Showing posts with label Black Flag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Flag. Show all posts

CD Review: Prong – Songs From The Black Hole

CD Review: Prong – Songs From The Black Hole
eOne Music
All Access Rating: A-

Prong - Songs From The
Black Hole 2015
Question Tommy Victor's punk credentials at your own risk. It may lead to a "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" type of situation.

Once a sound man at New York City's legendary CBGBs in the late 1980s, Victor, the linchpin for the always incendiary alternative-metal device Prong, was practically embedded in what was a wildly combustible and intensely creative scene.

With a blistering new album of covers entitled Songs From The Black Hole, out via eOne Music, Victor and Prong revisit their punk roots, offering their own taut, high-speed renditions of songs from underground rabble-rousers Black Flag, Husker Du, Killing Joke, The Adolescents, Bad Brains and Fugazi, among others.

By turning the screws on these blasts of barely harnessed fury, Prong magnifies the propulsion and raging energy of Discharge's "Doomsday," Husker Du's "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely" and Bad Brains' "Banned in D.C.," while the pulse of Fugazi's slow-burning meditation on dying "Give Me The Cure" quickens, as Prong elevates its heart rate in a vigorous workout.

It's impossible not to notice the spotless production of Songs From the Black Hole, suggesting that Prong is somehow indulging in a sonic ritual purification of what is a surprisingly wide-ranging set of choice selections. The Morse-code guitars and chilly echo of Killing Joke's "Seeing Red" create an almost antiseptic environment, but in a remake of Black Flag's "The Bars," Prong takes great pains to restore all of the grit and unbearable tension of the original.

And although the disjointed version of the Butthole Surfers' "Goofy's Concern" is a slight misstep and their lukewarm rehashing of Neil Young's classic "Cortez The Killer" seems out of place, the mean grooves and tight riffs of Sisters of Mercy's "Vision Thing" – devoid of gothic blackness – are ruthlessly compelling. As is Songs From the Black Hole as a whole.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Agnostic Front – The American Dream Died

CD Review: Agnostic Front – The American Dream Died
Nuclear Blast
All Access Rating: A-

Agnostic Front - The American
Dream Died 2015
Anger management classes would be a waste of time for the seminal New York City hardcore faction Agnostic Front.

Worse yet, they might rob them of their raison d'etre, their vitriolic rage at almost anything and everything fueling their very existence. On The American Dream Died, album No. 11 for Roger Miret and company out soon via the Nuclear Blast label, they are mad as hell and extremely focused, and a pissed off Agnostic Front is one that demands you listen and listen good.

Spitting nails amid a frenzy of fast, aggressive punk and shouted Oi! mayhem and seething crossover thrash, Agnostic Front confronts head on a litany of socio-political issues on The American Dream Died, attacking police brutality, corporate greed, environmental catastrophe, the shameful neglect of down-on-their-luck war veterans and vicious warmongers with righteous indignation.

The hardest of hardcore bands, with the scars to prove it, Agnostic Front is as battle-tested as any outfit, slugging it out in close, sweaty quarters for 30 years in a scene notorious for violence. Agnostic Front wouldn't have it any other way apparently, declaring their undying commitment to and love of hardcore in infectious, gripping anthems "Just Like Yesterday," "Never Walk Alone" and the mid-tempo bruiser "We Walk The Line" as taut and sinewy as a young Bruce Lee. In similar fashion, they lament the soul-sucking gentrification of their hometown in the stirring and strongly melodic "Old New York."

While the short, sharp busts of "Police Violence" and "No War Fuck You" thrive on angry chaos and barely harnessed speed, and the title track is a blazing, straightforward punk missile shot at a variety of societal ills, "Test of Time" sees Agnostic Front charging headlong into a metallic, grindcore scrum, where grooves as hard as prison bars are locked and loaded. And although The American Dream Died is hardly a reinvention of hardcore or even a slight detour of any kind for Agnostic Front, a track like "Enough is Enough" can spring a surprising trap, its wildly disordered beginning giving way to strong, more menacing and shadowy currents.

As furious as ever, Agnostic Front continues to hone and sharpen their sonic attack, and The American Dream Died is like getting shivved over and over again in the yard.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Bl'ast! – Blood!

CD Review: Bl’ast! – Blood!
Southern Lord
All Access Rating: A-

Bl'ast! - Blood! 2013
As was made abundantly clear while waxing nostalgic about Sound City in his feel-good documentary film about the place, Dave Grohl plans to put the famed studio’s grand old Neve console – the one that brought to life the magic of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and Nirvana’s Nevermind – to good use.

Breathing new life into some long-lost vintage master tapes of Santa Cruz hardcore heroes Bl’ast was one of his first orders of business, and he takes a flamethrower to material that was already highly flammable, his remastering and mixing work enhancing the already concentrated violence and red-eyed fury of these unpredictable punk-rock seizures. And he’s just a bit player in this drama, as was William DuVall – now plying his trade with Alice in Chains.

Blood! is reportedly the only document of DuVall making sweet fiery hardcore with Bl’ast. Industrious rhythms and rampaging guitars that are thicker and wider than one would expect are what cause the sudden impact of Blood!, but don’t mistake activity for a lack of musicality. Still, raw power and unbridled fury course through its veins, as the aptly titled Blood! packs enough explosives into these combustible tracks to attract the unwanted attention of the ATF. From the first bruising, urgent rumblings and building momentum of “Only Time Will Tell” to the sharp turns negotiated throughout the blazing “Something Beyond,” the high-octane action of Blood! is breathtakingly fast, aggressive and relentless.

Even while Bl’ast cultivates a resonant, animalistic growl in guitar tone, something most old punks cared nothing about, on Blood! they engage in dizzying shifts of dynamics in “Ssshhh,” “Sometimes” and “Winding Down” while driving impossibly fast, but never recklessly, as they brake and stomp on the accelerator through the stop-start traffic of “Sequel.” Knowing exactly what direction they want to go, Bl’ast feverishly tears through the 1:38 “Poison” – tied for the shortest song on Blood! – as if they have three strikes against them and they’re being chased by California cops, but they never seem desperate or self-destructive.

Then again, jail might be preferable to the unsettling psychology of “Your Eyes,” made even more deliciously disturbing by heavy, almost sludgy, metallic riffs that rise up and look to the heavens for deliverance. If Minor Threat took more of a liking to Black Sabbath and explored slightly longer forms and staged more angular sonic ambushes, all while maintaining its muscular torque, they might have made the tempestuous, biting and brawny Blood! As it is, there are only a few hardcore acts with this kind of DNA, Black Flag being one of them. If Henry Rollins needs a transfusion, he might want to give Bl’ast – these raging sonic contortionists of the highest caliber – a call.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Toxic Holocaust – From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction

CD Review: Toxic Holocaust – From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction
Relapse Records
All Access Review: B-

Toxic Holocaust - From the Ashes of
Nuclear Destruction 2013
Joel Grind is from the wrong side of thrash metal’s tracks. Obsessed with death, satanic imagery and the ever-present specter of nuclear annihilation, Portland, Oregon’s Grind, a feral wild child who doesn’t even look old enough to drink, and whatever black thrash/punk sewer rats he’s able to find to play alongside him in Toxic Holocaust have wallowed in the filth and grime of the metal underground like demonic pigs in mud since 1999, content to bash away at insanely fast, primitive hardcore that’s best enjoyed while huffing ammonia in a janitor’s closet or shooting rats at the local dump.

And there’s no use in trying to civilize Grind, who seems to like residing in places that even those bound for hell would avoid, as the new 22-track Toxic Holocaust anthology From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction indicates. Rummaging through a land fill of caked-in-dirt demos, garbage-strewn compilations and vinyl-only splits with the likes of Municipal Waste and other scum-of-the-earth types, From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction is anything but clean and holy. It is vile stuff, indeed, and yet, however vulgar and utterly silly it all is, the trashy D-beats, cloudy production and sulfuric, blackened riffage of Toxic Holocaust are also irresistibly entertaining.

The product of too many hours spent under the influence of ‘80s metal hellions Venom, Bathory and Exodus, as well as punk violators Black Flag and Gang Green, Toxic Holocaust let it rip on raw, hellish speed-metal rides like “Created to Kill,” “Send Them to Hell,” “Never Stop the Massacre,” “Army of One,” and the fuzzed-out rampages of “Reaper’s Grave” and “Death Brings Death” – Grind’s vocals at times almost indiscernible, but always evil. Showing no love for Christianity, Grind and his minions pound the gnarly “Nuke the Cross” into the ground and discharge the high-velocity “666” without pity. “Bitch” and “Agony of the Damned” are more dynamic and heavy, showcasing Toxic Holocaust’s relentless drive and ability to downshift tempos in the blink of an eye.

In one sitting, it’s almost impossible to take it all in. Manuel Noriega would have given up and been grateful to face his fate after about five minutes of this. Still, although you wouldn’t want your mother to know you’re listening to this and even liking it a little, Toxic Holocaust is sort of fun, like a bad horror movie. It gets monotonous after a while and some diversity would be a welcome addition. A steady diet of From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction might drive one mad, but in small doses, it’s a guilty, even dangerous, pleasure, even if it does sound occasionally like someone is suffocating it with a pillow.

Peter Lindblad

Punk rock memorabilia starts a riot

Genre is one of the hottest in the field of rock 'n' roll collecting

By Peter Lindblad

Titled "Punk Girl CBGB's 1977," this Ebet Roberts
signed and dated archival pigment evokes
memories of the New York City punk scene. 
Punk rock’s time has come – at least with regard to music memorabilia. One of the hottest genres in collecting, records, photos, clothing, fanzines, fliers, pins and other ephemera from punk’s halcyon days are highly sought after by collectors.

In demand now more than ever, the rarest and most obscure punk memorabilia can fetch big prices. But, what’s out there? What’s the history of this outsider music and what bands dragged punk out of the gutter and made it a worldwide phenomenon? In this blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at the rise of punk and what collectors can expect to find when entering this particular world of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.

Rock ‘n’ roll had lost its way. At least that’s how the punks felt in the mid-1970s.

Reacting to the glitzy excess of mainstream arena-rock acts and the perceived pretentiousness of progressive-rock, there was an underground movement taking shape in the U.S., England and Australia that sought to make rock ‘n’ roll dangerous again, like it was in the ‘50s. The music was fast and furious, influenced by the bruising, riotous proto-punk of bands like The Stooges, The New York Dolls and the MC5, as well as the gritty, raw power of ‘60s garage bands.

Nowadays, the remnants of that revolutionary period in music history are highly sought after by collectors looking for the rarest and most interesting pieces of memorabilia that somehow survived the mayhem.

From the archives of the photographer
Godlis comes this vintage print titled
"CBGB's Bathroom 1976." 
Pinpointing exactly where or when punk started is a matter of intense debate. Some have said the U.K. punks were influenced by what was happening in New York City, where a grimy little club called CBGB’s played host to Television’s avant-garde guitar orchestrations, the Talking Heads’ arty funk, the Ramones’ supercharged blasts of fast, infectious pop-punk and Patti Smith spitting out evocative, highly literate street poetry against a back-to-basics backdrop of tense three-chord rock.

Overseas in England, a perfect storm of DIY, anti-conformist fashion, economic hardship, political and social anger and musical anarchy was coalescing around a snotty band of young men known as The Sex Pistols, who were managed by the master of the shocking publicity stunts, Malcolm McLaren. Seeing their sound and fury live was a life-changing experience for another one of Britain’s punk icons, Joe Strummer, who would go on to form The Clash with his future songwriting partner Mick Jones of the band the London SS. While the notorious Sex Pistols practically set the world on fire with their confrontational, and sometimes bloody, gigs and a debut album in Never Mind the Bollocks that blazed with white-hot intensity, it was The Clash who endured longer.

Imploding from within, as bassist Sid Vicious departed and then succumbed to a drug overdose after being implicated in the murder of his girlfriend, the Sex Pistols ground to a halt on a tour of America, while The Clash carried on, expanding the strict boundaries of punk to include elements of reggae, early hip-hop, and rockabilly, among other musical styles. They made classic albums like London Calling and their U.S. commercial breakthrough Combat Rock, before tensions between Strummer and Jones came to a head and Jones was fired. U.K. punk certainly didn’t die with the Sex Pistols or The Clash, as the U.K. produced a slew of exciting acts like The Buzzcocks, The Slits, The Adverts, Stiff Little Fingers, Chelsea, The Damned, Magazine, The Raincoats, Sham 69, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and other rabble-rousers. Post-punk outfits such as Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and more would add more gloomy atmospherics to the punk lexicon, and new wave acts added synthesizers to the mix for a more stylish sound.

This photo of former Black Flag
front man Henry Rollins was
taken at Toronto Edgefest II.
In the U.S., scenes were popping up in different cities all over the country. Los Angeles had the stridently political, uncompromising Dead Kennedys and X, a band that married outlaw country and punk in their own sort of musical shotgun wedding. Bands like The Germs and The Weirdos continued the L.A. tradition of wild and wooly punk rock, and gradually, the scene became more violent as punk morphed into hardcore and bands like Black Flag challenged their audiences with their fists as well as their guitars. The same thing happened in New York City, as punk’s originators fell by the wayside, and bands like Blondie were scooped up by major record labels and became part of the mainstream, with the advent of punk’s cousin, New Wave, sanding off some of punk’s rough edges to make a sound more palatable for the masses. Cleveland’s Pere Ubu established itself as one of the more innovative bands the genre has ever seen, and it was where The Dead Boys got their start, before migrating to New York City. Then, there was the Washington D.C. area, which had the Dischord house [actually in Arlington, Va.], the label formed by Fugazi and Minor Threat leader Ian MacKaye.

Other countries had their own burgeoning punk scenes, including Australia, where The Saints and Radio Birdman offered an edgy alternative to AC/DC. Canada had the politically charged D.O.A., led by Joey “Shithead” Keithley, and The Diodes. And there were plenty of other nations that had less-publicized punk scenes sprout up. Over the years, punk has assimilated itself into popular culture, with bands like Green Day, Rancid and the Offspring selling scads of records in the 1990s and the 2000s, leading purists to accuse them of selling out. Seattle’s grunge scene also had its day in the sun, with Nirvana, Soundgarden and others slowing punk’s full-steam-ahead aesthetic and making it heavier.

At its core, however, punk was always about thumbing its nose at the establishment and trying to do its own thing without corporate help of any kind. It flourished because of the passion, determination and intellect of writers and entrepreneurs who established their own magazines and independent record labels. As the title of a great documentary film on the life of Joe Strummer makes perfectly clear, the future of punk is unwritten. However, music like this always seems to find a way to survive.

Punk Memorabilia Collecting Overview
Here’s the thing about punk: It was never meant to last. It was all about burning as hot as possible for however long it was meant to exist, and when there was nothing left but embers … well, that’s life.
So, much of what punk produced – from clothing to gig flyers, promotional posters and cheaply produced 45s – was either destroyed along the way or greatly damaged, oftentimes intentionally by those owned the stuff.

Perhaps, that’s why the market for punk memorabilia has grown increasingly hotter in recent years – as proof of punk’s fairly recent growth as in the collectibles area, the venerable auction firm Christie’s held a punk/rock sale in late 2008 that generated $747,300 in earnings. Collectors have always chased mint-condition rarities, which, in turn, come with relatively hefty price tags. Not everything, however, is hard on the pocketbook. There are plenty of bargains out there for collectors who don’t want to blow the rent money on hard-to-find t-shirts or obscure 7” singles.

Buttons and badges are popular items, and even those of acts such as The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, and newer acts like Screeching Weasel come at reasonable prices – even if they’re in collections of individual bands. You might expect to pay between $10 and $20 for some. The money shelled out for gig flyers and promotional posters is also not completely outrageous. Though many didn’t make it through the madness, others did despite being so disposable. Early posters from the New York scene can go for $100 to $200, while flyers can range from $10 to $60 or more.

An exceptionally rare X-Ray Specs' promotional
album from 1978 that boasts 16 demo,
rehearsal and live songs.
Records are an interesting area. Some of the artifacts from the U.K. have actually been devalued by their appearances on CD collections and compilations. Still, there are a few that can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Being poor, punk bands and indie labels didn’t have the money to press more than 500 or 1,000 records at a time. With such limited runs, there simply aren’t many of these records around.

Other items of note include photos from the early days, magazines and fanzines, and perhaps the most expensive items of all, pieces of clothing. With its safety pins and Mohawk haircuts, punk was as much a fashion movement as it was a musical one, and the provocative designs worn by icons such as Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious and Joe Strummer, among others, are prized by collectors. Authenticated signatures of artists and band members will increase the value of pieces. As with everything, however, condition is critically important to the value of any piece.

Here’s a closer look at punk items that have collectors salivating:

An authentic "DESTROY" shirt from
Boy London, made famous by Johnny Rotten. 
430 King’s Road in the Chelsea district of London is one of the most famous addresses in punk. It’s where Malcolm McLaren opened the notorious store SEX, which sold bondage equipment, fetish gear and t-shirts that shocked the sensibilities of conservative Londoners with Nazi imagery and gay cowboys, among other things.

In 1975, McLaren took on the task of managing the Sex Pistols, and a year later, the shop was renamed as Seditionaries. From the beginning, when McLaren took over the 430 King’s Road storefront, he sold t-shirts designed by his then-girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. The Sex Pistols were often seen wearing Seditionaries clothing, as McLaren took advantage of the Pistols’ growing popularity. Other big-name punks such as Adam Ant and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders were frequent guests. However, the couple eventually split, and they closed the Seditionaries store in 1980.

Westwood designs – shirts with the word DESTROY and swastikas splashed across the front being perhaps the most famous of them all – sold in the Seditionaries store are in high demand and t-shirts can go from $100 to $1,000 or higher.

SEX wasn’t the only King’s Road shop vying for attention from punks. Around the same time, Stephane Raynor ran Acme Attractions with John Krevine. The legendary punk filmmaker Don Letts ran the store at one time and it catered to people like Bob Marley, Boy George, Hynde and Patti Smith. However, Raynor and Krevine closed the store in 1976 to focus on their Boy London clothing line, which had its own King’s Road store. Boy London designs are also highly sought after.

Vintage original band t-shirts from the likes of The Clash, The Ramones and other more iconic punk acts are also prized by collectors; if it can be proven that they worn by any of the members or any other big-name artists, the price goes up.

Of course, designers didn’t just splash controversial slogans across t-shirts. They also made custom blazers, leather jackets, patches, and dress shirts, which featured taboo images like swastikas, blood and anarchistic sentiments. Much of it, of course, was ripped and torn and shredded beyond recognition, but you can still find punk clothing items from punk’s heyday.  

A rare 7" pressing of The Dictators' 1977
"Hey Boys"  single from Asylum Records.
Indie labels with little financial backing have always had to spend their money wisely. To that end, often when they pressed punk rock records, they often only produced 500 to 1,000 at a time, most of the time releasing 7” singles or 45s.

Bands like horror-punks The Misfits made good use of this business model. Their 45s are some of the most valuable around, often going for as much as $500. Others by bands like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks can also be worth hundreds, as are some records from labels like Touch & Go, SST and Dischord. Seattle’s Sub Pop label did the same thing, but went one step further by starting a singles club, where members would receive a 45 in the mail of bands on the label. Some were on colored vinyl or featured artistic sleeves. Early releases by Nirvana are sometimes worth hundreds or even more than a thousand dollars.

Going back to punk’s beginnings, some of the most expensive and rare records are relics that era, including one of the true holy grails among punk records, the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen/No Feelings,” which had gone for six figures – the AM and Town House pressings fetching $17,000 and $23,000, respectively. In 2012, a rare 7-inch promotional acetate of the single put out by the LTS label went for an astounding $20,000 on the U.K. eBay auction web site. In part, what makes Sex Pistols’ singles so valued is the fact that were continually given the boot by a number record labels, who pressed only a handful of their singles.
There are other valuable punk records out there, including XTC’s unreleased picture sleeve for “Science Fiction/She’s so Square” (Virgin 1977 VS 188), which has brought in more than $2,500. Going for under $1,000, Joy Division’s An Ideal for Living EP (Enigma 178 PSS 139) and Generation X’s unreleased picture sleeve for “Your Generation/Day by Day” (77 Chrysalis CHS 2105) – featuring Billy Idol, before peroxide – have fetched $800 and $500, respectively.

When it comes to records, the real money is in original recordings, not reissues. There are some characteristics of original recordings that set them apart – non-glossy sleeves, the lack of distributor names on record backs, and cheap plain labels. Early non-major label releases and obscure 45s are worth the most.

Photos and art prints
Visually, punk has provided some of the most compelling pop culture images ever, and those who documented early scenes in New York City and the U.K. with their cameras have gained fame for their work. Bob Gruen, for example, has taken some of the most iconic rock photography ever, including well-known shots of John Lennon. Being a New Yorker, he also was a fixture on the Big Apple’s punk scene, snapping classic black-and-white and color images of The Ramones, Jayne [or Wayne] County, Blondie and other New York City punk acts, as well as artfully shot images of The Clash playing live.

Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys
is the subject of this archival
pigment print from Ebet Roberts.
Gruen had competition in New York City. Eileen Polk, Godlis and Ebet Roberts also produced some of the most compelling punk photography to come out of that scene, with Godlis famously framing the graffiti-scrawled CBGBs bathroom for posterity. While they had the New York City scene covered, Edward Colver focused his lens on California’s vibrant punk community. One of the most famous punk rock photos ever was taken by Colver. It shows a stage diver doing a flip into a crowd of punks and was featured in the movie “American Hardcore.”

Ray Stevenson, Erica Echenberg, Denis O’Regan and Adrian Boot are some of the biggest names in punk photography in the U.K. Prints, negatives, and slides are all sought after by collectors.
Certain punk artists also achieved notoriety, including the subversive Jamie Reid, who may be best known for the ransom-note style lettering associated with Sex Pistols’ records and his “God Save The Queen” design, which featured a safety pin through her royal highness’s nose and swastikas over her eyes. Some of his murals are exceedingly rare.

Gig flyers and posters
This original D.O.A./Frightwig 1985
 German/Swiss tour poster is a rarity.
One of the most affordable options for collectors, gig flyers and posters were subject to all manner of destructive forces. Stapled to bulletin boards, telephone poles, kiosks, walls and any other places bands could think of to promote punk shows, flyers were often crudely drawn, Xeroxed or designed with stark, outrageous images intended to provoke reactions. Many, however, were damaged beyond repair.
U.K. flyers for the likes of The Slits, Generation X and the Pogues are in demand, while ones created for the aborted Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour are highly prized and worth several hundred dollars.

When it comes to availability, U.S. punk flyers might be somewhat easier to find. In true DIY fashion, many were designed by the band members themselves, although some artists found their own niche in flyers. Raymond Pettibon, responsible for many of the shocking and sometimes humorous flyers put out for Black Flag shows, is one of them. Others for bands like The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Samhain, Agnostic Front, Youth Brigade, TSOL, Fear, The Germs, Crime, Negative Trend and more certainly are attractive to collectors. One for The Germs designed by their drummer for a show at the Whisky that featured a controversial Hitler Youth image is considered among the most sought after flyers around.

More expensive generally, and often featuring more sophisticated art work, punk posters of such acts as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, Adam and the Ants, The Damned, D.O.A., The Buzzcocks, Blondie, The Ramones, TV Personalities, Elvis Costello and hundreds of other punk acts were used mostly to promote new records. So, they were often posted on the walls of record shops, but many were often tossed away over time. Still others could be found at bus stops and concert venues. Whatever the case, flyers and posters are pieces of history that reflect the rebellious and challenging artistic impulses of punk.

Magazines and fanzines
Issue No. 11 of the U.K. 'zine
Ripped & Torn.
Swept up in the frenzy of the punk movement, many fans and devotees wanted to become part of the action. True to the DIY aesthetic of punk, many started underground magazines or fanzines as a means of documenting what was happening in their respective scenes.

In the U.K., Sniffin’ Glue, founded in 1976, was one of the earliest and most outrageous ‘zines, and though it was only around for a year, it made an impact. Grammar wasn’t much of a concern, and swearing was common, but it is remembered more for its chronicling of the early U.K. scene – mostly through its pictures. And there were other U.K. ‘zines, many of the cut-and-paste variety, that left their mark, including Zig Zag, Dangerous Logic, International Times and Ripped & Torn.

The U.S. had its share of ‘zines as well, with Search & Destroy and Paranoia covering the L.A. scene, while in New York, the aptly named Punk kept an eye on what was happening there. One of punk’s most well-known literary figures, Legs McNeil, helped found the Punk ‘zine.

From the 1977 Dutch "Monty" punk series comes this
collector's card of the Sex Pistols.
Like other musical genres, punk produced its share of unusual promotional items that were designed to market the bands. Along with the aforementioned buttons, pins and badges, all sorts of weird oddities are out there just waiting for a home. Finding them requires a little research on eBay and the Internet.

While there are far too many to mention here, a few of the more rare and interesting pieces include a mini baseball bat that served as a promotional piece for The Ramones’ “Beat on the Brat” single and a letter opener for the band’s second studio LP Leave Home – both of which can go for $500. Another fun item is a jigsaw puzzle that was made for The Clash’s Give ‘Me Enough Rope album. Collectors’ cards also were popular items.

Overall, punk continues to explode as a rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia market. As with most collectibles, rarity and condition set the price. No matter what you collect, however, the hunt is always the most enjoyable part of the hobby. 


Backstage Auctions: Featured Punk Rock Memorabilia Available For Sale

CD Review: Corrosion of Conformity - Eye for an Eye

CD Review: Corrosion of Conformity - Eye for an Eye (reissue)
Candlelight Records
All Access Review: B+
Corrosion of Conformity - Eye for an Eye 2012
Eye for an Eye had been missing for so long that many Corrosion of Conformity followers had given up searching for it, fearing that it was lost forever. Released in 1983, the furious debut from these punk-metal crossover firebrands had been out of print quite possibly since the Reagan administration, it undoubtedly having burned out rather than faded away. Then, a funny thing happened.
The Animosity lineup of Corrosion of Conformity – perhaps the most combustible combination of rumbling, roiling hardcore and Sabbath-inspired riffage that underground metal has ever produced – returned with a vengeance in early 2012, their self-titled LP a satisfying contrast of sludge (“The Doom”), sinewy grooves (“The Moneychangers” and “What We Become”) and speed (“Leeches”) that shifts tempos easily and often and immerses itself in the thick, heavy psychedelia of the Soundgarden-like “Come Not Here.” Finding audiences hungry for COC’s meaty riffs, Candlelight Records thought that the time was right to revisit the thrashing, combative Eye for an Eye and tack on the Six Songs with Mike Singing EP for good measure.
Corrosion of Conformity - S/T 2012
Featuring the original COC lineup of singer Eric Eycke, Mike Dean on bass, guitarist Woody Weatherman, and drummer Reed Mullin, Eye for an Eye is … well, a bit misunderstood. Often characterized, and rightly so, as a high-velocity hardcore record that wraps itself in Henry Rollins’s Black Flag, Eye for an Eye is, indeed, that and bruising, frenzied tracks like “Broken Will,” “Rabid Dog,” “Coexist,” “Dark Thoughts” and “Excluded” – all checking in at under 2:50 – that race at a breakneck pace won’t disabuse anybody of that notion. It is a raw and reckless album, with playing that is fast and loose, and the violence of “What” and the growling viciousness of “Negative Outlook” – as angry as a badger protecting its home – are also punk as all get out. But, there are moments where this version of COC betrays its metal inclinations, and not just when they deliver a snarling, torn-and-frayed take on Judas Priest's cover of Peter Green's “Green Manalishi.”
Before “Indifferent” threatens to blow apart, as it does in the choruses, the verses crawl menacingly, quickly building in intensity until all hell breaks loose. Many of the song intros consist of trudging, brawny riffs wrenched into difficult, tortured shapes, the kind The Melvins might sculpt out of the twisted metal wreckage of a car crash. And on “L.S.” – a song that has all the wicked charm of a murderous hillbilly dragging a corpse out behind a shed – COC clearly reveals a fundamental, if still in its formative phase, understanding of metal dynamics and a taste for brutality, even more evident on the raging “Rednekkk.” Tweaking Southern-rock conventions, it’s an absolute nuclear meltdown of a song.
Eye for an Eye is a ragged record, the product of a band in its infancy that is just beginning to question its identity. The Six Songs with Mike Singing EP, originally released in 1989 and featuring very old tracks with Mike Dean on lead vocals for the only time in the history of COC, presents a cleaner, more developed vision of COC’s punk-metal hybrid, as fine specimens of early thrash-metal like “Center of the World,” “Citizen” and “Not for Me” burn white-hot and surge toward their fiery ends with hostility and ferocious guitars. Growing up as left-leaning political and social animals – always spoiling for a fight in lyrics that take on opposing points of view with a ferocious intelligence – in the land of Jesse Helms and other right-wing demagogues must have driven COC to madness. Thankfully, they’ve harnessed that wild, unpredictable energy of Eye for an Eye and exacted their revenge, expanding their scope of influences to include more soulful elements and constructing well-defined, varied song structures that could withstand earthquakes. They’re still a force to be reckoned with.
-            Peter Lindblad

Metal Evolution - "Grunge"

Metal Evolution: "Grunge" - Episode 107
Sam Dunn
VH1 Classic

All Access Review:  B+

Seeing it as the province of dumb jocks and sex-crazed hair-band charlatans, one-time Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur steadfastly resists the notion that Grunge, in its original form at least, had much, if anything, in common with heavy metal. Fastbacks bassist/lead vocalist Kim Warnick, while admitting to some nebulous connection between the two genres, insists that Grunge artists never thought of themselves as having a single cloven hoof in the metal world. And when the conversation turns to what musical black arts influenced Soundgarden, Kim Thayil still bristles at the suggestion that he and the rest of the band based their recipe of sonic sludge around equal parts Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. This even though Chris Cornell, bare-chested and sweating machismo from every pore in old live footage, bellows like Robert Plant and Thayil’s own guitar riffs seem stained with the same industrial soot and smoke that smudged those conjured by Tony Iommi at the dawn of Black Sabbath.
The relationship between Metal and Grunge is, indeed, a thorny one, as the amiable and insatiably curious Sam Dunn discovers in the latest installment of his acclaimed “Metal Evolution” series, “Grunge,” which aired on Saturday on VH-1 Classic. At the mere suggestion that they were, in fact, cozy with one another, Grunge’s OGs are likely to squirm in their seats and turn defensive. Then again, in talking to Dunn, Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of The Melvins freely admit a love of metal, and Tad’s Kurt Danielson owns up to fawning over Iron Maiden and the first Van Halen record, while, at the same time, being blown away by the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks – anything to tweak the parents. As for Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, he’s not at all ashamed to confess to borrowing a few tricks from proto-metal monsters Blue Cheer and Motorhead, as well as Sabbath.
So, what to make of all this falderal? That there happen to be strong opposing opinions as to Grunge’s place in the growth and development of metal is hardly surprising – especially to Dunn. After all, getting everyone involved in the Grunge movement to agree on anything regarding heavy metal and the role it played in its formation is next to impossible. That’s par for the course, though. Grunge was never the most homogenous of genres, even if a lot of acts did share an affinity for angst-fueled emotions.
The great thing about Dunn is he doesn’t set out to prove an already established hypothesis. There is genuine sincerity in this probe, because he himself is not entirely sure that Grunge belongs in heavy metal’s family tree. What emerges from Dunn’s quest is a sense that Grunge artists don’t really see themselves as having much of an impact on metal because they don’t feel a part of that scene. That view isn’t shaped by Dunn through creative editing or his own prejudices; instead, it extends naturally and organically from the extensive interviews he does with journalists, writers, producers, and artists who observed and participated in the early ‘90s explosion that blasted Grunge out of Seattle’s underground and into the public consciousness of a nation.
It’s not just that Dunn is comprehensive in the range of interview subjects he corrals or the issues related to the episode’s topic he attempts to cover. Time being the harsh mistress it is, there’s always something that’s going to be brushed under the rug or left out entirely. For example, in “Thrash,” as a reader so passionately pointed out to me, no mention was made of Overkill or Metal Church, and Hanoi Rocks should have received way more attention for their groundbreaking sound and look in “Glam.” As for “Grunge,” it’s the women who get short shrift. L7, Hole (aside from the Auf der Maur comments) and The Gits – none of them get any play, and that’s a glaring omission. But, remember, Dunn’s aim is not to present a history of Grunge, although he does, in fact, do a fine job of weaving its tale with subtlety as almost a sort of sub-plot. Establishing the “who, what, where, when and how” is not so easy when, first and foremost, there are important questions to be settled.
And there are moments of dazzling insight, including writer Michael Azzerad (“Our Band Could Be Your Life” and “Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana”) citing Black Flag’s 1984 Seattle tour stop in support of the LP My War as a turning point for Grunge, the line of demarcation where local bands weaned on metal found that punk could slow things down, become unremittingly heavy and take on an apocalyptic feel. There’s DJ and journalist Jeff Gilbert and Sub Pop co-owner Jonathan Poneman confirming that Grunge messiah Kurt Cobain did, indeed, incorporate not only the pop sensibilities of The Beatles and the punk nuclear fallout of bands like Flipper into his tortured oeuvre, but also welcomed in the massive riffage and controlled chaos of metal. Or, how about Steve Albini, the famed indie producer who guided Nirvana during the In Utero sessions, proclaiming that while heavy metal was often all about flamboyance and camp, it did breed virtuosos, while Grunge artists practiced a more “functional musicianship.” And at the same time, another of Grunge’s more ubiquitous producers, Jack Endino, provides a lot of the background information about Seattle’s music history – specifically, the energy and spark of rebellion found in the music of garage bands The Sonics and The Wailers – and links it to the wide scope of Grunge’s sonic achievements.
All of this and more is here, and once again, Dunn skillfully meshes the interview footage with rare live and video clips of bands like Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden (check the dark, brooding, and heavy performance of “Loud Love”) and Black Flag, among others, while comparing Pearl Jam’s more classic-rock leanings with the rest of the genre’s more punk-ish or metallic progenitors. And with the briefly told story of Alice In Chains, he is able to establish that connection between metal and Grunge, once and for all.
Toward the end of “Grunge,” Dunn tackles a sore subject with Grunge’s main innovators, like Arm, Endino and Osbourne, and that is the rise of “Grunge lite” acts like Creed and Nickelback. Fearlessly, Dunn asks point blank how people like Arm feel about Grunge creating this more “pedestrian,” as Osborne calls it, Grunge monster, and Arm expresses his misgivings, saying that if he had anything to do with it, “Just kill me.” Likewise, the men of Creed try to distance themselves from the real thing, boasting in fact that they are not Grunge at all and that they feel they’ve created something new. It’s a little hard to swallow when the singers of Creed and Days Of The New try so, so hard to sound like Eddie Vedder – doing their “yarling” form of singing, as Endino calls it. It’s an uncomfortably humorous segment, and an issue that needs to be addressed, though the popularity of Nickelback gets perhaps more time than it deserves, even if Alice In Chain’s Jerry Cantrell does give them his stamp of approval. It’s a minor drawback in what is another in-depth and compelling installment of a documentary series that is fast becoming must-see TV for anybody interested in aggressive, rebellious music – as heavy metal is. 
- Peter Lindblad
Metal Evolution - Grunge
View the Full Episode -  Right Here, Right Now

Episode Summary - Sam explores grunge, a.k.a. the Seattle Sound, from a decidedly fresher approach, inspiring two fundamental questions: "Why did grunge polarize the Metal community?" and "What are the true roots of grunge?" While grunge was enjoying its meteoric rise, replacing the MTV face of Metal that was glam with its own brand of telegenic, easy to digest "rebellion," diehards within the Metal community struggled to adjust. We'll explore how fans and musicians felt a profound sense of disillusionment with the ascent of grunge, alienated by its lyrical obsession with depression and endless self-examination, and suspicious of the flannel-wearing façade that was deemed antithetical to the ethos of Metal. At the same time, there were other metallers who felt a connection with grunge-legends like Geddy Lee and Sabbath's Bill Ward discuss their admiration for the Seattle Sound, and how they incorporated elements of grunge into their own music and in doing so, shed light on a profound irony that was at play. We'll also reveal why the leaders of grunge were publicly shunning their Metal roots, preferring to advance the dubious notion that their music was an offspring of the American punk movement. But, through plain-spoken dialogue with Sam Dunn, surviving purveyors of grunge like Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell and Thurston Moore, will, for the first time ever, "come out of the closet," and own up to the enormous debt-technically, viscerally and aesthetically-they owe to Metal giants like Led Zeppelin, Blue Öyster Cult and Black Sabbath. In Episode 6, the history of grunge will be rewritten.

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Collectible Posters: 

Grunge Posters
Metal Posters