Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Peaches (opening for NIN/Bauhaus)

what a novel concept for a band...girls with balls.
local product Peaches returned to Toronto to shock and ahhhhhh! the hometown crowd.
she's not a shy girl, she's not a coy girl, and she's put that 'homo' stuff on the back burner for now. she's what you might call 'omni-sexual' - all-inclusive and non-discriminatory. she'll cross that bridge when she comes to it...or she won't, as the mood fits. it's a new generation of youngun's, who have 'friends with benefits' and whatnot.
growing up in a Toronto suburb wouldn't seem to be the place you'd develop a persona that pushes the envelope for even the most subversive amongst us. (well, not counting Carole Pope) Peaches owes a little to the trail blazed by Rough Trade in the '80's and Bif Naked in the '90's. well, a trail across the Canadian landscape anyway. she honed her ho' skills in Berlin and LA and tonight she's gonna treat her family.
pretty sure it's her family. there's only 7 of us in the seats at the cavernous Molson Amphitheatre as show time nears. i skirt by security to find a quiet place to set up the taping rig and turn it on. it's bright light out here and i'm seated right beside the soundboard. won't have cover of darkness until NIN comes on around 9:15 pm. on my way back to my seat, with beer and water in hand, the usherette asks for my ticket. "you gotta be kidding me, right?" I ask, somewhat incredually. "she needs to see your ticket," the security guard answers, perhaps thinking I'd not understood the instruction. "i just walked past here 5 minutes ago. there's no one in the seats and certainly no one who's 50 years old," I mutter as I put my drinks down to fish for my ticket.
it's a thankless job being the first of three bands in a large venue. you don't have a lot of time and during most of your set the seats are filling up to about half full. lot's of milling about and not much attention being paid. my son was in the pit and said the band sounded fine, looked even better, but didn't get near the respect it deserved.
it helps to have a flamboyant personality and Peaches has plenty of that as she explodes on the stage with a cut from her soon-to-be-released new album. The one minute long "Fuck or Kill" contains the album title in it's punchy 'impeach my bush' chant. now there's a title that should attract a little attention, and less airplay, down south.
down south is where most of her songs take place. not the borderline. the beltline. fever-in-my-pocket time. second song Hit It Hard moves into an answer song to Jan & Dean called "Two Boys (For Every Girl). which should make it about even.
Peaches reaches back to 'Teaches of Peaches' for the little homage to frottage called Hot Rod before we slam into some ER from ET in "Operate".
more hard-rockin' nonsense, and that's not a bad thing, in Rock Show. as vapid and empty a head-banging song as you'd expect any male to put out. more power to her. probably something she learned from Joan Jett. women got as much right as men to create songs that s*ck.
the tide turns with another new offering, Boys Wanna Be Her. don't have all the lyrics down but there's more possibility in the title than you could hope for.
show closes with Peaches wrapped in a triple XXX shawl for "You Love It (when I'm bad)" and who could argue with that?
she strips down to pink bra and panties for a romp through the crowd, not just the pit but the seated audience as well, while she belts out "Fuck the Pain Away" for the finale.

not just another night at the opera.

Check out their website for pics and more

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Arctic Monkeys
It Was A Hot Night
At the Kool Haus
With the Chilly Chimps

the Arctic Monkeys came back through town last night. they've been all around the world since Mike and I caught them at the Phoenix in March. burned out their bass player who stayed home in England for this tour. fatigue or something.

but that's ok, because these guys are what this bands about.

love the ring of the guitars in all these songs. reminiscent of the best of Brit-pop through the years from the Jam through to the Clash. not that they have the weight of either of those two bands...yet.

one album and a few singles...20 great songs and counting.

summer's arrived a few days early as the humidex breaks the 40 degree c. mark and the temperature is hovering in the low 30's as doors open. my son Michael is joining Cece and I for the show. We Are Scientists is opening, which means nothing to me, but taped 'em anyway. in case they get famous. a very energetic and polished opening set. good on the Arctic Monkeys for not being afraid to have a real band support them. the Monkeys came on stage during two songs to lend support on vocals, drums and guitars, in celebration of this tour-ending gig as this is the 13th show of a 13 show North American Tour. the band moves on to Germany for some gigs and World Cup games next week. WAS continue on their solo tour in the US.

got a good spot right underneath the right stax, about 10' from the stage. it's loud. bone-rattling loud. just perfect. during the first set everyone was polite and kept their distance, giving me ample opportunity to focus in on a band ready to breakout. We Are Scientists are tough to catalogue. a three-piece, straight-ahead, rock ensemble, with a garage-band attitude and alt-rock sensibilities. the kids are learing fast these days as their stage-patter and between song fiddling was finished beyond their years. good pace to the short opening set. 40 minutes of blood stirring preparation for the main act. their set is torrenting at dime
WAS torrent

did i mention it was hot? after a short half-hour break the lights are down and the Monkeys take the stage.

this is the Riot Van tour, i guess. i don't think it was played live on the last NA tour but it seems to be opening the shows on this go-round. the band is into the low-key number quickly and the audience sing-a-long is not far behind. these guys may not have a lot of fans yet but the one's they've got have internet access...'cause lyrics and song sequences are not foreign to anyone out here.

song closes with a kick in the head and the same sensation ensues as the band slams into View From the Afternoon, a song about anticipation of what the evening might bring...or not. he shoulda brought his bird though, 'cause those phone-mail-mea culpa's don't always cut it. we'll get the answer to this song a little later, in a couple forms.

a little nod to the cynical rock star and the candy they get in Still Take You Home. these guys write a ton of great little couplets, cutting, consice and crystal clear in meaning. they don't sneak up on you as much as they pounce on you and do a Muhammed Ali on your head. this one opens with a beauty:
"It’s ever so funny, I don’t think you’re special I don’t think you’re cool
You’re just probably alright, but under these lights you look beautiful"

next up the boys are out of their league with the upwardly mobile Cigarette Smoker Fiona.

on the surface it might seem the Monkeys are not to everyone's taste. their subject matter deals with the trials and tribulations of the 'coming of age' male...anywhere from 17 through to 22 years old...which pretty well covers their current cognitive state. delve deeper, these songs are filled with universal truths. astute observations on the human condition for such young men. their material should appeal to anyone who has been, will be or is a young man. and any women who might want to try to figure out what they're about. it's not a wasted lesson, most males are mired in their early 20's...at least in their own minds, if not real life.

crowd favorite in Vampires. a slap at the other bands in their local scene who'd rather drage them down into the hole they are in, than wish them success.
without a break they leap into a wonderful party song, Dancing Shoes. a story about wallflowers and how that don't lead to no good.

before they've even released their second album the Monkeys are targeting the inevitable backlash that will follow the unwarranted (and unasked for) hype. it's the star-making machinery that picks you, you don't pick it. Who the Fucks Arctic Monkeys? tells us they know we'll be asking the question as soon as the industry gets its claws into them.

did i mention it was hot? between songs the lead guitarist takes a towel to his frets and comes up with a new sound.

i want to be at the first concert where they don't play, I Bet That You Look Good On the Dancefloor. still getting radio airplay it's already an albatross. fans liked it though.

a whole song about jumping the queue, to no avail, in the simply enjoyable Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured. a total throw-away piece of smile inducing fluff. at breakneck speed. just like heaven.

the boys always have another story to tell us, that's what their catalogue is currently about...stuff that happened to me one night, one time, one minute. From Ritz to the Rubble is the story of how precarious favour can be...and how hard to come by for a skinny 19 year old geek. they have so much to say that they added a second song inside this one. what started out as an episode in line evolves into a drunken free-for-all and party night to be forgotten...the next day. ever wake up wondering what the f*ck you were thinking the night before?

a non-album song, Leave Before the Lights Come On leads us into the wonderfully sardonic, painfully honest tale of passion gone stale, Mardy Bum. funny to see a 20 year old longing for how things used to be. at least that's what he thinks is happening. the reason she 'has that face on', the reason she's so 'argumentative', is that she's probably growing up and just realizing the task she has ahead of her, molding this Nintendo-playing-fast-food-eating-party-till-you-puke boyfriend into something she can make use of.

lead singer tells us we have three songs left...if they played another 3 that would pretty well be everything they have, but they gotta leave you wanting something. tonight we're left wanting Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts because the show ends with the epic every-fathers-nightmare When the Sun Goes Down, a story about a young girl down on her luck and the scummy men that make her life even worse.
We Are Scientists lead singer/guitarist comes on to play the rhythm on Fake Tales of San Francisco, a final tip of the hat to a rousing opening band and tour partner.
show closes with the usual ringing guitars of A Certain Romance.

time well wasted.
the torrent should be running over at dime

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Buzzcocks 30th Anniversary Tour
Phoenix Concert Theatre
Toronto ON 2006-06-10

some things change...
no Howard Devoto in this incarnation of the Buzzcocks but we do have Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, both providing vocals and guitars. they are supported by long-time bassist Tony Barber and former Alarm drummer Danny Farrant, who just signed on.
they came straight out of Manchester to join the british punk movement, opening for the Pistols back in the summer of '76. after a couple of rebirths they are still using up their 'cat-lives' and are back in the midst of a recent brit-pop-punk revival that has seen the Charlatans UK and 999 back on the road.
shelley hasn't gotten any taller, just a little wider...but haven't we all.
diggle looks like a blown-up version of peewee herman in his polka-dot shirt, white vest with busting buttons and white pants. from the balcony the tops of their heads throw off a nice glow. i say that lovingly 'cause they both had playful smiles on throughout the night, perhaps enjoying the experience more than they did 30 years ago.

some things don't...
who needs more than a 3 minute, power-pop song? they showcased their new release, flat-pack philosophy, in a machine-gun, take-no-breaths, 60 minute set. diggle provides the hard-core edge; shelley the melodic pop hooks. think of it like a collaboration between lennon/mccartney or richards/jagger or white/benson if you must.

the show was the debut of the their North American leg, a showcase spot in the North-by-North-East festival. they continue of from here to headline 13 Warped Tour dates and add a dozen or so solo shows. check out the tour schedule at their website... that would be www.buzzcocks.com for the google challenged.

they were well received at the croweded, sold-out Phoenix. as appreciative as the crowd was I don't think anyone was happier than Diggle who spent the night throwing out sizzling guitar flourishes and trying his best not to damage his knees with assorted jumps. shelley stayed earthbound but didn't give any ground when it came to cutting some nice solo's of his own. Diggle spent a couple minutes glad-handing with the front row, reluctant to leave the stage as the feedback faded and the rest of the band hit the post-show spread.

the new songs are as good as the old songs. there are three mp3 samples in each of these files. sample one contains: wish i never loved you, soul survivor and why can't i touch it? sample two contains: ever fallen in love with someone (you shouldn't have fallen in love with),noise annoys and orgasm addict
Sample 1
Sample 2

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Artist Spotlight #3: The Clash: The Only Band That Matters

before you get started reading begin this download of
Clash Samples

1977-05-13 Leicester UK
I'm So Bored With the USA
1980-03-05 Passaic NJ
Train in Vain
1982-06-04 Bonds Casino
Charlie Don't Surf
1982-11-27 Jamaica
London Calling
from Tommy Gun Japan/London 1982
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Joe Strummer & the Mescalaro's w/ guest Mick Jones
Rudie Can't Fail

isn't that the best album cover ever? first
the band broke through after opening for the Sex Pistols on their Anarchy in the UK Tour. British CBS records signed them in February 1977.
recognize any of the fans in this picture?

i first saw them at the last show of the Pearl Harbor Tour of America in February 1979. they were getting a lot of airplay on a local alternative radio station and a friend dragged me to the show. concert was held in an old movie theater, used to be an Odeon but was called the Rex by 1979. only concert held there as it became to expensive to replace the chairs.
don't recall a ton about the show, except that while standing in the lobby it occured to me that 'punk' was the best thing that ever happened to the less aestically pleasing among us. you'd have had better luck finding an 'in tune' guitar than a nice looking chick. fortunately, there was one of each in the building. the guitar was on stage and the chick was seated next to me in the balcony. (not that it mattered, 'cause i was getting married in May but it's always nice to have a room with a view).
by the shows ends the Clash were no longer in charge of the stage as it had been rushed and the final song was done by audience members and Joe.

here's a much more detailed review of that show, stolen from the 'net:

"Joe is very talkative throughout, apologising for the poor sound early on and at the start of the encore says “We wanna kinda apologise, we arrived in Canada about 2 weeks ago feeling full of beans, now we’ve had it if you know what I’m trying to say”. But if The Clash were worn out at the end of the tour there is no sign of it here: its highly charged and intense throughout.

Joe wins the audience over after Bored with The USA, the storming set opener, “Turn on the house lights, listen who’s the promoter? Calling Mike Cole, listen you big guys, you’re never gonna stop them dancing, they just wanna stand there and dance”. He then tells the bouncers “you’ve gotta watch for anyone going down” How many Toronto audiences had heard a band say that to the security before?

The PA sound problems improve during Tommy Gun, which Joe introduces with “ This is Topper, Britain’s answer to Bruce Lee!” To requests for White Riot Joe jokes, “that’s an old song, so Bing Crosby still has fans even in Toronto! There’s a tape change before Stay Free, which loses some of Mick’s introduction.

Capital Radio is preceded by “This is what (Toronto Radio) Q107 sounds like, just a farting noise all day, so this song is now entitled thank you Radio Q107, we are your mindless robots”.

The encore cranks up the intensity even higher and White Riot breaks down halfway through after a stage invasion. Fans shout out the chorus, and then someone grabs the microphone and screams “God Save The Queen!” The taper or someone nearby says “unbelievable” as the crowd shout for me.

The house lights come on and the recording ends with the first bars of a song that would inspire The Clash to record one of the best cuts on London Calling; Vince Taylor’s Brand New Cadillac."

and here's a piece by Alan Cross who is the author of CFNY's great History of New Music:

"Joe Strummer was once asked about his greatest musical inspirations and his answer was simple: "black men," he said. And he was serious. The Clash would soon pick unlikely touring partners, including Bo Diddley and Grandmaster Flash.
The attitude in that song requires a little explanation. The middle and late 70s were a tough time for young people in Britain. The country's finances were in trouble, so the labour government of the time had invoked some severe austerity measures. These measures hit the working classes very hard. Public sector and government workers were hit, too. Wages, benefits, working conditions, they all took a hit. Naturally, this created some serious social turmoil. Strikes and lockouts. High unemployment. Falling standards of living. And a general sense of despair and alienation, especially among young people. There was that institutional racism we talked about earlier. Some authorities were being quite enthusiastic when it came to using an anti-vagrancy law from 1824 to harass young blacks.

And there were fascist elements creeping in from the margins. Organizations such as the national front were looking for scapegoats for the problems faced by the white working class. Their targets? Immigrants. This was the social environment into which The Clash was introduced.

The band did what they could. They insisted that the price of their albums and their concert tickets be substantially lower than the prevailing rate. And they sung about the problems of the day. To bored and alienated kids in Margaret Thatcher's England, The Clash seemed to be in touch with exactly how they were feeling. Another interesting thing about that first album: even though the band had a planet-wide record deal, CBS decided not to release this record in North America. It was the disco era and a bunch of fraidy-cat executives thought that The Clash was just too raw and abrasive and too crude for American tastes. So for two years, north American fans were forced to buy the higher-priced British import version. 100,000 copies were sold that way, making it (for a time) the biggest-selling import ever. CBS finally relented in 1979, but the result was a watered-down version with a different tracklisting that was supposed designed for American tastes, whatever that meant.

Then again, The Clash did have a rep as criminals. Their shows often turned violent and venues were damaged. On June 10, 1977, Joe and topper were arrested for spray-painting "The Clash" on a wall. Then they were fined $100 for stealing a pillowcase from a Holiday Inn. And then they were fined $800 for shooting at some expensive racing pigeons. And Mick Jones got into trouble over cocaine possession.

The second Clash album was entitled "Give 'Em Enough Rope" and was issued on November 10, 1978. One of the surprising things about this record was that it was produced by the guy who was best known for making Records with Blue Oyster Cult. That, obviously, rubbed a few hardcore punks the wrong way.

The album sounded different, too. The amateurish energy that was all over the first album was gone. Things were a little more polished and cleaner. Still, the record burns with righteous anger and is filled with new musical options for punk. Joe Strummer's lyrics covered everything from civil war to the drug trade to Palestinian terrorism. Love songs? Forget it. This idealistic, left-leaning stance was refreshing, but it no doubt limited the band's appeal with a wider audience.

But The Clash didn't care. They had to do what they felt was right. Here, for example, is a song based on an experience the band had in Jamaica while staying at the pegasus hotel in Kingston. While walking around the docks one night, they had an interesting experience with some rastafarians that they'd rather not repeat.

Here's what Joe Strummer said to rolling stone after the release of Give 'Em Enough Rope:

"We've got loads of contradictions for you. We're trying to do something new; we're trying to be the greatest group in the world, and that also means the biggest. At the same time, we're trying to be radical? I mean, we never want to be really respectable? And maybe the two can't coexist, but we'll try. You know what helps us? We're totally suspicious of anyone who comes in contact with us. Totally. We aim to keep punk alive."

Things would change drastically for The Clash with the next album. It would the record that would not only assure The Clash's reputation for all time, but it would also become one of the most influential Records of all time. And Joe Strummer was, obviously, a huge part of it. By the time The Clash got around to recording their third album, The Clash's tastes had moved beyond the traditional punk boundaries. Ska, reggae, calypso, disco, garage rock, rockabilly, even this new thing called "rap", were all poached to help create a unique Clash sound. The band reached their creative peak in 1979 with a double record that featured nineteen songs, some of which were inspired by a recent north American tour while others came about just by listening to the music in the streets of their new headquarters in the Pimlico area of London.

The album also followed Britain's famous "winter of discontent". From late 1978 through to mid-1979, the country was paralysed by a serious of massive strikes and labour actions. It was so bad that the army had to be called out to provide scab labour.

On the other hand, the tide had turned against growing racist sentiments. In 1978, The Clash headlined the "rock against racism" concert, which saw 100,000 people march through the streets of London, denouncing racist ideas, movements and policies. That event was a turning point in the attitudes held by young people in the UK. Some of the anger on The Clash's third album was fuelled by their recent split with manager Bernie Rhodes and all the lawsuits (and debt) that followed.

The album was recorded over just a few days. In fact, twelve of the nineteen songs were bashed out over three days in August 1979. The record, which had the working title of the new testament, was produced by Guy Stevens, who was much more concerned with feel than technical perfection. On the first day in the studio, Guy told the band to warm up with a song called "Brand New Cadillac". "Go ahead and warm up," he said. "We'll start in a moment".

But as The Clash started playing, Guy rolled the tape machines. When they were done, he said Aright! That's done. Let's move on to the next one!" The Clash were kind of confused. "You can use that take," they said. "It's all wrong!. Listen to the tempo. Look how we speed up as the we get closer to the end".

Stevens just smiled and said "All rock'n'roll speeds up. Next song, please".

-Alan Cross"

Pearl Harbour Tour of North America 1979

Jan 31 Commodore Ballroom, Vancover, Canada

Feb 7 Berkely Community Centre California

Feb 8 Geary Temple (Fillmore), San Francisco CA

Feb 9 Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica CA

Feb 13 Agora, Cleveland OH

Feb 15 Ontario Theatre, Washington DC

Feb 16 Harvard Square Theater, Cambridge MA

Feb 17 Palladium, New York NY

Feb 19 Agora Atlanta

Feb 20 The Rex Danforth Theatre, Toronto, Canada

Yet more stolen stories of the last night of the Pearl Harbour

"Last night of the Pearl Harbour tour; a highly successful tour both artistically and in terms of establishing a growing reputation and following in the USA.

Pearl Harbour produced some of the best Clash concerts ever, and this was another triumph.

... and onto the Take the 5th tour

On The Take the 5th tour in September/October The Clash would be playing large auditoriums, but this was a converted cinema with the toilet doubling as a dressing room! Strummer recalls, “ The PA sounded like it was filled with hamsters on coke! Even though it sounded rough we really enjoyed it and the crowd stormed the stage at the end. There were just 2 bouncers trying to hold the crowd back”"

Friday, June 02, 2006

Artist Spotlight #2: Sex Pistols 1978 North American Tour...1st show...last show

Jan. 5: Great Southeast Music Hall, Atlanta, Ga...click for DOWNLOAD

Jan. 6: Taliesyn Ballroom, Memphis, Tenn.

Jan. 8: Randy's Rodeo, San Antonio, Texas

Jan. 9: Kingfish Club, Baton Rouge, La.

Jan. 10: Longhorn Ballroom, Dallas, Texas

Jan. 12: Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa, Okla.
Jan. 14: Winterland, San Francisco, Calif...click for DOWNLOAD

i stole this review of the last show from someone's site

"The Sex Pistols played in front of over 5,000 people at the Winterland Ballroom, more people than at all of their previous American dates put together. The audience was comprised of mostly hippies, with a few hundred punks in front, some of whom threw syringes onstage.
The crowd was again enthusiastic, but the band was tired of performing and sick of each other, barely acknowledging each other's presence onstage. Greil Marcus said the following about the show in Rolling Stone: "The music was all bite: you could reach out and touch every jagged note. It was Steve Jones and Paul Cook who made the noise, and together they were likely the only great two-man band in the history of rock & roll. Spraying the crowd with spit, beer, and mucus, Sid Vicious looked like an English Charlie Starkweather. What was most surprising about Johnny Rotten was his intelligence: intelligence you could read most clearly in his eyes."
The All-Music Guide calls this show a "tuneless, tempoless onslaught," and that sums it up pretty effectively. The Sex Pistols didn't give birth to punk rock, but they pretty much killed it off tonight. Completely wasted, Sid was incoherent and barely able to stand. He opened the show with a couple of Ramones riffs; it turned out to be the best he could offer musically tonight. His playing was so off that it almost tripped up Steve and Paul several times. Steve's guitar cut out several times during the show, and the overall sound was very poor. "If you can put up with that, you can put up with anything," Johnny growled after "Seventeen." Out of nowhere, Steve added, "You f***ing bunch of cowboys!"
In the middle of "Belsen Was a Gas," Johnny let out a scream of horror as if he had just been informed that his mother was the Queen. "Do you want your ears blown out some more?," Johnny asked the crowd. After trudging through the intro to "Bodies," Steve and Paul raced through the song as if their lives depended on it, leaving Sid to senselessly pound his bass strings. During the home stretch of the song, Steve's guitar cut out, leaving Paul to attack his drum kit and Johnny to remark: "I'm not an animal, I'm an abortion," and, asking the audience in total honesty, "What does that make you?"
For the remainder of the show, John stood almost completely still and seemed to despise being on the stage. Throughout "Holidays in the Sun," he blew snot and coughed, and he sang the last half of "Problems" with his arms folded (Sid contributed an amusing moment when he introduced the song: "This is about YOU, it's called 'Problems,'" and fell flat on his back several seconds later). Vicious clutched his bass and seemed ready to hit an audience member again, but roadies took care of the problem before violence erupted. Sitting on the stage looking bored, Johnny said to the crowd, "Tell us, what's it like to have bad taste?" The band stumbled through "Anarchy in the U.S.A." without a bit of spirit, unravelling right in front of the crowd's eyes.
During the encore, "No Fun," John's voice finally gave out. By the end of the song, instead of singing, he sat on the stage, stared into the crowd blankly, and grumbled: "This is no fun, no fun, it is no fun at all, no fun." The band played on, finishing in complete shambles. When the noise ceased, Rotten uttered that famous line, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?," said goodnight, and walked offstage. In an instant, the Sex Pistols were over."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Artists Spotlight #1 John Cooper Clarke

back in the early '80's the post-punk, new wave scene was at it's zenith. with the demise of punk, brought about by the death of the Sex Pistols,
the late-breaking news that being 'against' everything and 'for' nothing eventually leads to a philosophical dead-end and the actual improvement
in the quality of material produced by the seminal punk bands, the industry was looking for a new, next-big-thing. a new wave, so to speak. and for
a few years there, it was just like heaven. a time where anything went and we went to anything.

the scene contained a plethora of disparate elements. punk fractured into about 10 different formats; reggae and ska gave us the Clash and the
Specials; the minimalists came out sounding like the Ramones (if they played fast) or the artistes like Talking Heads and Magazine (if they didn't);
the hardcore scene went underground and out of that grew the Industrial/techno bands Skinny Puppy, Cabaret Voltaire and the likes of Bauhaus and Joy Division and Ministry,leading up to NIN today.
there was electronic dance music or synth pop in the form of SOft Cell and Human League...pop dance music from Cyndi Lauper to Boy George.

a little bit of something for everyone. there was a long list of "15 minutes (or less) of fame" bands like Mi-Sex, The Fast,Split Enz, Icehouse and
John Otway. and that barely includes the freak acts...of which i saw a few. prime among them would be Wayne County and, or Jayne County and the Electric
Chairs, depending on what side of the knife you saw the show (i got both). also the sexually confusing Rough Trade...i mean, i like the S&M/leather look
but those songs about rubbing other girls...quite the dissonance. we still had boys who wanted to be rocknroll stars so The Romantics and Simple Minds
could make records. man, there was so much going on, you couldn't turn around without ending up in a club watching live acts. and the clubs too, from
Larry's Hideaway, the Horseshoe, the Edge...and tucked away on St. Joseph's St, the Voodoo Lounge, where we saw John Cooper Clarke - a singularly unique
individual...even in this crowd.

The Bard of Salford was born only minutes from where Jim Johnson now works. (that would be Manchester's west end) he started out as a stand-up comic but
got pulled into a punk band that went nowhere and did nothing. he turned to spoken-word performances of poetry...and then they forced a band on him when
they thought money could be made.(for you Americans, think Jim Carroll but on speed, not heroin) we saw him after a 'composite' album of his early material
was released in NA. he had an alternative-radio hit with the beastly, breezy, Beasley Street single. and that's about it for this side of the ocean.
assorted lifestyle problems turned JCC into the Sly Stone of the UK. which is to say, not too dependable. would have made a great beat-poet if he hadn't been born to late.

quite the talent wrapped up in this tasmanian-devil like artist. his machine-gun delivery, combined with a regional accent, makes him a challenge on first
listen. he's got a biting wit, acerbic and sardonic, reminiscent of Oscar Wilde. he peppers his act with jokes, some silly, others sharp and cutting.
we didn't have much to go on when the tickets went on sale but eventually found ourselves in the dark, dank, cozy confines of the Voodoo. onstage, a
Bob Dylan look-a-like, circa 1966. or just some lanky brit with curly hair in stovepipe pants with a pair of wayfarers sitting on his face.

first surprise for the assembled few was the lack of a band. and not a lot of setting up the pieces either, you were pretty much on your own to try to
decipher what you could. fortunately, even at this early age, i'd taken to studying acts I was going to see. didn't have the benefit of the internet but
I did purchase all the JCC they had (3) in our local independent record store. my guests were a little more bewildered by the whole spectacle. a good
part of the audience was also put off by the lack of musical backing and by nights end there were chants of "bring on the band" and "where's the music."
JCC, who is a master of the witty reparte, scowls back: "If you want the fuckin' music, buy the fuckin' album."

he's still alive, having survived the worst of what his psyche did to his body, and performs sporadically. on our trip to the UK last fall we missed the
opportunity to see him in Nottingham by one-travel day...a shame as he doesn't seem to cross water much. a recent performance from 2005 sees him returning
to his first love, comedy. his act seems to consist of 30 minutes of stand up jokes and 15 minutes of poetry...still no music. it's rumoured the crowd in
Edinburgh was shouting "bring on the poems" and "do some readings", to which JCC, who is the master of witty reparte, replied: "if you want the fuckin'
poetry, buy the fuckin' book."

ok, i made that last part up.

here's a link to JCC performing "Health Fanatic" on YouTube

and a file available at rapidshare containing some samples of his work from the 1981 Glastonbury festival.

JCC Samples

(I Married) A Monster From Outer Space
Kung Fu International
Beasley St.

here's a link to his website page containing a sampling of jokes

here's a link to the lyrics page so you can suss out what he's saying

take some time to browse through the other poems, it's not an onerous task.