De Koer demos + live recordings 1981 -catalog nr. Testlab 2016.001 CS
limited edition of 300 pcs. Available in selected stores and iTunes from early October 2016
this collection of demos and live recordings from Amsterdam/Dutch post-punk bands capture the early 80s sound and offer a unique insight into the spontaneous, DIY music style of the time.
As DJ and artistic director in 1981 at De Koer nightclub in Amsterdam I was frequently given cassettes by fledgling bands who wanted to perform there. Some of these tapes contained demos of pieces of music that were never published or incomplete.
Many of these bands were still unknown and yet to be discovered by ‘real’ record companies. This later changed for Soviet Sex, Mekanik Kommando, Minny Pops and Nasmak with official releases.
this post is the story of of the bands that are featured on side A of the cassette with a biography and pics …thanks to Oscar Smit and the participating artists. This story reads as a short history -not complete by all means- of the Dutch post-punk/new wave scene
Dark Ravens of Dance
Around 1980, record shop Elpee played a pivotal role in the local Groningen music scene. Shop boss Andre Salters had a recording studio above the store where musicians such as Jan Rot (from The Streetbeats), Phoney and The Hardcore regularly hung out. Groningen based band Dark Ravens of Dance, founded in 1979 by school friends Emiel Sikkema and Peter Smidt recorded several demo’s there. Peter also worked at Elpee (and was ex member of the Fuckups). Dark Ravens of Dance had two guitarists, one of which was Anne Kraster (1951-2012) who was also a member of The Streetbeats. Drummer Robby Percussie was a former member of Red Rizla & The Dark Stubs. Dark Ravens of Dance existed for a few years, until about 1984, performing regularly in Groningen, and were support act for The Sound and The Psychedelic Furs. They did perform at De Koer though their music has never been released. ‘Stumbling Around’ is from the first demo that was recorded in the studio above Elpee. Since then Peter Smidt has rarely sung. He is currently the director of Eurosonic Noordeslag.
The first issue of Vinyl magazine in 1981 had a flexi-disc of Mekanik Kommando’s music, after which the group became instantly known outside their hometown of Nijmegen. “Well thought out, tightly hammered electric pop songs and full of surprises” was Vinyl’s review of their sound. They were new on the scene and having two bass players really made them stand out. Three other bands, Vice, Bazooka and Das Wesen also hailed from Nijmegen and together with Mekanik Kommando were part of the Ultra-circuit. All four bands were quickly signed to Amsterdam based Torso Records and in 1981 Mekanik Kommando’s debut album was released: “It Would Be Quiet In The Woods If Only A Few Birds Would Sing”.
A year later they became the first Ultra band to be signed to major record label EMI. A further two albums were released and after several switches in the line-up the group changed their name in 1988 to The Use of Ashes and are still active today.
The 1981 flexi-disc was released by Tonefloat on vinyl in 2016 and ‘Money for Pleasure’ is a track from the demo cassette, later to be released on their debut album.
Amsterdam based punk band Helmettes had but a short existence before and after their explosive debut single ‘Half Twee’, released on the NoFun label. This track has achieved a cult status and is considered the best Dutch punk song of all time. Original records currently fetch as much as 200 euro, even though it has been re-released several times, most recently by Pseudonym, complete with original artwork. Since their appearance at the Paradiso on the 25th of February 2016, the band and singer Joris Pelgrom have continued to perform.
Helmettes never played in De Koer, despite the fact that the venue attracted so many punks. They feature on De Koer cassette because Joris Pelgrom was a DJ at Eddy de Clercq’s nightclub. Joris never played his own music but it would have fitted perfectly into his varied playlist of new wave, soul, ska, punk, Neue Deutsche Well etc. From ABC’s ‘Poison Arrow’, Arthur Conley’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’, ‘Satisfaction’ by Devo to ‘Gangster’ from the Specials. Such an eclectic list would be hard to pull off at any time!
Brabant based Truus de Groot was briefly the singer in Nasmak and in 1980 released the LP ‘Nasmak Plus Instruments/Instruments Plus Nasmak’ which featured the first version of ‘Big Man’. Previously in 1979 she made a single on Plurex where the name Plus Instruments was first used and after moving to New York in 1981 she kept this name. In the same year, together with Lee Ranaldo and David Linton she recorded an extended and sturdier version of ‘Big Man’. This became one of Eddy de Clercq’s favourite tracks in De Koer. Truus de Groot still resides in America where she releases music under her own name and as Plus Instruments, also regularly appearing in the Netherlands. Her 2016 album ‘Signal Through the Waves’ was released on Haarlem based label Blowpipe Records.
Singer Wally van Middendorp has been involved with his experimental and always innovative Minny Pops for nearly four decades. He is the only constant factor in the band that nowadays is based in Britain and works with English session musicians. This isn’t unusual because after their launch in 1978 the British press quickly discovered them.
In 1980 they recorded the single ‘Goddess’ for the renowned Factory Records. More releases on foreign labels would follow later, although most of Minny Pops work was on Plurex, Wally van Middendorp’s own label. In the early years the band’s line-up constantly changed, and during a short period featured appearances by Stephen Emmer (composer of the tune for the daily news show “Het Journaal”) Frans Hagenaars (Excelsior) and Gerard J Walhof (VPRO). Their fourth and last album ‘4th Floor’ was released in 1985. The band went silent after that.
During the latter half of 2011, in preparation for the Ultra 2012 event, the name Minny Pops was being heard once again and their first performance was in Rotterdam. In 2012 they gave several concerts, once again with a different line-up.
On the 7th of April 2012 the band performed in the Melkweg with amongst others, Mark Ritsema and Wim Dekker. Afterwards, said Wally van Middendorp, the band would never again perform on a Dutch stage and this would indeed be the last time.
De Koer demos + live recordings 1981 cassette contains an edited version of ‘State of Mind’, a track that was also on the ‘4th Floor’ demo.
Streetlife was a project by Wally van Middendorp (Minny Pops) and Wim Dekker (Minny Pops, Smalts) with the intention of creating more danceable club music. Factory Records released two 12 inch singles under the name Streetlife. The first track, ‘Act on Instinct’ was recorded in 1983 with Swedish producer Goran Andersson from trendy Blackmarket Records and bands such as Twice a Man of Cosmic Overdose. The second 12 inch, ‘No More Silence’, was a collaboration between Eddy de Clercq, Toon Bressers (Nasmak) and Dennis Duchart (Minny Pops).
In 1982 Eddy de Clercq received at De Koer a demo tape from Streetlife containing the track ‘Golden Boy, Golden Lover’. This is actually a demo version of Minny Pops ‘Back Home’ which featured later on the ‘4th Floor’ record.