‘Walls of white noise and feedback laid over speed-fueled, dumb-ass rhythm. The harmonic equivalent of bare-knuckle fighting. Sonic Porn. We set ourselves in a circle in the studio, turned down the lights and attempted to blow each other off the face of the Earth.” So said Richard Strange, singer and guitarist of Doctors of Madness, describing the recording of his band’s 1976 debut “Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms.”
Strange will soon attempt such a raw sonic powwow when he teams up with Japanese band Sister Paul for a tour kicking off at Shimokitazawa’s Club Shelter.
It’s billed as a Doctors of Madness tour, but Strange is the sole original member, flying over with ex-Pogues’ violinist David Coulter. Sister Paul provide the back-up glam-punk rhythmic assault.
In the mid ’70s the Doctors were a missing link between prog-rock and punk-rock. They sang songs loaded with alienation and cynicism, looked weird and couldn’t play too well. Once, they were pelted with mince pies by irate headbangers while supporting Status Quo. Even when punk detonated, the Doctors’ noise experiments were still a few years ahead. Having a violinist didn’t help. Not even Damned lead singer David Vanian’s brief stint in the band or playing with the Sex Pistols rescued them. They split in ’78, with Strange going solo and pursuing an acting career.
While Doctors of Madness were one of rock’s great outsiders in the ’70s, Sister Paul “enjoy” the same fate right now in Tokyo. They share bills with garage bands, but you won’t find them propping up the bar with Guitar Wolf. Sister Paul are more Velvet Underground and Bowie than Elvis or Link Wray. What they share with garage bands is a desire to put on a show: Guitarist Foxx careens around stage like a malfunctioning cyborg; skeletal bassist Susumu, in skintight black with silver-chained peaked cap, looks like Lou Reed on the prowl at a gay disco; and drummer Mackii keeps a solid robotic beat.
The greatest show on Earth? Hmmm. A freak show? Most certainly. Roll up! Roll up!
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