In Memory Of Pete

Wigan Council via their social media platforms shared an image of a familiar face earlier today. Pictured is Malcolm Garrett, outside of Pete Shelley’s former home in Leigh. Wigan Council had Malcolm unveil a blue plaque at the home. Something I am sure he was very honoured to do.

Today is the second anniversary of Pete’s passing. He is still very much missed by all. Today was a lovely way to pay tribute to his memory and legacy.

Punk – A Dirty Word?

Over the past week, I feel the word “punk” has been sullied by a couple of people. One retrospectively. Let me explain:

In a previous post here on the blog, I talked about a letter that John Foxx had shared on his FB page. The letter was from David Bowie to Tony Visconti of a shopping list of new singles and albums DB was keen to get his hands on. Within it he talked about punk and flippantly used the words “pink, peak poak, pan” and then said “Oh, yes. PUNK” in brackets referring to the shop that Visconti may find the records that were on said shopping list. I felt DB’s flippancy was about the stupid labels and pigeonholes we place upon things – but I could be wrong? Perhaps by this time for Bowie “punk” was indeed a dirty word?

The other has been in recent days. A fan on SMOG talking about the influence punk had on early Simple Minds. He seemed to talk about it with much disdain. Saying stuff like “thank God you guys moved away from punk.” I didn’t get involved in it because, well…to each their own what they think about particular genres of music. I thought their ideas and opinions were rather misguided but…it’s not my place to educate anyone on anything. He ruffled enough feathers to even have Jim himself (? It’s a bone of contention, actually. I was led to believe by a certain source that this account *is* genuinely Jim but…I dunno. Who knows? I’m trying to get myself away from all this “hanging on his every word and feeling like my life isn’t worth living if he doesn’t speak to me” bullshit that I keep cycling through endlessly and doing my own fucking head in with!) reply to him.

The guy followed it up with a further post about the hypothesis of what/where/how things would have panned out for SM had they stuck with punk. This was when I came in on things.

For one, punk started much earlier than its deemed apex in 1977. I definitely hear and feel and get a sense of punk from Velvet Underground recordings. Listen to the album with Nico – the Warhol banana covered one. Where is the maestro musicianship on that? Tell me! No one plays THAT well on it. Lou Reed is not exactly the best singer in the world. Nico does that kind of – and there is an actual German word for this that eludes me right now – “speak singing” she does. The only one that sounds like he tries to hold a note when singing is John Cale. The Velvet Underground is DEFINITELY punk. In its truest context. That the music, the story, the telling of the tale is MORE important than the musicianship. Or that…it’s okay not to be perfect, if the message is conveyed right.

Because, Lou might not be the best singer in the world – but he’s a poet and a realist and an orator for the time. And, a damn incredible songwriter. A filter. A channel for the message to be projected through.

Likewise, Nico may not have the voice of an angel, as such – but she certainly conveys emotion and she makes you take notice.

The Stooges were formed in the late sixties. Iggy Pop by much touted definition is deemed the “Godfather of punk.”

The New York Dolls were punk. Well, perhaps straddled punk with aspects of glam. I mean, nobody ever sees Slade as glam in terms of their musical output compared to their wardrobe. Well, for me it’s the same with New York Dolls. To me they are 100% punk. They just didn’t dress punk.

The Ramones – punk all the way. But there is sssoooo much rockabilly in their sound too. Listen to Rock n’ Roll High School, FFS. It’s far more 50s throwback rockabilly to my ears than what the UK brings forward as punk.

And as I said to Philip – there is so much more to the word “punk” than a strict musical styling. It’s a culture. A mindset. An ethos. An attitude. A banner. A proclamation.

And there’s also one of its earlier exponents too! MC5 – Kick Out The Jams! Released in 1969, my friends. NINETEEN SIXTY NINE!

When I saw Alice Cooper last year, they were on the bill of support acts as (as they are called these days) MC50. They still have it.

Punk, as a word that became a touchstone, is ssooo much more than music. Look at all that it gave to a generation of the UK as a result! An attitude, a mindset that said “I have creativity inside of me. I don’t need a fine arts degree to be told I am good at this. I’ll get ahead and make my own way!” It gave the working classes freedom to believe they could express their creativity and pursue a future in the arts without – one: feeling they needed a financial foundation – because frankly – there was NOTHING to lose and two: that they should suppress what they feel they want to express due to their background.

Vivienne Westwood is punk.
John Cooper Clarke is punk.
Smash Hits magazine is punk.
Postcard Records is punk.
Factory Records is punk.
The Hacienda is (was) punk.

Anything that you can think of…not just in music…all if it that comes out from the late 1970s, it’s all rooted in that punk spirit.

As Jim said in his reply to Philip: “without the punk ethic we would never have begun and evolved into Simple Minds. That is a fact!”

Punk was a gateway to so much more.

Photo by the wonderful Laurie Evans

Is it a dirty word? It seems to be for Philip. Why? I’m not quite sure. I just don’t think he sees the fluidity in the word itself. To him, I am guessing “punk” is this awful style of music that he doesn’t like very much and that’s that.

Oh, but it is ssssooomuch more than that! It is all of the above! And – it is Simple Minds! Even their name is rooted in punk. Yes, it may have come from a David Bowie song but…just listen to it. Really take in what the name sounds like.

I’m not sure I have put this post across as I wanted to. SOMEONE came along throwing a spanner in the works this morning – distracting me with a post just as I was getting my brain cogs in motion and piecing together this post – making bullet points to it and giving myself a bit of dictation on my phone so I would stick with how I wanted this post to go.

Oh, well. He can disturb and distract me whenever he likes! I shouldn’t be bloody complaining that he distracted me now, should I? Geez! Lol. Cry out for the man’s attention and then when I got something from him, I’m there saying “Fuck off, Jim! I’m busy. Do you mind, pal?!” Lol. Hilarious!

And hey, I just remembered – I’M “Punk”! Lol. This silly nickname my brother David gave me many moons ago. When he wanted to antagonise me. Wind me up. He’d call me “punk”. With a kind of spit of disdain he’d say it to me. “Go away, punk”, when I was annoying him. Lol. Oh, god I loved him! ❤️

The Magpie Looking For Glitter?

Someone I follow on Facebook shared a post by John Foxx’s page (actually officially labelled as “John Foxx and The Maths”) in which he posted this image of a letter from David Bowie to Tony Visconti. Foxx added – “Interesting to read this note from David Bowie to Tony Visconti from the 1970s – sending him on a mission for a copy of ‘any Ultravox album’.”

I’m taking by the things he’s asking for and esp. from the time of release on the singles that it is probably this time of year in 1977 this letter was written.

He’d be ramping up for the release of Heroes. The single comes out the same week as The Clash’s Complete Control – September 23rd, 1977. The album is released (“Heroes”) three weeks later. Episode one of the second series of So It Goes airs on October 9th.

As a “magpie” – he was always pretty quick on the uptake. It’s actually kind of intriguing to see him just…buying stuff like us normal plebs. You’d think he’d have extra know-how or would already be somehow exposed to these things and have “insider knowledge”.

There had already been one series of So It Goes by this point…but I guess it was regional and only airing on Granada in the Manchester area so…why would he know?

I love the off-handed almost disdain and disregard of punk – by his faffing about with it. Lol. But then maybe it was more his annoyance at yet another pigeonhole label for yet another genre of music that never seemed fitting? And well, I guess, for him, “punk” would be old. It had been a word used in the U.S. and New York in particular as a style of music for a few years by this point.

“Swizzleland”. Lol. He just sounds so…ordinary.

But he never was. Never ever.

It’s also brought home to me how very little I have listened to him in recent years. So caught up in all things Simple Minds and my….fixation with a certain Glaswegian fae Toryglen, that I have hardly given David’s music any of my time at all.

But I have still been avidly tuning in to the MainMan podcast every week and will be devouring the latest episode this evening. Perhaps even partaking in a listen of a Bowie album afterwards.

“Heroes” seems apt somehow.

Most appropriate tune off the album right now? Sense Of Doubt. For me. For the world. All of it.

Things I Still Miss

All the time. Being able to ask Jim a random question. It might not always have been answered, but sometimes it would be.

Now I don’t feel as though I can ask…or it would be a waste of energy even asking as he’d either not see it or really wouldn’t be bothered to reply.

Over the past week or so I have been wondering if he was a fan of Slade. I don’t know why I am particularly curious. I suppose because they just seemed so “mega” for a time in the early 70s – and they had the glam thing too – but kind of heavier sound, much more rock based and Noddy’s voice is so distinctive. And their look and how they slightly altered from a real skinhead kind of vibe to uber glam – but still rock. And…Dave Hill – enough said. Lol

They are a band I feel I should give more time to. When I think about the musical output I’ve heard from them, I think it’s definitely a precursor to punk. Aspects of their sound and look had a punk ethos before “punk” was really a thing. Then I suppose other bands like Iggy and the Stooges and the New York Dolls had that too. Especially in the case of New York Dolls, like Slade – almost that crossover point of straddling both aspects of glam and punk.

I can’t recall Jim ever mentioning Slade or talking about them. I guess he never has because they just weren’t part of the Kerr taste? I dunno.

I wish I felt able to ask, but I don’t much see the point. I guess that answer lies in his lack of ever talking about them. Then again, no one was more surprised than me when he brought up the subject of Hawkwind the other week. Though he obviously put in the “conditional clause” of the liking of seeing them live was more the female flesh on display as much as (or if not actually MORE than) the music itself.

Rampant hormonal teenage boy! Well I guess he knew what to do with those “hard ons” after a few Hawkwind gigs. Lol

Before Lostboy! There Was “Special School” Boy! Lol (Pro Synth Network with Mick MacNeil)

I need to explain this post header. Lol

“The Man in the Sky”, Mick MacNeil, was being interviewed….well, more joined in in a live stream chat (with a loose interview in there) for this YouTube channel called the Pro Synth Network. Basically a weekly synth geek’s get together to discuss all things Synth and keyboard based. New bits of kit out on the market, etc, etc.

Once we get the technicals and geek talk out the way, about 45 minutes in, then there is talk with Mick about his time with Simple Minds and just…his background of being a synth player and how it all came to be. It’s a great thing and Mick shares great anecdotes and is a lot of fun. He always gives great banter.

I am going to drop in on the interview right at the point where Mick says he went to see the band before he joined. What he says about Jim absolutely cracked me up and had me in stitches! Which then meant I missed the next minute or so of the conversation. The very interesting point Mick made about Jim and his stutter (or on anyone with a stutter – in the broader sense).

Anyway, let’s cut to it. But I recommended you maybe go back a few minutes on the clip and listen to Mick talk about taking up (or having it thrust upon him, more accurately!) the accordion and sticking with the rest of the video.

 

Strange Days … Indeed!

And, well…just in case Sir disnae see it on the SM visitor wall (as it now behaves rather oddly these days and can’t be viewed via the FB app – at least I can’t view it – maybe I have been blocked from it? Dunno!) Anyways, I did post this to the SM FB wall but on the silly notion that Jim comes and peruses this utterly sycophantic, lovesick blog then…

So I open the (digital version) latest edition of Uncut magazine and there’s a piece about Richard Strange in it. Simple Minds even get a namecheck as being a Doctors Of Madness support act back in the day. The short piece discusses Strange’s … memoir? I guess it would be. Also in an audio form on his website it says. But I am sure you are already up on all of this, Sir? If not then, you’re welcome. 👍🏻😊

Rare, Rarer, Rarest – Punk 45s

From the latest edition of Long Live Vinyl. A timely nod to Pripton. I guess he’s the reason this blog exists after all…

Personally, I still think Dead Vandals was the better song, but was obviously less ‘punk’ in the strictest musical notation terms. Thank god it was the B Side at least.

Big Gold Dreams – A Story Of Independent Scottish Music: 1977 -1989

Due for release on February 22nd on the Cherry Red Records label is a 5 CD box set of the best of Scottish music released on independent record labels from for first stages of punk in 1977, through to the modern mainstream in 1989.

It’s an impressive and extensive list of acts to come out of such a small country, and a number of them go on to find major commercial success – none more successful than “our” Simple Minds – then not quite fully formed and under the original moniker of Johnny And The Self Abusers. The song that features is Dead Vandals (of the two songs that JATSA commercially produced, this is the one I prefer – even though Saints And Sinners by its pace adheres more to the punk ethos).

Below is a review in the most recent issue of Record Collector magazine. The review is very good. At the end of the post, you find a “taster” playlist on Spotify as to what’s to come on the box set.

You’ll also find a documentary, well, more a multi-interview piece about the music scene in Scotland during this thriving and almost creatively saturated period – with contributions from industury insiders, DJs and presenters and musicians.