Monday, August 15, 2022

RBF’s Eclectic Excitement Playlist – August 2022

 RBF’s Eclectic Excitement Playlist – August 2022

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2022
Images from the Internet

Here is my limited monthly column of some relatively cult music, be it due to initial limited release, or just having fallen out of the mainstream eye. These will be of a multitude of genres, from punk to folk, to just out there.

The songs are listed alphabetically by first letter of the artist or group, and not in a “ratings” order. Art is subjective, so I hope you like these as much as I enjoy them.

Note: There is no advertising on this page, so I will not be making anything off the work of others.

“No Nostalgia”
Knitting Factory
What is noteworthy about this ensemble, of course, is the harmony that brings out the rhythms as well. Even the solos are interesting if occasionally breathy. I like this live rendition as much as the original studio recording.

Cherie and Marie Currie
“Since You’ve Been Gone”
Capitol  Records / Renaissance Records
After leaving The Runaways (who I saw her play with at CBGB), lead vocalist Cherie went on to her own solo career, highlighted by this gem featuring her twin sister. Though they look alike, it’s easy to tell which is which by the way they dance. Cherie has some very distinctive splits. This song actually charted in the US Top 100, but faded as fast as it came.

Chris Stamey
“Summer Sun”
Ork Records
Known for his work with Alex Chilton and the dBs, this solo release (produced by Chilton) is a sublime slice of love on a hot afternoon in a pop format. Stamey’s voice is perfect for what he is trying to say. I’m surprised this did not become bigger. I once spent a fun afternoon hanging out with Stamey and Chilton while they were being interviewed for another fanzine. 

Cycle Sluts From Hell
“I Wish You Were a Beer”
Epic Records
A tongue-in-cheek metal cult classic, this is off the band’s only album. It’s co-writer, Honey 1%-er, would go on to the She Wolves as Donna She Wolf, and then Star & Dagger. I interviewed her more than once. The song is wild, ridiculous, and incredibly catchy. The whole “Singing in the Rain” part is a distraction, but the rest is gawdy good.

The Diodes
“Tired of Waking Up Tired”
Bongo Beat Records
This group is part of the Toronto First Wave punk movement, and occasionally still tour. Their other songs include the hook-laden “Child Star” about the death of Anissa Jones, and a cover of the Cyrcle’s “Red Rubber Ball.” But this live version of their song is, for me, my fave version.

John Watts
SoReal Records
The story I heard is that the song was originally supposed to be “You Asshole,” but Watt’s daughter suggested the change to make it more marketable. I agree. John is the lead of the British group Fischer-Z, as well as having a solo career. I had the opportunity to introduce him at a General Semantics conference where he performed. John’s voice is deep, and the regret of the song permeates the message.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
“The New Teller”
Beserkley Records
Yes, I know Richman is an indie artist icon, and many of his songs, such as “Roadrunner” and “Abominable Snowman in the Market” are must haves. His appearance in the film There’s Something About Mary (1998) solidified his role as cult. I’ve seen him live at last four times since 1977 through 2018. However, this song is different as it wasn’t on any of his releases, but rather a compilation album called Beserkley Chartbusters Vol. 1. It remains my fave of his songs.

Psycotic Pineapple
“Hang on for Your Life”
Richmond Records
A song about driving that you should never listen to while driving, because odds are you’ll be speeding by the end. The vocals are unique and the song is hilarious. But it should be noted that all their songs off their album are worth a listen, such as “I Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Get Rid of You,” “I Forgot Who I Forgot Who I Was,” and the deadpan “Headcheese,” which is another favorite. The whole LP is spectacular in their quirky way.

Rachel Harrington
“Summer’s Gone”
Skinny Dennis Records
Americana music, a branch of Bluegrass, can be perky as hell, or hauntingly beautiful in gothic tones and themes. This falls into the latter. The banjo is striking in its slow pace as the ballad tells the story of the rains after the harvest, and a mystery of a family. It has stuck with me from the first time I heard it.

“Change Gotta Come”
Dolphin Records
Hailing from the DC area, this is a pop rock band with some punk attitude. The chorus is catchy as fire, amid the topic of the possibility of the end of the world. Note that, in my opinion, the video is too much, so you may want to forward to the actual song at 1:30. And maybe you will be able to answer the question, “Whatever happened to the Love Generation”?

Friday, August 5, 2022


© Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 1977/2022
Images from the Internet unless indicated

There have been very few interviews where the people involved have just annoyed me right off. One was the great guitarist Chris Spedding  (although I was just an observer; he was obnoxious to both the interviewer and about the topic, rock’n’roll); another was Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.

I had never heard of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks until I saw an ad that they were playing at Max’s on a Monday night. I said to myself, what a great name for a band, I gotta interview these guys.

Going upstairs to the dressing rooms, I found the band, passed out copies of FFanzeen No. 1 to them, and asked for the interview. I did not yet know anyone playing in the band at that time. If I had been a bit more of a scene-hanger-outer, I probably would have known of the exploits of Lydia Lunch, another of the Max’s groupie collection (e.g., Nancy Spungen). I later heard the stories of her famous taxi ride with the Dead Boys, who named at least two of their songs after her (“Caught With the Meat In Your Mouth,” and “I Need Lunch”). I was obliviously innocent.

As well, I had no idea who James Siegfried was – who would later turn up variously as James Chance (of the Contortions) and James Black (and the Whites) – or the late Bradley Field (who worked at the Strand Bookstore). Bass playing Reck, from what I gather, was recently from Japan and was not well versed in English. At least, that was the impression that was presented to me.

In an interview for Playboy, if I remember correctly, Marlon Brando once said that the reason he hated doing magazine interviews was because in print, you can’t tell when someone is joking. I fully understood that statement, especially after interviewing this band. The reader cannot tell the contemptuous tone to which the band answered my admittedly unprepared questions (remember, I hadn’t seen them, nor heard of any of them, having gone in totally blind). In hindsight, I should have interviewed them afterwards.

As the interview – if you want to call it that – proceeded, I was getting more and more put off, to the point that a “whatever” feeling finally took hold of me. It was published in FFanzeen No. 2, dated October 31, 1977.

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

At first, I was seriously thinking of not printing this interview with this bunch of poseurs, but the way I figure it, because a group grabs me the wrong way is no reason to deny you, the reader, the pleasure of learning to feel the same.

It is not that this band is obnoxious, but that it is bullshit obnoxiousness. Their “attitude” is their gimmick. People like to be assaulted, as long as they know there is no physical threat (i.e., fans of Ruby and the Rednecks).

Oh, yeah, if you read FFanzeen No.1, you may have remembered I mentioned that some of the Cramps interview was drowned out by people telling dead baby jokes. Well folks, these are those people (along with Jim Marshall, editor of New Order fanzine).

The band consists of lead singer / guitarist Lydia Lunch (Teenage Jesus), saxophonist (?) James Siegfried, bassist Reck (who quietly sat tuning his bass during the whole interview), and drummer Bradley Field (not present at the time). Also in the room were two of their female roadies who got into the action.

You will note, towards the end, I more or less gave up and let them go on by themselves. This interview took place in the Max’s Kansas City dressing room on August 8, 1977.

(ffoto by Robert Barry Francos)

Roadie 1: Ask them what they think about God?
FFanzeen: What do you think about God?
Lydia Lunch: My father, you mean?

FFanzeen: I take it you’re Teenage Jesus.
Lydia: You take it. And you know what you can do with it.

FFanzeen: How long have you been together?
Lydia: Two and a half months.

FFanzeen: You’ve been gaining a lot of popularity ...
Lydia: Who wants popularity? I don’t care if we have popularity. We want unpopularity.
James Siegfried: We were really mad that people liked us. We wanted them to hate us.
Lydia: They don’t have the right idea if they’re outright fans. I don’t care if they don’t like us as long as they don’t like us for the right reasons. I’d rather have them hate us for the right reasons than to like us for the wrong reasons.

FFanzeen: Why do you want to be hated?
Lydia: I don’t want to be hated, but I don’t want mindless assholes to like us so we can have a KISS army, a Teenage Jesus army, no. We’re annoying. We have annoying sounds. If you like to be annoyed, you should love us. Otherwise stay home and listen to Dictators’ records. Because everything is so boring.
James: We make that normal stuff obsolete.
Lydia: We don’t play chords. I never played guitar before but I wrote all the music and all the words, except for the two that (Siegfried) wrote.

FFanzeen: What type material do you do?
Lydia: Factory, mechanical, and military.

FFanzeen: What’s the purpose of getting a group together if you ...
Lydia: Because I was bored with all the other bands. We have to entertain ourselves.

FFanzeen: Does that include the Cramps?
Lydia: Don’t bring band politics into this interview.

FFanzeen: What do you consider the ultimate goals of the group?
Lydia: The ultimate goal of the group is to annoy. We just want to show the other bands how bad they are. New Wave is dead wave. There’s no such thing because all the New Wave bands are re-hashed Who. We have one influence: I live in front of a factory. That’s the only influence.
James: Wait until you hear the music.
Roadie 1: Their music is comparable to riding the IRT.
Roadie 2: During rush hour. It smells the same.
Lydia: It’s smell for the ear. It’s stench for the ears.

FFanzeen: If you have no influences and you don’t listen to any of the new bands, what do you listen to?
Lydia: Nothing. I don’t even have a stereo or a record player. I don’t have a TV, and I hate bands and I hate music.

FFanzeen: And what do you do to amuse yourself?
Lydia: I play with myself. I have my band to be amused by, (and) the asinine audiences who’ll sit there and applaud for anybody. How are you amused?
James: He amuses himself by asking dumb questions.
Roadie 2: Why did you start your magazine?

FFanzeen: Well ...
Lydia: We really don’t care. Just ask your questions and get out. [laughs] [breaks character – RBF, 2022] Who’s the grouchiest band you know?

FFanzeen: What songs do you perform?
Lydia: [Back into character – RBF, 2022] You want the titles? Forget it. You can listen to it when we play. We don’t even announce the songs. If you want titles, forget it. Wait until our album comes out.
Roadie 1: I want to turn your brain to mush so it will be soft enough to touch.
Lydia: That’s not one of our songs.

FFanzeen: If you come out with an album, are you going to listen to it yourself?
Lydia: That’s the only thing I’d listen to.

Roadie 2: Ask her some of the questions you asked the Cramps. [Looking through FFanzeen No. 1] “What’s your favorite song in the set?”
Lydia: No comment. They’re all my favorite.

Roadie 2: “Is there such a thing as punk rock?”
Lydia: I guess. That’s what my mother listens to.
Roadie 1: Don’t they play that on WABC or something?

[ffoto by Robert Barry Francos]

Roadie 2: “How was the group formed?”
Lydia: I said, “Do you play anything” to (Reck) the bass player at CBGB. He couldn’t speak English. I knew Bradley, and he never played drums so I just got him in the band. I won’t mention how we got (Siegfried).

Roadie 2: “How did it pass that there would be no bass?”
FFanzeen: That one won’t work. You can ask some of the other questions, from the other interviews.
Lydia: Why don’t you (roadies) ask questions. You probably think of better ones than he does.

Roadie 1: Does your feet smell?
Roadie 2: OK. “How do you like playing CBGB” [from the Tom Petty interview – ed., 1977]?
Lydia: We hated it. We hated playing Max’s. We hated playing out. We like rehearsing.

Roadie 2: “Do you like playing the Bottom Line?”
Lydia: We loved it only we never played there.

Roadie 2: “Are you on tour now?”
Lydia: Yes, we are. We’re touring all the local washrooms.

Roadie 2: “What was it like playing with the Runaways?”
Lydia: Playing with the Runaways is equitable to playing with dead babies, only not as much fun.

Roadie 2: “How did you meet the Heartbreakers?”
Lydia: We never have and never wanted to. Why don’t you ask us what we think of certain bands in particular?

Roadie 2: OK. What do you think of the Dead Boys?
Lydia: They’re dead.

Roadie 2: What do you think of ... .
Roadie 1: The Erasers?
Lydia: Erase the Erasers. That’s what I say to all bands.

Roadie 2: OK, I like this one: “What single?”
Lydia: We’re going to do a single at the end of the month for Ork Records
[this record was not released on Ork’s imprint – RBF, 2022]. Who cares. Big deal. We’re gonna get ripped off like Richard Hell and Television, and all the others who did singles for Terry Ork and didn’t get a penny.

Roadie 2: “What is your ultimate goal?”
Lydia: To die. To live and die.

Roadie 2: “Do you see yourself branching out into other media, like television?”
Lydia: I’m gonna be a movie star. Or an attraction. I already am.

Roadie 2: “Do you have any hobbies?”
Lydia: No.

Roadie 1: Don’t you basket weave?
Lydia: I used to. Don’t you want to know how old we are?

FFanzeen: No. I don’t think it matters.
Lydia: I think it matters.

FFanzeen: Alright, how old are you?
Lydia: Eighteen. The bass player’s nineteen. The rest I guess it doesn’t matter.
James: I’m twelve.

FFanzeen: You don’t want a following, but do you have one?
Lydia: Yes.

FFanzeen: What kind of people ... er ... follow you?
Lydia: Scary ones. Only in the dark. Usually big and black.

FFanzeen: Where are you from originally?
Lydia: Why do you ask these questions?
Roadie 1: Originally she was from her mother.
Lydia: That’s unoriginal.
Roadie 1: Originally she was from her father. They had a weird family.
Lydia: You might as well let the tape run out since we don’t have anything else to say.

While the band would be at the forefront of the whole No Wave movement, it was doomed to fail because there was nothing to determine what was interesting. Very little of it was, though the sub-scene would later transform into the industrial / noise movement. Reck would eventually go back to Japan, and form the punk band, Friction.

Lydia, of course would re-emerge in various incarnations in multimedia, including music (with the likes of Beirut Slump, Eight-Eyed Spy, Queen of Siam, Devil Dogs, 13.13, Honeymoon in Red, Stinkfist, The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton, Shotgun Wedding, and Lydia Lunch Retrovirus), a written word performance artist (sometimes in cahoots with X’s Exene Cervenka), and acting in a number of independent films (often by director/writer Richard Kern), many of which helped spearhead the whole transgressive DIY movement. So, in a way, she did get her wish and become a movie star.

Later on in the 1980s, she would turn up on Alan Abramowitz’s cable access music/interview program, Videowave, on which I worked as a crew member. When she walked in with her manager, she made a snarky remark, and the manager said she should cool it. I think the manager knew how low-budget we were and how hard we were trying. After that, Lydia was pleasant to everyone. I’m not sure which of the two sides was the honest one, but it was easier to deal with her in this private incarnation than her public one.

Currently she has a podcast, co-hosted with experimental bassist Tim Dahl (the band Child Abuse, among others), called “The Lydian Spin.” 

Lydia has a very large and strong following, and people who really like her personally, but for me the turning point of the FFanzeen interview that pissed me off more than anything else was when Lydia says, laughing, “Who’s the grouchiest band you know?” On some level, I could have respected the group if the band had truly believed what they were saying, but to put me through all that and then for it to actually be bullshit posturing, well, that puts it into another territory.