Ciccone

In 1988 Sonic Youth put out The Whitey Album, not very well disguised as Ciccone Youth and in tribute to Madonna Louise Ciccone. Most of the attention was on the record’s cover versions. These had been put out as a single on New Alliance in 1986 and were expanded out for the album. Coming at a time when Sonic Youth were being praised to the heavens for Daydream Nation this was possibly an effective way of defusing some of the hype- some noise, contributions from Mike Watt, jokey covers plus a hip reference to krautrock with the song Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening To Neu! The cover of the album was a photocopied close up of Madonna’s face. Madonna apparently gave her blessing to it, remembering the band from her clubbing and Danceteria days. Ciccone Youth did their Madonna thing on Into The Groove(y) and Burnin’ Up. Someone on Youtube has done the decent thing and set the music to clips of Desperately Seeking Susan (the only Madonna film that is actually watchable).

Better still though was their version of Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love. The video and vocal were recorded in a karaoke booth for $25- D.I.Y. punk rock in attitude, style and cost. It was also a very effective way of sending up Palmer’s video with Kim Gordon singing the song deadpan and dancing with images from the Vietnam War flashing over the top.

This is the standard setter and last word in ironic cover versions. And still sounds great.

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Our Band Could Be Your Life

I’d forgotten until recently how much I love The Minutemen-  three unlikely looking punkers from San Pedro, California who made several classic mid-80s indie-punk albums for SST. Although Minutemen are more of a band inspired by punk than sounding like punk. They were fired up by punk’s DIY attitude and sense of freedom and personal political responsibility but weren’t Sex Pistols copyists or three chord trickists. Instead they played very short, quite fast, agit-folk-punk with a bit of funk on the side. On their 1984 double lp Double Nickels On the Dime they released 43 songs, none much over two minutes long. This one tells their story and is just about perfect.

History Lesson Part II

From an earlier lp (Buzz Or Howl Under The Influence Of Heat) comes this intricate beauty, loads of ascending and descending, criss-crossing guitar and basslines, working up to the one line chorus- ‘little man with a gun in his hand’. If you don’t like this, I’m not sure there is any hope for you.

Little Man With A Gun In His Hand

And from the magnificent documentary We Jam Econo, History Lesson Part II live, acoustic and stripped down, with some chat from Mike Watt in the van first. D Boon, singer and guitarist, died in a car accident in 1985. I don’t think Mike Watt has ever gotten over it.