Richard Hell & The Voivoids – Blank Generation

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

It is impossible to discuss punk music without mentioning Richard Hell. Hell’s musical lineage soaks in the cool of The Velvet Underground, the drama of the New York Dolls, and the art of Sonic Youth. For all the praises thrown his way, Richard Hell has a very limited discography. Early stints in The Neon Boys, Television, and The Heartbreakers (not Tom Petty’s band) yielded little in the way of recordings. Blank Generation had been a staple of all of those bands early live sets, and finally debuted on a 1976 solo EP. It also appeared on the 1977 debut record by Richard Hell & The Voivoids, also called Blank Generation. Hell snarls the lyrics “I belong to the blank generation and / I can take it or leave it each time” while Ivan Julian and Robert Quine’s guitar licks veer dangerously in and out of control. Hell’s bass playing can’t be overlooked, giving the song a 50’s Doo Wop foundation. That’s Marc Bell on drums, or as you might know him as – Marky Ramone, longtime drummer for The Ramones. This is one of the seminal singles from the NYC punk scene, and it would go on to inspire bands in the US and the UK. In fact, Richard Hell’s look was “borrowed” for an up and coming band out of England called The Sex Pistols. Now, about the song’s inspiration. The idea was “borrowed” from Rod McKuren’s 1959 song, The Beat Generation, and given updated words & music. That tune is also embedded below. Blank Generation is a song for the poets, the beats, the punks, and the freaks. It sounds as fresh today as it did almost 40 years ago. 

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Lee Ranaldo – Between the Times and the Tides

The show Gilmore Girls always frustrated the hell out of me. The mom (played by Lauren Graham) always failed to connect with me – it always looked like she was trying to think of her lines to me. The show itself had a mildly interesting premise and was usually watchable. Coming from the “Grunge Generation” I was very excited when Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and daughter Coco appeared on a season finale one year to do an acoustic version of a song from the current album at the time Rather Ripped (You are right – Sonic Youth were not grunge – the single “100%” exploded during the era). I liked the performance and the strange idea of No Wave godfathers appearing on a hit show that appeared on the WB network. I was left with a nagging feeling that I’d just rather watch the incredible Sebastian Bach do his thing on the show. A strange feeling. (In the context of Gilmore Girls and music, strange to think of Sebastian Bach as the steady, workmanlike figure and Sonic Youth as the stars. Sebastian has delivered two back to back masterpieces by the way with Angel Down and Kicking & Screaming)

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