Check me out, back to back weekly Strictly Punks. On with the show!
A Beginner’s Guide to The Turbo AC’s
I went and saw ‘60’s twangy guitar playing legend Duane Eddy Wednesday night with my Dad (you know that song Rebel Rouser Forrest Gump first runs onto a football field to?) and it got me to thinking. Duane Eddy’s best work pre-dates punk proper by many decades but there is one band who takes serious props from the likes of Eddy that I love but might not be familiar to all; The Turbo A.C.s.
Hailing from New York City and plying their trade for almost 20 years now, The Turbo A.C.’s have remained remarkably under the radar despite making some pretty awesome records. From their 1996 debut Damnation Overdrive, which does what it says on the tin they’ve been playing amped up greaser punk.
The band’s third album, Fuel For Life, went out on The Offspring’s Dexter Holland’s Nitro label and was produced by Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret. The record had more polish than earlier efforts and the band’s cover of Lalo Schifrin’s ‘Enter The Dragon’ is quite awesome.
The band continued on the awesome cover trend on their follow-up Automatic as twangy guitar staple ‘Apache’ got a rework. And the rest of the album really pops too.
Ya Know? – Joey Ramone
The iconic Ramones frontman passed away over ten years ago but this week saw the release of his posthumous second album Ya Know? This 15 tracker features songs written by the Ramone across the better part of his musical life and also includes two Ramones re-recordings: ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)’ and ‘Life’s a Gas’. Guest spots by the likes of Joan Jett give this record a living grounding without giving this album a Tu Pac dueting with a living modern artist vibe.
As a collection of songs written across a career it plays like a best of, in so far as it’s a little disjointed but in that way it sums up the man himself. The uneducated might assume The Ramones played the same stuff over and over again but they actually had quite a varied range and that comes through on this record blending the classic 60s styled pop, rock, punk and Americana Joey held so dear. All in all, if you’re a fan of the man and or his band you’re probably going to dig this but if you’re a casual Ramones fan it’s probably not going to be essential listening.
Okay, stay with me on this. I’ve been a fan of Eurovision even longer than I’ve been a fan of punk music (I apologise for nothing!) and with it being the most viewed non-sporting event in the world all this week (semi-finals Tuesday and Thursday, final Saturday) I thought I would offer a punk’s guide to what Europe has to offer.
Sweden have a rich Eurovision history (ABBA anyone?) but they’ve also produced some badass punk bands too. 2012 has been the year of Refused with a number of high profile festival shows announced since their reunion so I’ve decided to pick another worthy representative for Sweden; Millencolin.
Millencolin have been playing their brand of Scandinavian skate punk for almost 20 years now and are the equals of their American cousins Lagwagon and Pennywise. ‘No Cigar’ and ‘Kemp’ are bona fide anthems and in ‘The Ballad’ they played something touching and heartfelt. The band’s most recent album Machine 15 showed a maturity of a band closing in on 2 decades together whilst still rocking pretty hard.
As with Sweden, Germany have a rich musical heritage which extends to punk music. Beatsteaks are suitably insane and teutonic and might be more familiar to most of you for their track ‘Wish’ found on Epitpah’s Punk-O-Rama 8. Another German outfit, Donots, are playing the European festivals this Summer but it is Wizo, who sing almost entirely in their native tongue who’ll get my douze points. Totally insane as you might expect they are have a strong anti-violence and left wing agenda whilst remaining a fun party punk band.
Zdob şi Zdubhave represented Moldova at two, yes two, Eurovision Song Contests. And they are clearly batshit crazy. Blending Moldovan folk music with bouncy alternative rock vibes these guys are something akin to the Chili Peppers of Moldova. Singing songs about old woman beating drums and being joined onstage by unicyclists only adds to their madness. Check them out if you can, even if it’s just on Youtube.
Sure, Israel are deep in the Middle East, have no land borders with any other European country but dammit! If they’re allowed into Eurovision they’re getting on my list too! I suppose the people of Israel have every right to be angry in such a hostile place in the world and nothing breeds pure punk rock fury quite like anger. Useless IDare Israel’s biggest punk export having broken the underground scene in the West including the United States where the band are currently putting material out on Fat Wreck. Their latest album, Symptoms, is among their best work to date.
Ireland have won the Eurovision Song Contest more times than Brazil have won the football World Cup and as a country they are synonymous with native folk music. They’ve also produced the likes of Brian Eno, U2, Thin Lizzy, Sinead O’Connor and Westlife. Oh and the odd punk band too. Northern Ireland seem to have the pick of the best of these with The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers but the Republic has somewhat produced the likes of The Pogues who came together in London in the early 1980s from a ragtag bunch of ex-patriated misfits as well as more modern Celtic punk bands like Blood and Whiskey.
Perhaps ultimately Ireland could pull a Switzerland and get a ringer (Canada’s Celine Dion from the 1988 Eurovision) and call upon the services of Boston’s favourite sons the Dropkick Murphys who are perhaps more working class, raucous and downright Irish then the Irish themselves.
As with the Moldovan entry, Turkish outfit Athena have actually entered the song contest, back in 2004 when Turkey themselves hosted. The ska punkers entry that night, ‘For Real’, isn’t half bad for a Eurovision song (I seem to recall I phoned in and voted for it). Besides this appearance on the continental stage the band’s reach to date remains fairly localised but all it might take is tireless touring and a Summer of festival appearances and they could be your new favourite band.