Rehearsals & early live recordings, '74/'75 ((R) =rehearsal recording)
Eat The Light (R)
Venus De Milo (R)
I'm Gonna Find You (R)
Horizontal Ascensions (R)
Close Up (R)
You Rip My Feelings Out
Hard On Love
What I Heard
Change Your Channels
Fuck Rock & Roll
Come On In
Punk Vault Records No. PVCD 1006, 1998
"Can you get an F-sharp?!"
Recordings of rehearsals and early gigs from 1974. Television emerging from whatever it was that shaped the way they made music and launching themselves into the unknown. When I was in a band I wouldn't have wanted any rehearsals to be heard outside the room and it's a very voyeuristic act to hear these recordings. A guilty pleasure. We weren't meant to hear it, so it would be unfair to comment negatively on the quality but it is obvious that Richard Hell had much further to go as a musician than the others. What a dreadful, unsympathetic bass player he sounds. But I guess that wasn't the point. When you look at the photos, you would think this was Hell's band; when you hear the music, you know it's not.
On the other hand, there are two things in the rehearsal recordings - "I'm Gonna Find You" and "Horizontal Ascensions" - that are well worth hearing. It's the sound of people inventing a style, a new musical vocabulary. Frantic scrubbing guitar scrapes and flurries, reaching for ways to say (emote) things that, maybe, haven't been said before, or hadn't been said in a way that was powerful enough. Or plain enough. The beginnings, the development, of Tom Verlaine's desire to twist the noise of the electric guitar into new shapes:
"We don't have to do that, we can do... this!"
Here's the look and the sound that would influence more people than will probably ever admit it. The exciting noise that runs through these recordings would soon turn up, for example, in the U.K. (I have to wonder, for example, if the Gang of Four ever heard this recording of "I'm Gonna Find You" I'd bet that the fledgling Talking Heads were standing close by around this time. Taking (musical) notes.
If not for the applause, it's not obvious which are the rehearsals and which the CBGB live shows. You get the sound of a band doing things on their own terms and either you like it or you don't.
Some of these songs would make it onto studio albums over time, and some of them ("Horizontal Ascensions", "Hard on Love", "Judy", "Poor Circulation"), sadly, never would. "What I Heard" would eventually slow down, turn a corner and end up as "Postcard from Waterloo" on Verlaine's "Words from the Front" album.
"Fuck Rock and Roll" is hilarious and, probably, should have been the title of this collection. In fact, it should definitely have been the title of this collection. The rhythm section seem to be playing a different song from the guitarists and the frantic Verlaine guitar runs appear to have no relevance whatsoever to the rest of what's going on. There's a kind of stunned moment of silence at the end, before scattered applause trickles in. Fittingly, they follow this immediately with "U.F.O", which is a kind of 70s adolescent's idea of exactly what "Rock" should sound like. I think this is a joke. And if it isn't, it should be.
It all ends perfectly with Hell's "Blank Generation" and then a languid, rather lovely, run-through of "Come On In".
No home should be without it.