CD recommendations: late 70s, NY, CBGB sound
June 7, 2004 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Based on this post in The Blue, I'm looking for CD recommendations on the late 70's New York CBGB's sound. I'm familiar with Lou Reed, The New York Dolls, The Velvet Underground, Television and (pre-disco) Blondie. Oh, and I'm a huge Talking Heads fan. Any suggestions?
posted by JoanArkham to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Let's see...there's the Dictators, the Stimulators, the Sic Fu*s, Suicide, DNA, 8-Eyed Spy, and the Jim Carroll Band.

I'll add some more here when I think of 'em.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:47 AM on June 7, 2004

I've also remembered the Offs, James Chance & the Contortions, Jane/Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, the Plasmatics, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Au Pairs, Bush Tetras, and Cabaret Voltaire.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2004

I amlost forgot the Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders, the MC5, NY Dolls, Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, and the Washington Squares.

Aside from that, my mind's sort of a blank. For now...
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2004

Well, on preview you all named most of mine - I'll second Jim Carroll Band and Johnny Thunders especially.

Outside of NY - the Stooges, X, the Real Kids, the Saints, Radio Birdman, Rocket from the Tombs (only recently recorded, but awesome)
posted by drobot at 10:58 AM on June 7, 2004

only recently recorded *well* I should say

Also - if you like the No Wave stuff, try the Theoretical Girls, Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth's first couple of records. There's a great New York No Wave compilation (No New York, I think) on Soul Jazz records. Tough to find, but try Other Music.

And the Ramones.
posted by drobot at 11:03 AM on June 7, 2004

Favorite NY seventies punk albums:

The first two Ramones albums
Peter Laughner - Take the Guitar Player For a Ride
Patti Smith - Horses, Radio Ethiopia
Television - First album, the Blow Up
Johnny Thunders - So Alone

Great songs:
Sweet Sister Ray on The Quine Tapes is the very best of the Velvets
You can't put your arms around a memory - Johnny Thunders
Ain't It Fun - Rocket From the Tombs
Chinese Rocks - Heartbreakers

Overrated: The Dead Boys, The Dictators, The New York Dolls, solo Lou Reed
posted by dydecker at 11:09 AM on June 7, 2004

...I forgot about the Runaways, which featured a young Joan Jett and Lita Ford.

British acts which played NY include early Elvis Costello, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Wreckless Eric, and Nick Lowe; the Live Stiffs compilation is a good source of material.

UK Subs, the Pirates, Sham 69, the Anti-Nowhere League, Chelsea, Stranglers and the Damned are other Brit acts which crossed the pond. The Damned were the first punk act from the Isle to nationally tour the US. And yeah, there's also the Sex Pistols.

In Calaifornia, there were the Alleycats and Tuxedomoon.
Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels were from, uh, I'll remember it...

On Prieview: Good call on Patti Smith, dydecker! (slaps forehead)
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:19 AM on June 7, 2004

Response by poster: Wow, thanks all. I should have mentioned I'm also a big Ramones and Stooges fan, but I always think of them as more "pure punk" than "art-school/NYC heroin rock". Or whatever. (I like the "No Wave" designation.)

(On preview...also a big Damned fan!)
posted by JoanArkham at 11:22 AM on June 7, 2004

The CBs scene (and by extension, the whole downtown NY scene) encompassed a lot of different styles. The folks above mention a lot of good stuff -- I particularly like Suicide. Their first album (recorded in the early '70s, before most of the CBs scene came together) is very taut, harsh but pop-influenced electro-buzz that influenced a lot of the weirder elements of underground new wave a decade later.

If you like Talking Heads, actually, you might like the two recent "Disco Not Disco" compilations, which chronicle the unlikely marriage of New York's late-70s/early-'80s post-punk scene and underground dance scene. (People always think of punk and disco as mortal enemies, but this wasn't always the case!)

And if you'd like to explore the more noisy, avant-garde No Wave scene (which popped up in the very early Eighties), the No New York compilation is a good starting point, with DNA, Mars, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, & the Contortions. Note: it's pretty free-form and primal, but great if you like that. (on preview, it's also what dr. robot mentions.)

The above album was produced by Brian Eno, who wasn't living in New York but had been a big influence on the late-70s NYC scene. If you don't know his early rock albums (particularly "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy"), they're weird and poppy and wonderful. And they've just all been re-released.

There's also ESG, a group of teenage sisters from the Bronx who made some excellent, minimalist funk-inspired post-punk, charming both the CB's crowd and the British Factory scene. (They sometimes get compared to the Shaggs, which is totally off, though I do love the Shaggs too.)

Have fun sorting through all this!
posted by lisa g at 11:24 AM on June 7, 2004

...The Pagans, the Ben Vaughn Combo, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Urban Verbs, Material Issue, the Mortal Micronotz, Magazine, very early Clock DVA, Gun Club, and King Kurt.

Ladies an' gents, I'll be here all week.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:28 AM on June 7, 2004

Wow, people covered this one pretty thoroughly. Not from New York, but you might also like Pere Ubu's "The Modern Dance" and the Buzzcocks' "Spiral Scratch". If you're into Velvets-wannabees from the same period, check out the Modern Lovers and the Feelies' "Crazy Rhythms".
posted by fuzz at 11:35 AM on June 7, 2004

Just a mention for Thalia Zedek, one of the few who keeps getting better.
posted by dydecker at 11:50 AM on June 7, 2004

Back with more: Eater, the Flesheaters, the Members, X-Ray Spex, the Gonads, and ChronGen.

And how could I forget Question Mark & the Mysterians?

The Aussie compilation AK79 has a few good cuts on it as well.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:59 AM on June 7, 2004

Also: Slaughter & the Dogs, Vic Goddard & the Subway Sect.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:07 PM on June 7, 2004

if it's the sound you're after, rather than the genuine article, you might want to investigate erase errata. catch 'em live if you can, they're superb.
posted by nylon at 12:10 PM on June 7, 2004

Reading Smart Dalek's great list of every vaguely-NY (and many non-NY bands) reminded me to suggest the Trouser Press guide which reviews a lot of these bands in depth. Not to be critical at all of Smart Dalek's enthusiasm for the genre, but along with the good bands, there are a lot of really crappy ones, too, and unless you are a completist I wouldn't try too hard to track down records by the Gonads (an oi band?) or the Stimulators (a ska band?) while overlooking more readily available artists like Patti Smith or the X-Ray Spex who are maybe more representative of the "CBGB sound" in the late 70s.
posted by drobot at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2004

Rereading - I dont mean to quell your enthusiasm at all S.D. - I know a lot of good non-NY bands deserve mention (like the X-Ray Spex or MC5) - just saying some of this stuff is pretty hard to find and without reviews, I'd hate for JoanArkham to set out looking for some of the less-related bands listed above.
posted by drobot at 12:39 PM on June 7, 2004

Try the Rhino DIY series.
posted by four panels at 1:09 PM on June 7, 2004

The Modern Lovers first album is an often overlooked gem of proto-punk goodness. It has Jerry Harison of talking heads fame, John Felice later of the Real Kids and produced by the Velvet's John Cale. Check it out.
posted by Wolfie at 2:35 PM on June 7, 2004

Yes -- first Modern Lovers record is a delight. I'll second (third?) The Jim Carroll Band -- his first record, Catholic Boy, is definitely the best.

Additionally, you're so inclined, Carroll's writing is also extremely evocative of the era. He's most well-known for The Basketball Diaries, which cover the mid-'60s, but Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries is not to be missed for horrifying/hilarious insider tales of Warhol's Factory (and the attendant music/poetry/art/drug scene) in the early '70s.
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2004

Quick note: The Stimulators' sound was roughly between Bush Tetras
and the Dictators. The Gonads were more like UK Subs and Anti-Nowhere League.

I tried to keep the stinkers off the list, though the titles I mentioned are worth a listen at any used vinyl shop or college radio request line.
Happy Hunting!
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:27 PM on June 7, 2004

Though they were British and more early-80s than late-70s, the Homosexuals were another great band who've had some material from the vault released in the past few years. Also, Swell Maps.
posted by dhoyt at 9:18 PM on June 7, 2004

As a post-script to lisa g's post, check out Arthur Russell. A bunch of stuff is in the process of being reissued. The reissue on Soul Jazz is terrific.
posted by anathema at 9:32 PM on June 7, 2004

Though he was more blues/cajun, Mink DeVille was on the scene around that time. Also, I'm a big Tuxedomoon fan, having become fascinated with their Incubus/Blue Suit video back when MTV had no choice but to be interesting...
posted by black8 at 4:57 AM on June 8, 2004

The World of Arthur Russell is great. Also Lizzy Mercier Descloux (who just died this spring). Fanfare in the Garden, last year's Essential Logic compilation might also appeal.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:24 AM on June 8, 2004

There are some great recommendations here on one of Rock music's finest hours. I know most of the bands well, but a few I am not familiar with and want to investigate more, and a few I haven't even heard of. One of the best AskMe threads, at least for my interests.

Of all these bands, I really like Patti Smith, especially her first two albums, Television, especially their first album, and Jim Carroll, mostly his first album. (What is it with first albums anyway?) Tom Verlaine was as good a guitarist as Quine. Jim Carroll's first album, Catholic Boy, is one of the greatest rock albums ever. "People Who Died" and the title track got all the press, but my favorite is "City Drops into the Night" which captures Carroll's underworld so eloquently. After you buy the album you might try his book "The Basketball Diaries." It is fantastic. I hear he is in the process of writing a novel now which I would imagine will be very interesting. He is a superb writer.
posted by caddis at 7:50 AM on June 8, 2004

I'd also suggest any of Richard Lloyd's solo stuff, who along with Quine are my two favorite guitar players of all time. Lloyd is at his best when he and Tom Verlaine are playing together (Television), but everything he touches turns to gold. I understand also, that Television is back on tour this summer, so those of you lucky enough to be in Europe should check them out. I saw them at Irving Plaza a couple of years ago, and they blew me away.

As far as additional stuff that's not necessarily from the CBGB scene, but reflects a similar aesthetic, I recommend anything by Mission of Burma (though "Vs." is my favorite), and of course, music by British bands of that time: Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, the Jam, etc.
posted by psmealey at 8:09 AM on June 8, 2004

There was a 2 -disc LP issued by CBGB's called "Live at CBGB's."

The goofy thing about it is that by the time it came out (1976 or 77 ) most
of the better bands who habituated the club had signed record deals, and so
could not be on the record. For example, while the cover has a picture of
Talking Heads (blurry, on stage in the background, while still a trio), they
are not on the album.

Instead you get Laughing Dogs, Tuff Darts, Mink DeVille, some others. Not too bad,
perhaps best for the cover art and liner notes.

Oh, and there's this site:
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2004

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