Song of the Day: Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Love Comes In Spurts

Jordan Posner Recalls: If you’re trying to capture the very point where the visual and musical aspects of punk collided, where the safety pins and torn jeans perfectly coincided with the anti-establishment ethos, you could commit worse sins than to name Richard Hell. Booted out of the influential band Television for being something of a loose cannon, Hell (real name Myers) formed his own group with future Ramones drummer Marc Bell and subversive guitarist Bob Quine which became Richard Hell and the Voidoids. They released two albums to minimal acclaim or success, at least in the mainstream. Their first, Blank Generation, is the sort of classic record that codifies genres. Everything you like about the Sex Pistols was done first by Richard Hell. If you’re picturing Sid Vicious with a safety pin in his nose, playing bass with a snottiness that operates without precedent, you need to know two things:

  1. Sid Vicious played exactly some of one song on the Sex Pistols’ landmark album Nevermind the Bullocks.
  2. Sex Pistols mastermind Malcolm McLaren was trying to turn The New York Dolls into his pet band. The deal ultimately fell though, but McLaren absorbed a few things about the Voidoids in New York (the aforementioned safety pins, torn clothing, spiked hair) that ended up being a crucial part of the Pistols’ look.

Basically, I have no problem with the Sex Pistols as they appear on their landmark album. My umbrage comes more from the fact that Sid Vicious could barely play the bass (by far the easiest instrument, and I know from experience) and definitely murdered someone, and we are somehow treating him as a rock and roll God. The deification of Sid Vicious makes the same deification of Jim Morrison seem reasonable by comparison.

Where was I?

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Oh yeah. If you want to hear the actual beginning of a genre from the source, check out Blank Generation.. Its opening track, featured here, is an eye-opening jolt of fresh uncut punk.

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