Thursday, March 18, 2010

Irish Punk

When I walked into Trader Joe's yesterday and heard them playing The Pogues for St. Patrick's Day, it made me think I really ought to do a post about Irish punk. I love The Pogues, I grew up in a big Irish-American Catholic family with my dad playing Irish drinking records by people like The Clancy Brothers. The Pogues always seemed like the perfect blend of that music and punk rock to me. But there is a lot more out there. Most notably Stiff Little Fingers, who's first two albums are in my top 20 favorite records of all time. There also is a great bootleg Killed By Death album I picked up with a nice sampling of '70s era Irish punk called "Bloodstains Across Northern Ireland." A copy is stashed here if you want to download it. The bands and track listings are:

Rudi-Time to Be Proud
Ruefrex-The Perfect Crime
Midnite Cruiser-Rich Bitch
Electro-Motive Force-Conscious, Wanted
Ex-Producers-The System is Here
Androids-Bondage in Belfast
Ex-Producers-Behind the Door
Pretty Boy Floyd & The Gems-Sharon
Doubt-Fingers, Lookaway
Defects-Guilty Conscience
Xdreamysts-The Heat is On
Protex-I Wonder Why
Victim-The Teen Age

It's definitely worth your time to download it and dig deeper into Irish punk!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Legendary Ave Rat Chris Harvey, AKA Slats, dies

This is a shortened edited intro to providing the Silly Killers songs. Apparently what I thought was a fairly honest description people thought was inaccurate factually. I felt the accounts in The Stranger were kinda glossing over a major part of Slats life, but I do realize how maybe now is not the time to talk about it. Apologies to anyone I offended.

The first time I went to The Ave (also known as Seattle's University Way) was in 1984 on a road trip from suburbia in search of the famed record store Cellophane Square. I parked my parent's big ass Ford Country Squire green station wagon with some difficulty blocks away and headed over to do some record shopping. This was when I first laid eyes on a guy I'd later find out was named Slats. He was possibly the skinniest guy I've ever seen, in super pegged black pants, with '80s metal hair leaping out from under a big black hat with a bandanna on it. He seemed stuck right between punk rocker and '80s hair metal in a pretty awesome way. Over the next couple years of highschool, as I started hitting Seattle more often for shows and to shop on The Ave and Broadway, I kept seeing the guy around everywhere.

I moved to the U-District in 1986, where Slats was a fixture daily, usually hanging out with a motley crew of folks by Campus Food Mart, just down from the Post Office. For us younger folks, it was an area we could go to score some drugs, talk someone into buying booze for us, and find out about shows (the late '80s was the era of Washington Hall, Community World Theater in Tacoma, and The Underground on the Ave). Slats was already legendary for his look and hanging out on the Ave for years.

Slats, whose real name was Chris Harvey, had a major claim to fame. He had been in a punk band called The Silly Killers with Duff McKagan of Guns'n'Roses. The Silly Killers put out one 7" in 1982 that is pretty collectible in KBD circles today after being featured on a Killed By Death compilation, where a lot of people rediscovered the band. Gas Huffer covered their song "Knife Manual" on an Empty Records split with Mudhoney (who covered "Stupid Asshole" by the Angry Samoans), that's how I first heard the song. Here are the songs from the one and only Silly Killers 7" (MP3's courtesy of the excellent Killed By Death Records blog):

Great stuff! This is a photo of Slats with Blowfly live on stage at Funhouse from a year or two ago:

Slats was a fixture in the punk rock scene... same tight pants, same teased hair, same style of hat... FOR 30 YEARS. It was impressive the stayin' power the guy had. He was first a U-District icon, then later a Capitol Hill icon. Sadly, Chris passed away a few days ago, another Seattle fixture has disappeared.

Here's a great video slideshow of The Silly Killers circa 1982 with a then young Slats on guitar:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

That new Runaways movie!

I'm in the minority in that I both liked "Sid and Nancy" and "What We Do is Secret," I have no problem with Hollywood taking some liberties with a true punk story to make a film more entertaining. So I'm kinda excited about "The Runaways," and here's the first peek. It's a full length video to a re-done "Cherry Bomb." I have to say I like the original's energy better and hope the video doesn't give too much of the movie away... but this is still pretty awesome:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Jesse Bernstein documentary!

"I Am Secretly An Important Man" is a new documentary film, currently in post-production, about the life of Steven J. Bernstein (AKA Jesse Bernstein). During the '80s and early '90s Bernstein wrote the kind of poetry I don't hate, which is rare. It was angry, dirty, cynical, funny, and often filled with themes about the underbelly of society. I first heard him in 1988 reading his poem "Come Out Tonight" on The Sub Pop 200 compilation and was immediately transfixed, I think I put it on every mixed tape I made that year. Sub Pop went on to release a pile of his albums, most notably "Prison" in 1992. Bernstein also appeared in the locally brewed 1990 movie Shredder Orpheus, doing the voice-over and starring as a crippled vet that lived on the docs and got around town wheeling himself by his hands while propped on a skateboard. In the larger picture, he was one of Seattle's most celebrated spoken word artists. He also lived a troubled life, plagued by drug problems, alcoholism and depression, he killed himself in October of 1991. Get this, he didn't just do it the easy way, he was alone in a cabin in the most Northern corner of the state, where he stabbed himself in the stomach repeatedly until he bled out. Brutal, yet somehow not that unexpected, given what kind of a man he was.

Watch the trailer for the documentary here!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Cramps Totally Destroy Seattle!

This album cover is of a pretty rare bootleg recording of pyschobilly/rockabilly/dirty punks The Cramps playing live in Seattle at Astor Park May 2nd, 1982. Astor Park was Seattle's early '80s rock club where bands that could draw a good-sized crowd, but not quite enough to play The Paramount would play. U2 played their first Seattle show here in 1980. Astor Park pre-dated me going to shows, but everyone from that era seems to recall it was a bar/club with crappy bathrooms, overpriced drinks, and often great shows. Local bands like The Cowboys, The Heats, Hi-Fi, The Allies and The Blackouts seemed to play there fairly often.

Anyway, back to The Cramps bootleg, it's a great live soundboard recording. The setlist is: Domino, Human Fly, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time, Primitive, Goo Goo Muck, Reality (Beautiful Gardens), TV Set, Sunglasses After Dark, Garbage Man and Psychotic Reaction. You can download a copy of it here.