Tuesday, July 22, 2008

(i belong to the) blank generation

stiff BUY 7, 1976.

sire 12" reissue, 1977.

After his alliance with Tom Verlaine - first with The Neon Boys and then Television - had fallen afoul, Richard Meyers hatched a gunpowder plot with his new band, the Voidoids, and immediately set out to coin and otherwise capitalize on the CBGB scene in New York City.

"Blank Generation" first saw light of day not as an a-side but on the flip to "(I Could Live With You In) Another World", released stateside on Ork Records and on Stiff in the UK in 1976.

What Hell lost in Verlaine he made up for through the shrewd recruitment of exceptional guitarist, Robert Quine to his team, with
Ivan Julien accompanying him on rhythm guitar and Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) on drums. A restless native of Akron, Ohio, Quine brought
an eclectic jazz oriented sensibility to the table and a lawyer's sharp nose for sniffing out the bullshit. Older than his peers, Quine had aquired a degree in law from Washington University in the mid to late 60's and had specialized in Tax Law for several years before meeting
up and working with both Hell and Verlaine in a movie memorabilia store in NYC. The antithesis of naive young street punk, what he also had in abundance was a raw enthusiasm for rock n' roll which stretched all the way back to his pre teens, coupled with an incisive encyclopaedic knowledge.

In short, he was a great fucking guitar player and his talent is etched deep into everything the Voidoids laid down on wax.

The energy of that New York borne scene through 1976-77 may be - fittingly - forever remembered as punk rock, but Hell's sloganeering "Blank Generation" just as perfectly sums it up. With a copywriter's intuitively deft touch for PR mileage, he labelled a generation as precisely as any expensively targeted advertising campaign.

original photograph by roberta bayley; robert quine far right.

Robert Quine went on to record with Lydia Lunch, and - perhaps most memorably - Lou Reed on 1982's "Blue Mask". He also stood in on numerous sessions for artists including Tom Waits and Marianne Faithfull.

Severely depressed after the death of his wife, Alice in August 2003 from cancer, Quine was unable to recover sufficiently to move on from his loss. He committed suicide by heroin overdose in his New York home on May 31, 2004, although there was some doubt as to whether his overdose was intentional or not.

From Lester Bangs, with characteristic restraint:

"Someday Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument — he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and James Williamson and work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On the Corner-era Miles Davis."
I don't think I would argue.

RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS: THE BLANK GENERATION from "(I Could Live With You In) Another World" 45 (Ork / Stiff) 1976 (US/UK)


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