The last San Francisco r’n’r band: an eulogy for The Nuns

nuns 1

San Francisco was the hometown for some of my favourite r’n’r bands: Jefferson Airplane, The Flamin’ Groovies, SVT, Crime, The Avengers, just to name a few. But after the heyday of punk the flow of r’n’r bands from the Bay Area suddenly stopped. Since then nothing exciting has crossed the Golden Gate.

Well, The Nuns were the last to surrender. They relocated to New York. Fact. They lost their edge since the first reunion in 1980. Fact. They became an ugly goth/SM band. Fact. Alejandro Escovedo turned out a quite boring “americana” songwriter from the manic guitarist he once was. Fact. They dilapidated in true r’n’r style a huge collective talent when they were on the brink to sign with Columbia-CBS and to be managed by Bill Graham, one of the most powerful man in the show-biz. Fact.

Nuns #17

Richie Detrick, Jeff Oleaner and Alejandro Escovedo. Nuns

But for a tiny window in space and time, in the few blocks separating the Mabuhay Garden restaurant to the Winterland Ballroom and in the few months from December 1976 to December 1978, they were one of most incendiary  band in the world.  And Jennifer Miro was an icy queen cast from Nico-V.U. era mold… The two concerts you can see here are a true testimonial.

The first one is recorded at the Winterland Ballroom the 30th of July 1977.

 

The second one is the infamous triple bill supporting the Sex Pistols on their last concert ever: same location, 14th of January 1978, with The Avengers on the second slot and the Negative Trend tricked by Bill Graham to play after The Pistols when the hall was emptied.

And for the very first time ever you can download’em here in all their ragged glory…

 

Annunci

You do not believe we’re for real: The Sex Pistols Complete Studio Recordings

The Sex Pistols (1976) © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com Please contact Bob Gruen's studio to purchase a print or license this photo. email: websitemail01@aol.com phone: 212-691-0391

The Sex Pistols (1976) © Bob Gruen / 

The Pistols discography is a nightmarish, messy affair. Although They released onlY four singles and one album in their lifespan, for a mere total of 16 tracks officially put out until they acrimoniously split after the infamous concert at the Winterland, S.F. on January 31st 1978. 

After that Glitterbest (Malcom Mc Laren’s management company) and Virgin, still shocked by the death of their golden eggs chicken, flooded the market with: singles of the late incarnations of the Pistols with Ronnie Biggs or Tenpole Tudor filling in for Johnny Rotten, greatest hits, Sid’s songs, soundtracks of “The Great r’n’r Swindle” on 1 or 2 Lp’s, with different covers and various permutations of tracks and other barrel scraping items.sexpistols1

But, ladies and gentlemen, that’s not what we are here for. We mean it, man… So we’ll discuss only prime Sex Pistols stuff: their true legacy recorded when they were still a working unit, more or less until Malcom and Johnny fired Glen and hired the almost inept Sid Vicious on late December 1977.

The Pistols at work in 1976

The Pistols at work in 1976

Since then they were highly unproductive. In their last year not a single new song was penned, being the sensitively titled “Belsen was a gas” an old Sid’s song, most likely written for the Flowers of Romance and “Religion” (later recorded for P.I.L.) only rehearsed during the ill-fated North-American tour of early 1978 and so never properly recorded. “E.M.I.”, their final joke on Sir John Read’s major label, and “New York”, a blatant insult to David Johansen and Sylvian Sylvian (the latter should have been Pistols guitarist and leader, had he followed Mc Laren when the New York Dolls splitted in Florida in 1975), were already ready and fully developed when a couple of weeks after Glen’s sacking the band regrouped and entered at the Gooseberry and Wessex studios to cut six tracks with their soundman Dave Goodman in the second half of January 1977.

The Pistols with Dave Goodman

The Pistols with Dave Goodman

The following month began the painstakingly process of recording “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols”, under the supervision of Chris Thomas. After the 1992, 1996 and 2012 rerelease of the album as well as the “Suck This” and “Sexbox” sets, we have different mixes, demos and alternative versions of the 12 songs of the album, but up now no proper outtakes are emerged. CreativelY the Pistols were over. Mc Laren’s attempt to had it produced by Syd Barrett and the scene of him and the Pistols mob banging at the door of the Chelsea Cloyster reclusive host is Spinal Tap at its funniest.

On September 1977, weeks before “Never Mind The Bollocks” was officially released, the famous bootleg “Spunk” (then officially printed many times since 1996), was largely available in London, acting as a proper Sex Pistols first album. It contains raw versions of many Pistols classics from the Dave Goodman (the usual suspect for this illegit release) sessions.

The Pistols at Wessex Studios cutting "Anarchy in the UK"

The Pistols at Wessex Studios cutting “Anarchy in the UK”

In a way they were better, especially on the vocal department, lacking the mannerism that a more and more frustrated johnny rotten shows in the virgin album. But they were also deprived of the punch and the power reached by the production work by Chris Thomas, who along Steve Jones layered tons of guitars on one of the most -quite ironically, isn’i it?- overproduced r’n’r album ever. Otherwise “Spunk” is an awesome snapshot of the band: The Sex Pistols thrashing their way in full glory.

A more accurate glimpse at the 1976-early 1977 sessions shows a band pumped by Cook’s Moonesque drumming, by a guitar that is pure Chuck Berry via Johnny Thunders, by Glen Matlock’s melodic basslines and fronted by an incestuos mix of a Shakesperean wicked Richard III and a spastic reject from Dicken’s London. Add to the receipe a manager-svengali coming as countercultural agit-prop and prime mover soaked in early r’n’r imagery crossed with Carnaby Street Mod etiquette and post 1968 Situationism. They were misfits, thugs and cockney hooligans deeply rooted in Hi-NRG r’n’r:

They pulverize mod classics as “Substitute” by The Who and the Small Faces’ “Watcha Gonna Do About It“; Freakbeat hits as their take on The Creation’s “Through My Eyes“; garage pop Ditties as The Monkees’ “(I’m not Your) Stepping Stone” and Dave Berry’s “Don’t Give Me No Lip Child“. And they were strongly connected with late Sixties-early Seventies american r’n’r bands: the New York Dolls (via Malcom), The Stooges (Lydon was among the 150ish who attended their unique London concert back in 1973) and the Modern Lovers, hommaged respectively with a fantastic cover of “No Fun” and a so-and-so take of “Roadrunner”.

Here’s a timeline. And Here‘s the Real Sex Pistols!

 

 

Turning Rebellion into Money: The Clash in 2013

The Clash motto about their output is always been “money for value”. There’s no need to remember that London Calling (a double record set!!) and Sandinista! (a triple record set!!!) were sold both as a single LP. Well, that’s not the case…

 

 

Sound System, the present box set (actually 12 cds and 1dvd, plus a lot of paraphernalias and gadgets) has been carefully assembled by the surviving and functioning Clash (here). Mick Jones remastered all the tracks here, Paul Simonon personally edited the graphic design of the whole lot.

Sony conceived the box set as the definitive legacy of the Clash, probably the last ever release by the Ladbroke Grove boys. The problem is -as Paul candidly admitted in a recent interview to Rolling Stone- you don’t need it if you got the records already…

The Clash records have been already remastered thrice. A flat and sloppy job at the end of the Eighties, an excellent job done circa 1990 for the tracks selected for The Clash On Broadway box set, and finally the unsatisfactory effort for the “remastered” editions just at the turn of the century.

How good Mick would have worked for this new remasterings, they would not beat the original vinyl editions, as Paul confessed. The major problem with some of those records (let’s say Sandinista! and Combat Rock above all) was the mix (guitars way too low in Sandinista!, bass disconnected to others instruments -big production fuck up- in Combat Rock, my 2 cents).

But The Clash were never about Hi-Fi, They were about excitment, breaking boundaries and great songs.

 

Assuming that: 1) istitutionalized Clash canon is all about Mick’s era; 2) you already have all the Clash records; the bonus material on Sound System is (in bold the unreleased tracks):

Disc One

1. White Riot (Single version)

2. 1977 (B-side)

3. Listen (Capital Radio EP) / Interviews (Capital Radio EP)

4. Capital Radio (Capital Radio EP)

5. London’s Burning (Live B-side Remote Control)

6. Complete Control (Single version)

7. City Of The Dead (B-side)

8. Clash City Rockers (Original single version)

9. Jail Guitar Doors (B-side)

10. White Man In Hammersmith Palais (A-side)

11. The Prisoner (B-side)

12. 1-2 Crush On You (B-side Tommy Gun)

13. Time Is Tight (Black Market Clash)

14. Pressure Drop (B-side English Civil War)

15. I Fought The Law (Cost Of Living EP)

16. Groovy Times (Cost Of Living EP)

17. Gates Of The West (Cost Of Living EP)

18. Capital Radio (Cost Of Living EP)

19. Armagideon Time

20. Bank Robber (A-side)

21. Rockers Galore On A UK Tour (B-side)

Disc Two

1. Magnificent Dance (12”) 5:36 (available on Singles box set)

2. Midnight To Stevens (Outtake)

3. Radio One (B-side Hitsville UK) (actually a Mickey Dread song)

4. Stop The World (B-side The Call Up)

5. The Cool Out (US 12” B-side of The Call Up)

6. This Is Radio Clash (A-side)

7. This Is Radio Clash (B-side 7” – different lyrics) (it’s actually called Radio Clash)

8. First Night Back In London (B-side Know Your Rights)

9. Rock The Casbah (Bob Clearmountain 12” mix)

10. Long Time Jerk (B-side Rock The Casbah)

11. The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too (Outtake)

12. Idle In Kangaroo Court (Outtake listed as Kill Time)

13. Ghetto Defendant (Extended version – unedited)

14. Cool Confusion (B-side Should I Stay Or Should I Go 7”)

15. Sean Flynn (Extended ‘Marcus Music’ version)

16. Straight To Hell (Extended unedited version from Clash On Broadway)

Disc Three

Extracts from The Clash’s first ever recording session at Beaconsfield Film School 1976. Recorded by Julien Temple

1. I’m So Bored With The USA

2. London’s Burning

3. White Riot

4. 1977

Polydor Demos – The Clash second recording session January 1977

Produced by Guy Stevens

5. Janie Jones

6. Career Opportunities

7. London’s Burning

8. 1977

9. White Riot

Live at The Lyceum, London 28th December 1979

10. City Of The Dead

11. Jail Guitar Doors

12. English Civil War

13. Stay Free

14. Cheapstakes

15. I Fought The Law

 

Too little, too late…The fact is there’s a whole lot more! As far as I’m concerned, that’s what is previously released that is not on Sound System:

 

Listen [Edit] (from Capital Radio EP, 1977)*

White Man in Hammersmith Palais (from the Rock Against Racism LP, 1978, slightly different studio version)

The Cost of Living Advert (from The Cost of Living EP, 1979)

Justice Tonight (from London Calling single, 1979)

Kick it Over (from London Calling single, 1979)

Bankrobber/Robber Dub (from Black Market Clash, 1980)

Justice Tonight/Kick it Over (from Black Market Clash, 1980)

The Magnificent Seven [Edit] (from The Magnificent Seven single, 1981)

The Magnificent Dance [Edit] (from The Magnificent Seven single, 1981)

The Magnificent Seven [12″ Mix] (from The Magnificent Seven single, 1981)

Outside Broadcast (from This is Radio Clash 12’, 1981)

Radio 5 (from This is Radio Clash 12’, 1981)

Rock the Casbah [Single Version] (from Rock the Casbash single, 1982)

Mustapha Dance (from Rock the Casbash single, 1982)

Straight to Hell [Edit] (from Should I Stay or Should I Go/Straight to Hell single, 1982)

Return to Brixton single (Return to Brixton [7″ Mix]/Return to Brixton [12″ Mix]/Return to Brixton [SW2 Dub], 1990)

One Emotion (from Clash on Broadway, 1991)

Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice) [Live] (from Clash on Broadway, 1991)

Every Little Bit Hurts (from Clash on Broadway, 1991)

Red Angel Dragnet [Edited Version (from Clash on Broadway, 1991)

Ghetto Defendant [Edited Version] (from Clash on Broadway, 1991)

Listen (from Super Black Market Clash, 1993)

Robber Dub (from Super Black Market Clash, 1993)

Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones) (from Rocker’s Galore promo CD, 1999)

Rock the Casbash (Rock Da Casbah 2004 Mix)

From Here to Eternity Live (1999, available on digital version of set)

The Vanilla Tapes (2004)

Live at Shea Stadium (2008, available on digital version of set)

 

Collaborations:

Capitol Air (Allen Ginsberg box set Holy Soul Jelly Roll)

The Escapades of Futura 2000 single (1982)

House of the Ju-Ju Queen single (backing band as The Lash for mistress Janie Jones, 1982

House of the Ju-Ju Queen

Sex Machine (the James Brown song)

But we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. And it needs to be heard. Apart the fantastic soundboards recently emerged we will tak about in a forthcoming post, there are plenty of demos and outtakes telling a whole different (or -better- alternative) story of The Clash that will be a much more interesting addiction to their catalogue that a “king-kong cassette deck”-alike box full of useless gadgets.

What we have is mainly presented in a couple of bootlegs, D.O.A (cd1 and Cd2). and Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg. Here we go:

Mickey Foote Demos (1977)

I’m so Bored with the Usa

London’s Burning

White Riot (2 takes)

Career Opportunities

1977

Janie Jones (instrumental

Heartbreak Hotel (takes 1-2) (from Grutzi Elvis soundtrack)

Clash City Rockers (alternate version)


Give’em Enough Rope Demos

All the Young Punks

Safe European Homes

Drug Stabbing Time

Julie’s in the Drug Squad

Stay Free

Groovy Times

Last Gang in Town

Ooh Baby ooh

One Emotion

 

London Calling rehersals

Mona (B. Diddley)

You can’t Judge a Book (W. Dixon)

 

London Calling outtakes

Revolution Rock Dub

 

Sandinista! Outtakes

Dirty Harry (different mix of Magnificent Seven released for NYC hip-hop radio)

Blonde Rock’n’Roll

Louie Louie

King of the Road (R. Miller)

 

Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg (the Mick Jones version of Combat Rock: a planned double album with a more avangarde and very different mix. Strummer and Simonon rejected the mix and handled the editing duty to Glyn Jones that heavily revised Jonesy stuff and reduced it to a single LP format. Probably the last straw that broke the Clash camel… For the whole story go to the Kris Needs account on Mojo no. 180.

The Beautiful People are Ugly

Kill Time

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Know Your Rights

Red Angel Dragnet

Ghetto Defendant

Sean Flynn

Car Jamming

Innoculated City

Death is a Star

Walk Evil Talk

Atom Tan

First Night Back in London

Cool Confusion

Straight to Hell

 

Combat Rock outtakes

Red Angel Dragnet (with Rankin Rogers)

Rock the Casbah (with Rankin Rogers)

Know Your Rights (alternative version)

Innoculated City (Uncensored)

Hell W10 Soundtrack (basically a silent movie shot by Strummer in the summer 1983 as the band was collapsing. Its soundtrack features different mixes and/or different takes of Combat Rock song without vocals).

Hell W10 (instrumental)

Rock the Casbah (instrumental)

Know Your Rights (instrumental)

Red Angel Dragnet (instrumental)

Overpowered by Funk (instrumental)

Ghetto Defendant 1 (instrumental)

Ghetto Defendant 2 (instrumental)

Atom Tan (instrumental)

First Night Back in London (instrumental)

Cool Confusion 1 (instrumental)

Cool Confusion 2 (instrumental)

House of the Ju-Ju Queen demo (backing band as The Lash for mistress Janie Jones, 1982)

But, there’s more. that’s what we think is likely to be found in the clash vaults if mick wasn’t so lazy… let’s go:

the clash sessions (1977)

the clash had some other songs in their repertoire by then, based loosely on who riffs (can’t explain) but i seriously doubt that they were recorded in studio:

You Know What I Think About You

I Never Did it

How can i understand the flies?

Deadly Serious

I’m So Bored With You (first version of I’m So Bored With USA)

Mark Me Absent

Sitting at my Party

Give’em enough rope sessions (1978)

There are 2 songs that were mentioned in several contemporary press reports:

Scrawl on the bathroom walls

RAF 1820 (a song about the german terrorists Rote Arme FraKtion, but it could be a working title for Tommy Gun)

London Calling Sessions (1979)

On the Vanilla Tapes (the general rehersals for London Calling materials), there are several tracks that didn’t make the final cut. By contemporary reports it seems that the only one that was actually recorded during the sessions with guy stevens was heart and mind:

Up-Toon (instrumental, working title for THE RIGHT PROFILE)

PAUL’s TOON (WORKING TITLE FOR THE GUNS OF BRIXTON)

working and waiting (working title for clampdown)

Lonesome Me 

Walking The Slidewalk

Where You Gonna Go (Soweto)

The Man in Me (B. Dylan)

Heart and  Mind

Sandinista! Sessions (1980) 

Before a triple lp set, The Sandinista! sessions were held for a stream of singles to be released every month. The CBS steadily vetoed the idea. On Chris Salewicz’s Redemption Song there’s a picture of a handwritten list of the song selected for this 7′ campaign.there’s a date (end of march 1980) and a location (electric Ladyland Studios), so it’s likely they were recorded. 

clash 001

Radio W.J.UB. (probably The Magnificent Seven in its Dirty Harry configuration)

Stop the World

When it’s Over (unidentified)

Up in Heaven

Freedom Train (probably an undubbed version of Version City)

The Call Up

Get Up for the Sun (unidentified)

Police on My Back

Runnin’ (Version) (probably a dub version of Police on My Back)

One More Dub

Blonde Rock’n’Roll (surely recorded)

Junkie Slip

King of The Road (surely recorded)

J.B.; King of Soul (unidentified)

If Music Could Talk

Living in Fame -Dread-

One More Time

Combat rock Sessions (1981-82)

It seemed thatwe know all the stuff recorded , while different working mixes emerged during the years (here too) as results of endless rows inside the band, until December 2012 when Tymon Dogg released the magnificent Once You Know. May Be there’s other in the can…

Soundchecks

Many songs (mainly covers) seems to be soundchecked or played live during the years. The main reference here is: K. Topping, The Complete Clash, 2003:

Be Bop a Lula (Vincent/Davies)

Billy (B. Dylan)

Dance Crasher (A. Ellis)

Dancing Shoes (B. Marley)

Fingernails (J. Ely)

54-46 That’s My Number (F. Hibbert)

Fujiiama Mama (W. Jackson)

The Harder They Come (J. Cliff)

Hit The Road Jack (R. Charles)

Israelites (Dekker/Kong)

Johnny Too Bad (The Slickers)

Keys to your Heart (The 101ers)

Let the Good Times Roll (L. Lee)

Liquidator (H. Johnson)

007 (Shanty Town) (D. Dekker)

Pop Goes the Weasel (Trad.)

Rabies (From the Dogs of Love) (The 101ers)

Roadrunner (The Modern Lovers)

The Train Kept a’ Rolling (J. Burnette)

Uptown Top Ranking (Forrest/Reid)

War in a Babylon (Romeo/Perry)

Your Rockin’ Mama (C. Mann)

This Train…

Innanzitutto benvenuti! questo blog si occupa di rock’n’roll: un genere musicale la cui spinta propulsiva è durata una ventina d’anni (1956-1976, con la cuspide della creatività nel 1966) e di cui ancora ascoltiamo il rumore di fondo del suo Big Bang…

Juvenile Delinquent Music è l’espressione che coniò Frank Sinatra (hats off to the Voice) per descrivere questa musica che ibridava ritmi neri e melodie bianche. Questo aspetto minaccioso ed eccitante è proprio quello che manca al rock’n’roll di oggi: o ammiccamento revivalistico o intrattenimento rassicurante.
In questo blog mi occuperò invece di tutti quegli artisti e quelle band che hanno fatto dell’energia e della loro spesso frustrata determinazione la loro principale cifra stilistica. E voglio farlo condividendo con tutti voi registrazioni inedite, singoli rari ed introvabili, rip da vinile ecc.
All Aboard…..