(Originally posted on my Agony Shorthand blog, January 2005. The best of this stuff has just been reissued on LP in 2015 – more here)

Before I read through the liners on this collection, but after I’d dug in deep to disc #1, the 1977-79 collection “25 A-Sides”, I had STEVE TREATMENT nailed as a massive Marc Bolan fan. Rollicking, strut-heavy glam chops abound on Treatment’s early 45s, but instead of being a full-on electric warrior tribute act, his act was seared with the raw knowledge of 1977 punk rock.

Turns out that he and his punker pals were indeed huge Marc Bolan/T.Rex worshippers, and spent the better part of the glam era hanging out closely with the man himself. When punk arrived on England’s shores, Steve Treatment and his Bolan buddies Nikki Sudden & Epic Soundtracks gently convinced Marc into bringing THE DAMNED along on tour, which may have been the one gesture that kept Bolan’s credibility alive with the sneering punk crowd a few months beyond its natural shelf life. Punk also meant that Treatment and his friends were now free to throw their own musical ideas onto wax; thus were born the legend-producing SWELL MAPS, and the dustbin-of-history- relegated STEVE TREATMENT.

For a few months, these acts actually were one and the same. On Steve Treatment’s debut EP “5 A-Sides”, the entire band that we now know as the Swell Maps were the key players. This record is incredible, and hearing the four tracks beyond “Danger Zone” (which was on an early “Messthetics” compilation) is one of the early musical highlights of 2005 for me. I’ll put them all up on a par with the Swell Maps’ “Dresden Style”, “Real Shocks” and “Read About Seymour” – all are just as spastic and aggro, and like the Maps, none of them fit into the “punk” bucket as popularly defined. Treatment then played a bit part on some of their early records. Seems like the Swell Maps, in getting a decent record deal and some radio airtime for their 45s, were able to propel their subsequent legend forward a bit, but I can’t figure out why the excellent Steve Treatment EP didn’t give him the same kind of push.

Yet Steve Treatment had a fine rock career well beyond this initial blast of sound. “25 A-Sides” collects his next couple singles as well, in addition to unreleased material recorded at the very end of the 1970s. Most tracks are in the same vein as the first single – very raw, very homemade-sounding, very British experimental glam rock. Treatment had no quarrel with overlaying a truckload of effects, echoes and delay on just about everything he did, so it all sounds as if it was recorded in a huge empty warehouse on unmistakably cheap equipment.

The first CD breaks down about halfway through and starts to recycle some of the earlier tracks, but if you’re a Steve Treatment completist then you’ll be a happy guy. The second disc, “Your Friends Are In The News”, collects multiple recordings of his from the latter two decades, still well aligned with the DIY spirit and virtually as raw and unkempt. Like “new wave” never happened! Just not as exciting. But your life is short, right? And you’ve got a lot of music you need to listen to, am I correct? You therefore won’t need to spend much time with this one, but I wouldn’t miss out on this package overall if it means you’re never going to hear those first couple Steve Treatment singles.


Terrific and spot-on cover of The Pretty Things from San Diego’s OCTAGRAPE. And if ya like this, you ought to check out the B-side, a wild and expanded take on The Swell Maps’ “Vertical Slum”, which you can hear on Dynamite Hemorrhage podcast #35 or right here on the band’s page.


This 45 from a late 70s New York group called the HAND GRENADES has been fooling “punters” for years who mistook it for a British DIY record from the same era, myself included. When I found out these dudes were from “the Apple” I was incredulous. I guess I still am.

But here you go – a really great, lost-to-time stark and strange inepto-garage record from a band who have very pleasing elements of the Swell MapsWire and Steve Treatment. Enjoy!


Brand-new edition of my Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio Show Podcast, edition #7. Recorded in late February 2013, and featuring all manner of underground rock music from 1966 to 2013.

Bands you will enjoy hearing include 100 Flowers, Murphy & The Mob, Clorox Girls, Veronica Falls, Spray Paint, White Fence, Burnt Ones, Rachel Sweet, The Dum Dum Girls, Pink Floyd and a whole bunch of others – interspersed with talking from a wild, wacky radio disc jockey!

You can download it here as well.


Kiss My Machine

There’s a mind-melter of a mix on 8Tracks that I’d highly recommend you listen to. It’s a set of proto-punk and just general noise and slop from about ‘75 through maybe 1980 or so, placed there by ISITANART and entitled “Kiss My Machine”. We’re talking Simply Saucer, Chrome, Electric Eels, Swell Maps, Teddy & The Frat Girls, X_X, and even a few I’ve never heard before, like Count Vertigo and AK-47. As sub-underground as it gets in an age when everything is on the internet; these are pure pulls from what’s obviously a deep record, or at least mp3, collection.