Sniffin’ Glue

Sniffin’ Glue and Other Rock ‘N’ Roll Habits…, widely known as simply Sniffin’ Glue, was a monthly punk zine started by Mark Perry in July 1976 and released for about a year. The name is derived from a Ramones song ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.’ Others that wrote for the magazine that later became well known journalists include Danny Baker. Although initial issues only sold 50 copies, circulation soon increased to 15,000. The innovative appeal of Sniffin’ Glue was its immediacy. ‘Sniffin’ Glue was not so much badly written as barely written; grammar was non-existent, layout was haphazard, headlines were usually just written in felt tip, swearwords were often used in lieu of a reasoned argument. . .all of which gave Sniffin’ Glue its urgency and relevance.’ The early days of the punk movement largely failed to attract the attention of television or the mainstream press, and Sniffin’ Glue was a key source of photographs of, and information about, contributors to the scene. NME acclaimed Sniffin’ Glue as ‘the nastiest, healthiest and funniest piece of press in the history of rock’n’roll habits’ and it became a chronicle of the early days of British punk rock as well as pioneering the DIY punk ethic. For the final issue Mark’s sidekick Sniffin’ Glue photographer, business affairs and later band manager Harry Murlowski recorded ‘Love Lies Limp’ released as a flexi disc record – the first release from Mark Perry’s band Alternative TV. Fearing absorption into the mainstream music press, Perry ceased publication in 1977. In the last issues he encouraged his readers to follow him with their own punk fanzines. Sniffin’ Glue is often incorrectly credited as the source of the illustration featuring drawings of three guitar chord shapes, captioned, ‘this is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band’, this drawing actually originally appeared in January 1977 in another fanzine Sideburns and was later reproduced in The Stranglers‘ fanzine Strangled. …”
Independent – Sniffin’ Glue: A fanzine that epitomized punk
Sniffin’ Glue: The definitive first wave U.K. punk zine
Tracing the beginnings of the punk fanzine
‘Sniffin’ Glue’: First Whiff Of Punk’s Ultimate Fanzine
Subway Sect Interview in Sniffin Glue from November 1976


Theoretical Girls – “U.S. Millie”/”You Got Me” (1978)

Theoretical Girls were a New York-based no wave band formed by Glenn Branca and Jeff Lohn (a conceptual artist and composer) that existed from 1977 to 1981. Theoretical Girls played only about 20 shows (three of which took place in Paris). It released one single (‘U.S. Millie’/’You Got Me’), which had some attention in England where it sold a few thousand copies. The band was never signed by a record company, but is well regarded as an early leading No Wave group that mixed classical modern ideas of composition with punk rock. This experimental music was mostly supported by the New York art world and minimal art music audience. … Theoretical Girls was formed after Branca and Lohn’s previous group the Static and performed its first show at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Artist Jeff Wall came up with the band’s name during a discussion of women making conceptual art. The Theoretical Girls were among the most enigmatic of the late 1970s no wave bands of the New York underground rock scene, famous not so much for their music, since they released only one single during their brief existence, but because the group launched the careers of two of New York’s best known experimental music figures, composer Glenn Branca and producer Wharton Tiers. The latter played drums, the former guitar in the quartet, which also featured keyboardist Margaret De Wys and vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Lohn, a classically trained composer who, like Branca and so many others in the no wave scene, wasn’t interested in working with popular musical forms until inspired to do so by the explosion of punk rock. The group’s sound shared aesthetics with the other no wave bands working in Manhattan at the time, such as The Contortions and DNA. Always confrontational and often funny in an aggressive way, the band’s sound consistently displayed the influence of American minimalist composers, ranging from sparse, clattering rhythm pieces that sound like immediate forebears of early 1980s Sonic Youth, to abrasive slabs of art-punk noise music. …”
Theoretical Girls
YouTube: US Millie, You Got Me

Equal Rights – Peter Tosh (1977)

Equal Rights was to be the album that propelled Peter Tosh to the top of the reggae world — the rival to onetime fellow Wailer Bob Marley. Time has shown that this lofty aspiration was not borne out, but Equal Rights remains among the handful of best, and most influential, reggae albums ever recorded. Tosh was always the most militant of the original Wailers and this album reflects that outlook. Whether it is preaching about the unity of the African diaspora (‘African’), protesting conditions in South Africa (‘Apartheid’), or giving a more general call to arms (‘Get Up, Stand Up’), Equal Rights is a political album. This is at times crippling, as some tracks are more effective as political statements than they are as songs. This, in fact, is a primary difference between Tosh and MarleyMarley‘s political statements never overwhelmed his songs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with Tosh. That being said, ‘Downpresser Man’ (based on a folk standard), ‘Stepping Razor,’ and his definitive version of ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ are as good a trio of songs as you will find on any album, reggae or not. Tosh‘s singing is angry and forceful and the music is intricate and distinctive. On these three tracks you can see why people thought that Tosh could become a transcendent international star. The rest of the album, however, shows why he never quite lived up to that potential.”
W – Equal Rights
YouTube: Equal Rights, Steppin’ Razor

The Mekons – “Never Been In A Riot” b/w “32 Weeks” and “Heart & Soul” (1978)

“‘Never Been in a Riot’, the Mekon’s first single, was released in 1978 as a direct response to ‘White Riot’ by The Clash, which Kevin Lycett (a former Mekon) reports the band found ‘very offensive’ with its sentiment of ‘I want a riot for us poor downtrodden white people’ (Revenge of the Mekons). The Mekons response, an aggressively self-deprecating song about a man who has never done much of anything, captures a great deal about what makes them successful punks in Jesse Prinz’s aesthetic terms. The song is irreverent even to the point of attacking another celebrated punk act, and the lyrics’ emptiness and moral ambivalence (when they are intelligible) clearly reflect a youthful nihilistic sensibility. Most strikingly, the song is obviously amateurish in its musical incompetence. Indeed, when The Mekons formed, they were a group of art students with no musical training or ability; Bob Last, the head of their first label, recounts that ‘the critical thing [about his decision to sign them] was that they really could not play’ (Revenge of the Mekons). Mary Harron, in a 1979 Melody Maker article in which she refers to the band as ‘a strange combination of sophisticated theory and technical incompetence’, shares this sentiment: ‘The Mekons’ genius has always lain in the way they exposed their defects instead of hiding them, and put them to imaginative use’. Early in their career, then, The Mekons had already emerged as models of punk success via aesthetic failure. The art of The Mekons’ economic failure, on the other hand, has taken their entire career to fully realize, because it is in many ways an art of unlikely endurance in the face of commercial and popular indifference. …”
The Punk Art of Failure: The Mekons and Ideology by David Walker (Video)
W – The Mekon
The Mekons – Formed: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, UK
YouTube: Never Been In A Riot, 32 Weeks, Heart & Soul

“Radio Radio” – Elvis Costello and The Attractions (1977)

“‘Radio Radio’ (sometimes written ‘Radio, Radio’) is a single by Elvis Costello and The Attractions released in the United Kingdom in October 1978. … The song made waves in the USA after Costello’s appearance on Saturday Night Live. Originally, Sex Pistols had been invited to perform on 17 December 1977 broadcast (hosted by Miskel Spillman, an elderly woman who won SNL’s ‘Anybody Can Host’ contest), but problems with Sex Pistols’ various criminal records made getting visas in time difficult, and so the invitation was extended to Elvis Costello and the Attractions, who were touring Canada and the US at the time. Costello’s album was only available on import (My Aim Is True, released in the UK in July). A reference to Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren‘s inability to keep his band’s performance schedule was made by drummer Pete Thomas who, during the performance, wore a shirt with the words ‘Thanks Malc’, in reference to McLaren, ironed on. Costello wanted to play ‘Radio Radio’ on SNL. Columbia Records, however, was interested in having an already-established song performed on SNL, to increase interest in the band before the American release of My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model. In the event, Costello began the SNL performance by playing ‘Less than Zero.’ However, after a few bars, he turned to the Attractions, waving his hand and yelling ‘Stop! Stop!,’ then said to the audience, ‘I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here,’ possibly referring to the fact ‘Less than Zero’ was written as a reply to British fascist politician Oswald Mosley. However, SNL music director Howard Shore attributes the move to Costello’s bucking pressure by his music company to play ‘Less than Zero’ on the show. He then led the band in a performance of ‘Radio Radio.’ …”
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Radio Radio (SNL 1977)

Downtown 81

Downtown 81 (a.k.a. New York Beat Movie) is a film that was shot in 1980-1981 and released in 2000. The film, directed by Edo Bertoglio and written and produced by Glenn O’Brien and Patrick Montgomery, with post-production in 1999-2000 by Glenn O’Brien and Maripol, is a rare real-life snapshot of an ultra-hip subculture of post-punk era Manhattan. Starring renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and featuring such Village artists as James Chance, Amos Poe, Walter Steding, and Tav Falco, the film is a bizarre elliptical urban fairy tale. In 1999, Michael Zilkha, founder of ZE Records (the label of several of the film’s artists), became the film’s executive producer. The film opens with Jean (Basquiat) in the hospital with an undisclosed ailment. After checking out, he happens upon an enigmatic woman, Beatrice (Anna Schroeder), who drives around in a convertible. He arrives at his apartment only to discover that his landlord, played by former Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky, is evicting him. … Jean-Michel Basquiat was homeless at the time of the movie and slept in the production office during most of the shooting. The film production crew bought Basquiat canvas and paints to make paintings for the film. The paintings that appear in the movie belonging to Basquiat’s character are by Basquiat himself, and among his first canvases. … The soundtrack features music by: Jean-Michel Basquiat with Andy Hernandez; Basquiat’s own band, Gray; John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards, DNA, Tuxedomoon, the Plastics, Marvin Pontiac, Kenny Burrell, the Specials, Chris Stein, Melle Mel with Blondie, Liquid Liquid, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, Vincent Gallo, Lydia Lunch, Steve French and Suicide. Many of the recordings were of live performances, but DNA and Tuxedomoon were recorded in the studio for the soundtrack. …”
The Dissolve
Archive: Downtown 81 1:07:02

The Vibrators – Pure Mania (1977)

“Do you dance often. I hate dancing. I rarely get caught dancing in public, unless I’m under the influence of punk rock, where dancing is loosely interpreted. Older punk records usually go as far as getting my feet tapping, but rarely do they ever cause me to kick my chair from beneath me and twist my hips. I’ve been dancing lately, and it’s because of The Vibrators’ ‘Pure Mania.’ Very similar to The Buzzcocks’ pop-punk flavor, The Vibrators display a mastery of hooks that would embarrass modern pop-punk bands if ever put to comparison with these punk rock veterans. ‘Pure Mania’ focuses on sex. What’s more important than girls. If you’re in the business of making albums, I’d recommend following The Vibrators’ formula of love ballads with ridiculously catchy beats and those British vocals that will make almost every girl swoon. Why not throw in a piano and organ behind a voice yearning ‘Baby, baby, baby, won’t you be my girl’ Make sure you have a decent crew of backup vocalists to match your chilling ‘Ooooooh’s,’ designed to run up a girl’s spine. They need to be solid musicians as well to achieve a similar overlay of guitars that provide a spark on top of a throbbing bass. You can try, but you probably will get as far as succeeding as The Vibrators’ cover band. I doubt you can also match the relentless gear shifting vocals of Ian Carnochan, or ‘Knox,’ as he is also known. His voice grinds and soothes, with recognizable resent and confidence, as he sorts through his love life. He is the ignition to The Vibrators’ aforementioned mastery of hooks and a vital supplement to the competent instrumentation that drives The Vibrators’ sound. Once ‘Pure Mania’ begins, you’re tapping. …”
Sputnik Music
W – Pure Mania
W – The Vibrators
YouTube: Pure Mania FULL ALBUM

Recommended Records

Flyer for the 1st RIO festival, 12 March 1978, The New London Theatre, London.

Recommended Records (RēR) is a British independent record label and distribution network founded by Chris Cutler in March 1978. RēR features largely ‘Rock in Opposition’ and related music, but it also distributes selected music released on other independent labels.  … When English avant-rock group Henry Cow toured Europe between 1975 and 1977 they encountered many bands in a similar situation to their own: they were forced to operate outside the music industry that refused to recognise their music. In 1978 these groups got together and formed Rock in Opposition (RIO). To provide a record label and distribution network for these artists, Chris Cutler of Henry Cow established Recommended Records (RēR) as a model for a non-profit music company. When RIO folded as an organisation in late 1979, RēR continued RIO’s work by representing and promoting marginalised musicians and groups. RēR became a ‘virtual RIO’, and ‘part of the continuing legacy of RIO’. … When Henry Cow split up in 1978, Chris Cutler created a record label called for his own projects with a distribution arm called Recommended Distribution, so called because he personally ‘recommended’ the titles they distributed. The intention was to import and distribute new, interesting and experimental music from all over the world to the United Kingdom. In 1979, Cutler established the Recommended label for releases other than his own. In 1987, he combined the Ré and Recommended labels to form RēR, and at the same time Recommended Distribution became a worker’s cooperative enabling Cutler to concentrate on running the RéR label and writing RēR’s mail order catalogue. …”
W – Rock in Opposition

Chelsea – High Rise Living/No Admission (1977)

“It was in August 1976 that Gene October placed an advert in Melody Maker which led to replies from guitarist William Broad, bassist Tony James and drummer John Towe. On October 18th they made their live debut as Chelsea supporting Throbbing Gristle at London’s ICA. It was at this time that Gene convinced the manager of gay London nightclub, manager of a gay London nightspot in Covent Garden called Shageramas, to convert the club into London’s first live punk rock venue called The Roxy – a fact for which he is given little credit. The band split in November 1976. Gene briefly recruited guitarist Marty Stacey and bassist Bob Jessie. The other three former members formed Generation X. When Gene was asked about his former band colleagues he said ‘Generation X? Oh yeah they used to be in Chelsea.’ In early 1977 Jessie and Stacey left and Gene put together a new line up consisting of guitarist James Stevenson, bassist Henry Daze and drummer Carey Fortune. This line up was slightly more permanent and soon the band’s first single, the punk classic Right To Work, was released. However, not long after the release of the second single High Rise Living, Chelsea played their ‘farewell’ gig on October 6th 1977 at The Roxy. …”
Backstreet Battalion
W – Chelsea
Chelsea In Session – 1977 – Past Daily Sounbooth (Audio)
YouTube: High Rise Living, No Admission

Hear Patti Smith Read 12 Poems From Seventh Heaven, Her First Collection (1972)

“So it’s National Poetry Month, and the Academy of American Poets recommends 30 Ways to Celebrate, including some old standbys like memorizing a poem, reading a poem a day, and attending a reading. All sensible, if somewhat staid, suggestions (I myself have been re-reading all of Wallace Stevens’ work—make of that what you will). Here’s a suggestion that didn’t make the list: spend some time digging the poetry of Patti Smith. A living breathing legend, Smith doesn’t appear in many academic anthologies, and that’s just fine. What she offers are bridges from the Beats to the sixties New York art scene to seventies punk poetry and beyond, with spandrels made from French surrealist leanings and rock and roll obsessions. A 1977 Oxford Literary Review article aptly describes Smith in her heyday: In the late sixties and early seventies Patti Smith was a member of Warhol’s androgynous beauties living under the fluorescent lights of New York City’s Chelsea Hotel…Her performances were sexual bruisings with the spasms of Jagger and the off-key of Dylan. Her musical poems often came from her poetical fantasies of Rimbaud. … Emily Dickenson she ain’t, but Smith also has an abiding love and respect for her literary forebears, whether now-almost-establishment figures like Virginia Woolf or still-somewhat-outré characters like Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet. Smith’s first published collection of poetry, Seventh Heaven, appeared in 1972 and included tributes to Edie Sedgwick and Marianne Faithfull. She dedicated the book to gangster writer Mickey Spillane and Rolling Stones’ muse, and partner of both Brian Jones and Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg. …”
Open Culture (Video)
W – Seventh Heaven (poetry collection)
“Sexual Bruisings: The Poetry of Patti Smith,” by Kate Ballen, Oxford Literary Review, 1977