Mike Atta
(photo courtesy of The Middle Class facebook page, photographer unknown)

R.I.P. Mike Atta of The Middle Class

Today I received the sad news that Mike Atta, guitarist for The Middle Class, passed away yesterday after losing his battle to cancer. The Middle Class is often credited with being the first hardcore punk band after they released their legendary Out of Vogue 7″, which was easily faster and harder than anything that came […]

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Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinyl

Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinyl

As much as I loved where I grew up back in the 1980s, if I could have lived anywhere else I’d have easily picked southern California. That place not only didn’t have the shitty season known as winter but they had an explosion of amazing bands during punk and hardcore’s formative years. That state spawned […]

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Gary Numan

Gary Numan 3/29/14 at Metro

The Metro was nearly at capacity Saturday night as electronic music fans turned out in droves for a somewhat rare chance to see Gary Numan perform. Numan doesn’t tour that often so when he does it is a real treat to see him perform and the man has a musical career spanning well over 30 […]

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devodvd

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD MVD Visual Devo has had a pretty amazing career and are definitely one of the most unusual bands in history. They started out in the early punk days but weren’t really punk rock, they were more of a new wave band but even that wasn’t totally accurate. […]

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Carlito vs. Jimmy Rockwell

Pro Wrestling Blitz: Redemption 3/22/14

Pro Wrestling Blitz held its monthly show Saturday night at the “Blitz Arena” otherwise known as St. Joseph Park in Joliet, IL. On top of their usual strong lineup of local talent they brought in former WWE superstar Carlito for this show, which was pretty cool.

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Fire Exit reissue

Fire Exit – Time Wall 7″ reissue

I was never a big collector or follower of “foreign punk”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike it and I could easily make you a list of many bands from overseas that I like, it is just that I wasn’t hardcore about following or collecting it. My collecting habits focused heavily on North American […]

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R.I.P. Mike Atta of The Middle Class

Mike Atta (photo courtesy of The Middle Class facebook page, photographer unknown)

Mike Atta
(photo courtesy of The Middle Class facebook page, photographer unknown)

Today I received the sad news that Mike Atta, guitarist for The Middle Class, passed away yesterday after losing his battle to cancer. The Middle Class is often credited with being the first hardcore punk band after they released their legendary Out of Vogue 7″, which was easily faster and harder than anything that came out at the time. That 7″ is highly regarded as one of the all-time greats in american punk rock. The band stayed together for a few years and put out two singles and an LP before calling it a day. They’ve done occasional reunion gigs and the members of the band continued to play music after the band broke up.

My introduction to The Middle Class came posthumously when I found a copy of the Tooth and Nail compilation on Chris D.’s Upsetter Records. Their songs on there made me an immediate fan and it wasn’t long after that I found myself copies of all the Middle Class Records. They remained out of print for decades until Frontier Records released a wonderful retrospective LP and CD a few years ago.

I had the honor to meet Mike Atta  in 2006 when Lisa Fancher took me to the store he had, aptly titled Out of Vogue, when I was out visiting in CA. Mike was a very nice person and I was really happy to meet one of my “punk rock heroes” and tell him how much I enjoyed his band and how I held the Middle Class records I owned in high regard. I’m sure he heard that a lot over the years, but he seemed to genuinely appreciate that I liked his band so much.

As we age, the world of punk rock seems to shrink as its founding fathers age and pass away. While they may be gone and they will always be missed by those who loved them and those of use who have enjoyed the art they created it is comforting that we will always have the great music left in their wake. Thank you Mike Atta and The Middle Class for all that you did, you left a lasting impression on people that you should be proud of. My condolences go out to Mike’s family and friends.

Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinyl

Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinylAs much as I loved where I grew up back in the 1980s, if I could have lived anywhere else I’d have easily picked southern California. That place not only didn’t have the shitty season known as winter but they had an explosion of amazing bands during punk and hardcore’s formative years. That state spawned more great and influential bands than any other state in America. You can try to dispute that all you want but there’s scientific evidence to prove it. My extensive studies and fact gathering came in the form of collecting records and the numbers don’t lie. Many of the best punk records of all time came from bands in California. If I made a list of great California bands it would more than fill this entire page just like the records fill the shelves in my record room.

Not only did so many great records spawn from this place and time but the records are timeless. I still listen to them almost as much now as I did 25 or 30 years ago when I first purchased them. Before you just accuse me of being nostalgic you should know that these very records are still being regularly purchased and listened to by people now that weren’t even born when these records were released. Great music is immune to the boundaries of time and influential music like this gets appreciated by countless generations of people because stuff like this is the real deal. Cream rises to the top as they say.

On the subject of timeless punk albums, the first Adolescents LP is one of the finest punk rock albums of all time, ever! That’s not even open for debate, it is a scientific fact. The album has never been out of print on more than one format because people keep buying it and new people keep discovering it. The album has even remained in print on vinyl for a good portion of its life on this planet and in recent years the album has been pressed on a variety of limited edition colors of vinyl. When Frontier Records, the issuing label of this masterpiece, runs out and needs to make more, they order a new batch on a new color of vinyl. This practice, coupled with the fact that this record is a steady seller, has resulted in the record being issued on most of the colors of the rainbow. It also means that I have a nice wide strip of blue on the shelf they all live on due to my having one of each. The time has come again where the world ate up all the available copies of this record and new ones had to be made.

This time we get the album on yellow marbled vinyl. It is kind of like the sun which is fitting as it is now spring after what was the darkest, coldest, and longest winter of all time. The spring has blossomed a yellow marbled vinyl Adolescents LP to brighten up your turntable as it brightens your day with the amazing songs pressed into those yellow and white grooves. The album comes in the same jacket it always has and it even has a lyric sheet which was missing from the record from the span of time between the very first pressing and the first colored vinyl edition. This colorful disc is available while supplies last (which usually isn’t very long) directly from Frontier Records or it is available at better record stores. If you want one for yourself head on over to the Frontier Records website and if you are a store and want some copies for your customers visit the ILD website. Either way it is best you don’t wait too long!

Gary Numan 3/29/14 at Metro

The Metro was nearly at capacity Saturday night as electronic music fans turned out in droves for a somewhat rare chance to see Gary Numan perform. Numan doesn’t tour that often so when he does it is a real treat to see him perform and the man has a musical career spanning well over 30 years. He is touring in support of his latest album,Splinter, which also happens to be some of the best work of his career.

Roman Remains started off the evening. This three-piece band featured a drummer, guitar player and a female vocalist. They sounded like a more electronic driven Miranda Sex Garden. The lady had a pretty strong vocal delivery and if their set suffered anything it was that there was a lot of similarity in the songs they performed so it came across a little dull after a while despite the shortness of their set.

Next up was Big Black Delta. This band was a two-piece consisting of a singer/keyboardist/laptop along with a drummer. They had cool flashing lights and video images behind them and they played electronic driven dance music. The singer had a really good voice and their songs were melodic and catchy and there was a fair amount of variety in their set which made a very interesting and infectious listen from start to finish and the won over quite a good portion of the audience with their solid performance. When he wasn’t tending to some electronic gadgetry, the singer dance around the stage quite a bit.

The lights dimmed and the crowd got excited as Gary Numan came out with a guitar strapped to him and was joined by a full backing band, including a bass player that was about ten feet tall. The instrumental, “Resurrection” opened the set and it was accompanied by loud guitars and a heavy low-end that really packed a punch but also sounded very crisp. From the opening song the sound for Gary’s entire set was really well mixed, loud, and sounded perfect.  He followed it up quickly (after  freeing himself of his guitar) with “I Am Dust” which is the opening song from his newest album,Splinter. It sounded spot-on and his voice sounded as great as ever. The lights flashed and strobed and Gary paced around the stage a bit as he delivered the goods during this song. He has a way of crafting songs with hard guitars, punchy electronics and a melodic vocal delivery that is unparalleled and at age 56, the man not only doesn’t look his age but he also puts on a performance that rivals younger musicians.

Gary dipped back to the album that made him famous ,1979′s The Pleasure Principle to bust out one of the best songs from it, “Metal”. It was one of the many highlights of his 90 minute set which heavily showcased the Splinter album (which is an album that is damn near perfect from start to finish) along with some of his more recent material. He also proved that he isn’t a nostalgia act by including his most popular song, “Cars” in the middle of his set instead of saving it for the encore like most acts would. That song, while a highlight for many, was simply one of the many excellent songs he performed that evening.

Typically when you see a band in a live setting, you will reflect back on the set list and make a mental note of the songs you’d happily trade in for another if the decision was up to you. This wasn’t the case for Gary Numan’s show his evening. He played much of the best material from his recent output, along with the three best songs from his début album, and much of the new album which as mentioned is easily some of his best work ever. Gary didn’t spend any time talking between songs or even stopping for more than a few swigs of water, he instead spent 75 minutes just putting on a perfect performance of his best work, showing the 1000 people or so in attendance that when it comes to electronic rock music, he really is the man. He also came back out for a nice three song encore consisting of “I Die You Die, ” “Are Friends Electric” and then closing with the somber “My Last Day” which is the closing song on Splinter and a really good finisher. When Gary and his band exited the stage he thanked the audience and waved and left the entire crowd at the Metro completely satisfied and in awe of such an amazing performance. This was a show that people who attended it will be talking about for a long time to come and those that missed out should really be ashamed of themselves. Those of you in other cities on this tour dare not miss this show as it will be one of the more memorable shows of one’s life.

Check out additional photos from this show here!

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD
MVD Visual
Devo has had a pretty amazing career and are definitely one of the most unusual bands in history. They started out in the early punk days but weren’t really punk rock, they were more of a new wave band but even that wasn’t totally accurate. However you want to describe them, the band was loved by many punk rockers, eventually had a top 40 hit and were embraced (at least briefly) by the mainstream and the band name was even used as an insult by dim wits and jocks when they were accosting punkers (“Hey Devo” was usually followed by a punch to the face or followed up with some other politically incorrect insult ). The band was quirky, innovative, prolific and amazingly creative. They were also at times campy and always had a good sense of humor along with a pretty solid discography.

If you are old enough to have grown up through the 1980s then you will also remember a time when music videos became a big thing. Suddenly it wasn’t enough to just make records and have songs played on the radio, you needed to make videos too and hopefully have them shown on some television show such as Night Flight or on this new cable network that took the world by storm called MTV. Young readers may not be aware that the “M” in MTV once stood for music and the network showed music videos all day, every day, and all night too. Bands both big and small made videos, many of which got shown on the network and many that didn’t.  For a visually interesting and unique band like Devo, the music video seemed to be a perfect fit and the band actually made a lot of videos over the years, many of which I never knew existed! What’s equally amazing is that they didn’t do a video for “Uncontrollable Urge’ which if you ask me is their absolutely best song.

Since nobody shows music videos anymore, the only place to find any these days is places like YouTube. The music video is becoming a dying art. Sure people still make them but they don’t have the reach or the avenues they once did so most bands don’t even bother with them anymore unless they have some huge label willing to shell out the money to still make them which is a fraction of what it once was.

Devo dug up a video time capsule and decided to compile their videography on a DVD and release it (as well as preserve it) along with some neat extras. The Complete Truth About De-Evolution is a compilation of 20 Devo music videos, presented chronologically, along with some other video artifacts thrown in for good measure. Just like the band, the videos are quirky, goofy, colorful, and fun. They really showed off the band’s creative side and few, if any, were done on a large budget. It could be described as a visual greatest hits except that they didn’t necessarily do videos for what would now be compiled on a greatest hits compilation (though obvious hits like “Whip It” did have videos which are included here).  Sitting through the videos from start to finish was a nice trip through much of the career and (De-)Evolution of the band. It was also interesting to see how the visual quality got better as you progress through them which probably has to do with the budget they were made on.

The entire DVD is presented in 4:3 video (full frame) as that is how all the material was originally filmed and presented. The visual quality of the individual videos ranges from very good to excellent and it really is just a matter of what they were shot with. The earliest stuff shows its age a little more in grain and softness but it is the best quality presentation possible for the material. Extras include live footage, some laserdisc ad spots, and some cool and informative slide shows. Of particular interest was the one that told the story of the cover art for their first album (but sadly didn’t explain why they used different cover art for the European versions of it). For hardcore Devo fans there is really some neat stuff on here and even some commentary by two of the band members.

If you are a Devo fan then this DVD is a must. I’ve always liked it when bands release DVDs of all their videos and for a band like Devo, whose visuals are so much a part of who they are,  I’m surprised that this didn’t happen sooner!

Related links:

Order the DVD from Amazon.com

MVD Visual

Devo official website

 

Pro Wrestling Blitz: Redemption 3/22/14

Pro Wrestling Blitz held its monthly show Saturday night at the “Blitz Arena” otherwise known as St. Joseph Park in Joliet, IL. On top of their usual strong lineup of local talent they brought in former WWE superstar Carlito for this show, which was pretty cool.

(more…)


Music News

Mike Atta
(photo courtesy of The Middle Class facebook page, photographer unknown)
R.I.P. Mike Atta of The Middle Class

Today I received the sad news that Mike Atta, guitarist for The Middle Class, passed away yesterday …

More in Music News

Show Reviews

Gary Numan
Gary Numan 3/29/14 at Metro

The Metro was nearly at capacity Saturday night as electronic music fans turned out in droves for a …

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Reviews

devodvd
Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD MVD Visual Devo has had a pretty amazing care…

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Records

Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinyl
Adolescents LP yellow marbled vinyl

As much as I loved where I grew up back in the 1980s, if I could have lived anywhere else I’d …

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Vault Selections

sisforspace
Selections from The Punk Vault – White Flag

The first place that I ever heard of White Flag was in one of two places: the We Got Power compilati…

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