'Ian North was born in Brooklyn in 1952. He received his first guitar at age 12, but being virtually tone deaf, could not play any songs other than those he composed. In 1973, North formed a power pop and glam outfit called Milk 'N' Cookies along Justin Strauss on voice, Jay Weis (replaced by Sal Maida, later in Roxy Music and Sparks) on bass and Mike Ruiz on drums (later in Paul Collins' Beat). While the album's release was initially delay and largely ignored upon release, it has subsequently become a cult classic.
'After the split of Milk 'N' Cookies, North dedicated to the then-new punk movement in Britain, forming Radio with Sparks bassist Martin Gordon and the Simon brothers, Paul and Robert. That group transformed to NEO after Gordon's departure (he joined Radio Stars) and changed line-ups, with North being the only remaining member until 1979, when his visa ended and returned to his native USA. The same year, 12 Neo tracks were released in Britain by Aura Records as North solo album (called Neo).
'Back in New York, North took to newly affordable synth technology and recording equipment, first on his debut full-length album as a solo artist, My Girlfriend's Dead, and then on his Rape Of The Orchids EP. From 1983 to 1993, North worked sporadically on the album Torch Songs & Arson. While the label originally slated to release the album folded in the decade over which it was created, it has since been made available for free download.' -- collaged
Milk 'n' Cookies
'When Milk n Cookies recorded our album in 1974 there wasn't a name for the music. Our producer Muff Winwood was puzzled - he said to me "Ian this isn't rock and it's not pop, so what is it?" Since the label punk didn't exist at that time, I didn't know what to say. Unfortunately record companies need labels in order to know how to market a band. It wasn't until the Sex Pistols that the label "punk" came along and Island went "oh yeah we used to have a band like that" and so finally released it in '76.' -- Ian North
'Tinkertoy Tomorrow/Chance To Play/Good Friends' (1975)
'Just a Kid' live (1976)
'Same story as Milk 'n' Cookies - one NEO single then the album was shelved. Well not exactly; I got myself thrown off the label for behaving even worse than I had at Island. The label, Jet, actually wanted me to do a second NEO album and I refused! Dumbest thing I've ever done. The option period had expired without Jet exercising their rights. This was not intentional but it meant that both parties would have to resign the contract and I kept saying no. Finally by the time I realized that no one else would sign me as encumbered by the Jet contract being up in the air, they had changed their mind. Dave Arden said to my solicitor "Ian doesn't want to be on Jet - well then he's not."' -- Ian North
NEO 'Tran-sister' (1978)
Ian North/NEO 'If You Gotta Go/She Kills Me/Tran-sister' (1979)
Ian North solo
'While NEO were on tour with Magazine our manager Raf Edmunson played us Kraftwerk - and I was hooked. I went back to New York and bought a drum machine and a monophonic synth and recorded the album My Girlfriend's Dead. It was minimal pop." Then I came back to London to try to sell it. Depeche Mode hadn't even come out yet and the record labels said "you can't make records with drum machines". Once again being one of the first to do a new sound can be dangerous to your career. It only just recently came out in the UK on Repressed.' -- Ian North
Ian North 'Remember My Name/My Girlfriend's Dead/Romance' (1981)
Ian North 'Sex Lust You' (1982)
'Earle Mankey met future Sparks maestros Ron and Russell Mael in 1967, after either of them responded to an ad. Earle Mankey had advertised for a recording studio and when Ron Mael and Russell Mael came over there he also convinced them to hire him as a guitar player for their new band Halfnelson at $2.50 an hour. Ron Mael, Russell Mael and Earle Mankey were a perfect combination. Ron Mael, who was also quite active as a composer in these days supplied the perfect melodies and lyrics for Earle Mankey to put into weird arrangements and several over-dubs, speed-up guitars and more refreshing recording gimmicks. After one album with Halfnelson and two with Sparks, Mankey quit the band.
'Earle Mankey launched his solo career with a nifty 1978 single "Mau Mau" b/w "Crazy". This 7" was issued on short-lived "J-J" label owned by John Hewlett and Joseph Fleury (Sparks' managers in the 70's). In 1981 Mankey performed, produced and engineered some of his sneakily brilliant music on a six-songs self-titled mini-Lp then three years later he issued another six-song : Real World. These two vinyl Ep’s : Earle Mankey (1981) and Real World (1984), which have not been available in a very long time, were made available on CD in 2003.
'Nowadays Earle Mankey is best known for producing and/or engineering recordings for other artists, including Beach Boys, Sparks, The Runaways, 20/20, Concrete Blonde, Leaving Trains, The Three O'Clock, The Dickies, The Nymphs, and countless others. Earle Mankey currently runs his own studio in Thousand Oaks, California and is known as "the pop guru" by generations of indy power-pop band fans.' -- http://graphikdesigns.free.fr
'Earle Mankey played on the Halfnelson A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing demo and was the guitar player on the first two Sparks' Bearsville albums and he penned songs "Biologie 2" and "Underground". During live gigs Earle Mankey would wear glitter suits, and attempted to be everyone's favourite English poof guitar player. Funny thing was, Earle Mankey's suits were always a size too small. His blond hair would hang in an exaggerated Rod Stewart shag. Earle Mankey knew every move in the book : the Marc Bolan pout, the Pete Townshend leap, the calculated pretty swish, and the aggressive Jeff Beck posturing but with a Gibson SG standard instead of a Fender Stratocaster.' -- Sparks: The Early Years
'Wonder Girl' and 'Do Re Mi' live in 1974
'When The Quick came to making the album Mondo Deco we were in need of an engineer. I had two ideas: James Lowe and Earle Mankey. Not only did Earle say yes, he also worked at the Beach Boys’ studio Brother, where we spent a month recording. In 1977, when Mondo Deco was finished and a bit of time had passed, Earle contacted various band members as he had wanted to demo a song. We headed to Earle's home studio in Santa Monica where he showed us the epic “Bigger Than Life.” Earle, his brother Jim, and myself cut the track, Danny Wilde sang lead with Ian and Billy on harmonies and that was that.' -- Danny Benair, The Quick
'Bigger Than Life' (1977)
Earle Mankey solo
'Whether or not you enjoy this man's skewed world view or not, you have to give him credit for trying so hard to completely befuddle the listener, in a manner that doesn't cheap-out on the necessity for good ideas and musicianship. Fevered brains hatching obscure musical plots aside, Mankey's songs ran through a gamut of emotions the likes few CDs, good or bad, manage to do... His songs are scrappy, youthfully energetic, and devoid of self awareness...Sure, the 80's were a weird time, but I don't remember them being this far out!' -- The Big Takeover
'Mau Mau' (1981)
'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' (1982)
'Black and Blue' (1982)
'Alejandro Escovedo began his music career as a guitarist and songwriter with The Nuns, a seminal but ill-starred mid-'70s punk band based in San Francisco. The Nuns are best known outside the West Coast punk scene as the band who opened for Sex Pistols’ last show at Winterland in January 1978. The band's popularity led to offers by Bill Graham to manage the band. However, this relationship soon turned to animosity touched off by Graham's offense at the Nuns song "Decadent Jew". The band also received overtures from CBS Records, but, by the time of the band's breakup, they had only managed to produce a few poorly-recorded demo tapes for the label and failed to secure a record deal.
'After his breakup with The Nuns, Escovedo formed the eclectic and pioneering roots rock band Rank and File with brothers Chip and Tony Kinman of LA punk band the Dils. The Kinmans' singing was distinctive; they weren't traditional harmony singers à la the Everly Brothers, but rather sang synchronized upper and lower octaves. The songwriting was wry, promiscuously genre-hopping, and defiantly cliché-free. They were so into cowpunk and so far from their hardcore punk beginnings that they even landed a spot on PBS's revered country music showcase Austin City Limits.
'After a lengthy tour supporting Rank & File's first album, Escovedo quit the band and formed a more rock-oriented project in Austin called The True Believers. The band quickly developed a potent reputation on the Texas club scene and were soon opening shows for Los Lobos, Green on Red, Love Tractor, and Rain Parade. In a stroke of bad luck, the band's album was pulled from the release schedule only two weeks before it was scheduled to ship. The band struggled on for a time, but in late 1987, Escovedo decided to quit the group. After True Believers broke up, Alejandro Escovedo went on to a career as a solo singer and songwriter, releasing a handful of critically acclaimed albums.' -- collaged
'Formed in San Francisco, California, USA, in 1977, the Nuns were one of the city’s leading punk/new wave attractions, forerunning the rock and outrage antics of the Dead Kennedys. Their insubstantial progress was further limited by continual line-up problems, but such frustrations coalesced to astonishing effect in their ‘Savage’/ ‘Decadent Jew’ single. Their work appeared on several compilations, including Rodney On The Roq and Experiments In Destiny, but having split up in 1979, they re-formed the following year to complete an album, only to disband once more. Ritchie Detrick (vocals), Jeff Olener (vocals), Alejandro Escovedo (guitar/songwriter), Jennifer Miro (keyboards, vocals), Mike Varney (bass) and Jeff Raphael (drums) were among those passing through the Nuns’ ranks' -- collaged
'Decadent Jew' (1978)
Rank and File
'Formed by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman after they split up their hardcore punk band the Dils, Rank and File were, at times, a dazzling roots rock post-punk band that stumbled early in its career, only to flame out much too quickly and finally collapse with an embarrassing thud. Their debut record, Sundown, was a gem of tuneful, Byrds-ian pop, with a healthy dollop of Gram Parsons and Merle Haggard to boot. The Kinmans' singing was distinctive; they weren't traditional harmony singers à la the Everly Brothers, but rather sang synchronized upper and lower octaves. The songwriting by the Kinmans and the immensely talented guitarist Alejandro Escovedo was wry, heartfelt, and cliché-free; the band rocked with gusto, but never bombastically, preferring nuance and subtlety over volume and simplicity.' -- collaged
'Rank and File' (1982)
'Black Book' (1982)
'Sound of the Rain' (1982)
The True Believers
'If enthusiastic press and the praise of your fellow musicians were all it took to become a rock star, the True Believers would have been one of the biggest American bands of the 1980s. Blending a tightly woven three-guitar attack and passionate songwriting with a punk rocker's love of pure energy and the sonic firepower of a hard rocker, the True Believers were heroes in their hometown of Austin, TX, and often shared stages with some of the most-respected bands of their day. However, their unique sound was a bit tricky to translate to disc, and by the time they'd finally managed to make it work, the recording was fated to not see the light of day until years after the band's breakup.' -- allmusic
'The Rain Won't Help You', live (1985)
'She's Got', live (1986)
p.s. Hey. ** Misanthrope, It's funny or nice or something over here because it's still like it was when I was a kid in the US: half-hour or so of TV news just before prime time and then another half-hour or so post-prime time. Between that and online news sources -- as much I hate being a Google slave, i.e. gmail, Blogger, etc., I usually look at the google news page because it throws up a variety of mainstream news outlets/sites' items per each breaking story, and you can choose whatever one you want or read a cross-section in one spot. Nice: new TV. Yeah, I think post-funeral is when it hits the hardest and when the readjustment kicks in. Really hope he gets through that without too much pain. ** Scunnard, Hey. Yeah, he seems really nice, so I would think any email would be hugged. Awe is the best, sort of. Yeah, once I get through this Strasbourg thing tomorrow night, I'll feel less like my attention span is being torn limb from limb. The snow is just an emaciated, splattered, rotting corpse now. Hard to remember what I saw in it. ** Grant maierhofer, Hey. Really interesting piece on McInerney on HTMLG. I haven't thought about his stuff in more than a glancing way in ages, so, cool. Everyone, very interesting new piece by Grant on HTMLGIANT that reassesses the books of Jay McInerney. Recommended reading: here. Poetry chapbook, awesome! Yeah, I would love a copy, if it's no problem and if you don't mind. Great, and congrats, man! ** Allesfliesst, Hi, Kai. Okay, that 'sleep medicine' thing sounds initially quite promising, serious in the good way, etc. Let me know what results, for sure. I don't know about in Berlin, but here there's nothing left in the snow to enjoy. It just looks like psoriasis. ** Rewritedept, Dude, thank you for the Day. It was both awesome and popular, and, like, what else is there, at least when it comes to blog posts? On the blog thing on 'hey ma ... ', which I would love to do, I would need the post at least a week in advance. If you want it on a specific date, you should let me know that as early before the intended date as possible. If it makes a difference, the '80s Wire comp was assembled by the band, and the contents and order were decided via a poll of smart music critics re: 'the best' 80s Wire tracks, so the first track got the most votes, and the last track got the least votes. So, that's kind of an interesting thing about it. I would say that my mom had no interest in my writing at all and lived in fear that her friends would find out about my books and decide she was a bad mother/person to have birthed someone like me. My dad was proud of me, and that meant a lot, whether he read the books or not. I wouldn't destroy those tapes, but I'd put them under lock and key. I'm always suspicious of cover versions. and I am on the Boris/MbV one too, but Boris can delight, so ... yeah, who knows? Thanks a lot again, man! ** Billy Lloyd, Hi, B. The new ice slippage, yikes. You might have to ruin your outfit by sticking some hiking boots on your feet, although, if where you are is like where I am, hopefully the ice is politely making its presence less and less felt by the hour, which should take care of it. The theater piece is called 'The Pyre', and if you look in the right hand column of the blog, you'll see the premiere date and the tour locations/dates so far, and there'll be more added soon. Great idea, obviously, about contacting those Londoners to meet up with and strategize about the visuals around your work. Definitely! I get you on the jones to travel somewhere on your lonesome. If you end up in Paris and want to break the spell of solitude for a coffee or anything, let me know. ** Sypha, Oh, good that you're doing the diary. I don't know, I think just the listing can be interesting and useful. I used to do that: note what I did, read, watched, what drug I took and how much, etc., etc., each day, and rereading that now is actually pretty informative, and the simple tags of what happened make the memories blossom, so, yeah. ** _Black_Acrylic, I'm still not 100% sure, but I'm about 90% sure that the Mike Kelley show is cancelled. It's so angering and disappointing. I'm going to try to talk to the head curator of the Pompidou, who G. and I worked with on 'Teenage Hallucination', to see what happened. It sucks on so many levels, and I can't personally get the emotional stuff out of it, given that Mike died, and the cancellation feels heartless and cruel to me too. Anyway, ugh. There'll surely be other cool things for you to see here, art-wise, and I'll look around and find out what's happening then. 'The Pyre' is definitely on, no worries there. I'm glad you're feeling more chipper, man. So, yeah, do your exercises and keep chipping away at the encumbrance. ** KYTE, Hey, Kyte! Great to see you! Good, good, about the game planning stages. That's so scary about the almost-loss of your cellphone novel. That story gave me the willies. I live in terror that, say, my novel will get deleted somehow. I email it to myself every day, or every day that I do decent new work on it, but if my gmail account got corrupted or destroyed, I'd be fucked, so, yeah, big phew on the recovery. I didn't know about Ouya. I'll go use the link and learn more. Interesting, yeah. Thanks for sharing that. Is the GDC open to the public, or is it an inter-industry kind of thing? Not that I'll get to go since it's obviously not happening in Paris. I know, or I know to some intense outside degree, about the hell of that kind of cycling. My dear George Miles had intense, rapid, unexpected cycling for years, and I know how incredibly difficult that is. The meds aren't tamping that down enough? So sorry, pal. Very nice tattoo image. Very nice. You figured out the right placement yet? My writing's going better, thanks. And, obviously, thank you a lot about 'TMS'. Take care, K! ** Steevee, Yes, I envied your having seen the film so early. You even got to post your review before the crosstalk had completely shadowed the movie. Soderbergh is such a strange talent. So hit and miss, and, I guess for me, more miss than hit of late, but it'll be sad if he really gives up movies. His work has a really nice liveliness around it. ** Cobaltfram, Hi, John. I don't know, but I would imagine the Le Depot higher ups are only thrilled to have had their joint upgraded into a Noe location. Last I heard, Noe is starting to work on 'Golden Suicides'. Let me see if I can find any info ... yes, here's something. I knew the people that the movie is about, so it's weird. Curious to see what it is. I trust Noe a ton. I'm a bit baffled why Gus Van Sant is co-writing the script because I don't think Gus's writing is one of his strengths. Anyway, that's what he's up to, last I heard. Sorry to hear about the pass by The New Inquiry. I hope the new possible place proves wiser. You're doing 'crime fiction'? Interesting. How are you doing it? ** David Ehrenstein, Morning, David. And yes re: TKITH. ** Postitbreakup, I had a strange, inexplicable lust-crush on Dave Foley back in the KITH days. Good that the typing helped and that, most importantly, you realized it helps. 'Cows' is quite something. He just finished a new novel, which is exciting. ** 5STRINGS, Hi. Hm, I really don't like that Emos cut themselves and suicide, so, yeah, we should probably stop talking about them now or something. I think I actually haven't read a ton of Shakespeare, now that I think about it. Just the big 'tragedies' and the sonnets and maybe one of the comedy-ish ones, I don't remember. I think I must have just faked it in my lit. classes. It seems totally possible to get really skinny eating meat, right? I don't know. All the skinnies out there can't be vegetarians, can they? And there are a lot of fat vegetarians. Don't think I've ever met a fat vegan though. I don't know if that's possible. ** Frank Jaffe, Hey Frank! Ha ha, yes, I posted you doing me. I can't remember how far it came in my search. No, wait, I had it bookmarked. Let it live, man. It's very cool. I'm so very pleased to hear that your memories of that shitty film have finally stopped acting like my novel's makeup and costuming and perfume. RIP: 'Frisk' film. Do I like interviews? Generally, I do, yeah. Especially face to face or talking ones. Email ones are hard 'cos I spend too much time trying to think up perfect answers. For me, I'm always far more into doing interviews for zines and curious sites than for big magazines or whatever. You tend to get much more interesting questions, and the interviewers tend to actually know and even like your work, and that's a lot better than being interviewed by someone who's just researched you online. So, I don't know how typical my feeling is about interviews, but I think maybe being asked to be interviewed for something like PYWSM is immediately fun and exciting. So, I wouldn't worry about bugging people or intruding on them at all. Any more clarity or whatever on where you're going to move? I'm glad your mood is lifted. A gloomy Frank is something that is both hard to imagine and just wrong, so wrong on so many levels. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Oh, I'll get back to you about the great help you gave me re: Butoh once I'm back from Strasbourg and once that's out of my hair and my stress deposit. Karin Tidbeck ... hm, maybe I've read one piece or story? Not sure. I'll definitely pursue her work. Great, thank you a lot for the tip. ** Oscar B., Welcome, welcome, welcome! I think I'm seeing you today, yes! Oh, yeah, I'm going to the event, def. Unless I'm too fried from the train ride back from Strasbourg, which seems very unlikely, I'll come on Friday night. Worst case, on Saturday. Talk to you/see you in a while! ** Chris, Hey! Congrats on starting the PhD. That's big, right? Sounds big. Ouch, stomach ulcer, I had one in my 20s, shit, horrible, sorry, hugs. I don't have to do all that stuff that's coming up, thank god. I get to do whatever I want to do in Paris or wherever while the rest of the crew travels all over the place doing the thing itself. Huh, that is further weird/bad about the Borges translations. Luckily, the 'standard' versions are ultimately dust on the whim. It's just matter of long it takes for the denouncements to reach saturation point. Anyway, great to see you! ** Bollo, It was, is, and forever shall be very interesting and awesome, man. Thank you! Still need to see 'Looper'. Must be a rental or HD download by now. Later, bud. ** Right. You should maybe read/think about and watch/listen to the work by these underrated rock maestros today. That would be cool. Oh, I might be a little speedy in the p.s. tomorrow 'cos I'll be doing it just pre-trip to Strasbourg, but I'll see you then.