sometimes ROCK N ROLL bands overthink things. they try to get clever write songs that overly complicated and conceptually dubious for no reason other than because they can.
not TWISTED SISTER.
sonically id argue they are a back-to-basics TRADITIONAL band in the long GLAM ROCK-inspired bands like the NEW YORK DOLLS, THE RAMONES and even KISS. its no frills, meat-and-potatoes ROCK N ROLL but even under such limitations TWISTED SISTER went for maximum impact. look no further than their third record STAY HUNGRY (ATLANTIC, 1984) and their two MEMORABLE singles "WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT" and "I WANNA ROCK."
those two songs are the very poster children of bumper sticker song titles and instantly convey a sense of reckless abandon and directionless REBELLION. "WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT" has been used at sporting and political events for decades now to the point that it is a fangless parody of itself. but in my estimation thats fine because it is such an ENJOYABLE and SUCCINCT hit of WARPED POP PERFECTION. its impossible to hear and not smile. "I WANNA ROCK" is my personal favorite TWISTED SISTER song because it just cuts right to the chase and never lets up. its a HARD-CHARGING track about the TRANSCENDENT JOY of anticipating and being a part of ROCK N ROLL. there is almost something TRIBAL and COMMUNAL about it. it definitely brings people together with its INCLUSIVE sentiment even if it is more than a bit GOOFY and CARTOONISH.
and that is where i respect DEE SNIDER, who wrote those two songs, as well as his primary collaborator (and TWISTED SISTER founder) JAY JAY FRENCH. they are unafraid to lean in with absolute abandon into the RIDICULOUS theatrics and crushingly SIMPLE song concepts and structures. to me it feels unquestionably RAMONES-y, almost like TWISTED SISTER are the intentionally forgotten LONG ISLAND step children of JOEY and JOHNNY RAMONE.
the rest of STAY HUNGRY is UNINSPIRED and INCONSEQUENTIAL, but those two singles are well worth the price of admission. just leave any semblance of good taste and rock snobbery at the door. you wont be impressing anyone with that here.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
this was a fun film.
BAD REPUTATION (MAGNOLIA, 2018) is a recent documentary that examines the career and cultural legacy of legendary badass musician JOAN JETT. she is that rare icon where labels like "trailblazer" or "pioneer" dont really do her legacy justice. she is basically an institution unto herself, from her late 70s all-female band THE RUNAWAYS, to her production work with the likes of BIKINI KILL, CIRCUS LUPUS, THE GERMS and, of course, her successful solo career with numerous hit singles.
but what really defines her career are the glass ceilings she shattered. its absolutely staggering to consider the intestinal fortitude it took as a female teenager in the 1970s to start a band. this was during the peak of the GLAM ROCK/GLITTER scene in HOLLYWOOD and the industry was geared towards an industry that saw women more as accessories then equals on the stage. this was ROCK AND ROLL and not FOLK MUSIC from the 1960s, so JETT and her bandmates went full bore into and took the full brunt of CHAUVINISM and outright MISOGYNY head on. as teenagers. just blows my mind.
and its that passion, determination and authenticity as a ROCK AND ROLL lifer, notwithstanding her own innate talent, that her public persona is built upon and has garnered her respect from generations of musicians including a murderer's row of notable participants documentary including former and current BLACKHEARTS members as well as IGGY POP (THE STOOGES), DEBBIE HARRY & CHRIS STEIN (BLONDIE), KATHLEEN HANNA (BIKINI KILL), IAN MACKAYE (MINOR THREAT, FUGAZI), MILEY CYRUS, BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG (GREEN DAY), ALISON MOSSHART (THE KILLS), PETE TOWNSEND (THE WHO), PHANIE DIAZ (FEA, GIRL IN A COMA), MIKE NESS (SOCIAL DISTORTION), LAURA JANE GRACE (AGAINST ME!) and ADAM HOROWITZ (BEASTIE BOYS). likewise the film also includes interviews with those that have commented on her LGBTQ and ANIMAL RIGHTS activism over the years including MICHELLE CHO (formerly of PETA) and GENE BAUER (FARM SANCTUARY), MICHAEL J FOX (who co-starred with her in LIGHT OF DAY) as well as notorious graffiti artist SHEPARD FAIREY. for some unknown reason disgraced TRUMP ADMINISTRATION official NIKKI HALEY was interviewed as well (?), which was more than a little weird and i may or may not have thrown up in my mouth, but thats neither here nor there.
the focus of much of the documentary is JETT's post-RUNAWAYS career and her involvement with the unlikely producer and former BUBBLEGUM POP songwriter KENNY LAGUNA, who was both her confidant and familial support system throughout the rest of her career to date. theyre an odd couple of sorts, but that level of platonic intimacy and constant arguing and bickering is entirely endearing as they both care about one another. that core supporting relationship (which also included LAGUNA's wife MERYL) was what turned her career from what possibly could have been another cautionary tale to one of hard fought and enduring success. it must of been so difficult to stomach and push ahead despite male rock critics and DJS publicly debasing her work (and her physical being) along tired SEXIST tropes. and she pushed forward with such a sense of confidence and cool. i cant imagine.
for me the other artist that comes immediately to mind with a similar revolutionary career trajectory is that of LITTLE RICHARD who fought his way out of MACON, GEORGIA in the 1950s as a GAY, BLACK musician and ultimately became an architect of ROCK AND ROLL itself. and i think there is reason that the JETT and RICHARDS are so cherished by ROCK AND ROLL fans beyond their music, its that idea that they fought and suffered for their art. they both had that sense of determination, passion and sheer defiance that allowed them to make their mark despite the odds.
and how can you not love that. like i said, i really enjoyed this film. definitely required viewing for all music lovers.
all hail JOAN JETT!
there is an unbridled joy and childlike amorality in the simple melodies and often nonsensical lyrics of MARC BOLAN throughout the T. REX classic ELECTRIC WARRIOR (REPRISE, 1971). during a period of listless and ever-indulgent PROG ROCK and its attendant unfocused masturbatory virtuosity, T. REX and the GLAM ROCK movement it inspired was a back-to-basics affair that very much put the onus on the groove and the sentiment being conveyed. in this sense the music was both transgressive and revolutionary in its paired-back aesthetic, laying the cultural and sonic foundation for the PUNK ROCK that followed later in the decade.
standout tracks include "JEEPSTER," "COSMIC DANCER" "LIFE'S A GAS," "MAMBO SUN," and of course the classic "BANG A GONG (GET IT ON)." much like the impressionistically evocative and phantasmagorical childlike lyrics of SYD BARRETT from a few years prior, most T. REX songs are less about the literal meaning of said lyrics and more about the complex feelings they transmit in tandem with the music. it is that alchemical interplay between the music and lyrics of BOLAN that make his T. REX output so compelling and influential decades after his untimely passing in 1977. that sensibility of possibility very much harkens back to the rudimentary beginnings of early BRITISH INVASION and even earlier to the birth of ROCK AND ROLL with legends like CHUCK BERRY, LITTLE RICHARD and even JERRY LEE LEWIS. when i listen to T. REX i am very much reminded of that progression and that creative lineage.
ELECTRIC WARRIOR is an absolute classic of a recording that is seemingly universally celebrated by generations of musicians since, including INDIE ROCK, POST PUNK, SHOEGAZE, TRIP HOP, NEW WAVE, ALTERNATIVE ROCK and PUNK ROCK devotees including the likes of JOY DIVISION, THE RAMONES, TRICKY, THE SMITHS, R.E.M., BAUHAUS, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS and THE NEW YORK DOLLS among countless others. its the type of seminal record, much like REVOLVER (PARLOPHONE, 1966), AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE (TRACK, 1967), LED ZEPPELIN IV (ANTLANTIC, 1971) or NEVER MIND THE BULLOCKS (WARNER BROS, 1977), that i consistently hear traces of in modern music. most definitely required listening. definitely worth checking out.
to me TRANSFORMER (RCA, 1972) is the definitive LOU REED record, if that is even possible given that he was one of the most contrarian and mercurial artist ever, often making radical sonic and artistic departures between records. what TRANSFORMER has is arguably his most consistent set of great songs which includes iconic tracks (and lifelong personal favorites of mine) like "SATELLITE OF LOVE," "PERFECT DAY," "VICIOUS" and (of course) "WALK ON THE WILD SIDE." less revered but no less sensational are songs like "I'M SO FREE," "ANDY'S CHEST" and "MAKE UP."
a common theme throughout his the transmuting nature of art. that MARCEL DUCHAMP-ian concept that we are who we create ourselves to be. in "WALK ON THE WILD SIDE" we are famously introduced to a cast of misfits and superstars associated with ANDY WARHOL's FACTORY scene (of which REED was famously a participant of with THE VELVET UNDERGROUND), all of whom have self-made themselves into their current state to varying effectiveness. in "PERFECT DAY" there is the self-illusion and self-mythologizing that comes with falling in love, where the target of such affection has effectively altered his self-identity with the amazing lines you made me forget myself, i thought i was someone else, someone good. with "MAKE UP" the daily ritual of physically changing your appearance is a forbearer for liberating your soul to outside world. there are literally too many great lines to go over but that is its joy in a sense, much like memorizing the best MEL BROOKS one-liners from SPACEBALLS (MGM, 1987) or BLAZING SADDLES (WARNER BROS, 1974).
the whole album is a remarkable and singular artistic achievement, written by a poet with an eye for the hidden and forgotten elements of society. this album, literally evoked with its iconic MICK ROCK (R.I.P.) sleeve portrait, presents a sense of ANDROGYNY that must have been interpreted as entirely transgressive during the period of its release in the early 1970s. i always wonder what the baby boomer generation's true tolerance was for this type of message post- SUMMER OF LOVE. its one thing to question the role of institutions like marriage and courtship rituals and yet another entirely to transcend GENDER itself.
as a cultural artifact of its period, a collection of poetry and a ROCK N ROLL record, TRANSFORMER succeeds on all accounts. it is required listening. and i didnt even mention that DAVID BOWIE produced it with assistance from MICK RONSON. doesnt matter, go listen to this record.
parodies by nacrowe
join us TONIGHT at 8PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist celebrating the work of legendary songwriter and NEW YORK CITY cultural icon LOU REED.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already, make sure and download the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
i remember my senior year of high school, a few months after relocating to SACRAMENTO from KUWAIT in the aftermath of 9/11, visiting a childhood friend in ORANGE COUNTY over winter break. i always find it interesting how music has a way of presenting itself to you at a point when you are ready to receive it. this friend had lots of opinions on music, some i agree with and many i dont, but i remember being in a car with him for that few days with a copy of DAVID BOWIE's THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (RCA, 1972) on repeat. by the end of that trip i was a BOWIE fan by osmosis and basically sought out the rest of his discography.
i think what captured my imagination at first were the lyrics and how they utilized this premise of an otherworldly being as a rock star to showcase real emotions regarding isolation and being an other. im thinking of songs like "FIVE YEARS," "MOONAGE DAYDREAM," "IT AIN'T EASY," "STARMAN," and "ZIGGY STARDUST" specifically. you can read into that depiction a pretty powerful character study of what it must have been like to be a BOWIE or any cultural phenomenon dealing with issues regarding fame and mass adulation. on one had you are raised up and admired but that distance is cutting into your very sense of identity and personal self-worth. "ROCK N ROLL SUICIDE" and "HANG ON TO YOURSELF" really dig into that territory lyrically.
i remember during my time working abroad i was constantly aware of my own exoticness and being an other, especially when living in MYANMAR, JAPAN and ALBANIA. you had to be aware that people noticed you and that it was nearly impossible to blend in and be anonymous. i think that is probably why i gravitated to this BOWIE album in particular when living and working overseas.
i should also mention that guitarist MICK RONSON is a beast and the feedback-drenched saturated soundscapes he came up with for this record make it sonically transcend the FOLK MUSIC and acoustic foundations that obviously underpin it. this record was a gateway drug to another of my favorite artists, T. REX, and the whole back-to-basics, less-is-more mentality of 1970s GLAM ROCK in general.
BOWIE obviously had a varied career with lots of creative peaks, this just being one of them, but the world opened herein made me receptive to new sounds and ideas which to me mark any work of significance. it literally expanded my appreciation for what could be accomplished within the construct of ROCK N ROLL. it made me a more receptive listener.
photo by nacrowe
watch HERE the SECOND EPISODE of OMFUG with MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC co-founder TOM FERRIE and his friend BOZ BOORER (MORRISSEY, THE POLECATS) spinning glam and punk vinyl from their collections. TOM in STATEN ISLAND and BOZ in LONDON.
past episodes of THE NOWHERE FAST SHOW as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like DEER GOD RADIO, MAKE HER SPACE, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
watch HERE for our most recent episode of DEER GOD RADIO dedicated to the cultural legacy of DAVID BOWIE.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
tonight's episode of DEER GOD RADIO at 6PM on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC is dedicated to the profound cultural legacy of DAVID BOWIE.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.
art by nacrowe
now that DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC has been going on for a good while, i thought it would be cool to look back at one of the (in my opinion) standout shows and playlists from the series. that being our 14th show on 1970s GLAM ROCK that aired on AUGUST 19, 2018.
1970s glam rock has long been an obsession of mine since it has a goldilocks balance of elements: 1) the songs are immediate and catchy 2) there's experimentation with technology 3) lyrics and presentation question normative prescriptions surrounding gender 4) music is just fun to listen to and 5) there are several stellar legendary musicians at the peak of their powers (MICK RONSON, JOHNNY THUNDERS, BRIAN ENO, MARC BOLAN, ASHTON BROTHERS, etc).
there is a reason this brief genre setup the punk movement shortly thereafter, all the hallmarks of that genre are there (except maybe the fun bit, punk took itself WAAYYY too seriously). this show was a blast with TOM FERRIE and MAGIE SERPICA stopping by unannounced due to their enthusiasm for the genre. i feel this playlist is representative of the connecting power of music wish to revisit it again nearly a year later.