“ALL KINDS OF SHIT ’85-’87 BY 39 STEPS”
(-Geordie Plaethur’s Regularly Scheduled Rant And Rocknroll Review Was Filmed Live In Front Of A Studio Audience)
“I will always believe in punk-rock, because it’s about creating something for yourself. Part of it was – Stop being a sap! Lift your head up and see what is really going on in the political, social and religious situations, and try and see through all the smoke screens.” (-Joe Strummer)
“Just 70 individuals now own as much wealth as half the world. In the U.S., the richest 40 individuals own as much as half the country, and the 16,000 American households in the top .01% have accumulated an average net worth of over a third of a billion dollars. As extreme wealth continues to grow out of control, inequality worsens for the rest of us, plaguing our country and our world, spreading like a terminal form of cancer. It should be a major news item in the mainstream media. But the well-positioned few are either oblivious to or uncaring about its effect on less fortunate people” (-Paul Buchheit)
“If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea…” (-Noam Chomsky)
“Yes, outraged White people, let’s talk about looting and violence … For example, how about this: The acts of land-theft and resource looting by privileged White men that you term “nation building” e.g., from the genocide that destroyed the cultures of the Original Peoples of the Americas to the codified brutality of US Slavery and Jim Crow, including the Jim Crow 2.0 of the present day.
Yes, White people, your position in life, perched as you are upon the bones of dead Indians and African Americans, was established by looting and violence. Moreover, your position of perpetual white supremacy is secured and maintained by mindless armies of cops and soldiers.
Yes, White people: Let’s talk about looting and violence … er …rather, on second thought, why don’t you just shut your ignorant and belligerent gobs?” (-Phil Rockstroh)
“Rich people don’t create
culture.” (-Grayson Carter)
“Amazing how the US media seems to always redirect interpretation away from the obvious . CNN is saying the riots are about a racial divide in America …they are saying where do African Americans go from here…. I thought it was about police brutality certainly unequally applied, and the question should be where does scrutiny of police abuse of citizens go from here ? It is police, not African Americans, who are at issue here. And state violence, not citizens, at issue….” (-Naomi Wolf)
“Destiny threatens to slit its wrist with Occam’s razor. Injustice is a party guest that refuses to leave. Racism, brutalism, and all the other ugly -isms snap selfies, proclaiming themselves the normal face of society. Sadly, we have lost far too many puzzle pieces to ever picture a peaceful world. Still, the light continues to shine between the countless cracks in the dark. We gather that light. We share it the best we can.” (-Rich Ferguson)
“I am furious that targeted white America is fully buying into this corporate strategized, and choreographed presentation, of the black response to years of oppression, discrimination, and exploitation. And those fortunate enough to have early dreams, see them shattered in the twilight of their youth.” (-Captain Ray Lewis)
“If your concerns about violence are limited to property damage and looting, and you have never shed two tears for the history of institutional violence, murder, colonialism, segregation, lynching, genocide and police brutality against peoples of color, your words mean nothing; they mean less than nothing. Your outrage, in such a case is grotesque, an inversion of morality so putrescent as to call into question your capacity for real feeling at all. So long as violence from below is condemned while violence from above is ignored, you can bet that the former will continue–and however unfortunate that may be, it is surely predictable. If you’d like the former to cease, put an end to the latter, and then I promise you, it will.” (-Tim Wise)
“The sad end of the Age of Obama — his empty neutrality, moral bankruptcy and political cowardice — is now undeniable to even his most loyal cheerleaders and boot-lickers!
Wall Street criminals, Drone Droppers, Torturers and Police who kill our precious children go free – and we weep and fight back!
Martin Luther King Jr. rebels against the chronic callousness toward the vulnerable and he rejoices at the awakening of Black Youth.
Like John Coltrane, keep it Love Supreme!” (-Dr. Cornel West)
“Dr. King’s policy was that if you are non-violent and if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and be moved to change his heart. He only made one fallacious assumption. In order for non-violence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none, has none.” (- Stokely Carmichael)
“London Calling, now I don’t want to shout, but while we were talking, I saw you running out…” (-The Clash)
“This is no conspiracy theory. This is a well-known fact by those inside the beltway. While the American people are told about the endless ‘gridlock’ within our government, many aspects of the ‘Deep State’ run completely smoothly no matter what the American people think. Wars do not stop, Wall Street does not slow, and NSA surveillance keeps going at a breakneck speed. ‘The Deep State’ is how the US Government ACTUALLY runs.” (-Lee Camp)
“When is the Concert for Conscientious Objectors? for Teachers? for Parents? for Climate Activists? for Doctors and Nurses?” (-David Swanson on non-stop fanfare and confetti for war)
“We need to get back to the roots of being human. Money shouldn’t trump compassion.”(-Sondra Arrache)
“We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions. A world where greed is our god and wisdom is sin, where division is key and unity is fantasy, where the ego driven cleverness of the mind is praised, rather than the intelligence of the heart.” (-Bill Hicks)
“Listen, everyone has to be accountable for the guns that they carry, whether it be the citizens or the law. I think that we have to be more responsible for the people that we hire for those jobs. Because remember, their responsibility is to serve and protect, not to kill and get off.” (-Stevie Wonder)
“Several of you are appropriately horrified by the amount of money now being spent by big corporations, Wall Street, and super-wealthy to corrupt our democracy. And by the record-shattering share of economic gains now going to big corporations, Wall Street, and super wealthy. The two phenomena are of course related.
All this can make you so cynical you’re ready to give up. The moneyed interests would prefer you do. That way, they can get it all.
The alternative is to be more committed than ever to fighting to regain our democracy and take back our economy. If you choose to fight, it will be a long slog. (For many of you, it’s already been.) There’s no easy formula, no messiah-like candidate, no magic bullet. It requires hard political work at the grass roots of your community, state, and the nation. It means knowing the truth and spreading it. Standing up to the bullies. Working with and through many others. And Never, ever giving up.” (-Robert Reich)
“Are you wealthy and still moaning about taxes? Try being poor and moaning about hunger – brought to you by the people at STFU.” (-Ray Gange)
“From the looks of my news feed, Facebook and Rolling Stone are colluding to crown Dave Grohl the unchallenged deity of music and Momma June the Queen of all things cultural.” (-Rick D. Leonard)
“Not that I am trying to blow sunshine, rainbows, and sno-cones up yer ass or anything. The future looks bleak for most of us as we try to remember to disregard the American Dream bullshit we were spoon fed along side our pureed carrots…” (Gregory Walker)
JUST THE PASTIMES OF THE RICH….
…You regulars know we talk about sports and weather, and make sure you eat your peas and carrots, here, before you fill up on milkshakes and Thunderbird wine. Pull up a beanbag chair. Make yourself at home. It ain’t all about haircuts and shoes…..It worries me that big-media is conditioning young people to like elevator mush again, people seem to confuse the budget to hire a string section with having any soul. All the unimaginative and overhyped corporate mousepad muzak is just fucking awful. I mean where the fuck is the fucking dangerous, rebellious, heartfelt rocknroll motherfuckery, for fuck’s sake? Anybody else jonesing to hear songs that mean something, you know, that express something heartfelt, with a genuine point of view, like we used to? Something pained or wild, something raw and/or real? Something streetwise and raunchy, or brave and true? Had enough twerking and selfies and auto-tune and the politics of dumbfuckish hipster emo whatever exhibitionist distraction? Me, too, brothers and sisters. Me, too. It started with Madonna the “Material Girl”, “Lifestyles Of The Rich & Lazy”, and that “Greed Is Good” movie in the eighties, next it was that bullshit Guilliani “Broken Window Theory”, and false flag 9/11 clampdowns-shoe bombers, underwear bombers, any kinda comic book bullshit to take away civil liberties and human rights, and here we are now–Kardashians ass oversaturation, illuminati hidden-eyed crotch pop, CBGB’s belongs to the rich designer, famous people always kiss his ass; they are similarly turning the Rat into a pretentious luxury hotel in Boston’s Kenmore Square, and there is even talk of the Whiskey being turned into another luxury hotel on the Sunset Strip. Anybody notice how they are steadily erasing the landmarks of the rebellious rocknroll subculture, efficiently replacing them with giant symbols of wealth and elitism? What a fuckedup sham–steamrolling historical landmarks and affordable housing, replacing them with prohibitively expensive fucking condos and hotels, and criminalizing the houseless community. Notice how the oligarchs are doing everything they can to ban unpleasant opinions, or facts based news on the ground from ever being conveyed on the corporate owned airwaves? Can’t think of anything more obscene then bloated rockstars who only ever use their platform and privilege to complain about how they still don’t have enough fucking money because of the internet. David Byrne says no one’s going to make music in the near future because there’s not enough money in it. I dunno, man. Working Class people have been severely restricted from making real music in a room for years now, because the rent is too damn high, but atypical outlaw types with hearts full of emotion will always find a way to gather and express themselves, one way or another, with or without the industry hags, weaponized consolidated media, or moneygrubbing wealth graspers. It’s like the sheltered rich musicians are all just realizing how severely fucked things are. While the rest of us have “gotten pretty good at barely gettin’ by”. Like the old Four Horsemen said, for decades, now. Nobody’s sayin’ nuthin’ about it, but everywhere we go, there’s a bunch of gooney rich kids, ya know? Douchebags in weird beards and Axe cologne with waxed mustaches and ill fitting hats, sucking down Starbucks, on their way to buy vintage keyboards and novelty porn at highend comic book stores in eight thousand dollar a month storefronts. Obama’s ho-hum, unconditional cheerleader, Generic Dave Grohl gets more corporate press and airplay then (even his asskissing predecessor) Bon Jovi, Nirvana, and the Spice Girls used to. I don’t care what Adam fucking Levine thinks about someone’s vocal range. We’re even being programmed to evaluate music and art like it’s fucking sports.
As Joe Strummer lamented, “even rocknroll is a con!” Traditionally, it’s been the non-conformists who’ve seen hard times, been kicked around a little bit, endured some humiliation and heartbreak and understand what it’s like to try their hearts out and still come home empty handed, who usually know how to make the best rocknroll music, ya know? People who’ve only ever had ten bucks to put in their gas tank, who couldn’t get hired at the trendy bakery if they wanted to. The ones who live at the rehearsal space and couch surf and hustle and quit dead end dishwashing jobs to go on dead end concert tours and end up hitch hiking on the side of the desperate highway, all for the love of rocknroll. Not all those Laurel Canyon millionaire kids spilling bongwater on ten thousand dollar indian carpets in the mansions with the sitars. We’ve had two decades of suck shit music thrust upon us, against our will, by the consolidated media juggernaut and I think we’re all sick to death of poseurs and pukes and asskissers and social climbers. What we need now, more than ever, are real rebels. Stand-Alone Outcasts and stout hearted freakshows who ain’t afraid to flyer and stencil and share and band together. Defiant independents, fanzine publishing angry anarchists, shaggy misfits from the wrong side of town, and songwriting dropouts who make their own rules. Dare to be freaky, brothers and sisters, and friends of the revolution. We got to form our little rebel alliances in every pocket of the “local rock…worldwide” community and help each other out. Where are all the strange rangers, dandys in the underworld, road dogs and fun hogs who create and rebel and don’t follow orders? The leather clad REAL rocknroll resistance who are finally gettin’ hip to the Amerikkkan Ruse? Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls. When the gestapo police state has run amok, we need young bloods who rock like fuck. The status quo preservers dutifully insist everything is peachy, as long as you are affluent and peachy–you should disregard those voices, ’cause tyranny lurks around every corner, under corporate fascism. If you oppose economic incentives and immunity for pharma numb, class-patrol, uniformed death-squads and zero privacy and endless war, if you are against torture and indiscriminate drone attacks, if you believe corrupt politicians and bankers and torturers and war criminals should be held accountable, YOU ARE RIGHT. Not the tv, not your rightwing brother-in-law who listens to talk radio. If you think all those awful, trendy, Spin Magazine duos suck, you are right. Not the corporate media, the snot slick bullhorns of the genocidal rich.
Old punks are charging fans $100 to shake their dainty hand at soundcheck. Are you kidding me, man? Meet & Greet my middle finger. The bottom 90 percent are poorer today than they were in 1987, but these selfish old geezer scumbags who made their seventies punk anarchist brandnames by declaring themselves morally superior to cloistered hippie millionaire prog rockers like Yes and Genesis, want to bleed the people? It’s just stunning. And enforcer class muscle is pushing all us second class citizens back out into the dead zones. Cops arresting musicians and dancers and street artists and free speechers for cramping rich people’s “quality of life”. With the fracking and the droughts and the weird pollution and nuke radiation and these bullshit homeless hate-laws targeting the poor. One in thirty Amerikkkan kids are homeless, while all these jiveass, artsy fartsy, festival performers buy bigass mansions in gated neighborhoods, or condos in towering silver highrises. Warmongers are serenaded by worthless old entertainers who used to be anti-war and it is beyond sickening. Everybody’s in a “Me, first!” honky death spell, excusing mass murder so long as it’s done by Robocop stormtrooper brutes with guns. Every 37 seconds an American is busted for smoking weed, but banksters, torturers, crony capitalists brazenly lying nations into wars, and homicidal cops are never reprimanded. Another black male is slaughtered by cops about every 17 hours in Murkkka. Cops kill with total impunity for sport, because they can, and go on paid vacations and seldom ever, ever lose their badges or pensions, after buying some more donuts with your middleclass taxes and investigating themselves. Seizing property, no refusal checkpoints, no knock night raids like it’s Afghanistan, beatdowns on people who weren’t resisting, rape, taser deaths, asset forfeiture, bogus drug war, executions of children holding plastic toyguns, botched drug raids, chokeholds, kicking handcuffed women in the head, stop and frisk policies, open season on unarmed black males and old people, and Autistic kids and people having seizures and the disabled, and family pets. Trained by Mossad, to police Americans as if they are Palestinians, at least 357 people have been killed by police in just the past 7 months in the United States. The VAST majority of those people have been men and the VAST majority of those men have been black or brown and the VAST majority of those black and brown men were UNARMED. Even psycho sadists caught on tape beating innocent men to death for non crimes always walk. Smalltown dudes go to jail all the time, non stop. Seatbelt violations, jaywalking, anything. Cop cruisers park across the street from the bars and wait for the human drama to unfold. Bust, bust, bust, bust. Once they are on probation it’s handing money over, hand over fist, for the rest of their lives. Violation, violation, violation. It’s big business. Amerikkkan prisons are overfilled by forty percent. Mostly bogus drug charges. States use that prison labor-they even make inmates fight fires for two dollars a day. White people are thinking about their collections, and prestige and fucking sports. Smart Tv’s spy on users. The NSA records all of your electronic communications. Drones, tech tools that eavesdrop like you’re the Italian mob. Everywhere we go we are subjected to private security goonsquads shakin’ us down, or feelin’ us up. A family dog is reportedly shot by police every 98 minutes in the US. Tv watchers are slavishly programmed to worship thugs and sociopaths on steroids who are only ever protecting and serving the billionaire, predator class, robber barons gleefully buying politicians and drafting model legislature from revolving door lobbyist rightwing think tanks, stealing from we, the people—their minimum wage, piss tested victims, the pitchfork majority–how do they live with themselves, those badged bullies who are anything but heroic?! Some of these dudes who kill unarmed youth get to retire with a half a million dollars in donations and tens of thousands in interview fees. That’s plenty of incentive for racist cops who top out at about forty thou a year.
Stop praising uniformed men who kill kids in bullshit wars in the name of This or That. TV brainwashed consumption zombies don’t give a rat’s ass about children murdered in our streets, Gaza-style, but tell ‘em someone supposedly shoplifted some Swisher Sweets and Slim Jims from a convenience store while wearing baggy pants and they all lose their minds. Fratboys start fires and tear up the town whenever they lose a football game and it’s dismissed as zany campus hijinks. Cable spooks the homeowners with scary footage of sacred Starbucks windows being broken or heavy rotation footage of burning automobiles, and don’t even mention how it’s about zero accountability, zero remorse, whenever a racist cop casually snuffs the life out of a beautiful human being. Never will you hear the propaganda whores of the police state’s bullhorns even bring up police violence against often totally innocent, unarmed civilians, it’s always twisted into how poor people are angry and wild and prone to looting. Assimilated Murkkkans all defend the badged bullies with all their unrepentant white privilege. Predators never say they’re sorry. Agent provocateurs try to infiltrate peaceful groups and stir things up. When demonstrators call them out, they pull guns on citizen activists. Stolen elections, piss tests, evisceration of our most basic rights, war, war war….Where’s the outcry from the media-class people with the microphones? Radio silence. Beyond the vicarious, third hand reflected glory whoring of “don’t you know, how I used to know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody, who slept with someone from Guns N Roses, like, twentyfive years ago”? V.I.P. lists and photo opportunities, a bunch of geezer cartoons in a cartoon graveyard, to paraphrase Rhymin’ Simon. Big cities have become retirement communities for soldout, self important, ex rebels and preachy former junkies pushing their blooming onions, autographed memoirs, black fifty dollar logo shirts, and stupid fucking bobbleheads. And their obnoxious kids with the gimmick bands and credit cards. Ho-hum. Everybody’s in a honky death spell–I think it’s the prescription pills, something in the water. Middle class people are understandably resentful about being forever compromised, and controlled, and lied to by venal rich folks. How do they cope? By punishing poor people, which is really no solution at all. Former peers and their in-laws think if they exclude you, blacklist you, punish you long enough, withhold their resources and companionship, refuse to embrace you, you’ll magically become a non-threatening, lawnmowing, Smilin’ Bob squarehead with a business, and join the big white truck fraternity of backslapping blowhards who all make believe they pulled gas grill and sundeck empires outta their asses with their special white people magic. They tell themselves it’s tough love, rejecting you, excluding you from office party reindeer games. You need to pull yourself up by your own inheritance. Become lying middle class asskissers, or else. They all married up and attained their businesses from their in-laws, the hard way. It’s okay to get the snub from the white picket fence and watering the lawn herd-it really is important-it’s a step towards finding one’s own unique destiny as opposed to succumbing to your predetermined, class burdened, typecast fate. Who wants to be a Bill O’Reilly dickhead, anyway? Almost time for those Thanksgiving and Christmas stampedes at the big-box retailers. They act like some new, on sale at Best Buy, sweat-shop manufactured gadget is the Who with festival seating. It’s all about Access. Or Access denied. Do you have a license to wear that funny hat? Do you have clearance to play that guitar? Show me your papers. The bouncers need to feel you up like TSA brownshirts before you perform in nightclubs. REALLY?! Hatelaws that openly target the homeless. Business owners who call the man on poor people for existing. Cable subscribing middle classers who believe these boogeymen narratives about shoe bombers and masked marauding boogeyman armies coming to steal our freedom fries and minimum wage piss test jobs at the bigboxes. Show me your permission slip from the rich. They want you to beg for permission to “rock”. Wanna double-check your credentials. This is a nation of phoney baloney weasel suckups, all obediently sucking up to the unholy monsters in power, who they already know are unspeakably corrupt and inhumane, we’re way past plausible deniability, with the drones killing forty innocents for any “suspect” based on mere metadata, and American bodies piling up on our city sidewalks. Even Regular Joes all bark self importantly like Dick Cheney, or Simon Cowell. Pizza Hut Assistant Managers and shit. Everybody’s G.I. Fucking Joe, now. Little Rush Limbaughs are everywhere, sucking down their Oxycontin, and trash talkin’ the poor. ‘Thing few seem to recognize, is that it’s not wise to get too cocky, or cruel, just because you are getting free drinks in the local limelight. Our fortunes can fluctuate in this lifetime. Hell, I’ve known people who were toast of the town on Monday, just toast on Wednesday. Start losing teeth and see how clever and attractive all your entrepreneurial girlfriends and showbiz buddies find you. Gain a few pounds. Experience loss. Death of loved ones, illness, infidelity, divorce, unforeseen shit, betrayals, or automobile accidents. Lay-offs, foreclosures, health problems, overdoses, housefires, incidents and accidents, disease—no one is untouchable, just because they are temporarily insulated by money and fickle fame that plays tricks on the brain. 12 year old get shot dead in the park in broad daylight. Old men get shot in their beds in bogus drug raids while even our well-intentioned, once liberal, middle classers parrot all that drug war hysteria they learn from Dr. Fucking Phil. None of us are permanent. Not even the ruthless winners and titled shareholding ownership society folks are guaranteed tomorrow. Things change. High school never really ends in consumption crazed Murkka. It’s a brutal FOX NEWS kinda world. We are all so fracked. You got eyes–did the skies always look like that, when you were a kid? Tasted a watermelon or grapefruit, lately? What the fuck is that shit? They are fucking up all the fucking food. The music has never been this horrible. People just obediently accept this horseshit. The well-to-do’s love their privileges and illusions of impunity and expect silence from you filthy poor folks. You’re always expected to abide by the artificially constructed country club hierarchy, or risk beatdowns and banishment, everywhere you go. Used to be the poets and bohemians were in the back room at the round table-uniting, coming together and rejecting all that flyover state, slave plantation, sports indoctrinated, militarized conformity-now it’s just the rich old industry hags and suckups and weasels, and their awful kids, all out to make a buck-it’s retirement homes for people who knew Lou Adler or Danny Fields. That Offspring band own airplanes. They were just awful-admit it-what did they ever do to become millionaires? That “White Guy” song? CRAZY! Some of the punkest, and smartest, and most talented motherfuckers I ever knew are rotting in severe poverty and can’t even get record store jobs no more. Aww, mann. Who wants to hear my facking Blackie Lawless story, again? Okay you B.Y.O.B short attention spanners who only show for the tits and champagne portion of the rocknroll rantage, let’s get around to the hotpants, pinball, and french fries, now.
THE FIRST, THE LAST…
Whenever us undead Bauhaus types hear the brooding and sensual goth of Montreal, Quebec’s best post-punk era band, 39 STEPS, we wonder why they weren’t huge as hell, back when people still listened to music with heart and soul and a real pulse. Many of us are so numb to the bullshit chump, cheese-whiz music of today, we loathe even mentioning any of it, relentlessly we yearn for the burning, noir romanticism of yesterday’s glam rock, punk, and new wave. 39 Steps had the same textures and vibes as Flesh For Lulu, The Cult, Bolshoi, Siouxsie and The Banshees, all the best bands of our own long lost flaming youth and if, like me, you appreciate those tight pants, echoing psychedelic guitar tones, a.m. suicide poetry and chiming keyboards ala Public Image Ltd. and Psychedelic Furs, you will doubtlessly be drawn to collect all of 39 STEPS diverse works, available via some links we’ll post below. “Priscilla” kicks things off with that swirling Billy Duffy guitar tone and sends dizzying signals up your spine and your spiralling thoughts shimmering back to when you used to dance, meet girls in big city girls rooms at loudly throbbing gigantic nightclubs when everyone was clad in mesh and lace and great things were all still possible and weird kids could come together and do those absurd gestures and movements inspired by Michael Astin and Pete Burns with spiderwebs drawn poorly on our young faces. It smells like bubblegum and clove cigarettes. Mystery and potential. All those long gone death chicks who ain’t death chicks no more. Goths like us, baby we were born to lose. Most of the Skinny Puppy groupies who I used to know work in cubicles and don’t even dye their hair no more. What’s with all that “adulthood” shit? Those careerists-they’re like a cult. ‘Still a few howling souls still signed on for life, to that teenage deathtrip. Montreal’s finest goth-punks, 39 STEPS churn out another hypnotic come-on, called “Let’s Flirt With Danger”, that’s quite reminiscent of Ronald Koal & The Trillionaires. Top stuff, man. Killer cuts. We never hear nothing like this, no more. Famous celebrities like Woody Allen, Joan Jett, Chris Stein, and Ian Hunter all variously glimpsed Chris Barry’s star power, but for some reason beyond my comprehension of record industry incompetence, 39 STEPS were never to achieve John Hughes soundtrack status or major MTV success. They had the whole package–a boss sound very much like the Cult, who they opened for on the “Love” tour, good looking weirdos with big hair like the Alarm. At least two songs with bona fide, worldwide, hit potential…and I’m not even talkin’ about the same two everybody else likes. Stacks of songs easily as catchy as anything by World Party or Simple Minds. A genuine article frontman who was as good an entertainer as Richard Butler, or Billy Idol, or most anyone you can name. “Hit It Up” is the stuff of chubby vampire chicks doused heavily in patchouli,bubblegum, danger, and everyone in too much mime looking Batcave makeup. “Bang, bang, hit it up…” This is where Concrete Blonde’s “Still In Hollywood” riff meets Iggy Pop’s optimistic and uplifting “Kill City” lyrical preoccupations. “I’ll Take The Blame” sounds like a Cure B-Side, if only Robert Smith was a pale Tim Burton skeleton with a shock of black hair and a taste for forbidden fruit–yeah, yeah I know, he, too, looked like Jack Skellington once, but it’s been so long since then that all you can picture is Fat Elvis in a plushy costume and a raccoon nose, holding a teddy bear. Chris Barry was the evil rocknroll version of lovable gothniks. He still looks almost exactly the same. Painting in the attic. Always a startlingly talented songwriter and performer from his days as juvie snot punkbait in 222′s, until his most recent band, the triumphantly brilliant, THROBBING PURPLE, it’s CRAZY how he has gone so overlooked and underappreciated all these years. In modern days, his devoted following has grown steadily since rocknroll people have been hipping one another to his fantastic videos and some unheralded masterpieces on youtube, that clearly demonstrate how 39 Steps were a primetime band who should have probably been as popular as Sigue Sigue Sputnk and Sisters Of Mercy. A Smash Hits magazine band that chicks tore out pictures of and put in their school lockers. I don’t have any idea how 39 STEPS avoided bigtime stardom with songs as good as “All Roads Lead To Babylon” & “City Of Vice”, they were just one of those tragically doomed bands who the industry neglected. Probably because of their authenticity. “Something New” sounds like it should have been sent to college radio on 12 inch vinyl with dance remixes on the B Side and with any real airplay whatsoever, it could have slid comfortably in between videos by the Communards and the Love Reaction on America’s Sunday night hairspray party, 120 Minutes. Some of 39 Steps’s song are sugary sweet like Duran Duran or Thompson Twins, and some of their stuff is more experimental and menacing like vintage Adam & The Ants, or Virgin Prunes and Killing Joke. “Always Tomorrow” has a seductive, black and white grainy film noir feel ala Peter Murphy’s “Love Hysteria”–you can almost see the video in your mind–trains, travel, rainy towns. “City Of Vice (alternate)” is one of the best known 39 STEPS tunes and one that their aging audience of depressed bombshells and badly bruised burnouts hold close to their collective blackhearts. “A Taste Of Poison” is either an urgent call to the man with the stash or some pale siren. Like Jeff Drake’s Hollywood band of sleazerockers, the Joneses, it’s usually hard to discern whether Chris Barry is crying over chicks or drugs and at some point, I suppose there’s not much difference, anymore. If you like Julian Cope, or Billy Idol, you’ll like “A Taste Of Poison”. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Chris Barry besides his humor, surplus talent, and obvious personality writ large, is his distinctive caterwaul. He really sounds like no one else. Jeffrey Lee Pierce yowled like that sometimes, but certainly not in key. “Jump On The Death Train” is another worthwhile tune, kinda halfway between Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, that would be the first song on my Annual Christmas Cassette Mixtapes if I still made those Annual Christmas Cassette Mixtapes. I feel like I may be the only one still holed up in my basement room listening to forgotten songs on thrift store ghetto blasters. It’s all passed me by. I didn’t even go for Green Day or Nirvana, or Marilyn Manson–ya know? World’s changing–it’s nuts! Shit’s gone way wrong. Cops kill kids in the street, the government tortures people in hideous gulags. Spies read our E-mails, profile us for the man. Grownups try to tell us how good Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga and Katy Perry all are, with straight faces. Our old friends are gone, or gone straight. “Someday Is Today” stirs up the usual ghosts of melancholy, love, regrets, lust, all those mixed impulses we used to have, higher ideals we used to espouse so vehemently, all the dead people we lost along the way, all the promises we enjoyed before the crash. It’s a bit Morrissey-esque, actually. “Just Amphetamine” is a King Crimson like piece, all those jazzy Adrian Belew or Robert Fripp chordings accompanying Mister Barry’s eloquent storytelling. “Teachers” is a soft and poppy song like Psychedelic Furs, or Love & Rockets, and it’s halfway over before one realizes it’s a Leonard Cohen cover. Album closes with a Guess Who cover that no one ever wanted to hear 39 Steps perform, and yet, they even make that old warhorse run. Fantastic band. Some of you New Yorkers know Chris Barry from PILLBOX. He rocks. Throbbing Purple is even better. 39 STEPS were undiscovered geniuses. Buy all their shit.