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The truly sad news from England is that longtime friend of the magazine PAUL FOX, guitarist for London’s absolutely incredible RUTS (later they became the equally fabulous RUTS D.C.) has inoperable lung cancer. Man, that has me beat. What a shame! Our hearts go out to him and his family.
Accordingly, the band (in my view the greatest musicians to ever play a form of punk rock and the best punk band to play reggae back then, too, eons better than THE CLASH, for example), broken up since 1982, is going to do an extremely rare reunion show as a benefit for both the stricken Fox and Cancer Research… with special guest vocalist HENRY ROLLINS.
Bassist SEGS JENNINGS and drummer DAVE RUFFY, also longtime friends of our magazine (see our hilarious two-part interview with the two of them in issues 35 and 36) had long told Big Takeover they would never revive Ruts D.C. (which saw Jennings take over the lead vocals after the heroin O.D. death of charasmatic singer MALCOLM OWEN July 14, 1980, aged 26) but if they were to do Ruts gigs, even just a one-off, they would need a demonstrative, mouthy, extroverted singer like Owen. So perhaps Rollins is the perfect choice. As I’ve often stated elsewhere, Rollins and his friend IAN MACKAYE (and MacKaye’s band MINOR THREAT and label Dischord in general) did more to spread Ruts awareness/worship than anyone in America, and the lone Ruts D.C. gig in Washington D.C. in January 1982 found them received as conquering heroes as a result. So it sounds like a fitting pairing for this solemn-turned-celebratory benefit occasion. Said Rollins in a statement, “The Ruts are one of my favorite bands of all time, period. I am glad to be part of this event if for nothing else, just to say thanks.” I think I would say the same!
The gig is in London at Islington’s Carlington Academy, July 16, with support from multitudes of old Ruts friends and fans, among them TOM ROBINSON, JOHN OTWAY, U.K. SUBS, SPLODGENESSABOUNDS, BUZZCOCKS bassist TONY BARBER as part of the house band, and others.And you bet I wish I could go. I am challenged for free time next month, but out of pure temptation, I checked the airfares to London; they’re about $800 these days. Just can’t do it. I have, however, arranged for a live review from our trusty ALEX OGG, though, so we all get the scoop in the next issue 61. I think I will read that one with particular hunger and curiosity. Oh, to see the three of them play those songs again, even under these circumstances (which will just make it all so much more emotional)! Guess I will just have to feel lucky we got the six New York area gigs from 1980-1982, they were all pretty extraordinary. And I am sorry I will likely never see our old mate again.
If you live in England, you owe it to yourself to go. (If you need an introduction, see their 1979 LP The Crack or any of their studio retrospective CDs, including their Peel Sessions. You can also see a video of Fox’s 2006-minted tribute band Foxy’s Ruts at http://myspace.com/foxysrutsuk with a big crowd going pretty crazy to their 1979 UK Top 10 hit “Babylon’s Burning.”) It’s a good cause, and it’s even kind of cheap (only 10 pounds). And others are stepping up to help as well. For instance, STIFF LITTLE FINGERS guitarist JAKE BURNS is auctioning off a guitar to help in the cause.
and here’s the link for the auction:
Said a statement: “Look for this guitar on auction on Ebay beginning June 26. Epiphone PR5-E guitar owned and played by Jake Burns. This guitar is being auctioned to help an old friend, Paul Fox from The Ruts, who is sadly terminally ill with cancer. While Paul is continuing to work at the moment, this will obviously become harder as time goes on. Therefore, some friends are trying to help him as much as possible. This guitar was played by Jake on the Stiff Little Fingers albums: Get a Life, Tinderbox, and Hope Street. The guitar will be signed by Jake, personalized to the winning bidder. This was very much a working instrument and as such its electrics will need some attention. Comes with case. Auction will end July 5.”
Again, my best to Foxy and best of luck in his fight for his life and health.
Quick reminder: the surprisingly thoughtful and in depth interview with me by Alex Ogg in issue 29 of Trakmarx is still up at:
Again, for all those of you who have written and inquired, yes Big Takeover issue #60 with THE SHINS on the cover is now in stores. Look for it! And if you don’t see it, please ask the store to order it!! Or restock!!
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And in case you missed them, here’s those highlights of the issue I included in my last blog. I will try to post some other quotes and highlight in a future post, so you all don’t forget about the issue! We only do two a year, so we want to make sure you don’t forget!
SHINS: “Living in Portland, maybe I might have a perverse view of what’s going on in pop culture. But it seems like people generally are seeking out authenticity in all realms of their lives. Wanting to buy older houses and fix them up, instead of buying **** stuff in the suburbs. Even food choices; the restaurants have better quality local produce. There seems to be this desire for this authenticity that’s growing. Maybe we’re part of that?”
SHINS: “I was having some spooky, superstitious feelings for a while. I went through a really stressful period, and one of the interesting things that happened to me… you know that feeling you get when you’re walking upstairs from the basement, or once in while maybe only when you’re 10? I would have that sort of feeling while I was driving the car, just in a random situation in broad daylight. I would get this eerie feeling that there was something very wrong in a very strange way. It was obviously some side effect of whatever pressures I was under. It was almost an enjoyable strange part of my life.”
DECEMBERISTS (Pt. 2): “I think that it may not be quite conscious, but war imagery starts popping up when you’re writing, because there’s always an outside influence; the writing cannot occur in a vacuum. ‘Yankee Bayonet’ is not a war song. There’re lots of references to bombs and rockets, and that’s probably just because there’s a palpable feeling, even though we’re so far from the Middle East, that it’s really created an environment of fear and that has inevitably crept into songs.”
DECEMBERISTS: “No one’s protesting like they were in the 1960s. I think that in the ‘60s, there was such a feeling of empowerment on college campuses, but now people just want to sit in coffee shops and chat on MySpace. Or write on a ****’ blog. There’s no movement. American culture is dead.”
DECEMBERISTS: “The music blogosphere has just become every level of indie rock gossip. There’s no journalistic aesthetic at all, and it’s completely self-edited. As if the blogs weren’t unedited enough, people are then allowed to comment, so then it’s even less edited. So then it turns into everyone bashing on Ben Gibbard for two pages.”
BRIGHT EYES: “There’s nothing as overt as ‘When the President Talks to God’ on the record, but there’s an undercurrent on a lot of the songs that’s shaped by a lot of what’s going on. It certainly hasn’t gotten any less terrifying. It kind of just gets more frightening and more depressing all the time. I feel like I’ve become a bit desensitized to it. There’s only so long that they can keep you in a state of fear.”
BRIGHT EYES: [On Vote For Change:] “It was amazing to be a part of something that transcended entertainment and had another purpose beyond just putting on a concert. I’m really proud of what we did, even though it maybe, in some eyes, wasn’t successful. In the end I think it will be successful, but it just brought awareness and hopefully changed some minds that are still happening to this day. It’s [just] taking longer than everyone wanted.”
(reunited) DINOSAUR JR./SEBADOH: “Playing bass on the road with Dinosaur got me inspired to write bass lines again And I’d bring stuff into the studio to jam them out with Murph and J. My [Dinosaur] songs really are all about coming back to Massachusetts. J still lives close to where we came up, and it was really nice to be back around my old friends and family. And with Dinosaur recording again, it just all became a great experience for me.”
DINOSAUR JR:/SEBADOH: “Eric [Gaffney] and I had been able to clear up a lot of debris between us, and the whole remastering process really become the key inspiration for the reunion.”
VOXTROT: “I guess that when you’re working so hard it doesn’t seem like, ‘Boom! How’d this happen?’ I mean, we work really hard. Not that I’m not grateful.”
VOXTROT: [On “The Start of Something” sounding like The Smiths:] “It’s totally derivative. [all laugh] But it is an unselfconscious song.”
DON MCGLASHAN (MUTTON BIRDS): “Young New Zealanders have this need to go somewhere; generally London. They go there and prove themselves and live pretty rough for a while, and learn about the world. And they meet somebody from just down the road, some other New Zealander from the next town over. And they form a bond and they come back and marry them and have kids in New Zealand!”
DON MCGLASHAN: [On writing many great heartbreak songs despite 18 years of marriage:] “No, I’ve just got a good memory! Yeah, the time when I was shifting from partner to partner was sort of engraved, even though it was like a nanosecond in terms of history.”
JELLO BIAFRA (Pt. 2): “Even when I was a kid, when other kids wanted to grow up to be baseball players and cops, I wanted to grow up to be The Penguin or The Riddler! They were my heroes!”
JELLO BIAFRA: “Emailing is not talking. It isn’t even communicating until the person actually receives it, thinks about it, and replies. If you need an answer right away, you’ve got to learn what the caveman learned already; you go talk to them! Call them up on the phone! It’s amazing, they’ll answer you, and then you can ask them another question, and another. It’s the ultimate instant messaging!”
JELLO BIAFRA: “It just appalls me when both sides of the ‘Republicrats,’ even Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton says, ‘Yeah, we’re trying to establish democracy in the Middle East!’ Democracy was already there in Iran in the 1950s, and the CIA thought it would be a dandy idea to overthrow the elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and install a puppet ruler as a favor to the British to protect ‘their oil,’ and put the Shah in who was already deeply despised. I can’t help but wonder how much of this mess and danger to our own personal lives we would be in today, if we’d left the Iranian people alone in the 1950s and let them elect their own leader!
THE SOUND: “Whatever else you can say about Adrian, he never put on a show. He actually meant it. It is terribly sad that the thing that he meant was the thing which lead to [his suicide]. Great art, however, can be a destructive thing, and it was for Adrian.”
THE SOUND: “It seemed as if From The Lion’s Mouth was going to be the one to break us into larger venues. The album had a grandiose title, and it had a religious theme to the cover. Musically it sounded like the big music, and then there was nothing. I have never managed to figure out why. Something happened, but **** me if I know what it is!”
MODERNETTES: [on the band’s final breakup, in 1983:] “You know what bands are like; enough things turn to **** on ya, and it kind of poisons the band. I just thought, “**** this, I am going to get a job.” After that, things proceeded as they usually do. I played with Lost Durangos [in 1986] for about six months. Then after that I didn’t play, I put my guitar in the closet for like 10 years.”
MODERNETTES: [on 1982’s View From The Bottom EP:] “There were 500 copies. The drummer Ian [Noble]’s grandmother lent us some money to record it. We were going to use it as a calling card and go around to record companies with it. [But] it [cost] at least twice what we anticipated paying. So we had no choice but to put the fucking thing out so we could pay Ian’s grandmother back. She wasn’t rich; and we didn’t want grandma to be eating cat food because we hadn’t paid her back.”
HILTON VALENTINE (ANIMALS Pt. 2): [On “House of the Rising Sun”:] “I first heard Bob Dylan’s version [1962’s Bob Dylan]. I was totally knocked out by it. I think [singer] Eric [Burdon] suggested that we record it, though he had a different version of it; I think the one by Josh White [either 1944 or 1949]. Anyway, it was recorded in one take. When we finished, I just knew that it was going to number one!”
ANIMALS: “Joining [keyboardist] The Alan Price Combo—we later became The Animals—is what got me interested in the blues. Up until that point I was an out and out rock ‘n’ roller with my band The Wildcats. Eric Burdon had a great record collection of all these blues guys that he got from a friend or relation who worked in the merchant navy, and brought them back from America. He’d let me borrow some so I could get acclimated to playing that style, but in my own way. Blues records had just started becoming really popular among the kids, and we were all forming these bands and covering these songs. It was happening all over the country. Venues popped up to satisfy the demand for live music, and this helped fuel the spread of blues music. People started investigating the origins of the blues and found that some of the original artists were still around. Agents brought them over for tours and they’d have the up-and-coming English bands as the backing groups for these artists. The Animals were lucky enough to back [Chess Records’ great] Sonny Boy Williamson [as did The Yardbirds-ed.]. I thought that was just **** great!”
LIBERTINES U.S.: “[On their disastrous 1985 tour:] This promoter in Tulsa said, “Crime & the City Solution are coming and you guys can open for them.” So we stayed and camped in a hobo camp behind this club, down by the river. There was all this dog **** everywhere. You had to move it out of the way to sleep. It was fucking unreal, man! Anyway, nobody came to see us or Crime & the City Solution. We didn’t get paid for that, either!”
LIBERTINES U.S.: [On why their two ‘80s LPs came out on cassette and Dutch import:] “This is pre-burning your CD at home, and we were doing this all with gig money. We had no outside support. Nobody would put up any particular funding. I have a whole drawer full of rejection letters from every label, large and small, that I could think of, at the time when we mailed things out!”
QUARRYMEN (PreBEATLES): “I always got on well with John Lennon, but he was what we would call today a ‘disruptive pupil.’ Instead of getting on with his work he would be fooling around and spoiling class concentration and discipline, and sometimes bringing teachers close to a nervous breakdown. He was of course a brilliant cartoonist, and some of his practical jokes at school were very funny.”
QUARRYMEN: [on the famous day when Lennon met McCartney:] “I don’t remember meeting Paul at all that day. Paul himself has the best recollection of that day. He remembers that we were playing ‘Come Go With Me,’ a Del Vikings’ number, when he first set eyes on John. He was impressed with the way John was improvising lyrics.”
(Also: TED LEO • CAN • JESSE SYKES • SECRET SHINE • DION & THE BELMONTS • FRAMES • ENGLISH BEAT • STELLASTARR* • CHELSEA • COPELAND • SAMMIES (Morisen Records) •
Editorials: Rabid: Death Of The LP? (& The History Of Music Formats): “Thanks to the majors’ systematic and thorough denigration of every facet of the LP’s intellectual and artistic integrity since its ‘60s peak, that once iconic item is no longer recognized by young music lovers. You just can’t keep stepping on your product and then changing more for it without anyone noticing, and today’s kids have turned their backs on the format in a collective snub. None of them want a **** major label LP with one song that caught their ear on a Clear Channel station, and a bunch of filler laurel packing foam. They just want that one song. I can’t blame them.”
(Also: Ackerman: Farewell, James Brown * Sommer: Don Imus & The Virginia Tech Tragedy)
Live Reviews: Agent Orange • Avengers • Bad Brains & Stimulators • Rob Dickinson • Mark Eitzel • Hazey Janes • B.B. King • Lemonheads • Mojave 3 • New Model Army • Pernice Brothers • Pipettes • Emma Pollock • Paul Weller • Brian Wilson •
Hundreds of CD Reviews: Long Blondes • Idlewild • Fields • ‘60s Bee Gees • Pointed Sticks • Maximo Park • Comsat Angels • Stooges • Loney, Dear • Amy Winehouse • John Doe • The La’s • Colin Blunstone • (Vancouver) Subhumans • Louis Armstrong • Sloan • Young Galaxy • Beatles • Smithereens • Desmond Dekker • Rhino 39 • Gene Clark • New Pornographers • Del Shannon • The Sharp Things • Spoon • Saints • BRMC • Tim Buckley • Sly Stone • Of Montreal • Damned • Beck • Joanna Newsome • Neil Young • Low • X-Ray Spex • ELO • Stanley Bros., and more
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