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Show Time!

Posted on August 1, 2008 at 2:12 AM Comments comments (0)

RED FLAG 77 - THE BALLISTICS
Martlesham Heath Village Green, UK - 12th July 2008

This was one of those free outdoor village festivals. I'm sure you know the sort; about 15 bands play and feature school choirs, folk, rock, blues and too many terminally dull cover bands that display not a scrap of soul or sincerity. Among the bands at this all-dayer at Martlesham (a village about 15 minutes from central Ipswich) were the two finest bands in Suffolk: Ska-Punkers THE BALLISTICS and the blazing blast of choice Punk Rock that is RED FLAG 77. Being Summer, it was still daylight, making a rather surreal environment for bands more accustomed to playing in dark clubs and disreputable boozers.
I arrived with an hour to spare, so with an over-priced pint of beer in hand, stood in the beer tent and took in the turgid (lack of) tunes of Mohawk. Think Pearl Jam but slower. Yawn... A kinda country-rock band followed; not too thrilling but a 100% improvement on Fuck-Hawk.
Finally THE BALLISTICS came on and instantly had the amassed crowd of Punkers, skankers and drunks at the front of the stage dancing and smiling. The band looked sharp (Roki distinctly so I must say) and sounded even sharper. From memory, most of the tracks in the band's 30-minute set were taken from the 'Spirit of Kelso Cochrane' album with a few new songs thrown in including the debut performance of a natty new tune. A tasty cover of RANCID's 'Time Bomb' was aired and the set closed with a sing-a-long-a-Glen in the shape of 'My Uncle Fred'. What makes THE BALLISTICS a step above most other Ska bands is the band's sense of fun and a sound and attitude that has a closer affinity with THE SPECIALS rather than banal blowhards like VOODOO GLOWSKULLS.
RED FLAG 77 followed on the second stage (well, truck as it was) and locked in and kicked out in an instant with 'How Low' followed by what could be the best song ever written by an Ipswich Punk band, 'As I Fall'. From there it was a clinical, tight performance with highlights being 'Time Has Been Called' and set-closer 'Backs To The Wall'. 'Nice Boys Don't Play Rock 'n' Roll' by ROSE TATTOO got the FLAG treatment and, with the new football (OK - Soccer for non-European readers!) season but a week or so away, vocalist Rikki kicked a few Ipswich Town inflatable beach balls into the crowd and then promptly burned through a turbo-charged take of 'Football Crazy'. It's great to hear the band still sounding so urgent and exciting; the new tracks exhibited here are trademark FLAG scorchers with a depth few of the band's contemporaries could match.
The 'festival' scenario certainly favoured the more accessible sounds of THE BALLISTICS, but RED FLAG 77 unequivocally provided the proverbial kick-in-the-guts that these events usually so desperately need.
I headed to the beer tent and paid only fleeting interest in SUSPECT DEVICE - a 'Sound Of The Suburbs' Punk jukebox cover band. 'Teenage Kicks', 'Babylon's Burning', 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' yada yada yada. Kinda fun but following the incinerating aural blast of RED FLAG 77, the band sounded pedestrian and laboured.
The bands that followed were another pair of tedious cover bands. Anything But Ordinary was everything but interesting. The band did vaguely lift me out of my coma with a good version of THE JAM's 'A Town Called Malice'; the singer's voice was a dead ringer for Paul Weller and I even considered applauding for a split second. Stingray closed the night and were only interesting in as much as the keyboard player wore a CLASH T-shirt that I had never seen before. It's a shame the band's sound was much less interesting. We got Franz Ferdinand and, apparently, the Arctic Monkeys. As the band's collective, well-deserved violent destruction was unlikely to occur, I went for another pint of Stella and contemplated what slow, torturous death would please me most for Mofohawk and Shitray.

Swedish Punk Book

Posted on June 21, 2008 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (1)

I've just been reading about this book, 'The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977-1987' by Peter Jandreus and, given the huge influence of the Swedish Punk scene, thought I'd give it a mention here.
It's a hardcover job with 320 illustrated, colour pages and for those of us who are not multi-lingual, it's thankfully written in English. Apparently it has taken Jandreus about ten years to collect the information contained within the book and, when you consider it details more than 300 bands, has a musicians' index and features 800 records in illustration alone, it's apparent this was quite a mammoth undertaking.
All the obvious bands of the era are featured - ANTI-CIMEX, MOB 47, ATTENTAT, KSMB, AVSKUM, DISARM and STREBERS to name but a few along with other, less notorious bands from the same ten-year period.
From reading the press blurb on the publisher's website, the discographies are comprehensive in the extreme listing variations in vinyl pressings and covers, the availability of coloured vinyl and an established price guide indication rating for each and every entry!!
You can get more info on the book via the Premium Publishing website and, if you hit the 'Press' link, you can access about 16 pages in PDF format including Jandreus's own introduction.

In Memoriam

Posted on March 3, 2008 at 2:08 AM Comments comments (0)
On Thursday 28th February 2008, singer of 1980s Californian Hardcore band, MIA, died due to the results of a head injury. He was 48 years old.
Conley died in suburban Chicago in a motel parking lot near O'Hare International Airport and had suffered a major head wound. Despite rumours of him being murdered and of a person who had been staying at the hotel being charged on the Friday with felony theft and other charges for stealing Conley's cell phone, two of his credit cards and using one of them at a local store, this proved to be no more than a rumour. Conley's death actually resulted from a tragic and freak accident which was the result of a fall in the motel's parking lot.
MIA formed out from the ashes of a Las Vegas Punk band, SWELL, when Conley and drummer Chris Moon move to Orange County. SWELL's guitarist, Nick Adams, soon joins them after a sojourn in San Diego and MIA is born.
The band splits for a while when Conley moves back to Las Vegas. Following MIA appearing on a couple of classic compilations (Maximum Rocknroll's 'Not So Quiet On The Western Front' and 'American Youth Report'), the band reforms when Conley moves back to Orange County.
Over the following years, a series of records was released including 'Murder In A Foreign Place' EP and 'Notes From The Underground' album before the band split once more following a final show supporting DEAD KENNEDYS.
The band reforms in 1986 and records the 'After The Fact' album the following year before the final split.
In 2001, Alternative Tentacles released a compilation of studio and live recordings titled 'Lost Boys' which serves as an ideal catching up point of this great band.
Former DEAD KENNEDYS singer Jello Biafra remembers the first time he saw MIA in Las Vegas in 1983. "The venue was two used storage spaces that some Punks had knocked the middle wall out of and turned into a secret illegal nightclub," Biafra said. "You can't get more Punk Rock than that that, and that is where I first saw MIA." Biafra offered to sign Conley and MIA to his Alternative Tentacles label that night.
Recently, Conley became a champion for revitalizing the economy in Westside Costa Mesa as the owner of The Avalon Bar, 820 19th St., a popular venue for Orange County DJs. As a bar owner, Conley strove to make The Avalon Bar a hip enclave for people in the know. With no sign to attract customers, the establishment relied on word-of-mouth advertising. Conley was skilled at working with wood and restored all the wood cabinetry in the bar himself.
Conley is survived by longtime girlfriend Shelly 'Syd' Leonard and his three daughters: Alex, 18, a freshman and Division 1 soccer player at La Salle University; Zoe, 9, and Ava, 5.
A memorial fund has been set up for Mike's daughters so people can donate if they wish. If you want to help, here is the info:
Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund,
c/o Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 11547, Santa Ana, CA 92711
A website is also in the works.

For further information, check out the following websites:-
The Daily Pilot (where much of the information for this piece was taken)
MIA Official band site
Alternative Tentacles Records

In Memoriam

Posted on February 5, 2008 at 1:23 AM Comments comments (2)

On Wednesday 30th January 2008, Sean Finnegan, the drummer of 80s Washington DC-based Hardcore band VOID, passed away due to an apparent heart attack. He was 43 years old.
Finnegan drummed in VOID for the duration of the band's active life, spanning 1980-1983. At the time of his death, Finnegan was working on the set of an HBO Production titled, 'The Wire'.
VOID was one of the first bands to be associated with Dischord Records, the legendary DC record label, via its appearance on the classic 'Flex Your Head' compilation. It was the band's following release, the classic split record with fellow DC band THE FAITH, which really put it on the map.
VOID played a chaotic, frantic form of Hardcore - possibly the most intense and disjointed of all the Dischord bands. The band's debut show was at a massive 15-band affair at DC's The Wilson Center organized primarily by THE BAD BRAINS.
The band didn't release a great deal during its three year tenure. Besides what is already mentioned, there was only a further three tracks released on the '20 Years Of Dischord' box set and the 'Condensed Flesh' release of early recordings which displays a slightly less intense, chaotic sound.
It should be noted there was also a full-length album recorded in 1984 titled 'Potions For Bad Dreams'. It's a Metal album though and while it is not as cheesy as SSD's 'Break It Up', it's still best avoided.
I never got to see VOID live and, to be honest, I always preferred THE FAITH's side of that record. But the intensity and the influence VOID held - and still hold today - should not be underestimated.

Forward 4 Wiz Trust

Posted on January 10, 2008 at 8:31 PM Comments comments (1)

As most of you are no doubt aware, Darren ?Wiz? Brown of MEGA CITY FOUR, DOUGHBOYS, SERPICO and more recently IPANEMA, passed away on 6 December 2006.

Wiz?s last band, IPANEMA, had its material released via Boss Tuneage Records.  Over the last year, the label has been working on an IPANEMA CD with Wiz's bandmates Lawrence and Rauf and his partner Karina and brother Danny, which compiles all of the band?s studio recordings. The CD will also include the 9 tracks Wiz had been working on for an album that Boss Tuneage intended to release early in 2007 before his death.

After a year of work, Boss Tuneage now has the IPANEMA CD ready to go via mailorder only as a benefit for Karina's new charity set up in WIz's name, Forward 4 Wiz Trust. All proceeds will go to the charity. The CD is going to be available from January 18th (Wiz's birthday) and will cost ?10 postpaid UK/?11 Europe/?11.50 rest of the world.

More details can be found on the Boss Tuneage Website or at Forward 4 Wiz Trust

Album Feature

Posted on November 24, 2007 at 3:27 PM Comments comments (0)

THE RABBLE - The Battle's Almost Over... {Filthy Lucre} The third album is always a tricky proposition for a band. It's the album that proves whether there is depth beyond the band's formative years. It's the album that should show a marked progression without compromising its original ideals and direction. Basically, it's the album that proves whether a band should be regarded with respect or is dismissed as a passing fad that was once fun, but now sounds contrived.
Thankfully, for these three fellas from New Zealand's North Island, the third album represents a resounding, triumphant success. The band takes the spirit of youthful exuberance that made the debut album such a cracker, adds some depth and musical experimentation. From the mix comes an album that is focused, insistent and mature whilst retaining all the Punk Rock energy, vitriolic delivery and petulant dynamics that have always made this band one of the best in its field.
The album's artwork states the band's case even before any music is played: vocalist/drummer Rupe walks alone but indomitable into a seemingly post-apocalypse wasteland armed with a solitary guitar case in hand. Once the CD starts, it's clear that THE RABBLE is more than able to let the music speak for itself, and damn the naysayers.
The opening track, 'Seeking' is one of many highlights. It starts with a guitar intro that would not sound out of place on latter GUN CLUB albums. Once the band makes its presence known, an anthemic chorus comes from nowhere stating the band's disdain of apathy and of its desire to push forward.
Fifteen tracks follow ranging in subject matter from the joy of youth, the spirit of Punk Rock, life experience and, best of all, some political insight and opinion with the tracks 'Dead End' and, more specifically, 'Sick And Tired'. This lyrical direction has often been lacking on the band's previous material and it's good to see the band addressing the subject without resorting to any of the recognised Punk Rock clichés.
Musically, the spectre of SOCIAL DISTORTION pervades through much of the album. It's not a blatant rip-off; just well executed songs ('Devils Highway' in particular) that owe more to SD in spirit than anything the band has previously recorded. This is mixed with a classic UK Punk sound that is somewhere between the melodic structure of 'Nobody's Heroes' era STIFF LITTLE FINGERS and the musical muscle and defiance of the 'Time Was Right' album by THE PARTISANS. Fuse those three influences together and the result could be retrogressive; here THE RABBLE makes it fresh and vibrant.
Add to that instruments as diverse as acoustic guitar, bagpipes (on the fist-throwing, exultant title track), mandolin, double bass and even a harpsichord and you are left with something that every third album should establish for the band in question: it's own sound and identity. Ultimately, that's what THE RABBLE has achieved with this record - a sound that is the band's own and, given the strength of this album, it's a formidable, tumultuous, pulsating Punk Rock beat that's as addictive as it is enjoyable.
This album also sees the recording debut of the new line-up. Chazz now handles all the guitar parts with stunning aplomb, be it bittersweet solos such as on the closing 'City Of Sin' or clinical rhythm playing as demonstrated on the sublime ascending/descending Pistolian riffing of 'Start Again'. What may be the most telling line-up change is new bassist Jamie, whose tight, dextrous playing fills out the sound and augments it with an inflammable intensity that had been missing. The blistering bass breakdown in 'Sick and Tired' ably demonstrates this.
The album does have its low points though. Both 'Bored' and 'Zombies' are a little generic. They are not necessarily bad tracks; both are energetic and ably played, they just fail to stand up to the overwhelming strength of the other 14 tracks present on the album.
Jim Seigel of Boston's infamous Outpost mixed the album which could explain some of the general depth and weight behind the music ('New Generation' has a massive sound) but for a great mix to work, the raw ingredients have to be there - and THE RABBLE has them in abundance. Mark, from THE UNSEEN, does a guest vocal on 'This World Is Dead' which is a bit of a scoop for THE RABBLE and the juxtaposition of different voices works well.
And this is released on the band's own DIY label. While others have jumped ship and signed to a major, THE RABBLE remains in control of its own destiny. Given the quality of the record - including artwork, song structure, musicianship and production - the album as a whole should be cited as something approaching a minor-classic.
This is a coming-of-age record for the band, one that sees it transcend the boundaries of routine but good Punk Rock and move into the territory reserved for genre-defining innovators.

More Memoriams

Posted on October 27, 2007 at 4:51 PM Comments comments (0)

What a tragic weekend October 20-21 represented for the world of Punk Rock. The loss of any influential Punk musician is always sad, but when that loss is to incurable disease it makes things even worse. These three guys feature heavily in the House Of Scanner record collection and their passing leaves a sizeable hole as they were all still musically active in some way.
R. I. P. Guys - but don't turn it down!

In the early hours of Saturday 20 October 2007, former KILLING JOKE bassist, Paul Raven died in his sleep aged 46. The cause of death was a heart attack and occurred in Geneva, Switzerland where he was working on his latest recording project. He was found by his PRONG band-mate, Ted Parsons.
Raven was born in Wolverhampton, England on 16 January 1961. By 1979 he had recorded an album with local Punk band, NEON HEARTS (re-issued on Overground Records) before joining the glam-orientated band, KITSCH (featuring Tyla who went onto be in Dogs D' Amour).
When original KILLING JOKE bassist, Youth, left the band after its move to Iceland, Raven filled the position in 1982. His vinyl debut was the 'Birds Of A Feather' single. His tenure included the album 'Night Time' which proved to be the band's biggest commercial success and spawned the hit single, 'Love Like Blood'.
Raven was fired from the band in 1987 only to be rehired two years later and remained in the band until its initial demise in 1991. He reappeared in KILLING JOKE in 2003.
Raven's other musical activities saw him performing and recording with a predominantly industrial set of bands including MURDER INC, PIGFACE, GODFLESH and PRONG. He reached a wider audience when he hooked up with the infamous Al Jourgensen of MINISTRY, playing on the albums 'Rio Grande Blood' and 'The Last Sucker'.
At the time of Raven's death he was working with French Industrialists TREPONAM PAL on their collaboration with Ted Parsons and members of YOUNG GODS.
In a statement, KILLING JOKE vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker say, "We are all deeply stricken with grief at the unannounced departure of possibly the funniest man on planet Earth and a brother to us all: Paul Vincent Raven. Unimaginable sadness is felt by all."
On finding Raven, Ted Parsons says, "I found Raven asleep in a chair the next morning. I thought nothing of it, as Raven would sleep like this on the tour bus all the time. Then I looked closer at him, and he looked very gray. I checked his pulse and there was none. I yelled for the other guys in the band. We immediately did some CPR and called for an ambulance. Medics arrived quickly, but after an hour of trying to get his heartbeat back, they could not save him. They said he died in his sleep, probably around 6 a.m. It was then 9:30 a.m."
Parsons added: "Words can't describe how I feel right now. I'm devastated. He will be missed by many."
I never saw Raven play live. I own about eight KILLING JOKE albums, but those that really connect with me are the pre-Raven discs. The pick of the JOKE albums to feature Raven has to be the pounding power of 'Extremities, Dirt And Other Repressed Emotions'.
Just looking back over this piece and Raven's CV, his legacy in the annals of Punk and alternative music as a whole cannot be understated.

At 3am on Sunday 21 October 2007, RUTS guitarist Paul Fox died at his home in Uxbridge, England. He was aged 56 and died of the lung cancer that plagued him for the months prior his death.
Fox, the son of publican parents, was born in Bermondsey, South London on 11 April 1951. When he was a child, his parents moved to Hayes, Middlesex. It was in the early 70s at a hippie commune in Anglesey that Fox found some musical feet - albeit in the prog-rock band Aslan. The commune disbanded in 1975 and Fox returned to London to join a funk band that did the London pub circuit.
Come 1977 with the vitriol of Punk Rock sweeping the capital, Fox teamed up with Malcolm Owen (vocals), John Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums) and the band we all know as THE RUTS was formed. Fox played a pivotal songwriting role. With his grounding in other genres of music, Fox created a menacing, often haunting, style that revealed his versatility; he was a lover of reggae and could switch styles with ease. This would lead to some of the greatest moments in the recorded output of THE RUTS.
The song the band, and Fox, is most remembered for is 'Babylon's Burning' a forthright commentary on the discontent in Britain's cities. It reached number seven in the 1979 charts, and the follow-up, 'Something That I Said', also charted high. The first album, 'The Crack', remains a classic and is one of the definitive Punk albums of the era.
Unfortunately, in 1980, the band's vocalist, Malcolm Owen, died of a heroin overdose. It's a drug that Fox himself would also battle in future years. The band continued until 1982, as RUTS DC with Fox sharing vocal duties. The direction though was more dub-reggae than the taut, explosive Punk apparent on 'The Crack'.
Fox continued playing as the years went on, first in DIRTY STRANGERS - a Rolling Stones-style combo that released a couple of albums on which both Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood guested. In 1983 there was the short-lived CHOIR MILITIA, rock band SCREAMING LOBSTERS in 1987 and indie outfit, FLUFFY KITTENS between 1991 and 1994.
There were a couple of low-profile singles (Chelsea Punk Rock Allstars in 1997 and with Ska artist Lauren Aitken in 2000) that followed, but Fox basically entered musical retirement at this stage and earned an income as a carpenter in Ruislip, Middlesex.
Last year Fox formed a new band, FOXY'S RUTS that featured his eldest son, Lawrence, on drums. His last recorded work was released earlier this year with dub-reggae band, the DUBCATS.
Fox's final live performance was at a RUTS reunion in London with Henry Rollins taking over vocal duties. This was a benefit show for Fox following his diagnosis of the cancer that would ultimately kill him.
Fox is survived by his ex-wife Sharon and two sons, Lawrence and William.
I missed seeing THE RUTS - I was only 11 in 1980. I do recall the first time I heard the band though. It was in the 'Times Square' movie. I was about 13 I guess and 'Babylon's Burning' just appeared - and wiped me out. It was only a matter of saving pocket money until I went and bought 'The Crack'. It's still an album I adore and coupled with 'Staring At The Rude Boys' forms mandatory listening.

On Sunday 21 October 2007 Lance Hahn of the band J CHURCH died after a long illness brought on by complications from kidney disease. He was 40. Hahn had been comatose since Friday 12 October following a collapse during dialysis. Hahn's girlfriend, Liberty Lidz, says, "as far as the doctors can tell, this collapse was due to a sudden, drastic drop in blood pressure, which in turn was probably caused by a recurrence of the infection he had had in September combined with the stress of dialysis. He received immediate CPR from medical professionals at the dialysis center, but as it took 15 or 20 minutes to resuscitate him, he suffered neurological damage from lack of oxygen to the brain, leaving him in a coma from which he never returned."
Hahn was born in Hawaii in 1967. In 1984 he formed the respected CRINGER after a spell in a skatecore band called SCARRED FOR LIFE. CRINGER was one of the first and certainly the most recognised Punk Rock band to be based in Hawaii. The band lasted until the end of 1991 having toured extensively and releasing many records, notably the 'Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo' album.
When Hahn relocated to San Francisco he put together the prolific J CHURCH. The band released a mass of singles, EPS and albums since its inception in 1992. "A lot of people write trying to keep track of all the records we put out," Hahn said in 1995. "I can't even remember."
Besides J CHURCH and CRINGER, Hahn also played guitar for Beck in 1994, owned and operated the Honey Bear record label, was a long-time contributor to the Asian pop culture magazine Giant Robot and Maximumrocknroll, and published the zine Some Hope and Some Despair.
Hahn and Lidz moved to Austin in 2000 where Hahn continued with J CHURCH. Many in the city who were unfamiliar with Hahn's music knew him as a friendly, knowledgeable manager at the Vulcan Video store, where he had worked for the past six years.
His final project was a nearly completed book called Let The Tribe Increase about the history of anarchist Punk bands, portions of which have been excerpted in Maximumrocknroll.
The spectre of failing health dogged Lance in his last months. Like so many musicians and artists in Austin, he had no health insurance. A benefit compilation entitled 'Let's Do It For Lance!' was released to help defray the cost of his medical bills. Vulcan Video also set up a pay-pal account to collect donations towards his medical expenses.
Lance's final blog entry, on 7 October was as close to a good-bye as we will get. "Even with the drugs I feel like I've got needles in my stomach. I'm about to run out of Vicodin and I'm pretty nervous about it. I know I've said it before but I don't mind dying or getting hurt. It's the pain I can't handle."
Sobering stuff indeed. I saw J CHURCH many times - I met Lance a few times too and an always-affable guy he was. Oddly, my residing memory of the band was at a below-par gig in Cambridge. Lance had the flu so badly that he could barely speak, let alone sing! To make matters worse, the PA was terrible. Still, he and the band soldiered on with a lot of Hahn humour in tow. It was always incredibly apparent at J CHURCH shows just how many releases the band had out there; I'd always return loaded with CDs and vinyl of yet more J CHURCH nuggets.
Given Lance's involvement in Punk, it's beyond question whether the man will be missed. He represented everything Punk should be - intelligent, vocal, original and sincere.

I do not want to be a leader, I do not want to be lead
I just want to go to bed
At times it cuts right to the bone
An ugly fear of dying alone
'Two Friends' - CRINGER (1989)

Mikey ?Offender? Donaldson - R.I.P.

Posted on October 6, 2007 at 5:17 PM Comments comments (1)

Back on September 22nd 2007, Mikey "Offender" Donaldson passed away in his sleep at his home in Barcelona, Spain. He was aged 46 and, at the time of writing, the cause is unknown.
Mikey was originally from Killeen, Texas and from 1978 through to 1986 played bass in the Austin HC band, THE OFFENDERS. If THE OFFENDERS mean little to you (then check out the re-issue of the 'Endless Struggle' album that Kangaroo Records released) then maybe the name DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES (DRI) will mean a little more. Mikey played bass on the band's killer 'Dealing With It' long-player. He was also the man responsible for laying down the bass tracks on the classic MDC debut, 'Millions Of Dead Cops'. Through the early 80s, Mikey could also be found playing bass for the band.
In 1986 he moved to San Francisco and worked with Gary Floyd (ex-DICKS) and Lynn Perko (IMPERIAL TEEN) in an outfit called SISTER DOUBLE HAPPINESS. He picked up a drug habit in San Fran also.
After dropping out of music for the best part of ten years, he returned to Austin and played an OFFENDERS re-union show at Emo's in 2002. There is various You Tube footage of this show circulating on the 'net.
Come 2003, Dave Dictor had recruited his services once more for work on the most recent MDC album, 'Corpses Of The Ultimate Dominators' and he had been touring with the band ever since.
Over the last four years, Mikey had rediscovered his lust for life in Amsterdam, Holland where he lived with his girlfriend Selina Hakkensen. During this period he united with former BGK man, Tony Slug, to work in Tony's band THE NITWITZ and work on his own squat band BRUTALIZED SS.
Donaldson's recent move to Barcelona proved to be his last.
To me - and seemingly many others - Mikey's style of playing was like that of a more Punk Rock Lemmy (MOTÖRHEAD), as he employed the use of bass chords and an aggressive speed-picking style few have matched since.
I never got to see the guy play live. Every time I have seen MDC has been with a line-up that didn't include him. Ironically, according to Dave Dictor, I may have had the chance to see him here in New Zealand next year as MDC had a planned tour of Australia and New Zealand set to happen in February 2008. THE NITWITZ was also planned to tour Turkey in April 2008.
Mikey is survived by his brother Joe Donaldson, sister Marie Donaldson Ward, and sister Sumiko Hakari , all of Killeen, Texas.

Show Time!

Posted on June 29, 2007 at 10:21 PM Comments comments (1)

THE DRAFT / COBRA KHAN / RYAN THOMAS / SUICIDE DOGS
No Way Out Records, Hamilton - 23rd June 2007

I don't get to too many shows here in New Zealand due to Taumarunui being kinda isolated and public transport being kinda shite! This worked out ideal though; a Saturday show on a weekend I had already arranged to be in Hamilton and an early finish too - chuffed.
No Way Out Records is on the main street of Hamilton and was formerly known as Upsett Records. It's a shop dedicated to Punk, Hardcore and select Metal - an essential place to visit on any trip to Hamilton. The hall in which the bands played was a rehearsal space, basic floor lighting, no stage, a loud PA - a great place for Punk Rock as it lacked any kind of pretension or atmosphere-crippling mainstream intrusion.
Auckland's SUICIDE DOGS kicked things off with some rowdy Punk Rock. It was the most obviously 'Punk' band on the line-up and played a set of stirring, often bitter CLASH style anthems mixed with a barbed STIFF LITTLE FINGERS approach and topped with a modern thrust. The band looked really good too, with vocalist Luke in stencil-sprayed jeans and heaps of movement from the guys on either side of him. Tracks I caught that were particular standouts include 'Wasting My Life Away' and the lead track of tbe band's debut album 'Breakin' Away'.
Former SOMMERSET man Ryan Thomas was on next. I rated SOMMERSET highly and was looking forward to hearing what Ryan would do with just a guitar and his voice. For 6 songs it was OK, but then it became monotonous. The set consisted of new originals, a few covers (including a decent SOCIAL DISTORTION tune) and a couple of old SOMMERSET classics. I'm sure the new songs would benefit big-time with the backing of a band; as they are they all fused into one with only a couple having enough identity to stand out. If he had played a much shorter set, I think it would have been beneficial for all.
COBRA KHAN feature another ex-SOMMERSET man, Milon Williams, along with members of other notable Kiwi bands like COLD BY WINTER and BALANCE. The sound was instantly bombastic after Ryan's solo dirge. It was loud, hard, punchy and rather bludgeoning - but great! I don't have the band's 'Sleepless Lions' release, but I did pick up a few titles like 'Runaway' that featured some blazing guitar lines and mass-backing vocals. The closing, rather hypnotically punishing track was stunning also. The only negative was the fact that Sarah's keyboards were sometimes lost under the concentrated battering ram of the guitar attack. Definitely a Kiwi band to check out.
THE DRAFT which, like you should already know, feature ¾ of HOT WATER MUSIC (Chuck Ragan being the omitted ¼). Kicking off with the uplifting 'New Eyes Open' the band instantly pulled the crowd (which was stunningly sparse) in and held their attention for the entire 35-40 minute set. Most of the 'In A Million Pieces' album was played, but special mention must go to 'Let It Go', a cataclysmic 'Wired' and the uplifting, triumphal set closer 'Lo Zee Rose'. Chris seemed much chattier on-stage with THE DRAFT than he did the last few times I saw HWM and it was good to see the band enjoying the performance. That rhythm section of Jason and George is still one of the best I have ever seen - I've said that before but the pair are so tight and inventive musically it's a joy to watch and hear. I was expecting at least one HWM track but, thankfully, never got one. It was great to see THE DRAFT not relying on HWM's highly respected reputation.
And so it ended - a great night where the Kiwi bands could hold their heads high and the gang from Gainesville certainly washed away the residue of their former band to offer something new, enthralling and no less special.

Miles Apart

Posted on December 22, 2006 at 7:41 PM Comments comments (1)

How often do things of a more negative note hit at Christmas? I heard today that Darren Brown, more commonly known to us in the Punk world as Wiz, died on 6 December 2006 as the result of a blood clot in the brain. He died at St Georges Hospital in Tooting, South London with his closest friends and family at his bedside. He was only 44 and was taken ill at a band rehearsal earlier the same week.
I recall seeing Wiz's first band, MEGA CITY FOUR many, many times. The band was a staple for any Punk in the late 80s; a band that just seemed to constantly tour and play live. The shows were always energetic, as was the band's recorded output. By the time the band had disbanded in 1996, I had lost a bit of interest I have to confess - probably more than a bit if I am honest. The records had lost their youthful adrenal surge and urgency, but live the band still cut it with the very best.
Wiz then went on to form SERPICO and, finally, IPANEMA which totally revived my interest in the man and his music. At the time of his passing, he had just finished writing the new IPANEMA album and had returned from a US Tour.
I spoke to the man many times, but one of the most memorable times was at a show in London by Bob Mould's SUGAR - it may even have been SUGAR's first UK show. MEGA CITY FOUR hadn't played Ipswich for a while, so I went and asked him when the next show would be. Wiz was amazed that someone about to see Bob Mould could even contemplate a band like MEGA CITY FOUR - his band - let alone his band performing in their hometown!! But, he promised a show would occur soon - and it did!
My condolences go out to all his family and friends.
If anyone wants to sign a condolence book, or access more information, go to www.megacityfour.co.uk


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