Archive for the ‘Suicide’ Category


Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Above/below: front/back of the ‘Cheree’ Red Star/Bronze UK picture sleeve.

Above/below: Red Star/Bronze UK promo 1977/Demon UK promo reissue 1986

Listen: Cheree / Suicide

Occasionally some courageous soul challenges Suicide as pioneers, claiming Silver Apples or Beaver & Krause soldiered through the unexplored industrial wild, wild west before them. Not to take anything away from either, but seriously folks. No one has ever combined menace and grace like Alan Vega and Marty Rev. Not then, not now.

Upon release in ’77, two copies of Suicide’s debut album came into the record shop I worked for. Needing nothing more than one look at the sleeve while checking in that distributor’s shipment, I decided then and there neither were finding their way to the racks. Instead, both came home with me that night, and immediately the second copy went into Howard Thompson’s pile, readying it for mailing off to London as part of our ongoing record exchange pact. Eventually signing Suicide to Bronze UK, Howard also had the guts to issue ‘Cheree’ as a 7″ A side.

Turns out the band were completely accepting of the hostility which awaited them at every stop of their first British tour, supporting both Elvis Costello & The Attractions then The Clash on that initial visit. Much attention has been focused through the years on the violent reactions Suicide successfully provoked, having everything, including an axe, hurdled at them during their sets.

Howard and Bronze, as undeterred as the band, pressed up the now very rare promo only live album, loosely known as 23 MINUTES IN BRUSSELS from two of those nights, complete with the cold blooded hatred the unsuspecting audience spewed, almost as powerfully relentless as Suicide themselves. Almost, being the key word.

Simply one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, additionally, it’s a glaring artifact of how transparent and mainstream media driven many punk audiences really were in ’78 and therein lay the proof.

No surprise that, other than John Peel, BBC Radio 1 wouldn’t touch ‘Cheree’. Bless them. Probably the last thing Suicide needed then or ever, was a hit single. Instead, they’ve graduated to higher forms of life just fine without one.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Alan Vega

Primal Scream

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Listen: Swastika Eyes / Primal Scream

Yesterday’s Super Furry Animals post had me recollecting those last few years of Creation Records’ partnership with Sony. During summer ’99, Alan McGee was shopping for one of the US outlets to release the upcoming XTRMNTR album by Primal Scream. So he brought Bobby Gillespie into the New York office to play me a few tracks. As often as Primal Scream had changed direction, so too did I change my interest in them. Given their most recent sound at that point was directly influenced by Rolling Stones style blues rock and despite the resulting single ‘Rocks’ achieving by far Primal Scream’s biggest US radio breakthrough yet, this Southern boogie woogie couldn’t have been further from my musical palate in ’99. So I was rather uncomfortable about wasting Bobby’s time. Alan insisted otherwise, that instead I would love where XTRMNTR was heading, being well aware of my insatiable taste for dance, techno and the like.

Was he ever right. This album wiped the floor with all their previous material including SCREAMADELICA. Most critics still attach to that one, and in the bigger picture, I suppose I agree. But for Primal Scream specifically, nothing touches XTRMNTR. Alan suggested I visit Bobby and Andrew Innes at their Primrose Hill studio to hear the finished version. The place was jammed tight, and jamming out. Besides listening to the album, we found plenty to agree on in general: The Cramps, Suicide, and a bottomless pit of records. Easy conversation when it came to musical history, plus any reason to go to London.

‘Swastika Eyes’, the single and album version produced by the band and Jagz Kooner, actually takes my preference over The Chemical Brothers’ mix, also included on XTRMNTR. In fact, my belief was this track could perform as well as ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ or ‘Setting Sun’ had for The Chemical Brothers at radio in the States, with Primal Scream coming off the back of their biggest US airplay record as well. Suspiciously, senior management at Columbia agreed after a quick conversation of presenting said theory. The green light was on.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, ‘Swastika Eyes’, by then at #22 in the UK Pop chart, was too controversial, too insulting, to issue here. Huh, this from the company that changed music with Bob Dylan? This from the company that was having platinum success with Nas? Honestly guys, was spineless suddenly part of the label’s character description? Now in hindsight, having dropped 50 Cent around then too, it clearly was play it safe.

Turns out the whole idea was moving forward based on the Southern boogie style of ‘Rocks’, and when so and so finally got round to listening to the music, it was easier to stubbornly remain rooted in the musical past than embrace tomorrow. Indeed, a policy good for Our Lady Peace, but not Primal Scream.

Keith Wood over at Astralwerks, who released the album in America, didn’t have any such corporate trappings.


Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Listen: The New World / X

I saw one of the greatest bands in the solar system tonight at Irving Plaza in New York, and one their greatest shows ever.


Seen them many times, worked with them at Elektra, was a fan prior. But let me tell you, there is no other punk band in the universe from the era that a) still exists in the original lineup and b) can even begin to compete. They have scared off all the competition. Deservedly so.

X are presently touring, performing the LOS ANGELES album in it’s entirety, plus a ton of greatest hits. Yes, be relieved, they have survived the hump from has beens to legends. And thank God they did. We lost The Cramps, The Ramones and The Gun Club. The White Stripes and L7 threw in the towel. Only Suicide can stand proudly next to them.

If X come to your neck, don’t fuck up your remaining years on earth and miss this one.

Thankfully, tonight they played ‘The New World’. Funny listening to the recorded version now. It’s so much faster and, dare I say, pop or slick. Still, in it’s day, who was speaking out about injustice and corrupt politics. Maybe there were others. I only remember X.

Elektra UK had half a brain then. Unlike the US side, they released ‘The New World’ as a commercial 7″ (in the US it was serviced as a promo only 12″). Half a brain? Yeah, in the era of picture sleeves, how could the company not house this in one? The UK never took to X. Their loss.

A very rare 7″, but as it probably plays out, not as rare as finding a person that wants one.

Yes, we vinyl collectors are dying off. Someday this 7″ will be in the Smithsonian. Neither of us will be around, but my bet is, it’s a Mona Lisa.

Dr. Feelgood

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Listen: Another Man / Dr. Feelgood DrFeelgoodAnotherMan.mp3

There’s a load of theories about where punk started. I suppose you can slice and dice it back to anywhere you want, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or The Pretty Things, or endless garage bands from the mid 60′s. Most self appointed, gatekeeping journalists will flatter each other with either The Stooges or The New York Dolls. My vote goes to Suicide in the US and the Canvey Island bands in the UK, of which Dr. Feelgood were the first superstars.

Their live show stoked Eddie & The Hot Rods and together they lit up London fast and raw. It was indeed the speed of sound and the sound of speed all at once. New bands that clutched to the past and stood in their way were mowed down flat. Hustler and Nutz for example. It was a fun time for house cleaning. Labels like Chrysalis had their rosters fossilized overnight. Seemed like the world turned from black and white to color. Every single released was a new high.

Dr. Feelgood: Lee Brilleaux had a vocal style and stage presense not unlike Roger Chapman, and Wilko Johnson religiously perfected Mick Green’s jagged guitar style into his own. Their second album, MALPRACTICE, is a clean, articulate blueprint of the band’s attack and technique. But when Dr. Feelggod unleashed live, it was unstoppable.

Seeing them between late ’75 through mid ’77 really was life changing. If you did, you’ll know how hearing their records now will still sound different to us, as opposed to those who weren’t as lucky. Over three decades later, that hasn’t changed.

Not one for European pressings, I tell you honestly, my collection has less than a hundred. I make exception for singles like this, when not one but two 7″ worthy songs are issued on a 45. Both ‘Going Back Home’ and ‘Another Man’ (like ‘I Can Tell’, all from MALPRACTICE) were never released as singles in the UK or US. This Dutch pressing being the only exception to my knowledge. In fact, ‘I Can Tell’ has never come out on 7″ anywhere. How did the otherwise faultless Andrew Lauder mess this one up?

Wait. Come to think of it, there were a few numbers from Brinsley Schwarz NERVOUS ON THE ROAD that deserved single status. Andrew Lauder you have some answering to do.

Being an archivist and collector can also mean you’re a pack-rat, depending upon whom you listen to. Ask Corinne for instance and she’ll pick door number three.

Fine, I’m all of them and glad of it, having saved pretty much everything I’ve ever owned, starting with a rock that flew into my hand off my tricycle’s front wheel at about five years old. That’s how extreme, and far back, I can claim the obsession. Good thing, because the records began at age seven. Damn, if only I started at birth.

In the case of this flyer, saving every last item allowed me to pinpoint the exact date and hour when a whole new musical world was revealed behind that invisible curtain. There had been a few jolting revelations before and several after, but that moment when rock as it had been known and loved immediately became the past occured on February 29, 1976. Dr. Feelgood were a blistering no holds barred introduction to pub and punk. Gone was the polish and self indulgence, the bloat and tired outfits. What the music world changed into we all know.

It was a fantastic time to be young and insatiable. And here’s the flyer to stake that very date in my life. Corinne and I, with our dearest friend Karen Kasiner, braved a winter storm to see Dr. Feelgood. I wouldn’t trade that night for anything.

Lothar & The Hand People

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Listen: Machines / Lothar & The Hand People LotharMachines.mp3

When, of all people, Mort Shuman wrote ‘Machines’, I wonder did he intend it to sound like this. Given that this and Manfred Mann’s versions are all drums and bongos and such leans towards a “yes”.

Lothar & The Hand People first and foremost had a killer name. Immediately uncomfortable sounding. On first look, you could’ve mistaken them as one of the San Francisco bands, which indeed I did for a while. Being on Capitol Records blindly reinforced the possibility, as the label seemed to lean west coast when it came to domestic signings. Indeed, the band were New York based, and who knows, may have stumbled on ‘Machines’ at The Brill Building. It’s possible.

Supposedly one of the first electronic rock bands to use Moog in the lineup, as with Silver Apples, seems they set the stage for Suicide a few years down the line. Lothar in fact refers to the band’s theramin as opposed to a member.

‘Machines’ got a lot of late night AM radio play summer ’68. All things were leaning underground, as the genre was called, and many of the major market Top 40′s were programming the sound of youth culture at night. Nowadays, US pop radio just swims as hard against that tide as possible.

It’s how I heard it – and only ever heard it via the transistor radio under my pillow until snatching a copy in a shoe store running some kind of tie-in with one of the local Top 40′s. Buy a pair, get a free single. I was having none of that. Sweet talked about fifteen 7′s out of a peer working the register.


Friday, June 25th, 2010

Dream Baby Dream / Suicide

Dream Baby Dream / Suicide

Listen: Dream Baby Dream / Suicide 13 Dream Baby Dream.mp3

Wedensday was Alan Vega’s birthday. He’d kill me if he knew I was letting on, but Vega never goes online, so no worries. Having said that, he and his partner in Suicide, Marty Rev, always were, and still are, sonically light years ahead of the rest of the planet. Have you ever seen Suicide live? They are more powerful than ever. Do not waste the rest of your life. See them ASAP. Search youtube and check them out performing ‘Dream Baby Dream’ on The Midnight Special, making awesome TV back in ’79. Thanks Bruce Springsteen for rightfully honoring Suicide and performing this at concerts. Apparently his respect for Alan and Marty goes way back. Good one.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Alan Vega

LCD SoundSystem

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Listen: Movement / LCD Soundsystem LCDMovement.mp3

2004 was the year when ‘Movement’ turned some sort of corner between me and LCD. I had remembered ‘Losing My Edge’ from ’01, really loved it for a minute, but was mostly annoyed that I didn’t have the 7″. Turns out I did, as it was recently rescued from one of the never ending ‘Need To Be Filed’ boxes.

But ‘Movement’ was my first real favorite by James and his posse. Good and noisy, a bit tuneless, beautiful chaos, as The Psychedelic Furs were once described. Always did appreciate those occasional Mark E. Smith vocal moments too.

Listen: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House / LCD Soundsystem LCDDaftPunk.mp3

If ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ had been LCD Soundsystem’s debut, I’d have been worried. Well not really, but they should’ve been. As it turns out, the band were five years into their career, so the apparent novelty was absolutely tolerable. Let’s face it – the idea is good, it’s fun. I still play it often.

James Murphy gives Suicide props on stage, mentioning both Alan and Marty’s genius. Pretty accurate so far, and then he throws in a Scott Walker shout out. If the band weren’t so good live and established, I’d be suspicious of it being politically correct name checking to gain traction. My belief is it’s not. An honorable man, that James Murphy certainly appears to be, and one I’d invite over to play singles if the moment ever presented itself.

Kid Congo Powers

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

CrampsGoo, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

CrampsGooB, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: She Said / The Cramps CrampsSheSaid.mp3

There are not near enough Cramps singles with Kid Congo Powers. There are many members who traveled through the band’s revolving door of a rhythm section (which in the early lineups redefined the term ‘rhythm section’ to mean drums and 2nd guitar/avant noise inventor), but very few were real Cramps. Others might contest my statement, including Ivy herself – and if anyone would know, it would be her. But this is my opinion – and other than Congo, Bryan Gregory, Nick Knox, Slim Chance and Harry Drumdini, there were no other REAL Cramps beyond Lux & Ivy. Well maybe Candy Del Mar, maybe.

The shows I saw with Kid were all priceless, for everything else there’s Mastercard or some such smart ass slogan. Hair, clothes, swirling on stage tornado – he will never be topped.

And talk about a lovely person, with a gentle smile and the sweetest sense of humor. Kid Congo is just a higher form of life.

‘She Said’, Kid’s first 7″ with the band, is so Cramps – it almost out Cramps The Cramps. Like the rest of the band, Kid stripped his contribution to the song of every excess not needed and documented the raw, naked power of primal purity.

CrampsCrusher, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: The Crusher / The Cramps CrampsCrusher.mp3

PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE was my favorite of the early few albums, a hard and unsteady position to take when you’re tampering with a few of the wonders of the world. But, yeah, if forced to choose in front of a firing squad, I’d go with PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE.

‘The Crusher’ was one of the two singles from it, and like ‘Caveman’, will time travel you back to their live shows from ’80/’81- or sadly inform you of what you missed.

CrampsKick, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: New Kind Of Kick / The Cramps CrampsKick.mp3

Have a look back at my L7 post from May 4th, 2010. It ends with the following few lines:

“………a song as good as ‘Drama’, which also has one of the two best guitar solos ever committed to tape. EVER. And the other one is..coming soon.”

Well come it has – the world’s other greatest guitar solo ever committed to tape. Yes, it’s the great Kid Congo Powers break on ‘New Kind Of Kick’, B side to ‘The Crusher’, above. B side!!!!!

If I am unfortunate enough to be inflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, I hope it doesn’t erase my memory of Kid letting it roll out of him as though he were having a simple drink of water, seemingly something anyone could do. When the band launched into ‘New Kind Of Kick’ live for the first time, I stood in anticipation and wonder: how is he gonna pull this one off. Wow. He showed me.

This particular occasion was at the old Peppermint Lounge on 44th Street, the last week of that club’s lifespan at said location. And thank the heavens above – I have a tape of it. So powerful was that show – I’ve never even needed one listen to relive it’s force.

GunClubBeastPS, The Gun Club, Sympathy For The Record Industry, Jeffrey Pierce

Listen: Walking With The Beast (Single Version) / The Gun Club GunClubBeast.mp3

When Kid decided to go back to Jeffrey and The Gun Club, I was not happy. And I doubt I was alone. There was no place for Kid in The Ramones or Suicide, so the only other seminal, world great band, The Gun Club, was the logical move. Their album, THE LAS VEGAS STORY, is flawless, scary almost in it’s greatness. ‘Bad America’, ‘Stranger In Our Town’, ‘Give Up The Sun’, ‘Eternity Is Here’ – forget it. And the US tour in support was debilitating to those not ready, even those of us that were. Kid played flawlessly, all the while swigging from a bottle of…..Pepto Bismol.

It doesn’t get any more Kid Congo than that.

I’ll never forget my lucky date seeing that show: 8/8/84. Another one I have a tape of, now a file, and in between, a cd. When I need to be swept into oblivion, I put it on.

Here’s the 7″ version of ‘Walking With The Beast’ and a very different version from that on the album. You need both.

Iggy Pop

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I'm Bored / Iggy Pop

Listen: I’m Bored / Iggy Pop

Iggy’s been on more labels than Sparks, and has had more career comebacks than Cher. And just like those two examples, he’s one of the greats. What can I tell you about Iggy Pop except for: if you’ve never seen him live, it is not too late. He’s the real deal, and still can wipe the floor with 99% of the competition. The other 1% he equals.

This single had an important moment. When Ric Ocasek hosted The Midnight Special in the early 80′s, his guests were Suicide and Iggy Pop. Both were way too much for bad rock radio controlled America, but The Cars were huge and Ric had the clout to bring real art to late night viewers. It was one of the songs he performed, and has yet to make it on to you tube.

I never much cared about The Stooges. I’m sorry, forgive me. My initial experience with Iggy Pop was at LA’s Whisky A Go Go, in May ’73. I flew out, all on my own, to see The Pretty Things first ever US show. How crazy is that? I did have a friend to stay with at least. Iggy turned up in a blue mini skirt and white fur jacket – dressed identical to his girlfriend, both sporting bleached yellow hair. It was cool.


Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Hey Girl Hey Boy / The Chemical Brothers

Listen: Listen: Hey Boy Hey Girl / The Chemical Brothers HeyBoyHeyGirl.mp3

How often do you see a 7″ single by The Chemical Brothers? Actually this was the first of two, that I’m aware of. And it’s US only. If ever there was a great night out, it’s at one of their live shows. You almost, like with Kraftwerk, The Ramones, Suicide or The Cramps, need not bother going to see anything else ever again. Well that’s a bit strong, but not far fetched. This also was a favorite call and response number I sparred off with between myself and our daughter Ping when she was about 5, so pretty sentimental. Even though it’s fairly current, and well known, it’s still a great single – and sounds amazingly good in the Seeburg.

Alan Vega

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Wipeout Beat / Alan Vega

Listen: Wipeout Beat / Alan Vega

1983, the year before Howard Thompson offered me my first real job doing A&R for Elektra, I was finishing an electrical engineering degree at RIT in Rochester. I was part of a popular local punk band and apparently a good candidate to anchor a two hour weekly show on the town’s AOR station. The program was called ‘Import/Export’. The point being to play all the very happening music the college and underground kids were devouring and giving the station a touch of needed cred, as well as allowing them to sell spots to local clubs promoting those bands as they passed through town, and charging the labels for some time buys on these releases without really having to play this uncommercial music during the earlier hours, when people actually listened. I was thrilled and should have appreciated it more, as no one has ever offered me a similar opportunity since.

When visiting town last year, I gave the station a listen. It’s an interesting, but sad, time warp, still playing ‘Iron Man’, Styx, J. Geils Band, things I can’t even remember now that dropped my jaw when they came on, a playlist that recently put some of the employees responsible for this programming out of jobs. Oh well, they stifled music culture for long enough. My show, hidden at midnight on Tuesdays. was hosted jointly by Roger McCall, a more wonderful person you just will never meet.

Roger and I would play ‘Wipeout Beat’ weekly for months. Like Marianne Faithfull’s ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’, it constantly gets overlooked when the press sites early music that helped start electronica and dance are sighted. Produced by Ric Ocasek, as was Alan’s band, Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’, Roger and I would not answer the constantly ringing request lines as we blared this on 11, a high point of the evening for us always.

When I joined Elektra a year later, Howard and Michael Alago, who signed Alan to the label, introduced me to him and we became amazingly close friends quickly, closing Danceteria almost nightly with booker Ruth Polsky, visiting UK bands like Sisters Of Mercy, The Smiths or New Order, Joey Ramone, Arturo Vega, Mickey Leigh, Monte Melnick, Marina Lutz, Duane Sherwood, a then, unibrowed, Madonna, and of course Howard and Micheal.

With Marty Rev, his other half in Suicide, you can save yourself a lot of time and money by seeing one of their very occasional New York shows. You won’t need to spend either much time or money on going out again. They are so powerful, it’s almost unbelievable. How the likes of Beyonce etc. aren’t lining up to get Marty’s beats onto their new recordings is shocking. Why acts get out of bed in the morning trying to compete with Suicide is quite baffling to me.

Unfortunately, the reality is that a few years back, Roger was cruelly and needlessly murdered. His killers are still unfound. Given that he worked at the station I refer to above, WCMF, for something like 30 years, I heard he may have been the longest employed DJ at any US rock radio station, I’m shocked that, despite the large voice and influence WCMF had in that market, they didn’t use it to bring any attention or help to finding the people who did this, not stopping until justice was served. But no, only more archaic music numbly being broadcast as though nothing had happened.