Posts Tagged ‘Richard Hell’

Nothing beats meeting your heroes especially when they’re happy to share their secrets. In the late 1960s, then-teenaged Richard Lloyd, Television co-guitarist and new wave pioneer, managed to get backstage and into the dressing rooms and inner circles of people like Jimi Hendrix and John Lee Hooker. He asked questions, took mental notes, and absorbed lifelong lessons about the guitar. He put those lessons to good use, too, and developed an alternative, holistic approach to the instrument. That approach was enhanced by his left-brain orientation, plus his never-ending spiritual quest.

Lloyd also studied the teachings of mid-20th-century mystical teacher George Gurdjieff, and those studies—in addition to the impact they’ve had on his spiritual life—transformed his understanding of music. The result, which you can check out in a series of instructional videos and columns that appeared in Guitar World about a decade ago (now on DVD as The Alchemical Guitarist), is a complex, pattern-focused, vertical approach to the instrument based on an idiosyncratic understanding of the major scale.

Lloyd came to prominence in the mid 1970s withNew York band Television, a group he founded with Tom Verlaine, Billy Ficca, and Richard Hell in 1973. (Fred Smith replaced Hell on bass in 1975.) Television, along with the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and others, were integral to New York City’s burgeoning punk scene. That scene—which, except for a few bands like the Ramones, wasn’t really punk—was based out of CBGB, a club on the Bowery. The black-walled rectangular-box-shaped venue supported a smorgasbord of styles, like new wave, post punk, and art rock, that dominated the Top 40 in the ’80s, albeit in a more plastic, synth-drenched incarnation.

But those sounds in their pure, distilled form were Television’s home. Television was a guitar band—no wailing synths or bad hair for them—and their debut, 1977’s “Marquee Moon”, is an iconic testament to the early, pre-sellout days of new wave. Lloyd and Verlaine shared guitar duties and crafted tight, interwoven parts, and the band was a huge influence on later acts like the Pixies, Sonic Youth, R.E.M, and many others. Lloyd’s tone with Television, while often overdriven and warm, sounds sharp and somewhat stark when appreciated in context—and given his roots and early association with Hendrix, it was a clean break with the past.

Lloyd left Television for the first time in 1978, after the band released its second album, Adventure. They reunited in 1992, and Lloyd stayed in Television until 2007. Along the way, he’s worked with other artists, including Matthew Sweet and X’s John Doe, released solo albums, and established himself as a sought-after teacher and alternative-rock elder statesman. His new solo album, The Countdown, is a collection of fuzzy, mid-tempo rockers that, along with the paperback edition of his 2017 memoir, Everything Is Combustible, was released in November.

“Before, everything was sacred about music. Personally, I think it still is something sacred, because you’re dealing with vibrations, and the universe is made of vibrations.”

John Lee Hooker once gave him advice about guitar playing—specifically about learning how to play one string at a time. Lloyd walked into the dressing room and sat down. Eventually, he took notice of me and he said—he pointed his finger at me, and he said, “And you, young man, what do you do?” I said, “I play guitar.” He said, “Are you good?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “No, no, no. You’re great. I can tell. Come over here and I’ll tell you the secret of playing the electric guitar.”

Then he cupped his hands and he whispered in my ear, “Take off all the strings but one and learn the one string up and down and down and up and bend it and shake it until the women go ‘oooo.’ Then put two strings on and learn two strings up and down and down and up.” I went home, but I didn’t take the strings off. I couldn’t afford to take them off—I didn’t have a replacement set. But I did practice what I call vertical knowledge, which is up and down pitch on a single string, a great deal. Jimi Hendrix had also suggested that to us—that we learn the neck that way.


To learn the single string. In fact, some of Jimi’s solos … like on “May This Be Love,” are all on the B string. The entire solo. There’s another one that’s all on the G string: “I Don’t Live Today.” Except for the last note, it’s all on the G string. It’s a very cool way to play. My solo on “Elevation” [from Marquee Moon] does the same thing on the G string. It goes up in A minor from the second fret to the 17th fret.

A lot of the guitarists in the New York City bands that you came up with were so different: Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Ramones. The scene was that everybody played original music and no covers. That was the basis of it, and there were an amazing number of bands who did not sound the same: the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Television, Mink DeVille, the Shirts, the Dead Boys … there were tons and they all sounded different, which was fantastic. Pretty much everyone got signed, that’s right. It took three years for Television to get signed. A lot of the bands had been signed, but we kept turning record companies down. We didn’t want to have a producer come in and we didn’t want to have to make a record on a $2 budget. We waited and went with Elektra because they had Love, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the Doors.

Advertisements

Rhino Records is planning 11 titles for this year’s Record Store Day Black Friday–and two of them are fairly unexpected catalogue treats from two very different artists.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album “Blank Generation” with a super deluxe reissue. Originally released on Sire Records in 1977, as the music world burned with Punk.

Richard Hell and his band were pioneers of the New York punk scene and this album is considered a seminal LP for the punk movement as a cornerstone of the scene. The title track was important, but this album is packed full of great songs.

The Blank Generation reissue includes previously unreleased alternate studio versions, out-of-print singles, rare bootleg live tracks from Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ debut 1976 appearance at CBGB – seriously how much do you wanna hear that!

The record’s booklet features an essay by Richard Hell, excerpts from his notebooks, unpublished photos of the band from Roberta Bayley, and even an interview with Julian by Hell himself.

First up, the label has announced an upcoming expanded edition on CD and LP of Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ Blank Generation. Hell, a founding member of the band Television and one of the key figures of early punk rock in New York and beyond (his personal style of spiked hair and safety pins is said to have influenced Malcolm McLaren’s Sex shop and the look of the Sex Pistols), formed The Voidoids with guitarists Ivan Julian and Robert Quine (later of Lou Reed’s band in the early ’80s) plus drummer Marc Bell (who a year later would change his name to Marky Ramone and drum for the Ramones). Blank Generation remains a touchstone of punk’s original wave; Robert Christgau cheekily decreed it was perfect “for those very special occasions when I feel like turning into a nervous wreck.” This expanded 2CD or 2LP edition, available November 24th as an “RSD First” release at 2500 units on each format, restores the album’s original cover and running order on the first disc (remastered by the album’s original engineer, Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound) and includes a 12-track bonus disc with alternate takes, live tracks recorded at legendary New York City punk club CBGB and more.

Richard Hell & The VoidoidsBlank Generation: 40th Anniversary Edition

CD/LP 1: Original remastered album (released as Sire SR 6037, 1977)

  1. Love Comes In Spurts
  2. Liars Beware
  3. New Pleasure
  4. Betrayal Takes Two
  5. Down At The Rock and Roll Club
  6. Who Says?
  7. Blank Generation
  8. Walking On The Water
  9. The Plan
  10. Another World

CD/LP 2: Bonus album

  1. Love Comes In Spurts (Electric Lady Studios Alternate Version)
  2. Blank Generation (Electric Lady Studios Alternate Version)
  3. You Gotta Lose (Electric Lady Studios Outtake Version)
  4. Who Says? – Plaza Sound Studios Alternate Version)
  5. Love Comes In Spurts (Live @ CBGB – 11/19/1976)
  6. Blank Generation (Live @ CBGB – 11/19/1976)
  7. Liars Beware (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  8. New Pleasure (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  9. Walking On The Water (Live @ CBGB – 4/14/1977)
  10. Another World (Ork Records Version – from Ork single 81976, 1976)
  11. Oh (from Wayne Kramer Presents Beyond Cyberpunk – MusicBlitz 30005, 2001)
  12. 1977 Sire Records Radio Commercial

television-performing

On this day in 31st March 1974,  The seminal rock/punk/alternative band Television began their Sunday night residency at CBGB, a former Bowery dive bar where band members built a stage for their debut performance.

Although Hilly had run Times listings using the name CBGB as early as the summer of ’1973, journalists have traditionally followed his lead in dating the name-change to December of that year. In March he hung a new awning out front and planned a Grand Reopening. Tradition holds that while he was hanging that awning, members of Television stopped by and asked him about the place. In March 1974, Television had played its first show, at a mid-town theater, and was looking for venues downtown. The band consisted of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd on guitars, Richard Hell on bass, and Billy Ficca on drums. Some combination of these guys – the details change depending on whom you ask – convinced Hilly that they were capable of playing country, bluegrass, or blues, or at least that they could bring friends to buy beer.

CBGB’s re-opening night, Wednesday the 20th, featured ridiculously cheap drink specials, followed by three nights of the Con-Fullam Band, a bluegrass act from Maine, but the next week he advertised three nights of Elly Greenberg’s country blues over a smaller, innocuous listing for Sunday: “ROCK Concert TELEVISION March 31.” Another ad for the first show, paid for by Television’s manager, foregrounds a photo of the band and also lists the “fancy guitar pickin’s” of Erik Frandsen.

Richard Hell, who came up with the band’s earliest image, wanted them to look like street kids, like Bowery Boys. They wore oversized thrift suits with torn shirts, sometimes held together with safety pins. They cut their hair short, rejecting glitter and hippies alike. They wanted to blend in with the bums on the street. A few years later, Malcolm McLaren, who had briefly hoped to take the band to London, gave up and created his own band there instead. The Sex Pistols’ look was directly lifted from Hell’s template for Television.

Television’s first Sunday shows at CBGB may or may not have attracted enough patrons to allow Hilly to make money from the bar, but they did lead to a confluence of interests and talents that would shape the local scene. Friends from the downtown film and lit circles, Warhol scenesters from Max’s Kansas City near Union Square, drag queens from the Bouwerie Lane made up the early crowd. The group’s biggest payoff came on the third Sunday of their residency, when Hell succeeded in getting his friends Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye to drop by and see his new band. Smith and Kaye were currently trying to get a band of their own off the ground, and Patti already enjoyed some celebrity as a rock poetess and critic. She wrote some of the band’s most influential early press, helping to cement its mythology.