Friday, April 17, 2009

I Are Great (Self-Indulgence to the 'n'th degree)

I am including this not only just to show off, but to share Miss Laura's hilarious descriptions of aging punkers at the Nervebreakers' Club Dada show & her very astute observations on what makes old-school punk rock different from what followed it...

lauralately’s music blog

I’m on a Tex Edwards kick!

I’m going through a new phase. My current obsession is country/punk legend T. Tex Edwards, a fixture of the Dallas music scene for over 30 years.

This phase began courtesy of Mark, my better half, who was a regular at Dallas punk club DJ’s in the ’80s. He got to see a lot of cool stuff happen, including the rise of the legendary Nervebreakers, for whom Tex was the singer. During their heyday, the Nervebreakers played with every great punk act that came through town, including the Sex Pistols (the ’Breakers were the opening act at the legendary Longhorn Ballroom show), and the Clash. After their demise, Tex went on to play with many other bands, including Out on Parole, the Swingin’ Cornflake Killers (get it? cereal killers!) and his most recent act, which has one of the greatest band names ever: the Affordable Caskets.

Mark took me to a show by Tex and the Swingin’ Cornflake Killers at the Barley House a few weeks ago, and I had a fantastic time. At the end of the show, Tex gave me a CD copy of an album he’d recorded in the mid-’80s with Out on Parole - it’s called “Pardon Me, I’ve Got Someone To Kill”. I popped it in the next night, and loved every minute of this album of country-western cover songs about killing people. As a teenager, I was a fan of Nick Cave’s gloomy “Murder Ballads”, and “Pardon Me” is “Murder Ballads” recorded ten years prior and with tongue firmly in cheek. Tex invited us to the reunited Nervebreakers at Club Dada on the 11th; I had prior commitments, which I bailed on early to see the ‘Breakers perform.

The Nervebreakers’ music is fun, snotty punk rock, but this is punk like it was before speed metal accelerated the collective angry-music tempo and punk turned into the NOFX/crust stuff that was the soundtrack to my adolescence. The Nervebreakers’ sound is a relic of the age that spawned the Ramones, and its ties to rock and roll are more evident than any similarities to modern punk.

The show itself was everything I expected, nothing more, nothing less. This is a show by a bunch of guys in their fifties, played to an audience of the same; if these graying guys had tried to thrash around and spit on people, it would’ve looked ridiculous, and they wisely abstained from such antics. This is not the concert to attend if one wishes to see a cranked-up screamfest, and with that in mind, the Nervebreakers put on an enjoyable show. While they were doing a final pre-show soundcheck, Tex stood onstage, looking greasy and disheveled and motionlessly staring at his feet; at first I thought there was something wrong, but I soon realized it was part of an act. Tex really made the show as great as it was: his near-catatonic, glassy-eyed performance was just unsettling enough to serve as an effective vehicle for the “fuck-off” message of the music, and it was the perfect way for a gray-haired, pot-bellied guy to come across as snotty and rebellious.

The other aspect that made this show as fun as it was, was the audience itself. Have you ever seen old people slam dance? If you ever get a chance, do so. Watching white-haired dudes in the front row pogo-ing during the aptly titled “Pogo” was absolutely priceless. I ran into a friend who was there with her mother; her mom was gettin’ drunk and dancing with guys while her daughter stood there with her arms crossed, looking slightly mortified. These old folk can really show the kids how to party, although the moshing usually came in ten-second increments - too much thrash dancing and one might break a hip, no?

All age-related joking aside, I had an absolute blast. The atmosphere at the show was one of gleeful nostalgia, and I totally got swept up in it - I began wishing I’d been born 25 years earlier so I could’ve seen this music at its zenith. The Nervebreakers will probably play more shows, and I’ve heard album rumors - they’re releasing some stuff they wrote back in the seventies but never recorded until now, which should be interesting.

To conclude this post, here is a gift for you: Tex Edwards & the Swingin’ Cornflake Killers, recorded in the early ’90s performing the Wynn Stewart classic “I’m A-Gonna Kill You”. This video embodies everything I love about Tex - he’s totally nuts, in the most rock ‘n’ roll kind of way.


I also re-posted this with The Nervebreakers Yahoo Group at:

Some of our members there had some interesting comments I hope they don’t mind me sharing…

I liked her objective observation about this punk vs. what people are now used to thinking of as punk. Much the same way as I viewed early Parliament/Funkadelic as being an exciting new road for black music, only then to see that only one element of it, the pounding bass, was singled out and expanded upon to become a monotonous fixture and focus for the next 20 years, discarding the facets that made the music interesting and creative, similarly, I view the homogenization of early punk into fast monotonous assembly-line drivel in the ’80s (after the creative first wave was long over) and that now being what some consider the standard as a sad fact of consumer taste.

I went back and reread it and you are right, she does well both in placing the idea of punk music in placing the music of the nervebreakers into context. maybe J Liles should worry that she will take his job. (Just a joke in reference to her next blog entry after the Tex one.)

I get kind of weary of the punk subject, because almost everyone referencing punk is talking about the copycats that came after the real wave of punk was past, and I guess it’s just a personal preference, but I just didn’t like hardly any of that.

On another subject, Saturday’s Nervebreaker performance reminded me how very good they are at the little punches and breaks. I mean, it’s not the easiest thing to take an already powerful punchy collection of songs and still manage to bring something special to each one to make it really pop during the song, and the audience loves it when that happens. That’s something that is just nonexistent in the frenetic speedpunk that has come to reappropriate the genre.

1 comment:

Laura Lately said...

oh, I'm so glad you liked my post! ps: Mark (MC 900 Ft Jesus) saw the "Kill You" video on my blog, and showed me a video of Screamin' Jay Hawkins performing with a skull baton like yours.