early practitioners

When my Dolly Mixture double LP arrived in the mail, my first instinct was to play the godamn thing, much to the displeasure of my co-coordinators, who were polite, but it was soon apparent that this was music to be endured with a grimace rather than an indifferent shrug... This is the reissue of the much sought after Demonstration Tapes, an almost perfect vinyl reproduction of the bands only long player, originally released in 1983. I have had Dolly Mixture songs on mix tapes over the years, but when this was reissued in the ’90s on CD, it was super hard to find, plus I did not own a CD player, so this is the first time I have had all these songs in one place by this genre defining all girl indie pop group. Did they in fact invent twee? Dolly Mixture started in 1978, who knows if they were the first to twee, not me, that’s for sure... They were definitely early practitioners, and the first platter of the aforementioned double LP features the dreamiest early stuff, including a somewhat barbed ode to Jane, of Modettes fame, and her prowess with gentlemen, entitled, “How Come You’re Such a Hit With the Boys, Jane?” Along with my favorite, an ode to being the other woman, “Side Street Walker.” Their sense of melody is so incredible, and perfect, and the fact that teenage girls constructed these songs is so inspiring and cool... It’s funny, whatever I have read about the band refers to the fact that they didn’t make it, as if they were the British Go Gos that shoulda coulda woulda, but I think they are from a completely different planet from that band. This sound would not work in an arena! And as if “making it” has that much to do with history’s judgment of how good a band is…
The ’90s CD reissue of this record goes for over a hundred bucks. (’90s CD! $100!!!??!). Which is basically why I am writing this. The aforementioned reissue I was making Mariam miserable by listening to is already sold out. Dolly Mixture may not have been the English Go Gos, but more than 300 people wanted this record obviously. I think it sold out in two days! It’s a certified classic, made by three teenage girls because of, and in spite of the DIY explosion caused by punk. I am not the hugest indie pop nut; I prefer stuff to have at least some infusion of punk, some sorta early Television Personalities or Desperate Bicycles intonation... My teenage band used to play with Comet Gain a lot in the early ’90s, but I did not start liking them until they moved on from the cleanliness of the Style Council twee soul sound and incorporated more of the aforementioned punk sneer, starting with the majestic Tigertown Pictures LP. In fact their last three LPs and the Beautiful Despair 12” are close to punk-soul-perfection... I just write this random disclaimer to indicate that I am not usually swayed by the twee. I am in fact writing this whilst wearing Bruce Roehrs’ Raw Power t-shirt that he bought at a Rock Against Reagan show in ’84. There are no hair clips in my bangs, I am not sporting an anorak, nor do I own any records on the Sarah record label. I like pop music, but I like it when it’s made by a band that fucks with the constraints of twee, more Shop Assistants than Tallulah Gosh. I think that’s pretty much the rule to most music I like. I am not interested in perfection, I like mistakes, music that sounds like it couldn’t be any other way, like it had to be made. Rather than perfect constructions of musical genres. The last song by Void on the Faith/Void split is my favorite song of all time. This of course is a perfect construction. EXPLODE!!!!
Speaking of Roehrs, we are running an Agnostic Front interview this issue that was his last before he died. Before he did it, he asked our permission, in light of MRR and that band’s antagonistic history. Bruce and Tim Yo were close, and he knew that Tim would have had something to say about this interview being in the magazine. Initially we were going to send someone alongside Bruce to make sure that the questions weren’t too deferential or unchallenging, since he was not only good friends with the band members, but they were his favorite hardcore band... (Going by the band’s first two records it’s easy to see how he reached this conclusion). I think the interview demonstrates that the fears we may have had were not realized. It may not provide a voice for Tim’s ambivalent feelings towards the band, but Bruce did not shy away from controversy, or ask only easy questions. Bruce was a complex, charming and often difficult man, and the fact that he is gone is still hard to comprehend, in terms of his history with the magazine, but also in terms of my friendship with the man. I think about him often, and his absence is a void, his voice still rings in my head, his particular and peculiar turns of phrases appear out of the blue, along with the memory of the way he bear hugged everyone.
We are currently raising money to make sure he gets a permanent memorial worthy of a man of his stature and character. One of the places that he took out of town guests, (and in town guests, present company included!) was the San Francisco Columbarium. A copper domed grand Victorian building that was built to house the ashes of some of this city’s founding families, especially popular after cemeteries were banned from SF city limits. It is now a non denominational resting place; apparently San Francisco’s “Pope of Punk” Dirk Dirksen is there... Our goal is to raise $12,000 to secure Bruce a spot. We have gotten about half way there, and have a memorial nook secured. We need help to make the rest of the money, and anything you can spare would be a huge help. I know that there are some memorial benefit shows planned, and if you would be into doing something like that I know Bruce would have appreciated it. He was most at home at the front of a show, fists in the air… If you want to make a donation via paypal this is the email: brucememorial@maximumrocknroll.com, or you can send checks payable to Maximum Rocknroll—please make sure you put Bruce Memorial in the memo line of the check or MO.
layla at maximumrocknroll.com
whatwewantisfree.blogspot.com

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