sex pistols - The I-94 Bar

5 Album Set (EMI), Plastic Box (Virgin), Metal Box Super Deluxe Edition & Album Super Deluxe Edition (Virgin/ UMC) - Public Image Limited

pil box budgetIn one way, every box here rates five bottles. They’re essential; if not for the music, then the history and their place in it. In another … every box rates between four and five bottles.  Why?

Well, all but two of the PiL albums represented here were patchy. One of those unpleasant truths we must all know (another is the knowledge that some our (many) rock ’n’ roll heroes have been anything but loveable rascals, but thugs of considerable degree who richly deserve four walls and a small barred door with the occasional beating…)

Americana Hero: Alejandro Escovedo's long journey from punk to troubadour

nancy rankin escovedoNancy Rankin-Escovedo photo.

In 2018 Alejandro Escovedo released "The Crossing", an album based on the story of two boys, one Mexican and one Italian, travelling across the United States. “I’ve always lived along the border in California and Texas, so it’s been part of my story,” Escovedo says. But while immigration is fundamental to the evolution of modern America, in recent years it’s has become a hot political topic.

(To accentuate the point, a few hours before my interview with Escovedo, US President Donald Trump invoked emergency powers to secure the funds to continue the building of his border wall between Mexico and the United States.)

Escovedo didn’t set out to write a political album; it’s just that “whenever you talk about immigration at this time it tends to be political because of what’s going on in America”.

Anarchy? What Anarchy? Glen Matlock just wants to have serious fun


men with no shameMen Of No Shame: Earl Slick, Glen Matlock and Slim Jim Phantom

Sweat is pouring down my neck and back. Rob from the C-Bombs is dangling pictures of his empty pool at me on facebook and I suddenly remember to start dialling.

I’m calling Glen Matlock in London. It will be something like 8.30 in the morning there. He’s organised, sounds quite sober, matter-of-fact and down to earth. Which is pretty good, cos if you’ve never heard the bugger’s name you’ve certainly heard at least one of the bands he’s been in, and helped write the songs for: The Sex Pistols.

Glen is coming to Australia for the ‘Men of No Shame’ tour with Earl Slick and Slim Jim Phantom.

BARFLY TOP TEN: I-94 Bar writer Edwin Garland

edwin top ten 2017This year was returning to my childhood and gromit years - teenage times as well as inner-city music, alternative and garage rock, beer-soaked pubs and the alternative. Namely the Beatles, Midnight Oil and Patti Smith.

Patti Smith and Paul McCartney get the guernsey for the best gigs of the year. And for the same reasons. Both artists are incredible live and these final tours were a massive thank you to the fans…

1 Macca at Suncorp Brisbane

Sir Paul delivered on all fronts. With the most thoughtful visual show and a hit every minute over those three hours and ten minutes, it ranged from pure, four-on-the-floor garage rock with guitars sonically attacking to more mellow stuff.

From “I Want To Be Your Lover” which would have made the Stones sound like a get-together at a nursing home to “Helter Skelter”, to the bombastic, “Live And Let Die” which inflamed the stadium, the cheesy “Mull of Kintyre” with a 25-piece pipe band, to the solo acoustic moments with “Blackbird”, this was gold. Macca’s voice, his insights, wit and humility, and his guitar playing were magnificent; 42 songs played. I won’t forget it a hurry.

1 Patti Smith at the State Theatre and spoken word at Sydney Opera House

Another pair of gigs where Patti gave 300 percent. Patti engaged us with insights, stories and, as with Macca, showed a great deal of humility. The band, led by Lenny Kaye, at times still had the intensity of 1975 CBGBs Patti, yet with overtones of a grandmother and an earth mother.

Ever Fallen In Love With The Buzzcocks?

buzzcocks-diu 

In a wired world of passing trends, the Buzzcocks remain a comforting constant. One of the best of the first wave of UK punk, the original band plied their singularly melodic, buzzsaw trade from 1976 to 1981, disappeared and resurfaced in re-tooled form eight years later. They’ve been going strong since then, with two early line-up members intact.

Ex-Pistol elicits miles of smiles

matlock adelaideMandy Tzaras photo.

Glen Matlock's Adelaide show was such a fine, big smile-stretched-across-the-face, hugely enjoyable gig. Not because of the association to THAT band, but because Glen is who he is, likes the kind of music he likes, and brings it into you. 

If you’re hesitating about whether to see this man’s gigs - don’t. 

Just go. 

Ex-Pistol locked and loaded for Australia-NZ shows

glenmatlock01Founding member of The Sex Pistols and Rich Kids and writer of hits “Pretty Vacant” and “God Save The Queen”, Glen Matlock is a musical legend and raconteur extraordinaire.

You'll see for yourself when he and his band hit Australasian shores in November, celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Never Mind The Bollocks”.

Matlock will be conducting exclusive Q&A's and playing Pistols classics and choice cuts of his own.

Matlock departed the Pistols as they hit their peak, leaving the way open for Sid Vicious to join. His next band, the Rich Kids, put out an influential album of the late ‘70s, “Ghosts Of Princes In Towers”.

Forty years later and the buzz is still strong

buzzcocks 2015

Original UK punk act the Buzzcocks kick-off their 40th Birthday celebrations this March with a tour of Australia and New Zealand. The stars of Dig it Up! 2013 return for the Golden Plains Festival plus headline shows across most capitols. Guests include HITS and Ausmuteants.

Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto formed Buzzcocks in Bolton in February 1976. The band, completed by the addition of Steve Diggle and John Maher, opened for the Sex Pistols in Manchester on July 20th, a follow up to the now (in)famous Lesser Free Trade Hall gig which Devoto and Shelley had organised the month before.

Get your dancing shoes on with The Pop Group's Mark Stewart

pop group white

The late ‘70s in the UK saw a deluge of explosive music and art colliding, and while not all was good by any means (much was utterly dreadful), some was brilliantly wayward. The Pop Group are one such, and they are doing only THREE shows in Australia in March.

The first is at the Adelaide Festival on Thursday 5th March, the next day they’re in Sydney at the Factory Theatre, and the last gig is at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne (where they will be supported by the rather swish Harry Howard and the NDE). Then, they’re slugging through the USA and back to Blighty to cause more sore feet and body odour. Toting a brand new album "Citizen Zombie" that's relevant and brilliant. 

I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol by Glen Matlock (Rocket88, 2012/revised, 1990)

current teenage sex pistolGet this book. If you don’t have it, get this book now. If you do have it - but not this edition - get this book now.

If you do have a copy of this edition, get copies of "I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol" and give them to your friends, relations, people you know hate punk rock, everyone you know who reads biographies, and especially, your other half. 

Why? Apart from coming across like he’s speaking the truth plainly without over-egging the thing, it’s occasionally so funny it makes your cocoa go down the wrong way and come out of your nose.

Or perhaps that’s just me; try this: After the Grundy Incident, "I didn’t speak to my mum for about a week. When I finally did talk to her, all she could say was, 'Glen, it’s terrible what you’ve done, you used to be such a nice boy, no every time I go to work … they call me Mrs Sex Pistol.'”

I had to change my top and leave it in the sink overnight to soak out the cocoa stain. 

It would be a shame to miss this

men of no shameThis February and March, legendary Sex Pistol Glen Matlock will be joined by Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom and notorious John Lennon/Bowie lead guitarist Earl Slick for their only Australian tour as The Men Of No Shame.

That's right, three of rock's true anti-heroes mixing it live around Australia with shows in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Melbourne.

If you missed the Pistols anarchy in '76, the Stray Cats ballin' in '83 and the original Ziggy Stardust tour, this is your chance to relive some of that historic chaos. Matlock, Slick and Phantom bring it all back live in 2016.

You'll hear the songs that made punk, rockabilly and glam history performed by the history makers themselves. Plus new material that will spark a riot like it's still 1977.

And as part of the package, all three legends will be available for exclusive Q&A sessions at each venue before their performance. If you've ever wanted to talk to a Sex Pistol, a Stray Cat or a Glam God, here's your last chance. No subjects will be off limits. Click READ MORE for booking details.

Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol by Steve Jones (William Heinemann) & Anger is An Energy. My Life Uncensored by John Lydon (Simon and Schuster)

lonely boyHere are two books from people whose names you may know that are essential purchases.  

This is from “Lonely Boy”:

… all bands are basically the fucking same. The reason I still - to this day - love watching documentaries about bands like the Eagles … is that I can totally relate to them. The personalities involved and the reasons for the tensions between them never seem to change.

The singer - because the job requires the kind of person who wants to be in the front going ‘look at me, look at me’ - will almost always be very insecure, and usually a bit of a cunt. Then there’s the guitarist, who wants to get all the pussy, and there’s always at least one weird introvert…

Lead Guitarist Syndrome and Lead Singer Syndrome are terms you don’t see in the Macquarie, or the OED. But they exist, in fact if not in print.

Ramones By Nicholas Rombes (Bloomsbury, 33 1/3 series)

Why is it relevant to review a book initially released in 2005? Because (1.) the subject matter seems as relevant now as it ever did, and (2.) it’s still in print.

You can’t expect anything usual from the 33 1/3 series, that’s clear. All that matters is: Does it work? Does it help us, does it add to the LP in question..?

Given the huge influence that this first "Ramones" LP had on modern rock’n’roll music, it is with woeful heart that I report that Rombes is another academic. in 2005 he was Associate Professor of English at the University of Detroit Mercy. (No, me either).

It was a worried frown that I found I disagreed heartily with the first two sentences, which hung out Rombes’ slate above his wares; "Ramones is either the last great modern record, or the first great postmodern one. Fully aware of its status as pop culture, it nonetheless has unironic aspirations toward art." I winced.

Surely not another academic with no clues as to actual context ..?

Should I Suck or Should I Blow? - Heavy Drapes (Suck-Revolution Records/Tarbeach Records)

suck or blowWhen was the last time you heard a British guitar band with the energy of the Sex Pistols, swagger of the New York Dolls and great songs to boot? Scottish punk band Heavy Drapes (the name’s something to do with Malcolm McLaren/Vivienne Westwood’s shop, apparently) have been making quite an impact since the release of this impressive four-track EP (vinyl or CD on Suck Revolution Records), which has now been re-released as a US edition by New York-based Tarbeach Records.

While many UK punk bands have sunk into a mire of clichéd, pseudo-political lyrics and music to match, Heavy Drapes stand out due to the quality of their songs and the sheer exuberance with which they are performed. The four band members have all adopted appropriate noms de guerre; hence we have De Liberate on vocals, Rikki Stiv on guitar, Jerry Dangerous handling bass duties and Billy Chaos on the traps. Fortunately, there’s much more to this group than just a good dollop of old school show-biz pizazz (which they have in spades.) Heavy Drapes can back up their image with serious musical chops.

Sonny Vincent gets Spiteful with Pistols, Stooges and Damned members

One of our favcourite punks, Sonny Vincent of Testors and solo band fame, is packing a new album for release in November with a band made up of Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Rat Scabies (Damned) and Steve MacKay (Iggy & The Stooges.) The project is called Spiteful and here's a taste.

Spiteful – Sonny Vincent & Spite (Still Unbeatable Records)

spitefulSonny Vincent’s address book is fuller than a well-hung pornstar’s underpants so it’s no surprise to see him working with another star-studded gang on his latest album.

With his band drawn from the ranks of the Sex Pistols, the Stooges and The Damned, “Spiteful” is a gold-plated punk rock blast from go to whoa.

Undercover: Live in China – The Boys (Action Records)

undercover in chinaThe Boys rode the original wave of UK punk in the ‘70s, missed the crest and ended up in the shallows; it wasn’t their fault. They suffered from poor distribution after signing to a second-order record label, but in the end they were far too musical to be lumped in with most of their contemporaries.

The Boys - specifically singer-guitarist Matt Dangerfield - had their origins in England’s most celebrated non-functioning band, the London SS, whose ranks included Mick Jones (later of The Clash) and Tony James (who went on to Generation X.) Both their subsequent outfits and the Sex Pistols made their first recordings in Dangerfield’s rented Maid Vale basement. Talk about being at the scene of the crime. Casino Steel did time in a glam band the Hollywood Brats who almost out-pouted the Dolls.

Wake Up Dead – The Disconnects (Baldy Longhair)

Wake Up DeadThe spirit of New York City’s Lower East Side (circa 1979) is alive and well and living under the nom de plume The Disconnects in Neptune City, New Jersey. 

In many respects that’s good to know because in these horrifyingly gentrified times, it couldn’t exist any longer in safe and antiseptically clean Manhattan. Even its neighbour, Brooklyn, has become respectable. New York Punk (the Heartbreakers variant) was swept under the carpet years ago - so good on The Disconnects for flying that ragged flag.