Gun Club live at the Hacienda, Manchester, England 1983.
Jeffrey Lee Pierce vocals, Jim Duckworth guitar ,
Patricia Morrison bass, Dee Pop drums
Fire of Love
Run Through The Jungle
Cool Drink of Water Blues
Disco Inferno Mix
On November 13, 1984, The Gun Club were shot live onstage in Madrid for a legendary Spanish television series called La Edad de Oro. The show features stellar performances of “Sex Beat,” “The Lie,” “Bad America,” “Death Party,” “Walking With the Beast,” a cover of CCR’s “Run Through the Jungle” and several other Gun Club classics. I saw them play at The Electric Ballroom in London just a few weeks before this was shot and I’ve always thought of it as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen (It was my 19th birthday. There was only one person in the joint that night more fucked up than I was, and that honor would have to go to Mr. Jeffrey Lee Pierce hisself who managed to get completely shit-faced at the bar while the opening act, The Scientists, played their set. During the show JLP fell off the stage and landed on me. Neither of us felt any pain, I can assure you).
Watching this Madrid show today, it jibes pretty well with my memory of the London show. Jeffrey Lee is even wearing the same outfit. Holy shit were they amazing during this line-up. Who can deny that they were one of the greatest rock and roll outfits, ever? I mean, if you don’t like The Gun Club, you’re just… stupid.
Check out this epic version of “Death Party.” Pay attention to Kid Congo’s guitar shenanigans at around the 4:30 mark. How fucking cool is this motherfucker? I was watching this wishing that I could be him! And Patricia Morrison on bass? What more could you ask for?
Aside from homegrown Spanish performers (including Pedro Almodóvar’s glam-rock parody group Almodóvar & McNamara) La Edad de Oro broadcast some incredible (sometimes complete) live concerts from Lou Reed, The Smiths, John Cale, Culture Club, Marc Almond, Violent Femmes, Grupo Sportivo, Psychedelic Furs, Nick Cave, Dream Syndicate, Aztec Camera, Paul Collins’ Beat, The Durrutti Column, Tom Verlaine, Elliot Murphy, Alan Vega, Cabaret Voltaire, John Foxx, Echo & The Bunnymen, Killing Joke, Divine, Spear of Destiny, Johnny Thunders, Tuxedomoon (twice!), The Residents, China Crisis, Lords Of The New Church and Mari Wilson. The series was cancelled abruptly after a quite incredible 90-minute show with Psychic TV that was seen as an outrageous affront to the sensibilities of a Catholic country.
Eventually many of these shows escaped from the vaults (in perfect digital quality, struck from the master tapes) and ended up on various torrent trackers as “The Stolen Files.” They are totally worth looking for!
As journeyman guitarist, Kid Congo Powers has played alongside of three of the most outrageous and notorious front-men of the post-punk era: The Cramps’ Lux Interior, Nick Cave, and of course, his longtime collaborator in The Gun Club, Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Two of these men are dead, the third is very lucky he isn’t… Kid Congo Powers has also added his Satanic magic to the mix collaborating with Jim Thirlwell, Lydia lunch, Die Haut, Annie Anxiety, Julee Cruise, and The Swan’s Michael Gira.
Currently living in Washington DC, Kid’s writing a memoir of growing up in Los Angeles and the early years of that city’s nascent punk scene. The gunslinger guitarist claims he gets more done in the staid, uptight District of Columbia simply because there’s not a lot to do there.
Dangerous Minds caught up with Kid Congo Powers after he and his crack band, the Pink Monkey Birds (named after a line in David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” song) played a right rave up on the stage at Waterloo Records’ parking lot in Austin, TX during the SXSW festival. The Pink Monkey Birds sound is a spicy gumbo of 60’s Chicano rock, Booker T. and the M.G.s, bad LSD trips and seedy psychedelic go-go romps. They even threw in a couple of Cramps and Gun Club favorites.
As the bandleader, Kid is an engaging and charismatic front-man. The Pink Monkey Birds are Kiki Solis on bass; Ron Miller on drums; and Jesse Roberts on second guitar. Their latest album is called Gorilla Rose. If they come to your town, GO SEE ‘EM, they put on a fine show.
A new Jeffrey Lee Pierce/Gun Club tribute album, The Journey Is Long features a collaboration between Nick Cave and Debbie Harry on one of The Gun Club’s best loved numbers, “The Breaking Hands.” The album also features Mick Harvey, Cave, Lydia Lunch, Warren Ellis, and Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan performing unrecorded Pierce songs. The Journey Is Long comes out on April 9, 2012.
I interviewed The Gun Club’s Kid Congo Powers (who was also in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, of course) at SXSW, expect that coming up in the next day or two.
Here’s the original Gun Club version from the classic Mother Juno album:
Note: I was looking through some past DM posts and wanted to republish this one on The Gun Club, written by Bradley Novicoff, one of our original contributors.—Tara
Fresh to YouTube, a wonderful clip of the Dangerous Minds-beloved band, The Gun Club, performing Fire Of Love‘s “Fire Spirit.” For ‘84, the footage looks surprisingly clear. So, for that matter, does Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Oh, Jeffery Lee, even though you were on the verge of kicking my ass one night,* you are sorely missed!
*At Hollywood’s Cathay de Grande, The Gun Club on stage. An ENORMOUS, anonymously sent wad of spit and snot dropped from that club’s notoriously low, downstairs ceiling and landed right on Jeffrey Lee’s upper lip. It seriously looked like a small jellyfish clinging to his face.
As his tongue tip made contact with the gob, Jeffrey Lee started glaring at who he assumed to be “the spitter”—me, standing on a chair not 3 feet away from him.
For a second there, it looked like he was gonna lunge at me (and, yes, he was by that point quite drunk), but Jeffrey Lee, pro that he was, didn’t stop the song. In fact, if I remember correctly, he finished up most of it with the gob still clinging to his face!
While I never came down with Idol fever (I do, though, still dream of being a contestant—c’mon, Simon, that was, like, Sex Beat?), my hat’s off to the incredibly brave people who, in sheer defiance of Muslim law, try out for and compete in Afghan Star. After watching the below trailer for the upcoming documentary on the show, I’m not sure what, if anything, the final prize amounts to. I’m not sure it matters. After 30 years of the Taliban—and despite numerous death threats—these kids simply want to sing.