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Primer on Lesser Known 1st Wave Punk

Many a band in recent years has attempted to capture that “trashy” punk rock sound but fail to realize that, more often than not, the classic garage/punk bands either stumbled upon their sound or achieved it through the lack of a proper studio and/or the aid of older, sometimes decrepit equipment (though I’m sure there are some hideous digital plugins that promise to emulate this sound).


PACK “Vinyl” (1978-)

Germany’s PACK didn’t have to work too hard at getting said sound seeing that their sole album was recorded in the depths of a dingy old war bunker. This record is a personal all-time favorite of the lesser-known 1st wave punk albums. While the drums, guitars and incredibly pissed-off vocals are certain to decimate what’s left of your eardrums, you will also be surprised to discover a host of tracks that are downright catchy without straying into the sugary pop that often marred many of their contemporaries’ work.  Already veterans of the German rock-n-roll scene when this came-out, it is rumored that these “old” guys were disliked by the younger German punk bands.

mp3: PACK – Nobody Can Tell Us

:) Original | 1978 | search ebay ]


The Kids s/t (1978-)

This young—the name doesn’t lie—Belgian trio of juvenile delinquents achieved the commendable and uncommon feat of releasing two consecutive punk rock classics. But of course this first self titled beast was their best and nastiest contribution to a genre that was already on the verge of imploding. This is punk rock in its purest sense. The stripped-to-the-marrow sound and barely competent (and yes this actually is a good thing in many cases) playing only bolster the Kids knack for cranking out unforgettable punk rock anthems like “This is Rock-n-Roll” and “I Wanna Get a Job in the City.” My only complaint is that the guitars could have been rawer and way more prominent in the mix. But itmany merits certainly overshadow this otherwise unforgivable flaw.

youtube: The Kids “I Wanna Get a Job in the City” 

:) Original | 1978 | Phillips | search ebay ]


Rokker s/t (1979)

Rokker was an Austin band that released this locally pressed rarity in 1979. Everything about this bandfrom the name and cover art to song titles like “Rock Fever” screams cheeseball loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood. But don’t be too quick to write it off—its a surprisingly rare example of a great punk album from a non-punk-rock-and-proud band, and they definitely get a kick out of bashing the trendy shopping- mallbound fashion-disease punk would become. It’s like a biker-bar band taking a cue from the Flamin’ Groovies and the Pistols and actually squeezing out something that’s not a pile of dog shit. The lyrics range from full-on stupidity- “You’re mother’s a punk and fathers a wanker” to downright creepy “Daddy, whatcha doing to my sister.” The songs are loaded with hooks and have a strong Teenage-Head-era-Groovies-feel  that are sure to suck you in have you singing along like an idiot to the refreshingly dim-witted lyrics.

mp3: Rokker – Rock Fever

:) Original | 1979 | search ebay ]


The Victims “Real Wild Child” (1979)

Another bonafide classic from a New Jersey band that has yet to receive its rightful due. Making its unwelcome appearance in the midst of punk’s last gasp (1979), this one straddles the garage-ier side of the spectrum but does not shy away from the fuck-you attitude and sleaze that will feel like a invigorating breath of NY sewer air to  fans of  the Dead Boys. The guitars have brighter, trebly sound that helps set them apart from buzz saw driven bands of the time, but fear not –they are turned up far too loud to be lumped in with any of that flaccid power-pop that was stinking up the airwaves. This is a solid ride all the way through.

 mp3: Victims – Too Late

:) Original | 1979 | search ebay ]
;) MP3 album | Victims | buy here ]


Consumers “All My Friends are Dead” (1977)

Believe it or not this actually fully lives up the lost classic cliché. There must be something found only in that dry desert heat that could have produced something as sonically brutal and angry as this Phoenix band’s ten song demo. Recorded in ’77 these brief—yet brilliant—tracks anticipate the coming of Hardcore, which would ultimately abandon the loose rock-n-roll feel that made bands like the Consumers way more soulful and enduring. There are some strong nods to the Pistols here and there, but this band had forged its own breakneck-pace and gritty sound that was worlds ahead of most bands the larger cities were producing.

mp3: The Consumers – Media Ogre

:) Original | 1977 | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2010 | In the Red | buy here ]


Nasal Boys  “Lost and Found”  (Comp, 1977)

“Hot Love” and “Die Wüste Lebt!” constitute what’s considered by many as one of the finest punk singles ever. And anyone with a functioning set of eardrums should have no reason to disagree with this assessment. These songs absolutely epitomize everything that Punk Rock should be. Both songs are intense, unrefined bursts of energy that always seem to be on the brink of collapse. This is noise that will carve a perplexed frown onto the face of most AC-DC-loving “classic” rock fans. The rest of this collection features unreleased tracks that are not quite as impressive, and sometimes move into even more incoherent territory. Regardless they still stand above the heap of all the second rate imitators and punk cash-in bands of the day.

mp3: Nasal Boys – Hot Love

:) Original | 2006 | search ebay ]


Starshooter  s/t (1978-)

Though a bit sub-par in the company of these other releases, one of France’s strongest punk LPs does have a charm of its own. Perhaps more of an acquired taste, the Jacques Dutronc meets Johnny Rotten French vocals may throw some listeners off at first. But multiple spins will unveil a pretty decent record. The guitars are pretty loud and come off a bit mechanical at times—though this somehow works as an asset in the context of the album’s overall atmosphere. At times there are shades of Wire’s early work, heightening the streaks of oddness that hover just at the surface. But it’s still a consistent, good slice of driving and uniquely French rock n roll that deserves a home in any decent record collection.

mp3: Starshooter – A Toute Bombe

:) Original | 1978 | Pathe | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2012 | Elle Aim L’air | buy here ]


Further listening (youtube links):
Hubble Bubble
The Gears
Ivy Green
Suicide Commandos


Running Time: 34:08 | File Size 46.9 MB
Download: .mp3
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1. Testors “You Don’t Break My Heart” 1977

2. Customs “Long Gone” 1979

3. Fun Things “Savage” 1980

4. Dead Boys “Ain’t Nothin to Do” 1977

5. Crime “San Francisco’s Doomed” 1978

6. Gears “Heartbeat” 1980

7. Pagans “What’s this Shit Called Love” 197

8. DMZ “Bad Attitude”

9. Zeros “Don’t Push Me Around”

10. Saints “Erotic Neurotic” 1977

11. The Eat “Communist Radio”

12. Weirdos “Solitary Confinement”

13. Nervous Eaters “Just Head”

14. Radio Birdman “Burn My Eye”

PODCAST 14 Jangle


Running Time: 36:53 | File Size 50.6 MB
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Choir “I’d Rather you Leave Me”

West Coast Pop Art Exp Band “Transparent Day”

Buffalo Springfield “Burned”

Ides of March “Give your Mind Wings”

Beau Brummels “Doesn’t Matter”

Baroques “There’s Nothing Left to do But Cry”

Leaves “Girl from The East”

Gremlins “Only Thing on My Mind”

Circus Maximus “You Know I got the Rest of my life to go”

Merry Go Round “On Your Way Out”

Dovers “People Ask Me Why”

Wailers “It’s You Alone”

Turtles “Wanderin’ Kind”

Merrell Fankhauser HMS Bounty “Girl (I’m waiting for you)”

Love “Gazing”

The Dawn of Punk-Blues

Few periods in pop music have a more distinctive and immediately identifiable sound as the ’80s. And after hearing most of the garbage that choked up the airwaves (and still on those nostalgic 80s shows/stations) it seems that’s about the only thing it had going for it. But well buried in the gut wrenching cesspool of cheesy synthesizers, lifeless drum machines and teased hair an ugly breed of bottom feeders worked in futility to claw their way out of the muck. Among them was one particularly grotesque strain – an ungodly rocknroll hybrid that can be best described as Punk-Blues. Don’t ask if it’s even a real genre (for what it’s worth, All Music is now using it), but there was a rash of like-minded roots-bashing bands in the 80s that would aptly fit that tag. Of course the origins can be traced way back to Howlin Wolf’s earth shattering electrified blues onto the cranked-up snarl of the Pretty Things, CCR and Capt. Beefheart—and so on…

Some essential albums:

Gun Club Fire of Love (1981)

Fire of Love

The first album to successfully wed the harrowing delta howl of Son House with the intensity of punk rock. Basically they did to the blues what Cramps did to rockabilly. Brimming with reckless slide guitar and twisted southern gothic lyrics that’ll have the PC crowd pulling out their hair, this is an original and utterly astounding blast of pure energy.

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Gun Club – For the Love of Ivy

:) Vinyl | 1981 | Ruby | ebay ]

Gun Club Miami (1982)

Extremely dark with a more pronounced country feel than its predecessor, no other rocknroll album has captured the unsettling eeriness of pre-war blues/country. Complaints abound regarding the mix, but it never bothered me in the least. Ranging from haunting, desert-road-weary C/W of “Mother of Earth” to unforgettably fierce covers of “John Hardy” and Jody Reynold’s “Fire of Love.” One of the greatest albums ever. Really.

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Gun Club – Mother Of Earth

:) Vinyl | 1982 | Animal | ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Death Party EP, the Las Vegas Story

Poison 13 s/t (1984)

Poison 13
Led by guitarist Tim Kerr (Big Boys, Jack O Fire etc), Austin’s Poison 13 were like a snottier version of the Gun Club with equally slicing slide guitar wreckage and buzzsaw power chording. “Biggest Mistake” may be the quintessential punk-blues cut. Their reworking of Willie Dixon’s The Seventh son is nothing less than genius. Not a weak cut.

This album, along with their fine 1985 EP First you Live and early demos, was released on the Subpop collection Wine is Red, Poison is Blue.

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“Poison 13 – My Biggest Mistake”

:) Vinyl | 1984 | Wrestler | ebay ]

Alex Chilton Like Flies on Sherbert (1979)

Like Flies On Sherbert

Chilton strung out on smack slobbering over a stack of Chess and Sun 45s. It may be an acquired taste, but this charming disaster of a roots-rock album is loaded with amazing tracks like “Hey, Little Child” and “My Rival.” This album’s endured a far longer residence on my turntable than any Big Star release.

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Alex Chilton – My Rival

:) Vinyl | 1979 | Aura | ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Tav Falco and the Panther Burns Behind the Magnolia Curtain (Chilton on guitar) and Blow Your Top EP

The Scientists Heading for a Trauma (1985)

Heading for a Trauma
Off-kilter, noisy swamp-rock from this crew of Aussie minimalists. Funhouse era Stooges violates CCR while Suicide pukes in their faces. Something like that. Frontman Kim Salmon groans and shrieks over barrages of hypnotizing fuzz guitar. “Murderess in a Purple Dress” is a force to be reckoned with. Also includes a nice rendition of Beefheart’s “Clear Spot.”

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The Scientists – Swampland

The Scientists The Human Juke Box (1987)

The Human Jukebox
Human Jukebox shows the Scientists willfully wiping away any last trace of commercial potential they might have had by unleashing this severely damaged six song album. Making their earlier recordings almost seem polished, this masterwork of trash shifts from the grinding, cheap-piano-driven “Brain Dead” to the delightfully droning blues crawl of “Shine.”

Since their songs appeared on different albums, often overlapping, Sympathy for Record Industry’s CD collections are a perfect source for their best tracks.

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The Scientists – Human Jukebox

:D CD Reissues | Sympathy for the Record Industry | search amazon ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Alan Vega S/T (1980) / Collision Drive (1981)

Alan Vega Collision Drive

Speaking of Suicide (Vega actually described his former band as “New York City Blues”), the headband-clad madman released two great solo albums with (gulp) drum machines. No need to fear, in Vega’s able hands it works brilliantly. It’s more on the rockabilly side (I’ve heard it described as electro-billy), but tracks like “Bye Bye Bayou” show him sloshing around in the same swampland the Scientists inhabited (Scient. even covered Vega’s “Raver”). Raw guitars (albeit rather mechanical – in a good way) managed to sneak on board, but Vega keeps a foot firmly grounded in the bleak territory Suicide roamed.

Some more similar-minded bands: the Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s early work – Pussy Galore – Blood on the Saddle –  the Gibson Bros – Tav Falco and the Panther Burns – Honeymoon Killers – the Fall – Charlie Pickett — and of course the Cramps.

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Alan Vega – Bye Bye Bayou

:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The 90s was also redeemed by a largely unnoticed (that is until the White Stripes came around) resurgence of the style, with great bands like the Gories, the Oblivians, The Chrome cranks and the Cheater Slicks giving the stale US punk scene a much overdue kick in the ass. Stay tuned for part 2.

PODCAST 12 Southern Comfort

The Rising Storm Podcast - Country Rock Special

Running Time: 35 Minutes | File Size 49.0 MB
Listen: .mp3
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Clip from: Sir Douglas Quintet “Can You Dig My Vibrations” & “T-Bone Shuffle”

John Stewart “You Can’t Look Back”

Dan Penn “Tear Joint”

Mike Nesmith and the First National Band “Mama Nantucket”

Redwing “Dark Thursday”

Rick Nelson “Things You Gave Me”

Clip from: Parsons-Warford-Strandlund B-Bender Instructional EP

Ozark Mountain Daredevils “Leatherwood”

Vince Martin “Danville Girl”

Sir Douglas Quintet “Be Real”

Everly Brothers “Cuckoo Bird”

Townes Van Zandt “I’ll Be Here in the Morning”

Crazy Horse “Outside Lookin’ In”

Matthews Southern Comfort “Road to Ronderlin”

PODCAST 8 Gospel

Running Time: 45 Minutes | File Size: 62.5 MB | 192kbps
Download: mp3
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Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”

Love “I’ll Pray For You”

Solomon Burke “The Price”

Steve Young “Love In My Time”

The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama “Living For My Jesus”

The Velvet Underground “I’m Set Free”

Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”

Jim Ford “Under Construction”

Blind Willie McTell “I Got To Cross The River Jordan”

Dillard & Clark “I Bowed My Head And Cried Holy”

Link Wray “Black River Swamp”

The Staple Singers “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”

The Louvin Brothers “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea”

Congregation Of St. Luke’s Powerhouse Church Of God In Chri/His Sons/Rev. Louis Overstreet “Yeah, Lord! Jesus is Able”

Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”


The Rolling Stones

Matthews’ Southern Comfort (self-titled)

Having always been partial to Ian Matthews era Fairport Convention, I remember being more than elated upon the discovery of his prolific solo career. From 1969 to 1972 he managed to release at least seven LPs as a solo artist and member of Matthews’ Southern Comfort and Plainsong. In many ways his debut is only partly a solo outing. Help from his fellow Fairporters Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson create an overall feel that is not far removed from the first two FC albums. But while a few tracks such as “Commercial Proposition” and “A Castle Far” sound like top-quality leftovers from his former band, a distinctive Matthews sound was certainly emerging. This is especially evident in the country leanings (hinted at in the first two FC records) that are much more pronounced and tastefully accentuated by Gordon Huntley’s steel guitar playing.

Surprisingly the album does not suffer much from Matthews’ minimal writing contributions as co-producer Steve Barbly provides excellent material in “Fly Pigeon Fly,” “Sweet Bread” and the agonizingly plaintive “I’ve Lost You.” But Ian does deliver some exceptional writing in the steel-guitar-driven “Please Be my Friend” and the irresistible folk epic (co-written by Barbly) “Once Upon a Lifetime.”

What makes this album so timeless and enjoyable is the way it explores country music without deliberately trying to be country—a highly commendable feat that many American bands were not able to achieve. Free from any phony southern twang, Ian’s fragile, emotionally-charged vocals enrich every song with a genuineness that is perfectly complemented by the warm, rural landscape that’s successfully captured by the band. Not only is this one of the first British country-rock records, but it is also an unrecognized benchmark for the entire then-burgeoning genre. BGO has made this available on CD as a twofer which includes MSC’s slightly less impressive sophomore effort Second Spring.

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“Once Upon A Lifetime”

:D CD Reissue | 1996 | Beat Goes on | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1969 | Decca | search ebay ]

The Gants “Gants Again”

The Gants were a mid 60s garage/folk-rock band from Mississippi whose biggest commercial success was a billboard charting cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner.” This minor hit was enough to secure them the release of 3 LPs on Liberty, Gants Again being the third. Lack of original material and a sound that’s often far too derivative of their British heroes (especially the Beatles) keeps it from being a great album by any stretch. But there are many fine moments here.

Wonderful tracks like “I Wonder” and the moody, near suicidal “Somebody Please” prove that they certainly had tons of potential. And it really is unfortunate because an album’s worth of originals on par with these tracks may have ranked up there with the Nightcrawlers LP or the Beau Brummels vol. 2. Not that all the cover tunes are boring. Some (“Rain” and “You Better Run”) are actually very well done and breathe new life into the songs. But it still leaves the listener longing to hear what the Gants and other groups of this ilk would have sounded like if they were given more creative license instead of having managers and labels pad up their records with mediocre filler.

Unless you stumble across this in a bargain bin (or for less than ten bucks), you’re better off grabbing the Bam Caruso collection I Wonder which compiles the best material from all three albums, including some cool unreleased forays into baroque pop.

Gants Again

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“I Wonder”

:D CD Compilation | 2000 | RPM Records | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1966 | Liberty | search ebay ]

Kim Fowley “International Heroes”

This was waxed around the time he produced legendary recordings by the Modern Lovers so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best albums from the ubiquitous Kim Fowley. Son of actor Douglas Fowley, he produced the novelty hit “Alley Oop” in 1960, then went on to release some commercially unsuccessful solo albums, produced and wrote more oddities for other artists (including Kiss) and eventually unleashed Runaways on the world. And that’s just to name a few. He even found time to write songs with Skip Battin, which were recorded by the Byrds (Untitled LP) and Gene Parsons.

Those who’ve worn out their copies of Roxy Music/Eno/Bowie albums will be thrilled to exhume this forgotten (or never really even known) specimen of oddball glam. Judging from the cover, he didn’t want to leave anyone guessing about the sound he was shooting for. This platter plays like an instant classic, falling into some no man’s land somewhere between Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. Like Eno, he’s often playing post-punk years before it existed, but Fowley’s songs are looser and more accessible, sure to get you hooked on the first spin. “Something New” is simply a perfect pop song with a great update on a Byrdsian jangle feel. “I Hate You” is a gloomy slice of contempt that’ll leave you feeling good about your shitty mood. There are nice female soul/gospel backings throughout. “Dancing All Night” rocks like a garbage can bound outtake from Sticky Fingers.

International Heroes is another exceptional rocknroll record that is in dire need of CD release. Good luck finding any cheap copies on ebay.

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“E.S.P. Reader”

;) MP3 Album | download at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1973 | Capitol | search ebay ]

PODCAST 4 True Grit

The Rising Storm Podcast - Country Rock Special

Running Time: 59 Minutes | File Size 54.0 MB
Download: .zip | .mp3
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Clip from: Hank Snow “The Blue Velvet Band”

Buck Owens “Before You Go”
Fairport Convention “If (Stomp)”
Guilbeau and Parsons “Your Gentle Ways Of Loving Me”
Ernie Chaffin “Feelin’ Low”
Everlys “You Done Me Wrong”

Clip from: The Dillards “Sundown”

Merle Haggard “The Longer You Wait”
Buffalo Springfield “A Child’s Claim to Fame”
James Carr “My Adorable One“
Byrds “Wasn’t Born To Follow”

Clip from “True Grit” 1969 (John Wayne & Robert Duvall)

Brinsley Schwarz “Hymn To Me”
Wynn Stewart “Wishful Thinking”
Euphoria “Through A Window”

Clip from: The Dillards “Sundown”

Gene Clark “Tried So Hard”
Webb Pierce “Groovie Boogie Woogie Boy”
Flying Burrito Brothers “Wheels”
Louvin Bros “Cash On The Barrelhead”
Mickey Newbury “The Future Is Not What It Used To Be”

Clip from: Hank Snow “Answer To The Blue Velvet Band”

Hearts and Flowers “Rosana”
Lee Hazlewood “By The Way (I Still Love You)”

Classic Closer
Rolling Stones

Clip from: The Dillards “Sundown”