Here’s a great 32-year-old article from SPIN’s archives, from around the time that I was getting into them. (Yes, I was late to the party and had to work my way back through the Twin/Tone albums.) The band had just parted ways with manager Pete Jesperson, fired lead guitarist Bob Stinson, and released one of their best albums, Pleased To Meet Me. Recorded right here in Memphis!
“When we started,” [Westerberg] says, pausing to sip from a midmorning Schmidt, “we definitely had a fear of success. We had a fear of everything. We were all very paranoid, and I think that goes hand in hand with the excessive drinking thing. We’d get drunk because we were basically scared shitless, and that snowballed into image. Now we’re a little more assured of what we’re doing. We’re not positive which way we’re going, but we think we know what mistakes lie ahead, and we’re trying to sidestep ‘em.”
Farewell To A Legend: Milo Ramone, The Conductor Of The Ramones, Has Passed Away At 83
Born Milo Sebastian Altenhöfen in 1936 in Forest Hills, Queens, Milo Ramone first made a name for himself in the flourishing 1970s NYC punk scene. He was known by musicians all over the city for his signature upbeat conducting tempo and DIY aesthetic, the broken piece of pool stick he used as a baton, the beat up barstool he turned into a music stand, and the wild, unkempt gray hair exploding out from the sides of his balding head. After bouncing from band to band, the middle-aged conductor crossed paths with the Ramones for the first time in 1974—and after seamlessly clicking with the group while filling in for their usual conductor during a legendary show at CBGB, he was officially asked to join the outfit. With the five original Ramones in place, the band was born, ready to set the world ablaze with hit after lightning-fast hit.
Check out “Twink” miming with The Pretty Things for a bewildered French TV audience. Ever heard of Twink? I hadn’t, so I poked around on Google. Nicknamed after a British hair product, Twink was a mime, drummer, close friend of Syd Barrett, and general scenester of the London psychedelic underground. He played drums with an early version of T. Rex, with Syd Barret occasionally, on one Pretty Things album, and with the Pink Fairies. In the early 70’s, he was in Hawkwind with Lemmy. His band The Rings were on the ground floor of the London punk scene in ’77. Some refer to their lone single, “I Wanna be Free” as England’s first punk record. It’s not very good compared to what was about to come from the Damned, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Clash, and Jam.
What led me to this video was my fondness for The Pretty Things, a very good British r&b band who never made any headway in the U.S. Their guitarist, Dick Taylor, had been in an early version of the Stones. Like the Stones, their forays into psychedelia were not always memorable, as you can hear above. You can hear them at their best here and here. Their raucous version of Roadrunner is my favorite cover of that song.
This evening Jody Stephens will be chatting about his favorite topic, nachos. Just kidding! Big Star, of course. I won’t be attending, but passing along in case any of you local bastards are interested.
The first batch of Fest 18 (that’s the number, not the year) bands has been announced and it’s a doozey. Jawbreaker is headlining, which blows my mind, but the rest of the line-up looks pretty great as well (Mariachi El Bronx, Dag Nasty, Lee Bains III, etc. etc.). Almost makes living in Pigville worthwhile. Almost.
There’s a special place in my heart for the first self-released Missing Persons EP. Although technically, it’s the 1982 re-release I love, the one that replaced the original EP’s “Hello, I Love You” with “I Like Boys.” At this stage in my life, I don’t know if it’s an entirely accurate memory, but it seems like we spent a lot of time blasting this in a friend’s car one summer.
Anyway, as we’re living in the Digital Age, I now present to you the videos for the songs from that glorious EP.
A few years ago, I was surprised to learn the true origins of “Rock the Casbah,” the only Clash single to make the top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100.
“Rock the Casbah” was musically written by the band’s drummer Topper Headon, based on a piano part that he had been toying with. Finding himself in the studio without his three bandmates, Headon progressively taped the drum, piano and bass parts, recording the bulk of the song’s musical instrumentation himself.
This origin makes “Rock the Casbah” different from the majority of Clash songs, which tended to originate with music written by the Strummer–Jones songwriting partnership. Upon entering the studio to hear Headon’s recording, the other Clash members were impressed with his creation, stating that they felt the musical track was essentially complete. From this point, relatively minor overdubs were added, such as guitars and percussion.
However, Joe Strummer was not impressed by the page of suggested lyrics that Headon gave him. According to Clash guitar technician Digby Cleaver, they were “a soppy set of lyrics about how much he missed his girlfriend”. “Strummer just took one look at these words and said, ‘How incredibly interesting!’, screwed the piece of paper into a ball and chucked it backwards over his head.”
Strummer had been developing a set of lyrical ideas that he was looking to match with an appropriate tune. Before hearing Headon’s music, Strummer had already come up with the phrases “rock the casbah” and “you’ll have to let that raga drop” as lyrical ideas that he was considering for future songs. After hearing Headon’s music, Strummer went into the studio’s toilets and wrote lyrics to match the song’s melody.
The version of the song on Combat Rock, as well as many other Clash compilations, features an electronic sound effect beginning at the 1:52 minute point of the song. This noise is a monophonic version of the song “Dixie”. The sound effect source was generated by the alarm from a digital wristwatch that Mick Jones owned, and was intentionally added to the recording by Jones.
Sadly, Headon was kicked out of the band for heroin addiction just four days before Combat Rock was released. Also, one of my friends had that same “Dixie” digital watch when we were in the sixth grade. He annoyed the shit out of us with it.