Histories of African-American involvement in punk generally begin with the band Pure Hell, who formed in Philadelphia in 1974, or Bad Brains, who burst on to the DC scene in 1977. Before either of them though, there was an all-black group from Detroit called Death, who had already recorded their first single - a slab of proto-punk that was heavily influenced by The Who, Black Sabbath and The Stooges - in 1974. Initially, Columbia Records had offered to release it but only if the band changed their name to something more "commercial". In true punk fashion, they told them where to go and it was 1976 before they were able to release the single themselves. Shortly thereafter, they disappeared off the radar...
Now, however, they are not only starting to receive their dues as the first "all black punk band" but the son of one of the band members has unearthed a whole album of master tapes which will hopefully be released in the near future. Until then, here are the two tracks from their 1974 single (via Metafilter)
This week on Rummage, we decided to celebrate Euro 2008 - which is currently being played in Switzerland and Austria - by delving briefly into the world of Swiss "artpunk" with four tracks - two from bands "back in day", one from the mid-80's, and another from the the early 90's.
First up was Kleenex, an all-girl post-punk-pop band who cheekily named themselves after a proprietary local brand of tampons, were forced to changed their name to LiLiPUT, and became the latter-day face of early Swiss punk thanks to a Kill Rock Stars compilation released in 2001.
Although Kleenex have gained all the subsequent hipster approbation, the big stars of the Swiss scene back in the early 80's were Grauzone. An outfit who took their cues from the French cold wave sound of the time but also threw metal-shredding guitar, squealing saxophone and video game sounds into the mix. Here's their signature tune which apparently became a top 10 hit in the German speaking world. (Trivia: this track was recently given the lounge treatment by Nouvelle Vague.)
The final two tracks are from the more free-jazz-influenced, art-damaged end of the Swiss music. 16-17, who are currently experiencing a minor reissue-based revival, have been cutting an abrasive sax-skronk-lead swathe through the local scene since 1983. Think Borbetomagus with more driving rhythms... Finally, there's Alboth who deal in avant-metal shtick with piano taking the place of the guitar. The overall effect is reminiscent of John Zorn's Naked City outings.
For more information on the Swiss artpunk scene, check out this post on WFMU.
Right now, it’s a dangerous time to be an emo in Mexico. Venture outside with your overgrown angular fringe and eyeliner and you’re likely to be beaten senseless by local punks (or rockabillys or metalheads). The reason for such violence is the automatic association of effete dress codes with homosexuality; something which is a complete anathema to other supposed “alternative” types in Mexico.
Although ignorant thuggery by any subculture is deplorable, it's particularly sad to see such outbursts of homophobia from people who identify as punks; especially when you consider who originally inspired the name and style of that movement...
Ah, yes. This takes me back… In the mid 90’s, Harry Pussy were one of the pre-eminent purveyors of free-punk scream-n-skronk, and here is a video of them doing what they do best – letting drummer Adris Hoyos screech like a banshee till she catches breath, then launching into an apoplectic rock-out din (with more screeching from Adris)... Too free-form for ya? Well, here’s something a bit more song-based – their “classic” cover of Showroom Dummies by Kraftwerk. (video via WFMU)
In 2002, Michael Muhammad Knight, an American Muslim convert who had grown disillusioned with orthodox Islam, wrote a book called The Taqwacores about at fictitious share flat of Muslim punks in Buffalo, New York. The book’s characters included a straight-edge Sunni with Qur’anic tattoos, a mohawked Sufi stoner, a radical feminist in a burqa with band patches, and a Sudanese Shi'ite rude boy; and together they became a cause celebre among disaffected Muslim youth. So much so that they have spawned a subculture of young American Muslim musicians who proudly identify themselves as Taqwacore. Included in this movement are groups who embrace a wide variety of styles, from the punk-lite of The Kominas to the growling Islamic-language hardcore of Al-Hawra, but all of them share a subversive take on what it means to be young and Muslim. (Other groups in the scene are Diacritical, 8-Bit, Vote Hezbollah, and Secret Trial Five.)
(Also worth checking out is this Flash-animated photoessay about Taqwacore from Pangea Magazine. Here's an mp3 of the soundtrack of that photoessay, Mohammed Was A Punk Rocker by Kourosh Poursalchi from Vote Hezbollah.)