Thursday, August 6, 2009

Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Destiny Street

I did not mean to continue the Quine retrospective, but there are some new developments with his recorded legacy.

It is well known that Richard Hell was unhappy with the Voidoids' second LP. Destiny Street was recorded in 1982, in a difficult period for Hell. ...the record is heavily guitar-laden - when I couldn't muster the self-possession to leave the house I'd call the studio and tell them to lay down another guitar track - says Richard himself in the original liner notes.
And this is from a Quine interview:
Q: I read that sometimes Richard Hell would cancel or even no-show when you were recording, and that you would just lay down more and more guitar tracks. If this is true, did you help mix these and decide which tracks were used in the final cut?
A: When we were working on Destiny Street in early '81, Richard did totally disappear for a week (that's the only time that ever happened). We had already done the basic tracks. But the time was already booked, so Naux and I went in and did a LOT of overdubs during that week (too many!).
Then Richard reappeared and did his vocals and fixed a few bass parts. Then over a year went by before the album was mixed. I was invited to participate but declined — I was busy, and couldn't face dealing with the nightmarish number of overdubs I'd done (backwards guitars, constant feedback, etc.). So I wrote down some of my opinions on how the record could be mixed, some of which were followed.
My one basic misgiving about the final mix is that many of the guitars on the "live" basic tracks were fairly inaudible, buried under overdubs that were only meant for adding subtle textures. But over the years I got used to that mix, and it's difficult for me to imagine the album sounding any other way, for better or worse.

Recently, Richard Hell came across the original tapes for the album and decided to do it justice: Using those original rhythm tracks as the foundation, Hell recorded fresh, new vocals, did some editing, gathered new musicians of the highest caliber for the lead guitars, and re-mixed all the elements to produce Destiny Street Repaired - says the official release. The new musicians mentioned are Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian.

In general, I would be excited to hear a "second take" like this one, especially with the star guitar players Hell picked. I recently posted Gerry Mulligan's second take on the Birth of the Cool, and I think it's a great effort, very much worth hearing. However, there is one caveat: those second takes should be an addition, not a replacement - what would you say if Mulligan's Re-Birth of the Cool was the only version available? Unfortunately, this is the case with the Destiny Street Repaired. Hell, the copyright owner, deliberately allowed the original to drop out of print and has no plans for bringing it back. A number of fans voiced their concerns: both of the original guitar players, Naux and Quine, are dead, and messing with their legacy like this is unfair. I would agree, except for the fact that it allows me to post the original officially-out-of-print album without any misgivings. Perhaps it should be titled Destiny Street DON'T FIX WHAT AIN'T BROKE.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Destiny Street
High VBR, 60mb on depositfiles
1. The Kid with the Replaceable Head
2. You Gotta Move
3. Going Going Gone
4. Lowest Common Denominator
5. Downtown at Dawn
6. Time
7. I Can Only Give You Everything
8. Ignore That Door
9. Staring In Her Eyes
10. Destiny Street

PS See The Hound's posts with Quine's unreleased recordings from 2004, shortly before his passing: one, two. Also, a Hell ROIR bootleg, Quine plays on tracks #4-9 and did overdubs on #11 and 14.


  1. Hell doesn't intend to suppress the original recording. See

    In fact I heard that his original plan was to release them both as a double album, but he realized that that would defeat his purpose of proposing the new one as a replacement, and instead make the release into a degrading, irrelevant argument. I predict the old one will be available again within three years. Who would want to bring it out though? It's been superceded (I'm serious)!

  2. P.S. You can judge for yourself which record sounds better by listening to the entire new DESTINY STREET REPAIRED streaming for free at\

    It will be up through Wednesday 12 August I believe

  3. Thank you for your comments. While I admit that the new record may sound better, I still don't think that it supersedes the original one. Architecture may have gone a long way since Parthenon was built, but that does not mean we should tear it down and build a skyscraper in its place. A cultural artifact is not only about its function (to serve as a dwelling or, for an LP, to "sound good" :), but it is also a product and representation of a certain time and place.

  4. Why not just peel away some of the original layers and re-issue a "cleaner" version of the original? Or were the tracks mixed down as they went?

    You might find this stuff, from the same time period, interesting:

    We refer to it as "Analog Music from a Lost World" — previously unreleased post-punk experimental rock from 1981, unlike anything else recorded before or after.

  5. hey thanks for this! I much prefer this old version of 'time' to the one on the 'spurts' collection. I like the idea of the repaired version though, just because its the kind of insane thing we love about hell!