Monday, May 04, 2009



You may've seen this one before, but I'm posting it if only to remind everyone just what a band the Screamers were: one of the best. Ever. I'm on a Screamers kick again. For one, I found an old cassette buried in a box in the closet which was made for me over 10 years ago by my buddy Richard Mason from the UK. The tape in question has a slew of Screamers demo tracks, live cuts and some real obscurities not found on some of the more common boots floating around from the band (actually, on closer inspection, the tape also has a buncha stuff from Scritti Politti, Desperate Bicycles and The Homosexuals on the B-side... what a couple of art-fags!), and it's been a constant companion on the road of late. Their combination of punk aggression, over-the-top theatrics and European-style avant-electronics - equal parts Neu! and Goblin - has me thinking what mighta happened had they "made it" and recorded that album Eno was rumoured to be interested in producing...
On a related note, I watched another punk rock movie the other night, and I'm pleased to say that it was a more affable experience than when I recently sat through the godawful What We Do Is Secret (see below). The movie is entitled Population: 1, and whilst I'm not saying I'll be revisiting the thing a whole lot for repeat viewings, if you're a total dork for classic American punk rock and all of the ephemera surrounding it (and if you read this blog, you probably are), then I'd say that this one's worth the investment, since it's finally been issued on DVD w/ a bonus disc featuring lots of hot stuff you might dig, even if the movie doesn't flip yer wig. The film in question was directed by LA-via-Holland transplant Rene Daalder, an interesting character who was originally asked by Malcom McLaren to help script the film project he envisioned making in the late '70s w/ Russ Meyer (the Sex Pistols biopic which was quickly canned when everyone decided that Meyer was just a tits-loving redneck w/ zero sympathy for the 'Pistols' brand of anarchic noise... what did they expect??). Daalder became tight w/ Tomata and the Screamers after catching them in a club show in the late '70s, and he and Tomata worked on this film for a number of years in the early '80s, before it finally saw (very) limited release in 1986 and then disappeared. It's been described as a "punk rock opera detailing the life and times of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of Tomata", and a cross between Zappa's 200 Motels and Heironymous Bosch, and whilst neither description sounds like a blast of a time, there's something to recommend here. For one, there's the abundance of cheesy visual effects throughout - effects which were totally cutting edge at the time (and in the bonus features, Daalder seems kinda miffed that he "pioneered" this music-video look which was then pinched by MTV and a thousand others a few years later), Tomata singing, dancing and telling his story for 70 minutes (something which is much better than it sounds) and guest appearances by Penelope Houston from the Avengers (always one of punk's sexiest ladies, but by golly, that New Wave track she mimes is a turkey!), the Mentors' El Duce (before his biker/scumbag/GG Allin makeover; he looks like a dork), Fluxus artist Al Henson (a buddy of both Tomata and Daalder) and his young nephew, Beck (yep, that guy), as well as other folks from LA's fertile post-punk scene of the time. Like I said, if you've got zip interest in CLASSIC LA PUNK, I'd say you'll last about a minute. Others should apply. What's certainly worth a look is the bonus footage of the Screamers playing at the Whiskey in '79, footage I've never seen anywhere else, a surprising fact when you consider what's managed to make its way onto Youtube the last few years. I give it a week before the concert in question is posted up there (or perhaps it already is). There's also lots of interviews, outtakes, clips etc. to keep you busy. My verdict is that Population: 1 is worth the time and money, though you are aware of my bias' here...
No time for much else writin' 'round here. The addition to the household is keeping us all much busier than expected, which means that perhaps one day I'll talk about some discs by the likes of William Parker (his latest, Double Sunrise Over Neptune, is an excellent foray into Alice Coltrane/Don Cherry/Pharoah Sanders spiritual/ethno-jazz and you should get it), the UK's Honey Ride Me A Goat (excellent Beefheart/Minutemen/Sharrock power-trio racket), Suicide's 2nd album (a timely revisit has me now pondering just how great it really is), Psychic TV's debut effort (another good follow-up) and the new Dr. Boogie comp' on Sub Rosa: 26 Deranged and Smokin' Cool Cats, an ace collection of ultra-rare rockabilly from 1954-'59 which has me thinking how many unbelievably great similar discs there must be in Lux and Ivy's collection... and how much I'd love to hear it all. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

the sweet spot diviner said...
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Dave said...

KK Barrett contacted me when he was down here (working on Spike Jonze's "Where The Wild Things Are") but we never caught up. Bummer. Would really like to meet the guy.