May 26, 2006


As Jerry Goossens' and (sometime Eet U Smakelijk commentator) Jeroen Vedder's great book Het Gejuich Was Massaal pointed out, the first wave of Dutch punk bands consisted of musicians who started playing punk, while the second wave was made up of punks that started playing music. The Suzannes, art-school punks from the Eastern Netherlands (Enschede) fall somewhere between those two categories. Reportedly they'd already started by 1976; in any case, around early 1978 their sole EP "New Disease" was released by one of the first Dutch independent labels, De 1000 Idioten (The Thousand Idiots as you might already have guessed). The label's name was derived from the fact there would always be at least a thousand idiots that would buy their records (2,000 in the Suzannes' case). I guess if they'd start their label today they should call it De 100 Idioten, being the approximate amount of copies any Dutch punk band - that doesn't do 100 gigs a year - can hope to sell. But I digress.
The Suzannes had almost a garage/60's type of sound, which might also have something to do with the 4-track studio it was recorded at. I especially like the tinny guitar sound that reminds me of Subway Sect (see under) a little. Anyway, this holds up much better than some big label stuff from the period. Another thing that sets them apart from their contemporaries is the number of songs on the EP; a whopping six; this wouldn't be standard practice in DIY/punk until 2-3 years later.

Naughty Young Girl
Listen To My Heartbeat
Teenage Abortion
Deepfreeze Boy

May 18, 2006


Most of you who were around back then will agree that, music-wise, the mid-late 80's were a pretty dire time. Take a look at the 1987-88 charts and what you see is the very worst shit in the history of shit; if it wasn't assembly-line disco by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, it was syrupy balladry by old troopers like that Al Bundy-lookalike out of the Righteous Brothers, or the omnipresent Phil Collins. However, the worst thing about those years was the fact that the punk scene sucked just as bad. Hardcore, which was great up until about 1984, morphed into bad metal and weak careerist rock. There was the start of Emo, which basically amounted to 1 great LP (Rites of Spring); after that, 1,000 Echo and the Bunnymen-soundalikes. The garage scene at the time I didn't care much for, to me it seemed mostly about having the right haircuts.
Sure, there were a couple of great bands around, but even with a decent band their record would probably sound like overproduced shit. So I spent most of the mid-to-late eighties in a kind of virtual seventies, digging up every record from the early punk era (and before) that I could find.
It wouldn't be until the early 90's and the bootlegging of obscure early punk on comps like Killed By Death #1 until #5,894 that some kind of "KBD" primitivo punk esthetic was formed. Suddenly, records by local bands like Shith and Obsessions that I used to see piled up in stacks around here for years became collectors' items.
It was also at that time that a bunch of great new bands like New Bomb Turks and Devil Dogs came on the scene. I think it was MaximumRock'nRoll who declared the New Bomb Turks' Destroy-Oh-Boy LP "best punk record of 1992 and the preceding 5 years". Well, that was what it felt like!
But I guess in a couple of years someone will put a bunch of great punk obscurities from the wilderness years of 1985-1989 on a series of bootlegs called Killed By Phil Collins or whatever. I know at least one song that's going to be on it: "Fast Food" by the Blisters. The Blisters were from New Jersey and put out their brilliant debut EP (featuring aforementioned song) in 1987 in a press run of 500 copies to next to no acclaim, apart from I think Jeff Bale at MR&R upon whose rave review I ordered a copy from the band. It has been one of my faves throughout the years, even though to ears weaned on '90's lo-fi punk it doesn't sound quite as raw anymore as it once did. Just like the 90's records featured at the great Static Party blog, this EP is still pretty easy and cheap to get hold of secondhand; find it now, in 5 years it will be worth $100!

Blisters - Fast Food
Blisters - Good Thing Going
Blisters - Too Many Years

May 12, 2006


After mentioning Raw Power from Italy 2 posts ago, I kept hearing the one song I know in my head; of course I mean their brilliant "Fuck Authority" from their 1983 debut tape (and included on the Max R&R Welcome to 1984 comp LP the year after). For those who've never heard it, here it is. Back then it was just another great HC song, now upon hearing it again I'm tempted to declare this the greatest Hardcore Punk recording ever! (Whew...) Don't listen to a lot of HC anymore, but when I do I notice my taste seems to have changed from the melodic, singalong stuff (was a big 7 Seconds fan, now I can't stand their stuff anymore) to the more aggressive, pissed-off side.
Another song that didn't seem to stick out back then, but in hindsight must surely be one of the all-time Dutch HC greats, is the obscure "Isolation" by Vanalles & Nogwatt. They were a bunch of 13-year-olds from Wormer whose EP (pictured above) was pretty good, but this track (one of 55 tracks on the 1984 Alle 55 Goed comp tape) is their masterpiece! Young, loud, snotty and pissed-off!
O.K., gotta go!
Raw Power - Fuck Authority
Vanalles & Nogwatt - Isolation

May 05, 2006


(Belated) tribute to Nikki Sudden (1956-2006)

Just like I knew I was gonna like punk even before I'd really heard any, I was a Swell Maps fan before I'd heard any of their music. An article I'd read around 1982 described their "anything goes"-estethics, disregard for conventional song lengths and proper recording techniques, absurdist lyrics (the phrase "Got a space between my eyes, never knew about it" was embedded in my skull - between my eyes - years before I heard the song) and weird fascination with childhood stuff like Thunderbirds and Biggles. Just reading about it made me want to "do it myself"; weeks later my first self-recorded tape was on the market (circulation: a whopping 30).When I got around to hearing the Swell Maps' music it didn't disappoint; if anything, they were even punkier than I'd imagined them to be.
(Allow me to sidetrack for a minute: what's with this punk-versus-postpunk shit? I always considered all cool D.I.Y. stuff from the 1977-1982 era "punk", especially the Swell Maps!)
I loved debut single "Read About Seymour" (which I got on the great early punk comp Burning Ambitions), hardly 1.30 minutes long and that included a chaotic freak-out at the end. Then I found a second-hand copy of their posthumous Whatever Happens Next 2LP, which has all the different Swell Maps "flavours" you need; practice recordings, piano solos, jams involving "drums and plumming" or various kitchen utensils, and last but not least a blistering Peel session from 1979, featuring labelmate Lora Logic on sax! As this is the only Maps record that's never rereleased (Mute has their other LP's out on CD), I've posted 3 tracks from this Peel session below.
Cult Figures consisted of 2 friends some members of Swell Maps went to art school with; they had a couple of songs but no proper band yet, so what you hear on the "Zip Nolan" single (out on the Maps' own Rather Records, 1978) is actually the Swell Maps playing (which should be clear from the first bars of furious drumming!).

Swell Maps - Vertical Slum/ Forest Fire
Swell Maps - Bandits One Five (from Peel Session, 1979)
Cult Figures - Zip Nolan