September 17, 2010


I often hear people remark how this whole internet business should have been around 25 years ago, in the "punk days", when everybody was writing loads of letters and sending eachother records, tapes, etc. Another remark that gets thrown around a lot is how "blogs are the fanzines of today". Here I beg to differ: when as a wee 16-year-old I started my own 'zine, I filled it up with whatever bullshit (bios, lyrics, doodles) I had lying around; it didn't really matter that much as it wasn't about content, it was about communication, walking up to people at gigs pestering them to buy my little rag. With this blog it's the opposite: I only post when I think I really have something to say, and then, sitting at home, sipping my Tullamore Dew and clicking my mouse, it disappears into cyberspace. All content and no communication.
This letter-writing stuff we used to do 100 years ago actually held a lot of advantages over today's emailtwitspacebook. For instance, you could wait two or three months before replying, and blame the postal service! Try waiting 2 months before replying to an email (which I do, in most cases); they'll think you're dead, or an asshole (or both). Also, the tapes/ flyers/ zines/ records that would arrive through Ye Olde Snail Mail were real artefacts that you could hold, look at and smell. Try smelling an mp3.
One of my most treasured cassettes ever was taped for me in 1986 by a certain mr. Ian MacKaye. Thinking about it now it amazes me how someone like him would even take time to reply to my stupid letters, let alone send me a tape of unreleased music! (Sure beats a myspace page.) I was totally crazy about the tape, must have played it 3 months on repeat, Embrace and Dag Nasty were my new favourite bands. Oh yeah, and then there was this old demo from 1982 tagged onto the end of side B by Deadline, a short-lived band that I knew from Flex Your Head. Back then I thought this was "just" pretty good old hardcore punq.
Funny how nowadays I find it hard to recall the chimey sub-U2 sounds of Embrace, but the Deadline tape has grown and grown to be an absolute classic! Much more powerful than their Flex Your Head tracks (although I liked those as well), but still sorta primitive, this is a perfect example of more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts hardcore. No overdubs, sloppy drumming, out of tune guitar, and yet it's so powerful and slightly sinister to boot, in a Mecht Mensch/ Tar Babies kind of way.
This tape was eventually released as a one-sided LP in 1989; I had a copy but sold it long ago; luckily I found another copy in the Dropstyle bargain bin last week! The mastering on the LP is incredible, the low-end jumps out of your speakers. Dischord have recently reissued it on CD, if that's your cup of tea. Anyway, here's some highlights... No, let me rephrase that: here's some randomly chosen tracks, as all 11 tracks are equally great:

Closed Door
Outside The Law

September 05, 2010


OK, so tell me which town the following bands are from: 10CC, Barclay James Harvest, Sad Cafe. Any idea? Now tell me which town these bands are from: Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Fall. Got it in a micro-second?
In the immediate pre-punk era, there was no way of telling where a certain band was from; all local peculiarities were wiped out in favour of a generic Trans-Atlantic style and accent; no local references were used except for generic mythic Rock & Roll places like Mississippi, New Orleans, etc, places where the band in question probably had never ever set foot. This was one of the things that Punk "fixed": bands would sing about their own lives, in their own accents, again. Well, some of them. For a while.
Over here, Rotterdam bands like Rondos and Tandstickorshocks had a very identifiable sound of their own, as far removed from "Rock" (and most of their Amsterdam "rivals") as they could get: staccato, clean, primitive. I've posted the incredible 12-song Tandstickorshocks EP before; what I didn't know at the time is that their singer/leader Ronnie Roteb (nicknamed after his employer, the Rotterdam Waste Disposal Company) also sang for Railbirds, a band from 1 or 2 years earlier. They were on the 1979 Rondos debut/split EP, and couldn't be further removed from the "Rotterdam style"! This is meat and potatoes punk Rock with guitar solos (!) and ruff singing, in fact it's hard to believe this is actually the Tandstickor... guy. So much for local peculiarities.

Lonely (from split EP with Rondos, 1979)
Dancing With God And Pogo With The Devil
Go To Hell (from King Kong Records double EP, 1979)