Dynamic Dynamite: Explosive Vocalists Who Changed Music Part III.
By Stevil, March 6th, 2017
|John Stabb, G.I. One of the many greats lost in 2016. Photo by Jim Saah.|
John Schroeder. Government Issue was one of the greatest bands out of the DC scene (I should say the scene) and their range reflected the kind of musicianship they possessed: stellar. Not just another hardcore act incapable of anything else, oh noooo! John Stabb raised the bar, and while G.I. will go down as one of the greatest Hardcore acts in my book, they went well beyond Hardcore. Ironically, one of their albums is called Beyond. Do yourself a favor and pick up their complete discography (available as a 2 cd set) or any of their individual albums or EP's. You'll be glad you did. You're welcome.
Mike Palm. If Dick Dale and Brian Wilson could have made a baby boy--and believe me, there's little doubt they tried--it would have been Mike Palm. Mike has written and performed cuts that should go down in history among the best, and the fact that he's done things his way from day one makes it all the more impressive. Serving up melodic surf-punk with plenty of harmonies and a fair-share of toughness, he's one of the most talented class-acts out there. Agent Orange should be a household name, and by God, I swear it will be after this is posted.
John Kastner. This bilingual, dreadlocked Canadian from Quebec has fronted several of my favorite acts, such as Asexuals, Doughboys, and All Systems Go!. His solo work is incredible as well. One of a few I've now doubled up on in my posts, John is mentioned yet again because he is, well, deserving. Yeah, imagine that. Many, many punk rock bands featured members who really shouldn't be called musicians. That's not the case with John, and he's made respectable, admirable music that just flat-out rocks. With lyrics and a voice that cuts through even the worst stereos, any of his albums are highly recommended when dueling with obnoxious family members or neighbors,. They're also good for pure entertainment purposes as well. For the record, I have roughly 1,000 favorite acts, but don't let that take anything away from John!
Jake Burns. Jake has fronted Still Little Fingers longer than most people reading this have been alive, and SLF were arguably the first to drive home a politically-fueled message in the North of Ireland at a time when tensions were incredibly high, making them one of the most essential punk rock bands of the late 70's and early 80's. Other forms of conflicts arose in the 90's for SLF in way of irritated showmates, which led to some of the most humorous acts of revenge I've ever heard of, with them being on the receiving end. But Jake and company have kept the flame alive and really stepped it up a notch, in my opinion, when Bruce Foxton joined their camp. They're back with the original lineup now (as far as I know) and still a treat to catch live.
Debbie Harry. Blondie is probably one of the more famous names on this list, but make no mistake, she offered plenty to earn her place here, having displayed the charisma and class that many others lacked. Some may argue that she did far too little to tackle common female rants of the time, but that was part of the attraction. She didn't play the victim card, she reigned. Of course, nobody wanted women to further endure suffrage, and there's certainly nothing humorous about things like menstruation. Period. But Debbie assured that chivalry survived at a time when that was jeopardized through various disco acts and the rapidly deteriorating R&B, and that alone was a small victory. Her music helped convey a tune of enjoyable, positive feelings and simple fun, and while my jokes may be lacking substance and originality, the music of Blondie, didn't. She was the real-deal, complete with the puns of Dirty Harry.
|Charlie on stage May 8th, 1945, in VE-Day celebrations.|
David Casper. I'd be lying if I said I knew that Charlie Harper wasn't David's birth name before I started writing this post. Perhaps the confusion is a result of his work with Twenty Committee in World War II, where MI5 apparently gave him this alias at an early stage in his career following his work as Tricycle. But that's irrelevant now and getting too far off from the topic at hand. Charlie may be older than dirt (and even less lovely in appearance), but he was there at the beginning of Punk Rock, and if there's ever an end, I'm sure he'll be present for that as well. In between, decade after decade, he's given us greatness. The Subs have released over 150 records now (I think) and every one of them is a must-have. Seriously, the U.K. Subs might be the single most underrated punk rock band in existence, and Charlie might be the coolest cat you ever meet--if you have the privilege of meeting him--if he isn't working on behalf of the Double Cross team.
Seriously, I'm going to wrap this up.
Blaine Cook. The Accüsed performances were one of the toughest acts around, playing a style that didn't fit with metal, nor what most punk bands were doing at the time, including crossover, which led them to label it Splatter Rock. But it killed nonetheless, or rather, *splatted*, and Blaine's vocals delivered an all-out assault on ear drums, while managing to creep you out and fuel you simultaneously. And then there were The Fartz, who were a little more raw, but just as great. Currently you can find him with Toe Tag (the missing article was intentional and necessary), or at Zippy's, where he's a cook (the article here was intentional and necessary). Cook the cook....yeah, I couldn't leave it alone. Worth noting, his place has become one of the most popular burger joints in Seattle.
Leonard Phillips. Does everyone remember The Banana Splits? No? Well, I loved that show as a kid, and Leonard and The Dickies pretty much got their start with a cover of that theme song. While they came up just short of a Grammy nomination for that little ditty, it would prove to be just the beginning of an incredibly long, humorous career for Leonard (and Stan). Leonard is arguably the sperm donor for Comedy-Punk, and if you're fortunate enough to catch The Dickies live, you'll know you're dealin' with the master...never mind. Music is the wagon en route here, and Leonard hits all the lights, as well as pedestrians.
James Pursey. Who could forget the classic Angels With Dirty Faces? Yeah, neither could I, and what Jimmy has shared with us through Sham 69 has been a whole lotta fun--and inspiring. The only problem was that quite a few white power boneheads were inspired as well (though few could probably read the lyrics) and shows would often erupt in violence. Unfortunately, that led to the end of Sham-shows for a while. Word quickly went around that Jimmy was trying to team up with Paul Weller to form a new band in the early 80's. Here we are 30+ years later, and I'm still wondering what that might have sounded like. But I'm perfectly content with the work that he has released, and he's back at it with Sham playing live once again.
Anthony Kiedis. Much of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' discography sounds far more funk than punk and this has been an age old argument: which are they? The reality is they're both--and then some. One of the best known acts in Rock 'N Roll, they're true pioneers in every sense of the word. Anthony is one of the more humbled names in Punk Rock that you'll find in the spotlight, but don't believe for a minute that he's slowing down. He has all the tools you want from a frontman, and while he may be collecting Social Security in the near future, you can bet he'll still be serving us at full-speed with all the recklessness that we've come to know and love.
You're not just getting a list of punk rock firsts from this series, you're getting a history lesson as well. You can take everything I've said to the bank, so be sure to share what you're learning here with all your friends, family, colleagues, and plaster facebook and twitter with your newfound knowledge.