Friday, January 4, 2013

The Friday Five, Volume 3: Celebrating the ModPopPunk Archives #1

About 12 years ago I moved into my first apartment. I had just left St. Thomas (fucking Catholics, man) to attend U of H and went from enjoying the luxuries of a T1 internet connection and being able to check out scores of new albums via mIRC chatrooms and Napster or Limewire to a one bedroom joint in a Montrose fourplex with either a fucking dialup internet connection or something at the dawn of the home DSL era and waiting for what then seemed like an eternity to stream or download an mp3 on a bands website.
At night I'd come home from the bar or a show hopped up on some legal or illegal (usually the latter) stimulant and would pass the time until my body passed out from exhaustion (or a few beers to come down) by chain smoking and scouring the archives of a fantastic website I came across somehow called the ModPopPunk Archives

I was just really getting into power pop and Killed By Death comps at this point and this website seemed like it was built just to feed my insatiable hunger for the stuff. It's where I first came across some classic bands like Shoes, the Only Ones, Stiv Bators solo material and a ton of other great bands. I was seriously fucking up at life at that point when you consider my erratic demeanor due to booze and the wonders of modern chemistry and as a result was increasingly lonely and fucking up every promising romantic relationship and a lot of the tunes I found here helped me get through all of that bullshit. I had a mix CD that did not leave my Discman or car CD player for, like, a year filled with the treasures I discovered because of the kind proprieter of the MPPA which I think is inactive as of now (last update was December of last year) and that bums me out. 

If you peruse the site (and I often do just to see what I haven't checked out yet), you'll find some quick band bios, a few cool interviews but my favorite part is the sizable amount of tracks by bands well known, semi-obscure and beyond that you can listen to directly or cop a download of. I had a hard time coming up with JUST five songs I adore from that the site introduced me to (a couple were even on my ill fated wedding playlist) so I have a feeling this is going to be the first in a series of the Friday Five chronicling the archive's awesomeness. Alright, enough of my blabbering, let's get down to brass tacks, kiddos. 

Jilted John - I was a Teenage Prepubescent from the album True Love Stories (Castle Music Ltd.)

Jilted John was the alter ego of a British soap actor named Graham Fellows who thought it would be a good idea to do a jokey/novelty 7" when the whole punk rock thing was exploding across the U.K.. The A side concerns his break up with a girl named Julie because she dug a guy named Gordon better and then proceeding to bitch about it in the most petulant fashion for the songs duration until it fades out in a torrent of vicious insults directed at both parties but mainly, Julie. It was a hit and Fellows found himself appearing in character on shows like Top of the Pops and eventually recording an album, that as best as I can tell, was poorly received. I can't fathom that listening to this record. Sure, it's not as strong as say, anything the Boys put out, but it's solid and contains this fantastic track that is one of the most oddly warm and endearing songs to come out of that era. 
The narrator grows up (from what it seems) poor with his two hardworking parents until Dad dies and then Mom runs off with another guy and he and his sisters get dumped off on his Grandmother. Pretty bleak shit for a power pop song right? Still, homeboy says he was happy even though they "didn't get much" and even meets a girl he fall in love with in primary school until she moves away and he goes to a state run high school (not too familiar with how shit works across the pond but based on the timeline of the song I think this is right) and then encounters the horrors of puberty that surround him at every corner. This is where the song takes a turn and the narrator becomes totally miserable and ends up rocking Doc Martens, jamming T. Rex and running around with his friends at night trying to get in rumbles with other kids. It's a great testament to the whimsy and care free days of early youth that we've all taken for granted at times in our lives. Laid down in front of a beautiful electric piano and quiet guitar except for the occasional power chord twang "I was a Prepubescent" will make you pine for the days before middle school shat on your face. 

*Ed note: I upload this vid to YouTube and they told me some bullshit about it not being visible in certain areas...whatever the fuck that means. In case you can't view it, I dunno what to tell you, I couldn't find it anywhere online for you to check out for free. Just buy the fucking song, I promise, you won't regret it. 

The Name - Fuck Art, Let's Dance from the album What's in a Name? (Detour Records)

Just listen to that punch in the balls/twat of an opening riff that was most likely stolen from the Clash. No matter. This, if my fuzzy unreliable memory serves me well, was the first song I check out on the MPPA and it blew me away. It was probably the title that did it. How can you pass anything like that up when you're a drugged out and drunk misanthropic punk rocker.I love the song makes you think the singer is all amped up and nervous to be with his girl/boy (hey, they never specify and since I already did the whole "balls/twat" thing I might as well keep it up), a bundle of romantic jitters but NO! He's totally fed up with the negative Nancy/Ned that has been keeping his ass bummed out at discos and gloomy museums when all he wants to do is go out and rock! Inverse that last sentence gender wise and replace discos with Emo's, the Big Easy, Fitzgerald's and punk shows and you have my failed, pathetic romantic history covering my early twenties. I used to really suck as a human being. I only marginally suck now. 

Fast Cars - The Kids Just Wanna Dance from the album Coming...Ready or Not! (Detour Records)

If you've ever seen me DJ then you've heard this song, I think I used to lead off with it. Another Clash rip-off but for a one off band (the rest of this album isn't that good or at least didn't seem to be the last time I spun it) this is a pretty righteous single. And, we needed something that wouldn't devolve into me discussing my life's fuck ups, right? So, pump your fist to this one. Fast Cars seemed to perfect what would become early Oi! with this tune even though they seem waaaaaay too enthusiastic and happy on this track and album cover to ever carry the torch for that cranky genre. These guys were more enraptured in the mod scene but the energy of punk carried over heavily into what they were doing and especially on this track. Go to a Total Chaos or Casualties or any of those bands that define punk by the amount of bullet belts they have on or the quantity of Dippity Do jars they go through a year and put this record on and I guarantee you those kids will think it's some long lost Sham 69 track with better vocals and an infinitely greater hook. 

The Barracudas - Surfers are Back from the album Drop Out with the Barracudas (EMI)

Even though the band seemed more melancholy on their collected tracks (reissued by EMI in 2005 as Drop Out with the Barracudas) these English cats were masters of imbibing the original Nuggets comp and then regurgitating it all in a glorious, care-free fashion. They have the same solid, staid production of many of their ilk during this kick in pop music. Instead of being entirely reverential like Stiv Bators was, these cats tried to do something a little more ambitious even though they were considered nothing more than a novelty surf act. Whatever you're interpretation of their history may be you have to dig how a British band could so lovingly copy and dwarf the American 60's surf pop phenomenon and punk it up to perfection.

Incredible Kidda Band - I'm Gonna Join the Army from the album Too Much, Too Little Too Late (Detour Records)

The first time I saw High Fidelity and it cut to that scene where all the record nerds are trying to bait Saturday browsers into buying vinyl and the bald skinny guy is jawing with the chick from Roseanne about Green Day and they're talking about the Clash and Stiff Little Fingers all I could think about was that the Incredible Kidda Band should've been included on that list. Because, if you go back and listen to the Lookout! era Green Day that's the band they rip off the most. Well, aside from the Clash.

and another one!

FUCK! I just realized another theme I could've wrapped this around!

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