The Ruts with Henry Rollins perform Shine On Me
Another punk legend has left the building: Paul Fox, true guitar hero with ur-punks The Ruts, succumbed to cancer on October 21st. While most people have never heard of the London band, those who have rank at least three of their songs among their most favorites: "Babylon's Bruning", "Shine On Me" and the pre-Clash Dub "Jah Wars," which effectively introduced Reagge to New Wave, a feat is mostly attributed to The Clash or Police. Nah, it was Fox with his mates, fronted by Malcolm Owen who died on a Heroin overdose in 1980. The band continued for an album as Ruts DC, then most members went on to play in differenty rather obscure projects.
Following Fox's diagnose, the band reformed for a research benefit gig and were joined by Henry Rollins for some powerful renditions of the Ruts hits (as can see above, despite a bit of a questionable solo... but check out other Ruts stuff on You tube to hear Fox's great playing). The London times called him "on of the most important guitarist of the punk generation".
So where are they now, the first wave punk generation? Well, The Damned, The Advert's TV Smith and the U.K. Subs all joined The Ruts at their May benefit gig. TV Smith has a great new album and a funny book about his low budget European travels. The album seems to indicate a split in his friendship with the Tote Hosen - he does not mention them at all anymore. Anybody know more about that?
The Biggies? Firstly, the Fall never ceased to be around (and vital). Certain Fall offspring, like The Blue Orchids, are rumored to be back, too. Mick Jones of the Clash just released a new record with Tony James of Generation X, the project is called "Carbon/". Paul Simonon landed a huge hit at Damon Albarn's side with The Good, the Bad and the Queen". Paul Weller is working on his new found love for punkrock, while his former mates have reformed as "...from the Jam". Despite Weller's absence, they are enjoying quite some success and are currently recording. The remaining Sex Pistols just finished a couple of live gigs in England to make some money, since they forgot to cash in in the Eighties, claims Johnny Rotten, scuseme Lydon. No new record there, though.
The Police reunited and nobody was impressed (that might change with an new album, but nobody is talking about that). Wire reformed and just released the third "Read and Burn" EP, but we are honestly more impressed with Colin Newman's other project "Git-Head". The Buzzcocks were the first to reunite, needed a couple of years to find back to true form, their lastest three CDs testifying to that. And then there's the strange and bewildering case of the Stranglers and Hugh Cornwell, both regularly putting out new records, at times just as good as the old times, but they somehow always miss the public spotlight and we still feel they'd be better of getting Hugh back into the fold. The Undertones reformed. Sham 69 reformed with and without Jimmy Pursey. They all reformed. They are all on MySpace.
One reunion I was truly hoping for, never happened so far: One hit wonder The Vapors, whose two long players I still count among my most valued possessions. Plus, I'd go to see Hüsker Dü again. And that weirdo from behind Liverpool, of course, Julian Cope. If he would only ever come to the States! Man, that's were your wife's from, drude!
Fox is joining a growingly illustre Club of Dead Punk Rockers: Almost all of the Ramones died. Joe Strummer died, Ian Curtis, Sid Vicious, Ian Dury, Nikki Sudden, Epic Soundtracks, all dead, all gone. Johnny Thunders, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Stiv Bator, Wendy O'Williams, R.I.P, Rob Heaton, Pete De Freitas, Grant McLennan, we can still hear you.