Monday, September 12, 2011
New Wave for the New Week #135
This quote, emblazoned on the home page of Snatch's website, serves both as perfunctory bio and formal mission statement for one of the more fascinating musical assemblages to form out of the Punk/New Wave scene. As Palladin notes, Snatch was more collaboration than band. The term "band" tends to imply a fully-formed entity, which Snatch was in a sense, but certainly not in the same sense as most people expect. Their songs are sparse, minimalistic pieces that constantly seem on the verge of blooming into beautiful, lush creations, yet never do. Each composition is simplistic, but not necessarily simple; heavily rhythmic while seldom relying on the traditional drum and bass for rhythm; remarkably dense and claustrophobic while using a bare minimum of instrumentation. It's all great stuff, what little there is of it.
Legend has it that Patti Palladin and Judy Nylon met on the telephone, not actually meeting in person until both had relocated to London from NYC. Once they got together, they discovered a shared interest in the then-nascent Punk scene, and began writing and recording their own material in 1976, and by mid 1977 had their first single released on the Bomp! label. The outstanding "I.R.T" was a rather matter-of-fact description of the gritty chore of riding the New York subway, delivered in what would become Patti's signature bored/barely attentive vocal style.
A year later the single "All I Want" appeared. This record sounded a little bit harsher, but fared better in sales. It even made the lower reaches of the UK charts. Demanding, repetitive, yet catchy. Two years later the duo returned once more with "Shopping for Clothes." Verging on beat poetry and conjuring images of a seedy, smoky club, "Shopping" slinks and snakes along as Palladin and Nylon weave their tale of a sleazy salesperson and an equally sleazy customer trying to make a deal. As a whole, the three singles demonstrated that Palladin and Nylon had a whole lot of tricks up their sleeves, and promised great things to come. Unfortunately, nothing did.
Judy Nylon formed her own band, Crucial, and released a very good album (Pal Judy) in 1982. She also went on to work with John Cale and Chris Spedding, among others. Patti Palladin also released some solo material (the single "Siamese Lovers" and an EP, Rituals), and became known for her collaborations with The Flying Lizards and Wayne/Jayne County. Palladin made her biggest splash in 1988 when she and Johnny Thunders released an album of excellent cover tunes, Copy Cats (you must find yourself a copy!).
A Snatch album of sorts surfaced in 1983. The self-titled compilation included the three singles (although "Shopping for Clothes" is in a re-recorded version here) and several unreleased demos. All of Snatch's records are out of print, but can be found with a little effort and Google. Same goes for the solo records. Palladin's collaboration with Johnny Thunders had been out of print, but was just given a new UK reissue by Jungle/Hepcat. Pricey, but worth it.
For this week's NW4NW clips, here is an audio-only of Snatch's wonderful debut single "I.R.T.," and then a rare live clip, circa 1979, of Snatch performing "Dateline Miami," which would become a track on Nylon's Pal Judy lp. Enjoy!