When I asked original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock what we could look forward to at the International Swingers show on Tuesday night at Whiskey Richards, put on by Electric Sex Enterprises, he said, “Basically we’re a covers band, but we cover our own songs.” And when you consider what “our songs” includes for this band, it’s quite an impressive collection to draw from.
But they almost didn’t make it. In a rock-‘n’-roll cliche, their van broke down on the way to the gig, and they arrived via flatbed truck. This delayed the start of the show a bit, but it was well worth the wait.
In addition to the Sex Pistols, represented at the concert by the teenage apathy anthem “Pretty Vacant” (plus covers of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “No Fun,” which got the Sex Pistols treatment back in the day), there were songs by Matlock’s post-Pistols punk/new wave band Rich Kids (“Burning Sounds”) and Faces (the classic “Stay With Me”), for which Matlock had a recent stint as bassist.
The rest of the band members in the International Swingers also have notable musical histories, and it was fun to visit some highlights of their résumés at the concert, as well. All played with old school cool.
Guitarist James Stevenson joined Generation X shortly before singer Billy Idol left for a solo career; in honor of this, “Dancing With Myself” was on the program, with the crowd encouraged to sing along. Stevenson also has been a longtime member of U.K. gothic rockers Gene Loves Jezebel, and their biggest American single “Jealous” was covered.
Singer Gary Twinn’s Supernaut days were nicely represented with the cool glam rocker “I Like It Both Ways,” which was a huge hit in 1976 in Australia. Also played were two of his Twenty Flight Rockers songs — the show opener “Out of Control,” and “Fall in Love With You.”
Last but not least, Clem Burke is the longtime drummer with Blondie, arguably the most successful of the original punk/new wave bands. The show featured two great Blondie songs — “Hanging on the Telephone” and “Call Me.” Plus, Burke sang “What I Like About You” by The Romantics, a band for which he drummed for much of the 1990s.
There were three other covers — “Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats, show closer “C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran and “All the Young Dudes” written by David Bowie and made famous by Mott the Hoople. All were brilliantly executed, but I’ll suggest that in the future Twinn should wear shades for the latter one, a la Ian Hunter.
The band also played two of their own new songs: “Sweet Sweet Love” and “Honey’s Room,” both power pop ditties available on a CD at the show.
It’s not clear if there will be more International Swingers songs released in the future, but for now the band seems happy to just be having a good time together. Rock on, mates!
Out of Control (Twenty Flight Rockers cover)
Hanging on the Telephone (Blondie cover)
Friday on My Mind (Easybeats cover)
(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone (Paul Revere & The Raiders/Monkees cover)
Sweet Sweet Love (new song)
Burning Sounds (Rich Kids cover)
I Like It Both Ways (Supernaut cover)
Jealous (Gene Loves Jezebel cover)
Fall in Love With You (Twenty Flight Rockers cover)
What I Like About You (Romantics cover)
Honey’s Room (new song)
Dancing With Myself (Generation X/Billy Idol cover)
All the Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople cover)
Stay With Me (Faces cover)
Call Me (Blondie cover)
Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols cover)
No Fun (The Stooges cover)
C’mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran cover)
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.