Faster and Louder Part 3 (To Hell with the Boys)

tohellwiththeboysNobody likes the same music I do.  That’s because they’re stupid.  I like fast and loud songs with funny and intelligent lyrics.  Nothing too long in case you don’t like that particular song.  Then it’ll get over sooner and another, better, louder and faster song, will take its place.  Overamped guitars and just enough of a Johnny Thunders type guitar solo to make the middle 8 kick ass for the chorus and a lively end to the song.  None of that Jazz or Blues improvisation; never a weak fade-out ending, that’s for folk singers and singer-songwriters like the despised James Taylor.  Something you can pogo to and get a nosebleed.  Good times.

Even J.S. Bach knew this way back when (No, I’m not looking it up).  They didn’t have electricity, so no electric guitar; no faster and louder; it was just a dream.  Then they invented pipe organs.  Don’t need electricity.  All they needed was some dumb ass like you to keep the bellows going.  Herr Bach knew what to do with it.  Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  Fast and LOUD.  Creepy too.  You can go beserk to Toccata like Keith Emerson before he became too pretentious (get out your dictionary).  If you can climb into the pipe loft you can really go berserk.  Louder than a Who and Ramones concert together.  Blow your eardrums out.  The pedal notes will make your chest vibrate better than a Kanye West rap in a 2010 Cadillac.

They knew what they were saying when they said:  “Go for Baroque.”  I bet they were sweatin’ in the pews.  Toccata yo’ mama.  Good times that 17th century.  Kicked ass over the Middle Ages.

Fast forward to 1975.  London.  Kids sick of ’70s slower and softer music.  Glam is dead.  People want to hang hippies in effigie (I blame the ’60s for most of your problems).  A bunch of guys come together and want to make some music but it’s gotta be faster and louder.  They want to sound like the Beatles, only the good Beatles pre-St. Peppers Lonely Old Farts Band, or whatever.  They want to make music like the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, The Small Faces, all the good bands from the sixties, but it’s gotta be better.  And you know what that means:  faster and louder.  The genesis of The Boys.

Soaring harmonies and punk rock guitars, but with intelligence, tongue in cheek, and what’s most important faster and louder; actual songs that have hooks that you can pogo to or just go wild.  Forget poseurs like the Boomtown Crap or the Dead Boring Boys.  We mean Jam and Who songs with a little Ramones thrown in.  And actually singing, not some sod in a leather jacket screaming into a microphone like Dave Vanian.  Real harmonies and background vocals but still faster and louder.


The problem was The Boys were too good.  Too punk for the “New Wave” pop poseurs and too pop for the punks.  What else can you say about a group that Joey Ramone and Paul Weller both said was their favorite band?  Weller even had a Boys sticker on his Rickenbacker (look at the cover of All Mod Cons).


First there were the singles, then the eponymous (Did you put the dictionary away?)
The Boys
.  Next the magnificent Alternative Chartbusters, then their masterpiece, To Hell with the Boys, and finally the undeservedly maligned Boys Only.  How could I forget the notoriously tasteless Christmas Album by The Yobs?  Over the years a number of B-sides and throwaways have been reissued on CD, just proving that a Boys throwaway was a song most other bands would have killed for:  She’s No Angel, Schooldays.

A pitiful lack of recognition by the trendy fruity uninspired synthesizer music industry that became the early ’80s caused the band to break up.  Honest John Plain joined the worthless Lurkers for awhile, he wrote their best song, New Guitar in Town, and then went on to keep the flame alive in other places and with solo work with various backup bands.  Well fast forward again to 2014, The Boys are back.  Punk Rock Menopause.  Great title, eh.  Faster and Louder than even the old Boys.

I wish they would tour the States again.  I’d drive a long way to see ’em, and you should too.  Fly to London right now and catch a gig and pick up a Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic show on the side while you’re there.

I once drove 180 miles both ways on the same night to see a band, but that’s another faster and louder story.



borgo pass

When we used to live in the Borgo Pass Walpurgisnacht was way more important than All Hallows Eve.  Children would come from all over the countryside for the unwrapped sweets and plum brandy we would give out.  You better have a lot of both otherwise your house would burn down, your cat would die, or your firstborn would disappear, but it was all in good fun. Talk about your tricks or treats!

candy-tampering-chThen we moved to the United States for the economic opportunity.  Jobs other than chauffeur were scarce in the Borgo Pass so if you didn’t have your drivers license you were pretty much screwed.  Even if you did have a license getting a taxi through the Pass was a pretty treacherous undertaking.  Then there were the European wars, a boom and a bust for us at the same time with so many corpses all around but still no jobs.

Trick_or_treat_by_RadojavorAnyway the day before yesterday a whole bunch of kids showed up at the old schloss here and demanded treats.  Well the brandy ran out in a few minutes and the leftover candy from Walpurgisnacht last April didn’t last long either.  We had eaten most of it ourselves.  On top of that I couldn’t find a needle or razor blade in the whole house.  We had some Vicodin around but you wouldn’t want to give that to little kids, it might hurt them and think about the parents that just steal their kids’ candy.

walpurgisnacht2To make a short story longer, last April we had the whole house decked out with booby traps for Walpurgisnacht and we were ready with our unwrapped sweets and cakes.  I’d laid in a good supply of razor blades and Mama had a whole pin cushion of needles just waiting for the little darlings.  I also had literally a barrel of slivovitz shipped in from the old country.  Well guess what happened?  Nobody came.  Nobody used the knocker.  Nobody rang the bell.  You would think people were dead or afraid of us.

razor blades

When we carefully asked around people said that nobody made a big deal about Walpurgisnacht in the United States; stupid Halloween was the macabre holiday.  This is simply ridiculous.  This was hard to believe.  When the children surprised us on Halloween many didn’t dress as corpses or revenants at all.  Some dressed as so-called super heroes and princesses!  I didn’t see a single sword, razor, or dagger.  What’s up with that?  America is a very strange place.

Well somebody told me about something called a “trunk or treat” which is some sort of alternative to the Halloween “trick or treat” experience.  It must be trick or treat for lazy people, and heaven knows there are too many of them around.  The other big difference is you invite children to the trunk or treat event not wait for them to just show up.  This got me to thinking, why not host a trunk or treat at the old château on Walpurgisnacht next April 30!

walpurgisnachtI know it is a long time to wait but we sleep most of the winter anyway so that makes the time fly.  A benefit is the candy is super cheap around Walpurgisnacht, unlike Halloween, Christmas, or St. Valentine’s Day.  The dollar stores are the best place to buy.  In the US there still is the problem of most of the candy being individually wrapped, unlike Eastern Europe, so getting the wrappers back on the candy, so many individual pieces, is a real pain but still worth the effort.



In my first post I finished off with a picture of my favorite popular music, rock ‘n’ roll band of all time:  Sigue Sigue Sputnik  (Boom Boom Satellite, translated from the Russian). No, for you youngsters or the unenlightened that don’t know what I’m talking about, they are not Russian, we have a British pop group here with a name supposedly cadged from a Moscow youth gang. The band, briefly popular in 1986, wanted to be the future of rock ‘n’ roll; the look, the feel, the sound. Needless to say we all know now that they never became the future. Why? Probably over-hype that couldn’t be lived up to plus a complete immunity to the hype in the US from the very start. But this isn’t my point.

Over the years there have been several reunion attempts, one actually partly successful from 2000 to 2004. They sounded good again live. Real good. Made some mostly good if uneven albums. The problem is, and this is a big problem with a band like this, they were old. Remember, in the original incarnation image was possibly more important than the sound. This is always gone by the reunion. Plastic surgery and pink fright wigs on men well beyond 40 are just sad not cool. No way cool. Ask anyone 16 to 28 years old, what do you think they will say? Cool? Nope, unless you stick your tongue firmly in your cheek and embrace the fact that you ARE really self-parody. Self-parody can succeed on another level when it is self conscious. Self-parody otherwise is sad when you are actually trying to be serious and capture and relive the past, ergo ’70s Elvis.

In the past few years there has been a clamor among SSS fans, yes we will use the acronym here, for a reunion of the original band. Remember in 2004 they were old by “cool” pop music standards, now in the ripe old year of 2013 they are inching towards walker and wheelchair material. Can you imagine trying to recapture “the magic” of my 29th year in existence when I am now well into my fifties and the band I am going to see is in their sixties, a very special image driven band? Its just sad. The Sex Pistols had a reunion of sorts 20 years on in 1996 and it was okay, but only if you kept your eyes closed. However, nothing new was achieved. The band didn’t make some new important mark on culture or even their own legacy. It was about a bit of fun and making money. Rotten, who always claimed it was all a cheat in the first place, kept his sense of humor throughout the “tour” and refused to have anything to do with it after that. But some took the whole thing so seriously…

Here is a link to the SSS YouTube video of “21st Century Boy” from TOTP in 1986. Go look at it. Really. This will still be here. Can you imagine fat bald old farts doing “classic” Sputnik like this now without embracing the comedy aspects of it? I say again: Sad.

Not only are the old farts trying to pull this thing off a sorry lot, but probably even more so, the fans that cling to it and clamor for it. Just shoot me if I’m still alive in 20 years and they put a SSS reunion special on PBS during “begging for bucks” and I still wanna watch it. Clinging to a fossilized aged 18 youth isn’t healthy. People should live in the now and just think about the past. Of course I still look the same as I did in 1986. Except for the er weight, um wrinkles, and, oh, hair.

The original founders of SSS are putting out some old cast-off recordings and demos for the fans, and this is okay, but it has fueled speculation that the band is going to go back in the studio (maybe alright) and tour again (I’m not so sure about). Martin Degville retains a presence as a solo act trumped up as Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic, and it looks like fun and all, but people actually whine that it isn’t up to the old “classic” Sputnik and is ruining the bands image (?). At least he re-recorded everything in a more current techno style and released some new stuff so he wasn’t too hampered by 1986. It seems to be all in good fun though, not TOO serious. I hope Martin, at least, knows not to take it all too seriously.

So, no I don’t want to see a Sigue Sigue Sputnik reunion that goes beyond the studio. It also has to be the original band, not some Sammy Hagar-style replacement singer. Because if I’m going to have to close my eyes anyway and pretend it is 1986, it ought to be in the comfort of my own little home, not some stinking dive pub in Manchester.

A couple of other things. The good old days were only one thing: old, they weren’t all that good you just only remember that part. Remember the REAL future is right around the corner if we can just wait long enough for it. Oh, and excuse my still rudimentary HTML skills, I’m still learning. It looks like the YouTube link at least works. I’ll figure out how to embed next time, maybe, no promises