Monday, July 22, 2013

Is It Just Me Or Does This Song Suck A Little?

My friend Alex was back visiting and she dropped off some stuff she didn't need. In it was a burned CD with the only a label saying "Punk Anthems #2" on it. A bunch of songs I haven't heard in a while. Perfect. I listened to it in the car. Here's the song list.

1. Undertones - Teenage Kicks
2. Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK
3. Damned - New Rose
4. Buzzcocks - Orgasm Addict
5. Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes
6. Ruts - Babylon's Burning
7. Rezillos - Top Of The Pops
8. Generation X - Ready Steady Go
9. Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster
10. X Ray Spex - Identity
11. Bow Wow Wow - C30 C60 C90 Go
12. This Perfect Day - The Saints
13. Sid Vicious - My Way
14. Damned - Neat Neat Neat

Song #2 is the start of punk rock, essentially. forwarding through long, furious argument about New York Dolls, Ramones, Velvet Underground, Stooges... Debate it all you like, perception is reality and the song is what it is - ground zero for punk. Not a week of junior high and high school went by without me listening to it at least once. During the Sex Pistols reunion show in 1996 (aka Sham '96 to those too snobby to enjoy it) I had chills during the end of it. So why, after all these decades of listening to this song, am I telling you it's not all that good? Well...because it's not really all that good. For reference, I have re-ordered this list, best to worst.

1. Damned - New Rose
2. Buzzcocks - Orgasm Addict
3. Ruts - Babylon's Burning
4. Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster
5. X Ray Spex - Identity
6. Generation X - Ready, Steady, Go
7. Bow Wow Wow - C30 C60 C90 Go
8. Rezillos - Top Of The Pops
9. Undertones - Teenage Kicks
10. Damned - Neat Neat Neat
11. Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK
12. Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes
13. This Perfect Day - The Saints
14. Sid Vicious - My Way

"This Perfect Day" is on the second Saints album. The first one is top to bottom great but I don't even have the second one. "My Way" is a little stupid, even if I like it. I debated putting "Anarchy In The UK" after the Adverts song but I figured you would just dismiss the whole thing if I did that. You can make the case that Bow Wow Wow and the Rezillos are not straight up punk bands. You can lean on the fact that "Anarchy In The UK" wasn't written with the benefit of other punk rock songs serving as a blueprint. While you make that argument, remember that "New Rose" actually came out FIRST. To this day, I can't believe how good "New Rose", "Orgasm Addict", and "Babylon's Burning" are.

"Anarchy In The UK" starts with "right now" and then some goofy laughing. There's draggy parts (Steve Jones sounds better on almost every other song) and a lot of unnecessary vocal inflection. It lags behind most of the other songs on "Never Mind The Bollocks...". "Holidays In The Sun", "Bodies", "Pretty Vacant", "No Feelings" are easily better. OK, it's better than "Satellite" and "Liar". "Seventeen" has the "lazy sod" bit, which is pretty great, but I'll be generous and put it ahead of that one too. Otherwise, forget it. Even its own B-Side, "I Wanna Be Me", is better.

I guess I could change my mind on this. Maybe I'll start to love the non-cute Velvet Underground songs too. And don't think I hate it or the band. I still have this thing hanging in the living room.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Port Chester 1/19

No one else engendered this reaction but with him it seemed constant. Usually in a record or book store. Sometimes, if I had gotten closer, in my room. I don't know how many times I saw one of those girls, those Tesla Girls, pick up a record or magazine and see his picture and do the same thing. Her body weakened a little and she reached one hand out and touched his picture. In that moment I always felt the same thing. Inadequacy. Envy. Oh, definitely envy. Disappointment. All my hopes for worming my way into her heart relied on my ability to understand her better than the multitudes of very cool but loutish boys who were more attractive, charismatic, older, whatever. What chance did I stand when someone an ocean and a quiff away could do it better without ever even walking past her in the hall? What chance did all my attentive listening, art film suggestions and mixed tapes have when he could tell her what she felt before she even felt it for the first time? It seemed like a fool's errand to bother to hope. And the goddamned asexuality and vegetarianism. I still wonder how many of them named their boys Steven, a little secret they keep between themselves, Him and, of course, him. Coming up with some bogus reason it had to be spelled with a 'V'.

I saw him play last night. I have seen him over the years. I never saw the band, though. And I never will, if I am to believe him. I am forty now and he has been with me, never my nemesis as I once feared, since I was about thirteen. I stood with my friend Nicole, who has been with me almost as long.

it's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind

It took me a long time to practice this one. Nicole never had that problem. She was listening more carefully I guess. Why wouldn't she? She didn't have to deal with him trampling all over her youthful romantic possibilities again and again. The show went on and I was astounded by how good songs I had never heard sounded.

all of the rumours keeping me grounded, i never said i never said they were completely unfounded

These songs are great. Why did I stop buying his records? He was right all along so why did I stop listening? Suddenly, he changed shirts, threw the new one into the audience and put on another. Couple more songs and he would be done. He gave a short lecture about how the phrase "free gift" is redundant and then something like this :

we all die embarrassed, we all die trying to better ourselves, we all die hoping people think we're ok, so get on with it

and then

see the luck i've had can make a good man turn bad...

Would it be wrong to change the dog's name to Steven?