Post-riot grrrl quartet How Tragic is fronted by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Paige Campbell. She writes poetic and playful punk songs, teeming with cathartic hooks, buzz saw guitars, pummeling drums, and rubbery basslines

As a vocalist, Paige is emotionally dynamic; her range encompasses chilling-but-sensual phrasing, raspy and impassioned singing, gruff punk rock shouting, and powerhouse belting. Her lyrics are from the heart, and brim with clever turns of phrases, kitschy horror-punk imagery, and brazen sensitivity. The Brooklyn-based quartet’s tunes would fit comfortably on a Spotify playlist alongside artists such as L7, Lunachicks, Hole, The Distillers, The Gits, The Misfits, and The Descendents.

 

How Tragic’s debut EP, ‘Past Lives’, features four tight and tuneful tracks Paige co-produced alongside producer, engineer, and mixer Matt Chiaravelle (Courtney Love, Debbie Harry, Warren Zevon) at Flux Studios and Mercy Sound Studios. ‘Past Lives’ was mastered by Grammy-nominated mastering engineer Joe Lambert. How Tragic are currently writing new material as a band, and will be releasing new music in the near future. Instagram / Website

It’s that time again, RPM-people, where I dip a retro-futuristic toe into the Pop Culture Schlock archive hoping to find something that will get your nostalgia nubs tingling and have you rushing to the secondary market seller of your choice, PayPal log-in details set to stun.

It’s the cavernous physical media section of the archive that I am plundering on this fine day, fingering a forgotten Eighties flick (that’s if you even knew of it in the first place!) that is more than deserving of the Cult Classic status that appeared desperately out of its reach as the film fell between the cinematic cracks, despite housing exclusive output from hit parade hot properties like Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, and, erm, Earth, Wind & Fire… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

 

1983’s Rock & Rule was the first fully animated feature film produced entirely in Canada. Nelvana, the studio behind it, was founded in 1971 and had reached for the pop culture skies several years later when it contributed to 1978’s much-maligned (long-forgotten if Lucasfilm could have its way) Star Wars Holiday Special; the studio creating the ten-minute animated segment that famously featured the first appearance of Boba Fett, the galaxy’s most-feared bounty hunter (well, until we found out that he was cloned from that bloke off of Shortland Street, at least).

 

Nelvana’s animators were ballpoints-deep in developing an animated feature entitled Drats! when they were approached by producer Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Twins) to work on a feature-length movie based on the classic magazine, Heavy Metal. Nelvana nixed the idea in favour of producing its own title. Heavy Metal, the movie, eventually released in 1981, utilised the services of several different animation houses, took around twenty million dollars at the box office, and became a cult classic. Them’s the breaks.

Drats! toiled through a development hell of sorts; originally intended as a more child-friendly Grimm’s fairy tale-like opus, the project was subject to countless changes, from tone to title. Now called Rock & Rule, the project dashed into production without a completed screenplay. Re-writes abounded, characters were changed long after their original footage was completed, the studio had to move location part-way through production, investment dried up, and the production sailed past every deadline. At least Nelvana had the might of MGM/UA behind them. Well, not quite. Boardroom musical chairs at MGM/UA resulted in the suits who had fallen for the animated project being hung out to dry and new suitors, if you could call them that, were less than enamoured with the work as a whole. Cuts were demanded, voice actors replaced, the title changed to Ring Of Power, resulting in the movie being dead on arrival – buried by a studio before it even had a chance to find its audience upon eventual release in 1983. But why? Was it really that bad?

 

Watching Rock & Rule now it’s easy to find fault – the post-apocalyptic tone is diluted too often by comic relief characters more suited to Saturday morning cartoons, and the cuts demanded (two different versions actually exist; American and Canadian) make for a patchy viewing experience – but, as far from perfect as it is, there is plenty on offer for this forgotten film to warrant rediscovery. It is, however, the rock and roll of Rock & Rule that will be of the greatest interest to RPM readers.

The story in a nutshell: on a post-apocalyptic Earth where the population has mutated from rodents to human form, a legendary super rocker, named Mok, resides in Nuke York and is obsessed with an evil experiment that will bring forth a demon from another dimension. To do this he needs to find an angelic voice to sing a certain combination of notes. Meanwhile, in a seedy club, a fledgling rock band has a keyboard player just finding her voice. Her name? Angel…

 

Mok was originally to be named ‘Mok Swagger’ until the talent representation of Mick Jagger objected. How did they know at such an early stage of development? Well, the Rolling Stones frontman was considered for the role of Mok (no doubt why the animated character has lips-a-plenty), as were David Bowie, Sting, Michael Jackson, and Tim Curry. Don Francks – who had provided the voice for Boba Fett in the aforementioned Holiday Special animated sequence – was eventually cast as Mok, although the character’s musical sequences were performed by none other than Lou Reed.

 

Who could provide that angelic voice, though? Well, voice-over veteran Susan Roman was cast as Angel, but the character’s potentially demon-inducing singing voice was provided by Debbie Harry. Add to these that fact that Angel’s bandmate, Omar, had a singing voice provided by Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, and the one-and-only Iggy Pop voiced the thing from another dimension, and you have a proper rock ‘n’ roll curio almost certain to be missing from many a collection.

‘Angel’s Song’ is, in fact, an early version of the song, ‘Maybe For Sure’, that would appear on Harry’s 1989 solo album, ‘Def, Dumb & Blonde’. This was just one of three songs written by Harry and fellow Blondie founder, Chris Stein, for the movie; the others being ‘Invocation Song’ and ‘Send Love Through’, the version of the latter featured at the climax containing lead vocals by both Debbie Harry and Robin Zander. Zander’s Cheap Trick bandmate, Rick Nielsen, penned three tunes for the movie (‘Born To Raise Hell’, ‘I’m The Man’, and ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’), Lou Reed two (‘Triumph’ and ‘My Name Is Mok’), and Iggy Pop just the one (‘Pain & Suffering’). It’s the Earth, Wind & Fire tune that you want to know about though, right? Well, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ plays out in a neo-disco scene set at Club 666. Now you’re interested!

 

Arthouse cinemas and film festivals provided the only opportunities to view Rock & Rule after its initial flop at release, aside from a rare mid-eighties airing on Canadian television, where it was promoted as a music special rather than an animated feature. Eventual home video releases on video cassette and laserdisc finally allowed the movie to find something of an audience until, in more recent times, a long-awaited double DVD release presented an anamorphic widescreen version to curious viewers and collectors alike. This digital versatile disc set is now out of print so good luck in finding a copy. I did, and it now resides in the Pop Culture Schlock archive where another curious item lies waiting to be fingered for my next RPM column…

 

Until then, keep watching the skies!

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Author: Gaz Tidey

Joan Marie Larkin better known as Joan Jett was born on this day in.1958. Parents James and Dorothy had their daughter in Pensylvania at Lankenau Hospital  Joan is the eldest of three children. Joan was fourteen when she got her first guitar then her family relocated to California and soon after moving her parents split when Joan took her mothers maiden name Jett and the legend was born after taking in Rodney Birgenheimers Disco where she was exposed to glam rock and nothing would ever be the same again.

Jett teamed up with drummer Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie and The Runaways were born. Jett was originally the rhythm guitarist and occasional singer but took on songwriting credits the girl group got support slots with the likes of Cheap Trick, Van Halen and Tom Petty and also toured the UK and Japan where they became massive stars. The band managed to fit in five albums in their four-year reign at the second half of the ’70s.

Jett also got into punk rock in the late ’70s producing the Germs one and only album before singer Darby Crash lost his life.  the band also had one Pat Smear playing guitars who later went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Jett managed to team up with Cook and Jones when the Sex Pistols fell apart and managed to get them in the studio to record some classic tracks when in London with the most famous being the version of The Arrows classic ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ which would go on to become the one song Jett would be known for more than any other. after shooting an iconic video to accompany the tune.

When Jett was a solo artist she also added the band The Blackhearts who managed to recruit some class players in the line up over the years but the original included, Gary Ryan (Bass), Ricky Byrd on Lead Guitar, and Lee Crystal on drums. One Track from the early years that has seen itself pop up over the years in loads of films is ‘Bad Reputation’ which appeared on that debut solo album along with the classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’ that also features the Pistols Cook & Jones. It was a record that showed many sides to Jett and what she was capable of performing. the album missed out on entering the Billboard top 50 by one place but it was indeed a start.

 

hot on the heels was the album ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ whilst it never managed to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Charts it has managed an impressive ten million copies sold in its life. it did however spawn the singles ‘Crimson And Clover’ that hit the top ten and Jett had her first number one with the Arrows track that carried the same title as the album.  Jett is known for being happy to put a cover song on her records but this album was 50/50 original songs. Later Jett would pen and produce a lot of her records.

Jett still makes records and released ‘unvarnished’ in 2013 that was co-produced by Foo Fighter Dave Grohl who also co-wrote.  Also, it’s notable that Jett wrote and co-wrote nine of the ten tracks on the record. this time sneaking in the top 50 as well is no mean feat for a rock record. It was also Jetts first album since 2006s ‘Sinner’ and prior to that was the Japanese only album ‘Naked’ which also featured RPM favourite Sami Yaffa on Bass guitar.  Of the sixteen tracks Jett penned thirteen – one was a cover of the Replacements ‘Androgynous’ from their ‘Let It Be’ album.

Jett’s has her own model guitar which is a white Gibson Melody Maker, which she has played on everything since 1977. In 2008 Gibson released the “Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker”. which is some reward for being such an icon, not something Gibson hands out to just anyone. Jett is also happy to talk about animal welfares and is a big supporter of PETA, as she has been a vegetarian for over twenty years and is a supporter of environmental issues.  Still making music and touring Jett continues to play with a biography and an excellent documentary being released last year (entitled ‘Bad Reputation’), as well as continued interest in The Runaways her legacy, will forever be passed down through time as a real pioneer for women in Rock and judged for her music and not who or what she is Joan Jettalong with Debbie Harry are rightfully regarded as legends and all Joan Jett needs now is one of those flunko statues and my work here is done.  Put another (Joan Jett) record on the jukebox baby and raise a glass as we wish Joan Jett a happy birthday and here’s to another year and who knows maybe another album? That would be good.

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In 1977 Blondie signed their contract with Chrysalis Records which went on to release ‘Plastic Letters’,  ‘Parallel Lines’ in ’78, ‘Eat To The Beat’ in ’79, ‘AutoAmerica’ in 1980 then finally ‘The Hunter’ in ’82.  An incredibly successful period for the band during an incredibly competitive time for music where the band single handidly embraced different genres like pop, punk and rap music and did it with style.

Gaining number one hits whilst on Chrysalis helped a whole raft of new wave and post punk bands get signed in their wake as major labels fell over themselves to sign the punk bands of the day.

Two years later an unknown Irish band released their first EP. ‘U2-3’  Like em or loath them U2 went on to become the biggest band in the world if you have one of those original pressings of which there were 1,000 made you should have it in a vault.

In ’83 Mick Jones was fired by The other three members of The Clash who claimed he’d drifted from what the band was all about from the start he went on to form B-A-D.

The Clash came to a rather sad ending in May 1983. The group had every reason to be on the top of the world by this point: their previous LP, Combat Rock, was an enormous hit and their singles “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” were all over radio and MTV. But drummer Topper Headon was kicked out of the group for drug abuse in 1982, and Mick Jones and Joe Strummer were barely speaking.

They took a six-month break after the ‘Combat Rock’ tour ended in November 1982.  A $500,000 offer from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to headline New Wave Day of the US Festival proved impossible to turn down. Some warm-up shows for the huge festival were booked, the group went on a four-date tour of Texas and Arizona. Tory Crimes (who rejoined the band in 1982 after Headon got the boot) was once again out of the group by this point, so they took out an ad in Melody Maker and recruited 23-year-old Pete Howard.

The band eventually went on stage at US festival two hours late and played a sloppy, 80-minute set in front of a banner that read “The Clash Not for Sale.” Joe Strummer taunted the audience from the stage and afterward, the band got into a brawl with security. The group still walked away with a half-million dollars; four months later, they announced that Mick Jones was leaving the group. The chaotic US Festival was his final appearance with the band and the final two songs were “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Clampdown”.

Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon did release ‘Cut the Crap’ in 1985 and toured as the Clash that year, but that’s like a Rolling Stones tour without Keith Richards. It doesn’t count. The real Clash bowed out at the US Festival other opinions are available.

Finally on this day In 1955 Bruce Foxton, bassist for The Jam was born. Happy Birthday Bruce.

What’s that musty smell? Ah yes, it’s emanating from the veritable feast of vintage collectables housed in the Pop Culture Schlock archive. For your delectation today I take you back to the Christmas of 1979; a seminal decade of music about to come to an end and give way to the dawn of a more brash, more brazen ten year period…

 

If you were a good, music-loving boy or girl in 1979 and had a.) done well in school, and; b.) not scratched your big brother’s vinyl, then there was a good chance that you’d find the Rock On! Annual 1980 nestled under the Christmas tree in your modest living room.

 

“The Rock What Annual?” I hear you exclaim, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed at your lack of knowledge on this subject because, truth be told, Rock On! magazine was a short-lived, oft-forgotten publication… if you’d ever heard of it at all.

 

Rock On! magazine debuted with an issue cover-dated May 1978. Debbie Harry featured on its cover and the mag – costing a whole 25p – promised a healthy mix of punk, new wave, heavy metal, and prog rock. It kept its promise too as, over the course of seven eclectic issues, Rock On! dished out features and photo spreads on a dizzying cadre of top musical combos; from Status Quo to Sham 69, The Clash to KISS, Rush to The Rezillos. Meat Loaf graced a cover, Ozzy, too, until Issue 7, with Jimmy Pursey as its cover star, and cover-dated November 1978, when Rock On! disappeared from newsagent shelves. The editorial in that final issue wrote of the outrage of cutting off such a desirable publication in its prime but, if anything, Rock On! was a victim of its own blurring of genre lines: readers seemingly wanting specialist publications dedicated to singular strands of the rock ‘n’ roll world rather than this ambitious crossover style.

 

That final editorial, though, did offer some hope for the future; stating that it was the last Rock On! “in its present form”. Fast forward to around a year later and, in the Autumn of 1979, the true final piece of the Rock On! jigsaw arrived in shops and catalogues to complete the punk ‘n’ prog rocking picture.

With a scorching hot live photo of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on the cover, Rock On! Annual 1980 (price – £2.00) may well have been jostling for attention on the shelves alongside big-hitting television and film spin-off annuals, but it certainly looked the most badass. It was, the cover screamed, packed with pictures, facts, and quizzes on your favourite rock bands. It did not disappoint.

 

The heady mix of photo spreads and more in-depth features on select bands really did make Rock On! stand out from its competitors, and this annual amps that angle right up to eleven. The first photo spread was a “Tribute to Vocal Power!!!” (yes, with three exclamation marks) and featured cool live action shots of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Cherie Currie, Pete Townsend, Willy DeVille, Graham Parker, Joan Jett, and Mick Jagger. A good start, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Next up, a photo diary detailing a “hard band” going “soft” as The Stranglers met their devoted fans, followed by a quartet of stinging live shots of “the band the critics love to hate”, Status Quo. Rock On!’s attitude to those Quo critics could be “summed up in two fingers” readers were informed.

 

With barely a pause for breath, a six-page A-Z of Heavy Metal feature detailed the prime acts in the genre, from AC/DC to, erm, Wishbone Ash. A-W, then. A few curious names in this run-down, too: Prism, Quartz, and Mahogany Rush rubbing shoulders with the expected likes of Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and, a firm favourite on the turntable at RPM HQ, Uriah Heep. A “Heads Down Heavy Metal Quiz” followed: a select question being “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees was a double live album for which heavy metal superstars?”

 

A Ten Years of Genesis feature followed, the first in a series of in-depth essays by John Tobler. His similar two-page spread on the history of Queen followed, as did those dedicated to Thin Lizzy, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, and KISS. The latter, subtitled “Kings of Shock Rock”, wrote of “the forty foot columns of fire that emit from Gene Simmons’ mouth” and, c’mon, if you were eight years old at Xmas 1979 you had every excuse for then falling head over platform heels in love with the idea of the hottest band in the world.

There was a Rock On! reggae report, a fashion guide of sorts where the Quo’s Rick Parfitt spoke of his love of jeans and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers of his love of raincoats (!), a Hi-Fi buying guide, a feature on sound engineers, a top DJ article covering John Peel and Anne Nightingale, plus one-page specials on Peter Gabriel and Ken Hensley of the Heep.

 

A photo spread of Ian Dury swimming (just your seven shots) padded out the pages, but not before an impressive photo set of live Black Sabbath shots appeared, a Star Cars article featuring Steve Jones, Meat Loaf, Midge Ure, and, ominously, Cozy Powell, a “Cult Heroes” feature detailing the likes of Iggy Pop, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, and Bruce Spingsteen, and a “Sex ‘n’ Girls ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” spread featuring Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Siouxsie Sioux, Linda Ronstadt, Annie Golden, Poly Styrene, Stevie Nicks, and Rachel Sweet.

 

A “That Was The Year That Was” feature dedicated to 1978 was an obvious leftover from the previous year’s magazine and makes for entertaining if a little sombre reading amongst the other genuinely funny articles. Rock On! was a cool magazine, with its tongue firmly in its cheek and its love of a broad range of music at the forefront of any thinking. Your Uber Rocks, your RPMs are all subconscious descendants of Rock On! magazine.

No annual is complete, however, without a pull-out poster section (even if no kid ever dared pull a poster out of an annual!), and Rock On! Annual 1980 does not disappoint in that department. There are pin-ups of the aforementioned Pursey, Rezillos, Dury, Harry, Clash, and Lynott, plus Bob Geldof, Paul Weller, Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, Jon Anderson, Elvis Costello, Paul Stanley, and the Buzzcocks. Great photos too.

 

The Rock On! Annual 1980 may well be an uncommon piece in the average music memorabilia collection, but it is certainly a worthy one. Copies turn up on the secondary market relatively cheaply and, yeah, you should pick one up if you get the chance. The Rock On! staff were most certainly music journalist mavericks, and we’ve all tried to go there, right? Search for this precious, rockin’ tome… or you might never know how Rick Parfitt’s aunt ironed his double denim.

 

Thanks for reading, and for the feedback on my first column on the debut Alice Cooper comic. I’ll be back next month with something suitably archaic that the rock ‘n’ roll world tried to forget. Search for Pop Culture Schlock 365 on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Dom Daley.

 

Always a bonus to make it onto one of the planets coolest labels means that you must be doing something right.  Right? Right!  working with the Muffs and Little Steven and getting the queen of rock Debbie Harry to sing on your record makes your music pretty desirable in my book and on ‘Come Spy With Me’ she works her way through a bazzilion genres from Gospel bubblegum vocals with trashy guitar licks ‘I’m Satisfied’ through power pop and punk rock and surf there has to be something in here for every conceivable taste and the bottom line is the songs are terrific,  Exceptionally played and delivered.  There are guest appearances from the likes of Debby Harry, Steve Van Zandt, Genya Raven, Members of the Pogues, Plimsoles, The Fuzztones and of course Paul Collins.  Now if your looking for a good reason to investigate this slab of power pop then surely I’ve just given you half a dozen, haven’t I?

Look at the artwork and whos on it and then the song titles and it’s not difficult to see where this little ray of sunshine is heading.  From the Swirling Keyboards on ‘Walk Away’ to the more punchy ‘I Thought You Were Going To Kill Yourself’ to the Shangri la of ‘Tragedy Ann’ Hell there’s even time for the one and only Handsome Dick Manitoba to make an appearance on ‘Ballad Of Madface And The Baby’.

Spread out over twelve songs I love this record it’s easy listening of the finest order and there are songs for every mood and every occasion – to pick a favorite is nigh on impossible but I do love the Handsome dick tune and possibly the Happy birthday one with Debbie Harry on wait…its like Palmyra has managed to graft a small piece of each artists DNA into the music yet create something that doesn’t scream each either which is really clever and skillful.  Wait, ‘Kill Yourself’ is probably my favourite and that doesn’t have any special guests on it so maybe it doesn’t really matter because the bottom line is this album is great and my advice is to go investigate.

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