The Island

Austin Surf Pop Punk: Alien Beach Party on Live Wire Records (1979)

The Delinquents debuted their 1960s garage/psych/fuzz rock inspired Alien Beach Party 7″ EP in 1979. The band formed out of the Austin music scene that, unlike the Houston underground, was recognized internationally during the 1970s for its cosmic cowboy, outlaw country, and psychedelic/acid rock influences. As part of the emerging punk and new wave scene, the band performed at Raul’s rock club, Austin’s counterpart to the Island in Houston.

Lester Bangs, “America’s greatest rock critic” and famed writer for Detroit-based CREEM magazine, lived in Austin for a brief stint and recorded his lone studio effort with the band at Earth & Sky Studios in 1981. Both albums were released on band members Brian and Melinda Curley’s label, Live Wire Records.

The surf pop punk, new wave sounds of Alien Beach Party (Side B1: Do You Have A Job For A Girl Like Me?/Side B2: Motivation Complex) were created by the band’s initial lineup (there were several iterations): Layna Pogue (vocalist), Andy Fuertsch (guitar), Tim Loughran (engineer and drums), Mindy Curley (keyboards), and Brian Curley (bassist and producer).

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(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: Pearland New Wavers The Judy’s Pack the Island (1981)

Wild Dog: Didn’t you debut at a Pearland High School Talent Show?

David Bean (vocals, guitar): It wasn’t a talent show, but a school dance. Kinda wild, we blew the circuit & fuse a couple of times. And we threw beef liver and spinach all over a bunch of girls. We threw out the green spinach on “All the Pretty Girls.” It was a punk show or something.

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(Galley and media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Records: Teenage Punks Vast Majority Talk Anarchist Sounds (1979)

Houston’s youngest band at the start of the scene, Vast Majority recorded its lone studio effort I Wanna Be a Number in  March 1980 on Wild Dog Records. Henry Wild Dog, who helped produce the 7″ single, had a brief stint with the band as part of its second lineup. His contribution to gigs at Paradise Island earned him the DIY-inspired handle Henry “Bad Guitar.” Original member Scott Telles (vocals and trumpet) recounts the band’s history with WDA’s namesake on the Hyped 2 Death Archive Series #201.

As verified in an interview with the original members in WILD DOG, the politically motivated teenage punk band performed for the first time alongside AK-47 at Houston’s inaugural Rock Against Racism show held on April Fool’s Day 1979 at the Island.
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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Punk Politics, British New Wave, and Really Red at the Island (1979)

In a 1979 review of British new wavers the Tom Robinson Band at the Texas Opry House, WILD DOG zine chronicled a post-show piece of Island performance history when vocalist and bassist Tom Robinson joined original Texas punk legends Really Red on stage for a surprise guest performance.

Robinson, described with TRB as a slick, polished, and mainstream act, plugging Texas hardcore punk at his own performance is a testament to the impact and influence of Really Red, who are considered to be “the backbone” of Houston’s underground music scene. The Red/Robinson ensemble, Wild Dog recalled from the audience, “did a surprisingly tight impromptu set of such rock-root numbers as ‘Louie, Louie,’ ‘Waitin’ for My Man,’ and Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

“Such grassroots support of our scene by such a celeb is not to go unnoticed,” Wild Dog underscored. “Robinson is definitely not in it just for the bucks. His guest appearance at Paradise was an encore above and beyond the call.”

The political bent of Wild Dog Zine is evident in this review, with a nod to Robinson’s activism and support of the Rock Against Racism (RAR) campaign in the UK. In an earlier post, WDA recalled Henry Wild Dog’s efforts to organize a Houston RAR concert at the University of Houston, which was cancelled.  On April 1, 1979, the original lineup featuring Really Red, Legionaire’s Disease, and Christian Oppression performed at the Island, where Vast Majority and AK-47 debuted as part of the effort.

UPDATE

After querying the Island collective, Vince Layton informed WDA that he rode over to the Really Red gig with Robinson following the TRB show, which was, by his and others’ account, “great but woefully under attended.” A friend of Layton’s who worked at Cactus Records, then on S. Post Oak, talked Robinson into going to the Main Street dive. If you attended this show, please consider archiving your experience in the comments section.

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Houston’s Wild Dog Dancing to Austin’s Big Boys at the Island (1980)

Formed in 1979, The Big Boys led the vanguard of Austin’s emerging hardcore punk scene alongside fellow agent provocateurs The Stains (later named MDC) and The Dicks.

Ben DeSoto, an award-winning local photographer, activist, and chronicler of early punk imagery in Houston, captured these two photos of Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn in the crowd at a Big Boys show held at the Island, Houston’s Main St. punk venue, in 1980.

This is Henry Wild Dog in his element, heavily politicized from the beginning.

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(A Wild Dog stare from the middle of a Big Boys crowd at the Island, 1980. Photo by DeSoto; Source: The Island – Punk Rock Houston)

George Henry Weissborn, Jr., who is completely unknown to many outside of Houston, was born in New Orleans in 1955. His family moved to Houston shortly after and he was raised in southwest Houston. At the age of 14, Henry’s adolescence was informed by the thriving countercultural scene happening in Houston in the late 1960s. In an article dated November 14, 1978, published in the University of Houston’s Daily Cougar, Henry cited his reading of SPACE CITY! in 1969 as the catalyst for his involvement in the Yippie! movement. While most of the evidence shows that the Youth International Party (YIP) had waned drastically from its late 1960s roots, Henry Weissborn proudly carried the flag in Houston as a student activist.

An avid collector, writer, and archivist, Henry amassed one of the largest personal collections of grassroots literature in the city. He joined the Socialist Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and the YIP, and he led a three-member Direct Action Committee on the UH campus through the mid- to late-70s. He collected pamphlets, literature, and handwritten letters from a number of similar groups throughout the country. In all, Weissborn documented the latter phase of the counterculture as it moved from the hopeful days of the late 1960s through to the Watergate era of distrust and the crushing blow of Reagan-inspired conservatism throughout much of the early 1980s. Among his archives are the street view of Houston’s underground with runs of SPACE CITY!, ABRAXAS, and MOCKINGBIRD–three renditions of alternative press in Houston that focused primarily on continued psychedelic awakening, civil rights activism, and an end to police brutality.

Henry Wild Dog also channeled that anger through his pen. In 1976, he was a junior studying Sociology at the University of Houston. At 21, he was connected internationally to a wide network of anarchists, socialists, and activists. His archives show that he avidly wrote letters, sent self-addressed stamped envelopes, and requested copies of virtually every newsletter, quarterly, and mail order catalog he could get his hands on that would provide him a means to expand his garage rock and punk collection of albums and ephemera and introduce him to new noise in the most obscure regions, not just the East and West Coasts. Weissborn was experienced on both an academic and esoteric level.

By most accounts, Weissborn was a card carrying member of any social justice cause he joined. His activist publication, ULTRA, evolved into WILD DOG zine after he helped organize a Yippie outdoor concert turned punk rock debut at the Paradise Island. Communication and political action remained common drivers throughout Henry Wild Dog’s life.

He passed away unexpectedly in 2008.

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(Henry Wild Dog (in white shirt), 1980. Photo by DeSoto. Source: The Island – Punk Rock Houston)

Roky Erickson & the Explosives Record Live at Rock Island in Houston (1979)

In the winter of 1979, Roky Erickson, on tour with the Explosives, played a two-day gig at Rock Island, a short-lived name for Houston’s legendary punk dive, or, as the flyer suggested at the time, “Cultural Rock Club.”

Tracks from the 1979 Island performance were later released on Rocky & the Explosives’ LP, Casting The Runes, in 1987 on UK label Five Hours Back.

As noted on the album, “The Wind and More,” “Night of the Vampire,” “For You,” “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” “I Walked with a Zombie,” “Bloody Hammer,” and “Stand for the Fire Demon” were recorded live at Rock Island in Houston, December 22, 1979, and the three remaining tracks at Soap Creek Saloon in Austin, November 27, 1979.

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(Original flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Houston Yippies Present the Disease, Plastic Idols at Paradise Island (1979)

By early 1979, the Island had become a mainstay for Houston’s first wave punk scene with bands such as Legionaire’s Disease gigging there regularly. The Disease made even earlier appearances at local Yippie events, including a “Be-In” organized by Henry Weissborn and the UH Direct Action Committee held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park on the University of Houston campus; the outdoor event, which included Texas punk legends Really Red, drew a crowd of around 500 supporters.

Not long after, Houston’s first Rock Against Racism (RAR) event was planned for April 1, 1979. An original flyer promoting a Legionaire’s Disease show with Plastic Idols on the bill lists a date (March 25, 1979) a week prior to this seminal event, indicating that “punk & the Direct Action Committee” were affiliated or had at least banded together for a time.

Within weeks of the RAR show, Weissborn reworked the final copy for ULTRA (what would have been a fifth installment), instead launching his first music fanzine, WILD DOG #1, in late April 1979.

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(Original flyer courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)