It's 2018 and we still need Lunch

LYDIA 1 by Jasmine HirstJasmine Hirst photo.

Lydia Lunch doesn’t particularly care whether people are offended by her art.

From her beginnings in New York no wave outfit, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, to her spoken-word performances, to her collaborations with Rowland S Howard in Shotgun Wedding, Swans’ Michael Gira, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Bob Quine (Richard and the Hell and the Voidoids), right through to her more recent profane expositions on the United States under Donald Trump, Lunch’s self-defined brief has been deliberately and avowedly confrontationalist.

In her own words, Lunch is a conceptualist, exploring concepts that highlight the exploitation and marginalisation of the individual in contemporary society, the typically patriarchal and oppressive discourse wielded by institutions of power.

If you can’t stand the heat in Lunch’s artistic kitchen, go find yourself a fast-food media joint and starve on the processed, intellectually bankrupt crud that masquerades as entertainment.

In May 2018 Lunch returns to Australia with her Retrovirus concept, trawling across her 40-year career with the aid of Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Chrome Cranks), Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers) and Algis Kizys (Swans). I spoke to Lydia Lunch in her sometime home town of New York City.

Forty years after the not so great "Lethal Weapons" rock and roll swindle

lethal weapons frontCorporate con or well-meaning act of benevolence? History tends to deliver a verdict of the former. for "Lethal Weapons", the 1978 compilaiton album of Australian "punk". 

"Lethal Weapons" was a product on an offshoot of major Australian label Mushroom (the same people who brought you Chain, Skyhooks and the Sunnyboys) and it was clearly a cynical attempt to commercialise underground music scenes then burgeoning in Melbourne and Sydney, especially.

Compiled by would-be A & R man Barry Earl, the album was notable for its eclectic cast which included The Boys Next Door (soon to become The Birthday Party), JAB, The Survivors,  whose members would go onto Sacred Cowboys, The Moodists, Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and the Bad Seeds. 

Trevor Block went in search of many of the original protagonists in bands that signed to Suicide. We're reprising his article to mark 40 years of "Lethal Weapons", and the decade since its CD re-issue. 



Doll Dreams and Heartbreak: Jerry Nolan biographer Curt Weiss and that wild ride

Jerry Nolan

Telling the tempestuous and tragically short life story of ex-New York Dolls and Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan was always going to be a formidable challenge. American author Curt Weiss has succeeded with "Stranded in The Jungle. Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride", the unvarnished biography of one of New York rock and roll's most mercurial figures. 

It's an account of a man whose flaws were seemingly as large as his talents. Nolan was the pre-eminent rock and roll drummer of his era but his life was scarred by drug addiction. His death at 45 - almost certainly AIDS-related, according to "Stranded In The Jungle" - came hard on the heels of that of his bandmate Johnny Thunders, and closed a time in NYC that we won't see again. The book's theme is that Nolan's playing skills and style were admirable; his addiciton and treatment of others much less so.  

Weiss' book takes us  through the underbelly of rock and roll on a trail littered by used syringes, stymied ambition and squandered opportunities. Importantly though, "Stranded in The Jungle" makes the place of the Dolls in punk rock's continuum crystal clear. And is impossible to put down.

Curt Weiss consented to talk about his book from his Seattle home. Here's the lowdown.  

First Lady of Soul, PP Arnold, looks forward to renewing our acquaintance

pp arnold live

“It’s been a long journey,” laughs PP Arnold down the line from her home in Madrid, as she apologises for a long answer. It's taken us through her days singing in England in the early 1970s, through to a brief reunion with her friend and collaborator Barry Gibb in the United States in the late 1970s and onto  to her present-day career, with her continuing to sing professionally, both solo and as a backing singer.

“It’s pretty hard condensing 50 years of your life into a few minutes!”

Patricia Cole - the name PP Arnold was bestowed by photographer Gered Mankowitz in London in 1966 - was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts and was an unlikely pop star. Married and with two young children by the age of 17, Cole’s career trajectory commenced when a couple of friends suggested she audition for a vacant spot in the Ike and Tina Review, as one of Ike and Tina’s backing band Ikettes.

These are a few of Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes's favourite things

andrew innesPrimal Scream is back in Australia for the first time in six years this month, on the back of recent albums "More Light" (2013) and "Chaosmosis" (2016) but focussing on their 30-year back catalogue.

Co-founding member and guitarist ANDREW INNES spoke to the I-94 Bar's EARL O'NEILL this week and expounded on a handful of topics that are close to his heart...

My First Records

My mum used to come home with a big pile of seven-inch singles that were a bit beaten up. I think they were ex-jukebox; all sorts of things, Beatles and Stones but strange country and western records, comedy records...so I was exposed to wide spectrum of music. Apparently before I could read I could tell which song it was by the colour of the label and the shape of the words.

FLASHBACK: When Lipstick Killers stalked the earth

lipstick killers bondiDown to Kill: Onetime Filth bassist Martin Joyce with future Lipstick Killers Peter Tillman. Mark Taylor and Dave Taylor.

FLASHBACK: May 29, 2001 - Sydney music fans are in for a special treat. On May 11, one of the best bands of the late 1970s and early '80s Sydney "Detroit" scene, the Lipstick Killers, re-form for one show only. 

The occasion is a benefit for their original drummer David Taylor, who has been tragically injured in a car accident.

Taylor was also a member of the seminal punk group that spawned the Lipstick Killers, the Psychsurgeons, who were as raw and confrontational as bands come. As regular support to Radio Birdman at the latter's Oxford Funhouse (along with the Hellcats, fronted by Died Pretty singer Ron Peno), they grabbed what shows they could in a still resistant Sydney scene. That was until their singer Paul Gearside was set upon - mid gig - by a pack of Hell's Angels. He departed and the band picked up Peter Tillman, frontman for the even more extreme Filth. A change of band name later and the Lipstick Killers were born.

Messin' With The Kid

kid congo promo shotGuess who's coming to dinner? Kid Congo Powers (right) and the Pink Monkey Birds.

Kid Congo Powers’ musical career is a lens through which can be seen some of the most intense and evocative music of the last 40 years. 

Born Brian Tristan in the Los Angeles suburb of La Puente, Kid Congo Powers famously met Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the line at a Pere Ubu concert. Pierce was the president of the LA chapter of the Blondie Fan Club; Powers was the president of local chapter of The Ramones Fan Club. Pierce recruited Powers to join his fledgling band, Creeping Ritual, later to become The Gun Club. 

In 1980 Powers joined psychobilly band The Cramps, who’d recently moved to LA from New York (it was Cramps lead singer Lux Interior who bestowed Brian Tristan with the moniker Kid Congo Powers). 

FLASHBACK: Tomorrow Will Be Fine: Reflections on the Sunnyboys with Richard Burgman

TV Richard

FLASHBACK: September 21, 2004 - Short-lived but incredibly influential, Sydney's Sunnyboys were one of the first 1980s Australian bands to bridge the commercial gap between inner-city hipness and a wider audience. Coalescing from the ranks of several inner-Sydney bands whose brief existences spanned the turn of the decade (more on that later), they bobbed their heads up on an exploding music scene with a debut EP on the Phantom label. 

Mixing gritty '60s-influenced rock songs with the "wise beyond his years" melancholic lyricism and exuberant pop hooks of songwriter-guitarist Jeremy Oxley, they almost immediately signed to a major label and hit national status with their self-titled debut album.

FLASHBACK: Wayne Kramer and the fight against mediocrity

wayne kramer epitath promoFLASHBACK: First posted October 16, 1999: It's been quite an odyssey for Wayne Kramer. From 1964 to 1972, he was point man and Fender guitar terrorist for the legendary MC5, the Ur-American garage band turned psychedelic radicals whose high-energy jams prefigured much of the next 30 years of rock and roll dementia.

Kramer sat out a couple of years at the end of the 70s in Federal penitentiary on a drug charge, but resumed his career when he landed back on the street in 1979, playing in Gang War with Johnny Thunders, recording with Was (Not Was) and others.

Then in 1995, when a lot of people had written him off, he roared back into action with an album on Epitaph entitled "The Hard Stuff". Since then there have been three more Epitaph albums and a plethora of side projects.

Brother Wayne joined me at the bar on three different occasions, twice from his home in Hollywood, California and once from the L.A. studio where he's currently producing an album for Damned founder member and former Iggy Pop sideman Brian James.