Sunday, June 28, 2009

Song of the Day - Oingo Boingo 6/27/09

Oingo Boingo - Grey Matter #21 on My Player

Oingo Boingo was an American New Wave band. They are best known for their influence on other musicians, their soundtrack contributions and their high energy Halloween concerts. The band was founded in 1972 as a performance art group called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and from 1976 it was led by songwriter/vocalist Danny Elfman, who later achieved substantial renown as a composer for film and television.
The group's format changed twice. In 1980, it changed from a semi-theatrical music and comedy troupe into a
ska-influenced New Wave octet and shortened their name to Oingo Boingo.[1] In 1994, the band reshuffled its lineup, adopted an alternative rock sound and rechristened themselves Boingo. The band retired in 1995, having reverted to the name Oingo Boingo.

The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, formed in late 1972 by Richard Elfman, was a musical theater troupe in the tradition of Spike Jones and Frank Zappa, performing an eclectic repertoire ranging from Cab Calloway covers to instrumentals in the style of Balinese Gamelan and Russian ballet music. The name was inspired by a fictional secret society on the Amos 'n' Andy TV series called The Mystic Knights of the Sea. Most of the members performed in whiteface and clown makeup, and a typical show contained music ranging from the 1890s to the 1950s, in addition to original material. This version of the band employed as many as 15 musicians at any given time, playing over 30 instruments, including some instruments built by band members. Few recordings from this period exist, although they released a novelty record about kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, "You've Got Your Baby Back."
As Richard Elfman's interest shifted to filmmaking, he passed leadership of the band to younger brother
Danny Elfman, who had recently returned from spending time in Africa playing violin and studying percussion instruments. They gained a following in Los Angeles, and appeared as contestants on The Gong Show in 1976, winning the episode they appeared on with 24 points out of a possible 30 (and without getting gonged).[2] The band appeared in the 1977 movie "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." Their appearance was in the dream sequences of the main character.
When the group began to move away from its cabaret style towards a more pop/rock format, Richard Elfman made a film about the band,
Forbidden Zone, which was released in 1980. Filmed in black and white with a cast mostly made up of band members and friends, the movie's music and visuals elaborated on the spirit of the band's concerts. In one scene, Danny, as Satan, sings a version of Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" with modified lyrics integrated into the plot of the film. In another, Richard sings the 1920s novelty song "The Yiddishe Charleston." The movie attained cult status and provided a springboard for the film and music careers of Richard and Danny.
Various reasons were given for the band's transformation from musical theater troupe to rock band, including cutting costs, increasing mobility, exploring new musical directions (such as Danny's interest in ska and New Wave), and a desire to perform music that didn't need theatrics.[3] There was some confusion about what name the band would use. In the 1978 animated short "Face Like A Frog", by Sally Cruikshank, the band's song "Don't Go In The Basement" is credited to The Mystic Knights. The name was shortened to Oingo Boingo for the Rhino Records Los Angeles rock and New Wave compilation, L.A. In, which included their song "I'm Afraid."
By this time, Richard was no longer a group member, and the band had coalesced into an octet: Danny Elfman on lead vocals;
Steve Bartek on guitars; Richard Gibbs on keyboards; Kerry Hatch on bass; Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez on drums; and Leon Schniederman, Sam "Sluggo" Phipps, and Dale Turner on horns. Early success for the group came in 1980 with the song "Only a Lad" from their eponymous EP. The song aired frequently in Los Angeles on KROQ and complemented the station's then-unusual New Wave format. Although the song was classified as New Wave and was compared to Devo, Oingo Boingo defied easy categorization. Their use of exotic percussion, a three piece horn section, unconventional scales and harmony, and surrealistic imagery was an unusual combination.
Following regional success of "Only a Lad," the group released its first full length album, also titled
Only a Lad (and featuring a new recording of the song), in 1981. Oingo Boingo also appeared in the 1981 film Longshot, performing their unreleased song "I've Got To Be Entertained". The band, recording for A&M Records, released albums in 1982 (Nothing To Fear) and 1983 (Good For Your Soul) that drew comparisons to Devo and later, Wall of Voodoo. At this point, new manager Mike Gormley, who had just left the position of VP of Publicity and Asst. to the Chairman of A&M, negotiated a release from the label and signed the band to MCA Records. The first release was officially a Danny Elfman solo record in 1984 (cleverly titled So-Lo); it was actually a group effort released under Elfman's name. Subsequently, the band would record under their own name for MCA.
With the move to MCA, the band made two personnel switches: Mike Bacich took over on keyboards from departing member Richard Gibbs, and John Avila replaced Kerry Hatch on bass. Oingo Boingo appeared in a number of soundtracks in the early to mid 1980s, including Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which features "Goodbye, Goodbye". Their best-known song, "Weird Science", was written for the John Hughes movie of the same name, and was later included on their 1985 album Dead Man's Party.
Later, the band made an appearance playing their hit "Dead Man's Party" on stage in the movie
Back to School. Four more songs from the album Dead Man's Party were used in soundtracks: "No One Lives Forever" was featured in Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, "Stay" (in the Boingo Alive version) was used as the theme music for the Brazilian soap opera Top Model, "Same Man I Was Before" was used in My Best Friend Is a Vampire, and "Just Another Day" opened the 1985 film adaptation of S. E. Hinton's That Was Then, This Is Now. Beginning with 1985's Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Danny Elfman had been scoring major films with increasing frequency, including almost all of Tim Burton's films.
Oingo Boingo's 1987 album BOI-NGO didn't make a huge impression on the charts. After this album, Bacich was replaced by new keyboardist Carl Graves. The band's 1988 release
Boingo Alive was actually recorded live on a soundstage, with no studio audience, and contained a selection of songs from earlier albums, plus two new compositions. The Boingo Alive track "Winning Side" became a #14 hit on US Modern Rock radio stations.
After being dropped from MCA, the band officially shortened their name to Boingo, and reshuffled their lineup somewhat. Graves was dropped (after recording "Lost Like This"), and added were Warren Fitzgerald on guitar, Marc Mann on keyboards, and Doug Lacy on accordion. Boingo's lone self-titled album was issued on Giant Records in 1994. Though the band was officially a ten-piece ensemble, only five members (Elfman, Bartek, Avila, Hernadez and Fitzgerald) were pictured in the album's liner notes, and the guitar-oriented album used the keyboards and horns of the five remaining members sparingly, and excluded the horn section entirely from live performances of the period. The quintet was often backed by an orchestra conducted by Bartek, and which featured prominent cello by Fred Seykora. The Boingo album also continued in the less party-friendly vibe of Dark at the End of the Tunnel, although it contained the modern rock hit "Hey!" Reverting to the Oingo Boingo name and restoring the horn section, the band embarked on a brief farewell tour in 1995, culminating in a final annual Halloween performance at the Universal Amphitheatre. The final concert is available on both audio and video recordings.
Following the band's dissolution, frontman Danny Elfman has continued to find success in his career writing film scores, particularly in collaboration with director Tim Burton. Elfman almost exclusively employs Oingo Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek as orchestrator. His film scores have included Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Good Will Hunting, Men in Black, Spider-Man, Big Fish, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and dozens more. Elfman also wrote the themes for more than a dozen TV series, including The Simpsons, Batman: The Animated Series, Desperate Housewives, Tales from the Crypt, Sledge Hammer!, Dilbert (TV series), and The Flash (TV series).
John Avila and Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez were two members of the trio Food For Feet. They also formed the rhythm section of
Tito & Tarantula, a Los Angeles band fronted by Tito Larriva of The Plugz and the Cruzados. Avila and Hernandez also joined Larriva and guitarist Stevie Hufstetter in a one-off project band called Psychotic Aztecs. The Aztecs released one album on the Grita label called Santa Sangre. After the breakup, bassist John Avila, guitarist Steve Bartek, drummer Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez, and saxophonist Sam Phipps (along with Doug Lacy and other musicians) formed a band called Doug & The Mystics. They recorded one album, New Hat, which included a cover of the Oingo Boingo song "Try to Believe", original songs, and covers of songs by Frank Zappa and other artists.
During the 2005 Halloween season, Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez put together an Oingo Boingo tribute show, joined by former Oingo Boingo members Steve Bartek, John Avila, and Sam "Sluggo" Phipps, at the
Grove of Anaheim. Standing in for Elfman was Bt4.[citation needed] In 2005, John Avila, Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez and Steve Bartek joined the list of performers on the soundtrack of 2003 re-imagination of the sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica. Richard Gibbs joined as well, and is credited as both a performer and composer. Their performances can be heard in seasons 2 and 3, and will likely be heard on subsequent seasons of the series as well. During the 2006 Halloween season, there were two Johnny Vatos Tribute to Halloween shows, one in Los Angeles and one in Orange County, with Vatos, Bartek, Avila, Phipps, and Legacy and Bt4.
In early 2007, Danny Elfman said there would not be a reunion. He has irreversible hearing loss and is worried that playing live would exacerbate it. He stated that some other members of the band may also suffer from the condition.
As a small tibute to the band, Southern California based Blizzard Entertainment included character references to some band members in the starting area for undead characters "The Forsaken" in the immensely popular World of Warcraft PC game. New adventurers can find skeletons with names such as Daniel Ulfman, fitting to one of the bands running themes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Song of the Days - Various 6/20 - 6/26

Hey!! anybody out there - Anybody care ?? Well sorry for the absence - been preoccupied with other things. This enttry is to catch me up on the days lost so I will give 7 songs to add to my list. Here they are:

Camouflage - Stan Ridgeway #14
Lillian - Depeche Mode #15 (I know it's not that old - It's a cool song thought)
Twilight - U2 #16
Vanessa Vascilating - Slow Children # 17
Situations - Ceta Javu #18
Lava - The B-52's #19
Blind Vision - Blancmange #20

I'll Keep on it from now on - Sorry for no input to groups and songs ~~ Next time

I'm out BC

Friday, June 19, 2009

Song of the Day - The Damned 6/19/09

The Damned - "Alone Again Or"
#13 on My Player

The Damned are an English punk band formed in London in 1976.[4][1] They are notable for being the first punk rock band from England to release a single ("New Rose"), an album (Damned Damned Damned), and to tour the United States. The Damned later evolved into one of the forerunners of the gothic genre.[2]
They have incorporated numerous styles into their music and image, including: garage rock, psychedelic rock, cabaret, and the theatrical rock of Screaming Lord Sutch and Alex Harvey. Lead singer Dave Vanian's vocal style has been described as similar to a crooner.[5] The Damned have dissolved and reformed many times, with Vanian as the sole constant member. However, the lineups have always included either guitarist Captain Sensible and/or drummer Rat Scabies, who are both founding members. The current line-up includes Vanian, Captain Sensible, Monty Oxy Moron, Pinch and Stu West.
Dave Vanian (David Lett), Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns) and Rat Scabies (Chris Millar) had been members of the band Masters of the Backside, which also included future Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde. Brian James (Brian Robertson) had been a member of the punk band London SS, who never played live but included musicians who later found fame in The Clash and Generation X. Scabies knew James through a failed audition as drummer for London SS. When the two decided to start their own band, James and Scabies had invited Sid Vicious and Dave Vanian to audition to be the singer of The Damned. Only Vanian showed up, and so he became the frontman of the band.
The Damned played their first gig on 26 July 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club. Organized by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, the gig was a two-day event billed as the "100 Club Punk Festival" and also included such early punk rock bands as The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Subway Sect, Buzzcocks, Chris Spedding & The Vibrators and the French band Stinky Toys.
They were the first of the London punk bands to release a single on the
independent record label Stiff Records. That single, "New Rose", was described by critic Ned Raggett as a "deathless anthem of nuclear-strength romantic angst".[7] Vanian's deadpan intro — "Is she really going out with him?" — was borrowed from The Shangri-Las' 1964 "Leader of the Pack". The B-side of "New Rose" was a faster version of The Beatles' "Help!". Their first album, Damned Damned Damned, was the first album released by a British punk band, and it included several minor hits.
In 1977, The Damned became the first British punk band to tour the United States. According to Brendan Mullen, founder of the Los Angeles club
The Masque, the Damned's first tour of the U.S. found them favouring very fast tempos, helping to inspire the first wave of U.S. west coast hardcore punk.[8]
In March 1977, The Damned opened for T.Rex on their final tour. The Damned then recruited a second guitarist, Lu Edmunds. This expanded line-up unsuccessfully tried to recruit the reclusive Syd Barrett to produce their second album Music For Pleasure. They settled for Barrett's Pink Floyd bandmate, Nick Mason, who they reported was generally uninterested in the task. Music for Pleasure flopped critically and commercially and the band broke up, ending their relationship with Stiff Records.
The former members of the band worked on a series of brief side projects and solo recordings, all making little commercial impact. The Damned soon tentatively reformed, but without Brian James, who had been the group's main songwriter. Originally they performed as The Dimmed and The Doomed to avoid potential trademark problems. Captain Sensible switched to guitar and
keyboards, and after a brief period with Lemmy of Hawkwind and Motörhead on bass for studio demos and a handful of live appearances[9], the bassist position was filled by Algy Ward, formerly of The Saints. The band signed a deal with Chiswick Records, and went back to the studio to record another album.
Vanian's vocals had by now expanded from the high-
baritone barks of the early records to a smooth, proto-Gothic crooning style. The Damned had established a dark, melodic style that was sometimes fast and loud, and at other times relaxed with dominant keyboards.
The Damned released a series of singles leading up to 1979's
Machine Gun Etiquette, and later a version of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", with a new Damned song, "Rabid", on the B-side.
Machine Gun Etiquette featured a strong 1960s
garage rock influence, with Farfisa organ in several songs. Recording at Wessex Studios at the same time as The Clash were there to record London Calling, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones made an uncredited vocal appearance on the title track. Fans and critics were pleasantly surprised, and Machine Gun Etiquette received largely positive reviews; Ira Robbins and Jay Pattyn described it as "A great record by a band many had already counted out".
Ward left the group in 1980, to be replaced by Paul Gray, formerly of Eddie and the Hot Rods. The Black Album was released later that year, the double album's centerpiece being the theatrical 17-minute "Curtain Call". It would be their last album for Chiswick.
In 1981, The Damned released Friday the 13th, a four song E.P. on NEMS.
In 1982, The Damned released their only album for
Bronze Records, Strawberries, featuring new full-time keyboardist Roman Jugg. At this time, Sensible was splitting his time between The Damned and his own solo career, which had seen early success in the UK with the surprise number one hit "Happy Talk" in 1982. Consequently, the group's next album was a one-off side project recorded without the unavailable Sensible: a soundtrack to an imaginary 1960s movie called Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy.[11] This limited-run album of 1960s cover songs had the band billed as Naz Nomad and the Nightmares.
In 1984, The Damned made a live performance on the
BBC Television show The Young Ones performing their song "Nasty", featuring new bassist Bryn Merrick and both Jugg and Sensible on guitar. Sensible would play a last concert with the band at Brockwell Park (from which a bootleg called Captain's Last Stand was issued), before leaving to pursue his solo career full-time, Roman Jugg taking over his spot as guitarist.
From the beginnings of the band, Vanian had adopted a vampire-like appearance onstage, with chalk-white makeup and formal dress.[12] With Sensible gone, Vanian's image became more characteristic of the band as a whole. The Damned signed a contract with major label MCA, and the Phantasmagoria album followed in July 1985, preceded by the UK #21 single "Grimly Fiendish".
In January 1986, the non-album single "
Eloise," a cover of a 1968 hit by Barry Ryan, was a #3 chart success in the UK, the group's highest chart placing to date.
However, Phantasmagoria's November 1986 follow-up,
Anything, was a commercial failure, although MCA did include one of its tracks ("In Dulce Decorum") on the soundtrack release of Miami Vice II.
Late in 1987 The Damned began to work on a new album for MCA, but the result of these sessions remain unreleased as the record contract was dissolved. Two of the new songs ("Gunning For Love" and "The Loveless And The Damned") were later re-recorded by the
Dave Vanian and the Phantom Chords side project. James rejoined the group temporarily for a few live appearances, some of which appear on 1988's Final Damnation. Following this album the band disbanded again

During their hiatus,The Damned name was afforded homage, when two groups each covered a Damned song: Guns N' Roses recorded "New Rose" for their "The Spaghetti Incident?" (1993), while The Offspring covered "Smash It Up" for the Batman Forever soundtrack (1995). Both cover versions would enjoy major label distribution and create more exposure to the Damned sound, sometimes to a younger audience unfamiliar with the group.
In 1993 the group reformed with a new line-up featuring Scabies, Vanian, guitarists Kris Dollimore (formerly of
The Godfathers), and Alan Lee Shaw, and bassist Moose Harris in 1995. They toured regularly for about two years and released a new full-length album, Not of This Earth. Promoted with a series of long tours prior to its release, by the time the album was released The Damned had yet again split, partly as the result of legal battles: Vanian and Sensible accused Scabies of releasing Not of This Earth without proper authorization.
Sensible rejoined Vanian in 1996 and yet another formation of The Damned appeared. This initially featured bassist Paul Gray, who was later replaced by
Patricia Morrison, previously of The Bags, The Gun Club and The Sisters of Mercy.
In 2001, the band released Grave Disorder, followed by continual touring. Morrison and Vanian eventually married and had a daughter, Emily, born on 9 February 2004. During her pregnancy Morrison was replaced by ex-English Dog Stu West, her return to the band's lineup in the future however has not been ruled out.
In 2006, The Damned released the new single "
Little Miss Disaster", and a live DVD MGE25 documenting a 2004 Manchester concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of Machine Gun Etiquette. On 21 October 2006, BBC Radio 2 broadcast an hour-long documentary entitled Is She Really Going Out With Him? concerning the recording of the Damned's first single "New Rose" and the group's place in the 1976 London punk scene. Featuring interviews with James, Sensible, Scabies, Glen Matlock, Don Letts and Chrissie Hynde, the programme gave some new insights into the bands and personalities around the scene, particularly the ill-fated Anarchy in the U.K. tour.
On 28 October 2008, The Damned released for download their tenth studio album,
So, Who's Paranoid?, followed by a conventional release on the English Channel label on 10 November (UK) and 9 December (US).[13] To promote the album, the band made back to back appearances performing on the Halloween eve and Halloween episodes of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.[14] After a canceled US tour in January, the band finally rescheduled for a spring appearance along the east coast. They played a set and conducted a short interview on the Cherry Blossum Clinc on WFMU on May 16, 2009.

Song of the day - Falco 6/18/09

Falco - "Der Kommissar"#12 on My Player
Johann (Hans) Hölzel Born in Vienna, studying at the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977 which he left after one semester to pursue a career in music, he lived for a short time in West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself "Falco," reportedly in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog, and playing in the Austrian bands Spinning Wheel and Hallucination Company. En route to becoming an international rock star in his own right, he was bass player in the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl (from 1978 until 1983). With Drahdiwaberl he wrote and performed the song "Ganz Wien," which he would also include on his debut solo album, Einzelhaft.

Falco's first hit was "Der Kommissar," from the 1982 album Einzelhaft. A German language song about drug consumption that combines rap verses with a sung chorus, Falco's record was a number-one success in many countries but failed to break big in the U.S. The song, however, would prove to have a life of its own in two English-language versions. British Rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, loosely based on Falco's lyrics and also called "Der Kommissar" (with "uh-oh" and "alles klar Herr Kommissar" the only other lyrics held over from the original). This time, the song shot to number three in the United States (their only major hit there) in 1983, though it failed to crack the UK Top 40. The band—who had been together more than a decade—broke up almost immediately thereafter. That same year, American singer Laura Branigan recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics, under the title "Deep In The Dark," on her album Branigan 2.
After a second album,
Junge Roemer, failed to provide a repeat to his debut single's success (outside of Austria and Germany, where the album topped the charts), Falco began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and chose a new production team. The result would be the most popular album and single of his career.
Falco recorded "
Rock Me Amadeus" inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. This time, his record reached #1 in the U.S. and UK, bringing him the success that had eluded him in that major market a few years earlier. The song remained in the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and his album, Falco 3, fittingly peaked at the number three position on the Billboard album charts. Unheard of at the time for a white performer, much less a European one, the Austrian rapper's single climbed to the upper reaches of the Billboard Top R&B Singles Chart (only a few years earlier called the "Black Singles" chart), peaking at number 6. Falco 3 peaked at number 18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Ultimately, "Rock Me Amadeus" went to the #1 spot in over a dozen countries including the Soviet Union and Japan. Follow-up single "Vienna Calling" was another international pop hit, peaking at #18 of the Billboard Charts and #17 on the U.S. Cash Box Charts in 1986. A double A-side 12" single featuring remixes of those two hits peaked at #4 on the U.S. Dance/Disco charts.

Jeanny," the third release from the album Falco 3, brought the performer back to the top of the charts across Europe. Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, the story of "Jeanny" was told from the point of view of a rapist and possible murderer. Several DJs and radio stations refused to play the ballad, which was ignored in the U.S., although it became a huge hit in many European countries, and inspired two sequels on later albums.

In 1986, the album Emotional was released, produced by Rob and Ferdi Bolland (Bolland & Bolland). On the Album were "Coming Home (Jeanny Part 2)," and songs about Kathleen Turner and the song "Kamikaze Cappa" which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa. "The Sound of Musik" was another international success, and a Top 20 U.S. Dance hit, though he failed to make the U.S. pop charts. He also went on "Emotional-Tour" which was a world tour where he ended up in Japan at 1987. In 1987, he sang a duet with Brigitte Nielsen "Body Next to Body" and the single was a Top 10 hit in the Germanic countries. The Album Wiener Blut was released in 1988 but it did not get much publicity outside Germany and Austria.
In 1990, he made a song for
Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz, "Tanja P. not Cindy C.," which appeared on the Album Data de Groove.
After "Jeanny," there were a number of European hits, but Falco was rarely heard in the U.S. and the UK. His 1992 U.S. comeback attempt, the album
Nachtflug with the song "Titanic," won a number of awards, but failed to chart in America.

Falco died of severe injuries received from a collision with a bus in his Mitsubishi Pajero near the city of Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic on 6 February 1998, just two weeks before his 41st birthday. While it was initially reported that the autopsy showed high blood levels of alcohol and cocaine, this was disputed. At the time of his death, he was working on a comeback into the music world.
He was buried in the
Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.

Song of the Day - Gang of four 6/17/09

Gang of Four - "I Love a Man In Uniform"
# 11 on My Player

Gang of Four are an English post-punk group from Leeds. Original personnel were singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. They were fully active from 1977 to 1984, and then re-emerged twice in the 1990s with King and Gill. In 2004, the original line-up reunited but in 2006 Allen was replaced on bass by Thomas Mcneice and later Burnham on drums by Mark Heaney.
They play a stripped-down mix of
punk rock, with strong elements of funk music, minimalism and dub reggae and an emphasis on the social and political ills in society. Gang of Four's later albums (Songs of the Free and Hard) found them softening some of their more jarring qualities, and drifting towards dance-punk and disco. Their debut album, Entertainment!, ranked at #490 in Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. David Fricke in Rolling Stone 1980 said "Gang of Four are probably the best politically motivated dance band
Gill and King, the creative forces in the band, brought together an eclectic array of influences, ranging from the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of social criticism to the increasingly clear trans-Atlantic punk consensus. Gang of Four was named by a member of the Mekons when while driving around with Gill and King he came upon a newspaper article on the intra-Party coup against China's "Gang of Four".
Their musical work was heavily influenced by a university-funded trip to
New York, where they saw Television and the Ramones at CBGB.
Gill's unique guitar sound had a forebear in the playing of
Wilko Johnson, the frenetic guitarist with archetypal British pub rockers Dr. Feelgood. Gill's skeletal, staccato, aggressive guitar has proved an enduring influence in turn.[1] Jon King's threatening on-stage dancing, while equally idiosyncratic, has proved less easy to imitate. Paul Morley described the band's music as "a kind of demented funk, incredibly white but also, because of political commitment and defiant sloganeering, very dark, and ultimately as close to the depraved edge of the blues and Hendrix." Critic Greil Marcus found his first viewing of the group's performance so shattering that he left after their set rather than risk having the impact of the deeply political Gang of Four's songs dampened by the pop-punk of Buzzcocks.[2]
The Gang's debut single, "Damaged Goods" backed with "Anthrax" and "Armalite Rifle", was recorded in June 1978 and released on 10 December 1978, on Edinburgh's Fast Product label. It was produced by the Gang and the Fast Product honchos Bob Last and Tim Inman. It was a #1 indie chart hit[citation needed] and John Peel radio show favourite. This led to two outstanding Peel radio sessions, which, with their incendiary live performances, propelled the band to international attention and sold-out shows across Europe and North America. They were then signed by EMI records. The group's debut single with this label, "At Home He's a Tourist", charted in 1979. Invited to appear on top rated BBC music program Top of the Pops, the band walked off the show when the BBC told them that they must sing "packets" instead of "rubbers" as per the lyrics of the song, as the original was too subversive for this TV slot. The single was then banned by BBC Radio and TV, which lost the band support at EMI, who began to push another band, Duran Duran, instead.[citation needed] A later single, "I Love a Man in Uniform", was banned by the BBC during the Falklands War in 1982.
Critic Stewart Mason has called "Anthrax" not only the group's "most notorious song" but also "one of the most unique and interesting songs of its time".
[3] It's also a good example of Gang of Four's social perspective: after a minute-long, droning, feedback-laced guitar intro, the rhythm section sets up a funky, churning beat, and the guitar drops out entirely. In one stereo channel, King sings a "post-punk anti-love song",[3] comparing himself to a beetle trapped on its back ("and there's no way for me to get up") and equating love with "a case of anthrax, and that's some thing I don't want to catch." Meanwhile, in the other stereo channel (and slightly less prominent in the mix), Gill reads a deadpan monograph about public perception of love and the prevalence of love songs in popular music: "Love crops up quite a lot as something to sing about, 'cause most groups make most of their songs about falling in love, or how happy they are to be in love, and you occasionally wonder why these groups do sing about it all the time." The simultaneous vocals are rather disorienting, especially when Gill pauses in his examination of love songs to echo a few of King's sung lines.
According to critic
Paul Morley, "The Gang spliced the ferocious precision of Dr. Feelgood's working-class blues with the testing avant-garde intrigue of Henry Cow. Wilfully avoiding structural obviousness, melodic prettiness and harmonic corniness, the Gang's music was studded with awkward holes and sharp corners."[citation needed] At the time, the band was recognised as doing something very different to other white guitar acts. Ken Tucker, in Rolling Stone, 1980, wrote: "...rarely have the radical edges of black and white music come closer to overlapping... the Gang of Four utilize their bass guitar every bit as prominently and starkly as the curt bass figures that prod the spoken verses in [Kurtis Blow's "culture defining" huge summer hit] “The Breaks.”
In 1981 the band released their second LP,
Solid Gold. Like Entertainment!, the album was uncompromising, spare, and analytical; such songs as "Cheeseburger," "He'd Send in the Army," and "In the Ditch" exposed the paradoxes of warfare, work, and leisure. Van Goss, in a Village Voice review said: "Gang of Four embody a new category in pop, which illuminates all the others, because the motor of their aesthetic is not a 'personal creative vision.'"
A troubled American tour saw the departure of Allen (who later co-founded
Shriekback, Low Pop Suicide and The Elastic Purejoy); he was replaced briefly by Busta "Cherry" Jones, a sometime player with Parliament and Talking Heads. He left to work with The Rolling Stones and was replaced by Sara Lee, who was Robert Fripp's bassist in League of Gentlemen. Lee was as good a singer as bassist, and she helped give the band's third studio album, Songs of the Free, a more accessible quality. Although "I Love a Man in Uniform" from the album was the band's most radio-friendly song, it was banned in the UK shortly after its release because Britain was at war in the Falklands Islands. Lee later joined The B-52's to be replaced by Gail Ann Dorsey, later famous for her long time bass playing association with David Bowie. A year later, Burnham left the band after the release of Songs of the Free.
1986 saw the release of The Peel Sessions, a collection of rawly rendered material recorded from 1979 to 1981 for British radio.
Melody Maker dubbed the album "a perfect and classic nostalgia trip into the world of gaunt cynicism."
After the release of The Peel Sessions, Gill and King continued Gang of Four releasing
Hard in 1983, Mall in 1991 and finally Shrinkwrapped in 1995.
The original lineup of Jon King, Andy Gill, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham reformed in November 2004. In October 2005, Gang of Four released a new disc featuring new recordings of songs from the albums
Entertainment!, Solid Gold and Songs of the Free entitled Return the Gift, along with an album's worth of remixes.
On May 6, 2008, Dave Allen and Burnham left the band, even though Burnham had not played with the band since 2006.
In 2008 Gang of Four headlined - as part of that year's Massive Attack curated "Meltdown festival - London's Royal Festival Hall, with Gail Anne Dorsey on bass rejoining the band alongside Mark Heaney on drums who played drums on Return the Gift in 2005 and had been working with the band since Nov 2005 and later that summer headlined Offset Festival on August 31, 2008.
Like The Velvet Underground before them, the influence of Gang of Four on later musicians is far greater than their original record sales might suggest. Their angular, slashing attack and liberal use of dissonance had a significant influence on their post-punk contemporaries in the States. Gang of Four went on to influence a number of successful funk-tinged alternative rock acts throughout the 80s and 90s, although few of their followers were as arty or political. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated that Gang of Four were the single most important influence on his band's early music.[5] Andy Kellman, writing in Allmusic, has even argued that Gang of Four's "germs of influence" can be found in many rap metal groups "not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it".[6]
While many musicians have been inspired by the band's groundbreaking punk-funk musical style, they have rarely emulated the Situationist-inspired socio-political observations in Jon King's lyrics. Nevertheless this side of the band is present in later bands such as Minutemen, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, Rage Against the Machine and Refused which while known for acid socio-political commentary in their lyrics as Gang of Four; they took a post-hardcore punk sound. Fugazi especially shares with Gang of Four a sometimes similar sound based on a rhythm section influenced by reggae and funk along with metallic staccato guitars.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Song of the Day - Pop Will Eat Itself 6/16/09

Pop Will Eat Itself - There is no Love Between us Anymore #10 on my Player

In 1986, the line-up of singer and guitarist Clint Mansell, guitarist and keyboardist Adam Mole, bassist Richard March, and drummer Graham Crabb formed as Wild And Wandering in the English town of Stourbridge. After some months and one e.p. they changed their name to Pop Will Eat Itself (PWEI) and earned attention from the indie scene for their first e.p., The Poppies Say Grrr! on Chapter 22. At the time they played short, fast, slightly psychedelic punk-pop tunes and went on with that for three more e.p.'s before starting to incorporate house and hip hop beats and samples on Beaver Patrol. By autumn 1987 PWEI released their frist album, Box Frenzy, with some tunes leaning towards new wave, some towards hip hop and acid house. A drummachine called Dr. Nightmare

was installed and Graham Crabb took

the second microphone. After the 12" Def.Con.One PWEI signed a deal with RCA and released Can U Dig It? in 1989, which would be the first of 12 PWEI singles going UK top 40. In the same year their seminal second album This Is The Day...This Is The Hour...This Is This! appeared to public and critical acclaim for its witty fusion of rock and electronic music. PWEI opted for an even more electronic, slightly darker and moodier approach on Cure For Sanity, their third album, which appeared in 1990 alongside PWEI's alternative soccer world cup theme, Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina, a fusion of dub and acid house. Electronics took a backseat on 1992's The Looks Or The Lifestyle, when Fuzz Townshend was brought in as a drummer. PWEI reinvented themselves as grungey groovers and released Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies! as their highlight single. PWEI had been sacked by RCA at the time the single went number 9 in the UK in early 1993. The band signed with Infectious in the UK and Nothing in the US and released R.S.V.P., Ich Bin Ein Auslander, and Everything's Cool as singles in 1993 and 1994. The tunes displayed a development from where they had left towards dark industrial rock. The mixture on their fifth album Dos Dedos Mis Amigos was received well and won the band many new fans. Nonetheless, the band only released the remix album Two Fingers My Friends after that and collapsed upon the departure of Graham Crabb in 1996. Crabb released an album as Golden Claw Musics, Richard March went on to form Bentley Rhythm Ace, Fuzz Townshend went solo, and Clint Mansell has done film soundtracks. In late 2004, a reunion and new songs were announced.
This is a catchy tune so listen to the whole thing. See ya!!