Having recently finished reading Cro-Mag founder Harley Flanagan’s autobiography, “Hard Core: A Life of My Own,” and Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris’s, “My Damage,” before that, I’ve been looking for the next book to read. I’m currently skimming through Stephen Blush’s “New York Rock,” being that it devotes an admirable amount of text to Cop Shoot Cop (the subject of my own glacially percolating book project), but I’ve been searching far and wide for Tim Lawrence’s “Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor” (which I mentioned back on this post), but cannot seem to put my hand to it. Neither the Strand on Broadway and 12th nor the Barnes & Shitty Noble on Union Square had it … or have ever had it since its September release, … which is quite odd for a book that was written up in the New York Times. Yeah, I know I can order it on shitty Amazon, but I hate doing that. I will find it, though.
The thing that keeps me coming back to it, meanwhile, is the fact that pretty much every day, I walk down Cortlandt Alley off Canal Street on my way to work, and I cannot help but think of the Mudd Club -- formerly at 77 White Street -- each and every time I do. Now, I should once again point out that I never actually made it to the Mudd Club. While it was in its heady heyday, I was still a sniveling grade schooler on the Upper East Side, relegated to only reading about such things via unlikely outlets like my parents’ subscription to New York Magazine. By the time I was an active participant in New York City nightlife, the Mudd Club had long since shuttered. I did manage to make it to Danceteria and a few other choice spots of varying significance, but by then the Mudd Club was already the stuff of legend.
Again, given my fascination for the place, you’d understand why I want to check out Tim Lawrence’s book. I’d love to add a bit more credible history to my knowledge of the Mudd Club than just my own fanciful projections about scowly No Wave luminaries and surly punks hanging out at the place. By many accounts, however, it boasted a less niche aesthetic than just fans of that sorta stuff –- even so much as to give Studio 54 a run for its money in attracting “the beautiful people.”
So, while it may not have just solely for acts like the Cramps, Shrapnel and Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, I did recently come across a name I would never in a million years have guessed played within the walls of that White Street walk-up. But, as the saying goes, I had another thing comin'.
When I first spotted it via this YouTube link, I figured it must be a mistake. In all honesty, how could Judas Priest -– the leather-clad standard-bearers of what would become the N.W.O.B.H.M. (New Wave of British Heavy Metal, for the uninitiated) –- have brought their particularly zealous brand of full-throttled HEAVY METAL to a stage normally reserved for the art-damaged navel-gazing of Basquiat’s Gray or the disjointedly atonal skronk of Arto Lindsay’s DNA? I figured someone must be pullin’ my leg, but then I spotted the frankly amazing photograph below and worlds collided and minds were blown.
Here is Rob “Screaming for Vengeance” Halford the Metal God posing with Joe “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” Jackson, Angry Young Man of the New Wave, post-show backstage at the Mudd Club.
So, yeah –- not only did that actually happen, but there’s a recording of it (see below). I also absolutely love the idea that Joe Jackson went to go check them out. Had they ever played there again, might we have even seen a NO WAVE of British Heavy Metal? I guess we'll never know.