Thursday, April 19, 2012

Once you get your member's card to that verboten club you're way gone

Imagine you're walking down a busy inner city street late one night and you need to step off for a slash. You find a back alley but suddenly while watering the brick wall you notice a door that's not completely shut. You pull the door, it opens, you walk in - and find yourself in a secret club filled with wonderful eats and drinks and no one knows about this place and normally you need a member's card to get in. A card that about no one is ever granted. Yesterday, I got one such member's card!! Well, figuratively speaking that is. In reality I received an invite to THE SCREAMER's world! A world that hardly anybody knows about. The invite? A DVD called THE SCREAMERS LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO SEPT 2ND 1978!!!

I discovered THE SCREAMERS a few years back when they were mentioned in the documentary film PUNK: ATTITUDE. I've watched that film a dozens times since then and I've spent many a cold and forsaken night wondering about how the hell they sounded. Well, now I know! The reason I thought I would never get to hear them is simple: they never released one single record!!!

But fortunately someone else taped one of their gigs and released it on VHS back in the 80s. Recently I discovered that the old tape had also been re-released on DVD a couple of years back. When I found out about that I went straight to land of the Amazons and ordered a copy. Like I said, I got it yesterday and, man, I so wish I hadn't got it... Huh? Why?? Cos it fucken cracks me up THAT I CAN'T HAVE MORE!! This is just fucken AWESOME. I've already listened to the recording like 8 times since yesterday (the full gig clocks in at the 25 minute mark!). The music was early punk but WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME. Not punk rock, not hardcore, not a SEX PISTOLS clone, but a mix of punk and electronic music, not in any way like KRAFTWERK or SUICIDE mind you, but truly unique on its own. The singer, Tomata du Plenty was either insane or at least looks like it on stage. It's truly a wonderful recording.

I went on YouTube and discovered there's actually tons of track there, most of them from live gigs but also some recorded for radio demos (and maybe ordinary demos) and a few music videos (made BEFORE MTV got on the air). THE SCREAMERS were totally different and a more INVENTIVE punk band than most of what followed. They broke up in 1981 and the singer went on the become a painter. Sadly he died a decade ago. There's a CNN spot on him made about a year before his untimely death.

Here's two tracks from the same gig as my DVD but they're from another source, maybe the original VHS or a video master. The picture quality on the DVD is way better. This is very exciting and I'm certainly gonna venture further into those uncharted waters that are THE SCREAMERS.




"Punish or be Damned"

Everything she wanted
That's all she got
That's all

She took a chance
Nothing happened

It's not always easy
To get what you deserve

Punish or be damned

Cruel and unusual
But justice nonetheless
Justice

Cast a stone
Show no mercy
No mercy

It's not always easy
To get what you deserve

Punish or be damned

The price is fixed
It's sang froid a la carte

It's not always easy
To get what you deserve

Punish or be damned



"Better World"

I shoved and I shoved and I shoved
And I dug and I dug and I dug and I dug
And I hacked away!

In a better world,
Everybody must be
Made to feel important.

What's wrong with us?
Are we mad?
Why are we so stupid?
So stupid!
So stupid!

Cheated children,
They go berserk,
They steal and kill and destroy!

I'm trying
To be like
Jesus.

In a better world, don't let them laugh.
In a better world, kiss their wounds
In a better world, don't let them laugh.
In a better world

They slash out and bang things around
They think they'll come out on top!

In a better world,
Everybody must be
Made to feel important.

I shoved and I shoved and I shoved
And I dug and I dug and I dug and I dug
And I hacked away!

A better world, a better world begins with me.
A better world, a better world begins with you.
A better world, a better world begins with me.
A better world, a better world begins with you.
A better world, a better world begins with me.
A better world, a better world begins with you!



(I found the lyrics on Lyricsmania.com so big thanks to whoever transcribed them. I had to change a line here and there (I guess Tomata probably sang them differently at other gigs). Also, I'm not completely sure about the "It's sang froid a la carte" line. Does he really sing "froid"? I did a Google and the ONLY place that pops up with "froid" in front of "a la carte" is actually in the Screamers lyrics. Maybe the original transcriber mistook it for something else. I can't make out what he might sing instead so if you can I'd be grateful to know. Thanks)

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