RICHARD HELL AND THE VOIDOIDS Blank Generation LP/CD 1977/1990
Love Comes In Spurts / Liars Beware / New Pleasure / Betrayal Takes Two / Down At The Rock And Roll Club (Alternate Version) / Who Says? / Blank Generation / Walking On The Water / The Plan / Another World / I'm Your Man (cd bonus track) / All The Way (cd bonus track).
Produced by Richard Gottehrer & Richard Hell.
Richard Hell & The Voidoids: Richard Hell: bass, vocals / Robert Quine: guitars, backing vocals / Ivan Julian: guitar, backing vocals / Marc Bell: drums.
Richard Hell was one of the first men on the scene when punk rock first began to emerge in New York City as an early member of both Television and the Heartbreakers (he left both groups before they could record), but his own version of punk wasn't much like anyone else's, and while Hell's debut album, Blank Generation, remains one of the most powerful to come from punk's first wave, anyone expecting a Ramones/Dead Boys-style frontal assault from this set had better readjust their expectations. "Love Comes in Spurts" and "Liar's Beware" proved the Voidoids could play fast and loud when they wanted to, but for the most part this group's formula was much more complicated than that; guitarists Robert Quine and Ivan Julian bounced sharp, edgy patterns off each other that were more about psychological tension than brute force (though Quine's solos suggest a fragile grace beneath the surface of their neo-Beefheart chaos), and while most punk nihilism was of the simplistic "Everything Sucks" variety, Hell was (with the exception of Patti Smith) the most literate and consciously poetic figure in the New York punk scene. While there's little on the album that's friendly or life-affirming, there's a crackling intelligence to songs like "New Pleasure," "Betrayal Takes Two," and "Another World" that confirmed Hell has a truly unique lyrical voice, at once supremely self-confident and dismissive of nearly everything around him (sometimes including himself). Brittle and troubling, but brimming with ideas and musical intelligence, "Blank Generation" was groundbreaking punk rock that followed no one's template, and today it sounds just as fresh -- and nearly as abrasive -- as it did when it first hit the racks. Allmusic
Richard Hell grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, in the 1950s. His father, a secular Jew, was an experimental psychologist, researching animal behavior. He died when Hell was seven years old. Hell was then raised by his mother, who came from Methodists of Welsh and English ancestry. After her husband's death, she returned to school and eventually became a professor.
Hell attended the Sanford School in Delaware for one year, where he became friends with Tom Miller, who later changed his name to Tom Verlaine). They ran away from school together and were arrested in Alabama for arson and vandalism a short time later.
Hell never finished high school, instead moving to New York City to make his way as a poet. In New York he met fellow young poet, David Giannini, and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico for several months, where Giannini and Meyers co-founded "Genesis:Grasp". They used an AM VariTyper with changeable fonts to publish the magazine. They began publishing books and magazines but decided to go their separate ways in 1971, after which Hell created and published Dot Books. Before he was twenty-one his own poems were published in numerous periodicals, ranging from Rolling Stone to the New Directions Annuals. Along with Tom Verlaine, in 1971 Hell also published under the pseudonym Theresa Stern, a fictional poet whose photo was actually a combination of both his and Verlaine's faces, in drag, superimposed over one another to create a new identity.
In 1972, Verlaine joined Hell in New York and formed the Neon Boys. In 1974 the band added a second guitarist, Richard Lloyd, and changed their name to Television.
Television's performances at CBGB helped kick-start the first wave of punk bands, inspiring a number of different artists including Patti Smith, who wrote the first press review of Television for the Soho Weekly News in June 1974. She had an affair with Tom Verlaine, and formed a highly successful band of her own, The Patti Smith Group. Television was one of the early bands to play at CBGB, and persuaded owner Hilly Kristal to book rock bands there on a regular basis. They also built the club's first stage.
Hell started playing his song "Blank Generation" during his stint in Television. In 1975, Hell parted ways with Television after a dispute over creative control. Hell claimed that he and Verlaine had originally divided the songwriting evenly but that later Verlaine refused to play Hell's songs. Verlaine remains characteristically silent on the subject.
Hell left Television the same week that Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders quit the New York Dolls. In May 1975 the three of them formed The Heartbreakers; not to be confused with Tom Petty's band, which adopted the same name the following year. After one show Walter Lure joined The Heartbreakers as a second guitarist.
A year later, in early 1976, Hell quit The Heartbreakers and started Richard Hell and the Voidoids with Robert Quine, Ivan Julian and Marc Bell. The band released two albums, though the second, "Destiny Street", retained only Quine from the original group, with Naux (Juan Maciel) on guitar and Fred Maher on drums, and suffered from Hell's distractions, narcotics especially, during recording. Hell's best known songs with the Voidoids were "Blank Generation", "Love Comes in Spurts", "The Kid With the Replaceable Head" and "Time". In 2009, the guitar tracks on "Destiny Street" were re-recorded and released as "Destiny Street Repaired", with guitarists Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian playing with the original rhythm tracks. Also in 2009, Richard Hell gave his blessing to the public access program Pancake Mountain to create an animated music video for "The Kid with the Replaceable Head". It would be the Voidoids first, and only, official music video. The cut used for the animation appears on Hell's 2005 retrospective album, Spurts, The Richard Hell Story.
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