December 28, 2007


No, you're not going to get any punk Christmas songs from me. But, just a couple of days after Christmas, I thought of something Christmassy to post anyway. It's a recording of the legendary Rock Against Religion festival held at punk club Kaasee, Rotterdam, on Boxing Day 1979, featuring the cream of Dutch punk like the Squats, Tandstickorshocks, Ketchup (of the prophetic song "Herman Brood Val Dood") and Jezus and the Gospelfuckers. Live recordings as well as on-the-spot interviews were broadcast by VPRO radio the week after; I was too young to hear it first-hand but luckily someone recorded this from his/her radio so we can plunge into the hissy depths of history now... (If someone has better recordings of this, please get in touch!)
The broadcast starts off with a sort of VPRO Theme Tune which I'm pretty sure is played by Dorpsstraat, the ramshackle neo-60s-without-knowing-it outfit whose "Lepeltje" was the second best track (after Ivy Green's "Pak 'm Beet") on the Uitholling Overdwars comp. Then it's over to VPRO's resident punk Marjoke Roorda, whose chewing-gum-in-mouth delivery sounds a bit studied to these ears now. She announces first act Jules Deelder; now this guy became very famous over here later on, and it's my guess that the TV showing of this very appearance, that showed him getting soaked in phlegm, might just have helped a tiny bit...! Now you can hear for yourself what it was all about; legend had it he never flinched under the Green Rain that poured down, but aural evidence shows he did lose his cool towards the end.
More than the music (great though it is, although I'm still looking for recordings by Tandstickorshocks; I have the part by Neh but didn't post it cuz it's boring), the interview bits are fascinating; some hippie VPRO guy walking around asking some random bystanders smart stuff like "Are you here for the music or for the anti-religion message?" What strikes me most is that back then, everyone still had their own regional accent; you can hear if someone's from Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Nijmegen (home of the Squats, who apparently took a bunch of fans with them). These days it seems like everyone in Holland has adopted the posh Gooi accent with the flat "R"...
When interviewing Jezus of the Gospelfuckers Himself (well, it was his birthday after all), the VPRO guy starts talking how some Youth for Christ guy he knew "felt just like his mother was raped" after reading their band name... It's the clash of the "We're sooo permissive (as long as...)" 70s and the "Fuck shit up!" 80s.
I've cut the broadcast (or the part that I've got) up in 4 parts; I haven't separated the music from the talking; a big apology goes out to my non-Dutch readers!

Theme Tune/ Jules Deelder
Ketchup/ Interviews
Squats/ Interviews
Gospelfuckers/ Interview

P.S.: These recordings were done by the RAR organisation themselves, straight from the mixing desk, and lent to the VPRO, who apparently were so slow in returning the tapes that a planned compilation LP never materialized! Too bad, as this would have been the first Dutch DIY punk comp.

December 16, 2007


Now what really kickstarted punk into being? The masses of untutored teenage hordes taking to the streets armed with guitars, or a bunch of journalists, pissed-off because the subjects of their writings were getting too rich and famous to hang around and do drugs with anymore? Fact is, the writing was there (on the wall, if you wish) before the music. As early as 1971-72, critics like Greg Shaw and Lester Bangs had a notion something new and exciting had to come along, dragging forgotten bands like the Sonics and Count Five from their graves as examples of how it should be done. Bangs' 1971 piece on the Count Five was set in a fictional distant future, in which he's telling his grandchildren:
"I recollect another mighty sad downer stretch long about the beginning of the seventies... 'xcept that one lasted so long we damn near dried up an' boycotted records entirely till Barky Dildo and the Bozo Huns showed up to save our souls..."
Barky Dildo and the Bozo Huns! Now if that ain't Punk Rock prophesized, I don't know what is! The truth is, of course, those Barky Dildos weren't illiterates; most early punk rockers grew up spelling every inch of their favourite music mags, so to many a teenage Creem reader this article might have been just as (subconsciously) influential as, say, a Stooges LP.
Some punk rockers actually were writers having a go at doing it themselves: some of them, like Lenny Kaye, Metal Mike Saunders and Jeffrey Lee Pierce did a pretty good job of it. For others like Charles Shaar Murray (Blast Furnace & the Heatwaves), it was just a lark. I'm not sure which category Giovanni Dadomo and his one-record-only Snivelling Shits belong to; fact is, their sole 45 is a stone cold classic.
Giovanni Dadomo's career as a rock journo goes back at least as far as 1971, when he did this interview with none other than Syd Barrett. (Just a side track: upon reading the interview I was surprised at how lucid Barrett sounds... Until I realized he's contradicting himself all the time; first he says he "learnt to work hard at art school", then later on he mentions his "art school laziness"...!) I don't know how much of a Harbinger of the Future Mr. Dadomo was in writing, but I know both Snivelling Shits tracks are right on the mark; he's razor sharp, wordy and incredibly funny at the same time, like a Cockney Cooper Clarke or Devoto. The music's as sharp as the singing, with weird effects thrown in (courtesy a young Steve Lillywhite, rumored to have been a temporary Snivelling Shit himself on bass guitar), and B-side I Can't Come goes on (without ever getting boring) for 6 minutes; must have taken balls in 1977!
Post-Shits, Dadomo co-wrote a couple of Damned tunes like I Just Can't Be Happy Today (typing this, I imagine hearing the classic lines "They're closing the schools/ They're burning the books/ The church is in ruins/ The priests hang on hooks" in his voice). Sadly, he passed away a couple of years ago.

Terminal Stupid
I Can't Come

December 06, 2007


I was talking to 433rpm about tapes I put out back in the Stone Age, when it turned out he owns a copy of the most "famous" of them all, the Alle 55 Kort sampler. Given the incredible quantity of music he manages to post I won't be surprised to see the entire tape up there soon; in the meantime I'll give you some hand picked tracks...

Around 1984 I'd make Hardcore mix tapes for friends that would sometimes contain 80-100 tracks (learnt to write really small back then!), and I figured it would be fun to put out a tape comp with as many Dutch/Belgian bands on it as humanly possible. As it turned out - because of some bands contributing 2- or even 3-minute (god forbid!) tracks - 55 bands filled up a C90 tape, still no mean feat. While hunting down bands I got a pretty good overview of the Dutch "scene", prompting me to write a Dutch scene report for MRR which you can find here and, in hindsight, is about as captivating as a page out of a phone directory.

I sold about 350 copies of Alle 55 Kort; I never dared say this in public, but I actually made a small profit from it. Shock! Horror! I'd found a small electronics store at the Sarphatistraat that sold C90 tapes of just-about-passable quality at 2,50 Guilders ($1,25) each. The tapes (including booklets) sold at 7,50 Guilders, retail; a nice addition to my scant pocket money! Of course, if I'd told this to anyone back then I would have been keelhauled or something; it wasn't merely unthinkable to make any profit, it was actually suspect if you were breaking even. People would specify in detail how many Guilders they'd lost on their latest zine/ record/ whatever, to show how punk they were. Of course, at the same time they were on the dole, ha ha; well, let's call it state money well spent...

Most of the tracks on Alle 55 Kort were pretty lo-fi; due to no quality control from my part, there were quite a few one-off/ spoof tracks, sometimes played by one person in their bedroom, which gives it a Bullshit Detector sort of vibe. Lots of "famous" bands like BGK, Pandemonium and Funeral Oration submitted tracks, but I'll give you some tracks by lesser-known bands.

Oigasm - Brutal Bugger: first track on the tape; I had a soft spot for this half-skin/ half-punk band that were living in a small village in the middle of the Bible Belt; heard they were getting shot at in the street, stuff like that...
Dasbreetels - Cowboy Henk: just a fun song by a little-known band from near Rotterdam.
Larm - Don't Want To Pay Their Debts: great lo-fi practice recording.
Black Vampire - Punker Parents Plan: from Limburg, like Pandemonium, but not as well-known. Drummer Han was later in Swampsurfers. I think this band is still around in some mutated form or another...
Chlorix - Suicide: these guys were from Hengelo in the east, played some rough but still melodic punk; I think one of the members was later in indie rock band Cords (or that's some other bloke called Marcel Morsink).
Kotsbrokken - Growing Older: band from the same area, same kind of sound, know nothing about them.
Sesamzaad - Ave Vis: these guys, also from the East, had some nice melodic HC songs on Holland HC 2, but I liked this slower track even more (even if it took up the space of 3 or 4 "regular" HC tracks!).
M.O.G. - Do, Bo and Al: didn't really realize it at the time because of the muddy sound, but these guys were already progressing away from their early HC sound towards the brilliant stuff on their classic Radio Rock EP.
Keine Fax - Masked Fascism: closes the tape. These guys handed me their tape in person at some gig, they were about 10 years old! Shit-Fi-aficionados, prick up your ears...!

A nice moment of glory came a few years ago when, while sleeping at this guy Clint's place in London (he runs Short Fuse records and is crazy about old HC), we were talking about obscure records; he'd show us one insanely rare record after another, then he opened some drawer in order to show us the piece de resistance, the Family Jewel...and out came a copy of Alle 55 Kort!