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October 22, 2012 by joesonotheque

Maria’s Package Goods & Community Bar & Dusty Groove America presents
Featuring vinyl junkie DJ Michael Latham playing rare punk and post-punk
Curated by DJ Joe Bryl
Thursday, November 8 – 9PM-2AM – Free, No Cover
960 W. 31st Street, Chicago, Il. 60608 – 773.890.0588 – http://www.community-bar.com

Once dominant in the music business, the 45 RPM record has seen better days. During its heyday, the single record played an essential role in the rising popularity of musicians ranging from doo-wop, r&b, lounge, soul, rock and roll, funk, country, jazz, punk, gospel and pop. The ever-shifting exposure to all these genres was constantly monitored with weekly listings commonly referred to as the Top 40. Here in Chicago beginning in the early sixties WLS Radio issued its own weekly listing called the Silver Dollar Survey which charted the popularity of pop music (its first survey on October 14,1960 promoted its own Gene Taylor Show with Paul Chaplain’s “Shortnin’ Bread” topping the chart). Other radio stations such as WJJD and WCFL issued similar weekly hit charts that promoted their core of rising deejays besides the top hits of the day.

With its affordable price, the 45 RPM single proved its dominance due to its superior audio fidelity. With its wider grooves allowing better playback, the 45 single wore better over time and was more durable than the longer playing LP that was more readily susceptible to scratches and other defects. A song pressed as a 45 single sounded fuller, richer and deeper than its brethren included on the long player, making it perfect for dances and juke boxes.

However, with the digital explosion of compact discs and downloads the 45 RPM record has almost disappeared in the retail market and can only usually now be found in scattered collector stores around the country. Certain labels like Daptone, Now Again, Sublime Frequencies, Kay Dee, Colemine, Ubiquity and Ever-Soul still press 45 records both of current artists on their stable and re-issue hard-to-find gems sought after by fervent crate diggers and beat makers.

To showcase the influence of the 45 RPM single, and particularly the role of the punk/post-punk single as a cultural barometer, Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31st Street) is continuing its monthly showcase “45 FEVER” on Thursday, November 8.  The evening will be hosted by vinyl specialist/cultural custodian Michael Latham and focus on the history of the punk 45; highlighting its hidden rarities and seminal recordings.

DJ Michael Latham will be diggin’ deep into his stacks of wax of rare and influential punk/post punk singles. Rooted in the garage scene of the sixties, punk rock was a seismic shift that rebelled against the mainstream music industry of the seventies and its rigid complacency. With its short bursts of aggressive and propulsive songs, punk rock fostered a DIY ethos off anti-establishment rants, eschewing the normative with a nihilistic foundation that drew inspiration from Dada, anarchistic philosophy, French Situationist tracts and just plain youthful abandon. As the Marx Brothers sang in their most politically-charged film “Duck Soup”, “Whatever it is, I’m against it!”

The scene that emerged globally (England, the U.S and Australia) in the mid seventies was certainly tied to the sense of loss and abandonment felt by the its youth sub-culture beset by massive unemployment, social unrest and alienation. The by-product of this period of political and social unrest was a much needed musical explosion of youth culture creating their own sounds for their pals and chums that reflected their immediate rejection of the mainstream. Emerging almost simultaneously in London (The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned), New York City (The Ramones, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, The Heartbreakers), San Francisco (Crime, the Nuns), Sydney (Radio Birdman, the Saints) besides Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Detroit, Akron and Manchester, punk gave a voice to those who considered themselves outsiders and pariahs. It ultimately lead to the indie rock and alternative music scene that is now part of a new mainstream.

For this offering, DJ Michael Latham will revisit this seminal period of punk and post-punk that changed forever the landscape of music. From the stripped-down inflammatory venom of the Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the UK” to the Rimbaud-inspired poeticism of the Patti Smith Group’s “Hey Joe/Piss Factory” punk offered a much needed tonic for its time. Punk’s abrasive attitude spit in the face of society purposely outraging entrenched and commonly held values while giving a voice to those who’s expression was both discarded and muzzled. Its sweep was far ranging and included the industrial wasteland of Pere Ubu, the art-rock feel of Talking Heads, the tabloid-inspired energy of the Adverts, the gothic macabre of Siouxsie and the Banshees besides the outrageous humor of Black Randy & the Metrosquad, the reggae/rockabilly fusion of The Clash and even the electronic pop of Ultravox and Gary Numan.

Michael Latham is a Germanist and cultural historian who has taught courses in film, visual culture and popular music at the University of Michigan, Bowling Green State University and the University of Chicago. At Michigan he created a course in
Krautrock that was mentioned in a Q Magazine feature entitled “They’ll Let You Teach Anything These Days.” Well, sometimes they will. Michael has had a deep interest in garage rock ‘n roll since his suburban childhood in the mind-sixties, when he would routinely encounter actual bands in actual garages while tooling around Mt. Prospect and Des Plaines on a copper-colored Stingray knockoff from Goldblatt’s. It is believed that the relative levels of competent musicianship exhibited by these bands accounted in later life for a deep love of off-kilter and highly experimental musical forms. Michael has been collecting obscure records since the early 70’s.

The rotating series is curated by Maria’s musical director and vinyl junkie Joe Bryl and features some of Chicago’s premier musicologists and vinyl specialist.


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