Saturday, 25 October 2014

Glenn Branca ‎– "Symphony No. 1 (Tonal Plexus)" (ROIR (Reachout International Records) ‎– A125) 1983

If Beethoven,Bach, and Bartok were around in the late twentieth century, they would have used the fashionable instruments of the day,and reflected the world around them in sound? I have loved to see what Bach could have come up with when confronted with a Modular Moog system for example. Also of course they would have had to live their lives as a 20th century person,to absorb all the influences ,sophistications and neuroses of late modern man.
It would,of course , now read as Beethoven, Bach,Bartok and Branca. A kind of Crosby,Stills, Nash and Young of the neo-classical,except without the cocaine fuelled blandness of those Laurel Canyon numpties.
Branca,is a true modern classicist,using the symbolic instrumentation of his age, electricity,guitars and the drum kit, to recreate the dissonant noise of the city. The constant drone of the traffic,the rhythmic noise of the production line, and the Doppler effect of passing sirens. There are sequences that recreate the paranoia and fear of the Cold War era in which this was written, as massed electric guitars sound like a thousand approaching planes and missiles raining warheads on a doomed civilisation; if civilisation applies to what humanity has created for itself?
Symphony Number One,is the best Branca symphony in my humble opinion,featuring all his old chums, Lee Renaldo,Thurston Moore,Barbara Ess,and Wharton Teirs. It retains the excitement of his early work, holding onto the urgency of its rock roots,without becoming indulgent,as happens in later works. Also,its Lo-Fi recording quality adds to the authenticity of genuine classical music that has its roots on the streets rather than some stuffy conservatoire in Salzburg.


Music in four movements for multiple guitars, keyboards, brass and percussion. This is a live set originally recorded July 18-19, 1981 at the Performing Garage, 33 Wooster Street, Soho, NYC.


A1 Movement 1 11:45
A2 Movement 2 15:45
B1 Movement 3 17:29
B2 Movement 4 10:09

Friday, 24 October 2014

Glenn Branca / John Giorno ‎– "Who You Staring At ?" (Giorno Poetry Systems ‎– GPS 025) 1982

You gotta love this album sleeve!?
Branca and Giorno looking hard on the cover has to be one of the better album covers. “Who You Staring At?”

“You!” we reply, knowing that one of these tuff guys is a poet,and the other a composer, “Now wotcha gonna doo about it?”

The answer is play an atonal ballet score for a modern dance troupe, and whine out some experimental poetry; guaranteed to make any sane tough guy turn and run.

The Branca piece is up to his usual high 1980's standards changing pace and intensity like a rollercoaster into tomorrows weather.

John Giorno bleats out some of his irritating poetry over a cool mud club house band backing track, with his trademark strained throaty whine. It would have been better if he rapped over a couple of Glenn Branca compositions instead,which is what I expected before I played this LP! It very rarely works, blending rock with poetry,it forces the complicated rhythms of the spoken word to be forces into a four/four time frame. The best example of this process of ruining a poet is John Cooper Clarke being forced to slow down his machine gun delivery to the speed of a pea shooter to fit in with the Invisible Girls medium paced funk. Still kinda like it though,especially when compared to the moronic garbage spewed out by the vast majority of so-called rappers,like that complete CUNT Kanye West,or that idiot Jay Zee (shit isn't that my initials?).


A1 Glenn Branca Music For The Dance Bad Smells 16:25
B1 John Giorno Stretching It Wider 6:44
B2 John Giorno We Got Here Yesterday, We're Here Now, And I Can't Wait To Leave Tomorrow 10:30


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Glenn Branca ‎– "The Ascension" (99 Records – 99-01LP) 1981

The follow up to Lesson No.1 was the five track Lp “The Ascension”,including Lesson No.2,which took Branca one more step closer to doing his massed guitar symphony stuff. This still has its roots in dissonant avant rock,but there are longer epics that could easily have been part of one of his later “symphony's”. This could be his best record?


A1 Lesson No.2 4:59
A2 The Spectacular Commodity 12:41
A3 Structure 3:00
B1 Lightfield (In Consonance) 8:17
B2 The Ascension 13:10

DOWNLOAD the ascension today HERE
DESCEND the ascension HERE!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Glenn Branca - "Lesson No. 1" (99 Records – 99-01 EP) 1980

Before Branca went completely down the “I'm a serious composer” avenue. He produced a couple of near flawless Avant rock miesterwerks of the No Wave era. A kind of proto-post rock without the melancholia. The first lesson of this ground-breaking style was “Lesson No.1 For Electric Guitar”. A definite statement of intent in a short constructed composition that replaces orchestra with a dissonant 'Rock' ensemble, that more than likely included at least two future members of Sonic Youth.The drumming is the same snareless pounding found in The Static and The Theoretical Girls. B-side, “Dissonance”, is as you'd expect, an exercise in Guitar Dissonance,as Glenn explores the more noisy side of his personality.
A true innovator in modern composition,and few of his future lengthier works can fail to wilt in comparison to the urgency,excitement, and raw power of his early ensemble pieces for electric guitar.

Lesson No.1 For Electric Guitar 8:12
Dissonance 11:40


Monday, 20 October 2014

Theoretical Girls - "Theoretical record 1978-81 (Expanded Die or Diy? Edition)" 2014

I've been in lots of theoretical groups (and theoretical girls),but its when they became real that the problems began (with the girls too). Theoretically, the Theoretical Girls, featuring Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth producer Wharton Tiers, should be terrible, at least in the power pop driven environment of 1978. Detuned guitars,monotonous song construction, simplistic repetitive drumming, virtually no vocals,all adding up to a mudslide of driving noise. There were no records(one single?) either,just live performances to be experienced once then forgotten.

For a non-rock group they sure could make an exciting driving rock like effect;best encapsulated in the ultimate distillation of the rock essence in a two minute tune, the eponymous “Theoretical Girls”. Where the lyrics consist only of their name and the endless 1,2,3,4 count-in,repeated through out. This posthumous collection all the disparate shards of their recorded existence from 1978 to 81,with live recordings and the odd released and unreleased studio effort. Pure dissonance you can dance to. After this Glenn Branca started to have pretensions in becoming a serious composer with his “Symphonies”,and is now taken very seriously indeed. It was left to his fans,Sonic Youth, to carry it on (or rip it off?)and develop this into a kind of pop music.

Track Listing:

1. Theoretical Girls (Live)
2. Computer Dating 
3. Contrary Motion 
4. Europe Man 
5. Lovin In The Red 
6. Mom & Dad 
7. U.S. Millie 
8. No More Sex 
9. Keyboard Etude 
10. Electronic Angie (Short Version) 
11. Chicita Bonita 
12. Polytonal 
13. Parlez-Vous Francais 
14. Theoretical Girls (Studio) 
15. You Got Me
16. Fuck Yourself
17. TV Song
18. Glazened Idols
19. You.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Static ‎– "Theoretical Record" (Theoretical Records ‎– TR 02) 1979


I have released many theoretical records in my dreams, but not many of them reached the sublime heights of the sole theoretical release by The Static. The profoundly accurate “My relationship” has to be in my top ten songs of all time. In two words,and less chords,or dis-chords, it accurately recreates the awful tension of emotional/sexual relationships perfectly. The horrendous subtle,and unsubtle, control of the person you 'Love' or 'Possess'. The petty jealousies, the little irritations that grow incrementally into Titanic know what I mean? Hopefully you don't identify with this tune and have a blissfully unproblematic and happy 'Relationship'. If so, well done. Then listen to this and understand the other side of the coin. I'm not Bitter, honest!


A My Relationship
Bass, Backing Vocals – Barbara Ess, Drums, Backing Vocals – Christine Hahn, Guitar,Vocals - Glenn Branca
B Don't Let Me Stop You
Drums – Christine Hahn, Guitar – Barbara Ess, Guitar,Vocals - Glenn Branca

Download theoretically HERE!

or an Alternative Theory HERE!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Static - "Live at Riverside Studio's, London, 02/24/1979"

One thing that always annoyed me about the UK Punk Rock scene was this obsession with the 'No Future' 'Career Opportunities' 'Right To Work' nonsense. The suggestion that if only we all had a job,a few quid in the pocket, and new TV, everything would be alright. It was a simplistic message to explain away their anti-social behaviour,alongside Boredom(yaaaawn); and attracted the kind of 'Punk' that produced the embarrassing cliché that adorn many postcards today.The UK Subs and Sham 69 are typical of this so-called street punk approach,dumbing it down to the level of conventional politics. No-one thought that 'No Future' applied to the Royal Family as well ,or sing about the right NOT to work(except maybe Crass of all people). No Future applies to everyone,and the horror of the human condition specifies that we are all future wormfood. Having a career changes nothing about this hopeless situation. An angle more than adequately covered by the nascent Industrial scene in the UK,but not really addressed in Punk Rock UK.
Wire,to their credit were never part of the general Punk Rock direction,and as a result were popular in the USA,who's Punk equivalents never touched on this ,frankly, socialist approach. Something that was alien to them completely. The yanks liked the bands who rocked like the Damned,X-Ray Spex,and the Stranglers, or the bands who looked to the future like Wire, the Pop Group, and the Gang of Four(they obviously never listened to the lyrics,but 'they rocked maaaan').
The early New Yawk 'punk' scene had little in common with the UK variant, and I'd hesitate to call it 'Punk'. Proto-Punk were The Ramones, Heartbreakers etc, dressed down guitar rock were Television, Patti Smith post-Hippie,and proto-post punk were Talking Heads. Only Richard Hell and the Voidoids got close,probably more like a prototype No Wave band if anything?
Which brings us to what I consider to be the real US equivalent of UK Punk/Post-Punk, the aforementioned NO-Wave clique. This encapsulated the real 'end of the world' feel that Punk Rock should have been about. The discordant noise that repulsed trad rock fans really put the torture of the human condition into a sonic aspect. They didn't need or want to be liked ,there was just an unstoppable desire to spew forth this horrible noise that they had trapped inside. Something that Americans have always been good at, and the emotionally repressed Brits never, without the help of booze and drugs. “I'm so Bored with the USA” sang The Clash about a country that only evokes extreme feelings. Whether it be hate or love, one thing that you cannot say about the USA is that its 'Boring'?! No-Wave was these extremes of emotion in action,but still had more in common with Industrial and so-called Post-Punk in th UK ,than the Punk Rock itself; but nevertheless the closest the US ever got to the perfect punk philosophy embodied.
Mr. No-Wave was undoubtedly Glenn Branca, co-creator of the detuned Guitar onslaught concurrent with the more music schooled Rhys Chatham. His first trio, The Static, unleashed this monstrous noise from 1977 to 79 to various audiences in the New York downtown arty scene. Largely under represented on vinyl,except one great single, and a few compilation appearances, I have managed to unearth a live concert from 1979,ironically, in London,at the very arty Riverside studios. Another bizarre trait of the Americans is that they always have to leave it to the Brits to appreciate the good things they have first, and send it back to them before they realise what they had!? Without the UK the only music they'd have in the charts would be the complete and utter shite of Billy Ray Cyrus and the Eagles. Now that would be 'Boring'!But as always it would be the extreme end of boredom,very American?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Wire - "The 1976 Demo's" (unofficial release)

Prince Edward and Antonin Artaud were listening to some random punk rock numbers, when Edward slipped on Wire's 1976 Demo's LP.

“Who are these rowdy yobbo's making this god awful racket?” said Artaud.

“Why, that'll be Wire. One of the cornerstones of intelligent art punk ,and prolific Avant gardist musicians.” countered Edward Windsor smugly.

“Nah! Can't be them,'cus their songs don't have guitar solo's in 'em!This band is positively festooned with crappy guitar solo's!” added Artaud spitefully.

Then, accompanied with farting sound effects, in strutted an irate Alfred Jarry.

“ Course it's facking Wire yoo Cant! They sacked off the wanker who did the fackin' solo's, and edited 'em out of the fackin' songs! This was obviously recorded before this historic decision was effected-ahhhhh!”

A stunned silence ensued before Jarry added,pataphysically of course,

“Yoo Fackin' Kaaaaannnnnntttsssss”

And exited stage front into the first rows of seats of an emptying theatre.

“Well fuck me!” exclaimed a clearly agitated Antonin Artaud.

“As I am a closet Homosexual predator I will later....oh.....and by the way, did you know that Prince Harry's real father is obviously James Hewitt and absolutely NOT prince Charles?”

 Thank you Antonin, Edward, and Alfred, for putting us straight on several facts there,especially the one about Harry Hewitt!

This artifact, reveals a very different Wire to the one we know and love from Pink Flag onwards.Just look how hard and dishevelled they look on the cover!There are some patently terrible songs here,how right they were to sack that awful lead guitarist and his sub-pub rock solo's. 
In less than a year and a half's time, Wire were to progress rapidly on to Post Punk masterpiece “Chairs Missing”; such pace of change as to mirror the Beatles from “Love me Do” to “Tomorrow Never Knows”(the track that was the beginning of modern music?). In Wire's case its from “Mary is a Dyke” to “Former Airline”,which only took two years compared to The Beatles four!

This isn't the worst Demo's collection from the Punk annals,that pedestal goes to Joy Division's 'Warsaw Demo's',especially the track “Gutz”which is even worse than Colin Newman busting a blood vessel on the track “Bitch”. He must have been drunk!

Track Listing:

A1 Prove Myself
A2 Mary Is A Dyke
A3 Bad Night
A4 Can't Stand It No More
A5 Love
A6 Midnight Train
A7 What Is This Feeling Called Love
A8 Tv
B1 Lost Boy
B2 Johnny Piss Off
B3 After Midnight
B4 Fade
B5 Bitch
B6 Roadrunner

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wire ‎– "Live At The Roxy, London - April 1st & 2nd 1977"

With stuff like '154' , 'Y', 'Closer', 'Metal Box', and other genre defining releases of the so-called 'Post-Punk' period; I, for one, never called these records/bands Post-Punk, because as far as I was concerned the 'Punk' era hadn't ended. These were Punk records; not 'Punk Rock' i'll admit,but definitely a progression of the original Punk ethos. Progressive punk is, for me, a better description. Post-Punk was shit like Bauhaus, ABC, Duran Duran, and all that 'New Pop' crap.The stuff that gave us the phrase,'Like Punk Never Happened'.

The most progressive of the class of '77 was Wire,who in the space of three years evolved from probably the purest manifestation of the 'Punk' sound, to virtually Avant Garde. 
On EMI's 'Live at The Roxy' compilation from '77, they stood out as the most different,and intelligent of the groups featured. Yet their songs most accurately reflected the Year zero philosophy of those punk svengali's down the Kings Road. Short,Sharp, Shock rock, with absolutely NO guitar solo's. These songs really did make the Pistols sound like Bad Company, with Albert Steptoe on Vocals (to paraphrase Captain Sensible);which in retrospection they actually did! The band members didn't behave like Rock Stars either, another Punk prerequisite! Looking at the photo's of Wire at the Roxy,they didn't dress like a punk was supposed to either; just have a butchers at Lewis's shirt! This ,of course, makes them Punk as Fuck!

So in tribute to this pûrity of objective,here is Wire as they were first heard by the public; both sets from April fools day, and the following day, live at the hallowed Roxy Club in Covent Garden,in 1977. One has to say that the April the Second performance is by far the superior one,with added bite and aggression. Even Graham Lewis can be heard calling a punter a 'Fucking Little Shit' with his clipped downtown Grantham, Lincolnshire ,baritone. Slightly tailing off halfway through the 'shit' bit. Oooooh those filthy punk rockers with their spitting and their habits!?

(Its interesting to see how EMI boffin's edited bits of dialogue together for the compilation LP.The same happened to Johnny Moped's performance,which you can check out in it's entirety HERE)

1. The Commercial
2. Mary is a Dyke
3. Too True
4. Just Don't Care
5. Strange
6. Brazil
7. It's So Obvious
8. Three Girl Rhumba
9. TV
10. Straight Line
11. Lowdown
12. Feeling Called Love
13. NYC
14. After Midnight -
15. 12XU
16. Mr Suit -
17. Glad All Over

1. The Commercial
2. Mary is a Dyke
3. Too True
4. Just Don't Care
5. Strange
6. Brazil
7. It's So Obvious
8. Three Girl Rhumba
9. TV
10. Straight Line
11. Lowdown
12. Feeling Called Love
13. NYC
14. After Midnight -
15. 12XU
16. Glad All Over
17. Mr Suit

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Desmond Simmons ‎– "Alone On Penguin Island" (Dome Records‎– DOM 33.1 ) 1981

Just as Colin Newman records sound like Wire, but without Gilbert and Lewis, and Dome sounds like the stuff lurking in the background of a Wire album,but without Newman,Gilbert, Gotobed and Lewis. This album by Colin Newman band member,Desmond Simmons, on Dome Records Incidentally; sounds like a Colin Newman impression without any member of Wire involved at all!(although it was produced by Gilbert and Lewis,Colin Newman guests on a few Vocals,and Robert Gotobed Drums!)

Never having heard this until recently,(thanks to Rainier,can we call you 'Prince'?), I was surprised this made it to Dome Records? As Dome was set up to see how far one could go and still be able to call it music! I paraphrase Bruce Gilbert here, but there is no evidence of this objective on Desmond’s record. Its fairly straight forward post-punky experimental Colin Newman's solo stuff; which this sounds almost exactly like,but not as good!? Still a fairly entertaining listen,(especially,”Caste from Hawaii”, “Phone Ringing (version 2)” and “To be Lost”), which is the primary objective of popular music anyway is it not?


A Caste From Hawaii
To Be Lost
Beacon Hill Six
April Waits
The Gymnast
Bing Crosby's Hat
Man The Lifeboats
Phone Ringing
By Air Or By Sea
Alone On Penguin Island
(With CD bonus tracks)


Colin Newman ‎– "Not To" (4AD ‎– CAD 201) 1982

The third solo album, and thankfully the Band return,including Robert Gotobed,a guest appearance from old buddy Bruce Gilbert, and Dome records recording artist, Desmond Simmons. Songwriting makes a come back also with some Newman originals,a Graham Lewis penned number(You,Me,and Happy), and even some old Wire tunes(5/10,We Meet Under Tables) that never made it to the recording studio proper. Probably his best album,full of quality avant-pop of wire-esque proportions,only let down by an 'orrible Beatles cover to close side two.


Lorries 3:51
Don't Bring Reminders 3:27
You, Me And Happy 2:37
We Meet Under Tables 3:47
Safe 2:34
Truculent Yet 3:49
5/10 3:32
1, 2, 3, Beep, Beep 2:14
Not To 3:33
Indians! 3:05
Remove For Improvement 4:07
Blue Jay Way 3:11

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Colin Newman ‎– "Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish" (4AD ‎– CAD 108) 1981

Colin Newman's attempt at an experimental album turned out to be like his first solo album, but without any vocals!? This would be ok if the music could stand up on its own merit,but it's nothing more than backing tracks for tunes that were never written! He must have had a tape full of demo's that never got finished,and thought that rather than write a new album he'd use these for the second solo record instead. A easier way to compete with the prolific production rate of his former colleagues. He does a Mike Oldfield and plays all the instruments himself,as all the band on “A-Z” had been sacked off,luckily, for us, to return for the next record.

A kind of post-punk elevator music,that is ultimately......very boring? It has a certain period charm,but Colin should have stuck to what he does best; slightly experimental pop songs.


Fish 1 2:31
Fish 2 1:49
Fish 3 3:04
Fish 4 4:58
Fish 5 4:05
Fish 6 2:17
Fish 7 2:30
Fish 8 4:07
Fish 9 3:45
Fish 10 3:01
Fish 11 1:58
Fish 12 3:34


Colin Newman ‎– "A-Z" (Beggars Banquet ‎– BEGA 20) 1980

I know we're straying off the true DIY path somewhat,but I feel obliged to push forward the three Colin Newman solo efforts. Wire were incredibly influential figures for the disenfranchised young person who wanted to make interesting music,and the only way was to do it themselves!
Newman was the working class member of the group,and always the most 'Pop' orientated among his art school buddies in Wire. This is evident on his inaugural LP, “A-Z”, which is basically ,Wire, without the background sonic footprint of the lads from Dome.
I first heard this album via one of those in-house BBC video's on the Old Grey Whistle Test, for the track “B”. I assumed that all the song titles would be letters from A to Z, but was disappointed to find that “B” was the sole appearance of the alphabet on the whole record. The songs however were as inventive and memorable as anything on “154”, with “B” being one of the weakest. Here hide the melodies that were missing from Gilbert and Lewis' numerous releases in 1980,something you can tap your foot to,and hum along after it stops playing. Is that such a bad thing? It's certainly more difficult to create than endless drones and formless ambient Industrial workouts. Colin Newman was undoubtedly the craftsman of the group, and its proven on this and his third effort “Not To”. Arty pop that a larger common denominator can find something to cling onto. Better still, merge this with a Dome record,and you've got perfect Avant-Pop; aka Wire.


I've Waited Ages
& Jury
Order For Order
Life On Deck
S-S-S-Star Eyes
Seconds To Last
But No

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cupol ‎– "Like This For Ages" (4AD ‎– BAD 9) 1980

Yet another Gilbert and Lewis pseudonym was Cupol,which was a sort of urbane urban ethnic version of Dome. A prototype Dome,with prototype drones,and hints of something ethnological lingering in the backwoods and ,more obviously, in the artwork. All this on a 12incher that plays at 33rpm on one side and 45rpm on the other. This can lead to some interesting speed experiments when not concentrating. Unfortunately ,the limitations of digital files means that the playback speed is frozen in a binary straitjacket.

The closest Gilbert and Lewis ever got to a commercial single; which is,not very.


A Like This For Ages 4:31
B Kluba Cupol 20:28