Good news for zeroes as Noise for Heroes returns

nfh1Noise for Heroes Complete 1980-83 Vol 1
Noise for Heroes Complete 1988-91 Vol 2
Noise for Heroes Complete 1991-2004 Vol 3
Edited by Steve H. Gardner

Imagine a decade like the 1980s without zines. For the uninitiated (because they weren’t born then) zines were self-produced magazines, often photocopied and sometimes hand-drawn, focused on subjects that the authors were passionate about. More often than not, the topic was music. 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of zines in a pre-Internet world. Along with college radio, they  powered the American underground music circuit. In Australia, they connected underground bands, and fans across a country of disparate cities and gave insights into scenes overseas in a way mainstream music papers could never reflect. In Europe, they were oxygen for a culture considered low brow that fought to find an audience. 

Zines were lapped up by people into punk, high-energy and left-of-centre music that didn’t manage to gain exposure elsewhere. They were the epitome of DIY culture, making the passion of others tangible. You’re “consuming” the digital equivalent of one right now. 

One of the best was “Noise for Heroes” from San Diego, USA. The very lanky Steve Gardner kicked it off with some like-minded friends in 1980. It initially had a focus on punk rock. In its second life, it moved onto the Aussie and Scandinavian underground scenes with Gardner its writer rather than editor. Steve drummed in bands, ran his own record label, NKVD, and had a mail order music business. 

Matt Gimmick's insanely great legacy re-issued

Matt Gimmick EPDetroit Renaissance 79 - Matt Gimmick (HoZac Records)

The penny dropped somewhere on the Road to Damascus exit, just off I-94, but there was no need for a conversion. The revelation that this band Matt Gimmick was a by-product of The Punks, a Detroit outfit active in the mid-‘70s whose overlooked recordings have been posthumously released a coupla times over, sparked a run to the shelves to dig out their release. If you don't own a copy of The Punks' "The Most Powerful Music On Earth" CD, or subsequent re-releases on vinyl, your life is diminished.

The Punks were unashamedly in the thrall of the Stooges. If solo Iggy had sounded like The Punks we would have been spared “Party” and the Pop would have ended up a rich man much earlier in life for delivering what fans of his old band expected all along. Or so the fantasy goes, because for most of the '70s, nobody actually cared.

Ghost In Me: Thinking about dead ends, dead friends and the Furs in quarantine lockdown on the 4th of July

"I love rocknroll-all the people with nothing to show..."  - Jesus And The Mary Chain

"I ain't lookin' for nothin' in someone else's eyes..." - Bob Dylan

"There's nothing I wanna see, nowhere I wanna go..." - Manic Street Preachers

"Don't take More Than You Need"  - Paul K.

"I raise my glass to the ugly truth that you can't reveal to the ears of youth except to say it isn't worth a dime." - Leonard Cohen

"I don't want to go out, I want to stay in, get things done..." - David Bowie

"We drink the water and it tastes like medicine... wake up, wake up..." - Richard Butler

DRESSED IN YOUR SHINY CLOTHES

Some people believe I'm excluding them from some par-tay, but there really is no par-tay. Sometimes, I wonder if  there was ever a par-tay. Mostly 'been a lot of changing urinal cakes, washing dishes, merchandising endcaps, ruining the knees with constant bending, and always being stressed from the constant threat of Ford truck hick ass ultra-violence. There might have been some nights of frivolous abandon and dressing up and boozy singing, but that was a long time ago .

Baby steps on the way to church

baby grandeBaby Grande 1975-77 - Baby Grande (Hozac Archival)

The Brits call it Junk Shop Glam and the name’s derived from the piles of often obscure, sometimes quirky and lost ‘70s glam singles that littered their second-hand shops decades ago and now fetch crazy, collector scum prices. RPM/Cherry Red did a stellar job of bringing much of it to life on their “All The Young Droogs” compilation. 

It’s as good a label as any for Baby Grande, the band in which future founders of The Church, Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes, cut their teeth in the mid’-70s. Chicago label Hozac Archival has exhumed a tape of studio sessions from somebody’s sock drawer and issued it as an LP. 

Iconic piece of Radio Birdman hits eBay

radios disappearTime to get your skates on if you're cashed up and in need of a piece of Australian rock and roll history. Ex-Radio Birdman drummer Ron Keeley is parting with his infamous "Radios Disappear" drumface on eBay in the UK and it has only days to run.

Designed by bassist Warwick Gilbert, it was created but never used on the band's ill-fated tour of Europe in 1978 and has been in storage ever since. 

Tales from James Ferrell, The Phantom Groovie

groovies cretell france 1972The Flamin' Groovies in Paris in 1972 with James Ferrell at right. 

Long obscured in the Flamin’ Groovies behind Cyril Jordan, Roy Loney, Chris Wilson and even tight-lipped man of mystery, George Alexander, guitarist James Ferrell is a key player in the band’s story. Along with his best pal Danny Mihm, James served in both the Loney-fronted and Wilson-fronted incarnations of the Groovies, and in Loney’s brilliant subsequent band, Roy Loney & The Phantom Movers.

James climbed aboard the Groovies train, replacing Tim Lynch, in Roy’s final days – he plays on the classic 1971 Fillmore recording that’s been released on both Voxx and Norton as well as other labels – and lasted through to 1976. He took part in the early European sojourns, their time with UA in London and the prime days of their relationship with Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios. That relationship produced game-changing 45’s, including “Slow Death” and “You Tore Me Down”, as well as the landmark and hugely influential "Shake Some Action" album.

James was there for the band’s legendary shows with the Ramones – on the 1976 Bicentennial bill in London and in LA - before departing the band and ultimately falling back in with Roy and Danny.

Och aye: When rocking is Second Nature

Second Nature coverSecond Nature - The Primevals (Triple Wide)

Avoiding other people's reviews - at least until our own are done, dusted and posted - is standard modus operandi for most of us at the I-94 Bar. After all, it's important to approach this critical caper with an open mind, and comparisons are odious, aren't they?

It was by accident that the browser stumbled across a critique of the new-ish album, "Second nature", from Scotland's The Primevals by someone whose opinion carries a great deal of stock (Hi, Gus!) to find mentions of Lou Reed, Crazy Horse and The Gun Club. All of which are valid when you're swept up in the record's lyrically dark undertow.

A Datura4 single to rule your world

Rule My World 45Rule My World b/w Phoenix - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound)

Perth’s Datura4 grows in stature with each release and this single, issued in tandem with the latest album, kicks major sonic arse.  “Rule My World” is a swaggering chunk of ‘70s raunch and only otherwise available on the CD version of “West Coast Highway Cosmic”. Warren Hall’s stuttering drum pattern summons the tune to life and Howard Smallman’s harp is the icing on the boogie cake. It's canny Dom Mariani pop with a ‘70s vibe. 

The B side is exclusive to the 45 and is a suave instrumental, with some Bob Patient organ that’s cooler than a 1972 bottle of 4711 Ice Cologne on a February Perth aftwrnoon.  Some wiry Mariani guitar lines take it out. There are just 300 numbered copies worldwide and you can find yours here if you’re in Australia, or here if you’re not.

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The protopunk filth and the FURY

primitive 1969 76Sonny Vincent: Primitive 1969-76. Diamond Distance & Liquid Fury - Sonny Vincent (Hozac Archival)

Some would hide their earliest bands’ recordings in a dark place and hope nobody found them. Thankfully, not Sonny Vincent.

As one of the last New York punks still standing, Sonny Vincent criminally remains a well-kept secret. The music he’s made under his own name, and with a string of bands - most notably, Max’s Kansas City and CBGB graduates, Testors - is some of the best primal sound around. This collection of songs from his pre-punk bands, spanning 1969-72, does nothing to detract from that track record. 

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