fronted power pop band The Nerves), The Plimsouls began as a trio in 1978, initially named The Tone Dogs, which included Case, bassist Dave Pahoa, and drummer Louie Ramírez. From inception, the band quickly became a crowd favourite in the Los Angeles club scene. Long Beach promoter Stephen Zepeda signed the group to his Beat Records label for a five-song EP called 'Zero Hour'. Guitarist Eddie Muñoz joined the group during the recording of the EP.
 
Danny Holloway produced the 'Zero Hour' EP and managed the group. The song "Zero Hour" received heavy airplay on KROQ-FM, and The Plimsouls grew to be one of the top club draws in the city. Case received critical praise for his songwriting. In 1981, Planet Records (with distribution through Elektra) signed the group and released their self-titled debut album which Holloway also produced. The single "Now" received strong local airplay in LA and was also covered by power pop legend Phil Seymour, appearing on the 2011 CD edition of his second album. Seymour also appeared live with The Plimsouls during the late 1970s, both as a guest vocalist and as an artist on the same bill.


The band achieved national popularity in 1983 when the single release "A Million Miles Away" was included on Valley Girl's motion picture soundtrack and became a minor hit. The band, which also appeared on camera in the film performing the song and parts of two others, quickly re-recorded the song for inclusion on a second album, 'Everywhere at Once', produced by Jeff Eyrich, but broke up shortly after. Several years later, in 1990, a then up-and-coming band named The Goo Goo Dolls covered "A Million Miles Away" on their "Hold Me Up" album. The song is also included on the Speed motion picture soundtrack.

Case has continued with a solo career since the band's mid-1980s breakup. In 1996, The Plimsouls, without Ramirez, reunited for a few shows and some recording sessions, resulting in a little-heard reunion album called 'Kool Trash'. This album featured drumming by new band member Clem Burke, who was also simultaneously a member of Blondie. The Plimsouls have continued to reunite occasionally since that time, with Burke being replaced by Bryan Head. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA]

viernes, 26 de febrero de 2016

The Mighty Lemon Drops


Formed in Wolverhampton, England, in 1985, The Mighty Lemon Drops were a psychedelic-influenced post-punk band with a guitar-based pop sound that drew comparisons to Liverpool's Echo & the Bunnymen. Originally called The Sherbert Monsters, the lineup consisted of singer/guitarist Paul Marsh, guitarist Dave Newton, bassist Tony Linehan, and drummer Keith Rowley, with Newton and Linehan contributing most of the songwriting. In December of 1985, the group released their debut single "Like an Angel" on regional indie Dreamworld Records and it rose to number one on the U.K. indie chart. After appearing on NME's influential "C-86" compilation, the band signed with Geoff Travis' new Chrysalis subsidiary Blue Guitar in the U.K., and with Sire in North America for their debut album 'Happy Head'. The album was well-received and was reported by a Sounds magazine critics poll to be one of the 50 best albums of 1986. They followed up with 1987's 'Out of Hand' and then again in 1988 with their third album 'World Without End', which yielded the hit "Inside Out." 'World Without End' rose to number 33 on the U.K. charts and to number one on the U.S. College chart in 1988. Later that year, the band parted ways with Chrysalis but kept their contract with Sire in the U.S. During sessions for their fourth album, 'Laughter', Linehan left the band and was replaced on bass by Marcus Williams. The band remained popular in the American modern rock scene during the late '80s and 'Laughter' debuted at number one on the College charts, even managing to crack the Billboard Top 200 pop chart. The band continued writing and recording their brand of well-made, melodic alt-pop, releasing 'Sound… Goodbye to Your Standards' in late 1991 and their final studio album, 'Ricochet', in 1992 before disbanding later that year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2016

The Lotus Eaters


Liverpool, England's The Lotus Eaters were mistakenly included in the New Romantic movement when they first appeared. However, although Peter Coyle (vocals), Jeremy Kelly (guitar), Mike Dempsey (bass), and Stephen Creese (drums) had the elegant attire and fashionable haircuts of New Romantic bands, their music was more understated and folksy than the synthesized Euro disco of Japan, Visage, and Duran Duran. The Lotus Eaters formed in 1982. Coyle was originally a member of The Jass Babies while Kelly played guitar for The Wild Swans with ex-Teardrop Explodes keyboardist Paul Simpson. Coyle and Kelly wanted to work together, but The Jass Babies had no need for a guitarist. Consequently, they began recording as The Lotus Eaters and were signed to Arista Records. In 1983, The Lotus Eaters released their first single, "The First Picture of You," a chart hit in the U.K. "The First Picture of You" would define the group's sound: Coyle's breathy croon expressing romantic yearning while Kelly plays jangly riffs on his guitar. The Lotus Eaters' 1984 debut album, 'No Sense of Sin', was awash in '60s influences, namely the melancholic pop of The Zombies and The Left Banke. The LP was largely left on record-store shelves in the U.K., but a significant cult following in the Philippines and Japan eventually transformed the album into a collector's item, fetching high prices on the Internet. In 1985, The Lotus Eaters released one more single, the bitter "It Hurts," before splitting up. Coyle recorded a few solo albums, while Kelly rejoined The Wild Swans. In 1998, 'The First Picture of You', a compilation of The Lotus Eaters' BBC radio sessions, was released, and the 'No Sense of Sin' album was reissued on CD with bonus tracks. In April 1998, Coyle and Kelly started recording material for a second Lotus Eaters studio album. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 23 de febrero de 2016

Hurrah!


With their ripped jeans and leather jackets, the British guitar pop band Hurrah! might've been considered rebellious -back in the '50s. Nevertheless, in 1987 Hurrah! were unlikely victims of controversy when the video for the single "Sweet Sanity" was banned from American television. Featuring two ladies holding hands, the video almost prevented the group from entering the U.S. Formed in the early '80s by Paul Handyside (guitar, vocals), David "Taffy" Hughes (guitar, vocals), David Porthouse (bass), and Mark Sim (drums), the band was initially named The Green-Eyed Children. In 1982, Hurrah! was signed to Kitchenware Records in England. Sim then suddenly left the group, and he was replaced by Damien Mahoney. In 1986, Mahoney quit the band to become a cop, and the group hired Steve Price. Hurrah! recorded several critically acclaimed yet commercially unsuccessful singles on Kitchenware before receiving a contract from Arista Records; the band even sold their instruments so they could buy food. Hurrah! released their debut album, 'Tell God I'm Here', in 1987, and the group had to use gear lent to them from Prefab Sprout and Martin Stephenson & the Daintees to record it. They also opened up for U2 at Wembley Stadium in London and toured Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt as well. Hurrah!'s second LP, 'The Beautiful', appeared in 1989, but like its predecessor it did not sell well, and the band departed from Arista. Hurrah! recorded a third album in 1991; however, it was never released. Hughes then started the post-punk outfit Star Witness, later called Candy Coloured Clowns, with Mark Shearman (bass) and Hurrah!'s final drummer Adrian Evans, while Handyside began recording under the nom de guerre Bronze. Porthouse underwent training to be a faith healer. In 2000, 'Tell God I'm Here' was reissued on CD with seven bonus tracks by BMG Funhouse in Japan. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2016

Green On Red


Always wary of their paisley underground tag, it was only Green on Red's debut EP that leaned on the psychedelic sounds of the '60s before they traded it in for a boozy, all-American sound. They have been credited as latter-day forbears to the No Depression sound forged by Wilco and Son Volt. Singer and songwriter Dan Stuart, Chris Cacavas (keyboards), and Jack Waterson (bass) formed their first group in Tucson, AZ, in 1979. After the band relocated to L.A., drummer Alex MacNicol joined up and Green on Red released their debut EP on Steve Wynn's Down There label in 1982. By 1983, they had dumped the trippy psychedelic stuff for 'Gravity Talks', their Slash debut. By the time 1985's 'Gas Food Lodging' rolled around and the band had added guitarist Chuck Prophet, Green on Red were earning critical accolades, but their greatest success came overseas with the release of 1985's 'No Free Lunch' (Polygram). Between albums, Stuart paused to work with Steve Wynn and a smattering of their respective bandmembers under the Danny & Dusty moniker, a side project that allowed Stuart to play on his "drunken bum" persona. Prophet and Stuart continued to hone their darkish, down-and-out loser blues on 'The Killer Inside Me' (1987, Mercury) and 'Here Come the Snakes' (1989, Mercury), but by the time 1989's 'This Time Around' (also on Mercury) came out, interest in their work stateside had ceased. 

Cacavas then left the fold to begin what had become a consistent, albeit overlooked, solo career. Prophet and Stuart found an audience for their music in Europe for 'Scapegoats' (1991, China) and 'Too Much Fun' (1992, Off Beat), but ultimately traded in the madness of what had become their collaboration for quieter lives. Stuart relocated to Spain and Prophet continued the career he launched in 1990, performing as a solo artist and with his band The Mission Express (featuring his wife, Stephanie Finch, on keyboards and vocals). As it turns out, Prophet was a sleeper, with a number of releases into the 2000s bearing little resemblance to the ramshackle outfit that was Green on Red. However, Prophet did join a briefly reunited Green on Red -with a lineup also including Stuart, Cacavas, and Waterson- for a series of shows in 2005-2006. Drummer Alex MacNicol died in 2004. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Fischer-Z


Fronted by the enigmatic John Watts (vocals/guitar), Fischer-Z leaped onto the music scene in 1979 with their quirky debut album, 'Word Salad'. This quartet (also featuring Steve Skolnick on keyboards, Steve Liddle on drums, and David Graham on bass) played a rough-and-tumble form of new wave that was equal parts Roxy Music and Talking Heads with art pop and prog rock leanings. Watts' vocals were extremely distinctive, veering from a low baritone to a higher register that was not unlike Pete Townsend on helium. Although this schizophrenic debut didn't set the charts on fire, they did score a few minor hits with "The Worker" and "First Impressions (Pretty Paracetamol)" (a tamer re-recording of the album's opening track). Their second album, 1980's 'Going Deaf for a Living', was a far more cohesive effort, less prog rock and more melodic than their debut. It even contained a bona fide hit in "So Long" which even drifted over to the U.S. and garnered impressive radio play. By the time 'Red Skies Over Paradise' was released in 1981, Skolnick was gone and Watts' musical vision was more direct and less arty than before. Although European sales for this album were FZ's strongest yet, it was passed up for release in the U.S. (as has been the case with all of the subsequent FZ albums). Realizing that his musical vision belonged to him and only him, Watts chose to end FZ on a high note and continue as a solo artist. Watts released 'One More Twist' in 1982, then the slickly produced 'The Iceberg Model' the following year, neither living up to the huge sales of the last FZ album. After EMI let him slip away, Watts formed The Cry (with Graham back on board) and released an album on Arista before quietly slipping out of sight. Re-forming Fischer-Z in 1987 (with Watts being the only original member, although Skolnick makes a cameo), FZ hit big in Europe and Australia with the single "The Perfect Day" and the album 'Reveal'. Though the album sounded nothing like the Fischer-Z of old, Watts took his finely tuned talents and presented them to a much wider audience. 'Fish's Head' (1989) was more of the same, albeit a bit heavier. With yet another lineup change, Watts and FZ released the absolutely stunning 'Destination Paradise' in 1992, their best effort yet. This touching and beautiful album featured more acoustic guitars than ever before and focused on Watts' songwriting skills and passionate, earthy vocals (which had dropped an octave or so since their debut). Trying to capitalize on the success of 'Destination Paradise', FZ quickly issued the rougher 'Kamikaze Shirt' in 1993, mixing their softer side with an edge (and, in some cases, a dance beat). Two years later, FZ issued 'Stream', a close second to 'Destination Paradise' as FZ's finest. Realizing he was at another crossroads, Watts laid FZ to rest again and began pursuing his solo career in earnest. His first solo album under his "new" monicker, JM Watts, 1997's 'Thirteen Stories High', continued where 'Stream' left off. With a new solo album due in late 1998 or early 1999, it's unclear whether FZ are gone for good or just on sabbatical. No matter what Watts does, FZ's spirit lives on in his music. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 20 de febrero de 2016

Devine & Statton


Singer Alison Statton, born in Cardiff, Wales, began her music career with enigmatic, new wave minimalists Young Marble Giants, which released its defining LP, 'Colossal Youth', in 1980. Statton's coolly unadorned vocals were one of the defining characteristics of that incomparable post-punk landmark. With her subsequent group, Weekend, Statton preempted the posh, cocktail-cool of acts such as Everything But the Girl and Sade. After Weekend disbanded, Statton returned to university and disappeared from the musical landscape for a time. Nevertheless, she resurfaced in the late '80s as one half of the Celtic-tinged folk-pop duo Devine & Statton, along with Mancunian songwriter-guitarist Ian Devine. The pair made two albums, 1989's 'The Prince of Wales' (which featured a cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle") and 1990s 'Cardiffians'. Subsequently, Statton would go on to reunite with an old Weekend bandmate as Alison Statton & Spike. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 17 de febrero de 2016

Christian Death


The founding fathers of American goth rock, Christian Death took a relentlessly confrontational stand against organized religion and conventional morality, with an appetite for provocation that made Marilyn Manson look like Stryper. Regardless of who was leading or performing in the group, Christian Death set themselves up to shock, both in their cover art and their lyrics, which wallowed in blasphemy, morbidity, drug use, and sexual perversity. Their self-consciously controversial tactics set them apart from the British goth scene, having more to do with L.A. punk and heavy metal, and thus the band dubbed its sound "death rock" instead; however, their sensibility was ultimately similar enough that the "goth" designation stuck in the end. Their music also relied on slow, doomy, effects-laden guitar riffs and ambient horror-soundtrack synths, and their theatrical performances were strongly influenced by British glam rockers like David Bowie and Roxy Music, as well as industrial provocateurs Throbbing Gristle. The latter was especially true of the band's first incarnation, led by vocalist and founder Rozz Williams, who masterminded much of what many critics consider their best work. When Williams left in 1985, guitarist Valor Kand took over leadership and sent the group in a more intellectual, political, and metal-oriented direction. A subsequent dispute over ownership of the Christian Death name led to a bitter feud between the two, not to mention competing versions of the group, leading many of their fans to take sides. The unconverted tended to dismiss Christian Death no matter who was involved; critics often found their poetry florid and overwrought, their subject matter self-important, and their shock tactics ham-handed. Nevertheless, Christian Death had an enormous influence on the American goth scene, shaping the sensibility of countless goth, metal, and even industrial acts that followed. Sadly, the Kand-Williams dispute ended in tragedy in 1998, when a heroin-addicted Williams took his own life. 

Rozz Williams (born Roger Alan Painter, November 6, 1963) founded Christian Death in Los Angeles in 1979, having grown up in the eastern suburb of Pomona in a Christian family. Originally, the 16-year-old Williams called his group The Upsetters, which also included guitarist Jay, bassist James McGearty, and drummer George Belanger. The band didn't really take off until it changed its name to Christian Death (reportedly inspired by a goof on designer Christian Dior's name) and added onetime Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew. In 1981, they made their recorded debut with several tracks on the L.A. scene compilation "Hell Comes to Your House", which also featured the more tongue-in-cheek death rock compatriots 45 Grave. Hooking up with Frontier Records, Christian Death issued their debut album, the goth landmark 'Only Theatre of Pain', in 1982. Featuring genre touchstones like "Romeo's Distress" and "Spiritual Cramp," the record also included guest vocals from Superheroines leader Eva O. (born Eva Oritz), who would become Williams' wife and semiregular collaborator in 1987. 


Having already booked a European tour, the original lineup of Christian Death splintered amid infighting and drug abuse. Williams quickly assembled a new version of the band in 1983 by merging with their scheduled opening act, another L.A. death rock band called Pompeii 99, and eventually settled on retaining the more evocative Christian Death name. Australian-born guitarist Valor Kand, keyboardist/vocalist Gitane Demone, and drummer David Glass joined with Williams to create the best-known Christian Death lineup (bassist Constance Smith was also onboard, but was soon replaced on the tour by the Sex Gang Children's Dave Roberts). While overseas, the group recorded the second Christian Death album, 'Catastrophe Ballet', another much-revered goth rock record that appeared on the French label L'Invitation au Suicide in 1984. Returning to the U.S., the band formed its own label, Nostradamus, and the Valor/Rozz lineup issued its second album together, 'Ashes', in 1985, once again to an enthusiastic reception from goth fans. A live album, 'The Decomposition of Violets', was culled from the supporting tour (with second guitarist Barry Galvin now in tow) and released by ROIR. 

By this time, Christian Death were drawing predictable fire from religious groups in the U.S. over their lyrics, artwork, and concert performances, and were finding it easier to mount tours for their growing European fan base. In mid-1985, Rozz Williams left the band he'd founded, partly due to his increasing interest in experimental music and surrealist performance art. Valor Kand took over leadership of Christian Death, now serving as lead vocalist and songwriter. Reportedly, Kand and Williams had agreed to rename the existing band Sin and Sacrifice; however, on the ensuing tour of Italy, fans assumed they were still watching Christian Death. Defrauded and left penniless by the tour promoter, the band recorded a quick EP for the Italian label Supporti Fonografici called 'The Wind Kissed Pictures', which was credited to the Sin and Sacrifice of Christian Death in order for fans to know whom they were buying. The band raised enough money to return to England, which they made their permanent base; meanwhile, 'The Wind Kissed Pictures' was issued in the English-speaking world under the Christian Death name, as once again few people comprehended the change. Williams, meanwhile, all but dropped out of sight for several years, eventually resurfacing in side ventures like Premature Ejaculation, Heltir, and Shadow Project (the latter with his wife Eva O.). 

Now settled in England, Christian Death added bassist Johann Schumann and returned to the Welsh studio where they'd cut 'Catastrophe Ballet'. Their first post-Williams effort was 1986's 'Atrocities', a concept album about the aftereffects of World War II on the European psyche. Their next project was 'Jesus Christ Proudly Presents Christian Death', a box set of concert EPs from 1986 and early 1987. The proper follow-up to 'Atrocities' was even more conceptually ambitious; 1987's 'The Scriptures' was Kand's musical treatise on comparative religion, and surrounded him with a revamped lineup of Demone, Glass, guitarist James Beam, and bassist Kota. 'The Scriptures' marked the beginning of Christian Death's evolution into a mouthpiece for Kand's one-man crusade against political corruption and organized religion (the Catholic Church in particular). His liner notes explained his elaborate intellectual concepts in painstaking detail, and he increasingly used interviews as a platform to launch vitriolic attacks on his favorite targets. 

Longtime drummer David Glass left the group following the release of 'The Scriptures', and returned to California, where he eventually worked with several of Rozz Williams' side projects. That whittled Christian Death down to a quartet for the 1988 single "Church of No Return," one of their more accessible efforts. Despite the group's more intellectual bent, they weren't above resorting to the calculated offensiveness of old; the cover of their 1988 LP 'Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ' depicted Jesus shooting heroin. The ensuing furor helped make the album the group's biggest seller; it also saw them evolving into a more basic, straightforward goth metal band. In 1989, with new second guitarist Nick the Bastard onboard, the group issued the concert document 'The Heretics Alive'. Gitane Demone subsequently left the band, not to mention her longtime lover Valor Kand, citing dissatisfaction with his new direction; she relocated to Amsterdam and pursued a jazz singing career.


With Demone's departure, the always unstable Christian Death lineup splintered completely, leaving Kand essentially a solo auteur despite continued instrumental assistance from Nick the Bastard. In 1989, Kand completed another far-reaching concept opus, 'All the Love All the Hate', which was released in two separate full-length LP installments that covered "love" and "hate" themes respectively. The latter featured one of the band's more notorious latter-day cuts in "I Hate You," a profane tirade by Valor and Demone's five-year-old son Sevan Kand; its artwork also utilized Nazi imagery to a somewhat ill-defined end. Nick the Bastard subsequently departed, and bereft of any backup, Kand turned his attention to archival material; 1990 saw the release of the demos/outtakes compilation 'Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misericordiaque', and 1992 brought the Valor Kand-era singles retrospective 'Jesus Points the Bone at You?'

Meanwhile, a penniless Rozz Williams had resurrected his own version of Christian Death during the late '80s, with his wife Eva O. contributing guitar as well as the band's signature female vocals. Billing themselves as the original Christian Death, they were rejoined by first-album guitarist Rikk Agnew for a 1989 tour of Canada. Despite the dubious legality of Williams' use of the Christian Death name, his efforts attracted the interest of the goth-oriented Cleopatra Records label. In 1992, with Valor's version of the band in recording hibernation, Williams issued 'The Iron Mask' as Christian Death, its title a pointed reference to the Alexandre Dumas novel about a usurper who imprisons the rightful heir to the throne. He and Eva O. were joined by bassist Listo and drummer David Melford, and most of the repertoire dated from Williams' first three albums with the original band. The similarly conceived 'Skeleton Kiss' EP appeared on its heels. An all-new studio effort, 'The Path of Sorrows', followed in 1993, with a new lineup behind Williams and O.: keyboardist Paris, multi-instrumentalist William Faith, and drummer Stevyn Grey. In June that year, Williams re-formed most of the early Christian Death lineup -bringing back Rikk Agnew (once again) and George Belanger, with support from guitarist Frank Agnew and bassist Casey Chaos- for a one-off show in Los Angeles. The result was released in 1994 by Triple X as the live album 'Iconologia'. 

Williams' reclamation of the Christian Death name sparked a fierce court battle with Valor Kand, who eventually won trademark rights and forced Williams to bill his version of the band as "Christian Death Featuring Rozz Williams." In part to keep his rival from stealing his thunder, Kand assembled a new Christian Death of his own, centered around himself and new wife Maitri on bass and vocals. He returned with 1994's 'Sexy Death God', which many longtime fans greeted as his best and tightest effort in quite some time. Confusingly, Williams' Christian Death also issued a new album that year, 'The Rage of Angels', which found its leader dabbling in spoken word at times. A steady stream of archival reissues -live material, outtakes, remixes, etc.- from throughout the band's history also began to appear on Cleopatra. 

Adding guitarist Flick and drummer Steve Wright, Valor's Christian Death picked up their recording pace, offering the double live set 'Amen' in 1995, and returning to the ambitious concept works of old with 1996's Nostradamus-themed 'Prophecies'. As it turned out, Williams' version would not release another full album of original material. He pursued several other projects, including a duo album with Gitane Demone (1995's 'Dream Home Heartache') and a spoken word examination of his heroin addiction (1996's 'The Whorse's Mouth'). That addiction would help claim his life on April 1, 1998, when the 34-year-old Williams hanged himself in his West Hollywood apartment. He was mourned by a still-devoted cult of fans, and even Valor Kand put aside his previous animosity to dedicate that year's 'Pornographic Messiah' album to Williams, going so far as to draw from some of Williams' more experimental influences. 

Kand's Christian Death soldiered on, issuing the two-disc singles/outtakes compilation 'The Bible' in 1999. In 2000, they added drummer Will "Was" Sarginson (ex-Cradle of Filth and Blood Divine) and toured Europe alongside Britain's Cradle of Filth, one of the more popular black metal bands of their time. The two groups got along well enough for several Cradle members to guest on Christian Death's 2001 album 'Born Again Anti Christian', helping it become one of the most metallic records in their catalog. The following year, bassist Maitri issued the black metal-influenced solo album 'Lover of Sin' (confusingly labeled on the cover as "Christian Death Presents..."). In 2003, Cradle of Filth guitarist Gian Pyres officially joined Christian Death for their European tour. 

Following a four-year silent period, Christian Death returned in 2007 with a new drummer (Nate Hassan) and the politically minded 'American Inquisition', released by metal label Season of Mist. The group spent the following year performing extensively, completing four European tours and one American tour by the year's end. In 2009, Season of Mist reissued ten Christian Death albums and the band continued touring. Cleopatra compiled much of Rozz Williams' '90s incarnation of Christian Death onto a five-CD/one-DVD box set titled 'Death Box' in 2012. The following year, Knife Fight Media initiated a digital reissue campaign of the Christian Death back catalog, which continued in 2014. The group also spent the year celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'Catastrophe Ballet' by touring throughout Europe as well as North, Central, and South America. Christian Death began 2015 by announcing that they would be recording a new album with the support of their fans. After a successful crowd-sourced campaign, 'The Root of All Evilution' was released digitally by Knife Fight Media, on vinyl by Season of Mist, and on CD by The End. The group embarked on another lengthy European tour, with plans to tour the United States in 2016. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 16 de febrero de 2016

The Belle Stars


The Belle Stars were an all-female British pop group of the early '80s that split off from The Bodysnatchers. The lineup was Jennie McKeown (vocals), Lesley Shone (bass/vocals), Stella Barker (guitar/vocals), Sarah-Jane Owen (guitar/vocals), Miranda Joyce (saxophone/vocals), Judy Parsons (drums) and Penny Leyton (keyboards/vocals). They scored four U.K. Top 40 hits between 1982 and 1983, "Iko Iko," "The Clapping Song," "Sign of the Times," and "Sweet Memory," before splitting up. "Iko Iko" was used in the hit film "Rain Man", turning it into a surprise Top 40 U.S. hit in 1989. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 14 de febrero de 2016

G.G. Allin


To some, G.G. Allin was the ultimate symbol of rock & roll rebellion, taking it to extremes that no one else was dangerous enough to explore. To others, he was a lunatic whose attempts to shock and disgust were too ham-fisted to be taken seriously. Wherever the truth lay, there can be no doubt that Allin was the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history. Music was almost incidental to his violent, scatological stage act, which got him arrested over 50 times for a litany of offenses, and made Iggy Pop's antics with The Stooges look like The Donny & Marie Show. Rarely performing for more than 10-20 minutes before clubs shut him down, Allin usually took the stage in a jockstrap and wound up nude; he beat himself bloody with broken bottles, torn cans, and microphones (when he wasn't trying to shove the latter up his own ass); he attacked and was attacked by his own audience; he urinated on the stage, on his band, on the audience; he frequently took laxatives before shows in order to defecate on the stage, after which he generally ate his own feces or threw them at the audience; and yet, somehow, he still found audience members willing to perform oral sex on him on-stage. Needless to say, he also ingested enormous amounts of booze and drugs, served several prison terms, and even promised to commit suicide on-stage on Halloween (he died of an overdose in 1993 before he could follow through). His songs -such as they were- were comically over-the-top hell-raisers about substance abuse, casual violence, and sexual conduct that was at best degrading and at worst criminal. Yet no matter how vile he was, Allin had his supporters, whether they belonged to the outermost fringes of society, admired his absolute freedom of expression, or were simply fascinated by the spectacle of a man venting all the ugliest, most primal impulses of the human id. 

Much like his life, Allin's discography is a confusing mess, with countless reissues, compilations, and live gigs cluttering the issue and making it difficult to tell at a glance where any given track listing originated. His music rarely deviates from basic, thrashy, three-chord punk, and his once-adequate voice, ravaged by years of mistreatment, can charitably be described as tuneless and hoarse. Song titles like "I'm Gonna Rape You," "Expose Yourself to Kids," "Bite It You Scum," "Outlaw Scumfuc," "Gypsy Motherfucker," "Suck My Ass It Smells," "Die When You Die," and "Young Little Meat" -all fan favorites- give a fair idea of his self-conscious repulsiveness. Allin recorded for many small labels and with many different bands -The Jabbers, The Scumfucs, The Holy Men, Antiseen, The Murder Junkies, and many more; some were his own, some were one-off collaborators. Naturally, it was difficult to keep a steady group together behind Allin, but he also had many admirers who wanted to work with him and/or release his music, including surprisingly big names in the underground rock world (J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Dee Dee Ramone, Wayne Kramer, future Matador head Gerard Cosloy, etc.). 

Few of Allin's associates denied that his erratic behavior was likely the result of mental problems worsened by substance abuse; many speculated about the possibility of a split personality, a man who would veer abruptly between politeness and violence, intelligence and incoherence, egomania and self-loathing. And if Allin wasn't a clinical sociopath -as his public persona and interviews suggested- he was likely pretty close. Yet even in his most rambling diatribes, he seemed to have a definite philosophy and a sense of what he was doing and why, regarding himself as the savior of real rock & roll. (Some even suspected that he eventually started taking his shock-value lyrics seriously, perhaps acting them out to prove his integrity.) Whether Allin's aesthetic and work should be taken seriously or not, it's abundantly clear that the danger was very definitely real. 

Although Allin denied that his family environment played a significant role in what he became, it's difficult to think that his father had nothing at all to do with it. A highly religious, antisocial man (though according to G.G. not physically abusive), he ordered his son named Jesus Christ Allin when he was born in Lancaster, NH, on August 29, 1956, telling his wife he'd had visions about the boy. (Allin's brother and future bandmate Merle pronounced "Jesus" as "Je-Je," giving him his lifelong nickname.) The family lived in a two-room log cabin with no electricity or water, and Allin's father forbade all conversation after dark; he even dug the family's graves in the cellar, threatening to commit suicide and take them with him. When G.G. started school, his mother had him legally renamed Kevin Michael Allin; several years later, she divorced Allin's father. 

Allowed to listen to the radio, G.G. fell in love with rock & roll and learned to play the drums. Unsurprisingly, G.G. was a misfit and a malcontent from junior high on; he was placed in special ed classes and was left back one year, and rebelled by sometimes showing up to school in drag. He and his brother Merle, a bassist, played together in several bands while still in school, and G.G. discovered his penchant for confrontational theatrics very early on, although they couldn't hold a candle to his later stage act. He discovered punk rock in the late '70s, and played drums in a band called Malpractice; around the same time, he was married for several years and had a daughter, but eventually left his family and took up with a 13-year-old girl. Musically, he moved on to a band called The Jabbers, which earned a following on the bar scene of Manchester, NH. 

In 1980, Allin and The Jabbers cut their debut album, 'Always Was, Is, and Always Shall Be', for the New York-based independent label Orange. At this stage, Allin could carry a tune in a decently snotty punk rock voice, and his music was a fairly catchy hybrid of hardcore punk and power pop. His subject matter was hardly extreme, although he did show a strong misogynist streak right from the start (even if he generally hated everyone else too). In 1981, he recorded "Gimme Some Head," a one-off single with The Motor City Badboys, who included guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson of the MC5. Two EPs, 'Public Animal #1' and 'No Rules', followed on Orange in 1982 and 1983, respectively; the former featured perhaps his best-known early single, "You Hate Me and I Hate You." Disturbed by Allin's increasingly volatile stage antics, The Jabbers broke up in 1984. 

Allin joined his brother Merle in Boston and briefly fronted The Cedar Street Sluts before forming a new group dubbed The Scumfucs. He also started his own Blood label in 1984 to release an album with an otherwise unreleasable title, 'Eat My Fuc' (later dubbed E.M.F. when reissued). True to its name, 'Eat My Fuc' marked the point where Allin's lyrics took a turn for the demented. Several EPs -'Hard Candy Cock', 'I Wanna Fuck Your Brains Out', 'Live Fast, Die Fast'- followed, and over the next couple of years, Allin's live act soon became one of the most feared (or celebrated, depending on your point of view) concert experiences in the Northeast. He was an enormously polarizing figure in the punk community, and -unsurprisingly- found it increasingly difficult to get gigs, especially after a 1986 Village Voice article that chronicled a notorious show at New York City's Cat Club (reportedly the first time he defecated on-stage). 

In 1987, ROIR issued the compilation 'Hated in the Nation', which became a cornerstone of the Allin catalog for the simple reason that it stayed in print. It featured early sessions and live gigs with The Scumfucs, The New York Superscum (an all-star group with J Mascis, Gerard Cosloy, and Shimmy-Disc label head Kramer), The Cedar Street Sluts, and The Motor City Badboys. That year, Cosloy's Homestead label signed Allin and released his album with The Holy Men, 'You Give Love a Bad Name'. His second effort for Homestead was 1988's 'Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies', a fan favorite that introduced some of the most popular numbers in his later repertoire. That year, Allin was scheduled to appear on the confrontational Morton Downey Jr. Show but never made it to the taping; he and the band trashed their hotel room and were arrested. 

In 1989, Allin first made his infamous announcement that he would shoot himself on-stage on Halloween night 1990. An execrable concert album, 'Anti-Social Personality Disorder - Live', was culled from his tour that year, which ended in Michigan when he was arrested for assault. Specifically, Allin had taken up with a young woman who requested (according to Allin) various sadistic sex acts over a period of several days, but turned him in when he tried to wake her from a drunken stupor by burning her leg with a cigarette lighter. Allin pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated assault with intent to mutilate, and went to jail for 18 months. During that time, archival Allin material appeared on several labels, most notably on 1990's 'Doctrine of Mayhem'. 

Upon his release, Allin jumped parole to mount a tour with The Murder Junkies, who featured drummer Donald "Dino" Saches (who performed in the nude and had served time for indecent exposure), guitarist Bill Weber, and brother Merle on bass. The early part of the tour was documented by NYU film student Todd Phillips (who would go on to direct mainstream comedies like "Road Trip" and "Old School"). Phillips financed the finished documentary, "Hated", in part by selling Allin posters painted by G.G.'s pen pal, John Wayne Gacy (whose work also graced the cover of the accompanying soundtrack album). Allin was arrested several times on the tour, the last in Texas, where officers discovered his parole violation (by this time, he had outstanding warrants in several other states as well). He was extradited to Michigan and served some more time in Jackson State Penitentiary. 

Still claiming he would commit suicide on-stage on Halloween, Allin emerged from prison in 1993 more determined than ever to exact his vengeance on society. He recorded a new album for the Alive label, 'Brutality and Bloodshed for All', that added revolutionary (albeit somewhat inarticulate) politics to his typical subject matter. He and The Murder Junkies mounted another tour, accompanied by videographer Evan Cohen (who would later write the book "I Was a Murder Junkie: The Last Days of G.G. Allin" about the experience). Allin also made the rounds on the talk show circuit, appearing on Jerry Springer and several other programs (he'd previously appeared on Geraldo to announce that his body fluids were "a communion with the people"). That June, Allin went to New York to attend the premiere of Phillips' documentary, "Hated". Several nights later, he played a show at the Gas Station club that ended with fans rioting in the streets, and Allin escaping the police naked and on foot. He went to a friend's apartment on the Lower East Side, where he consumed alcohol and heroin. On the morning of June 28, 1993, Allin was found dead of an overdose -a typical rock & roll death for a rock & roller who was anything but typical. He was buried in Littleton, NH, after a predictably colorful funeral, leaving behind the most disgusting legacy in rock history. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 13 de febrero de 2016

Win


Win were a strange yet enjoyable pop band from Scotland that crept onto the music scene with a few singles in 1985 and 1986, but didn't get around to releasing their debut album on the London label, 'Uh! Tears Baby (A Trash Icon)', until 1987. Led by former Fire Engines main man Davey Henderson on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, Win also featured Russel Burn (keyboards, percussion, vocals, and samples), Ian Stoddart (drums, vocals, percussion, and keyboards), Manny Shoniwa (guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals), and Simon Smeeton (guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals). 'Uh! Tears Baby' was a strange mix of Henderson's quirky songwriting and a "modern" (for the '80s) dance groove. The clean production (by David Motion) added even more to the odd feel of the album. 

This was a band aching to break down barriers while remaining firmly inside them. Imagine Marc Bolan fronting early It Bites covering songs by Orange Juice and having the whole thing mixed by Kraftwerk and Adam Ant ("wow" is right). As odd as Henderson's songs were, they were still catchy and hummable, fueled by the soulful groove of the band. Two years later, Win released their belated sophomore album, 'Freaky Trigger', on Virgin. With the addition of William Perry (keyboards and vocals), Win sounded basically the same (albeit a little more funky). Without much success, the band drifted away. Henderson resurfaced a few years later as leader of Nectarine No. 9. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 12 de febrero de 2016

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282


With such a longwinded moniker, it seems likely that Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 could be nothing but a bunch of pretentious art-school rejects. Fortunately, that's pretty far from the truth -their sound is a hybrid of art rock and punk rock, based on noodling on organs, electric banjos, mandolins and heavy, fuzzed-out guitar blasts. The group formed in 1987 in San Francisco and released their first album 'Wormed By Leonard' on their own label Thwart a year later. In 1991, the group made the jump to the Matador label, where they released 1991's critically acclaimed 'Lovelyville', 1992's 'Mother Of All Saints' and 1994's 'Strangers From the Universe'. They moved to Ajax for the following year's 'Funeral Pudding' and then to Communion for 1996's 'I Hope It Lands', where they remained on the roster for the rest of the '90s despite their lack of further releases. However, they continued to play sporadic, spontaneous dates and a new album was rumored for a 2001 release. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 10 de febrero de 2016

The Shamen


Combining swirling psychedelic rock with hardcore hip-hop rhythms, The Shamen were one of the first alternative bands to appeal to dance clubs as much as indie rockers. Comprised of Colin Angus, Peter Stephenson, Keith McKenzie, and Derek McKenzie, the Scottish quartet had its roots in the early-'80s neo-psychedelic group Alone Again Or. The Shamen officially formed in 1986 and released their first album, 'Drop', the following year. 'Drop' was filled with varying guitar textures, recalling many late-'60s rock groups. After the record's release, Angus immersed himself in the emerging acid house/hip-hop club scene, which prompted the departure of Derek McKenzie; he was replaced with William Sinnott, who helped reshape the band's sound into a dense, rhythmic pulse that relied heavily on samples, drum machines, and loud guitars. The band debuted their revamped sound in 1988 with a stage show that featured sexually explicit visuals along with impassioned political rhetoric. During 1988, Peter Stephenson and Keith McKenzie departed, leaving Angus and Sinnott to perform as a duo. 

With their 1989 album 'In Gorbachev We Trust', The Shamen expanded their following in Britain and began attracting American listeners. The duo continued to concentrate on dance music throughout 1989, adding rappers to their live shows. Just as the band was heading toward mainstream acceptance, Will Sinnott drowned off the coast of the Canary Islands on May 23, 1991. With the Sinnott family's encouragement, Angus continued The Shamen and the group did indeed begin to score hits, particularly in the U.K. where they amassed five Top 20 singles between 1991 and 1992; "Move Any Mountain (Progen 91)" managed to make it into the American Top 40 at the end of 1991, as well. However, The Shamen fell out of favor during 1993 and their 1994 album 'Different Drum' failed to gain much of an audience. Nevertheless, the group continued to record, releasing 'Axis Mutatis' in 1995, 'Hempton Manor' in 1996, and 'UV' in 1998. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 9 de febrero de 2016

The Rose Of Avalanche


Formed by Phil Morris (vocals), Paul James Berry (guitar) and Alan Davis (bass), this Leeds, Yorkshire, England-based band came to the fore following heavy airplay from BBC disc jockey John Peel. Their debut single, ‘L.A. Rain’, finished high in his 1985 ‘Festive Fifty’, although it was released before the band had performed. Glenn Schultz (guitar) was added to the line-up on the follow-up, ‘Goddess’. The two singles, which both reached number 1 on the independent charts, were packaged alongside other material on the unapproved album release 'First Avalanche'. Drummer Mark Thompson was then drafted into the line-up allowing The Rose Of Avalanche to move away from the strictures of using a drum machine. The band also signed a new recording contract with the Fire Records label. Their third single ‘Too Many Castles In The Sky’ originated from overhearing a man in a pub asking a girl if she wanted to ‘See my castle in the sky?’. Following this release bass player Alan Davis was replaced by Nicole McKay. The next single ‘Velveteen’, a tribute to Nico, gained further exposure after the band accompanied The Mission on a European tour. 

After gaining early praise the band was stopped in their tracks for 18 months between 1987 and 1988 following disputes with their label, Fire Records, who rather unceremoniously went ahead with the release of an album of old material. The Rose Of Avalanche responded by setting up their own Avalantic label, releasing their debut album proper ('Never Another Sunset') in 1989. Further line-up changes then ensued with Schultz and McKay departing, with the latter replaced by Darren Horner. The 4 track 'A Peace Inside EP' was the last to feature Mark Thompson, leaving Morris and Berry to carry on with Horner and new drummer Andrew Porter. Their next two albums, 'String ‘A’ Beads' and 'I.C.E.', brought about a transformation in the band’s sound, replacing the heavy rhythms and chiming guitar that saw them pigeonholed as ‘gothic’ with material of a comparatively melodic and ‘poppy’ nature. The departure of Berry after the release of the latter hastened the demise of this ill-fated band. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 8 de febrero de 2016

Plasmatics


At a time (the late '70s and early '80s) and a place (the New York punk scene) where shocking the audience was often the order of the day, few bands had a greater gift for cultivating outrage than Plasmatics. During the group's heyday, a Plasmatics show could include anything from lead singer Wendy O. Williams covered in shaving cream and electrical tape while brandishing a chain saw as blue-haired Richie Stotts attacked his guitar in drag, to the destruction of televisions, electric guitars, automobiles, and other consumer goods. Plenty of punk bands of the time courted controversy, but Plasmatics took it a step further; they were banned in several major cities (most notably London) and Williams stood trial for obscenity in a celebrated 1981 court case in Milwaukee, but the band also helped bring punk to the heartland through their crazed stage shows, frequent television appearances, and a prescient fusion of punk velocity with heavy metal guitar power. 

Plasmatics were formed in 1977 by Williams and Rod Swenson, a self-described "anti-artist" who met her when she answered a casting call for Captain Kink, an experimental theater for adults Swenson ran in the middle of the Times Square district. Fascinated by New York's burgeoning punk scene and enamored of Wendy's fearless stage presence, Swenson assembled a band around Williams, featuring lead guitarist Stotts, rhythm guitarist Wes Beech, bassist Chosei Funahara, and drummer Stu Deutsch. Plasmatics made their live debut on-stage at CBGB in 1978, and their wildly destructive stage show soon made them the talk of the town. By 1979, the band was headlining shows along the East Coast and they sold out the New York Palladium, the first band to do so without the benefit of a major record deal. (Plasmatics were also the first band to blow up a car on the Palladium's stage). In 1980, the group signed a deal with the legendary British label Stiff Records, which released their debut album, 'New Hope for the Wretched', produced by Swenson, Ed Stasium, and Jimmy Miller; by this time, Jean Beauvior had taken over on bass from Funahara. Shortly after the album's release, Plasmatics flew to London to make their British debut only to discover the show has been shut down by civic authorities; the group received a more friendly welcome on their subsequent North American tour, which featured a number of sold-out dates. 

However, in January 1981 Williams was arrested following a show in Milwaukee, WI, for obscenity, with the police claiming Williams had performed a lewd act on stage with a sledgehammer. Williams was also severely beaten by police following the arrest, with the officers claiming she had tried to attack them. A few days later, Williams was arrested for obscenity again in Cleveland, OH; in time, she would be cleared of all charges in both cities, but the press attention helped boost the group's already notorious public profile. Later that year Plasmatics recorded their second LP, 'Beyond the Valley of 1984', which featured former Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith behind the traps following the departure of Stu Deutsch. The band continued to tour heavily and appeared on a number of popular television shows, including Fridays, SCTV, and Tomorrow. Late in 1981, Plasmatics released an EP, 'Metal Priestess', which took the heavy metal undertow of the group's earlier work and brought it to the surface; the new musical direction attracted the attention of A&R men at Capitol Records, who signed Plasmatics to a major-label deal. 'Coup d'Etat' was recorded in Germany with producer Dieter Dirks and featured another new lineup of the group -Williams, Stotts, Beech, bassist Chris Romanelli, and drummer T.C. Tolliver. However, Capitol's promotion of the album was half-hearted at best, and rather than continue working with a label that didn't believe in the group, Williams and Swenson decided to make their next project a Wendy O. Williams solo effort. 1984's 'WOW' featured Beech and Tolliver alongside a crew of players assembled by producer Gene Simmons, including several fellow members of Kiss. Williams's second "solo" effort, 1986's 'Kommander of Kaos', was another metal-oriented effort; Stotts was gone, with Michael Ray and Greg Smith signing on as guitarist and bassist. The Plasmatics name was resurrected for a final album in 1987 -'Maggots: The Record', a concept piece concerning environmental abuse and consumer culture gone mad- which featured much of the 'Kommander of Kaos' band accompanied by a handful of session players and backing vocalists. Swenson and Williams folded the Plasmatics following a tour in support of Maggots, and after cutting a hip-hop-oriented album, 1988's 'Deffest! and Baddest!' under the name Ultrafly and the Hometown Girls, Williams retired from music. Williams and Swenson remained a couple until she took her own life on April 6, 1998. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

domingo, 7 de febrero de 2016

Midnight Oil


Australia's Midnight Oil brought a new sense of political and social immediacy to pop music: not only did incendiary hits like "Beds Are Burning" and "Blue Sky Mine" bring global attention to the plight of, respectively, aboriginal settlers and impoverished workers, but the group also put its money where its mouth was -in addition to mounting benefit performances for groups like Greenpeace and Save the Whales, frontman Peter Garrett even ran for the Australian Senate on the Nuclear Disarmament Party ticket. 

The band formed in Sydney in 1971 as Farm, and originally comprised guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, drummer Rob Hirst, and bassist Andrew "Bear" James; Garrett, a law student known for his seven-foot-tall stature and shaven head, assumed vocal duties in 1975, and the group soon rechristened itself Midnight Oil. After months of sporadic gigs, they began making the rounds to area record companies; following a string of rejections, the group formed its own label, Powderworks, and issued their self-titled debut -a taut, impassioned collection of guitar rock which quickly established the Midnight Oil sound- in 1978. 

After declaring their independence from the music industry, Midnight Oil grew increasingly active and outspoken in the political arena; after performing in opposition to uranium mining, they supported the Tibet Council before turning their attentions to the unfair practices of the local music industry, and formed their own booking agency in response to the monopoly exerted by area agents and promoters. With their 1979 sophomore effort, 'Head Injuries', the band scored their first hit single, "Cold Cold Change", and earned a gold record. James left the band the following year due to health problems; with new bassist Peter Gifford, they cut the EP 'Bird Noises', another chart success. 

With 1981's 'Place Without a Postcard' (recorded with producer Glyn Johns), Midnight Oil achieved platinum status on the strength of the smash "Armistice Day", which won the group an American deal with Columbia Records. Their follow-up, 1983's '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1', spent over two years in the Australian Top 40; after 1984's 'Red Sails in the Sunset', Garrett made his run at Senate, losing by only a narrow margin. Participation in the Artists United Against Apartheid project followed, leading directly into Midnight Oil's increased interest in the battles of Australia's aboriginal settlers and a tour, dubbed "Black Fella White Fella", with the aborigine group The Warumpi Band

The aborigines' plight came to the fore on 1987's 'Diesel and Dust', the Oils' breakthrough record; sparked by the hit single "Beds Are Burning", the album reached the U.S. Top 20 and made the band a household name. After bassist Dwayne "Bones" Hillman (ex-Swingers) replaced Gifford, Midnight Oil returned with 1990's 'Blue Sky Mining', which they followed with a concert outside of the Exxon corporation's Manhattan offices in protest of the company's handling of the Alaskan oil spill. (A film of the performance titled "Black Rain Falls" was later released, with profits going to Greenpeace). The album 'Earth and Sun and Moon' appeared in 1993, followed three years later by 'Breathe'. Midnight Oil next resurfaced in 1998 with 'Redneck Wonderland'. 'The Real Thing', only available in Australia, followed in 2001. It was a solid collection of new songs and live tracks from Midnight Oil's magnificent run at the Metro Theatre in Sydney. 'Capricornia', issued on Liquid 8 in spring 2002, marked the band's 14th album of their career. In December, Peter Garrett announced his split from the band after 25 years. Garrett, who left Midnight Oil on good terms, wished to pursue other challenges. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 6 de febrero de 2016

Lori & The Chameleons


Formed in 1979 in Liverpool, England, this band was a vehicle for the evocative teenage singer Lori Larty. With backing, production and songwriting provided by former Big In Japan alumni David Balfe and Bill Drummond, Lori emerged with an appealing, almost spoken-word tribute to Japan (the country), entitled ‘Touch’. A sparkling arrangement, the disc entered the bottom of the UK charts and appeared to signal the emergence of a new talent. The concept of the group appeared to revolve vaguely around exotic, travelogue pop, with each song title referring to a specific geographical location: Japan, Peru, Russia and the Ganges River in India. The second single, ‘The Lonely Spy’, boasted another impressive, atmospheric vocal from Lori and an astonishing backing that emulated the bombastic scores associated with James Bond films. After four superb tracks, which represented some of the best UK pop of the period, the group ceased operating. The journeyman Troy Tate reappeared in the Teardrop Explodes, while Drummond turned to management and was later the brains behind a series of pseudonymous groups including the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu (JAMS) and The Timelords who later emerged as the very successful KLF. Lori, meanwhile, spurned imminent pop success by returning to art college and effectively retiring from the music business. Her fleeting career provided as much mystery and instant appeal as the extraordinary discs on which she appeared. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 5 de febrero de 2016

Hunters & Collectors


Ending up with the intensity and passion of a U2, Hunters & Collectors carved a unique path and place for themselves in Australian rock culture. The group was originally formed in post-punk 1981 in Melbourne as a collective rather than a band, an excursion into funk-rock rhythms and industrial Krautrock. They named themselves after a song by Can

The group's early performances are remembered as chaotic, with audience members encouraged to join in with rubbish bin lids or fire extinguishers. The extended lineup included a massed horn section known as "The Horns of Contempt". Inside all this was singer Mark Seymour, with an ear for a melody and a taste for lyrical poetry. Illustrating the dichotomy at work, "Talking to a Stranger", the band's first single in July 1982, featured a concise edited version of the song on one side and a full-length seven-minute version on the other side. The single's theme of alienation and anguish is one the band would return to, but for the moment, the group's emphasis was the free-form side of its work. The Hunters' reputation spread to Europe, where a stripped-back band spent six months in 1983, recording a second album, 'The Fireman's Curse', in Germany, with producer Conny Plank (Can, Kraftwerk). Pruned back to its essentials, the band recorded another album with Plank, 'The Jaws of Life', and a single-only song, "Throw Your Arms Around Me", in the ""Talking to a Stranger" mold. Hunters & Collectors were at a crossroads. 

After a live album came 'Human Frailty', where Seymour's deep songs about alienation and sexual politics came to the fore. The bandmembers had discovered how to tap the unique vein they had unearthed in the audience, where in a sweat-dripping venue packed to the rafters with a beer-swilling macho rock audience, that audience would at the top of their voices sing the song chorus "You don't make me feel like a woman anymore." A newly recorded "Throw Your Arms Around Me" became one of the undisputed classic songs of Australian rock, and from now until their end Hunters & Collectors would remain one of Australian rock's favorite live attractions. While successive studio albums did their best to explore new themes and new sounds to varying degrees of success, it was the live performances fans were waiting for, and with each new album it was the older material radio wanted to play. In the end, Hunters & Collectors were strangled by their own legend. 

In 1998, the bandmembers announced they were recording their final album, 'Juggernaut', and supported it with a farewell tour. Mark Seymour released a solo album, 'King Without a Clue', continuing his relentless search for meaning through song. When soundman John Archer auctioned off the personally designed PA that had been carried by the band for almost 20 years, it signaled not just the end of Hunters & Collectors, but also the end of Australian music's post-punk era. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 4 de febrero de 2016

Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie


The arty British pop band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie may be best known for the fact that Garbage's Shirley Manson was once a member, but there is more to the group's story, including chart successes and record company conflicts. Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie formed in 1981 out of the ashes of The Clan, which itself was created from the lineups of Lipstick and Irrelevant. The band's first lineup comprised singer/guitarist Martin Metcalfe, drummer Derek Kelly, bassist Jamie Waterson, and keyboardist Ewan Drysdale; Chuck Parker replaced Drysdale within a matter of months.

The band released its first single, 'Death of a Salesman', in 1984, and added two background vocalists, Shirley Manson (who also played keyboards) and Hilary McLean, in the next year. The Mackenzies' 1986 single 'The Rattler' reached number 13 in the U.K. indie charts, and the group made several TV and radio appearances in the wake of the song's success. On the strength of their 1987 'Face to Face' single, which was another indie Top 20 hit, Capitol signed Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie in 1988.

The group released a string of singles over the next year (including a re-recorded version of 'The Rattler'), all of which hovered in the mid-regions of the Top 100. Their 1989 album 'Good Deeds and Dirty Rags' fared slightly better, charting at number 27; however, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie and Capitol parted ways; the Mackenzies signed to Parlophone and Capitol released a B-sides and live collection, 'Fish Heads and Tails', at the end of the year. 

In 1990, the group toured with Debbie Harry and released two singles, 'Love Child' and 'Blacker Than Black', that met with indifference: 'Blacker Than Black' topped out at number 62, while 'Love Child' failed to chart at all. With two albums' worth of material recorded and waiting to be released, the Mackenzies left Parlophone and signed to MCA. The newer of the two albums, 'Now We Are Married', was released in February of 1991, while 'Hammer and Tongs', which was recorded in 1989, came out the following month. Poor chart showings for the records and conflicts between the label, management, and the group resulted in MCA dropping Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie in 1992. 

The following year the band changed gears, creating the side project Angelfish, which put Manson's smoldering sensuality and vocals at the forefront. The year 1993 also saw the debut of the band's own label, Blokshok, on which they released the live Mackenzies album 'Live: On the Day of Storms'. Angelfish's video for the single "Shock Me" received some airplay on MTV, where famously, guitarist Steve Marker saw it, leading to Manson being asked to join his new project Garbage. After Manson left, the rest of the Mackenzies carried on for two more albums, 'Five' and 'The Glory Hole', as well as a collection of covers, 'Jezebel'. The group played its final gig at the end of 1995. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2016

fIREHOSE


In 1985, after D Boon's tragic death at age 27 signalled the end of Minutemen, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley threw in their lot with then-22-year-old former Ohio State University student, guitar player, and Minutemen fanatic Ed Crawford to form fIREHOSE. Taking their group name from a line in Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," fIREHOSE continued in the Minutemen tradition of breathtaking musicianship combined with caustic lyrical fusillades inspired by the writing of the Beat Generation and the erect-middle-finger indignation of the Blank Generation. However, with Crawford's decidedly folkie bent insinuating itself into the mix, fIREHOSE's songs began to expand into more traditional verse-chorus-verse songwriting symmetry. And although fIREHOSE never equaled the Minutemen's output in terms of sheer audacity and emotional depth, Crawford, Watt, and Hurley recorded rock that was muscular, dense, and daring, along with being tremendously heartfelt. They never patronized audiences or comported themselves as "rock stars"; they were instead the quintessential post-punk "peoples' band." Although they achieved wider notoriety than did Minutemen (eventually recording for a major label), fIREHOSE called it quits in early 1994 after a desultory, dispirited final LP ('Mr. Machinery Operator'). Still, nearly all of their recorded work stands as some of the best late-'80s/early-'90s indie rock. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 2 de febrero de 2016

Department S


Taking their name from the 60s television series, Department S evolved from the punk/ska combo Guns For Hire. Although it featured several members during its lifetime, Guns For Hire was essentially occasional Face writer Vaughan Toulouse (b. Vaughan Cotillard, 30 July 1959, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, d. August 1991; vocals), Mike Herbage (guitar), Tony Lordan (bass), Eddie Roxy (b. Edward Lloyd Barnes; keyboards -replaced by Mark Taylor in 1981), and Stuart Mizan (drums; replaced by Mike Hasler). Hasler, who drummed for Madness in their Invaders days and also managed The Nips, wrote Guns For Hire’s only single -‘I’m Gonna Rough My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Up Tonight’- which emerged on Korova Records. The group became Department S with the addition of Mark Taylor and Stuart Mizan. They made their live debut at the Rock Garden, London, in July 1980. Demon Records released their debut single, ‘Is Vic There?’, in 1981. It was produced by former Mott The Hoople members Buffin and Overend Watts, but its success led to the better-equipped RCA Records picking it up. The b-side, ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’, featured Bananarama on backing vocals. 

Two further singles followed on Stiff Records but a planned album was aborted when neither single charted. Toulouse returned to work as a disc jockey, before re-emerging with Main T on Paul Weller’s Respond label. When two further singles flopped it proved to be the end of his performing career, with the exception of contributions to Weller’s Council Collective offshoot on ‘Soul Deep’, a miners’ strike benefit. He was also linked with The Style Council as one of the personalities behind the ‘Cappacino Kid’, whose writing graced the band’s sleeves. Toulouse died in August 1991 after a long illness brought on by AIDS. Of the remainder of the band, Lordan and Taylor were most recently accounted for as being a postman and cab driver, respectively. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC