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10. Alan Vega - It (Fader) ... SPEW'S Top 10 countdown.

If you know who Alan Vega is we can move along. 
Alan Vega with one of his installations.

But maybe some of you don’t. 

Alan Vega was part rockabilly hiccup, part electronic futurist. He was a poetic minimalist. Whether as musician, either with his partner Martin Rev in the band Suicide or solo, or as visual artist (his gallery shows were infrequent, but legendary), Vega was uncompromising and unwilling to play the game. He was interested in energy, in process, not in creating a portfolio. One romanticizes artists at one's peril, but Alan Vega didn't have time for bullshit, and his work shows it. 

Alan Vega died in 2016; he was seventy-eight years old. Much of his life he’d been a bit cat and mouse about his age, not wanting to let his Seventies “punk” peers at Max's and CBGB's know he was fifteen years older than them. He needn’t have worried. Nothing dated Alan Vega. 

His posthumous swan song It i(the back half of a New York 'exit' sign) is as abrasive and aggressive as his first record with Suicide, the album that introduced us to "Frankie Teardrop" (a Bruce Springsteen favorite), "Cheree," and "Ghost Rider.' Forty years on from that testimonial debut, It is just as charged and challenging. 
"Dukes God Bar"

 Recorded over a six-year period, much of it in ill health, with his wife and collaborator, Liz Lamere (who supplies the stark, pulsing electronic buzz of cheap keyboards and dime store effects), It is both a raging farewell and a prayer for his teenage son, Dante. 

 Vega’s avant-shrieks and rockabilly boy from hell vocals remain fierce. His minimal poetic scorn for big money America is sharp - he’s the kind of artist who get so much from a minimum of materials, the kind that a fool might be tempted to say “hell, I could do that” about. They said the same of Jackson Pollock; and were wrong. 

From the opening salvo "D.T.M. (Dead to Me)," an admonition  to those who'd impose oppressive authority over individuality and the creative impulse, to "Stars," a tough, solemn prayer for Dante, and a blessing to all who create in this uncertain future - "do what you want ... anything ... the power is given,," It is a eulogy for the New York of diner, dingy bars and cheap lofts, and a last rage at the dying of the light. 

One helluva will and testament. 

An interesting piece from the New York Times:


The people have spoken.

Wire is having a 40th anniversary. Yes, I feel old.

"Editor's" Note: One Mr. Colin Newman of Brighton observes that it is he who plays most of the keyboards on recordings by Wire. I'm not sure where, or if, I indicated otherwise, but Mr. Newman's contributions (in the studio and to SPEW'S accuracy) are noted. He is certainly an authority on the subject. 

Wire is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut Pink Flag with the release of their fifteenth studio album Silver/Lead.

Wire’s first three records, Pink Flag,Chairs Missing, and 154 formed a blueprint for much of what came next in the wake of punk; showing how the drive and anger could be channeled beyond the roar and rage. Wire did, however, share with the Pistols a sense of the absurd. Uncomfortable with the conventions of rock, Wire set about reworking and subverting rock ’n’ roll. From Flag’s short, sharp blitz of songs to the more Kraut-Floyd atmospheres of Chairs Missing, to 154’s dark consolidation of Wire’s elements (immaculately produced),Wire’…

Today, the Whiffs

Yesterday I called L.A.’s Starcrawler the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world.
Today, it’s the Whiffs.
A power-pop band from Kansas City. I recommend the Whiffs if you like Norwegian black metal. Not because they sound like Mayhem or Gorgoroth, but because there are laws against church burning and the Whiffs would never incite such a thing. Their songs are about various stages of infatuation, the yoozh for power-pop. Cheery melodies in bright keys with sprightly tempi tend not to mulch into diatribes against the Caliphate. Although a lot of shit rhymes with Caliphate … hmm (I can hear Joey Ramone rhyming Caliphate with ‘too late.’). But clearly, I digress.
Take a Whiff is a blast. Eight shots of tuneful adrenaline. Okay, one song is ALMOST three minutes - a veritable jam. But you can fade it out. No problem (kidding). Not a token slow dance dragger on this puppy. Mid-tempo and up-tempo. There’s never a reason for a pop band to do a slow song unless it’s poetic and melodically gorgeo…