Nick Gilbert and Lawrence [never a last name] were chums from age 11. When Iggy Pop played the Hippodrome with David Bowie on keyboards (in March of '77) Nick and Lawrence fell in love with the opening band, the Vibrators. They started hanging out with Gary Jones [Cult Figures], Roger Taylor and Jeff Thomas [Duran Duran], and became confirmed fans of the Prefects. Lawrence bought a guitar and recorded his own single onto a cassette, which he released in September '79 under the name of "Felt" (past tense of "feel") [Shanghai #1]. Next, Lawrence and Nick decided to make a record together, and with two drums and three chords, the Versatile Newts debuted in early 1980 with 'Newtrition' b/w 'Blimp'. Presently Maurice Deebank joined on [more competent] guitar, and they began playing together as Felt. In the meantime, however, Nick had mailed the 'Newts single to his heroes the Fall - who adored it, and invited the Versatile Newts to open for them in Manchester. Nick nervously advised Mark E. Smith of the name change (fortunately Felt and the Fall had a certain euphony) and the first-ever Felt gig was pronounced a success. (Sadly, Felt never performed the Newts songs live.)
It's 1977. London, Canada is a town of 200,000 located in the farm belt of Southwestern Ontario; 120 miles west of Toronto. 120 miles east of Detroit. Meanwhile, New York City's CBGB's scene and London England's punk explosion set off musical and cultural shock waves so powerful that they are felt even in a remote secondary market.The punk rock aesthetic makes it possible for bands to form and audiences to gather seemingly overnight. THE DEMICS are the first of many bands to form in London, and they have a crazed audience right from the strat. In the fall of 1977 Eddie & The Hot Rods play for three nights at London's premiere rock club. At the same time, the downtown London loft scene, inhabited by artist, printers, eccentrics and drain-pipe jeans began to crop up amid the prevailing flairs and long hair. The members of the Demics first meet in this milieu.The band begins rehearsing with Keith Whittaker on vocals, Rob Brent on guitar, Iain Atkinson on bass and Nick Perry on drums. Keith was from Manchester, England and Iain was from Cambridge, while Rob and Nick were natives of London, Ontario. Keith already had the name for the band, a Manchester slang insult meaning "loser" "dork" or "wanker". THE DEMICS speedily assembled a repertoire of covers and originals. A short six weeks later they have their first public appearence at a "private" loft party for 250 people at their rehearsal space on December 23, 1977. In the true street-level punk fashion, the band was launched outside of the established meusic-biz structures of the time, including licensed clubs, agents and managers.The band rehearsed for a month with Marcy Saddy(later of Toronto's B-Girls) on drums, until drummer Jim Weatherstone joined, completing the line-up. Jimhad played professionally in country and western bands as a teenager and was theonly experienced musician in he band. After a second public performance at a loft party in January 1978, The Demics played their first gig in February 1978 at the legendary Blue Boot/Cedar Lounge. Over the next two years The Demics played at least one weekend a month to packed audiences of downtown artsy-types, punk rockers, factory workers and students. A few audience members formed their ownbands and were soon playing opening sets(NFG, Regulators etc). Toronto bands and fans also found their way to the Cedar Lounge as a punk-rock circuit of seedy downtown bars began to form in London, Hamilton and Toronto. As the local newspaper put it in the headline of a story on The Demics in May 1978, "New wave band floods hotel's coffers, sells tide of beer".The Demics met The Viletones a few times socially in Toronto, and 'Tones guitarist Freddie Pompeii got The Demics their first Toronto gig, opening for The Viletones at the Horseshoe Tavern. The summer of 1978 also inclued opening spots for The Dead Boys and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers at the Horseshoe. In late 1978 The Demics recorded a five-song EP entitled "Talk's cheap" for newly-formed indie label Ready Records. The vinyl EP(released in early 1979) went throught a number of pressings and is now a collecor'sitem. One song from the EP, "New York City" a slower-tempo but still punk-rocking song, immediatly received airplay on alternative and college FM radio(including pioneer-ing "New music" station CFNY in Toronto) and became the band's signature song. By early 1979 all of the band members had moved to Toronto. Thought constant live playing the band added new original songs and covers ranging from rockabilly to 60's garage psychedelia to punk building a repertoire of short, fast, loud, punked-out pop songs about boredom, anger and frustration, all laced with Keith's sarcastic wit. High energy music by and for the pissed off. The original band played their fatrewell performances in London and Torontoin December of 1979. The band re-formed with new guitarist Steve Koch in early 1980, and went on to record an over-produced and poorly received self-titled album. This version of the band packed it in 1981. The "Talk's cheap" EP continued to sell trought the mid-1980's, and "New York City" continued to receive airplay. Chris Spedding recorded the song on his 1992 CD "Cafe days" with backing vocals by Keith. In March of 1996 Chart Magazine, the voice of college and alternative radio in Canada, voted "New York City" the best Canadian single of all time, placing ahead of the heavyweights like Neil Young and the Guess Who.
Unreleased studio LP, recorded in 1980. Great melodic punk rock, the rock influence is somewhat stronger than on the 7"s, this might be caused by the better production, though. A definite buy for KBD fans.
Afrika Korps - 1977 - Music Kill By (Reissue 2002) ** download .
This merger of The Slickee Boys, The Gizmos, The Look, The Teenage Boys, O. Rex, and The Kaiser's Kittens has thrown up (how punky!) the best album of the year. Twenty-two (yes! 22!) songs about all the things that bother you--your complexion . . . your boys . . . your mental health . . . and your girls. Every gem is short and sweet . . . each one a nursery rhyme that's been sneaking looks at teen magazines . . . pure, unsullied, untouched by recording contract rock and roll. Every verse is a reprise, every song a chrous with a harmonious soundmix nothing like the usual Heavy Metal row most 'punks' employ. Despite their threats about slapping your pretty face and ripping your pretty lace, they're sweet kids. Real innocence always tries to be tough." --Julie Burchill, New Musical Express, 3 December 1977. Back in 1973, teenage fanzine writer Ken Highland first traveled from his small-town home in upstate New York to Brooklyn, New York, to jam with pen-pal Solomon Gruberger and his younger brother Jay in their living-room rock band O. Rex. Three years later, in early '76, Ken recorded the first infamous Gizmos EP in Bloomington, Indiana--and then joined the United States Marine Corps! Finding himself stationed in Maryland, near Washington, D.C., he quickly found his way into the burgeoning D.C. punk scene. He became friends with the Slickee Boys, and began writing songs on guard duty. Some of these became later Gizmos tunes, but the main project was a new band with the O. Rex brothers called The Afrika Korps. With help from Slickee Boys Kim Kane and Martha Hull, and the addition of multi-talented drummer Ken Kaiser, they recorded the music on this LP in the first few months of 1977. The recordings became free-for-all punk-rock "super sessions"--with various other Slickee Boys members, D.C. scenesters, rock writers, etc. joining in on the fun. The resulting LP still stands as one of the most spontaneous and least trendy things to come out of the early Amerikan punk scene.