ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   HélÚne Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amelie Frank
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   Pete Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
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   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
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   Agnes Marton
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   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
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   Leslie Monsour
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   Patrick Mooney
   Greggory Moore
   Carl Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
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   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
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   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
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   Robbi Nester
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   Martina Reisz Newberry
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   Chika Onyenezi
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   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
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   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
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    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
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   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
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   Kasey Ray
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   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
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   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
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   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
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    Sasparella
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   Anthony Seidman
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    smzang
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   Daniel Suffian
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   J. C. Sullivan
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   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
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    The Unarmed Man
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    TJungle
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    tolbert
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   A. TOMIC
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   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
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   Ms. Veronica
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   Rev. Dave Wheeler
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2013
   

 

Post-Punk

    By the end of 1979, basic punk rock had played itself out, at least on the East Coast. The Sex Pistols had broken up, the Ramones were repeating themselves (of course, the Ramones always repeated themselves, that was part of their charm), and the Clash were recording London Calling, a masterpiece for sure, but not really punk rock.
    To a great degree, the real punk scene moved west. Black Flag, X, The Germs and other bands picked up the punk baton and ran with it, producing some great music, but also helping calcify punk from an innovative movement into a restrictive genre. But the full blown West Coast scene was still a year or two away. Besides, I wasn't there, I was still back East.
    But the innovative spirit did live on, for at least a few more years, and produced a variety of interesting music which would later be lumped together as post-punk. Post-punk was even more loosely defined than the first punk. It included everything from the extremely avante-garde, New York based No Wave movement, which lead to such noise based bands as Sonic Youth, and bouncy electronic bands, like The Cure, Psychedelic Furs and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, which produced much of pop music of the early '80's. (The first OMD I ever heard was a spacey, drawn out, electronic version of The Velvet Underground's Waiting for the Man, far removed from their later hits, such as Electricity and So In Love.)
    Much of the first post-punk was punk bands looking to expand musically beyond the restrictions of the genre. The prime example was Public Image Limited, Johnny Rotten Lydon's band after the Sex Pistols. The first PiL album did not make much impression on me when it was released, but my roommate Ken bought Metal Box, their second album, and I ended up hearing it a lot.
    (If you're making any attempt to keep the chronology straight, Ken was my first post-college roommate. We shared a tiny, two-room apartment in Northampton, MA. I lived in what normally would have been the living room. Luckily, neither of us spent a whole lot of time in the apartment, so we didn't get in each other's way much. In some ways, it was the perfect cliche first apartment after college, right down to the cramped little kitchen with the rusted appliances.)
    Anyway, Metal Box was called that because it was first released as three twelve-inch 45's packed in, yes, a metal box styled after a film container. It was rereleased not too much later as a regular (33 1/3 rpm) double album, and then, years later, as a single CD, a progression which strikes me as somehow perfect.
    Almost all the songs on Metal Box were superficially similar. All were built on Jah Wobble's sinuous bass lines, Keith Levene's angular, almost atonal guitar slashes, and Lydon's strangled screaming. Intriguing, but very abrasive, and with obviously less commercial potential than punk. At the time, even I could only take it in small doses (say, one side at a time).
    With a couple of exceptions (the almost poppy Poptones and the ten minute Albatross) I never learned to differentiate the songs. It didn't help that there were twelve songs spread over six sides of vinyl. In an almost contradictory way, this made it harder, rather than easier, for me to differentiate the individual tracks. I'd hear them almost randomly. Thinking about it now makes me realize how important the sequence of album was to how I listened to it. I learned the songs in sequence; without that sequence I had to approach each song fresh when I heard it.
    Still, when they toured that spring (1980), I went. In fact, a large group of my college friends went to their Boston show (which turned out to be the first show of the tour, therefore their very first U.S. show ever). I think most of us were motivated more by the chance to see Lydon (having missed the only Sex Pistols U.S. tour) than by any interest in his current band. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a very interesting show.
    The concert was a total assault on the ears, everything their albums were pushed up to ten. Distorted guitars, unintelligible vocals, just a lot of noise. But it also had far more spontaneity than most concerts I had seen.
    At one point, Keith Levene got pissed about something, his guitar, or the monitors, something, and stalked offstage. Lydon quickly followed him, leaving Jah Wobble and the drummer to carry on. Luckily, they, esp. Wobble, were up to the task. He just kept laying down one bass riff after another, and kept the crowd entertained until Levene and Lydon finally came back.
    Then there was the encore. At first it didn't look like there would be one. They let the audience applaud for quite a long time, then turned the house lights up. As soon as most of the crowd had reached the exits, they came back and played three more songs. Or rather, played three songs again, as they had used their entire repertoire in the concert. (I do remember one of those repeats was Poptones.) Then they wouldn't leave. While the roadies tore down their equipment around them, Levene sat down at his synthesizer and noodled away. Lydon encouraged the audience to throw money, and wandered around picking it up and stuffing it in the pockets of his overlarge suitcoat.
    I do remember at some point, in the middle of the concert, after being assaulted by so much noise, indecipherable vocals and indistinguishable tunes, thinking I get it! He's just seeing how much garbage his audience will put up with. The whole band is based on presenting bullshit as art!
    I may well have been right in that assessment (it totally fits with Lydon's attitude), but over the years I have grown to love PiL, especially the version on those first two albums. Levene's guitar playing definitely fits my original criteria; I know of no previous guitar player who attacked his instrument in the same way. (I hear a huge influence from Levene in U2's The Edge -- he plays with the same style, just a bit more melodically.) I would rate Jah Wobble as one of the best bassists in all rock music. His basslines really carry Metal Box; they provide much of what melody there is. Unluckily, Wobble left after that album, and Levene after their third album, and I lost interest in the band.
    Magazine was another post-punk band which came out of a punk band, in this case the Buzzcocks. The situation was a bit different -- Howard Devoto was the original lead singer for the Buzzcocks, but left after their first EP (Spiral Scratch -- a great piece of original punk). The remaining Buzzcocks became one of the masters of pop-punk (Orgasm Addict, Ever Fallen In Love (with someone you shouldn't)?), while Magazine took a much more progressive tack, based as much on keyboards as guitars, with far more experimental song structures.
    I saw Magazine open for the Ramones in August, 1979. What I remember most about the show was that Devoto had mike stand built like a ladder, which he would climb and hang on throughout the show. Also, he looked like a cadaver, extremely skinny, with a sunken face. But he turned that look to his advantage, with a very commanding stage presence. As for the band, in my journal I described them as a punk Genesis whatever that might sound like.

    One of the most interesting and (eventually) most influential branches of post-punk was the No Wave movement out of New York. No Wave encompassed a number of bands who took the anyone can play ethos of punk a couple of steps further, and pushed the music into atonal territory. They made their first splash with an Eno-produced compilation titled No New York. The bands on the album included The Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks (with Lydia Lunch), DNA, and Mars.
    I remember my friend Pat (known asPat the Punk) playing me No New York in his dorm room. (Pat was also the person who first played a novelty single called Rock Lobster by some band from Georgia.) Pat especially raved about The Contortions. He described the lead singer, James Chance, as basically Iggy with a saxophone. Like Iggy, Chance had an extremely aggressive attitude towards his audience, up to and including picking fights with them.
    Like PiL, The Contortions were not easy to get into. Musically, they were even more abrasive and aggressive than PiL. Seriously, they were best described as atonal rocknroll. Blasts of squawking saxophone over jerky stop-start rhythms, with random slide guitar (courtesy of Pat Place) slicing through it. The first Contortions album, Buy Contortions, was more of the same. Then Chance put out Off White, by James White and the Blacks, which was labeled his disco album, but was really straightforward jazz, and was much easier to get into.
    Whatever I thought of them musically, when the chance came to see the Contortions, I jumped at it. They played four shows over two nights at Max's Kansas City in January, 1980, and I went to three of them (once you had paid admission to the early show, they would let you back in for the late one, if there was room).
    They proved to be very interesting shows. First, the version of the Contortions which played these shows was completely different from that on the records. This was an all-black funk/jazz outfit. Second, the opening acts and the headliners were different versions of the same band. On Friday, the opening band was Defunkt, which was basically the Contortions without Chance. Defunkt was lead by Joseph Bowie on trombone (no relation to David Bowie, but his brother, Lester Bowie, did play on David Bowie's Black Tie, White Noise album in the early '90's). On Saturday, the opening act, billed as The Flaming Demonics, turned out to be the full Contortions, playing an all-instrumental, jazz-oriented set.
    This set-up gave them a chance to show some versatility, beyond the constraints of No Wave. In their opening incarnations, they were much more a straight jazz band (although still fairly avante-garde jazz). By watching several sets by (effectively) the same band, I got a much wider perspective on what they were trying to do, which was basically to marry jazz and rock at their respective edges (punk rock and atonal jazz), rather than in the middle, like fusion did. I also got to see them at both their best and their worst.
    Musically, they were (as one would expect) different from their records, a lot funkier and a lot less abrasive. Although Chance still squawked and squealed through his saxophone, he impressed me with how well he actually played. He clearly knew what he was doing.
    As for the whole aggression thing, there was some of that, but it was also toned down. In Max's, long tables ran up against the stage. In every show Chance would walk out on these tables and interact with the audience, but it never got to fist fights. One night he lay down in people's laps; the other night a group of guys tried to pick a fight, but no one, neither Chance or the audience, followed through.
    But even toned down, he was an amazingly intense performer. A tiny, scrawny kid, he put a lot of energy into his stage presence and his sax playing. He also lead the band with a firm, even dictatorial hand. He directed who took solos and when (in the second show Saturday night, he and Bowie seemed to be feuding, and Chance hardly gave Bowie any solos at all). The band didn't so much end songs as cut them off when Chance gave the signal.
    The first show Saturday night was the best. The band was at their tightest (far more than Friday's show), and they stretched out on the jams and solos. By the second show that night, they appeared tired and pissed. They played sloppy, and made numerous errors. We were pretty tired ourselves, and pretty sated on Contortions.
    Later that year I saw the Bush Tetras, Pat Place's post-Contortions band. They took the original Contortions sound, and went the other direction as Chance, producing a guitar-oriented sound which was solidly in the rock camp.

    Pere Ubu was another band which fit into this noise/rock genre, although they can't really be classified as post-punk, since they actually predated the whole punk movement, putting out their first singles in '75, and their first album a year later. That album, The Modern Dance, still stands as one of the best combinations of straight ahead rock 'n' roll with pure noise.
    I first saw Pere Ubu in Rochester (of all places) when I was home on vacation one spring. They played a tiny club with labelmates The Suicide Commandos, of note (to me) primarily because their lead guitarist, Chris Osgood, was a Hampshire grad.
    Ubu's lead singer, David Thomas, impressed me as an extremely unrock star frontman -- overweight, with bushy hair and glasses, wearing a suit and given to spouting insulting non-sequitors at the audience. As would be expected, I focused on the guitarist, Tom Herman, who played wonderfully noisy slide guitar. I also remember someone producing random noise out of a boxy synthesizer. At that time they were a bit extreme for my taste, but they still fascinated me.
    I saw Pere Ubu again in the summer of 1980, in the same Northampton bar as The Bush Tetras, in the midst of all this post-punk. They had gone the other direction. While the punks were experimenting, they had tightened up into a dance band, playing (relatively) accessible reggaeish songs. Although, to tell the truth, I barely remember that concert at all.

    There are two other bands I saw that spring which certainly weren't post-punk, yet still fit here stylistically. And which fit in with the direction my musical taste was heading.
    One was the jazz great Sun Ra. Sun Ra was one of the most out there musicians in all jazz. He claimed to be from Saturn, and played like he was. He performed with a large band, The Arkestra, and allowed them much room for wide scale improvisation, yet always with one firm foot in the blues. Im pretty sure my friend Ken (the same one with the PiL Metal Box) convinced me to go; he had the most extreme taste of my friends (and that is saying a lot).
    I'm just going to let me journal describe it: textures of music/noise, wild solos, tightness and looseness. At times they played atonal noise, at other times it would be tight swing or vocal harmonies. I enjoyed it, but did admit to getting bored before it was over. I still had a limited appreciation for jazz. (But you can be certain that, even then, I was aware I was earning a lifetime of musical cred just by being there.)

    Finally, there was Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen, another concert I stumbled upon while I was on vacation in Rochester. The concert had only been billed as Robert Fripp, so I went in expecting Frippertronics, his latest thing (as far as I knew). Frippertronics consisted of Fripp, his guitar, and a tape machine. He would play a run on the guitar, record it, play another run over that, recording it too, and so on, until he had built a dense musical piece all by himself. Of course, nowadays we know this as sampling, and everyone from the top pros to kids at open mikes know how to use it. But when Fripp was doing it, it was not only a completely new concept, but, without samplers, much more difficult to pull off. I was fully prepared for that, looking forward to it if only out of curiosity.
    What I got was much better -- a punk rock dance band. The band consisted of Fripp on guitar, Barry Andrews (of XTC) on keyboards, Sara Lee, an excellent woman bassist, and some guy named Johnny Too Bad on drums. They played bouncy little instrumental numbers, with Fripp's guitar running all over the place on top of them. It was amazing.
    Throughout the show, Fripp encouraged the audience to dance. Rather, he berated them with, This is a dance band. You're supposed to be dancing. Of course, the whole time he sat on a stool and barely moved. (But I sure danced.)
    The audience was not a punk rock crowd. They were mostly prog rockers, fans of Fripp from King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. I noted that the most common T-shirt was for Genesis. But they loved it anyway. Fripp was doing his bit to accommodate a new musical reality, to incorporate elements of punk, or at least its energy, into what he was doing, and then move beyond it.

    As I have maintained, punk started out as wide open musical form, and then got narrow. Post-punk just opened it up again. And it did it at a point when I really needed some musical opening, when my own taste was getting dangerously narrow. For almost three years I had been telling myself that if it wasn't punk, or related to punk, it wasn't worth listening to. Now it was time for me to move on as well.

copyright 2013 G. Murray Thomas