"Violence Is Golden" is the motto of the new rock culture known as Punk or the New Wave. Penthouse describes the movement as "Upfront sex, violence and exhibitionism," while Punks throughout Europe flaunt torn T-shirts stamped "Destroy."
This is part one of a two-part look at the British craze which has brought worldwide controversy to the point of being banned in many parts of Europe.
Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True
The name implies half rock and half comedy, and that is what Elvis Costello is all about.
In his recent Portland concert, the audience didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the ex-computer operator with oversized black glasses and a crew cut. In his cuffed jeans, he looks more like a character from Leave It to Beaver than one of Britain's biggest acts, but Punk isn't always easy to understand.
While today's rock bands tamper with electronic sound effects and sophisticated chords, Costello creates My Aim Is True, an album so simple-minded it's nearly idiotic. It's also fantastic.
Costello is clearly the freshest product the New Wave has yet to offer. So fresh, in fact. that many rock critics don't classify him as Punk. John Milward of the late Chicago Daily News asks, "Who is Elvis Costello?" Good question, and unfortunately I haven't a clue about the answer.
It's simple. Costello is no one at all. He's the guy no one ever noticed in school; the one who never dated. He's the kid who would stay home Friday nights and dream of being a rock and roll star.
America took Costello under its wing after his Saturday Night Live appearance, followed by a flurry of well-received $1 concerts throughout the nation.
The tour brought a flood of reaction. There are those who hail Costello as the future of rock. and there are those who regard him as a joke. He is neither.
Costello is a step backward that makes many realize that rock is becoming too sophisticated for its own taste. Besides, what's wrong with being mediocre?
Unlike Costello, the Tuff Darts are branded as hard-core Punks. In their current album of the same name, the Darts attempt to kick listeners in the teeth with shock appeal while lead vocalist Tommy Frenzy, sings of his hatred for love in "(Your Love Is Like) Nuclear Waste."
"I'd rather stick my tongue into a fan,
drink Ex-Lax all day long.
Have to chew on razor blades...
than to have to be between the sheets with you..."
The Darts are not only disgusting and nauseating but somehow funny. They look at themselves as a band that is so up on the fads that American listeners would eat them up. By the look of poor record sales, they're finding out we are not as stupid as they think.
Note: There has been a gross misunderstanding regarding last week's column on the rock band "She." The quote beneath Paul Freiberg of Cascade Junior High has been understood as being his. It was not. Freiberg felt in order to clear the air, a meeting of all involved at his convenience was necessary. It was not.
Albums courtesy of Budget Records and Tapes.