Discovering Lost Music … And More

Graham takes a flyer…

It usually falls to the Other Chap to wax lyrical about the musical arts, but as this is not much about lyrics and is a long way from traditional music,  Graham feels qualified.

It was Spring 1977 when this lady first came to London …. Debbie Harry, fronting the band Blondie, was — as Graham thought at the time–  pure sex; though given his likely age at the time, he probably did not express that to Nanny, who must have taken him along…

However, it is as good an excuse for a photo as any — even though she is not the actual subject of this piece. That honor belongs to the band she was supporting — the much-vaunted Television.

Television had a lot to live up to …

… to the point that when an audience member yelled out “Prove It!” Graham was hard pressed to tell whether it was a request for a track from the album being promoted or a challenge to live up to pre-tour hype.

But prove it they did (except to US audiences — the album did not sell well there). The point was driven home to Graham only a couple of days ago, and even on preparing this piece. The memory of that concert lingered, yes, as did the “whatever happened to…”, but to stumble across them again and find the Wikipedia piece using terms such as

… one of the greatest albums of all time and a foundational record of alternative rock … innovative post-punk instrumentation on Marquee Moon strongly influenced the indie rock and new wave movements of the 1980s

was a real surprise. Even more of a surprise was re-hearing this track —


and reading the comments describing what was going on, and how innovative this was in musical terms.

… painfully beautiful… some of the nastiest guitar licks you’ll ever hear…  the way the guitarist ended his climb up the scale to the top only to continue with the low notes at the bottom was an innovation for rock … Factor in the astonishing guitar coda & you have something virtually without parallel in rock.

And Graham just thought it was a great number. He does know quality when he hears it.

Slight Coda

… now if only Television had melded into this album the energy of previous collaborator Richard Hell — seen here at CBGBs, the incubator for so much great music.


A great reminder too that 40 years ago, the response to a bleak society was not despair, but anger. And what an anger it was.

John – the other chap in this case …

… but let us not get into that right now – because sometimes he is this chap – generally while the other chap is generally – well – the other chap. Anyway, John remembers well the mighty trilogy of albums delivered by Tom Verlaine and his band. And right there … you see how us chaps come at this from very different viewpoints. To this chap Tom was the Television man. And did not need a ‘Richard’. Well – ok – he did have ‘a’ Richard … but he didn’t need the ‘Hell’ version.

John has long held that there are certain musicians that fall into the category of ‘The Musician’s Musician’. Examples in his humble would include the likes of Roy Harper, Lou Reed, Richard Thompson, to name just a few … and I just know that you have your own ideas. These are musicians that whatever their fame level / success commercially, somehow seem to punch well above their weight in terms of their influence.

Tom is on that list.

Further John does not include Mr Hell in that category, Then again, he is happy to move into a discussion on same.

tho it looks like the other chap doesn’t … we will see.

Here’s The Logic

I would argue that ‘your average listener’ knows nought of Tom V – nor indeed Richard H. (And by average, here’s a measure – pull someone aside and ask if they know of Pink Floyd – and they will probably be able to associate Waters and Gilmour. Likewise a Genesis reference will pull up Phil Collins … moving to the smaller bands … Sex Pistols … maybe you will get John Lyndon or Johnny Rotten – now ask them which they prefer – again – average listener – how many will reply they are the same person?

When it gets to Television … three albums and gone, well that hardly cuts the ice through the popular zeitgeist – let alone fame. BUT through his extensive solo work – he is there. ‘bigly’. But this is not to explore that – so let’s move on, exceptionally and  to highlight this eye opener from The San Francisco Chronicle, just this week, filed under ‘Public Eavesdropping’ … overheard in Cole Valley by Steve Heilig ..

“My mom, like, constantly plays Paul McCartney songs. … He was, like, in a band called Wings, like, 100 million years ago.”

.. as if proof was needed of the challenges we as a society face.

Anyway, to my point, Mr. Verlaine (and Television) to my mind remain a significantly under-rated and definitely in the category of musician’s musician. Mr Hell need not apply ( I know – I know )  – and also being credited by the hugely influential Malcom Mclaren ..

… as a source of inspiration for the Sex Pistols’ look and attitude, as well as the safety-pin and graphics accessorized clothing that McLaren sold in his London shop, Sex.

( … and there I was thinking it was all Vivienne Westwood

But there’s more …

.. you knew there would be didn’t you?
Back to the other chap’s point about anger 40 years ago. Anger takes many forms …. and this chap firmly believes that ‘punk’ as most people describe and remember it was a late 70s thing.

This chap would argue that it was in there that Punk peaked. And yes in the 80s you still had punk bands but The New Romantic Movement was emerging in the UK and over in the US Talking Heads were starting to take hold. Arguably (because isn’t everything arguable) The Heads were influenced – but classic punk was the Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, Television and their hey days were behind them in the early 80s.

And yes – the late 70s were indeed turbulent times and the loudness and noise of the punk revolution screamed to be heard – and they were. And then they went away – and with odd exceptions like Billy Bragg are no longer around.

But … as a blast – check out the top album in the UK at the begining of 1977. ‘Animals’. ‘Pink Floyd’. The anger is absolutely there. It is not loud and screaming and musically violent like Punk – but listen. It is clear.

.. still, in the words of Mr. Lydon, Anger is an energy…

… and this chap would not disagree.
He suggests that anger has always been with us.
But … why does it have to be loud?
loudness doesn’t win – take note ‘President’ Trump

And 40 years later – to the year – it is still there. And so is the band. And so are the musicians … still standing up and being counted.

Roger on Resisting Trump – click through – crank it up and listen – STUNNING …. Forty Years Later . And just as applicable to the abomination we have in the Whitehouse today as to the UK situation back then. Actually – let’s save you the click through ….


… did I get a little political there?

Sorry.

Actually – no. No I am not.

Funny you should mention the end of Punk, says the Other Chap…

Because while Talking Heads were direct contemporaries of Blondie, Televisions and the Ramones, all CBGBs alums and often playing on the same bill, they took their own routes as Punk ran its course. Chris and Tina talk about that in this episode of the PBS series History of Rock and Roll

aah yes … hands up if you remember Tom Tom Club !!!

And in the clip below, there’s Debbie Harry channelling (?) Stevie Nicks (not that this Chap is complaining…) But more interesting in that same clip is what came along in the 80s — Punk’s Indian Summer, out of the Pacific North West, with grunge, feat. Nirvana.

 

  • TomE

    This is a door I’m not sure I want to walk through: great/under appreciated bands of our youth.

    But I agree. Television would make the list, at the top.

    • I feel a ‘top five bands/musicians you have never heard of that you should listen to – very soon – coming on.

      • TomE

        Hmm, that means you have make a guess about what I know. That shouldn’t be too hard. My tastes from the 60s/70s were rather conventional, and pretty much ran to the British invasion, or the extended live performances of the San Francisco bands. I pretty much stopped listening to popular music in the 80s, and moved too — well, that’s another story.

        Or if I’m going to play the game, I need to make a guess about what you know — because anyone I’d nominate, I’ve heard of. From what I can tell thus far, you chaps know everything.

        Regardless, I look forward to the list and being introduced to some good new stuff, or reminded of some old.

        (Might there be a special category for musicians everyone has heard of, but deserve a closer listen. For example, Buddy Holly. I’ve listened to a few of his songs recently, and only now realize how good/revolutionary he was. I might even put the early Elvis in that category. Maybe the category should be something like ‘tin ears at time’.)

        • Now Buddy Holly – with you – we do forget how revolutionary things are when viewed through the retrospect – Elvis – I tend to side with ‘the other one – Elvis that is) … mainly because I TEND to aim towards the 360 degree performer – writer, producer, performer – EP to my mind sits only in the Performer world – I know I know – but take a listen to this

          http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/gist/2017/03/wendy_zukerman_on_season_two_of_science_vs.html

          spin through to around 21 minutes in to listen to what Pesca has to say about Chuck Berry – and his comp to EP.

          • TomE

            And ok, falling in the trap:

            – Robert Fripp, and perhaps other early members of King Crimson.

            – Al Kooper, for the very first Blood, Sweat and Tears album, the Blues Project (probably a good candidate for the list), and several instruments on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. Still performing and producing I understand.

            – I also have a special place for Ian and Sylvia, though that’s a bit far afield perhaps and it doesn’t make your 360 bar.

            – And finally what in god’s name do we do with Frank Zappa? I saw the Mothers in concert twice; stunning musicianship.

            I’ll listen to the slate piece, but start somewhat uncertain about Chuck Berry, the accolades this week notwithstanding. It seems like he only had one song, and a stage gimmick.

            But a confession is probably appropriate: Talking Heads is my all time favorite band, especially the first two albums.

          • Fripp, Crimson, The Heads and Zappa all in one single short post … we must have been separated at birth … and thus let me throw out one name that I now wonder if you do indeed know – but if you don’t – will absolutely enjoy ….. Steven Wilson

            now defunct – which is all together another story – but some friends and I used to run a blog called justgoodmusic.net – that said – you can find it in the archive machine – will look to find the link

            there you go :

            http://web.archive.org/web/20060115084024/http://www.justgoodmusic.net/

            and for posterity – one of my favorite posts from that site which I found and reposted to my current blog – not my words – but my sentiments – without a doubt >>>>

            http://beyondbridges.net/2015/08/what-the-hell-happened/

          • TomE

            Just took a look at the wiki entry on Steven Wilson. Thanks for the tip. Don’t know him, and probably should.

          • some posts of mine on the topic

            http://beyondbridges.net/?s=wilson

          • TomE

            Things that this thread reminded me were exhilarating. These links may not be the best examples, but were all youtube offered up in the last hour.

            Steve Albini – Cables

            Here’s the studio version (even better actually; love the filthy bass line)

            (Big Black and Rapeman belong on the underappreciated list!)

            Beastie Boy – Sabotage

            (Didn’t pull any punches on live tv!)

            Husker Du – Data Control (which seems vaguely appropriate to other topics on this site)

            And finally, tonight’s official nomination for an underappreciated band from the past:
            Love –
            Here’s their application: 7 and 7 is

            Though I suppose that takes us to Love’s cover of Hey Joe, which is not the original version; that credit probably belongs to Leaves:

            (I used to have a playlist of covers of Hey Joe. It had about 25 links. Lost it somewhere.)

          • you had me at Arthur Lee’s Love – which I appreciate was a long way down the list – but as you might have gathered – I am not really a punk guy – and never understood The Beasties. BUT – Leaves – loved – and never EVER heard of them ….. and Love is another one of those massively under appreciated bands – thank you for sharing _ we really need to get this into a better stream of content!

          • TomE

            I agree. Been fun, but time to move on.

          • oh and https://www.discogs.com/artist/2043868-Travis-Fripp

            theo travis is a LONG time wilson collaborator – not to mention Fripp !!

          • What are we thinking now ?

        • oh – and it is not that we are mind readers – or all knowing – it is more in that general category of wow – really … when for example to pick one name already listed – Richard Thompson – who has been making records since 1967 – and is still active – his last solo was 2015 – but his full catalogue can be found here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Thompson_discography

          this chap’s bet would be that most listeners/readers would barely know who he was.

  • Graham Watson

    Just to throw a wrench in the musicianship works — I’m a little with John Lydon in his comments about late 70s American FM radio — heavy concentration on “musicianship,” which tended to favor prog rock, with little accord to the new social commentary coming up out of punk/new wave, which favored energy and passion. Like, say, the early days of rock — “The Kingsmen” make an appearance in the Punk documentary – a time when rock was _fun_. And honestly, if it made you want to move, as against fall into a trance or asleep, that was a great start. And the _really good_ but highly unappreciated music coming out of that London punk scene — bands that now only exist in boxes of 45s such as in my spare room — songs about falling in love with aliens and robots, with waking up and seeing through the eyes of a murderer, of the sheer hell of being young and broke in London, even of love in that era — sadly, written-off.

    • ” I’m a little with John Lydon in his comments about late 70s American FM radio ”

      … cough …

      were we talking about that … file that under “I’m a LOT with John Lydon in his comments about 2017s American FM radio”

      our challenge is america is run by corporates … follow the money …. thats why I like Manao radio

      oh – and PROG rock was NEVER favored by ANY FM station …. at least not ‘my’ prog rock … definition time !!!

      seriously – your 45s from London are now in Maui ?

      Meanwhile

      “songs about falling in love with aliens and robots, with waking up and seeing through the eyes of a murderer, of the sheer hell of being young and broke in London, even of love in that era — sadly, written-off.”

      … if that isn’t Flaming Lips – I am off to do some research

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