Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Punk rock today, after all that jazz.

First song is by a German band called Die Toten Hosen. They put out a pretty cool album called Learning English: Lesson 1 in 1991 on which they covered a bunch of punk rock classics. Members of some of the original bands even helped out (Joey Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Captain Sensible, etc.). The one original, (Carnival In Rio) Punk Was, is possibly the best song on the album, and features Ronald Biggs on vocals, and sounds like a great outtake from the Sex Pistols' Flogging A Dead Horse (which I've always kinda liked). "Dad, what was punk rock?" Now you'll know.

Song number two is by Bikini Kill. People always seem to review them in terms of Kathleen Hanna's lyrics, politics etc., and the band did put out a lot of sludgy polemic. But, on their Rebel Girl single (with the help of Joan Jett, and I suspect that she helped a lot given how much better it is than anything else Bikini Kill ever did) they pulled together three perfect songs. I love New Radio because it's smart enough to stop after 1:33, because it contains two wonderful blood curdling screams, because it features a variety of Kathleen Hanna's many vocal styles (hectoring, purring, screaming, etc.), and of course because it leads into their one true classic song Rebel Girl. Which you'll have to get elsewhere. While it's tempting to buy their singles compilation, may I humbly suggest that the Rebel Girl 7" is probably a smarter buy. Three perfect grrrl punk songs, no filler, and you don't need to listen to the lyrics to like it.

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