July 18, 2014

Billy Synth & the Janitors... ........ ...Punk Rock Janitors (Harrisburg 1978-80)

The great central Pennsylvania musical oddball Billy Synth sent me this 1978 EP after posting the last tapewrecks retrospective of his music. The Janitors were started by Billy and Bernie, the Capital City Mall custodian, who apparently lost his job for wearing spandex pants to work, or so the story goes.... Billy seems to have been the singer early on, with Bernie taking over as they turned into the Punk Rock Janitors. Please correct me if I'm wrong and send me details if you have them.

Everytime You Give Me a Call
Rock & Roll Casualty
Captain Groovy
Misty Lane Fadeout
Billy Synth: When I bought my Arp Odyssey synthesizer.  We first had a group called Blue Ice, and we recorded one 45....
I eventually left Blue Ice because I liked the new wave scene and wanted a strictly punk-oriented band.  I hooked up with Bernie, the original "punk rock janitor" (yes, he was in another punk group AND a janitor!), another friend, Mikearama, and Dave Tritt on drums.... [Attacking the Beat]
At some point the Janitors got together with Half Japanese and played a set of outright insanity that was released as an EP:

Hartzdale Drive Destruction
Billy: I can't remember how we first connected, but Bernie & I from the Janitors went down to see Half Japanese with our instruments, and when we got there, we just started playing.  I mean, it was 1, 2, 3, 4, and we all started playing ANYTHING.  No rehearsal, no NOTHING!  That's how it came out.  Sooo strange!  [Attacking the Beat]
After Billy moved on to play with the Turn-Ups, Bernie took over on vocals and they re-dubbed themselves The Punk Rock Janitors. Harrisburg's Tina Peel (later known as The Fuzztones) had them as an opening act for many shows.

Work to Live
Just Once
Rob Doorack (Fuzztones roadie): The zenith of the Janitors' career came when the Fuzztones secured the audition gig at CBGB for them and a couple of hours of time in a small recording studio the same day....
That night the Janitors played to a nearly empty CBGB. The audience consisted of a half dozen Japanese tourists, the Fuzztones, their crew, and a few friends. The Janitors didn't care, they were completely awestruck by standing on the same stage where their heroes the Ramones had played. You'd have thought they were playing before 50,000 people. Danny was so nervous that he threw up before going on.

...The band played like they were possessed, careening around the stage madly, jumping in the air, completely uninhibited. At one point Bernie leaped off the front of the stage and crashed down onto the club's concrete floor on his knees without missing a note. Danny played a solo lying on his back with his head in a kick drum. When the Janitors had blasted through every song they knew they just stopped. Those of us in the audience were too stunned by what we'd seen to even applaud. For a moment we just stood there like sheep, mouths agape in astonishment and wonder.

The Janitors went back to Harrisburg the next day and broke up shortly after....
[Audio Asylum]
The complete Punk Rock Janitors CD is available on Sin Records.
Thanks to Pat Phos Martin and the Bands of Central PA page for the links and info.

May 24, 2014

The Woods ............... (NYC 1985-87)

Linda Smith was in a real band in NYC before she retreated back to her Baltimore home with her 4-track recorder to make some of the most spare and pretty pop songs ever to grace a mail order cassette tape. The Woods have barely seen the light of day since they made music, but these tracks stand out for their time in both lyrics and sound.

Brian Bendlin and bandmates have recently dug up recordings and photos and are posting them here along with a little history:
The Woods was a postpunk pop/rock band in NYC in the 1980s. The founding members were Brian Bendlin (drums, guitar, vocals), Peggy Bitzer (bass, guitar, drums), Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer (guitar, vocals, cello), and Linda Smith (guitar, vocals); at other times the band also included Susan Brewster (guitar, vocals) and Antonio Tatum (bass).
In 1985 The Woods released a single on Mark Dumais' Justine Records, Miracles Tonight /Love Me Again This Summer (produced by Bill Carey), which enjoyed a fair amount of airplay on indie radio stations and jukeboxes in the NYC area. They were perhaps best known for their intricate harmonies and the fact that the instrumentation included cello, both of which were unusual in the indie music scene at that time.  


The band played a number of shows at a variety of NYC area venues, including CBGB's, the Pyramid, and Maxwell's, and played live (with interviews) on WFMU and WYBC (Yale University radio).
At the time the Woods parted ways (in late 1987) they were recording an album; it was never released....
Hairy Condescension
Far Away
Never Before
So Long Before Now
Two By Two
Any Second
The Woods went on to various other artistic pursuits: the home recordings of Linda Smiththe paintings of L. M. Smith, Girls Ranch, Trouble Picnic, Two Houses, TV Goodbyes, Y'all, and rock musical "Lizzie," based on the story of Lizzie Borden.


Thanks to Brian Bendlin and the contributors to the Woods Facebook page and to Linda Smith for sending the songs.

Previous post about Linda Smith on Tapewrecks....

April 12, 2014

K-tel presents: Memories from The Van.... .....Black Flag, Meat Puppets, Nig-Heist in Harrisburg 1984

April 1984, and Black Flag was playing less than an hour northwest of Lancaster, but none of us had our drivers license yet. This was probably the first hardcore band to play an all-ages show anywhere near Lancaster, as always, 4 or 5 years behind Philly and New York. We were listening to some punk rock: the Clash, Pistols, Ramones, and some new wave was breaking into top-40 radio. A few college DJs on WIXQ Millersville were playing some hardcore, and this was the same year that i92 "Rock of the 80's" briefly broadcast out of Philly, playing poppy new wave. Late at night they played some punk. Black Flag, Meat Puppets, and Nig Heist was in the middle of a touring binge of 36 cities in about 40 days when they came through an unsuspecting central Pennsylvania.

My parents had this customized 1976
Me & The Van in 1977
Dodge van that looked like a motorized Thomas Kinkaid painting. It must have been spring break, because I somehow talked them into driving me, my cousin Jimmy, and friends Andy, Megan, and Mark to the show. We tried to dress punk rock and piled into the plush interior of The Van, under the mirrored ceiling. Uncle Frank and Aunt Rose came along too, and when they dropped us off at the club, the grownups went out for dinner... leaving us at this wholesome small-town all-ages show....

Memories from the kids in The Van:

Jim: We had a pre-show Polaroid that I lost track of around 10 years ago.

Tom: Ahgh, there was a photo - you're killin me!


Ticket photo: Eric Cleland
Jim: The Polaroid showed our chosen outfits. Mark: black Adidas tee (sleeves cut off) me: tan and brown striped long sleeved rugby shirt complete with white collar and rubber buttons. I believe Mark borrowed a pair of Beatle boots from you, Tom. 

I remember everyone at the show being GIANT.  And the mix of mohawks to bikers seemed like 3:2. ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" played before one of the band's sets and this huge bearded biker played the smallest air guitar I had ever seen. His face squinted into classic rock ecstasy. Nig Heist was nude except for the singer's studded leather
jock.

Tom: I think the jock only lasted half a song at that. The bass player was still wearing his socks.

Andy: I can't remember if they played it at this show, but Nig Heist actually had a really great cover of a Velvet Underground song If She Ever Comes that I heard on Uncle Steven's Garage. To this day, this is one of those "songs that gets stuck in your head" for me.

Tom: This lends a whole new meaning to this song. I didn't recall them playing anything except for awful sludgy metally stuff and provoking the audience with sexual slurs. The audience was either laughing or angry. It wasn't meant to sound good, but tt was a pretty funny act at the time for me as a 15 year old boy. I was shocked and excited to see them go way over the line, and amazing to look back on that and see a group of wig-wearing adults putting on a totally irresponsible show in front of a bunch of teenagers. 

Andy: I think the point of Nig Heist was to be over-the-top offensive and vulgar in an almost Andy Kaufman way where half the audience thought they were being serious. About the only thing memorable about their set was them coming onstage naked.

Megan: Perhaps Kaufmanesque but it felt like it was trying too hard. They never really did it for me.

Tom: After the Metron management shut down the lights and sound on them, they put some clothes back on. The bass player had on tightie whities for the rest of the set.

Jim: I remember thinking Meat Puppets sounded like CCR. 

Tom: Surprisingly, I don't remember the Meat Puppets musically, except they were so piercingly loud it was physically painful. Now I love their deceptively incompetent-sounding early music. 

Bucket Head
Climbing
Lost
Magic Toy Missing
Playing Dead
Communications Breakdown

Tom: This was my first punk or hardcore show and I remember eagerly jumping into the slam pit and having someone land squarely on top of my head within seconds. I saw stars for about ten minutes. Learned to keep my head down and be ready for incoming.

Megan: I remember you being fearless at that show, and not in a good way. I was certain you were going down early.

Tom: This and football were one of the few places you could go crashing into other people and have it
be socially acceptable, and it was so much fun. I tried the football and wrestling teams one year, but wasn't very good at it, except the crashing part.


Live '84

Andy: I remember Henry Rollins ending the encore by saying something like, "You guys were great, thanks a lot" and then the sound man looped "thanks a lot, thanks a lot" over and over. Then Henry shouted, "that's Mugger mind control!" Mugger was their sound man on that tour and also the lead guy behind Nig Heist. 

Tom: When my folks picked us up after the show we were all excitedly talking (probably shouting because we couldn't hear) about everything we saw. It must have seemed like total debauchery to them. Nudity, stage diving, ringing ears; I'm sure they questioned the wisdom of their decision to allow us to go. I don't think Jim was allowed to go to any shows after that. It was a pretty radical event in my 15 year old life.

Jim: Woke up at your house, Tom, my ears ringing 'til lunchtime. That was pretty traumatizing. Definitely my most memorable trip to Harrisburg.


....

Meat Puppets - LIVE cassette on Internet Archive
Black Flag - LIVE '84 on SST Records
Essential reading: Rock Town Hall's treatise on wearing shorts on stage - Rock's Unfulfilled Fashion Ideas: Shorts

March 15, 2014

Radioactive Releases... ........... ......The Music of Three Mile Island

Root Boy Slim, doing the Meltdown?


Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh recommended that pregnant women and young children evacuate the area near Three Mile Island in March 1979. Maybe he should have included musicians too....

(Potter County Was Made By the Hand of God, But the Devil Made) Three Mile Island - Al Shade & Jean Romaine (Potter County PA 1979)

Tom Quinn (Lancaster-24 miles away)
Sean Kilcoyne (Hummelstown-8 miles away)

TQ: I was 10 years old on that day when we got news that something was happening at some place called Three Mile Island. I never heard of it at the time, but it was only about 24 miles northwest of our suburban Lancaster home. We were supposed to stay indoors with the windows closed. My parents remained calm, but I could tell my mom was really worried and there was a lot of talk about which way the wind would blow. When she dropped us off at my friend Corey's house, we ran from the car to the front door.
5 and 25 mile radii from TMI-2

SK: Three Mile Island had been spitting radioactive filth around central Pennsylvania for more than 48 hours when the governor issued his recommendation that pregnant women and preschool-age children evacuate. It was a Friday afternoon and I was in the first grade. My elementary school was slightly outside the five-mile evacuation radius, a measurement which provided little comfort when emergency sirens began screaming out in the late March air. My six-year-old ears heard one teacher tell another that we would all probably die. 

TQ: Until that day, I had never heard of radiation. I don't think I knew what nuclear power was. I just knew about the Bomb. We spent the day playing in the basement while my parents were at work, entertaining ourselves for a little while by running up to the little window by the ceiling and screaming RADIATION! I'm Meeeeltinnnng!
photo by Lose Kibler

SK: Within the space of an hour or two, most parents had collected their offspring, leaving the school eerily depopulated. My own family was missing in action and naturally I began to panic. Fortunately, a non-catastrophic explanation prevailed: we owned a single car and my father had been detained at work. Sometime later – the wait seemed interminable but was probably an hour or so – our red VW Beetle was wobbling through the Allegheny Mountains toward Altoona.  

TQ: The next day, we headed for the hills with my cousins and spent the weekend at their grandfather's trailer in the Poconos. I was worried about my dad, who stayed behind, but we picked blueberries, ran around the woods, and had a great time. If only all disasters could be this much fun.

SK: I distinctly remember the tension of the ensuing days, my group of adults nervously monitoring media transmissions for evidence of the situation back home. It was unthinkable that something called a hydrogen bubble could cause an explosion large enough to destroy our home and kill everybody that stayed behind....



1979

Radiation Funk - Maxwell (Columbia PA)
Radiation Sickness - Cinecyde (Detroit)
Three Mile Island - The Tyme-Aires (Etters PA)
It's a Meltdown - The Citizen Kafka Singers (NYC)
27.3 - Ice 9 (Portland OR)
Three Mile Smile - Aerosmith (Boston)
Three Mile Island - Jorge Santana
Three Mile Island Interlude - J.P. and the Reactors (Harrisburg)
Plutonium is Forever/Power - John Hall (NY)
No More Nukes - Joy Ryder & Avis Davis (NYC)
Shut 'Em Down / We Almost Lost Detroit at the No Nukes Concert - Gil Scott Heron (NYC)
Melt Down Boogie - Buzzards (Chicago)
No More Nukes - Roger Matura & the Niss Puk Band (Germany)
Three Mile Island - Joseph Aronesty aka Aaron Este (NJ)
Roulette (demo) - Bruce Springsteen (NJ)
Face the Fire - Dan Fogelberg (Nashville)
Radiation - Richie Gerber (ME)
The Beatles at Three Mile Island - Russell Hoffman (on Dr. Demento)
London Calling / Clampdown - The Clash (UK)
Three Mile Island - Jethro Jive & the Genetic Rejection
Microwave Radiation - Xterminators (San Diego)
Volcano - Jimmy Buffet
Radiation Nation on a Three Mile Isle - Mark Levy aka LEV (CA)
Overexposed - Rick Kirby and the Vigilantes (CA)
Is Your Radio Active? - Times 5 (San Francisco)
Atomic - Blondie
On the Beach - The Rattlers (w/Joey Ramone)
Take the Children and Run - Don Lange
Radiation Level - Sun (Dayton OH)
Nuclear Madness - Joseph Lee Hooker (DC or NJ?)
Nuclear Power - Angletrax (UK)
The Meltdown - Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band (DC)
Reactor No. 2 - Nash the Slash (Toronto)
Radiation - Digital Dance (Belgium)
Nuclear Night - Crystal Disco Band
Harrisburg - Mark Jones
Atoms on the Loose Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 - Seals and Clubs (LA)
Goodbye T.M.I. - Gary & the Outriders (York PA)
Radiation / Jimmy Carter - Styphnoids (Portland OR)
My Radiation - The Nukes (Bloomington IN)
Nukes Make Me Puke - Oz (Wilmington DE)
Living In the Cancer Zone - Lisa & the Escorts (Wilmington DE)
Three Mile Island - Andrew R. McGhie (Wilmington DE)
Nuclear Boy - Killing Joke (UK)
*TMI (after Sex Pistols EMI) - The Pleasure Dotz (York PA)
*Three Mile Island Blues - Alan Fox
*Radiationmasturbation - The Fall of Christianity (CA)
*Harrisburg Radiation Blues - Ernie Hawkins (Pittsburgh)
*No Nuke Blues - Vic Sadot & the Crazy Planet Band (Newark DE)
*Nothin's Wrong Blues - Jeri Horne & Edward E. Komorowski, Jr.
*Three Mile Island - Thomas Keegan (MI)
*Three Mile Island Blues - Barry Hyman
*Three Mile Island - Robert Schlipf
*Three Mile Island Shakedown - Jon Fonville (San Diego?)
*TMI - Julia Goldensohn (Philadelphia)
*Three Mile Island - Jeff Kalmar
*Now We All Live in Pennsylvania - Jesse P. Slocum (Bloomington IN)
*The Phantom Atom - Thomas J. Mantle & Julia F. Kooken (CA)
*TMI Blues - Debra M. Goodson
*Three Mile Island - Joe Wagner
*3 M.I. (it's what you need) - John Alan Connerly

*denotes songs yet to be found or salvaged 

SK: When Harrisburg wasn’t blown off the map we came down from the mountains of western Pennsylvania. My family adhered to a powdered milk regimen despite assurances that radiation exposures were within “acceptable limits...."




1980

Who Will Close Pandora's Box - Fred & the Jupiter Gypsies (Harrisburg)
Radioactive Nights - Syn (Philadelphia)
Nuclear Infected - Alice Cooper (Detroit)
photo by Donna Jean
Atomic Love - The Late Teens (Harrisburg)
Critical Mass / System Failure - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (TN)
Radioactive - Scott Wilk & the Walls (Chicago)
Radiation - Suicide (NYC)
Radioactivity - The Zips (Glasgow)
Meltdown (at Madame Toussaud's) - Steve Taylor (Denver)
I'm a Reactor - The Reactors (CT & NYC)
Radioactive Love - Wreck'n Crew (NY)
TMI - Reesa & the Rooters (Philadelphia)
Nuclear Toy - Hawkwind (UK)
All Clear in Harrisburg - Tom Paxton (NYC)
Radiation Squirm - The Judy’s (Texas)
Three Mile Island - Larry Coryell (NYC)
Radioactive - Terminal Mind - (Texas)
Rotten to the Core - Missing Persons (UK)

Nuclear Twist - The Hipsters (State College PA)
Anti-Nuclear Blues - Louisiana Red 
Harrisburg / Your Money and Your Life / Tell ‘Em No - The Fourth Wall (NYC from We Are the Guinea Pigs documentary)
Janitor - Suburban Lawns (LA)
TMI - Locksmith (Pasadena)
Give Me Nuclear Power - Mykel Board’s Art (NYC)
The Whole World Causes Cancer - The Ralphs (TX)
Nuclear Blues - Blood, Sweat and Tears (CA)
Reactor - Painterband (Chicago)
Strontium 90 - Six Minute War (UK)
Low Level Radiation - The Cardboards (Pittsburgh)
Radioactivity - The Aircuts (Vancouver)
Harrisburg Half Life - Ray Anderson (US)
Harrisburg - Søren Sidevinds Spillemænd (Denmark)
R-Love (is Approaching Critical Mass) - Transistors (CO)
Atomreggae Harrisburg - KSMB (Sweden)
Harrisburg / Metallo Electtico - Kaos Rock (Italy)
Tmi - Elliott Sharp (NYC)
Radiation Man - Fault 151 (UK)
I Wanna have a Nuclear Reaction - R.F. (Atlanta)
Half Life - Humans from Earth (NJ)
City of Fear - Rondos (Netherlands)
Mutant - K.T.H. Kill The Hostages (FL)
Radioactive Feelings - Outrageous (France)
Nuclear Love - Exits (LA)
Radiation Polka - Chicago City Limits (NYC)
Reactor #2 - D.C. LaRue
Meltdown / To the Core - The Reactors (San Bernadino)
She Glows In the Dark - The Bagazoid Brothers (Cincinnati)
*Don't Melt Down on My Baby / Nuclear Waste - Tru Fax & the Insaniacs (DC 1980?)

*Radiation - The Visitor (Netherlands)
*Three Mile Island / Call to Arms - Arcade (central PA)
*Need You - Presence (central PA)
*Three Mile Island Blues - Larry Downey and Teddy Felix

SK: Growing up, TMI was an inescapable feature of my domain, a 400-foot concrete colossus lurking at the periphery of my daily movements and vision. My imagination absorbed the forbidden interiors, the  massive control panels, the slope of the cooling towers, the vapor pillows spilling over their tops, merging with the atmosphere....

1981-1985

Nuclear Power - Fallout (UK 1981)
Three Mile Island - Fred Small (MA 1981)
Stop the Nukes - Joey Skidmore & the Cellmates (MO 1981)
Nuclear Meltdown - ? (198?)
Three Isle My Land / Meltdown Requiem - Heads in the Sky (Canada 1981)
Radiation Baby - The Form (Boston 1981)
Radioactive Love - Nathan-Coates (Chicago 1981)
Harrisburg - De Fabriek (Netherlands 1981)
Meltdown - Hermanos Gusanos (1981?)
Radio Active (Fun, Fun, Fun) - Deborah Galli (1981)
Harrisburg Today - Tim Craven (PA 1981)
Strontium 90 - Kreegah! (Norway 1981)
Radiation - The Mistakes (UK 1981)
Nuclear Song - Craig Carothers (Portland OR 1981)
Radioactive Love / Radiation - Gotham City (Australia 1981)
Three Mile Island - Steve Allen (1981)
Meltdown Situation - The 012 (UK 1981)
*Radiation - The Tom and Marty Band (VA 1981)

*Susquehanna Meltdown - Fly By Night (central PA 1981)
*Meltdown - The Chameleons (Portland OR 1981)
Radiationmasturbation - The Authorities (CA 1982)
Harrisburg - Buschband (Germany 1982)
Uh-Oh Plutonium - Anne Waldman & the Hyacinth Girls (NYC 1982)
Nuclear Reactor - Birth Control (Germany 1982)
Radiation Nation - Subverts (Chicago 1982)
Meltdown - Lipstick Stains (GA 1982)
The No Nuke Song - Serious Bizness (NYC 1982)
Atomkraft - Elektrisk Regn (Norway, 1982)
Nuclear Blues - Flashback (CA 1982)
Ballad of Three Mile Island - Jack Alves (AZ 1982)
Babylon - Driftwood (1982)
Here's to the Nukes - AJO Repertory Company (1982)
Caveat No. 23 - Rigsby and Lamb (1982)
Radiation Blues - Hans Olson (1982)
Nuke Blues (Melt Down Mama) - Richard Kaplan (1982)
Midlogue - Peter Cannon (1982)
Five or Ten from Now - Big Pete Pearson with the Magic Matt Blues Band  (1982
Shut Up - Sun City Girls  (1982)
Girl From Three Mile Island - Timothy J. MacDonald (LA 1982 on the Dr. Demento show)
*Anti-Nuclear Songbook - The Crustaceans (Seattle 1982)
*Radio-Active - Barry Ford (UK 1982)
Radioactive Chocolate - MDC (San Francisco 1983)
Nuclear Power (Yes Please) - Dave Greenfield & J.J. Burnel (UK 1983)
Radioactive Baby - The Turn-Ups (Harrisburg 1983)
Sister Cities - The Pawns of Society (Harrisburg 1983)
Harrisburg - La Banda Sin Futuro (Spain 1983)
I'm in Love With My Nuclear Reactor - Kelley and the Beachcombers (LA 1983)
Meltdown - Loverboy (1983)
Nuclear Love / Meltdown Dub - Annie G (1983)
T.M.I. - Spanish Dogs (Florida 1983)
Happy Mutants (For Nuclear Energy) - Killing Children (IN 1983)
Meltdown - Lives of Angels (UK 1983)
*Meltdown - Metro Youth (UK 1983)
Three Mile Island - Pinkard and Bowden (TX 1984)
Harrisburg - Midnight Oil (Australia 1984)
*Sister Cities -- The Screaming Lincolns (Harrisburg 1984)
Meltdown - Watchtower (TX 1985)
No Filthy Nuclear Power - Oi Polloi (UK 1985)

SK: ...the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed the undamaged Unit 1 reactor to go back online in 1985. This was not a welcome development for most central Pennsylvania households, but by that point in my own childhood I had spent the entire Reagan-era acutely fearful of the coming nuclear holocaust. When emergency sirens sounded in the dead of night to arouse volunteer firefighters from their slumbers, my juvenile pysche was pre-programmed for panic. After  the TMI-1 restart, the only formality was which flavor our nuclear death would assume: reactor or missile-based. 

TQ: By the time of the Chernobyl disaster I had gone from pretend meltdowns to musical meltdowns (Ha! These songs are getting to me; I succumbed to the hokey TMI metaphor! But "meltdown" came into widespread usage after 1979), playing in bands and listening to music with apocalyptic themes. I was pretty sure 1986 was the year World War III would start, based of course on all the scholarly evidence I had accumulated from pop psychics, episodes of Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of..., and the lyrics of the Minutemen and Dead Kennedys. I didn't bother to apply for colleges until the last minute, and then only one....



Post 1986: Chernobyl to Fukushima

Tell Me / Deadly Radiation Blues - Jayne Cortez (NYC 1986)
Nuclear Wastoid - Miser (Elizabethtown PA 1988)
Roulette - Bruce Springsteen (NJ 1988)
TMI - Rick Baker (Pittsburgh 1990)
Radioactivity - Kraftwerk (Germany 1991)
This Land - MDC (San Francisco 1993)
TMI / TMI (Unit 3) - Hex / L.U. Cipha (York PA 1999 / 2000)
Three Mile Island - Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons (CO 2001)
Three Mile Island - Andy Middleton (Harrisburg 2003)
Three Mile Island - Kickland, Johnson & Martin (2003)
Three Mile Island - Stockholm Syndrome (2004)
Three Mile Island - Nuclear Forehead (WA 2005)
Just a Little Meltdown - Tom Neilson (2006)
Three Mile Island - Oh Shit They’re Going To Kill Us (Franklin PA 2007)
Three Mile Island - Clouds 10: Mushrooms (WI 2008)
Three Mile Island - Zone (Wales 2008)
Three Mile Island - Darius Brubeck & Gathering Forces (2008)
Nuclear Power Song - Environment Man (2008)
Three Miles Island - Nightmare (France 2009)
Good Times on Three Mile Island - The Durden Estate (Red Lion PA 2009)
Three Mile Monster Island - Divine Tragedy (Pittsburgh 2009)
Three Mile Island - Les Alstat & the Green Farmacy Gardeners (MD 2011)

Three Mile Island - Arms (2011)
Three Mile Island - Minushuman (France 2011)
Three Mile Island - Metalhead Motion Pictures (Long Island 2011)
Something in the Air - Three Mile Island Band (Middletown PA 2011)
A Catastrophe - Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island - Miki Shunji and his Grand Orchestra (Japan 2011)
TMI-2 - Three Mile Island (UK 2012)
Three Mile Island - Andrea Molina (Italy 2012)
Three Mile Island: TMI - Suicide Squirrel (NJ 2012)
Harrisburg - Rusk (Lithuania 2012)
Three Mile Island - Grayscale (2012)
3 Mile Island - The James Taylor Quartet (2012)
Meltdown Stomp - The Meltdowns (Detroit 2012)

TQ: I survived Three Mile Island and the latter Cold War, went to college in Philly without much of a plan, and grew out of my sense of impending doom. But the impact of TMI was much bigger than I ever realized, certainly as little kids in our own worlds, but even as adults, for me anyway. The only lyrical references I was aware of at the time were on The Clash's London Calling

Once I started looking, I was surprised to find so many TMI songs. I figure any song about "radiation" in '79-81 had to be part of the reaction. The '79 tracks tend to be very literal, anti-nuke, some good black humor, and sometimes hyperbolic and some would say silly fear mongering. There are lots of people glowing in the dark, mutant fish, and nuclear explosions. The 80s tracks began to use nuclear accident lingo as metaphor in the best tradition of atomic bomb songs from the 50s and 60s with "radioactive" coming to mean "hot love" more often than not.  Reesa's You melt my heart like TMI is my favorite, and Syn's Radioactive Nights is the hands-down mathematical winner (15 distinct metaphors!). I held most of the later tracks to a higher standard. Most had to make direct reference to TMI to make the cut. There are at least 21 songs titled Three Mile Island or TMI from the 2000-2012 period, though interestingly, outside the US, "Harrisburg" seems to be the word most closely associated with the accident. Sean and I salvaged many of these tracks from the analog abyss, digitizing and archiving them for the first time, and I hope people can find an interest in their collective effect, weirdness, fear, and humor.

SK: As far as the impact goes, yeah, I would agree, it's hard to overestimate. It even informed how we discussed such events. Following from your point about the word "radiation", I bet "reactor", "control rod" and "meltdown" weren't even in some adult vocabularies before 1979. And for those that wrote all the earnest, politically engaged protest songs throughout the 70s in opposition to new nuclear plants, all of a sudden their worst fears are confirmed.

I appreciate that these songs and other assorted cultural detritus (even crassly commercial cash-in stuff) tell a story about how humans of different cultures and belief systems respond to complex, traumatic events. It really becomes a sort of unofficial "people's history." There are some scholarly articles I came across about Chernobyl describing how school kids were responding with these morbid nursery rhymes while skipping rope! Children talking matter-of-factly about leukemia or calling one another "dirty radioactive pigs" as a form of insult. It's amazing how deeply these terrors filter down to the individual level, shaping private experience. This would also indicate to me that whatever official explanation may prevail, whenever you've lived through a nuclear accident, radiation exposure is a nebulous, gnawing sort of psychic burden.


There are surely many more TMI songs that haven't been salvaged yet. If you find any, let us know!


Thanks to:


Links:


Radio Active Releases on the Radio:

January 24, 2014

Last Knight (Lancaster 1984-85)

Clockwise from top left: Bob, Gregg (Rex), John, Andy, Sean
When I first started playing with Rex in 1985, he was fresh from Last Knight, or kicked out, as the story goes, for wanting to play other music, and he still had his Flying-V and a metal hangover (gunk-gunk-gunk...full vertical fleedy fleedy fleedy hammer-ons....) despite our best efforts to be garage punks. I recently salvaged a tape that turned out to be somewhat of a Rex anthology with recordings by Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus, some Charms du Crane outtakes, and the oft porodied at band practice, "Last Ku-night". Silent Scream was legendary in my basement, and Nowhere To Hide was labeled on the tape God Awful Song.

Sean Graver - vocals
Andy Harrison - angular Hondo guitar
Gregg "not yet Rex" Litwin - Dean flying V guitar
John Bear - bass
Bob Mason - drums
Timmy Griffith - sound & lights

When Sean posted some old photos on Facebook, I added the tape tracks and sparked a classic geezer good-ole-days conversation below (semi-edited to protect the innocent and embarrassed):

John - Apparently just about every death metal band has recorded a song entitled, Silent Scream.  I did a search and found roughly 100 artists that have a song by that name.
Sean Unfreakin believable. Uh can we have a retake on Nowhere To Hide? LOL! Boy would I do that differently today. Talk about memories. 
John - I do remember playing at places we had no business playing at...  Nothing says "wrong" like playing Iron Maiden, Accept, and Ozzy at country bars. I also remember a few legendary rancid farts on the way to a gig, but I digress...
SeanHow about splitting black leather pants at the 40/8 and having bright red underwear on! I think I remember a bass jabbing me up the butt.
Tim - Martic Forge Hotel....: "You guys play country and western??", Uh....No!
Gregg We had our vehicles right next to the door!
 ...the owner asked me if we played "that steel shit"! Of course I said no. Hahahaha!
Andy That Steel Shit! I love it! Ha!
Sean - Hilarious. 
What was the place called in Leola that we played at. Every time we played a riot broke out. Remember a biker wanted to kick my ass one night because his girl was dirty dancing in front of me. And she was no catch...missing teeth and all. Bob had to save me...get my ass out of there.
Andy Yeah I remember that puggy lady with missing teeth stroking the angular part of the Hondo while she was dancing. First time I felt like puking while playing a show!
Sean - That's right I remember that. Crack me up. LOL!
Who was the band we opened for one time at the Village? They wouldn't let us play any Billy Idol because they played it. I remember the dressing room there was filled with liquor and contraband and we were like 18-19 years old.
Andy - I think it was Quentin Jones and some other guy with the fake last name "Star".
Gregg - Starr Jones!!!
Oh yeah!
The place in Leola was called the Keg!!!
I still have a couple of drink chips from that place. Yeah, it was classy!!! It got bulldozed in the late 80's...
Sean - That's right Star Jones. If I remember correctly they didn't play Idol that well. Yes it was the Keg. What a place that was.
John …and the Martic Forge burnt to the ground (the owner set it a flame and it almost interfered with Timmy and my fishing trip in Pequea)... 
As I recall when we backed into the place (literally) using the stake truck we "borrowed" from Brewer's Outlet, and the shitty PA we rented from Mariani Music.  Great times!
It's funny how it all starts coming back...
I also remember Timmy borrowing a van from the construction guy he was working for to haul the PA gear...  we were driving home from the Keg using only high beams as both low beam filaments were gone.  Then one of the high beams burnt out as well.  It started to rain, he turned on the wipers and the entire wiper arm fell off  the connecting arm started to scratch a groove in the windshield...  I almost pee'd myself, and Timmy wasn't amused.
Sean - I think the fat chick from the keg ended up at the after party at Timmy's, skinny dipping in the neighbors pool....and who can forget the chicks with the body paints....OMG!
Andy - Yeah I remember missing a party over at Bob's where you guys scammed a restaurant out of a keg of beer by pretending you were another bar.
John - Hey, you can't prove that!
Andy - You're right, I just heard it. Probably just a rumor right?
John - Lies I tell you!  Rumors, Fabrications!
Did I forget legendary...  Awesome, and pure genius.
Andy  - That's more how I remember it!
JohnHoly Cheese we played everything fast. 
Hot for Teacher is laughable.  We'd have made the Dickies proud. And we wonder why nobody ever danced...
Tim - I remember setting up at the Keg, stepping over the drunk guy passed out on the floor. Lots of stuff happened at the Keg, license plate stolen, several "fans" came out to that shitty van to sign up for the fan club. I'm sure we can come up with more.
John - How 'bout...  She ate at Rax, or Wild Thing...  you broke my porch swing...  you cleaned out Burger King...
Andy 
- You bust my bedsprings...you ate my chicken wings
How about when Bob referred to Rumple Stiltskin as "Crumpled Foreskin"
Gregg y
i k e s !
The land that time forgot.
Sean - Right....LOL...but I certainly will never forget....




....

Currently Andy plays solo: Andy Harrison Music.
Prior to Last Knight, John played bass for Lancaster's first punk rock band The Bodies.
Rex deserves his own category on tapewrecks as a member of The Real Gone, Jack Lords Hair, Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus, The Oogies, Charms du Crane, The New Regency 5, The Chelsea Squares, and his current instrumental band, Trio Agave.

Is there a Last Knight reunion in the works...?

January 12, 2014

L18S.... The Later Teens.... ................(Harrisburg 1986)


The Late Teens lasted from 1978 to 1982, then seem to have briefly reformed in 1986 as the faster, tighter, more hardcore L18S.

Got a 45
Jaded
Unemployed
Hey Hey Hey Hey
?








Thanks to Joe Brady from Scanner for sending in the tape, and to Donna Jean for posting her photos on Hardcore for Central PA.

Any other info on L18S anyone?

January 3, 2014

The Late Teens.... ...Atomic Love ....(Gettysburg/Harrisburg 1978-82)

Denteen, Bucky, Rage, & Savage
I left the shattered back window of a Honda Civic in a parking lot near Harrisburg one January night in 1986. The frigid ride home was a small sacrifice to see one of countless shows at the Demi Club hosted by Mike Rage. Maybe the local citizens didn't like the punkers and decided to take a baseball bat to my mom's car and a few others that night, but there were otherwise few instances of outright hostility beyond shouts and name-calling.

The Demi was an underheated cinderblock building across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg. Formerly the West Shore Democratic Club right in the center of the toxic plume released by Three Mile Island a few years earlier. What better place for an all-ages punk club! It was the only dedicated place for punk and the underground scene in Central PA.

Rewind to 1978 and there were very few bands in the area playing anything but top-40 and metal covers. Punk and new wave were slowly creeping out of the metropolitan areas via The Turn-Ups, The Bodies, Scanner, The Abjects, Tina Peel, and Rage's band The Late Teens. There were just a few bars that ventured to allow an occasional punk show, the Metron, Hanover Inn, The Schoolhouse, Tom Paine's Backroom, and the fabled TMI Inn. But the Late Teens made it into NYC at least once to irradiate the kids at CBGBs.




Atomic Love
Hey Hey Hey
Straight Ass Scene
Terminal Boredom
Youth Attack



Thanks to Mike Rage for the CBGBs recording. Download the full set here.
And to Donna Jean for sharing her super photos on Hardcore for Central PA.
This was a little bit before my time musically, so if you have any stories about the Late Teens, other PA bands, or songs about TMI from this era I'd love to add them here. Drop me a line.

December 10, 2013

Scott Miller... ................... ...Christmas for True Gamesters

Game Theory mailed Christmas tapes to fan club members in 1989 & 90. The truest gamester I know dubbed me a copy of the very silly Child's Christmas with it's most memorable Gordon Sumner send up and probably my first intro to Scott Miller.

True Gamesters (1989)

True Gamesters Christmas Tape (1990)

Christmas Moog (recorded at Scott's parents house in 1977)


In Memory of Scott Miller (1960-2013)

Thanks to Rustle Noonetwisting for the original dub of the 1989 tape and cover scan, and to Rushbo at Big Plans for Everybody for the digital versions and info. Lots more Scott Miller rarities over there.