I visited the Prelinger Library in San Francisco today. It’s a vast archival collection of printed ephemera comprising subcultures, political movements, maps, landscapes, histories and so much more. I’ve lived in San Francisco 26 years and didn’t know this was here for the past 11+. Thank you Public Collectors for letting me know about this treasure trove that’s mere walking distance from my place of employment.
Naturally I spent my time with my nose buried in the late 70s/early 80s punk flyers & fanzines. I scanned a bunch that you’ll see in coming days here, including this one – Noh Mercy/Pink Section/Peccadillos at The Mab, San Francisco, likely 1979.
I made this compilation for my main blog The Hedonist Jive back in May of this year, and figured you folks might want to take a crack at hearing and downloading it.
It’s called “Hedonist Jive Post-Punk Blowout” (clever, hunh?) and spans the proverbial gamut from aggressive, limber noise; female-vocal art-thump; left-of-center punk rock; and early British DIY (including that blog’s namesake song from The Midnight Circus). Some of these songs have been favorites of mine since I was a wee pup; other were only discovered in the past decade of so. All date from 1978 to about 1983 and fit the already loose “postpunk” category very loosely.
There are two ways to enjoy this playlist – download here and “own” the mp3s I’ve carefully handpicked for ya, or go over to the playlist I made on 8Tracks, and listen to it streaming on your iPhone, Android devices or your computer. Same songs both ways.
Download The Hedonist Jive Post-Punk Blowout.
HEDONIST JIVE POST-PUNK BLOWOUT
1. SPK – Contact
2. DESPERATE BICYCLES – Smokescreen
3. VIRGIN PRUNES – Twenty Tens (I’ve Been Smoking All Night)
4. BUSH TETRAS – Too Many Creeps
5. 2x4s – Zipperheads
6. THE POP GROUP – 3:38
7. THE MISFITS – Cough/Cool
8. AU PAIRS – Set Up
9. WIRE – Outdoor Miner
10. THE FLOWERS – After Dark
11. ½ JAPANESE – Girl Athletes
12. SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – Trophy
13. NOH MERCY – Caucasian Guilt
14. FLIPPER – Ha Ha Ha
15. SUBURBAN WIVES CLUB – Guru Eye
16. THE HOMOSEXUALS – Technique Street
17. THE BIRTHDAY PARTY – Jennifer’s Veil
18. MIDNIGHT CIRCUS – The Hedonist Jive
19. THE GORDONS – Future Shock
20. PYLON – Cool
21. THE FALL – Eat Y’Self Fitter
22. SARA GOES POP – Arab o Habab of Arabia
23. REMA REMA – Rema Rema
24. TEDDY & THE FRAT GIRLS – I Owe It To The Girls
25. TUXEDOMOON – No Tears
Here’s a photo of NOH MERCY playing live in 1979.
Back in the early 80s I’d hear the storming, shrieking “Caucasian Guilt” by San Francisco minimalist art-punk duo NOH MERCY on KFJC, and it would scare the hell out of me. “I didn’t put no JAP in a CAMP!!!”. An enigmatic song and band to say the least, I’d only been able to gather bits & pieces about them over the years. They were a 2-female duo, and two of their tracks were put on one of the Earcom 7"EP comps put out by Fast Records in the UK. I believe there’s a lone photo of them in the “Hardcore California” book which I read and read again at least 1,000 times in the 1980s. Found a photo or two on internet message boards nearly 10 years ago when I was writing something about Noh Mercy for my original music blog Agony Shorthand. That’s about it.
Now there’s this. A complete-works CD, all from 1979 – ten studio songs, plus four August 1979 live tracks from the Catalyst in Santa Cruz (which is still there, hosting shows to this day). I bought a copy, and immersed myself in it this past week. While not an “easy listen”, its sharp-edged experimentation marks it as something weird and wholly original & of its time.
The San Francisco of 1979 wasn’t just slamtastic punk rock bands – there was a dark, often synth-laden underground both on the Ralph Records side of the fence (Residents, Tuxedomoon) and more punk-friendly acts like Chrome, Factrix and many others. I fit Noh Mercy in with the latter, along with gay/political cabaret a la The Cockettes, spoken word attack-acts, revolutionary pre-Reagan-era doomsday rhetoric, and a general theater of the absurd.
With only two women playing, one of whom (Esmerelda) who just loses herself in her vocals, it’s bound to be pretty minimal. Most are just drums and vocals; some guitar scrape and vocals; a couple are analog synth & vocals. All are biting, angry and a bit obtuse. The liner notes confirm art-drenched damaged souls at the helm; women who came to San Francisco as an escape from a previous life and found it to be a place where they could be whatever they wanted to be, and even find an audience for it. Great stuff. I’m posting “Pay The Devil” from the CD here.