Siouxsie and the Banshees– The Staircase (Mystery) – Single


Siouxsie and the Banshees– The Staircase (Mystery) Single
Label: Poyldor Records
Released: March 23, 1979
Produced: Nils Stevesson

Siouxsie Sioux- vocals
John McKay – guitar
Steven Severin – bass
Kenny Morris – drums

1. The Staircase (Mystery) – 3:06
2. 20th Century Boy – 1:59

There was a time between 1977 or 1978 to 1979 when I was a bit unclear of the definition of punk. I hadn’t come across any fanzines yet, I didn’t find Slash until their last two issues in 1980. So, the bulk of my record buying was based on what I read in the mainstream media, which was mainly Creem magazine. And I would get an occasional recommendation from my Uncle Rick. Month to month the styles of music would seem to merge, meaning one month Creem would say that Blondie was a great New Wave group, and the next they would say Elvis Costello and The Attractions were the biggest punk band out of England. During these few years I bought anything that was considered punk. I had everybody from Elvis Costello to the Rock Lobster single from the B-52’s (hated it) just based on the simple fact that some magazine said it was punk, dare I mention my one Plasmatics single, Butcher Baby? It wasn’t until 1980 that I started to see a few shows here, and there, and define my taste somewhat. I bought this Siouxsie single in middle to late 1979, based on what I knew of her. Original fan on the Pistols (The Bromley Contingent) and Steve Jones playing on one of her albums, etc. I played it a few times, I didn’t really dig it, but 20th Century Boy was a pretty decent cover. Siouxsie seems a bit screechy here.

The Staircase (Mystery) is the second single released by Siouxsie & the Banshees. Issued in the UK by Polydor Records in 1979, the track was written by Banshees members Siouxsie, Severin, McKay and Morris; produced by Stevesson. Musically the song is punk/Goth and reflects the style the band used on their first album The Scream. The B-side of the single is a cover of the T. Rex song 20th Century Boy. Although The Scream had already been released, The Staircase (Mystery) did not appear on it. Released as a stand-alone single, it became the group’s second top forty hit, peaking at number twenty-four in the UK singles chart. The track later surfaced on the singles compilation album Once Upon a Time: The Singles. When The Scream was re-mastered and re-issued in 2005 with bonus material, The Staircase (Mystery) was included in the package.

20th Century Boy

“Friends say he’s fine
Friends say he’s good
Everybody says he’s just like Robin Hood

I move like a cat
Talk like a rat
Sting like a bee
Babe, I want to be your man

Well it’s plain to see you were meant for me
I’m your toy
Your 20th century boy
20th century toy
I want to be your boy
20th century toy
I want to be your boy

Friends say he’s fine
Friends say he’s good
Everybody says he’s just like Robin Hood

Fly like a plane
Drive like a car
Hold out your hand
Babe, I want to be your man

Well it’s plain to see you were meant for me
I’m your toy
Your 20th century boy
20th century toy
I want to be your boy
20th century toy
I want to be your boy.”

If you get the chance give this single a listen, it’s a good listen, but not worth owning. It’s a great snap-shot of a great time in punk rock.

Rating: * ** one out of three stars

On to the story . . .

And as an added bonus, I’m including a drawing I did in early 1981 for a flyer for a band that I was friends with, two of the guys went to my school, Mike K., and a guy named Rob. Anyway, it’s weird. I think I was trying to do an abstract drawing of Nancy Spungen, with the wording “#1 Sid + Darby = Heroin.” Yeah, it’s retarded, but I was only 14 or 15, it was my big punk rock statement. Anyway, I gave them the drawing to tape on the side of a white sheet of paper; they pasted their logo along the top and all the gig info along the right-hand side of the page, it looked cool. I did more than a 12 flyers from 1980 to 1982.



Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015:

Life Won’t Wait by Michael Essington


This week we have a guest columnist, writer Marius Gustaitis, who some may be familiar with his great blog Trudging Through The Fire (, if not check it out.

I love when my intuition turns out to be right. When it confirms my suspicions. Tells me my assessments are dialed-in. On target. I love it. It’s deeply satisfying. Makes me feel good about myself. Makes me feel like I know what’s going on. Like I might have a clue.

I met Michael Essington a few months back at a Reagan Youth/ 13 Scars show at Los Globos in Hollywood.
The music was so loud we didn’t get too much of a chance to talk. But I sized him up. I was a bouncer for a few years, and it’s just something I do. Maybe all guys do it. Size up a motherfucker. Try to figure out if they could take him.

Well, I wasn’t exactly at that point with Essington, since we hadn’t pissed each other off. I wasn’t at the deciding-if-I-would-win-in-a-cage-match phase of our relationship. I was just trying to figure him out. Trying to see if I could guess what he was all about.

He looked at ease. With himself. With his surroundings. Didn’t look like he had anything to prove. That told me a lot. If I ever did get any ideas about beating on him, this in itself would’ve given me pause. Guys don’t get like that without knowing they can handle some shit. And they know it… because they’ve handled some shit. You can’t fake it. Probably been through the chopping factory. Endured the blows of Life. But seems to have weathered it well. Call it character. Call it badassness. He’s got it. Like genuine.

Plus, he’s got that bull neck and Taurine shoulders so in fashion with debt collectors from Queens. Probably did some wrestling in school. Football? Yeah, maybe, some boxing, too. He’s a ground-and-pounder alright. Gets you on the floor and pile-drives from above while your limbs are pinned. Knows how to head-butt effectively. You have to resort to fighting dirty with guys like that. Use teeth. Table cutlery. Pull on the peach. All while taking thunder blows to the brow and jaw and trying to blink your way through the exploding green balls and vibrating purple parallelograms in your eyes. You’re looking at major war shit.

But there was no need to reach for the saltshaker, yet. He was just sitting there watching the show.

I figured he’s an ex-maniac, now settling into adulthood. I knew he had a family. I bet he’s easy-going and reasonable, until somebody really get’s under his skin. Then he blows. Yeah. Seems a little powder-keggish. Maybe some childhood stuff he’s still exorcising. Old stuff that fuels it. The Rage.

–I swear to you, these were my first impressions. Just from watching him. Now and then an occasional shouted exchange over the music. I had not read Life Won‘t Wait.

Well, needless to say, when I did, I was immensely pleased with myself. And my psychic powers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I had him all figured out, or had known his whole story, but it turns out I did have a sense of the warp of the woof. I gisted it.

After reading his collection of autobiographical stories about life in the 818 (with interesting interviews with James Frey, Steve Jones, and Texas Terri Laird) I realized I had been right about a lot of things. Not like a jungle shaman high on Ibogaine right, but right enough to make beer money giving readings at a card table on the Santa Monica pier right.

Mike has been through some shit alright. Some quality childhood bummers. Family dysfunction. Suburban dissatisfaction. Valley Fever and its resulting health issues. A sensitive adolescence. An angry young adulthood, with its accompanying three handmaidens: Drink. Drugs and Violence. Sprinkle in some punk rock/metal, jail time, and a volcanic temper, and you know what you have?

Somebody who would’ve been a close friend. Are you kidding? Fucker’s from my tribe. Forget about it.

So the book was a dee-light to read. A lot of head-nodding and chuckling. Whether he’s going to jail, the hospital, or dealing with stupid things surrounded by stupid people, Essington makes a good tour guide. He doesn’t bore you with details. Just points out some of the interesting sights. Gives a few historical facts for reference. Moves on to the next landmark. He’s smart, funny, and insightful. His work is informed and readable. Never mind prolific.

But to me, one of the most badass things about Mike is that he doesn’t make himself out to be one. Oh, there’s this story and that one. Things happen. Shit goes down. But he lets you decide what to think. He clearly delineates his facts from his opinions. Again, like a guy not desperate to prove anything.

Look, I fancy myself a writer of sorts, so as I’m reading his stuff, I see how he’s stripped-down his line–keeps the sentences simple declarative. Doesn’t write in Proustian curly cues. He just prints it. But I was also impressed with how little editorializing he does. He’ll tell you what he thought, what he felt, but not go on and on about what he thinks it all meant.

Can you imagine how refreshing? Not to have some writer’s philosophy of life railroaded down your throat. My readers should be so lucky.

Anyway, both traits require discipline. To keep the line clean. And to keep the philosophizing to a minimum. It takes restraint in the writing, and some measure of faith in his readers–that they can fill in the blanks. Those qualities make Mike the writer he is. And the person.

And that makes running with Essington, as a reader or road dog, a low-maintenance for big payoff experience. If you haven’t gotten to know him yet, I wouldn’t wait too long. Life sure doesn’t. Neither does Death. So make a new friend. One that can handle himself if the shit goes down.



Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015:

The Livingstons, Symbol Six, Dead Lazlo’s Place, Million Kids – LIVE


The Livingstons, Symbol Six, Dead Lazlo’s Place, Million Kids
The Blue Star, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, May 6, 2011

Here’s another great line-up put on by Kenny Kimmel over at the Blue Star. If you have never been to the Blue Star, queue up your GPS, type in new in new directions, type in from here, then for address type in the middle of nowhere, then you’ll find it. Honestly, it was only thirty minutes or so away from my house, but there are parts of L.A. that are so buried away that the pigeons don’t fly there.

The great thing about being so far out of the way is that no one complains about the noise. I dig the place.

The first band on was Million Kids. I saw Million Kids one other time, back in January at Molly Malone’s on South Fairfax in Los Angeles. I dug them back then, and I have to say they have only gotten better. Good straight forward rock and roll. Go see Billy Caldwell and Million Kids, you won’t be disappointed.

The second band up was Dead Lazlo’s Place. Dead Lazlo’s Place is, in my opinion, a really good, straightforward rock band. Punk band, minus the anger, and aggression. I can see them getting signed soon.

The band I was waiting for! Symbol Six! The buzz around this band is insane lately. They released their album Monsters 11 last year, and as they are approaching their thirtieth anniversary, Dr. Strange Records is going to be releasing an expanded version of their original Posh Boy EP.

For their mucho popular song off of Monsters 11, Long Way Home, they brought out Oscar Harvey (former Mau-Mau’s bass player) to play harmonica and duet with Eric Leach.

The last band was The Livingston’s. They played a good set. The three-piece seemed more into long free flow jam sessions, than actual songs. Michael Livingston (also guitarist for the Mau-Mau’s) handled all the guitar work, and vocals.

My overall assessment, great night!



Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015:

The Chiefs – Holly-West Crisis


The Chiefs
Holly-West Crisis
Dr. Strange Records

George Walker (Guitar)
Bob Glassley (Guitar (Bass)
Jerry Koskie (Vocals)
Rabit (Drums)

1. Holly-West Crisis
2. Cheifin’
3. Karen Walach
4. Liberty
5. Drowning
6. Eddie’s Revenge
7. The Lonlies
8. No Justice
9. Riot Squad
10. Scrapped
11. Blues
12. Tower 18
13. Knocked Out

Straight forward eighties hardcore. This is exactly the sound of hardcore in the clubs back in the eighties. It’s a sound that is difficult to explain. But if you were there, you understand what I’m trying to explain. Raw, bare-bones, amateurish, but somewhat edgy. Dr. Strange records did another bang-up job here.

Even if you don’t love it, it’s an important piece of punk rock history.

If you don’t own it, give it a try, my review may be wrong.”

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

Over the couple of years I’ve come down with a horrible medical malady. No, not the diabetes, I’ve already discussed that.

Something far worse. I have, now, a condition I call goat balls.

Something happens when you get into your forties, I don’t know how to explain it. Only to say that your sack drops or something.

I was going out to breakfast with my Son a few months back, and I go to get into the car, and when I went to sit down, I sat on my nuts. I let out a big yeee-ouch, re-position myself, and try to sit again. The whole weekend was like this.

By Sunday night I tell my Wife, that I inherited some kind of goat virus. And if I don’t take care of this soon I’ll be swinging at my knees soon.

She tells me this is common, and I should switch to snugger fit underwear.

No more boxers.

The last time I took my Son out to Newhall, to The Gentle Barn, the goats and I looked into each other’s eyes, and we had an understanding. Damn nuts.



Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015:

Germs – Lexicon Devil & Cruising Studio Sessions


Lexicon Devil
1978 – Slash Records
Producer: Geza X

Darby Crash – vocals
Pat Smear – guitar
Lorna Doom – bass
Nicky Beat – drums

1. Lexicon Devil
2. Circle One
3. No God

Lexicon Devil is a three-song, seven-inch EP by The Germs, released strictly through mail-order by Slash Records in 1978. The band’s second single came about when Slash Magazine made an offer to the Germs to release a record on their newly-formed label.

Pat Smear, while he owned a guitar at the time, he did not own an amplifier, this led to the unique guitar sound of the EP. Producer Geza X was supposed to lend Smear an amp for the session, but had forgotten; instead Smear strung together some effect pedals, and plugged directly into the studio’s mixing board.

A few days before the session, drummer Don Bolles came down to Los Angeles from Phoenix to audition for the group. He got the job, but it was too late for him to learn the songs in time to go into the studio. Instead, Nicky Beat played drums for the session. Bolles ended up provided backing vocals on No God.

The song Circle One is where Darby Crash’s stage name had originated (a character in the lyrics); originally, he had taken the stage name Bobby Pyn.

Nicky Beat told the authors of the biography Lexicon Devil that he had “stolen” the opening drum beat on Circle One from the Allman Brothers song “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

The EP is out of print in its original form, but later appeared as part of the anthology (MIA): The Complete Discography.

If you don’t own it, pick up the (MIA) album, it’s interesting to track their progression.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

Cruising Studio Sessions
1980 – Bandwagon Records
Producer: Jack Nitzsche

Darby Crash – vocals
Pat Smear – guitar
Lorna Doom – bass
Don Bolles – drums

1. Throw It Away
2. Not All Right
3. Now I Hear the Laughter
4. Going Down

The Germs recorded six original songs with producer Jack Nitzsche for the soundtrack for Cruising, starring Al Pacino. Only the song, Lion’s Share, ended up on the Columbia soundtrack LP, it was featured for about a minute in the movie, during a video-booth murder scene in an S&M club. Other songs from this session did not appear until the 1988 bootleg Lion’s Share, along with four tracks from their infamous last show at the Starwood. The Cruising sessions were finally released officially on the (MIA): The Complete Recordings album.

This bootleg doesn’t have Lion’s Share and one other track from the sessions, but it’s decent just the same. The Germs have always been hyped to death more or less. Yes, they were great on vinyl, but take a look at eBay and how many bootlegs are there floating around these days.

If you don’t own it, pick up the (MIA) album, the songs are decent.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

First off, I have a bit of a gripe! Once in a while I mention my old band, Cold War, in this column. Back when I put the band together, 1980, the name had meaning, we were at the start of eight years of Reganomics, and the “cold war” was a very topical subject; as Russia was a very real threat to America, a definite world power. Anyway, Cold War played a few times around the San Fernando Valley, ran a few ads, posted flyers, recorded a 2-song demo, and then called it quits. I know most people never heard of us, but within our little crowd, we were known. Now, after mentioning the band a handful of times, I see there is a group about twenty miles from where I live playing “punk shows” with the same name (

Again, it may be purely a coincidence, but the name hadn’t been mentioned in damn near twenty years. My Cold War wasn’t anywhere near as well known as other Valley bands like RF7 or Bad Religion, so the kids in this group may have never heard of us, but they may have read about us or seen the name in print. The down side of this is the name is now meaningless. After the “fall of communism” Russia is not a true threat anymore. Cool name, but no meaning after the eighties. Our generic flyer is on the left (please don’t steal this), we’d put stick on letters or some kind of cut and paste text when we had a gig; it was also the cover for the demo.



Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today:

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