June 30, 2006


Inlay of Glorious Death/ Stanx/ Idijotz tape, 1983
When I think of the "Holland Hardcore" bands of 1982-1984, there's one band in particular that I really liked, that never made it to vinyl; Steenwijk's Glorious Death. They were a siamese-twin-brother-band to the (slightly) better known Stanx, both played 200MPH-thrash but Glorious Death seemed just a bit more melodic. In fact, most of their songs are really catchy; I could still sing along (in my head) playing this for the first time in more than 20 years. These tracks are from the demo tape pictured above; they're practice room recordings from late 1983, about a year after the Holland HC tape and mostly the same songs, but with some interesting changes and better sound!
Glorious Death/ Stanx turned the unlikely small town of Steenwijk (in the thinly populated East of the Netherlands, right at the edge of our own Bible Belt) into something of a punk stronghold during 1983-84. Every band that counted (and some that didn't) played the punk festivals held at youth center De Buze; 4 to 6 times a year the good citizens of Steenwijk saw their town being invaded by an army of freaks. When some of those freaks pulled a lamp post out of the ground and triumphantly paraded it into De Buze, they were not amused, and around late 1984 (as I recall) those festivals ended.
The last time I played De Buze was around 1996; there were none of the old faces in the audience. My band played an impromptu version of Glorious Death's "Police State" (I love the line "you feel like some shit"), dedicated to any ex-members that might be present, but we didn't hear from any.

Glorious Death - Love Story
Glorious Death - Jesus Christ
Glorious Death - The News
Glorious Death - R.I.P.
Glorious Death - Commercial Beat
Glorious Death - Police State

June 23, 2006


There's something inherently punk about B-sides; they're no-goods nobody has any time for, conceived in a hurry, then discarded, now doomed to a life of tagging along with their bright successful A-side siblings, etc. etc. Often the roughest, couldn't-care-lessest music of the 50's and 60's was to be found on a 45's flipside. Most garage classics started out there (the granddaddy of them all, Richard Berry's "Louie Louie", first saw life as the flip to his version of "You Are My Sunshine"!), the Beatles' wildest stuff was to be found there, and even later on in the years of manufactured bubblegum pop, they'd put a bunch of noise on the B-side so the DJs couldn't be mistaken as to which side was the "proper" one. Of course, this whole esthetic of trash-thrown-down-then-picked-up became one of the key elements of punk.
So how about punk B-sides? Are those punker-than-punk? (Or punk x punk = punk squared?) Well, no. DIY artists had a hard enough time putting out their 45s, often selling their mopeds/ record collections to cough up the money, so they didn't really feel like wasting half a record on throwaway stuff. (or, in the case of the Pagans or Desperate Bicycles, they put the same music on both sides to save cutting costs!)
It's the (semi-)big label artists that have the interesting B-sides, either because they didn't care about them, or because that's where they let their guard down. For instance, Year Zero punks the Damned would acknowledge their 60's roots by covering "Help!" on the flip of the very first punk single; likewise, Generation X put out a very early (methinks it's Billy Idol himself on out-of-tune guitar!) Peel Session of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" as a B-side.
Dave Goodman, the Sex Pistols sound man who did all their B-sides (their A-sides being done by hotshot producer Chris Thomas), made a one-off punk record called "Justifiable Homicide" (which strangely sounds like the Chris Thomas-produced Pistols!), but the proggy flip "Take Down Your Fences" exposes him for the old hippy he was! (I like it.) Magazine on the other hand, who were consciously getting away from the "standard" punk sound, put a scorching punker with the great title of "My Mind Ain't So Open" on the back of debut single "Shot By Both Sides".
When the Lurkers had "gone powerpop" in 1979 with "Out In The Dark", they apologetically followed it on the 45 with an old-style punker (uncredited on the sleeve) called "Cyanide" (although that's not technically a B-side!). If you think the Stranglers couldn't punk out then check out their so-punk-they-were-probably-kidding "Shut Up", clocking in at 1:02 and flipside of "Nice 'n Sleazy". The Stranglers put out lots of extra-curricular stuff, often in the form of fanclub releases, but on the B-side front another er... interesting one is 1979's "Yellowcake UF6", an instrumental slowed-down and played backwards, a bit like Husker Du's "Dreams Recurring". The prize for all time worst punk B-side however goes to PiL, who chose to couple their most accessible, uplifting song ever, debut single "Public Image", with a piece of horrible noise called "The Cowboy Song". There you have it, six punk B-sides, varying in quality from great to "interesting" to crap, but all of them shedding a different light on the artists in question!

June 16, 2006


Successful sculptors. Club bookers. A&R representatives. Poets. Painters. Writers. Newspaper columnists. Journalists. Sound guys. Radio DJs. It's funny how lots of people that have been in punkbands later ended up having media/art-related careers (in the same order: onetime members of Zmiv/ Vopos/ Asperitys/ Neuroot/ Frites Modern/ Union Morbide/ Human Alert/ Pandemonium/ Indirekt/ Echte Boter GVD/ Gotterfliez/ Laitz/ Eton Crop, and that's just off the top of my head).
I never had a career of any kind, maybe that's why I'm still reliving those punk years through this here blog. Apart from having a girlfriend, kids and a mortgage, not a lot has changed for me since I was 17; I'm still making ends meet working various minimum wage paying jobs, still wondering what to do with my life and still in a punk band that puts out a vinyl single every once in a while. Just last week we put out our latest one; that's exactly 21 years after my first band put out our first one. To celebrate this fact we have a quiz: name both band names and song titles belonging to the 2 mystery tracks listed below; track 1 is by my first band, track 2 from the new record by my latest band. Winner gets a copy of the latter (I'm sorry, a copy of the former would set me back $70 on eBay). Friends and family are excluded (well, that leaves out 99% of our readers).


June 09, 2006


Saw punk combo De Tommies play their 2nd ever show a couple of weeks ago. Young, local and weaned on pop-punk: in most such cases I can be seen fleeing the place after about 5 minutes of Green Day chord changes and ska interludes, but they were great! "How can this be?" you ask, to which I reply, "cuz they're girls!" Yes, my dear reader, a lot of my favourite (post-)punk noises were/are made by women, and this is for a couple of reasons: first, whereas men (myself included) often revert to the same ol' Chuck Berry-riffs as a result of practicing those riffs for years, girls don't waste their time honing their instrumental skills, they just make up riffs they can play straightaway! While male punk rock musicians focus on playing tight, fast, loud and often complicated, the females focus on originality; even if someone can play just 2 chords, she'll play them in an interesting way. In male punk, the whole band is playing the same notes at the same time (or trying to); in girl punk different simple parts are interlocking, creating a much more interesting whole using less "technique". Then there's the fact that the female voice simply has a bigger range and more possibilities than its male counterpart; it's great for using as an extra instrument instead of merely barking the words. So these last few weeks I played a lot of my old grandmapunkrecords by bands that De Tommies have probably never heard of, but that sound like them anyway: the Slits of course (is there a more 1977-adrenalin-inducing record than their Peel Sessions?), Raincoats, Kleenex, Delta 5, Au Pairs (o.k., those last two were half-and-half)...and last but not least, Mo-Dettes. For some reason the Mo-dettes have never received the critical accolades bestowed upon Slits/Raincoats/Kleenex...well, every other band I mentioned. No retrospective CD, no mentions by Greil Marcus or in Rip It Up And Start Again; I guess because of the name (and their Roy Liechtenstein/Pop Art-style record covers) people think they were a Mod band. Well, bass player Jane Crockford was the one who bit a piece of Shane McGowan's ear off back in 1976, how's that for punk credentials?
I've yet to hear their LP, but I really like their 45's that I have. 1979 debut single "White Mice"/"Masochistic Opposite" was distributed by Rough Trade, and sounds as clangy and primitive as anything from that label, but with a bit more melody than their peers. Second single "Paint It Black" is o.k., but doesn't stray too far from the Stones original. I really like the grating Gang Of 4-style rhythm guitar on third (or fourth?) 45 "Dark Park Creeping" from 1980. Like the Slits' Ari Up, Mo-Dettes singer Kate Korus came from a German-speaking country, giving her vocals an ever-so-slight Nico touch. Come to think of it, singing in a language that's not your own is sorta like the vocalist's equivalent to playing an instrument you're not technically adept at!

Mo-Dettes - White Mice
Mo-Dettes - Masochistic Opposite
Mo-Dettes - Dark Park Creeping

June 01, 2006


A while ago I heard the Squits' 1982 Noise Against Silence EP again; I vaguely remember I wasn't too crazy about it back in the day, but I really like it now! The Squits (not to be confused with the Squats from Nijmegen) were from Haarlem, a town that produced some pretty noisy and primitive punk EP's (Neo-Punkz, Suspense). While this record sounds primitive enough, the sleeve and labels are beautifully designed by fellow Haarlem artist Joost Swarte (he also did the No Fun labels as well as the cover for the Rousers' powerpop classic A Treat Of New Beat), making this record stand out among its coffee-stained KBD-style punk peers. Having 12 tracks on a 7 inch was also pretty unique (back then). Because of the short songs and fast tempos the Squits got lumped in with hardcore; I think it sounds more like good ol' 1980-vintage DIY-punk sped up a bit. Anyhow, they sound like they're having a lot of fun, especially on the great Karate Aapje, or in the flubbed intro to Porno Pirate.
The Squits' girl singer reminds me of local heroes Indirekt's first singer Marjolein a lot; husky with a bit of a rough edge. Marjolein (sister of drummer Jeroen) was on Indirekt's first tape and EP; while the EP (Nieuws Voor Doven En Slechthorenden) shows up on mp3-blogs or eBay every now and then, there were only 50 copies in existence of their early 1983 Groeten Uit Hoorn tape, so I guess even their staunchest fans never heard this one. As Indirekt literally started to play their instruments the week they formed, they still sound pretty primitive here. I like it!
It sounds like guitar and bass are both using distortion pedals with 2 settings: Noise and More Noise. The drummer pounds out a relentless 2/2 thumpa thumpa beat throughout the tape. The songs - named after their topics: Neo nazis, Hiroshima, etc. - are delightfully simple, both musically and lyrically, and you gotta love the Gumby-style backing vocals (courtesy of their bassist, the normally very soft-spoken Rick Blom). The obligatory song-with-flubbed intro (every band had to have one after the Exploited did one on their first LP), Klitten, sounds staged instead of spontaneous while there's also some tape pitch manipulation; but still a great version of an Indirekt classic.
Indirekt would progress beyond recognition in the following years, in my opinion sometimes trying to make things a little too "good" and losing some of their early spontaneity. I've heard that their 2CD retrospective that's in the making won't include any tracks from this tape. So bootleggers will be disappointed to learn I digitized these songs using a faulty wire (not on purpose tho'), resulting in an appalling hum throughout the mp3s!

Squits - Punx/Skins
Squits - Porno Pirate
Squits - Karate Aapje
Squits - Squits
Indirekt - Hiroshima
Indirekt - Tros Aktua TV
Indirekt - Neo-Nazi's
Indirekt - Klitten