October 25, 2006


Rondos' first photo shoot (for a local newspaper), 1978.

Someone's gonna have to write a book about the Rondos someday; a mere post in a weblog can't start to describe their place in (Dutch punk) history. In their short lifespan (1978-1980) they pretty much started the "DIY" 2nd wave of punk, influencing the sound, look, politics and graphics of almost every band that came after (especially The Ex, who sorta picked up where the Rondos left off). Comparisons were often made with Crass, and yes, like Crass these guys were long out of their teens and had a similar art school background and semi-militaristic stage appearance. But whereas I can't listen to Crass anymore, I still enjoy playing the Rondos' 1980 Red Attack LP. On one hand this LP is the blueprint for all those scratchy Dutch early-80's "agit-punk" records, but the Rondos also add a sort of 60's feel. Opening track A Black & White Statement sounds like Captain Beefheart playing the Velvet Underground's Waiting For The Man. Those clean, trebly Fender guitars remind me of early Subway Sect, or even early Dutch pop-punkers the Suzannes. Some of the tracks are in waltz time, some (like the ironically titled We Don't Need No Speed!) are in a very fast 2/2 proto-HC tempo, but always clean and precisely played. Singer John van de Weert had a great punk voice that somehow always reminds me of Boston's The Proletariat, fellow self-professed commies.
In the Gejuich Was Massaal book, Johannes (he changed his name from the English-derived John) says their Communist thing was "just a joke", which I find pretty hard to believe. But then again, these days you might as well admit you were a baby-seal-killing Nazi child-molester than admit you were a commie. I guess he's trying to downplay the impact they had on impressionable young punks, who took a lot of things much more seriously than they intended... Like for instance Pinkel, who played in Tandstickorshocks, a sort of working class version of the Rondos. A documentary of the same name, which was on Dutch TV around 1982, shows how a disillusioned Pinkel turns to the extreme right after the Rondos called it a day, basically tearing the carpet from under his existence by doing so. Those Rondos must have been an impressive bunch, as none other than Penny Rimbaud of Crass claimed they wouldn't sit in the garden when they visited their English brethren, because "they didn't want to get a tan" (got this out of Fred de Vries' Club Risiko book). Well, I've known Rondos/Kift drummer Wim ter Weele for a long time, and as long as I can remember he's got a permanent tan from being outdoors all the time; so much for legend-building... Anyway, I'd love to read the book, in the meantime, here's the music:

A Black & White Statement
We Don't Need No Speed
Peace Dilemma

(all tracks: Red Attack LP, 1980)

October 20, 2006


These are not actually the Scoundrels this post is about, but it's the closest thing I found on Google (be glad I didn't use the picture I got when searching for "Labie"!)

I first heard and saw the Scoundrels around 1982, although I didn't know who they were at the time. I was watching some TV program about all kinds of stuff going on in the countryside, and there was this item about the big flower corso in Zundert, a village in the south of the Netherlands famous for being Vincent van Gogh's birthplace and... well, holding big flower corsos. Somehow they found out there were a couple of punks living in Zundert, and somehow someone must have gotten the brilliant idea that, hey, punks hate flowers, so there's our item!
Unfortunately, the Zundert punk contingent weren't as much "against" flower corsos as indifferent about it, so the item didn't get anywhere except for a snippet of a song the local (unnamed) punk band were practicing. I got to know these flower punks a year or two later, when putting together a compilation tape. I asked every band to submit a one/ one-and-a-half minute song (well, these were the hardcore days) and the Scoundrels gave me the great "No Farewell To Falwell", clocking in at 4 minutes! Although they were active in the hardcore scene, the Scoundrels played melodic mid-tempo punk; Patrick, Frank and Guus were a little older than the regular punks and also a little remote. After receiving and loving their 1985 Ufreettoemoef debut tape, singer/guitarist Patrick de Labie started giving me a "punk education", totally turning me around from HC to punk rock by sending me tapes of the Saints, NY Dolls, Dead Boys, Dickies, more than I can mention. On one of these tapes he put the Scoundrels' first demo tape, and to my surprise they were once a hardcore band too! And a pretty fast and furious one to boot; Patrick dated this tape 1981, which should make it one of the very first Dutch hardcore recordings. They had a great, aggressive singer who was more into rock 'n roll (his habit of ending phrases with "chacha" came from Dutch rocker Herman Brood); somewhere in the late 80's Patrick told me he'd passed away. Some of these songs, like "Public Places", later showed up slowed-down on Ufreettoemoef. I'd love to post something from that tape as well, but I don't have it anymore!The 2 mid-80's LP's the Scoundrels put out (Don't Cry For The Moon and Join Hands) are not too hard to find second-hand; they don't sound anything like these mp3s though! (Although on Join Hands they'd toughened up their sound by adding Luc ex-Wulpse Varkens on guitar).
Patrick is still going strong, he's running Studio 195 in the former customs office that has been his home for about 20 years now (where we'd regularly crash back in the day, after some gig in Belgium). In fact, I owe him a letter, I'd better go about writing it...

No Soul Show
Public Places
Geld Is Hun God

October 05, 2006


In a recent interview, The Fall's mighty Mark E. Smith said: "When punk started, I was hoping it was going to be something like the 60's garage bands". Of course, it turned out different, but if any band came close to the original garage sound and attitude (without copying it), it was the early Martin Bramah/ Una Baines Fall line-up. Una Baines's toy organ (or that's what it sounds like!) was a big part of that sound, and when she and Martin Bramah left to start the Blue Orchids, they picked up where they left off with the Fall. On their first two singles, the organ is almost the main instrument; the fact that it's slightly off-key lending just the right ramshackle charm to the music. A lot of guitarists-turned-vocalist turned out to be failures, but Bramah pulls it off alright; his singing is more melodic than Mark E's, and - just like the organ - a little off-key in places, so it fits right in. Of all the 2.794 ex-members of the Fall, he's the only one that was ever asked back (for a brief spell in the late '80's) as far as I know. But then again, when you look at early pictures of the Fall you can clearly see that he and Mark E Smith were equals in the band. There's one iconic photograph from around 1977, with Mark E singing, his face distorted in a sneer, and next to him Martin Bramah, all tall hollow-eyed punk rock cool. I think if Mark E'd dared to twiddle with the knobs of Martin's guitar amp, like he does with his current guitarists (whoever they are this week), he'd have decked him.

Disney Boys
The Flood (1980)
The House That Faded Out (1981)